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After 7 Years, We Finally Made it to Thailand!

After 7 Years, We Finally Made it to Thailand!

Old Apr 26th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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After 7 Years, We Finally Made it to Thailand!

This trip report is 5 months overdue. I basically came back from Thailand and couldn’t think of anything else but plan our next trip (which right now is Greece, but it changes every week!). I have wanted to go to Thailand since I read the book “The Beach” 7 years ago, cheesy but true! Considering I did so much research and spent so much time on this board, Thailand did not disappoint. I was a little worried that my expectations be too high but Thailand was everything I wanted and more.

I went to Thailand on November 2-18, 2006 with my husband. We are both in our late 20’s. Based on the experience of the travelers on this Asia board, we did a typical first time tour of Thailand:

Bangkok – 3nights
Chiang Mai – 3 nights
Koh Phi Phi – 3 nights
Phuket – 4 nights
Bangkok – 2 nights

November 2, 2006 – Fly to Bangkok

I had been searching for flights to Bangkok for months before I finally booked our flights. I had taken United Airways to Singapore the year before and it was the worst flight ever. Due to hydraulic problems, all passengers on that flight had to get their checked-in luggage and re-book their flights. It took over 2 hours to book another flight that was leaving 24 hours later. We lost our seat selections and had to sit at the back of the plane in a row with 5 seats and they forgot to move my vegetarian meal selection over to the new flight. It was a really bad way to start our trip so I knew this time I didn’t want to take an American airline of any sort.

Having said that the airline that really stuck out to me was Thai Airlines because their economy seats are quite spacious and I get Aeroplan points. So we flew from Buffalo to JFK (we live in Toronto) and then took JFK to Bangkok on Thai Airlines. This has been my favourite flight so far. The leg room for my husband and I was fantastic. We both really enjoyed the food and the in-flight entertainment. It really makes a differences having personal TVs! Loved it.

November 3, 2006 – Bangkok

We landed in Bangkok around 5pm and quickly got our luggage. We went outside to the taxi line and used a meter taxi to get to the Majestic Grande Hotel – total cost was 380 baht. We booked the Majestic Grande Hotel through Precision Reservation and got a regular room for $90 CDN per night. Upon check-in the hotel told us that they were full so they would have to upgrade us & apologized for it. We were so thrilled but there was a catch - we would have to check-out of the room the next day and check into a new room.

So we got to our room (#2501) and learned that it's on the top floor and is a suite with a soaker tub and separate living room. Beautiful room. We were so tired from our 17 hour flight so my husband ordered room service - a club house sandwich with fries and a coke for 210 baht. The prices are not bad for room service and he swears it's the best club sandwich he has had. We freshened up, watched a little television and passed out.

I highly recommend this hotel. It’s super clean, in a great area right off of Sukhumvit, the staff is wonderful and the price is very reasonable. We found that when we told taxi drivers that we want to go to the Majestic Grande Hotel they didn’t know where it was. But when we said JW Marriott, they knew exactly where we were staying! Just a little tip.


November 4, 2006 - Bangkok

This was our first full day in Bangkok and we were so excited. The night before we asked for a wake up call for 7:30am but we ended up waking up an hour earlier instead. We told the front desk that our bags were packed in the room and that they could move our bags over to the new room whenever they wanted as we wanted to spend the whole day site seeing. Breakfast was included in the price of the hotel and I have to agree with the reviews on Tripadvisor that the breakfast at Majestic Grande is amazing. It was a wonderful way to start the day. We saw the pool area at the hotel as well. It had a Thai feel to it but was quite small.

We left the hotel and opted to take a taxi to the Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew. We aimlessly walked around at the sites and later agreed that we should have gotten a guide, just as most of you recommend! Upon leaving the Grand Palace, I decided I was not going to make this type of a mistake again – I didn’t do research for no reason! To my surprise there was a bookstore right across the street so I went in and bought the Nancy Chandler map for 180 baht. I remember looking for the map before I left for the trip and the price online with shipping was almost $40 US. I’m glad I waited until I got to Bangkok! This map is simply amazing. It separates each main area and details out where hotels, restaurants, and landmarks are. This is a must have.

