Hey Travel Family,

I finally get to catch you up on our trip to Thailand! It was a bit of a whirlwind filled with a lot of unexpected and very special moments. I tend to find Thailand to be a very consistent destination and this time I found myself experiencing some different things, showing me a new side I hadn’t experienced before – it was fantastic! Get yourself cosy with a cup of tea or something stronger, if you like, cos this one’s an epic!

Our adventure started at Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal with the surprise revelation that we were going to be flying business class/Royal Silk class with Thai Airways! Let me tell you, the excitement levels went through the roof at that point. Matt and I were both so appreciative and exciting, we couldn’t wait to get on the plane and check it out. But first, we headed to the Air New Zealand lounge for a pre-flight snack and I even treated myself to a cheeky 11am beer.

We boarded and felt like absolute baddies turning left instead of right! The flight was, of course, a dream. Our seats were comfortable and spacious, we were greeted with welcome drinks, served snacks throughout the flight and dined silver-service style. With so much space to get comfortable and lots of movies to watch, it was more like a very much-needed Netflix marathon rather than a long-haul flight.

Before we knew it we were touching down in Bangkok, feeling very well-rested and ready to check out our first hotel. Bangkok traffic is notoriously nasty but we got a great run and were driving past the bright lights of Chinatown in no time, pulling up to our hotel, Shanghai Mansion. The hotel was so cool! I love boutique-style hotels that offer something unique and with its 1930’s Shanghai aesthetic, the hotel does just that. After a long, hot shower we curled up in bed excited for what the following day would bring.

Well-aware I’d be eating a lot of amazing food, I showed restraint at the hotel’s buffet breakfast opting for fresh fruit, coffee and wholemeal toast. We grabbed our gear and met our guides then headed off on foot for a walking tour through the back alleys of Chinatown. We wandered past very old shopfronts now converted into museums, tiny street-food stalls tucked down inconspicuous laneways and bustling markets service fresh produce and tasty bites, the likes of which I’d never seen before. After visiting a local temple and listening to Monk’s chant, the Bangkok humidity rising quickly, we made our way to the Siam Hop bus stop.

I’ve done my fair share of hop-on-hop-off bus experiences and most are one big, long loop. However, Siam Hop, in all its ice-cold air-conditioned glory, is different! There are four different bus routes you can use, depending on what you want to see and experience that day. There’s also an app that actually tells you when the bus is coming, where it is and what the traffic is like – it’s the best hop-on-hop-off experience I’ve seen, it’s just been so well thought-out and executed! We were very happy to step into the air-conditioned comfort and sit quietly, listening to the audio guide as we passed by some of Bangkok’s famous sites, including the Grand Palace.

We climbed off at Phra Athit, joining the Kesorn Lamphu Volunteer Club for a guided walk of the Bang Lamphu community. We met a sweet and talented woman who has become a master of hand-sewn costumes, created specifically for Traditional Thai Masked Dance performances. We tried street food, stopped to photograph way too many cats and met with a leader of the local Muslim community to hear how passionate locals are working together to continue the respect, harmony and growth of the area.

A delicious lunch filled with Thai favourites including papaya salad, Pad Thai and yummy greens was quickly followed up with a stop at Gingerbread House for afternoon tea. We sipped ice-cold sodas and sampled amazing Thai desserts, the likes of which I’d never had the opportunity to try before. Then, just in case we weren’t quite full enough, we visited Nuttaporn Ice Cream, a family-run business that’s been creating delicious home-made, dairy-free, traditional Thai ice cream for over 60 years! In need of a lay-down and a belly rub, we retreated back to Shanghai Mansion to freshen up.

Later that evening we emerged with a surprising eagerness to eat and headed directly to R-Haan, one of Bangkok’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Here, we enjoyed an amazing Samrub dinner, a meal served family-style and somewhat reminiscent of a degustation! The food was absolutely incredible, traditional Thai food taken to the next level, served in creative and unique ways bursting with flavour. I had never had a fine-dining experience like that before in Bangkok and it really opened my eyes to the city’s food scene and just how diverse Thai food really is.

