Here are some of our memorable moments in Thailand.
It’s a great place to visit because there are beautiful beaches, secluded islands, it is very romantic, fire eaters, Thai dancers, wonderful Thai cuisine, massages, party time in Patong, elephants in the jungle , history and culture including beautiful Buddha’s, amazing temples, humble people, world class hotels.
Here are the places Maggie, Liz and Jane visited
With our private guide we were taken to Palaces in Bangkok which included the impresses Grand Palace They were amazing everything was covered in gold. There was a statue of all the Kings of Siam including the famous King from the film. Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and a must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok. It’s one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. We then went to the Rose Garden to see the Thai way of life and watched various shows and demonstrations, such as Thai Boxing and a mock Thai Wedding and Elephants working with logs in the water.
Another day we went to the Floating Market and went on a Long Boat down the river where we saw lots of people in front of their wooden houses washing their hair and brushing teeth in the river .
Then we had a 4 hour drive to the bridge over the River Kwai , the site of the famous WW2 Burma railway .The heat was unbelievable, it was so bad that you could only stand in the shade .We visited the Memorial Cemetery, it was immaculate and so sad that the hundreds of graves where of such young men. After that we went to a War Museum constructed of bamboo which contained photos, drawings and letters from the prisoners of war ,it was so moving .
The night market at Pat Pong is a great place to visit to buy all your fake products, but be ready for an eye opener.
Maggie in Bangkok
What a busy city, the only place I have seen worse traffic is Delhi, thankfully you don’t get cows wandering in the road here like you do in India !!! There is a very good MTR/Skytrain (monorail) in Bangkok and I would recommend using that where possible.
I like staying down on the river area, as it is a bit more peaceful with easy access to other parts of the City on the Skytrain. There are lots of luxury hotels alongside the river. A hotel I book a lot and have stayed in is the Royal Orchid Sheraton and Towers which faces onto the river. There is a nice relaxing pool area in lush gardens, an outside Thai restaurant as well as the one inside. and all the rooms have river views some with floor to ceiling windows. Food is good, breakfast is a huge buffet affair and in the evening they had a chocolate fountain, very delicious. There is an onsite shopping arcade featuring boutiques, tailor made clothing, Thai silk and local gift ware. When we were there people were sitting out in the evening just watching the world sail by on the river, there was a band playing and it was very pleasant indeed. Yes you are a short ride by Skytrain right into the heart of the city.
You can book a dinner cruise along the River on a Junk which is a lovely way to spend the evening.
Another popular area to stay is Sukhumvit Road again lots of luxury hotels, a totally different feel to the riverside. Very bustling, surrounded by shopping malls, tailors, not fare from Patpong the famous night market, every conceivable type of food to eat and here you have access to the Skytrain as well at the underground stations.
I love Bangkok for its buzz and bustle, not to mention the shops, taking a journey in a Tuk Tuk can feel like a near death experience but they always get you where you want to go safely and the drivers can be quite good fun too. I also visited the 18th Century Grand Palace, very interesting and amazing temples and Wat Po where you can see the longest reclining Buddha. This is really funny to look at its like something from Land of the Giants or a ship in a bottle type of thing. I can only imagine they built the building around it either that or as the late Paul Daniels would say It was Magic !!!!
After 1 hour flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, which is in the north, we had an hour drive to the Anantara Hotel. We had an amazing view from our balcony overlooking the valley and elephant camp to Burma and Laos. We had an enormous bath tub in the middle of the room.
We went and sat by the beautiful infinity swimming pool all day just relaxing in such peace and quiet and you felt very near to nature.
We had a wonderful breakfast in the open air overlooking the jungle. We got a Tuk Tuk down to the river to watch all the elephants bathing in the Mekong River. It was truly wonderful. I had a one and a half hour Thai massage which was extremely rough. We ate in the restaurant as nothing else around but luckily very good food and very sociable people.
We got up at sunrise and six of us donned our mahout trousers and got a Tuk Tuk down to the river for bathing the elephants. The elephants sat down so we could climb up with a helpful shunt up by the mahout and sat on their necks with nothing to hold onto except flapping ears. We rode along the river and climbed the banks to a dusty road to the camp. The intensive training began on the four different ways to get on and off an elephant. Some were too difficult to do .We then had to ride the elephant through an obstacle course using the commands Bay for forward, Toy for back, Bent for turn and How for stop. It was very difficult weaving them through posts especially as I get left and right confused. There was a naughty 19 month old baby who kept on escaping through the bamboo bars and climbing onto and over them. We then rode back to the hotel through the beautiful grounds and dismounted the elephants gracefully down their trunk. We had a late breakfast and sat by the pool until 1.00pm.
We then set off again in a Tuk Tuk to the camp and rode for 3 miles down to the river. The elephants got very excited as they got near the water and my elephant always had to be in front. We felt a bit apprehensive as we went down a very steep bank to the river, lying back and gripping with our legs so we would not slide off onto the pointed stakes that supported the bank. We slipped off into the river which felt a bit squelchy and scrubbed the elephants with our brooms. They loved it and rolled over on their backs kicking their feet. With six elephants around you it was amazing that they didn’t kick anyone.