We continued our site seeing by going to Wat Pho next. It was an easy walk around the Grand Palace to get to Wat Pho. We were lucky enough to witness monks eating lunch, and it looked like the locals provided and served the food to them. We saw the Reclining Buddha, a highly impressive gold plated reclining Buddha. On the other side of the Buddha are 108 bronze bowls and placing a coin in each of them is supposed to be auspicious and bring merit, so we had to participate. Since Wat Pho is also famous for being the center for traditional Thai massages we had our first ½ hour Thai massage for 200 baht each. Loved it!

We were so hungry that we decided to take the ferry down the river to a restaurant that was recommended on fodors, Harmonique. Unfortunately, we ended up taking the ferry that just crosses the Chao Phraya River instead of going the length of the river. We figured out that Wat Arun was on this side so we decided to see it since we were there. After finally figuring out which boat travels down the river, we got on and used our guidebook to get to Harmonique. Not being able to locate it after 15 min we realized that we had our beloved Nancy Chandler map, and using it found the restaurant. We had our first Thai meal in Thailand, which consisted of spring rolls, 2 soups, 2 garlic toast, 2 small sticky rice, stir-fried vegetables, chicken cashew nut, 2 waters, and 2 beers for 595 baht. It was everything we hoped for and more!

We came back to the hotel in the evening and the hotel moved us to room #2401 - another beautiful large room. Kai the doorman is super nice and works the evening shifts. He's a great person to ask questions. We took a nap at 5pm and didn’t wake up until 9pm – must be jet leg! We freshened up and decided to walk along Sukhumvit to look for Cabbages & Condoms. To our surprise the restaurant closes at 10pm so we were too late. We walked back to the main road and located a restaurant called Dosa Hut. Had 2 masala dosas, water and sweet lasi and paid 340 baht. Very delicious meal. We walked back to the hotel and had a beer each at the hotel bar called Sacz, which was a perfect way to end our night.


November 5, 2006 - Bangkok

We woke up before the wake-up call again and started the day with another wonderful breakfast. We took the sky train to get to the Jim Thompson house. We got on at Ploen Chit station and exited at the National Stadium stop, where JT house is. It cost 30 baht and was so easy. Everything was written in English & Thai so finding our way was straightforward. We got a tour of the house and the pictures we took do not do justice to how beautiful the place really is.

We walked from Jim Thompson’s house to MBK Centre, a crazy mall with 7 floors. Unfortunately, on our way there, we saw a man get hit by a car. The locals and police came to his aid right away. We were so hungry so we went to the 6th floor, bought food coupons, and purchased food using the coupons. It was an odd but effective approach to buying food. Our lunch was delicious and only cost 90 baht total.

We had heard that the shopping at Chatuchek Market was insane so rather than wasting time at MBK we headed for Chatuchek by skytrain. I have to say that we hated the area and the market because it was so hot and crowded. We lasted maybe 45 min and left to go back to MBK. We shopped around for a couple of hours, dropped our purchases off at the hotel, and ventured out for a massage at a place recommended by Kai (the doorman at Majestic). Found the place and had a 1 hour Thai massage for 300 baht - an excellent price! They made us change into XL pyjamas and go upstairs. A young and very pretty Thai woman worked on my husband and I was a little worried that she would do something! I was obviously over-reacting as the massage was great.

We found an internet café nearby so we emailed our family and friends back home. Went to a bar close by as well called the Bus Stop and had some beer while watching the final cricket match between Australia and the West Indies. My husband loves cricket so he was in heaven.

We ended the evening with dinner at Curries & More, which was recommended by a friend. Had a fabulous dinner that consisted of spring rolls, 2 sticky rice, vegetable cashew nut, chicken cashew nut, 2 bottles of water, pepsi, cranberry juice and the best dessert we’ve ever had – mango with sticky rice & coconut ice cream. All for 1,153 baht! I had big plans to go to Bed and Q-Bar for drinks but don’t know if it was jet lag or if we were too full but we had to call it an early night.


Next installment: Chiang Mai
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 08:05 AM
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Enjoying your report. I know what you mean about planning the next trip. We just returned from our last one March 31, and am already busy reasearching the next one - Thailand. Thanks for all your details.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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Enjoying your report. Keep it coming!
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Thanks for posting! We are about your ages and will be heading to Thailand next March-- our first time to Asia. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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November 6, 2006 - Chiang Mai

Before heading to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai, we went to the business centre in Majestic Grande and reserved the hotel for our last night in Bangkok through Precision Reservation. The hotel was charging much more by booking directly with them compared to the price online so we opted to book with the cheaper option!

