Second time fun: Going back to Thailand nine years after was thee trip to remember.
So it’s been about two months since I got back from my trip to Thailand, and I still can’t stop thinking about how much fun it was. I traveled with two friends, my partner and my partner’s mother for 10 days.
I had been to Thailand before when I was 13 in 2008, so my expectations were high – beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear sea water and of course shopping.
BIG TIP 1: We booked the holiday through a travel agency, so everything from accommodation, flights and airport transfers was organised by them. However, don’t rely on your travel agency for everything. Do your own research on the place/s you’re going to and plan what it is you want to do throughout your trip – this will help you to do all the things you want, stay on budget and not become overwhelmed.
We traveled from South Africa to Doha for a six-hour layover, then proceeded to Phuket.
We stayed at the four star Deevana Patong Resort & Spa. Great service and wifi (which is a great plus if you don’t plan to get an international sim card during your stay).
The first evening after settling into rooms, freshening up and having dinner, we hit the streets of Patong. Our first stop was a reggae bar; what a gem of a place. We ended up frequenting the bar every night during our stay in Patong. I really recommend a reggae bar if you’re into that genre of music and chilled vibes – if you know what I mean 😉 After that, we hit the famous Bangla road, which is the best option for going out in Patong. It has an abundant array of clubs and bars to choose from.
BIG TP 2: Be careful with the street food, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. After the night out, we were starving and decided to get chicken and spring rolls from a street vendor. WOW WOW! Lord and behold, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a serious case of the shits (sick with food poisoning). To say the least, I swore off chicken for the rest of the holiday, and I love chicken, so it was tough to not eat chicken unless it was from a “trusted” fast food joint, which is more expensive so arggh.
We decided to start our holiday with one of the most touristy things to do in Thailand; visit the famous Phi Phi island (cost 2000 Baht). We booked the excursion online whilst we were still in SA, which really helped because all of these excursions get fully booked quickly since its peak season. The day trip included a ferry-boat ride to the Phi Phi Islands (also a tour of the surrounding islands) and lunch afterwards. My partner and I decided to do the snorkeling, which cost 400 Baht extra. Since I have snorkel a few times before, it wasn’t the most exciting experience but still fun to chill in the warm water. I do recommend that you do the snorkeling, especially if you’ve never done it before. After snorkeling, the tour includes lunch, which was not the best. We were starving and really looking forward to the lunch. As we got closer to the food area, all our faces dropped – the only thing we could manage to eat from that un-accommodating lunch was chicken and green Thai curry.
We did a city tour, which we booked through our hotel.
BIG TIP 2: It’s best to book a guided tour because you’ll see most of the best places with the help of an experienced (and hopefully really good) guide, that ensures everything runs smoothly and everyone is safe and happy. You will get the most out of the tour, whilst in an air-conditioned combi.
Our first stop, which was my absolute favourite and memorable part. The 3D museum in Phuket city. I had so much fun taking pictures with the different paintings. If you ever find yourself in Phuket city and want something interesting and fun to do, please do yourself a favour and visit this museum. After that we visited an elephant riding park.
Overall, on the tour we got educated on the culture, the significance of some of the places we visited and insightful details about the areas we were visiting.
Big Tip: Whenever you visit a temple you must be properly dressed before being allowed entry. Wear shirts with sleeves, long pants or skirts. So no tank tops! If you show up improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entry that provides scarves to cover you up properly. Shoes should be removed before entering the temple. Also, when sitting in front of a Buddha image, remember to tuck your feet behind you to avoid the very offensive pose of pointing your feet towards Buddha.
This was day of R&R (rest and relaxation). We had such a pleasurable time lazying around and got to check out the beach and enjoy some drinks at a nearby bar. We relaxed and took some time to just enjoy the sunshine, peace and quiet at the beach. This was the evening before we left for Bangkok; we went and watched the FantaSea show, which I didn’t enjoy. However, if you are into the theatrical circus like shows with animals, then this is for you.
Overall analysis of Phuket nine years later was that the people in Phuket were extremely friendly and helpful. Probably some of the best hospitality you will find.
In Bangkok most of our time was spent shopping, resting and going out.
For our city tour we visited the Wat Pho Temple – Gigantic reclining Buddha. It was filled with beautiful hand painted walls and statues of Buddha. The reclining Buddha is amazingly beautiful covered in gold leaf. It is a remarkable 46 m long and 15 m high and illustrates Buddha entering nirvana (Buddha`s death). Wat Pho also contains four chapels with many gilded Buddha images, a long line of golden Buddhas sitting in lotus position. Even though your main mission at Wat Pho is of course to see the reclining Buddha, don`t forget to wander around in the courtyard and admire the statutes.
We took an amazing boat ride down the Thonburi Canals. Visiting the floating markets was definitely one of the highlights of our trip in Bangkok. Seeing the pretty scenery along the way of the locals and traders home’s. You can bargain with the locals but the prices are higher than usual. You can typically ask for half of what’s marked. Just remember, just because you see it once, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see it again.
What to get there: Well, basically just about everything you can imagine!
The final night before departing home, we decided to live it up on the famous Khao San Road.
Khao San Road is a crazy street packed with partying people, street food and street stalls selling clothes and souvenirs.
On Khao San Road you can stroll around among the many shopping stalls selling everything from strange Thai snacks like barbecued insects to hand painted t-shirts. We partied hard late into the night – a good way to end off the trip.
Overall we loved this vibrant and urban big city with all its life, and amazing shopping, with some of the biggest markets in the world. Although the people are not so friendly in Bangkok. Three days in our opinion is not enough time to spend in this magnificent city. A week is what we would recommend, then you have time to really enjoy yourself and your time in Bangkok and also have some time to relax.
I highly recommend going to a market in the city. If you go with friends or family, decide where to meet up if you get away from each other. Half the fun can be to get a little lost, then you can come across some unexpected things that you never knew you needed!
Don’t underestimate how big the markets are! Ditch the stiletto heels, and wear your most comfortable shoes! And remember to drink plenty of water, as it is easy to become dehydrated.
Big Tip: Don’t shop at the malls unless it’s for designer label items and items such as sneakers and bags. All the prices in the mall are overpriced. Doing your shopping at the markets, you’ll be able to find some serious bargains you that you may not find anywhere else.
Overall we enjoyed Thailand and had an absolute great time together (as a group and a couple).
It’s a stunning place and where we stayed in Phuket was gorgeous and ‘paradise-esque’.
I can testify that since I had been there the first time, Thailand is not what it used to be! But in a very good and improved way.