Mums kept squirting her with water from his trunk. We got back on in the water and climbed up the bank now leaning forward which wasn’t so bad. We rode them back to their field and left them eating and very content. With our wet baggy trousers we got back in to the Tuk Tuk to the hotel. Stephan from Switzerland was a photographer from the National Geographic Magazine was in our group and was working on an article on the Elephant Camp. We staggered back to our hotel room walking like a couple of cowboys and dumped our soggy pants outside the door. We then luxuriated in our huge tub with mountains of suds to wash out the river Mekong. Then back to our sun beds for a drink and a swim in the lovely sunshine. In the evening we had a lovely meal in the restaurant with the friendly staff and then bed after an exhausting wonderful day.
After breakfast we went back to the camp and saw the little mischievous baby and went for a 2 hour trek through the grassland and trees and bank of the Mekong feeling quite at home on an elephant’s neck. We watched the other elephant’s training for the Kings Elephant Polo Match.
Maggie visited Hua Hin, this is approximately 3-4hour road transfer from Bangkok.
Completely different, much more peaceful and relaxed with a long beach with a lot hotels along the beachfront. One of my favourites here is the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas, it used to be called the Sofitel and was originally the Railway. It is quite delightful with a huge topiary Elephant that you can walk under, this is in the original part of the hotel (1920’s) and I think the cars used to drive under it, there are many topiary animals in the gardens. The food and service are excellent, the gardens and beach very relaxing, a choice of four swimming pools and child friendly with two kids clubs. I visited several of the hotels in Hua Hin all a very high standard, family friendly, on a great beach. Hua Hin also has a great night market, a much smaller version of what you find in Bangkok. I always buy a table cloth when I go there, very random !!! I have visited this resort twice and it had grown a lot from my first visit and had a much larger shopping and hotel area. I noticed there were the same type of tailors as you find in Bangkok. I had a fabulous silk blouse made to measure and some of the people in our group had suits and I even had some shirts made for my husband. They are still washing and wearing very well after several years, so an absolute bargain.
Somewhere to go back to one day……
Khao Lak is 60 miles north of Phuket. The country side is unspoilt as are the beaches. Here you can find world class scuba diving in a sea that is mineral water clear. There are three National Parks.
From Phuket Airport the transfer to Khao Lak is an hour.
The hotel had beautiful grounds with little fairy lights on all the trees and reflections in the swimming pools and a waterfall with a slide. We had a delicious seafood buffet overlooking the beach with live music, it was lovely. We have got a very large room and this bathroom is surrounded by glass. What happened to privacy?
The hotel has very large grounds with three huge pools and a lazy river and loads of sun beds and fat boy cushions .We walked along the beach to nose at the Sarojin Hotel, on the way back we met our resident baby elephant.
One evening we walked along the beach in the pitch black to a “shack” restaurant on the beach. When we got there it was quite lively and we had delicious fish and prawns and drinks at a quarter of the price of the Hotel.
Another evening we got a taxi to Khao Lak town and had a meal and went shopping .It was busy and all the bars are on each side of a main road. We got the hotel shuttle home.
One evening we got a taxi to the Sarojin Hotel for dinner. It was a beautiful meal sitting by a large pool with water lilies and frogs croaking. The only lights were the candles on the tables. Although it was lovely and peaceful it was too quiet and dark for us. I think it is for couples only.
The Italian buffet by the pool with all the trees lit up was so pretty .We then wandered down to the beach and lounged on beds and watched a film on a giant Cinema screen. It was just another experience on the beach in the moonlight watching T.V.
The next evening we had a beautiful BBQ on the beach with white table cloths, flame torches and lights all around. We all lit 3foot Chinese lanterns which floated up and filled the sky. We then moved to beds and bean bags set out on the beach around a big bonfire. What a memorable evening.
Krabi is famous for its lime stone cliffs. It is a low key resort with beautiful beaches. There are over 2000 species of fish.
Liz stayed in the fabulous Sofitel Krabi a first class hotel. The hotel organised for us to go by speed boat to the uninhabited Hong Island where we were served by the hotel chefs, a fantastic champagne breakfast on the beautiful beach. This was an unforgettable experience.
The hotel was in massive grounds and you had golf carts to get to your room or the four different restaurants.
We met the resident elephant Rara .She is only three and comes to the hotel reception at 9.00am and then goes to the beach and then is back again to the beach for a swim at 3.00pm. We played with her in the water, what a privilege. She loves to swim under the water and then squirt everyone. Her next trick is for you to hang on to her head so she can shake like a dog and throw you into the water. Rara also floats on her side and then rolls round and round.
In the evening we got a taxi to the main town which is about 30 minutes away called Ao Nang.
In the evening we went to investigate outside the hotel but not much action and no pavements.