We really liked Bangkok and were happy to be returning at the end of our trip. For being such a major city, it still kept it’s culture which we admired.

Our Thai Air flight to Chiang Mai was on time. We had booked the Thai Air Pass for $169 US for 3 domestic flights – a great value. Our friends were in Thailand at the same time so we planned the Chiang Mai leg of the trip together. We met my 2 girlfriends at the airport and flew Thai Air from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The flight was a ton of fun since we had so much to talk about with the girls. They had been in southern Thailand for about a week so they had a lot to filled us in on. We got a taxi from outside the airport and it cost 150 baht total to get to Baan Orapin Bed & Breakfast.

We booked Baan Orapin based on the reviews on this board but I have to admit that I wasn’t too impressed with the place. I know a lot of you are disappointed in hearing that but I guess I had higher expectations for the place and was a little let down. We stayed in a suite in the front of the complex, which looked a lot better than the regular rooms. To be fair the hotel is in a great location and is also very close to 3 highly recommended restaurants - the Gallery, the Riverside, and the Good View.

What I didn't like about the hotel was that it was a little too rustic for me. I guess I do like the big, clean hotels and not a local bed & breakfast. This was totally my fault - I knew what the hotel offered and saw pictures of it but for some reason I thought I would like it. The rooms are super clean and the beds have mosquito netting around them.

After checking in, we went out for lunch & drinks to catch up with the girls and discuss our travels so far. We lost track of time and realized that we better get going on our site seeing before it gets dark. Took a tuk-tuk to the old city but the driver didn’t get far because there were so many people on the street. He dropped us off where he could and told us that it was Loi Krathong, a major festival for Thai’s. While walking we saw a huge ring set up in the middle of the road and a large group of people surrounding it getting ready for a Maui Thai boxing match. It was so cool to see since we wanted to see Thai boxing in Thailand and got to witness is first hand in the middle of the street – for free!

We only made it to Wat Chedi Luang before it got really dark, which looked beautiful as the sun was setting. Walked back towards our hotel and watched the parade go by. It was a beautiful site and I think my husbands love for Thai women began here! All the walking was tiring us out so we decided to get a ½ hour foot massage for a whopping 60 bath - I love Chiang Mai!!! We went to the Riverside for dinner and had another fantastic Thai meal.

So it turns out that we were in Chiang Mai during the Loi Kratong festival and staying at this hotel made the festival so much better for us because its location is right across the street from the river where a lot of the action was taking place. It was a bit noisy but it's an extremely important festival for Thai's so it was completely understandable.

We referred to our guidebook and learned that “Loi” means “to float” and “Krathong” is a raft traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk, decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense sticks etc. During the night of the full moon, many people will release a small raft like this on a river. Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one's grudges & anger, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot. People will also cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the raft as a symbol of letting go of the bad parts of oneself. Many Thai believe that floating a krathong will create good luck, and they do it to honour and thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha.

So, after dinner we bought 2 banana leaf boats, lit the candle in it, and let them go in the Ping River. My husband bought fireworks and went crazy lighting them with the locals. We also decided to buy a lantern to light and let go into the sky just as the locals were doing. Unfortunately, we accidentally set our lantern on fire and had to drop it into the river to avoid getting burned or setting something on fire. Good thing we were along the river!!! The locals had a good laugh.

We ended this wonderful day sitting on our porch enjoying cheap beer!

November 7, 2006 - Chiang Mai

I had pre-booked a driver and planned this day out before we left for Thailand with Sergeant Kai at http://chiangmaitours.com. A young man named Jack, who spoke excellent English, picked us up from the hotel at 8:30am. We began the day by going to the Chiang Mai Elephant Conservation Centre. For 1,000 baht each we saw an unamusing elephant show, rode the elephants for about 1 hour, rode an ox tail cart, and had lunch. It was such an adventurous day - so different than what we typically do when we travel. Our elephants name was Butung and was such a daring animal. He took different routes from the rest of the herd - we're surprised we didn't fall off him. There are a few stops along the trek where the riders pay 20 baht for bananas & sugarcane for fuel for the elephants. We had a decent buffet lunch at the conservation centre. Before we left my husband insisted on feeding the elephants but to his dismay, the larger elephants kept taking the food from the smaller ones.

