We just returned home from Southeast Asia a few weeks ago and PHEW, do I have a lot to report back on.
Guys, I’m not going to lie, Thailand was A LOT of work on all levels. We (I) planned, and planned, and planned. Since I used multiple amazing travel blogs that lead me in the right (and some wrong!) directions – I thought I’d contribute by sharing the best of the trip and the worst. Traveling to Asia from the United States is a huge trip with a big culture shock involved and I always like to keep it real over here by showing the good and the bad.
We flew non-stop on United from San Francisco to Hong Kong, then took a 2.5 hour flight to Bangkok from there. I honestly couldn’t recommend this flying schedule enough. I used a half and half points and payment upgrade offer in order to get on the Business Class waiting list and literally as our flight was boarding, someone didn’t show up and my name was called for the upgrade! Especially exciting as this Business Class had United’s new Polaris upgrade which was incredibly luxurious – we’re talking multiple course meals, Saks Fifth Avenue linens, and wine tasting!! After landing in Hong Kong we took advantage of the Priority Pass lounge that had a full on noodle bar, drink cooler, buffet bar, and lots of beer options, most definitely the best Priority Pass lounge I’ve been in and we covered a lot this trip. (I received my Priority Pass from my Chase Saphire Reserve card, which, if you know me, I am completely obsessed with.)
We arrived at Bangkok at 9:30pm, and easily got a taxi (while having a minor heart attack learning that there are multiple hotels with the same name of the one we booked), but ended up making it to the hotel, Park Plaza Soi 18, within an hour. This timing was absolutely perfect as we passed out as soon we laid our heads on the pillows and awoke refreshed and alert by morning!
Bangkok: We stayed in Bangkok the first two days of the trip and the last two. Bangkok is a thriving city that puts any US city to shame when it comes to culture, people, food, and hospitality. If I were to choose one area to come back to in Thailand, it would be Bangkok. You’d need a year here to fit it all in!
Our favorite restaurant visited: Issaya Siamese Club – a top 50 restaurant in Asia located in a secluded grassy court yard adorned with bean bags, luxurious outdoor/indoor seating. We enjoyed their 12 course tasting menu with highlights being the lobster and macaroons! This place was considered extremely pricey to Thai standards, but as an American, our $200 bill for 4 cocktails, two 12 course tastings and dessert, this was a steal 🙂
What we did:
- The Temples. I usually hate doing tours like this, but I’d rate this a must-see and a special memory from the trip. When they say people will try to tell you they’re closed, they aren’t kidding, it happened to us twice
- Custom suit shopping for the guy!
- Rooftop swimming and happy hour at our hotel pool
- A very strong Thai massage that cost $8 for 70 minutes
- Chatuchak Market. This is another must do. If you’re traveling domestically within Thailand through Don Mueang Airport, I’d recommend stopping here on your way to the airport. If you’re daring, you can hire a taxi through your hotel, (this part is key) and they will wait with your baggage while at the market, then bring you to the airport when you’re ready. This will cost less than $20
- Chinatown. All of the locals will advise you to not go, we loved it! Full of culture, food, and stores filled with anything you could imagine
- Public river boats to different areas in the city
- Took advantage of our hotel rooftops. Our second hotel in Bangkok, Avani Riverside has the most AMAZING rooftop pool and lounge. This hotel is a must stay in Bangkok
Koh Phi Phi Island: The best of Thailand.
Where we stayed: Phi Phi Island Village Resort a must stay. If you stay anywhere else on the island you’re looking at a tourist trap, dirty town with less than 2 star accommodations. Phi Phi Island Village Resort was the best resort I have ever been to. It’s luxury private bungalows, amazing restaurants, and adorable little village next door was everything we could have dreamed of and more.
Our favorite spot we ate at:
We tried all of the restaurants at the resort for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and all were perfect, but the best dinner we had on the island was at Oasis – located in the very small village behind the resort. You cant miss it, there is only about 4 places and its in the middle of nowhere. We had the best thai food here out of the entire trip, and an ambiance that matched; eclectic, fun, and loud. A must.
What we did? Nothing. Cocktails, beach, and swim up bar. All day everyday.
What I wished we skipped:
Krabi – Although Krabi had beautiful beaches and hiking trails, our so-called 4 star hotel left much to be desired aside from its rooftop pool. Restaurants in the downtown area were cheesy and the town was a bit of a tourist trap with rude locals who seemed to absolutely hate visitors.
Phuket/Karon Beach/Patong: The shows in Patong were something I will never forget. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about! That said, I found the entire region of Phuket to be like Vegas with a dirty beach. Our “5 star” beach resort was more of a 2 star for US expectations. If you don’t get some bad with travel you haven’t done it right, right? 🙂
Next time I’d love to see Chiang Mai and Ko Samui, still recovering from that 21 hour flight, though!