We woke the following morning, enjoyed a final breakfast at Shanghai Mansion then set off for Central Embassy, an up-market shopping mall located in the heart of Bangkok. Here, we made a beeline for Dii Med Spa, a beautiful day spa oozing all kinds of relaxation and delicious-smelling goodness. Matt and I both opted for aromatherapy oil massages and, being a firm believer in the benefits of a firm massage, asked for the very firmest of massages. Our massage therapists were amazing, delivering a firm massage that was relaxing, enjoyable and also beneficial to releasing tension in the shoulders, back and legs. It was exactly what we needed!

All that relaxing worked up quite the hunger so we took off for Spirit Jim Thompson, another amazing fine-dining spot hidden among the bustling streets of Bangkok. Here, we relaxed in the lush, tropical surrounds while enjoying a truly delicious dinner. Again, the focus here was on taking Thai flavours to the next level. I was so surprised by how each dish could look so beautiful and seemingly simple yet, when I bit into it, taste so bold! Lunch was over far too soon as we made our way to the airport for a flight from Bangkok to Krabi with Thai Airways.

Touching down in Krabi, we drove straight to Lae Lay Grill, a hillside spot offering unbeatable views of the water, overlooking Ao Nang. The staff were so lovely and attentive, serving us delicious food and an abundance of incredible seafood as we sipped welcome drinks and mango shakes. Our belly’s full, we headed to the harbour and climbed into a longtail boat to transfer to our hotel, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas. It was about 11pm when we reached our rooms so we climbed straight into our comfy beds and drifted off to sleep, excited for what the next day would bring.

Our day started with breakfast and coffee at the luscious breakfast buffet. Ready to explore, we wandered down to the jetty and boarded a boat for a morning of island hopping adventures. We set off into the Andaman Sea, stopping at nearby islands to jump in for a swim or relax on the picture-perfect white sand beaches. The weather was so beautiful; blue skies overhead and warm water to swim in, followed by fresh juice, fruit and morning tea back on board the boat. We got in a spot of snorkelling then ventured back to Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas to freshen up and eat lunch.

The resort is unlike any other I’ve seen before, it’s tucked away in its own little cove accessible only by monkey trail or boat! It feels like your own little slice of the world, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs but it’s actually still close to the shops, bars and restaurants of Ao Nang. After getting showered and changed, we boarded a local longtail boat to visit Koh Klang, a nearby island, where we climbed into TukTuks and took a guided tour with the locals. A predominantly Muslim community, we learned about the local way of life, made new friends and got to try our hand at Batik painting.

Back at the resort, we mosied down to COAST restaurant for dinner and drinks overlooking the beach. The food was so delicious and we piled our plates high, making the most of the amazing buffet while sipping cocktails from fresh coconuts. All too soon it was time for bed and a much-needed rest. The following morning started with our last breakfast at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas then we boarded a boat bound for Koh Yao Noi, an island destination I hadn’t visited before. As we stepped off the boat we all lit up with excitement, our eyes dazzled by the gorgeous vintage Porsche and accompanying Vespa scooter complete with a sidecar!

Matt and I climbed into the Porsche and set off toward our hotel, soaking in every moment of the drive. From the moment we arrived at Cape Kudu Hotel we knew we were in for a treat! It’s beautifully designed, oozing relaxation and luxurious beach vibes that make you want to get cosy and unwind. After getting settled in our room we headed down to the restaurant for a Thai cooking class led by the resort’s head chef, whipping up our very own delicious lunch. We enjoyed Thai soups, salads, noodles and fish, accompanied by a lot of mango fruit shakes.

Desperate to make the most of the hotel’s location, we got into our swimmers and dove into the pool for a swim overlooking the Andaman Sea. Before we knew it, it was time to set off on a cultural tour of Koh Yao Noi. We climbed into the open-air van and set off down the road, stopping at scenic lookout spots and farm sites where we met locals and got to try fresh produce, including delicious coconuts. As the day began to draw to a close, we headed to a pier for sunset, watching the sky come alive with vibrant shades of orange and pink. We drove back to Cape Kudu Hotel and tucked into a delicious dinner before retiring to our rooms. I pretty much melted into the incredibly comfortable bed!