Next we went to the silver & umbrella factories. It was interesting to see how the locals make these items. Jack, our driver, also took us to a local park with a waterfall. Our last stop was Doi Sethup. This hill-top wat is the crown jewel and shouldn’t be missed.

We asked Jack for his recommendation on an Indian restaurant. He recommended Taj, which is at the night bazaar and agreed to drop us off. The food was really good but for some reason it didn’t sit well with me and my girlfriend. So I decided that a foot massage would help. The lady giving me a massage used a small wooden massager and touched some spot on my foot that made me cringe and pull back. Right away she stopped, looked at me, and asked if my stomach was hurting. I was completely shocked that she knew that and told her how I felt. She changed the way she was massaging my foot and my stomach stopped hurting. She was amazing. And because I felt better I thought it was best to shop my heart out at the night market!

November 8, 2006 - Chiang Mai

My husband woke up and decided that he wanted to do his laundry. There’s a Laundromat to the right of Baan Orapin and somehow my husband was able to communicate with an older woman, who spoke no English, about getting our laundry done. I think they got by with sign language and she was super cute.

A driver from Baan Thai Cookery School picked us up in the morning as I had arranged prior to leaving for Thailand. We lucked out and the 4 of us got a private class with Boom, which means dimple in Thai. She was so great and modified the menu according to our likes. We ended up making Pad Thai, papaya salad, sticky rice with mango, Chiang Mai noodles with yellow curry, and spring rolls. We went to the market and Boom gave us a great tour of the fresh ingredients available from the market. She made us get to work by using a mortar & pestle to make the paste. This was a fantastic way to get exposure to Thai cooking. Thanks to everyone on this board who recommended taking a cooking class.

We walked to Wat Phra Singh to burn off all the food we ate. Right nearby is the Oasis Spa that we read good things about on this site. The setting is gorgeous but we thought the prices were a little high. Boom recommended the Central Park Airport mall and we shopped our brains out. It's a nice air conditioned mall and most of the stores carry merchandise which can be bargained for. As you can imagine, my husband was so annoyed with us 3 girls!

We went back to the hotel in the evening to check-out since our flight was early the next morning. Opas, the owner of the hotel, is really great. The rooms don't have alarm clocks in them and we had a really early flight so he leant us his alarm clock and called a taxi ahead of time so we wouldn't be waiting outside the gate hoping for a taxi to come around. He also told us that the laundry woman came by and dropped off our laundry (thank god!). I can’t believe she went to the trouble of ironing our socks!

We went back to the night bazaar and all of us got the “Dream Package” from Let's Relax spa. For 600 baht we got a 45 min foot reflexology, 15 min hand reflexology, and 30 min back & shoulder massage. It was divine! Bought some more things from the night market and had dinner there too. Re-packed our bags and managed to get to bed at 2am.

All of us really loved Chiang Mai. I thought this leg of our trip was really adventurous and we did things out of the norm for us. I will definitely be returning soon.


Next installment: Koh Phi Phi
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Great detailed report!

I was in Chiang Mai the same time you were! I was travelling solo but made plenty of friends along the way!
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 01:58 AM
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Very nice report. CM during Loy Krathong is magical. We also had a slight problem lighting our floating lantern. It must be a Farang foible. Don't worry about criticizing Baan Orapin. This forum needs every type of input. I'm still computing the penalty for a 5 months late report. It could run into tens of Baht.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 04:02 AM
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Really enjoying your report. My husband and I (about the same age as you) also went to Thailand for the first time in Feb this year, and did really similar things... We stayed at the Majestic Grande too, and like you, were upgraded to a suite on the first day as they didn't have room and then moved to a normal room on the 24th floor the next day. Really liked the hotel too, breakfast was good, pool was small, like you said.

By any chance was the spa you went to near the Majestic Grande Ploenchit Spa? We went to that one near the hotel and got a thai massage for around 300 baht too.

We didn't stay at Baan Orapin but we spent a day with Sgt Kai in Chiang Mai and he was amazing... I really must write my trip report (I'm only 3 months late, I'm hoping I won't incur too great a penalty)
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 04:35 AM
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Maybe I'm not quite as thrilled with Majestic Grande (although it is a nice hotel) because when I checked in, they didn't have my room ready, but gave me something that might be considered a step down... not sure... anyway, the room was too small for my comfort. I'm glad others have had a better experience though. Everything else about the hotel is lovely. Including Sacz, the restaurant/bar in the lobby. It's excellent!
Carol
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 06:17 AM
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Super Report! Keep it coming.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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Enjoying your report!
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Old Apr 29th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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I needed to take a couple of days off from continuing on with this trip report because on Friday morning I had laser eye surgery – and I can now see without glasses or contacts. It’s amazing what modern technology is capable of – it’s simply a miracle!

