Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress

Tripoto
25th Dec 2014
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 1/21 by Shriranjani Rao
The Grand Palace
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 2/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Amazing Architecture
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 3/21 by Shriranjani Rao
What a mural! 3D ages ago!
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 4/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Royal Splendour @ Grand Palace
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 5/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Private Pool @ Renaissance Phuket
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 6/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Phuket minus the crowd
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 7/21 by Shriranjani Rao
JW Marriott, Phuket
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 8/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Tiger Kingdom @ Phuket
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 9/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Pristine Islands, @ Maya Bay Phuket
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 10/21 by Shriranjani Rao
James Bond Beach
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Baby Elephant @ Phuket
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A view from the tower @ Wat Arun
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 13/21 by Shriranjani Rao
2015 New Year Celebrations
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 14/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Young monks @ play
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Buddhas
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Lit up for New Years 2015
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Santa's sleigh- Christmas 2015
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 18/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Brahmas Temple @ Bangkok
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 19/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Paragon Malls
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 20/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Wat Arun Tower Climb
Photo of Why Thailand Never Fails to Impress 21/21 by Shriranjani Rao
Wat Pho

What can be said about Thailand in one post? A country this vividly enchanting deserves more credit. From stunning mountains, bountiful beaches, pristine islands to the ever partying capital, Siam is a must-must do for every traveler.

Our Thai tour comprised of 2 legs- the more urbane, Christmas/New Years at Bangkok and the retreat at Phuket. Thai hospitality is heart warming especially in Phuket and you can chat up with friendly locals in Bangkok. However, be cautious of the overtly friendly types in the Big city.

Travel galore in tantalizing Thailand

What all can be said about Thailand in one post? A country this vividly enchanting deserves more credit. From stunning mountains, bountiful beaches, pristine islands to the ever partying capital, Siam is a must-must do for every traveler.

Our Thai tour comprised of 2 legs- the more urbane, Christmas/New Years at Bangkok and the retreat at Phuket. Thai hospitality and warmth was the common experience is quite striking especially in Phuket and you can chat up with friendly locals in Bangkok. However, be cautious of the overtly friendly types in Big Bangkok.

Bangkok- Top things to do and see with family

1. Temple hopping- Thailand is dotted with ‘Wats’/ Temples. Magnificent temples are a very common sight in Bangkok, and it’s quite next to impossible visiting them all. We decided to call on the top three ‘Wats’- Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and Wat Phra (Emerald Buddha).

§ Located in close vicinity of each other, we headed to Wat Pho The temple is quite huge inundated with smaller sanctums and Buddhas. The sheer size and expression of the reclining Buddha is awe-inspiring. At the end of the visit, you get a chilled water bottle with the ticket which you guzzle down in a jiffy due to the heat. We met a friendly South African couple who not only clicked a family pic for us on their SLR but also emailed it back. Travel gets you to meet many wonderful people, isn’t it?

§ Wat Phra located inside the Grand Palace is the abode of the Royal Emerald Buddha. Carved out of one piece of jade (actually) it is not more than around 50 cms. Worshipped by the royal family even today, you can’t click the Buddha’s pictures here.

§ Wat Arun is perhaps the most captivating temple. You ferry across the Chao Phraya river to be welcomed by a sprawling Wat. We climbed a huge flight of steep stairs to catch a glimpse of ‘the city of angels’. Entrancing is how I would describe it. Bangkok is revealed in full light across Chao Phraya – modern glitzy building and traditional temples blending in harmony. The temple is better visited at sunset, quite contrary to its name!

Tip- Please wear attires respectful of Thai traditions. For ladies, shoulders and knees should be covered, otherwise you need to cover yourself/ wear a sarong. Gentlemen wearing shorts and inappropriate clothing are barred entry.

2. Splendor gazing @ Grand Palace- A half day tour is what it takes for a rendezvous with royalty. A venue for certain royal ceremonies, the Palace is a testament to Thai grandeur and architecture. Built on the lines of the erstwhile Ayutthaya palace, its grandiosity is distinctive. At the heart of the palace is the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered statue. The 3D murals are quite brilliant and add charm to the craftsmanship.

3. Indulge in splurging- Shopping is the second natural thing to do in Siam. After all, with an array of malls for all kinds of shoppers, Thailand teems with serious shoppers’ kind tourists. It also happens to be Singapore’s most preferred shopping destination – quite a few Singaporeans make the Bangkok shopping pilgrimage atleast twice a year. We rationed one third of our Thailand time to shopping- one day at Siam Paragon and another at Platinum Fashion Mall. As we weren’t around for the weekend, couldn’t make it to the Chatuchak market.

Tip- Please remember to carry extra baggage for the ‘loot’, otherwise you get inexpensive bags at most malls. You can’t try clothes at Platinum Fashion Mall, and prices are pretty standard.

