Thailand has always been on my bucket list. I decided to explore as much as I could in my 10 day holiday. I selected 3 places in Thailand to go to – Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. I travelled there in late October returning to London early November. After booking my travels, I learned this was the end of their Monsoon season, usually consisting of heavy rain and thunderstorms – well done Ruby! Too late – I had already booked it for then.
My travels consist of a lot of domestic flights travelling to and from the different parts of Thailand – one piece of advice is to book in your luggage before hand – the airlines charge almost double when you haven’t pre booked it.
Took-tooks are Thailand’s little buggy cabs that are a brilliant form of transport in Thailand – I highly recommend them for short distances. They can squeeze through gaps normal cars can’t, making them very nippy! Plus the price is always negotiable – try your luck.
Bangkok was my first destination for the trip. The city was very much what I thought it would be – busy, with loads of markets and street food. I thought the products/merchandise would be a lot cheaper in comparison to the UK, much to my disappointment. Bangkok was cleaner than I had predicted (there was no litter on the floor or urine in the phone boxes – slightly puts London to shame really…). It was spotless. Street food was prominent – on every corner there were at least a dozen stands cooking something up – there were quite a few things I had never seen before, especially some of the sea food dishes. I couldn’t help but think “who is going to eat all this food?” People were nonstop cooking, even if there was no one buying. The thing I love about street food is that it is freshly prepared for you right before your eyes, so it is very easy to pick what food you think is going to work for you. Bangkok seemed to be 24 hours.
The weather was humid, mostly over cast, a few heavy spells of rain during the day and thunderstorms in the night.
Advertisements were everywhere in Bangkok of remembrance for the late King. Can you believe Thailand plan to mourn for a whole year over the death of their King? The average Brit doesn’t even know the national anthem!
The advertising of the King’s praise was the same in Chiang Mai. Phuket – not so much. Their advertisements mainly circulated around promotion of their real estate opportunities.
My first time in Bangkok I stayed at the Chatium Residence, Sathron hotel, which was set out like apartment blocks – apartment blocks seems to be the way of living in the city. Rooms clean, hotel entrance pleasant décor and the pool was nice. There was a Starbucks round the corner where I had breakfast. Street food for lunch and dinner. One of the nights saw a serious thunderstorm, where I was so high up in this tower block, I did at one point, question my safety (haha – I am so dramatic!). Although the hotel was nice, it was a bit far from the main part of Bangkok adding half an hour to get into town because of the traffic.
Name: Chatium Residence, Sathron Bangkok
Price: £43 per night / 1895 Bahts
Ruby Rating: 3 Stars
On the way back from Phuket to London, I stayed for one night in Bangkok. This was the better place to stay. Such a lovely hotel and brilliantly located on the South Sathron main road.
Name: Ascott Apartments, South Sathron Road, Bangkok.
Price: £75 per night / 3307 Bahts
Ruby Rating: 3.5
Chiang Mai was a really nice experience, a lot more rural compared to Bangkok and less tourist-y compared to Phuket. I would say the best of both worlds. The weather there was the nicest out of the 3 places I travelled to in Thailand. Still had the night markets and street food, but places were a bit more spaced out, less crowded in terms of buildings and people.
My original plan was to stay 2 nights in Chiang Mai but after looking up the weather in Phuket (which was predicted to have thunderstorms the day I arrived) and obviously taking to my social networks to hear the opinion of my fellow Tweeps and Facebookers, I decided to stay there for an extra 2 nights. The consensus opinion was Phuket wasn’t much fun if the weather was bad. Another option was to stay in Chiang Mai till I had to make my way back up to Bangkok for my return flight to the UK. I thought it would seem a shame to not go to Phuket due to the apparent weather and the hotel I booked was the nicest out of all of them, which was a deliberate decision as I planned to stay there the longest. I decided to travel to Phuket for 3 nights.
Chiang Mai – Holiday Inn
I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Chiang Mai, my room over looked the river and the whole of Chiang Mai. The hotel offered a steam room, sauna, gym, spa and outdoor swimming pool which were all very pleasant and immaculately clean. The staff was polite and courteous and more than happy to help with accommodating me for the extra nights I hadn’t initially booked.