Okay back to this trip report. Before I write about our adventures in Koh Phi Phi I just want to let the fodorites know who were at the GTG in Bangkok on November 6th that I had a drink for you and wished you guys a wonderful time. I had originally planned this trip to attend the GTG but the girls were only going to be in Chiang Mai from Nov 6-8, so my husband and I had to change our itinerary to accommodate that. I made them raise their drinks in your honour and I swear they think I’m crazy when an Asia travel question comes up and I say “let me ask my friends on fodors”!!! Thanks again for all your input because you truly made this trip a remarkable experience.


Next installment: Koh Phi Phi (I promise!)
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Old Apr 29th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Sorry you couldn't be with us at the Bangkok GTG, but I'm glad to hear you were with us in spirit!
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Old Apr 29th, 2007, 02:17 PM
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November 9, 2006 – Koh Phi Phi

We woke up at 4:30am for our trip to Koh Phi Phi not knowing that this was going to be the longest day of our lives! The taxi that Opas had reserved the night before was promptly waiting for us at 5am to take us to the airport. The 4 of us took the 7am flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on Thai Air. We bid the girls farewell as they were staying in Bangkok for their last night before flying back home to Toronto. My husband & I took a connecting flight from Bangkok to Phuket. I was thankful that we booked the 7am flight as our connecting flight was delayed by an hour. We got a taxi from outside the Phuket airport and for 450 baht, the taxi driver drove us to the Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort.

Upon reserving our hotel stay at Le Meridien, I had pre-arranged with them to store our large luggage in their storage while we were in Koh Phi Phi. I had read that it was difficult taking large luggage onto the ferry to Koh Phi Phi so I only wanted to take our carry-ons since we were going to be there for only 3 nights. As soon as we got out of the taxi with our luggage, we told the porters at the front and they tagged our luggage for storage and gave us our confirmations. It was very organized. Since the taxi left as soon as we paid him, I trusted my husband to coordinate with the concierge on how we should get to the pier to catch the next ferry to Koh Phi Phi while I used the ladies room. To my surprise I found out that he agreed to pay 670 baht for a lift to the pier and 1,000 baht per person for the ferry ride. I thought I was going to kill him for getting ripped off! I didn’t have much choice but to accept the rates since the ferry was leaving in 40 min.

Le Meridien had reserved seats for us on the Andaman Master ferry with an inflated price of 1,000 baht per person but upon getting to the pier we realized that the fare was for a two-way ferry ride and drop off to our hotels in Koh Phi Phi and in Phuket. I guess it wasn’t such a bad deal after all! We had no idea where to get off. A lady that worked with the ferry asked all passengers where they were staying and made sure everyone got off at the correct stop. What I thought was going to be a 1 ½ hour ferry ride, turned out to be a 3 hours ferry ride. The first stop was in the middle of the sea, where passengers staying in Koh Lanta got off to get onto another ferry. The second stop was in Tonsai Bay where the majority of the passengers got off. It took almost 45 min for these people to get their luggage and exit from the ferry. Thank god we only had our carry-ons! The third stop was for Phi Phi Island Village. A small boat came to get the few passengers that got off here. Finally the last stop was for us – Holiday Inn Phi Phi (and some other hotels as well).

The ferry stopped 15 min away from the hotel in the middle of the ocean and a Holiday Inn long tail boat came to get us. Then a tractor comes into the water to take guests on the property. A unique way to come to the hotel! It was now 5pm (12 hours of traveling) and we were exhausted. The complimentary fruit cocktail was a welcome retreat.

We booked our stay through Priority Club points before we left for Thailand. I suppose because we weren’t paying they gave us a garden room bungalow (# 419) instead of the beachfront bungalow! Nonetheless, the garden room was really nice and clean. There are no TVs in the room but there is a Leisure Room with a TV and a selection of movies.

