Laura Faragher and Donna Russell in our Product teams discover one taste of Thai is never enough…
Buddhist temples. Long-tail boats. Bangkok’s frenetic markets. These images of Thailand are as recognisable as Maccy D’s Golden Arches. But for the Land of Smiles to get under your skin, for it to really grab your imagination, we have one word for you. Go. Laura Faragher and Donna Russell spent a week getting to know some of the big players in Thailand – Krabi, Khao Lak and Phuket. Here’s a glimpse of their travel diary…
After a long flight to Krabi, we couldn’t believe our luck when the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Gold Resort and Spa gave us a royal welcome, complete with flower wreaths and Champagne (something we might have to start introducing when we get in from work every night…). After wolfing down a delicious meal, we settled in for a night of entertainment, Thai-style… the dancers and fire throwers knocked our socks off. If the Sofitel’s aim is to woo us, it’s making all the right moves.
Early start + ridiculously comfy bed = struggle. But knowing what the day would bring was enough to make us shake a leg. Even writing this feels surreal – a speedboat picked us up and zipped us over to the private and secluded Hong Island, all limestone cliffs, and sand whiter than Simon Cowell’s teeth. After a spot of Thai Chi on the beach while watching the sunrise, we tucked into a Champagne breakfast. We know… more Champers, what a chore. To add to the excitement, we were greeted by an elephant when we got back to Krabi, brought out by a couple dressed in traditional Thai clothing, to welcome us on our return. We embraced our ‘tourist’ sides, and snapped away. Then it was time for some sunbathing. Stretching out on the cashmere-soft sand and taking in the blissfully unbroken view, we were glad of the ‘no sunbeds allowed’ rule.
Today we jumped on a coach to Khao Lak, a 3-hour ride away. This resort is relatively sleepy but there are tons of places within striking distance to eat, drink and shop, like Ao Nang. We’d definitely recommend you save some time for a spot of retail therapy – you can pick up a fake Chanel that even Victoria Beckham would have trouble realising wasn’t the real McCoy. And don’t even think of leaving without testing out your bartering skills… you can bag a total bargain, like the can’t-tell-the-difference “Mulberry” we snagged.
The following night we ventured in to Khao Lak Centre – a mere 50 Thai Baht taxi ride away (equivalent of £1. No, that’s not a typo…). We loved The Happy Snapper bar, which combined live music and delicious cocktails… the perfect recipe for a fun night out.
Just an hour’s coach ride away is Phuket, where the scene’s a whole lot livelier… in fact, a night out in Patong is one you won’t forget in a hurry. Banglar Street comes alive at night, packed to the rafters with bars, clubs and market stalls – and the ever-present lady boys, of course. Another must-do while you’re in Thailand is pay a visit to the massage parlours. We only paid 300 Thai Baht (just over a fiver) for an hour-long foot massage, which our feet have been thanking us for ever since.
A trip to Phuket wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Big – and we mean big – Buddha, one of the region’s most famous landmarks. From its imposing perch on the mountain, we could see for miles across Phuket Island. We couldn’t believe our luck when we were blessed by a monk and asked to write a message on a slate, which will be used to complete the serene statue. What an honour.
Before we knew it, it was time to set off home with a half-finished to-do list that’s crying out to be ticked off. What better excuse to return soon? Especially since we’ll be able to fly directly to Phuket with Thomson Airways from November 2013. Till next time, Thailand…
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Author: El Berwick
Published: May 23, 2013
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