Thailand will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first South East Asian vacation which encouraged me and The Man to explore other South East Asian destinations. True to their tourism slogan “Amazing Thailand”, Thailand truly is an amazing country.
Thailand has always been a popular tourist destination and it has a lot to offer for all kinds of travelers. From historical to modern, you’ll experience it all. The beautiful beaches and clear waters will leave you mesmerized. If there’s anything I’ll never forget and never find in any other destination is the amazing clean and clear waters of the Phi Phi Island.
It’s pretty economical but the tourist attractions are a rip of. You will have to get around the cities mostly by the BTS / Skytrain, taxi or the tuk tuk. Muslims will probably end up spending more on food because of the non availability of halal food everywhere. Their cheapest option would be to have the veggie burgers at fast food joints or the BK Fish at Burger King. Others…eat up! The cheap, eat while you go street food is worth a try.
In this post I’m going to share my experience – list the hotels I stayed in and the places I visited.
Weather: Ours was a 10 day trip during the month of April. Be sure to face some extremely hot and humid weather during this month. April is actually the hottest month of the year in Thailand, so it’s best to avoid traveling in April. The weather stays almost the same throughout the year but November through February would be the best time since it’d help you avoid the rains. You don’t want to get wet every time you go sightseeing. Besides, the weather is more bearable during these months. But if you are a person like me from the Middle East, these temperatures shouldn’t bother you at all, we’ve been through much worse.
First stop: Bangkok. We stayed at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel – the tallest hotel in Thailand. I highly recommend this place for the sheer size of the hotel itself (it has so many floors for you to explore), their rooms, service, an entire floor for breakfast, the spa and the swimming pool and most of all, the revolving sky deck that gives you a spectacular view of Bangkok. The hotel is located close to Indra Square, the City Center, The Platinum Mall, Victoria Monument, Pratunam Market and Chotivala – an Indian veg restaurant.
Bangkok – Places to Visit
- Grand Palace: former royal residence, now a museum open to visitors. You could spend around two to three hours here if you want to look at every detail. As far as I remember the entrance fee is 500 Baht for foreigners.
- Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha): most sacred temple in Thailand which houses the reclining Emerald Buddha. This is within the grounds of the Grand Palace. Remember to dress appropriately to enter here since it is mandatory to cover your legs. Normal t-shirt and pants are fine.
- Yaowarat Road: the Chinatown district. Lots of shopping and street food.
- Golden Buddha: houses the must see golden Buddha statue which weighs 5.5 tons.
- Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World: something that I would have visited if I had kids back then. This is the largest aquarium in South East Area. I’m told it is a must see if you haven’t seen anything like this before or just to enjoy the exciting marine life featured here.
- Dinner Cruise on the Chao Phraya River: We had booked this cruise through our hotel tourism desk and thoroughly enjoyed it as a couple. With an open deck table, good food, live music and traditional Thai dance; this was a memorable night. This gives you a wonderful night view of all the main tourist attractions and takes you under the wonderfully constructed Rama VIII Bridge.
- The Historical City of Ayyuthaya: Another location that I will not forget. If you are a history lover like me, you will thoroughly enjoy this place. This extremely well maintained location will take you back in time. Roughly 80km from Bangkok, it is an archaeological site that contains remains of palaces, temples, monasteries and many Buddha statues.
- Bang Pa-In Palace: The summer palace. This again will take you about two to three hours to see thoroughly. I enjoyed the peace and quiet and its serene location. The gardens are worth the time. It showcases both traditional and modern architecture. There is a temple within the grounds, so again, if you want to go inside be mindful of the dress code.
**Tip: beware of the taxi drivers who will almost always drive you to the gems and jewellery exhibitions as they are paid commissions. You can get cheaper deals outside.