We took a much needed shower but to our dismay, there was no hot water. Since we were so tired and hungry, we decided to let the front desk know in the morning until we realized that the safe wasn’t working either. We called the front desk and within 10 min someone came and fixed both issues.

We went for dinner at the hotel and decided on their Thai buffet for 650 baht each. We were really surprised with the price of the food – very high for Thailand. We’re not used to eating all or most of our meals at a hotel. But we both agreed that we shouldn’t be too concerned with it since our hotel room was free. After dinner we walked around the hotel premises and called it an early night.

November 10, 2006 – Koh Phi Phi

Today we relaxed. We had been on the run for the past 6 days and really needed to take it easy. We had a huge buffet breakfast and tried banana pancakes for the first time – so YUMMY! The breakfast buffet is 400 baht each and the hotel adds a 17% tax as well. The hotel surroundings, rooms, beach and pool areas are really nice and well groomed. We ate lunch at Sawasdee Restaurant in the Gypsy Village next door and found the prices to be much less than the hotel prices. We walked the length of the beach and saw the 2 other hotels on the same side. We really liked the Holiday Inn and felt like it was a great choice for us. We got the complimentary snorkelling gear & practiced in the pool. The beach has Tsunami warning signs to guide people inland, much like we have fire routes in North America.

What I loved about the Holiday Inn Phi Phi is the Sunset Bar. You walk up a pathway that leads you to a cliff where there are lounge chairs and tables. There’s a grill where you can order satay dishes and beer and watch the sunset. It’s absolutely stunning. It’s only open from 5pm to 7pm so be sure to get there right when it opens to get the best seats.

We had the hotels Italian buffet dinner (there’s a different theme every night). We killed time by using the internet waiting for happy hour at 10pm. Enjoyed the live band over some Singha beers and then called it an early night again. Gosh we miss having a TV……….


November 11, 2006 – Koh Phi Phi

Our last day started off with another fantastic buffet breakfast. We booked a long tail boat for 1,600 baht through the hotel to go to Phi Phi Lei and Tonsai Bay from 10am – 4pm and got Wan as our driver/guide. We took the Holiday Inn’s complimentary snorkelling gear with us and used it around Phi Phi Lei. It took us an hour to get to Maya Bay, where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. The pictures do not do justice to just how beautiful this place is. Again the scenery was just breathtaking and the water was so clear.

Next we went to Loh-Samah but didn’t bother getting off the boat to snorkel because there were so many high-speed ferries and people in the water. We put our life jackets on when we got to Pileh and swam around in the Andaman Sea – what an amazing feeling. We drove past the Viking Cave but were too nervous to go inside since it looked dark and unsafe.

Our last stop was Tonsai Bay on Phi Phi Don because we hadn’t seen much of it. Had lunch there and noticed all of the construction that was going on. This place was hit hard during the 2004 Tsunami and I don’t think much of it survived. It looked like they are still rebuilding. When we got back to our hotel we decided to swim & snorkel on the gorgeous beach in front of the Holiday Inn. We saw a couple with bandages on their face, hands and feet. I asked them what happened and they explained that they fell off a motorcycle in Patong and had severely cut themselves. Note to self – don’t rent a motorcycle in Patong!

In the evening, we went back to the Sunset Bar for another fabulous sunset. I’ve seen many sunsets but nothing can compare to this! Tonight’s dinner theme was BBQ and was very good. Because there are no TVs in the rooms, we went to the hotel leisure room and watched the movie “The Whole Ten Yards”. It was really relaxing to lye down and watch a movie before going to bed.


Next installment: Phuket
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Old Apr 29th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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Thank you for your wonderful report-I am working with Sgt. Kai for a 5 day package to CM-ThaTonVillage and CR.
We will be in Bangkok October 6th for a week-then to Bali for a week-back to Thailand for a beach week and when our traveling friends go back to the US because of all you fodorites I decided to do that Northern area on our own-Thanks Chris
PS-Still don't have our plane tickets-hoping Thai airlines will extend their promotion buy one business get one free
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Old Apr 30th, 2007, 10:35 PM
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Glad you enjoyed the Holiday Inn Phi Phi. I have been singing its praises for some time on this forum.
Yes, the sunset bar is quite stunning,we never tire of it.
The timing of arrival at Phuket is critical if you are to catch the last ferry at 1.15 and avoid a kind of wasted night in Phuket. This is one of the reasons we use the speedboat transfer. Expensive I know,but we think it's worth it.
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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Hi rsidhu, just topping this one. I'd really love for you to finish off with the Phuket section if you're still online. I'm trying to get to Thailand in November and looking for information/trip reports on where to go based on weather and such. Your trip report is wonderful!
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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don't know how i missed this in april, but glad to read it now....majestic grande seems to fill a real void in bkk...middle priced convenient place...
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 12:13 PM
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Five years of photos from Holiday Inn Phi Phi on following link

