This has been a long time coming but since we returned it’s been crazy. Work, my lack of organisation for Christmas, topped with having to see a zillion people before the 25th. Nevertheless, I’m not actually complaining, how can you when everywhere is so nicely decorated, carols are playing and everyone (except Londoners) is in good spirits.
As I begin to reminisce about Thailand, I feel a post-travel depression come upon me, lies, I was like that the first day I went back to work! It was such a wicked holiday. The culture, the people, the weather, THE FOOD was just ace. I was on the point (very drunkly) of deciding we were moving there and not coming back. Clearly very well thought through.
This blog post is mainly about the stuff we did, where we went and what I would recommend to do/not to do. I’m having to do it in two parts because we went to so many places and I don’t want it to be super long and boring.
We were here for two nights and stayed at the Royal Princess Larn Luang Hotel. It was a bit of a mission getting to it as our taxi driver pretended he knew where he was in going but in fact hadn’t a clue. He left us at some random hotel that looked nothing like we had seen on the website. TIP If you can, ask at the airport for someone to write your hotel in Thai, because most taxi drivers don’t understand English (even if they say they do – they just want your money!)
We didn’t do many touristy things as we were so jet lagged the night we got there but we did go to Koh San Road (which is an absolute must). Why? You experience a different side of Thailand. The place is crazy, you’ve got guys roasting crickets on one side of the road and on the opposite is someone selling ice cream. TIP Try the Thai pancakes, with peanut butter. They are immense.
The second night Mike had planned a dinner for us at the only Michelin Star Thai restaurant in Bangkok ( well so he tells me!) Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. This place did not fail to impress. You could either go for a 10-course meal or a 3-course meal. We decided to go for the 3 course but we may as well have went for the 10 course as they just kept bringing us different varieties of food while we waited. It was incredible, they were chopping things in front of us, there was food with smoke coming out of it (in a good way) and they were so attentive. I also discovered my love for Pandan juice and I managed to ask for the recipe.
Now this was a Michelin star and we paid give or take £150 for all that food, drinks and dessert. There’s no way in London it would be that price probably triple or quadruple. My advice DO IT when it’s cheap and experience high quality Thai cusine.
On the same night we went to Lebua which is a very well known hotel and rooftop bar, why? The Hangover was filmed there. We had to go. The views are incredible and we were lucky to get a place on the couch and relax with some drinks, taking it all in. Only go here for a drink though, the food is crazy expensive. The drink is too but go for 1, just for that view.
We got a number of tuk-tuks around the city but you really need to be careful with these guys. Some will try and bring you to their friends and will refer to them as stops. TIP If you get one be sure to say no stops and ask them how much it is before you get in. Otherwise, they will just milk you for money. Another tip HOLD ON, they are crazy drivers but it’s an experience you will never forget.
This city is beautiful.
We stayed in 99 The Gallery Hotel. This hotel was a bit naughty as they advertised pictures from their sister hotel which is near by as it’s own. So it didn’t look like what we had expected. It was OK though and the location was good. They also had a really helpful tourist advisor who would book any trip, excursion you wanted to do.
What to do
There are loads to choose from but we did the Asia Scenic Cookery Course and it was AMAZING. I can’t stress enough how much you need to do this. You get to make 5 courses each ( yes I didn’t have to share), visit the local market (buy something if you like as you have time), learn about the different herbs and vegetables, get a recipe book, meet new people and best of all have fun. The instructors have great English and are able to answer any questions you have. We did the 1/2 day instead of the full day and to be honest I think it’s enough. We wanted to do more exploring in the afternoon and we were ridiculously full. It’s £17 per person which when you think about it is nothing.
Again there are lots of places that do this but please make sure when you are deciding not to go for options where you can ride the elephant. It’s those places where the elephants are harmed and are not well looked after at all.
We went to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary which is an ethical company. The elephants are owned by the circus, however, the money we pay to visit goes to keeping them in the sanctuary so they never have to go back and are therefore never harmed again.
This sanctuary was all about caring for the elephants. We got to spend a lot of time with them, feeding them, rubbing them and washing them in A LOT of mud and then getting into a lake to wash it all off. It was so much fun. The instructors were very funny and made the experience that bit extra special.
One of the things I dreaded the most was having to pack for the holiday. TIP Ladies, buy your clothes when you get there. There are so many little shops and markets where you can buy the nicest playsuits, dresses and fancy Thai pants!
Chiang Mai is known for the Night Bazaar, which is a night market that begins from 6pm. It’s huge. It has everything. We discovered some really talented artists that were in the basement painting. We couldn’t get over how skillful they were, some of the paintings were just breathtaking. Unfortunately, given the size of our bags, we couldn’t transport any home. I was devastated. I did buy a mini elephant though!
Where to eat
When we arrived we both just wanted something really simple and we got it at The Terrace. It was the simplest food but was it tasty oh yes it was. Look how perfect the egg is. It’s also perfect for people watching
On the outside, it looks really Western but the Thai food is remarkably good. I had Pad Thai and it was possibly one of the best I had on the trip. The coffee is really good and we spent a few hours one afternoon just chilling reading our books in the sun #Bliss
If you like spice, this is where you will get it. It’s a bit of a walk away outside of town, past the old city but it’s really worth it. We had Panang curry, Papaya salad and some variety of Pad Thai. I can safely say my sinuses were totally cleared that night.
This had raving reviews on Trip Advisor but I wasn’t that impressed. Food lacked flavour and spice. Perhaps they were being a little cautious as we were “farang” (foreigners!).
OMG where do I start. We stayed in the most beautiful resort ever Ayara Hilltops. This picture doesn’t even do it justice.
We were greeted with a lovely reception, towels to cool off and these two drinks which were so tasty (I asked for another one, which was probably rude but hey ho I got it!).
The rooms were incredible, we had our own little bath outside which made me feel so exclusive!lol. One thing which I did love was the outside shower. It’s weird to describe how amazing it feels to step out of a shower and not be cold because you are showering literally in 35-degree weather.
We didn’t leave the resort much tbh because it was so beautiful. We organised to spend one-day having treatments in the spa. This was where I came to understand the real meaning of a Thai massage. I was sat on, feet were used to massage me and I was stretched, really stretched. However, it was worth it I was so relaxed afterwards.
We ate almost every night at the resort, the cocktails were immense, bigger than my head (well not quite!).
However it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a glance at Trip Advisor juuuusst to see if we were missing out on some gems. That led us to the Oriental Spoon. This for me was the best meal of the trip. The surroundings were beautiful, the service and food were exceptional and it wasn’t overly expensive either.
As you can tell we didn’t explore Phuket at all. For us this was the relaxation period of our holiday where we wanted to simply switch off and relax. In Ayara you can certainly do that. They did have a gym hurraahh so we did manage to squeeze in a couple of sessions to burn off all the cocktails and food.
What really surprised me was how quiet it was given it was the high season. I think early November is the perfect time to visit Thailand because it’s just the beginning. Almost every day we had the pool to ourselves and I was practicing my swimming not worrying about splashing anyone – just Mike!
That’s all for part 1 of the trip, coming up I will be sharing our experiences of Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and my favourite Koh Lipe. It includes our dealings with buckets, naughty monkeys, very beautiful sunsets and obviously lots more food.