Next stop: Pattaya. We traveled like the locals and took a bus to Pattaya from the Ekkamai Bus Station. It turned out to be much cheaper than a taxi. The journey takes about 2hrs. In Pattaya we were at the Siam Bayshore Resort and Spa. I recommend this hotel for its value for money and proximity to the beach. The hotel itself is very picturesque with spacious rooms located a little away from the main entrance. The rooms have a huge balcony which looks out at beautiful gardens and the pool. They have an indoor games area where you could enjoy playing billiards or a quiet game of chess or checkers. The hotel also provides a yummy breakfast, so what more could you ask for?
We figured that the best way to get around Pattaya was to hire a bike and that certainly was the best and most exciting way to explore the city. We rode around a lot and enjoyed every bit of it.
Pattaya – Places to Visit
- Sriracha Tiger Zoo: A tiger zoo located just at the outskirts of Pattaya. An adventurous place to visit where you’ll also get to feed a bottle of milk to a tiger cub in your lap. Yes, you read that right. That was The highlight of my visit. It has not just tigers, but also crocodiles and elephants to name a few. They have enjoyable shows almost every hour.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: With 7 attractions in all, the ticket price goes up to about a 1000 – 1500 Bahts for as far as I can remember. Of course you can reduce the ticket price by choosing the attractions you want to see. You can also buy their tickets online. We did the Louis Tussaud’s Wax Works, Haunted Adventure and Infinity Maze. We didn’t enjoy it much but the kids will for sure.
- Pattaya Beach: The 4km crescent beach has a lot to offer. You can get a speedboat ride and enjoy jet skiing, parasailing or diving. You’ll also find some floating restaurants.
We couldn’t visit many places as we didn’t spend a lot of days in Pattaya. Had we known earlier we would have put in more days here. The bustling night life and the Pattaya Beach Road is the place to be.
**Tip: spend more days here to thoroughly enjoy the night life, beaches and shopping.
Third Stop: Phuket. We took a flight to Phuket and stayed at the Ibis Hotel, Kata. After being spoiled with the spacious rooms both in Bangkok and Pattaya we didn’t enjoy this hotel as much. I wouldn’t recommend this if you want some space to roam in your room. Nevertheless it was comfy, cozy and clean. The hotel didn’t have much to do in it but it was close to the beach and had a lot of yummy seafood street restaurants nearby. This hotel is basically ‘you get what you pay for’; so for what we paid we were pretty much satisfied.
Phuket – Places to Visit
- Phi Phi Islands: When you arrive at the Phuket International Airport you’ll find a tourism desk that books tours to the Phi Phi and other islands. Initially I thought it would be just another beach because I obviously hadn’t read up about this. The Man knew better so we booked our trip. We started early morning next day and for those of you clever enough, I needn’t say this was my most memorable tourist attraction. The pristine waters had played their magic on me. Never in my life had I seen such clear waters through which you could see the tiny fish swimming alongside you. Need I say this is a must see? This was a full day tour including lunch at one of the islands while island hopping.
- Phuket FantaSea: This is a cultural theme park that has wonderful shows with elephants. You can buy tickets that include dinner with the show or just for the show. They will usually pick and drop from your hotel. They normally have two shows in the evening.
Before we returned home our last stop was Bangkok again for just two days. We ended up landing there on their New Year, ‘Songkran’. We stayed at the Omni Tower Suites and we were back at luxuriously spaced rooms. Due to the New Year we got stuck every where we went. Where ever we went people splashed us with buckets of water and honestly we didn’t enjoy it much. People are every where with water guns and buckets filled with water eager to splash the tourists. Well its their way of celebrating their New Year but we ended up getting stuck as we couldn’t get to our hotel. The roads were blocked and neither taxis nor tuk tuks could go through. We were ending our trip and this came as a blessing in disguise. We sought shelter in a nearby mall and I had the opportunity of experiencing the world famous Thai Massage. Don’t give up on this during your trip.
Thailand is an exciting country and I would love to go back again. The people, the architecture, the history and the fun is worth returning to and theirs a lot more to see.
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