http://leightravel.smugmug.com/

many more to be added to this collection,going back more years than I care to remember.....and I hope there will be many more to come!!
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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AntInNewYork, I'm so sorry for not finishing this. I guess you already went to Thailand huh? I had the report finished; I just forgot to post the ending here. Anyways, to tie loose ends, here it is:

November 12, 2006 – Phuket

We woke up early to catch the 7am ferry to Phuket since we knew it would take a long time to get there. I really loved the Holiday Inn Phi Phi except for the hotel management. When we were checking out the management gave us the list of hotel charges and included in the list was an enormous rate for the room. I iterated that we were staying at the hotel through points and showed him the print-out that was attached to the check-in receipt. He said that the room that we reserved on points wasn’t available when we checked in and they had upgraded us. I freaked out and said that was impossible as we were clearly staying in a garden bungalow, which is not one of their luxury rooms and I argued that if that was the case, which it wasn’t, why weren’t we informed at check-in? We had used 45,000 priority club points to book these rooms and there was no way we were going to lose those points and pay! We argued for a bit, he went in the back, and then came out and told me that he called Priority Club and they confirmed it. What I couldn’t understand was why they didn’t question me at check-in when I presented the confirmation. Anyways, the long tail boat generously waited for us for take everyone out to the ferry. Other than the above, I loved the Holiday Inn Phi Phi and would stay here again. I highly recommend it.

We got into Phuket in the early afternoon and after checking into the beautiful Le Meridien Beach Resort we had lunch and took a much needed nap. We booked our stay using SPG points before we left for Thailand. The hotel is absolutely beautiful. The setting is exactly like their website and the beach is so clean. What I really liked about the hotel is the private beach. No one comes around to sell you anything – very relaxing!

The hotel delivered a bowl of delicious fruits to the room with a description of each fruit – nice touch. In the evening, we got the hotel to call Narry’s to pick us up for a consultation. Narry’s is an Indian tailor we read about in one of the magazines we found on our domestic Thai Air flights. My husband ordered 2 suits, 2 shirts, & 2 ties for a phenomenal price. Since Narry’s is located in Patong, we decided to stay in the area for dinner. Down the street is Viva Mexico and for some strange reason, I was craving Mexican food. For 660 baht we got chicken tacos, vegetable enchiladas, and 2 cokes. Very delicious! I’m ashamed to say that we liked Patong because it was so busy. A fun place to be after walking around and shopping – for us! What surprised me were all the Nepalese people in Phuket. We’re East Indian so when they saw us they would sing Bollywood songs to get our attention!


November 13, 2006 – Phuket

Today we spent the whole morning relaxing on the incredible private beach. This is definitely one of our favourite hotels. At one end of the beach is a hut where Thai ladies give 1 hour massages for 400 baht. Just bring your hotel beach towel with you and the ladies will use oil & Tiger Balm to massage your whole body. It's heaven! We had lunch at the hotel and then relaxed by the pool for the remainder of the day. Life is good!!! In the evening we walked to the end of the hotel driveway and flagged down a tuk tuk. It normally cost us 100 baht to get to Patong and 150 baht to get back to the hotel. We went back to Narry’s for a fitting and had dinner at Café Spatz, which was pretty good. After shopping around for a bit, we ended the night with beers at the Irish Bar. A perfect way to spend a relaxing day.


November 14, 2006 – Phuket

I’m realizing as I write my report on Phuket that we didn’t do much here. Sorry if this is getting repetitive. We both took part in the complementary intro to scuba diving lesson offered by the hotel. Both of us liked it and we did pretty well that we decided to sign up for the Discover Scuba Diving course offered by the hotel the next day. We played mini golf and went to the driving range, which is on the hotel premises and complimentary to hotel guests. Spent the rest of the day swimming in the pool and sleeping under the sun!