We got the shuttle bus to Ao Nang and had a meal sitting by the edge of the beach where there is a row of Seafood Restaurants.
Rara was naughty today as she was rolling in the sand after she had her shower. She likes to tread on sand castles and then throw the sand over her back.
One evening we got a taxi to Nakamanda Spa for a meal. There are a lot of steps down to the lovely pool and beach setting. It was very elegant with wonderful service and food. We spoke to the manager about this new hotel and then he arranged for a Mercedes to take us home. (FOC)
You fly to Bangkok and the transfer to Pattaya is 2 hours.
We stayed at is the Royal Cliff Beach Resort over Christmas which has two other hotels in the complex We had a great view of the ocean and very small beach. The Christmas decorations were lovely especially a huge house made of cake and biscuits around the in-house bakers. In the evening we got a taxi down to the town to Walking Street. What a place! There were so many people, so many bars.
We went to Shenanigans Irish Bar with live music for a meal which is next to the Marriott Hotel.
One evening we got a taxi to 99’s restaurant and had a kilo of grilled prawns which was 20 big ones with salad and rice. It was on the beach road with all the usual action. We had Santa and his Fairy visit us today while we sun bathed, it was very strange. Our Christmas treat was of a full body massage in the spa. I would not recommend a family to stay in Pattaya.
It is 543 square miles and 330,000 people live in Phuket. There are no private beaches ,the best beaches are on the west coast. From Phuket you can take a speed boat to James Bond Island and Phi Phi Phuket has plenty of lively restaurants and bars.
Kata Beach Hotel
The hotel had two pools, a large one with a “swim up” bar and a smaller infinity pool with a Jacuzzi overlooking the beach. The water in this tranquility pool was very cold and refreshingly welcome at times. We had a lovely room overlooking the pool and the beach. Most days we sat on the beach on our sun beds near the bar .The sea in some sections had a strong current with a rip .We always watched beautiful sunsets while sitting on the beach at 6.00pm and one day we were lucky enough to see the whole sky turn red.
We all had several massages on the beach as it is so cheap
Most evenings we had cocktails at the bar outside before going to Restaurants nearby or in to Patong. There are beach side restaurant, fish restaurant and a big plaza with live music. Bangla Road in Patong is a sleezy place, very busy and bustling with lots of bars and girly clubs.
Another night we went to Karen Beach and had a great Italian meal and then stopped at the Flintstone Bar for cocktails.
There are a lot of nice restaurants in Kata Beach .One was a Swiss restaurant on the cliffs overlooking the sea. It was a great meal in a beautiful setting and while we were there a wedding party came in.
One day we went around the Island to the most southerly point to a place where thousands of carved elephants of different sizes were put there for good luck and then to the pier at Chalong Bay. Then we went north east to the group of hotels called Laguna, Sheraton and the best hotel on the island called The Banyan Tree. We wandered around them and fed the elephants which were roaming around the hotel grounds. There is a boat service that takes you from hotel to hotel on the lagoon .
Five minutes from Kata Beach you can go on an Elephant Trek. You climbed on the Elephant by walking up to the top of a platform and climbing on a seat on his back. The path was very narrow and it was amazing how the elephants tip toed through the gaps sometimes with a sheer drop at one side. As we went along our man got off the elephant so we were in control and then he told Mum to slide down his back onto his neck. All she had was his ears to hold on to and steady her. As we went down a steep slope he put his ears tightly around Mum legs to keep her on. When we returned we fed them bananas and one put his trunk between my Auntie’s legs and lifted her up in the air on to his trunk and face .It was so funny !!!
One afternoon we went to the Meridian Hotel which was very big and nicely decorated but quiet with nothing surrounding it except a beautiful bay with rocks at either end.
We went to Phi Phi Island by speed boat. We first stopped at a beautiful gorge with turquoise clear water called Pileh Cove and snorkelled around the boat. Then we went to Viking Cave and Monkey beach and then stopped at Maya Bay to swim. This is where the movie “The Beach” was filmed.
Then off to Phi Phi Island for lunch. One side of the island has a deep harbour and you walk along a small road across to a beach with very shallow water. All the trees between these bays were destroyed in the Tsunami and now you can see from one side to the other. It is a very small island with some shops, bars and lots of dive centres and they had already rebuilt the main street .On the beach there was a huge tree with hundreds of ribbons around it as a shrine.
From here we went by boat to Khai Nok Island .It was a dream island with thousands of fish nibbling at you at the water’s edge. We snorkelled and saw some amazing fish and sun bathed while munching on big plates of fresh fruit.
On the last night we all went to the Amari Hotel and had the a great meal overlooking the sea. It was a lovely hotel but it did not have a lot of beach.
Thailand has the friendliest people in the world here are some phases you may need when you go:
Hello Sa-wut dee Krup/ka
Goodbye sa-wut dee Krup/ka
Your welcome mai bpen rai
Hi wut dee
By wut dee