4. Taste Thai food– There’s a plethora of Thai cooking classes conducted in Bangkok, however most are expensive and quite ‘commercialized’. Thai’s famed flavorful cuisine doesn’t disappoint the taste buds. There are countless street side food joints which we never tried. With kids in tow, we thought it prudent to opt for hygienic looking joints. At the Platinum mall food court, the Mango sticky rice and water chestnuts- were very authentic and worth repeating. In fact we ended up ordering desserts more than the main course- though none of us have a sweet tooth. Absolutely delectable. Tip-There are many vegetarian/ vegan restaurants in Bangkok too. We also found many Indian restaurants in Sukhumvit.

5. Foot reflexology or plain foot massage– Honestly we were apprehensive about these places. Spattered in Sukhumvit, we finally went to one. Their foot massage is quite tranquilizing. There is a traditional Thai massage at Wat Pho (yes, the temple) for around 400 baht and another by the Foundation of Blind for close to 200 baht. We opted for a place on Sukhumvit soi 11 near the condo we were staying and paid around 250 baht for a 40 minute massage. Quite relaxing after a long walking day!

Getting around Bangkok:

§ Fancy bright coloured tuk-tuks glamourize an otherwise ordinary city ride. Inspite of all reviews about Tuk-tuks overcharging (taxis by 2 times); it is still worth an experience. Our driver zipped through nooks and corners, even parking lots, from Siam Paragon Mall on Rama Road to Sukhumvit in an unbelievable 20 mins (peak traffic time). Thereby dodging Bangkok’s notorious traffic snarls.

§ Boats are a great way to get around Bangkoks ‘klongs’ (canals) to take in locals’ lives and their abodes.

§ Air-conditioned cabs are most comfortable and it is best to flag a running taxi.

Stay @ –

Serviced Apartment @ Circle Condo booked via Airbnb

Adventures and misadventures-

There are 2 airports in Bangkok. One is Suvarnabhumi and the other Don Muaeng International airport. Air Asia operates its flights from the latter. Our cab driver offloaded us off hurriedly at Suvarnabhumi (deceptivelyL) and zipped away. Don Muaeng is 40 kms away from Suvarnabhumi. By God’s grace, we were able to get to our flight because it was morning 4 a.m. Otherwise, a bad after taste of Bangkok would have stayed!

Phuket-

Thailand seems to have lucked out when it comes to beaches. Stunners at such short distances. Spotting this tiny island from your flight, it’s surrounding emerald and jade waters leave a lasting impression on you. What a ravishing beauty!

Here are the top family things to do and see @ Phuket-

1. Phi Phi islands and Maya Bay- The sights seem straight out of a picture post card (with no filters or edits). You will want to soak in all the scenic beauty and smile contentedly of the discovery you make of this paradise on earth. We took the V Marine tour from Phuket to the day long Phi Phi, Maya Bay and island hopping tour. At the port, we rented snorkeling accessories with great zeal, however, with my limited knowledge of swimming and severe sea sickness (later diagnosed as jaundice), we didn’t quite make much of the under-water diving. The views above the water made up for the loss and we ended up thanking ourselves for taking this trip.

2. Enjoy a private pool party- Far from the maddening crowd, tucked away in an almost isolated part of Phuket lies the hidden gem of Renaissance resorts. Where you will get generous helpings of sun, shine and sand for yourselves. Almost exclusively. Soaking it all up, we enjoyed the luxury of a private pool in the villa.

3. Tiger Kingdom- Animals are usually a huge hit with kids. And they don’t seem to get tired of an encounter. So we headed to Tiger Kingdom in Phuket, which is cleaner than Kanchanaburi and the striped cats seemed better cared too. As we were with an infant, we were permitted only the cub encounter. The younger daughter was absolutely delighted while the elder one totally scared. Each family gets undisturbed time of about 30 mins inside the enclosure and the shutterbugs go click click click.

4. Weekend market- This place felt like the Goan markets- though on a larger scale. Thousands of stalls lined up with all the touristy things- tees of Thailand, memoirs to carry back, fake Rolex, Loius Vittons, Guccis and many luxe brands vying for your wallet. We bought some handcrafted purses with elephants for family and friends back home. The street food has a lot to offer, however for us vegetarians, there isn’t much.

5. Wine and dine at exotic beachfronts- If you don’t like touristy crowded beaches like us, you will like the Mai Khao beach that is not bursting with people. You can give the other ones like Kamala a miss and capitalize on the private time at the Renaissance/ J W Marriott beaches. The Thai restaurant at Renaissance overlooks the sea and you cannot help but end up going there for a dine with your loved ones. The service is excellent too and vegetarian options- plenty!

Getting around

Taxis are most comfortable. Most speak English and our enterprising driver even took us to some famous local joints and markets.

Where we stayed

Renaissance and JW Marriot

Renaissance is undoubtedly better.

While travelling with kids-

Packing too many itineraries with kids gets on their nerves. So, our holidays try to be kid centric with pool time, play time and just ‘no plan’ time. Amidst all the walking, talking and seeing, we sometimes take time off for pizzas, ice-creams and the works.

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