I really wanted to have dinner while watching the sunset but we didn’t wake up from our nap until 7pm. My husband had his last fitting at Narry’s and everything turned out great. We decided on Italian tonight so we had dinner at Grotino. For 630 baht we got a bottle of water, Coke, lasagna Bolognese and cannelloni – very yummy! We walked around a bit and then my husband, who loves mangos, really wanted mango with sticky rice. We asked 3 different restaurants and all of them said that mangos are not in season so they weren’t serving the dish. We tried one more restaurant, Savoy, and to our surprise they had it. We got mango with sticky rice and coconut ice cream for 130 baht and it was total heaven!

Took a taxi back to the hotel and my hubby decided to model his new custom clothes – so cute!


November 15, 2006 – Phuket

After breakfast and lounging around the pool, we set out to meet Hulgar, our scuba diving instructor. We signed up for the Scuba Diving lesson and dive the day before and paid 2,900 baht each for the experience. It was our first dive ever and although it’s really expensive, we booked it because of the convenience. The dive is right off the hotels beach. Since no one else joined that same day, we had a private session with Hulgar – very nice.

We started off with a short in class lesson and then we learned how to put the scuba equipment on – it was heavy. We did the water lessons in the pool. I was much slower than my husband in getting the breathing technique right and was totally surprised when my husband backed out of going into the sea. I had my doubts too but Hulgar insisted I at least try it and he promised to hold my hand the whole way!

I had my water camera with me and took some amazing shots of the coral and the colourful fish. I even saw a beautiful black & white striped water snake and was wondering why Hulgar was just staring at me. Well when we came to shore he told me that water snakes are more venomous than land snakes. Good think I didn’t know that while we were in the water – I would have freaked out! He was really proud of me and we started laughing when we looked up and saw my husband sitting on the rocks, waiting for us – so cute.

We shared a pizza for lunch so we would be hungry for dinner at 5:30pm. Just want to mention that I highly recommend this hotel. There is a lot to do or you can just laze around and do nothing. It’s perfect.

Shared a tuk-tuk with a Swiss couple to the Marina Phuket hotel in Karon Beach to have dinner at On the Rocks. Dinner was really good and the scenery was amazing. We managed to make it to dinner on time to see the sunset.

The driver from Narry’s, whose name is Num, gave us his business card and told us to call him if we needed to go anywhere. After we learned that Le Meridien charges 1200 baht to get dropped off at the airport, we called him and he said he charges 600 baht. I guess that’s a no brainer!


November 16, 2006 – Bangkok

Check-out was a breeze but Num was late. We asked the hotel to call him for us but their phone lines were down. I started panicking and one of the hotel staff overheard me and offered to call him from his cell phone. Num finally showed up and we made it to the airport 55 min before our domestic flight to Bangkok. I was freaking out but the airport staff didn’t really care that we showed up so late. We flew Phuket to Bangkok on Thai Air and checked back into the Majestic Grande. Had a late lunch at Dosa King and took the sky train to the MBK Center again for some more shopping. I really wanted to go to Cabbages & Condoms before we left Thailand so we went there for dinner and had a great Thai meal there. The restaurant was really funny and had items are made of condoms! The restaurant also gives out condoms instead of candy or mint to promote AIDS awareness. We ended the night with a 1 hour foot massage (that surprisingly included a back, neck, & arm massage too!).


November 17, 2006 – Bangkok

Nov 17th was our last day in Thailand. We started off by going to Khao San Road. We shopped a bit and had lunch there. By mid-afternoon it was way too hot to be outside so we decided to go to MBK again since its air conditioned. Neither of us wanted to shop so we found out the mall had a movie theatre and Casino Royale, the new James Bond movie, was playing in English. Watched the movie and indulged in cheap popcorn! Went back to the hotel and before leaving for the airport we decided to get one last ½ hour foot massage. What a great way to end our trip! Our flight wasn't until midnight so the hotel allowed us to use the showers on the 7th floor in the spa to freshen up for our long flight.

We made our way to the check-in counter at the airport and it was chaos. It was a complete nightmare. We got to the airport at 9:20pm and didn’t make it to the gate until 12am. TIP: arrive extra early for an international flight.


Summary

Thailand is a wonderful country. The people are so nice, the food is incredible, and it’s still very cheap considering the level of service you get and the accommodations. I can’t wait to return – and I will very soon. Thanks to all of you for your valuable advice and for reading my report.
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