9 Days in Thailand 2017 – A Dreamy Phuket and Bangkok Holiday
Thailand is one of my favorite places to go on a holiday. I’ve been there many times before, but the country grows more and more fascinating each time I visit. For my Thailand 2017 holiday, my family and I decided to spend a week on the beach at Phuket and a couple of days sightseeing in Bangkok.
Getting in the mood to get away on Thai Airways
Our Thailand 2017 adventure started long before we landed in the country. In fact, the moment it started was the moment we boarded our plane at Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Nothing beats traveling business class or first class when going on a holiday. And Thai Airways always does business class so well.
Thai Airways’ business class, labeled the Royal Silk Class, is truly extraordinary. The seats are roomy and comfy. If you want to sleep, you can simply recline your seat. The seat has a thin mattress, and the cabin crew provides you a pillow and blanket for extra comfort. If you want to sleep through the flight even during mealtime, you only need to let the flight attendant know. They’ll let you catch up on your beauty rest and serve your meal later.
Speaking of meals, meals on board the Royal Silk Class are sumptuous multi-course meals. The meal starts with an appetizer and a fresh salad, followed by the main course. A cheese and fruit plate comes right after, and the meal ends with dessert. You have a selection of entrees to choose from for your main course. At Thai Airways, the meals are often inspired by the flight’s destination. The airline also offers a variety of drinks you can imbibe on board – champagne, handpicked wines, soft drinks, or juice.
As luxurious as the Royal Silk Class is, what I love most about the flight is how attentive the members of the cabin crew are. It’s Asian hospitality at its finest. We truly appreciate the care and attention to detail they show their passengers.
On the return flight, Thai Airways also had a section dedicated just to Royal Silk and First Class passengers. You seat on comfortable seats while you check-in and there are almost no lines. After check-in, there is also a dedicated security and passport control check. When you are done with this, you can relax at the lounge. Read my review of Thai Airways in another post.
Kata Beach Resort and Spa: Our home in Phuket
After 11 hours of flying non-stop, we landed at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. From there, we took a one-hour flight that took us to Phuket International Airport. At the Phuket airport, we were met by our transfer guide holding a placard with our names on it. Another hour and we’re finally at the Kata Beach Resort and Spa.
Kata Beach Resort and Spa is our favorite place to stay at whenever we’re in Phuket. It’s right on the beach and the sea views are just breathtaking. Unlike with other resorts in the area, you don’t have to cross the street just to get to the beach at the Kata Beach Resort. You’re already there. Other than that, the resort has two swimming pools and a marvelous spa. More on the spa later.
Upon checking in to our room, all we wanted to do was to put on our swimsuits and get in the water. Never mind that we’re still jetlagged. We’re that eager to soak in the sea and the sunshine. But when we came down, Glenn, the general manager, recognized us as repeat guests. So we were treated to lunch at the poolside restaurant.
Savoring Phuket’s local cuisine
We didn’t eat much at the hotel, though. When we’re in Phuket, we prefer to do our share in supporting the local economy by eating at the local restaurants. That’s why it’s always a good idea to book a room in a hotel that provides complimentary breakfast. You can have your first meal of the day at your hotel. Then you can make searching for local food part of your adventure. Eating local is cheaper than eating at the hotel restaurant too.
Phuket’s local cuisine is exciting, a product of Thai, Malay, and Chinese culinary traditions. As a result, most of the foods we found were either spicy, just how the Thais and the Malays usually like it, or sweet and savory, the way many Chinese love it.
If you’re not too picky, you can live off eating street food sold by hawkers all over town. It’s easy to find them. Just go to the nearest market or convenience store. You’re sure to find a cart or two parked there selling something scrumptious. Or you can hail a wandering food vendor toting baskets of food and see what they’re selling.
At times, we took the Tuktuk to restaurants on a cliff with great views of the ocean. But most of these restaurants serve Thai food. Don’t forget to ask for “mild” because it can be very spicy.
When you’re sampling street food in Phuket, don’t miss the moo ping and khao niao. Moo ping is pork marinated in fish sauce, garlic, coconut milk, and palm sugar, then grilled on a skewer. Khao niao or sticky rice typically accompanies moo ping. Another favorite is som tam, practically the national dish of Thailand. Som tam is green papaya salad with a sweet-sour-spicy sauce. Roti is also a popular offering among street hawkers in Phuket. Yum.
After eating a lot of Asian food, some of the members of your group may want pizza or other European cuisine. Oasia has both. Some of us ordered Thai and some ordered pizzas.
Fun under the Phuket sun
So, what did we do in Phuket besides swimming and gorging on local cuisine?
- We rented a tuk-tuk to explore the island. We especially enjoyed Karon Beach and Patong Beach. Karon lies to the north of Kata Beach. It’s a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. People also go there to visit the Buddhist temple and to enjoy the nightlife.
Patong Beach, on the other hand, is the most happening beach in all of Phuket. Located to the north of Karon, Patong is the place to go to experience the wild nightlife Phuket is famous for. Shopping in Patong is also excellent. We came home with a few fabulous fashion finds from here.
- We sampled the nightlife. There are plenty of beaches around Thailand, but Patong Beach in Phuket is the one you go to if you want to party until sunrise. We went dancing, barhopping, and listening to live music. Especially entertaining are the island’s famous ladyboys, all dolled-up and wowing the crowd with their numbers.
- We went to the spa every day. Hey, this is Phuket, after all. The point of staying at a spa resort is to get pampered as much as you want to. Foot massages and full-body massages every night – ah, heaven! On our last day at the hotel, we even went for the resort’s aloe vera full-body massage to soothe our sun-kissed skin.
