Flying with Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways’ check-in desk was quick and friendly. We were travelling as a group so expected it to take a little while to weigh all bags, check passports etc. but all was smooth.
The food was really rather nice, with 2 options given. The drinks were plentiful and there didn’t seem to ever be a problem with ordering two at a time!
The first leg of our journey was on the Dreamliner – seat space/leg room in economy was fine, on par with most airlines. The in-flight entertainment screens did not work for the first hour of the flight between Birmingham to Doha so a flight attendant had to reset them, as well as this, one of our seat headrests was broken which meant it couldn’t be moved for comfort – this is where we felt the airline was lacking.
The next leg of our journey was on the A380. Doha – Bangkok. On this leg of the journey, the aircraft was noticeably quieter than the Dreamliner.
Arriving in Bangkok, Thailand
On arrival to Bangkok we were met by our Tour East representative who was brilliant and very accommodating with any itinerary change that we wanted to make throughout our trip. We were taken straight to our first hotel in Bangkok which was The Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers. As soon as we arrived we were immediately checked in and greeted by the hotel Sales Specialist.
Our hotel in Thailand
The hotel reception was beautiful and flowed nicely into a lounge area. All rooms at The Royal Orchid have an enchanting view of the Chao Phraya River which is breath-taking, especially in the evening when boats are passing with their fluorescent lights glowing. There are 2 pools at the hotel, one which is right next to the river and the other is a more laidback shaded area with a swim up bar.
Breakfast was amazing, there’s something really special about waking up and being able to take it all in with a coffee and a warm river breeze. There was a massive variety of food and the breakfast area never felt over-crowded.
Our first night in Bangkok, Thailand
Our first evening in Bangkok we visited the Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower, which is where one of the ‘Hangover’ scenes was filmed. We would highly recommend visiting in the evening to see the amazing city in all its glory. Drinks are pricey here and there are many other sky bars that you can visit, but a photo opportunity is a must – it’s great to say ‘been there, done that!’
Our first full day in Thailand
On our first morning we were collected by our TourEast rep for a site visit of the Shangri La with a light lunch. This hotel is absolutely beautiful, a lovely retreat away from the city with a calming pool area and views of the Chao Phraya river. The rooms at the Shangri La are beautiful with amazing river views and many upgrades available. The hotel provides a shuttle boat service every evening between 5pm-11pm to Asiatique, a large open air mall.
Review of The Banyan Tree hotel with Vertigo and Moon Bar
We swiftly moved onto a site inspection of The Banyan Tree hotel. This hotel is inner city based with an unbelievable rooftop restaurant and bar called VERTIGO & MOON BAR. Vertigo offers an al fresco dining experience set on a roof terrace overlooking the glittering cityscape of Bangkok. Moon Bar puts you at ease in an informal setting 61 floors above the city and offers premium drinks, which were cheaper than they were at Sky bar.
The Banyan Tree chain prides itself on their holistic spas and this hotel didn’t disappoint – we were treated to a 10-minute neck and shoulder massage which was so relaxing and very professional. The only criticism we could place on the Banyan Tree was their roof top pool; although lovely, it is very small and in peak season I would imagine the sunbeds surrounding the pool becoming quite cramped, and so less relaxed.
Review of The Avantara Riverside and The Avani Hotel
Our next site inspection was of the Avantara Riverside and The Avani hotel. We set off with our TourEast rep at a very unfortunate time, caught in the crazy traffic of Bangkok and only moving a mile within 1 hour!
However, staying riverside in Bangkok really does have its advantages, we decided to abort the wheels and board a boat, which is how we reached our destination within 15 minutes, whilst experiencing the excitement of zooming down the Chao Phraya river at night!
The Avantara Riverside really is a beautiful traditional Thai hotel, featuring spacious rooms with a Thai inspired design. One thing that really stood out to us all was the hotel’s pool area; beautifully positioned amid tropical gardens, there was plenty of room to swim laps or simply float in the shallows.
The restaurant here had a buffet style with food from around the globe, freshly cooked to order by one of their show chefs. Travellers who aren’t booked into the Avantara hotel can make a reservation to dine in the outdoor buffet restaurant with live professional shows, which is well worth it.
The Avani hotel, a stone’s throw from The Avantara, is a brand-new hotel. This hotel steps away from the Thai theme that the Avantara strictly follows, with all mod cons and swanky colours. Each room looks over the river and the city skyline, ranging from a deluxe room to a three bed suite. The most amazing feature of the hotel has got to be the hotel’s roof top infinity pool with a sky bar and panoramic views of the city. Although ultra-chic, the rooftop bar had a relaxed vibe about it with love chairs scattered around to soak up the atmosphere.
Review of the Khao San Road area
A visit to Bangkok isn’t complete without a trip to the famous Khao San Road area, although it’s not for the faint hearted! We would only recommend Khao San Road to travellers who would thrive on the experience, as it is a whole lot of crazy plonked onto one road – music, dancing, scorpions on sticks, street sellers, street food, you name it and it’s there at your disposal until 6am!
Review of Day 2 in Thailand – Bangkok’s canals
On our next day, we set out for a day on a long tail boat, for a tour of Bangkok’s canals. This is a fantastic way of seeing another side to Bangkok. After days of being in the centre of spectacular sky scrapers & hotel luxury you wouldn’t believe existed, in the heart of Bangkok there is also a huge network of canals where people go about their daily lives, just the other side of the Chao Praya, but seemingly a world away.