After a hearty breakfast complete with fantastic coffee and amazing fresh fruit, we set off on another island hopping adventure. The boat ride took us along the coastline, showcasing just how beautiful Koh Yao Noi really is. Where other spots like Phuket and Ao Nang offer more nightlife, shopping, restaurants and bars, Koh Yao Noi is a quiet island escape, the perfect place to get cosy for a week or two and just disconnect, unwind and recharge. We pulled up to Kudu Island and dove in for a swim followed by a picnic lunch on the beach. Then, we visited an ancient tree at a hidden cove. It was over all too quickly as we returned to the hotel, packed up and headed to Phuket to catch our flight back to Bangkok.

Exhausted after a very big day, we couldn’t wait to get into our room at Millenium Hilton Bangkok and, let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Modern, elegant and offering stunning views of the city, we got very comfortable very quickly. A quick bite to eat at a nearby restaurant along the river was followed by drinks at ThreeSixty, Millenium Hilton’s rooftop bar and jazz lounge. Then, we retreated to our rooms, sunk into bed and slept for a very long time.

We rose the next morning ready to make the most of our last day in Bangkok. After enjoying the hotel’s buffet breakfast we got dressed and ready for the day, wandering next door to Icon Siam, a very impressive shopping mall. Here, we wandered through SookSiam, an unbelievable food court located at the ground floor of Icon Siam boasting a huge array of food from all over Thailand. Then, we ventured to Jam Factory to peruse gorgeous homewares and wander past the art gallery and book store before settling in for an amazing lunch at The Never Ending Summer. The food here is absolutely fantastic, a range of impressive local dishes served beautifully.

Our next stop was a work-related adventure as we attended a trade meet hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, who invited us on the media trip in the first instance. Here, we heard speeches from those high-up within the TAT and learned how they focus is on promoting lesser-known destinations around Thailand, hidden gems like Koh Yao Noi. After taking part in some fun DIY activities like fabric dying and painting, we climbed aboard a boat for a sunset dinner cruise. We enjoyed a Thai buffet and ice-cold Chang beers as we floated along the Chao Praya River past some of Bangkok’s iconic spots and ancient buildings, including temples and bridges.

After the sun went down, the excitement kicked up a notch as a number of visitors from India took over the dance floor! They brought the whole event to life with their amazing adventure and impressive dance skills, both of which had Matt and I laughing, cheering and, eventually, joining in. It was the perfect way to end the trip before we headed to the airport and, yet again, were treated to a business class/Royal Silk Class flight home with Thai Airways. Once we were in the air we laid our seats flat and drifted off to sleep, waking up the next morning to find we’d slept most of the way home!

The whole trip was fantastic, it was unlike any other I’ve done to Thailand before. In the past, I’ve loved Thailand for its affordability and, in doing so, have failed to connect with the other things it offers too. This trip, however, changed that! For the first time, I experienced a side of Thailand that included fine dining, luxurious accommodations and really special experiences that connected me to the heart, community and culture of Thailand. I really feel like I’ve come away from it having a deeper understanding and appreciation for Bangkok, Krabi and the islands of the region. I realised that it offers so much more than I ever knew. Here’s a photo of our crew from the trip!

I just want to take a moment to say a very big, heartfelt thank you the Tourism Authority of Thailand and all the amazing food, accommodation and activity providers, as well as our guides and Thai Airways for inviting us on the trip. Matt and I truly appreciate the opportunity and enjoyed every single of moment. We’ve captured some amazing photos, content for the website and some videos that, I think, will knock your socks clean off! So, thank you. Our first video from our Thailand trip will be up on YouTube next Friday – I cannot WAIT!

I hope you have a great weekend, I’ll talk to you again next Friday.

Love, Phoebe xx

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