I took advantage of the fact that the hotel offered a spa, which when I compared the prices of the treatments in the Holiday Inn spa to the spas outside, the Holiday Inn ones were almost half the price. I treated myself to 2 massages. I couldn’t leave Thailand without getting a massage. One night I got the traditional Thai massage which felt like an appointment with the chiropractor but all over my body. It was good – a yes from me! Not for the faint hearted though, you will be sore the next day but days after you will feel nice and loose. No knots.
The 2nd massage I decides to get was an oil massage the night before I travelled down to Phuket, which was a bit more relaxing. 600 bahts each.
I didn’t have the buffet breakfast Holiday Inn had to offer. I have never really been a big eater at breakfast time, so wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the buffet element. I just used to go down to the foyer and order a hot chocolate and croissant. The foyer in the Holiday Inn is quite grand – big chandeliers, door staff, all very nicely presented decor. Lunch and dinner I selected street food – obviously! At 40 bahts per meal (less than a pound!) for noodles/rice, meat/seafood and veg – ya damn right!
Name: Holiday Inn, Chiang Mai
Price: £53 per night / 2336 Bahts
Ruby Rating: 4
Chiang Mai – The Thai Elephant Home
This was the day I had been waiting for, I jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn to eagerly wait for my tour guide to pick me up from my hotel lobby at 7.30am. The Thai Elephant Home was over an hour away, and there wasn’t any additional costs for the pick up and drop off. My tour guide and I, picked up one couple between my hotel and the home. I had booked this trip before flying to Thailand – I did a lot of research on companies that did elephant excursions as I didn’t want to contribute to the notorious animal cruelty that happens in Thailand. I came across this company, although almost double in price compared to some of them I found, the Thai Elephant Home’s reviews were good, and proud themselves on the way they treated their animals (which was also supported by the reviews online of those who had done the excursions with this company) and when researching it on social media the pictures looked epic! I was sold. I would far prefer paying more for a trip with a company who actually looked after the elephants.
On my way to the Thai Elephant Home, I picked my tour guides brains about the animal cruelty that happens in Thailand. He told me the Tiger Temple has been shut down last year because of the animal cruelty and that the only remaining tiger place was Tiger Kingdom, which, he said, really do look after the tigers.
I had booked the whole day excursion with the elephants, that entailed a long mountain trek through the forest with the elephants, feeding and playing with them.
On arriving at the home, I was given an outfit to put on over my swimsuit, water and a bag to put my belongings in. There was just me and an old man doing the trip, which made the experience so much more intimate and gave us the chance to really build a relationship with our elephants. In the home, there was a 17 year old elephant called Ruby, who I obviously selected to be my elephant for the day. I was so excited, I fed her 2 bunches of bananas – she was greedy! She reminded me of me – hahaha. Her skin was rough, but the end of her trunk was squiggy. She was massive. The trainer spoke to me about the commands and the difference between Thai elephants and African elephants, and how to get on and off properly. The Thai Elephant Home doesn’t use the seats – you have to ride these elephants bareback, which again I was happy about, regardless of whether my bum hurt or not. We were also told to ride the elephants barefooted so I put my flip flops in my bag.
There was one trainer per elephant, a helper and my tour guide (the one who had picked me up from my hotel). We set off on our trek through the forest, passing through a river. We had walked for over an hour, stopping when Ruby wanted to nibble on a piece of grass or bamboo. I was in awe of her. Her ears were the cutest. I couldn’t help but play with them while I sat on her.
We then stopped for lunch which was provided. Pad Thai wrapped in a banana leaf – it felt so authentic. Lol. We rested and ate lunch, then brought the elephants to the wet mud where rubbed the soil into their skin. Ruby love it. We then trekked down to the river were I washed her off and played with her for hours. She even lifted me on her trunk and threw me off! Haha. She kissed my face – which was a bit scary at first, I thought: “what is going on?” My face obviously showed this as my tour guide told me what Ruby was doing. Her kiss felt like a soft vacuum on my face. I will never forget that moment. We had so much fun having water fights, which she obviously won, due to how much water her trunk could hold compared to my little palms. Lol. We walked happily back to the home.
My tour guide carried a professional camera, taking snaps of the whole excursion – although needs to work on his photography skills, this was a very nice touch. I went home with the professional photos on a CD, a t-shirt as a memento of the day, and the sweet memories of Ruby and I that I will probably treasure to my dying day.
