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nzers Aug 23rd, 2006 02:27 AM

Just back from a wonderful month long family adventure in Thailand - Part 3


We flew from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on Air Asia (departed on time) & then on to Krabi on Thai Airways. Krabi airport is brand new and very efficient. We were off the flight and outside within 10 minutes. We had pre-arranged the transfer to our hotel - The Sunrise Tropical Resort on Railay East, as it was easier than struggling with our bags ourselves. We knew from staying here two years ago that arriving on a self-arranged longtail boat with suitcases can be tricky at low tide - you are required to wade thru knee deep water. This time it was a breeze. Our driver organised everything J.

Railay was as beautiful as ever. The jungle covered limestone cliffs simply take your breath away. The Sunrise Tropical Resort is great value for money plus it allows two children to stay in the same room - something that no other Railay hotels allow. We had a "Tropical Villa Plus" - a large stand alone bungalow complete with a beautiful outdoor shower, in the middle of a lush tropical garden . We noticed that Railay was much, much busier than the same time two years ago. Last time we were virtually the only guests, but this time the place was fully booked! We ate over at Railay West and noticed that the restaurants were chokka block too. So much for it being the "low season". The secret must be out…

Anyway, we spent lots of time on Phra Nang beach (which is only a 10 minute walk from Railay East), swimming in the gorgeous aqua blue water and exploring Railay. It was nice to be by the sea again. The kids especially loved watching the wild monkeys and their antics and spotting squirrels and frogs. Railay is a great place to take kids! We could have taken a trip out to the off shore islands to do some snorkelling, however the sea was a bit chopping during our stay and we were quite content staying put.

We ventured over to Ao Nang for a couple of hours shopping & had lunch, but were disappointed to see that a few of the shops had closed & were still empty. Maybe a result of the downturn following the Tsunami?? But what a fiasco getting from Railay West to Ao Nang tho’ – unless we were prepared to rent a longtail for ourselves, we had to wait until there were enough people to fill one. That’s fine – except there was no-one going that way – they were all coming IN to Railay FROM Ao Nang. Fine, you might think – grab one of the returning boats… But no! There is a rule that boats may only take passengers one way! Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous. Here we are waiting for a ride, watching empty boats going to where we needed to go! In the end, we walked back to Railay East, stepped straight onto a boat going to Naomao Pier & a songthew to Ao Nang. We had no problem getting back to Railay West tho’. Grrrrrr.


After our 4 nights in Railay we arranged for a minivan to take us to Phuket for the last 12 days of our holiday. We also had two weeks here last time and just had to come back for more. The drive was very scenic and if I wasn't troubled with an upset tummy we would have taken some detours. The drive took us about 3 hours.

We stayed at the Le Meridien Beach Resort just outside Patong - again because they allow 2 kids in the room. As we were returning guests we were upgraded to a pool view room in the Mali wing - yeah! These rooms had all been revamped - new paint, wooden floors (bad idea - you hear everything from the floor above) & new duvets - it was really nice. The kids practically lived in the kids club everyday from opening to closing (their choice) & twice they even refused to come to Patong to go shopping with us and ended up having Maccas brought back for them. They did all sorts of craft activities, sports, swimming, dancing etc and made a number of friends from all over the world. My 10 year old even started speaking with a British accent as she was spending all her time yakking to a girl from the UK. Hubby & I loved spending plenty of time together lazing by the pool...;-).

Most evenings we grabbed a tuk tuk (B100) and went into Patong for a spot of shopping and to eat at the great cheap restaurants there. Our favourites are Sweets (cheap cheap), Sabai Sabai (getting dearer), Patong Bakery (yummy!) & Molly Malones for some mashed spuds (too salty & more expensive).