- If you do have time, take a day trip to Koh Phi Phi. We have been there on a previous occasion, but did not go this time. It is a great day trip for everyone. If you are an avid diver like I am, there is a dive center at the back of Kata Beach Resort and Spa. They have a lot of different options for you, from a half day dive to on-board diving for several days.
Off to Bangkok
We stayed in Phuket for six days. On the seventh day of our Thailand 2017 holiday, the Kata Beach Resort kindly took us back to Phuket International Airport. From there, we caught a flight back to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
In Bangkok, we checked in at one of the serviced apartments at Somerset Lake Point. The apartment is well-appointed, with all the comforts you can expect from a luxury apartment. The unit has its own completely furnished kitchen, but we didn’t use it during our stay. Somerset Lake Point is located within Bangkok’s central business district. There are a lot of dining options available at the hotel.
Speaking of food, we especially loved dining at the US Steakhouse restaurant just across Somerset Lake. Their beef is the best beef we’ve ever tasted that side of Bangkok. The restaurant serves only New York strip loin, rib-eye, and filet mignon, all certified Angus beef. Your beef orders there come with your choice of potato dish. And you can order other side dishes like creamed spinach with mozzarella, steamed broccoli, and French onion soup.
And what’s a stop at Bangkok without shopping? My friends and I had fun hunting for fashion treasure finds at Silom Complex, MBK Center, and the Platinum Fashion Mall. The shopping choices at these malls are dizzying but delightful. And our treasure finds cost us much, much less than if we bought them in Norway. Bangkok is a dream destination for fashionistas on a budget. Fashionable or not, try riding a tuk-tuk when you are in Bangkok. But do watch out for your valuables as it is open on all sides.
A day trip to Ayutthaya
While at Bangkok, we made a point to take a day trip to Ayutthaya. If you’re traveling to Bangkok, you mustn’t miss a visit to this UNESCO heritage site.
Why is Ayutthaya so important? You see, before there was Bangkok, there was Ayutthaya. Established in 1350, Ayutthaya served as the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. A center of commerce, religion, and politics, Ayutthaya shone as the symbol of the power possessed by the Siamese kings.
However, in 1767, Ayutthaya became a casualty of the Siamese-Burmese Wars. The Burmese army burned it to the ground. The reigning King Taksim then moved his capital from the ruins of Ayutthaya to Bangkok.
Today, the ruins of Ayutthaya remain a testament to the glorious past of Siam. Some of the fallen temples have been restored. Many of the treasures that survived looting were recovered and moved to the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. The Museum is also located within Ayutthaya.
If you’re going to Ayutthaya, you mustn’t miss:
- Wat Mahathat. Wat Mahathat contains Ayutthaya’s most iconic image: the Buddha’s head entangled among the roots of an overgrown banyan tree. The temple also was the center of the inner sanctum of Ayutthaya. Its principal treasure is a casket containing Buddha’s relics, now moved to Chao Sam Phraya.
- Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Formerly the Royal Monastery, Wat Phra Si Sanphet is home to three intact chedis. Chedis are Buddhist stupas used in Thailand. These particular chedis are the resting grounds of three Ayutthaya kings.
- Wat Na Phramen. This temple was the only one spared by the Buddhist army in Ayutthaya’s sacking. In Wat Na Phramen, you’ll find a magnificent intact Buddha statue dressed in regal attire.
- Chao Sam Phraya. This national museum is where you’ll find all the treasures recovered from the ruins of Ayutthaya. These treasures include gold ornaments, Buddhist sculptures, and decorative panels.
Ayutthaya is some 76 km from Bangkok. My family and I visited the place as a private tour group. Booking a tour is a convenient way of exploring the ruins while having someone tell you about the place. But you can also DIY it by hiring a taxi for the day and wander about the temples as you please.
Cruising the Chao Phraya River
We also went on a cruise on the great Chao Phraya River while we were at Bangkok. This cruise is a must if you’re in this part of Thailand.
The Chao Phraya River is dubbed “The River of Kings.” It is an apt name for this mighty river. After all, the river plays such an important role in the life, culture, and economy of Thailand. Every single day, thousands of people sail the river to get from place to place in Bangkok. The river also sustains the life and livelihood of the millions of people living along its banks.
Why should you go on a cruise down the Chao Phraya River? A boat ride along the river is probably the best way to admire the cityscapes of Bangkok. On a boat, you get to view the modern skyscrapers sharing space with the city’s ancient edifices along the riverbank. Of these edifices, there are four you must see:
- The Grand Palace, the complex serving as the official residence of the Thai royal family
- Wat Arun, one of the most distinctive Buddhist temples in Bangkok
- Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha
- Wat Phraya, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
From the Chao Phraya River, you can also access Dusit, the center of the Thai government. The Oriental is another interesting place you can visit from the river. It’s an enclave that’s home to an impressive collection of European architecture from the early 20th century. Oriental is full of antique shops as well. Another place worth visiting by dropping off at one of the river’s piers is the Pak Khlong Flower Market. This lovely place is where you can get fresh flowers, fruits, and vegetables at wholesale prices.
My family and I have been to Thailand many times. But our Thailand 2017 adventure is just as memorable as the first time I’ve been here. I expect I shall never get tired of the beauty and color of this wonderful country.
Would you consider other beach destinations in the US? Check out my other post about family beach vacations along the Atlantic and Pacific Coast.