We ended the day around 3.30pm, so it was time for my tour guide to drop me back to the hotel. He asked me if I wanted to visit the long neck village which was relatively close to the Thai Elephant Home and the Tiger Kingdom which was enroute to my hotel – I agreed.
Chiang Mai – The Long Neck Village
OK… this was a rip off. It was 1000 bahts to enter the village which was a few make shift shops at the top of a hill, that I spent no more than 10minutes browsing in. The shops practically all sold the same thing, and I wasn’t too convinced about the length of the women’s necks. They wore this metal wire round their necks which they apparently slept in, again, I was dubious… My theory is, they wear the neck thing so much which results in them having to constantly stretch their neck and that is what causes the elongated necks. So a situation of circumstance rather than genetics. (Just my opinion – I may be wrong). Nonetheless I do not recommend visiting the village.
Name: Long Neck Village
Price: £22 / 1000 Bahts
Ruby Rating: 2
Chiang Mai – Tiger Kingdom
Tiger Kingdom has 2 bases, one in Chiang Mai and the other in Phuket. I went to the Chiang Mai one. I was very sceptical about going to this. I’ve heard horror stories revolving around Thailand and it’s tigers, I really didn’t want to contribute. After speaking to my tour guide who convinced me the tigers were in fact looked after at the Tiger Kingdom, which is now the only remaining tiger place, I went to go and see for myself. At 600 Bahts for the medium tiger, I was surprised by how good the tigers looked, they appeared strong, well groomed and looked after. The price depend on the size of tiger you want to visit. The baby tigers are 1000 bahts and the giant tiger is 1500 bahts. You are allowed 10 minutes in the cage with the tiger to take photos and touch them etc. Obviously supervised.
Name: Tiger Kingdom
Price: 600Baht / £13.50
Ruby Rating: 3
I spent a day on Karon Beach, the calmer one out of the two my hotel was situated between. My research had suggested that Karon Beach was family orientated, quite short in length and relatively relaxed. Patong was where the night life was and where the seedy message parlours you seen on the TV were located. Naturally, Karon was my selected Beach. Beach-goers are constantly being interrupted by someone selling hair clips, bikinis, coconuts, ornaments or those offering massages/pedicures, you can pick up quite a few bargains there so don’t be too in a rush to get rid of the them – prices are always negotiable – get your hustle on Amorelles! Unfortunately there isn’t any street food cooking on the site of the beach, but there are countless restaurants and eateries along the strip you can go to.
Name: Karon Beach
Ruby Rating: 4
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands
I had booked a tour of the Phi Phi Islands, that included visiting the Monkey Beach, Viking Cave, Pileh Lagoon, Maya Bay, and the Khai Nui Island, which is a whole day excursion with On Tour 1600 Baht pp which included lunch, drinks and snacks of fruit.
The driver came to pick me up from my hotel lobby between 7.30-8am. I was obviously from one of the further hotels as the mini van was still empty. So we drove making regular stops at the various hotels picking up people who would also be visiting the Phi Phi Islands. We drove through Patong Beach to and from the excusion and woah was I happy I chose Keron Beach out of the two the day before – Patong Beach is not my thing at all. Sort of looked like the strip of Ibiza x10 – loads of drunk Brits with Thai women looking pretty and inviting on the entrances to the massage parlours, pubs and bars…
We arrived at the port to board the speed boat that could fit about 50 people on it. Before jumping on we met our tour guide who went through a few house rules of being on the boat, the schedule for the day and safety precautions we had to abide by.
Name: Phi Phi Island Tour
Price: £40 / 1600 Bahts
Ruby Rating: 4
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Monkey Island
Our first stop was Monkey Beach, to my disappointment, the tide was in and therefore we couldn’t get out to take pictures with the monkeys. We had to watch them from the boat, as they swung from tree to tree and waiting for us patiently to come and say hello.