I enjoyed shopping in Phuket compared to Bangkok & Chiang Mai & came home with far too many pairs of shoes and not enough bags. Here's what we paid:

Mens surf shorts: B250
Mens T shirts: B200 – 250
Ladies T shirts: B160 – 200
Roxy Shorts: B150
Handbags: Good quality leather “Gucci” handbags about B1200 up. These are the ones from in the back rooms (ask to see) not the cruddy ones on display out the front.
CDs & DVDs: B80. Only buy from back rooms where they have a dvd/tv setup to view the movies. We used the guy in the back of the Hello Kitty shop opposite Sweets restaurant in Patong. All ours work fine & he freely told us which ones not to buy.
Silk cushion covers: B100
Silk table runners: B150
Jandals: B150
Leather slip on shoes: B350
Sandals: B200

The Patong O Top market on Rat U Thit Rd opposite the Holiday Inn was the best place to shop. They have everything you can possibly want & are lovely to deal with.

We had an awesome day out with “PhuketRichard” at the Elephant Rehab centre, and despite already doing the elephant thing in Chiang Mai, we decided to go for another ride. Well, what a hoot. Our girls were allowed to ride on the neck of their elephant while the mahoot sat with me in the basket or walked ahead! It is all they can talk about - being a mahoot and driving the elephant. Richard is a great guy - very generous with his time and information. We spent a couple of hours grooming the famous "Charlie" - the white palmed gibbon & his girlfriend Lam Yai & had a fantastic lunch at the Little View Point cafe. Hi Jameses family from Perth!!

Another day we hired a driver - Mai - to take us around the island. We drove up to Bang Tao Beach and checked out a couple of the resorts up there. Decided they were way too far out for our liking - although the lagoon looked really nice. Then it was on to the Boat Lagoon Marina to meet a lady I “knew” from a travel forum who recommended Mai to us (Hi Tina). He then dropped us at the new Central Festival mall for a couple of hours to do some shopping before driving us thru Rawai Beach and onto Promthep Cape and the Kata Lookout. A great day out despite it raining nonstop.

Anyway, we're home now in the cold, busy trying to figure out where to go next year - I vote for Thailand, anywhere else seems dull in comparison.

Any questions, I'll be happy to help if I can...



Reeta Aug 23rd, 2006 03:06 AM

Hi Nzers,

Thank you so much for your three wonderful reports. They were all great. Can you remember how much it cost for your transfer from Krabi to Phuket? And who you did it through?


rhkkmk Aug 23rd, 2006 07:19 AM

thanks for sharring with us....sounds like a good family trip...

nzers Aug 23rd, 2006 09:26 PM

Hi Reeta,

Thanks Reeta. We paid B2800 for our transfer from Railay to Phuket, including private longtail boat to the pier. We organised it thru the resort and asked for a van so that we had more comfort. I thought that was a pretty good price given they had to turn around and drive all the way back after dropping us off.



may_east Aug 24th, 2006 01:46 AM

hi nzers,
i've been watching your trip from the begining...

could you share the le meridien experience in terms of the room type.
what type of beds did you get ? twins ? kind and rollaway ?

And if you can share the price that you paid.
there is a good promotion of buy 4 get 2 nights free at the meridien. is it worth getting a sea view room, or the cheaper ones ?

nzers Aug 24th, 2006 02:11 AM

Hi May

We booked the Le Meridien as part of a package with our airfares. We booked a garden view room & the advertised rate was NZ$109 per person per night incl breakfast. They had a deal which if you paid for 6 nights you got 6 nights free - BUT, breakfasts on the free nights were compulsory and additional - a total of NZ$100 per day!!! Anyway, it still worked out to be a good deal for us.

We had a supersized king bed plus a rollaway (a good size single). I checked the twins and they are just king single beds not doubles as I had previously thought.

Because we had stayed before, they upgraded us to a pool view room - we could also see the sea thru the trees. I personally would not pay a lot to be upgraded tho' - I'd be happy anywhere (providing it's quiet) given the amount of time we spent in the room.

In terms of room type - the garden view and pool view are identical except for outlook, and the oceanview rooms have a cutout in the wall between the bathroom & bedroom which allows you to see out when in the shower I guess>> They looked to be the same size & have the same furniture etc.

Good luck & happy holiday


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