Bangkok’s canals are a magical place to visit and are a remarkable contrast to the frenetic pace of the rest of the city. Travelling along the canal, there are numerous temples, shrines, restaurants and schools where you can see the locals going about their day.
We finished our tour at a local river restaurant called Mango Tree, which is definitely somewhere we wouldn’t worry about sending clients of ours – it’s a truly scrumptious place with food to die for. Just a short tuk-tuk ride away is Wat Pho, temple of the reclining Buddha. We would definitely recommend this to our clients. It only costs 100 Thai Baht to enter; there are no queues in the beating sun and you get the chance to see a 60-metrelong Buddha.,
Ladies will need their shoulders, backs & knees covered whilst inside the temple as this is a requirement.
Review of the Dusit Thani hotel
Our next hotel stay in Bangkok was at the Dusit Thani, inner city right next to the sky train but also nicely located next to Lumpini Park, which is a rare oasis in a very busy city, filled with monitor lizards (although there are less than there used to be there are still 400 roaming the grounds!). Compared to the other hotels we stayed in whilst in Bangkok, it is fair to say the Dusit Thani isn’t a 5-star property anymore, but with its location, top class service and long list of A-listers who stay there, it is still a great hotel.
Just around the corner from The Dusit Thani is Patpong night market where you will find rows and rows of designer handbag stalls as well as, sunglasses, clothing garments, trainers and many restaurants and bars.
Staying in Phuket, Thailand
Our next stop was Phuket. We flew with AirAsia who we were all very impressed by; a quick 1 hour flight on the low-cost airline had us arrive into Phuket ready for our next adventure!
Review of The Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
It only took 25 minutes by transfer from Phuket airport to arrive at The Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, which is a really lovely hotel. We dined in one of their restaurants and found the food & drinks to be phenomenal.
Located in lush, mature tropical gardens this hotel had a real relaxed, holiday vibe. The Dusit Thani Laguna is beachfront as well as having a lake which is surrounded by a couple of other hotels. All the hotels around the lake benefit from a little ferry that will take hotel guests over to whichever hotel they would like to dine in that evening. There isn’t a massive amount outside of the hotel but the hotel does provide a shuttle service in and out of Patong, which is a 30-minute journey.
Review of The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach
Our stay whilst in Phuket was at The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach. The hotel is split between hotel rooms and villas (we would definitely only recommend the villas). Huge in size with an indoor and outdoor shower it is luxury down to a tee. Staying in the villas give extra access to parts of the hotel too, which is always a bonus.
The Mövenpick is beachfront with a live musician every evening andoffers many different eateries scattered around the hotel grounds. Karon beach is a 15-minute drive away from Patong beach and it has a hectic nightlife scene.
Visiting Koh Phi Phi, Phuket
Our visit to Koh Phi Phi was incredible, with a 45-minute transfer from The Mövenpick we arrived at Phuket port for roughly 9am where we embarked on a speedboat for the 1 hour high-speed trip to the beautiful islands. Whilst we insisted on sitting at the front of the speedboat, 10-minutes into the journey realised this may not have been the best idea! Our excursion rep explained that the morning waves were always the worst and in comparison our return trip would be very smooth, which it was.
Enjoying the islands in Phuket
The first sighting of the islands is truly unimaginable and absolutely beautiful. Snorkelling in the crystal-clear sea, a visit to Bamboo island and a restaurant stop equated to a fantastic day in pure paradise.
Review of Cape Panwa Hotel
We went on from Karon beach to Panwa, which is West of Phuket – a 40-minute transfer. A site inspection of Cape Panwa Hotel had the real WOW factor, set high up with fantastic views. Cape Panwa has its own private beach, which is completely secluded along with its own commissioned boat for hotel clients to rent out and take island hopping. We enjoyed a Thai cooking class, with the hotels top chef – an experience we will never forget and something that all guests can book onto!
There are 9 different room types and styles at Cape Panwa, with the interior of each a different section in a coastal theme, flowing beautifully from each area to another. We all went away really excited to give advice on Cape Panwa, as it defines tropical grandeur by blending superbly with the surrounding natural beauty, whilst offering so much more than just a ‘relaxing’ break.
Flying home from Thailand
Our flight home was via Doha again. We had a 5-hour transit between flights so we took advantage of this with a Doha City tour. We were all so impressed with what Doha had to offer as a city, it’s so clean and pristine and the hotels look rustic from the outside, but are like temples from the inside.
With no beach resorts in Doha, there is a private island called ‘Banana Island’ which is a man-made island, you guessed it, in the shape of a banana! Complete luxury awaits on the island and it would be the perfect 2-night stop over whilst travelling onwards to further away destinations.
Ask us about Thailand holidays
If you’re thinking about booking a holiday to Thailand, we would be more than happy to give you advice about the best places to go to make sure that you make the most of your trip, and your money!
The travel experts at Millington Travel are available for advice and to check a huge range of flight and accommodation options, either over the telephone or in person at any of our branches. For more information, contact us on 0116 291 7775 or visit us instore: http://www.millingtontravel.com/contact-us.aspx