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Snorkelling/Scuba diving and Lunch
We then stopped off to let people off the boat who wanted to go scuba diving while the rest of us did snorkelling. I have already done a whole day of scuba diving in the Seychelles Island last year, so I was quite content with not paying extra and joining the snorkelers. We pitched up amongst the beautiful big rocks surrounded by blue crystal clear waters. I put my snorkelling mask on and jumped out of the boat. I had the option to rent the flippers back at the station to protect my feet, but I didn’t think it was necessary. One of the instructors gravitated to me and we went off snorkelling. He showed me about 5 or 6 different types of fish including the nemo fish, beautiful coral and sea urchins. He took me underwater a few times – something that I found quite difficult, I haven’t quite mastered the art of holding ones breath. After half an hour of snorkelling, and accidentally drinking about a litre of sea water, I was satisfied enough with my snorkelling experience and swam back to the boat. We waiting for the rest of the snorkeler for a little while longer then we picked up those who opted to go scuba diving. We then were dropped off to have lunch, which was a buffet in one of the restaurants off the beach fronts. The food wasn’t fantastic, but I ate it. I was starving, snorkelling made me build up quite an appetite.
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Viking Cave.
After about an hour, we then went passed Viking Cave, which was obviously a tourist attraction. I didn’t really appreciate the feature, due to it seeming quite out of place… However, I did find the information about the Thai delicacy of the sparrow spit nest soup pretty cool (although I have no intention of trying it). The sparrow birds make their nests out of their spit and these were sourced above the Viking Cave to produce the over priced soup.
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Pileh Lagoon.
We went onto arriving at the Pileh Lagoon. Although the rain pelted down on arriving at the Pileh Lagoon, it didn’t take away how beautiful this place was green waters, enclosed by tall rocks, we all enjoyed a swim very happily. The water was warm.
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Maya Beach.
We continued onto Maya Beach, which is famous for being the set for Leonardo Decaprio’s film The Beach (released in 2000). The sand is idylic – white soft sand and turquoise blue waters – this place is unreal, I couldn’t help but bully an old man on my boat to do a photo shoot with me! haha
Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Khai Nui Island.
It was a bit of a journey to get from Maya Beach to Khai Nui Island, maybe about 50minutes. The journey was bumpy, which I suppose is expected considering I went at the end of the Monsoon season (end of October/beginning of November). The water was rough, but the journey was fun, almost like a long funfair ride. This place was a little flat island surrounded by turquoise sea which had bars and places to eat. It was quite empty when our boat arrived, with not much happening, I’m not sure whether this was due to the rain. There was the option to do jet skiing there. I could imagine this place having the potential to host amazing parties – good music and people dancing. We stay there for half an hour, then jumped back on the boat which returned us to the port. The whole of the excursion, was followed by a man with a camera, so people were able to purchase their professional photos at the end of the day. I thought the price was a bit too extortionate – 1200 baht for your photos to be emailed. I opted out.
Great day trip – loved it!
The Secret Cliff resort is situated on a cliff (hence the name) between both Keron Beach and Patong Beach. Away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches, a secluded haven… The resort provides little golf buggies that can assist you in manoeuvring around the hotel, available 24/7. Those buggies are needed at times, because the resort is so steep. The hotel also offers shuttle buses to and from both Patong Beach and Keron Beach free of charge.
I stayed in a Junior Suite, which was unreal (I think there is only 3 in the hotel). The view was out of this world. Request room 126 – the best room in the hotel!!! I checked out the others and this one definitely is the nicer one. The occasion of me travelling by myself and wanting to explore Thialand just didn’t seem to warrant such a room, may be a more suitable circumstance would be a honey moon, or where my partner planned to propose to me… but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Waking up to that beautiful sea view and going to sleep snuggling in that big bed while I heard the rain meet the sea. Soul enriching…
I had the buffet breakfast at the restaurant which was included in the price and also had dinner in the restaurant one evening. The dinner was superb and a lovely view overlooking the sea and in the not so far distance Keron Beach.
The infinite pool at the Secret Cliff Resort is slightly disappointing, as it is quite small, but the views are amazing. It is just quite an intimate pool, obviously when you are travelling by yourself, the last thing you want is to be intimate with honeymooners and family – kind of want my space, you know!? Plus the size made everyone slightly on top of each other. Not cool. But if you got there at sunrise, you would have the pool to yourself – blissful.
Overall, you cannot fault the hotel or staff. 5/5 from me. Brilliant value for money. Relaxing and romantic.
Name: The Secret Cliff Resort & Restaurant
Price: varies per time of year etc. I paid £273 / 12,040 Bahts for the 4 days
Ruby Rating: 5
To conclude Thailand was an amazing experience, one that I hope to enjoy again, with a partner or my family one day… Bring on the next holiday!
Thanks for reading Amorelles. XX