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Each year you head south for the warm sunshine and white sand beaches to escape the harsh Canadian winter... but have you ever yearned to fill your culture cup and explore places much farther afield?
This week I am in Thailand. The flight was long and on paper it certainly looked daunting, however on long haul flights the food is certainly much better, the seats recline quite well even in economy and typically the longest stretch of the journey will be over night so you can sleep. Then when you wake up you watch a couple of recently released movies, work with the plane wifi if you want to and then you are there...Traveling east you usually will avoid the worst jet lag too so your vacation begins right away!
Thailand is love at first sight. It is unlike anywhere else on the planet. Starting with its People, the Thais are one of the most gentle, graceful and hospitable peoples on Earth. Locals and foreigners alike, one is always
greeted with the warmest hospitality and the most genuine of smiles, hence dubbed “The Land of Smiles” that Thailand has been long reputed for. Thailand, one of the most beautiful destinations in south-east Asia, has been a favourite of mine for decades.
Sink into a swaying hammock with a fresh coconut in your hand, gaze at the beach, and consider going for a swim in the clear turquoise water, or exploring the nearby gilt-topped temple complex.
The food is loved all over the world but the real Thai Food will explode your taste buds as you discover that your local favourite Thai restaurant pales in comparison to every meal in Thailand.
I started my Thailand journey as most do, in Bangkok.
Bangkok is a busy, cosmopolitan, spiritual, hotpot of cultures, tourists, food stalls and shopping. It may not be the prettiest location in Thailand, but it’s the nation’s capital and is home to an incredible amount of history, culture, architecture, and FOOD.
Bangkok is all about food. You’ll never stop eating here, but the sheer variety can be overwhelming! To get a deeper appreciation of Thai food, take a food tour All food tours include a variety of mouth-watering food tastings (enough for lunch and dinner), from Thai and ethnic specialty eateries, renowned street food stalls, to historic fine dining restaurants.
How about a cooking class?...I took a Thai Cooking class at the world famous Blue Elephant and it was fabulous. The chef/owner of 38 years demonstrates first then you each get to make the dish. Then they taste it and if you are in a group they judge the best one and give amazing prizes. One of the best cooking classes I have ever done. Such fun! All for just over $100 a person and you keep the apron and come away with gifts! Excellent value.
A place you should visit in Bangkok is the Grand Palace (Royal Palace) and neighbouring Wat Pho, home to the famous reclining Buddha and massage school. The Royal family doesn’t live in the palace (it’s only used for official state functions) and
you can’t go into any of the buildings, but wandering the grounds and open temples is worth the visit. It’s beautiful and the craftsmanship in the architecture is amazing. Go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds. Afterwards, wander down the street to Wat Pho and the famous reclining Buddha (as well as the famous Golden Buddha). The Wat Pho complex fills a city block so while seeing the statues doesn’t take long, you could spend a solid hour wandering the maze-like temple grounds.
Next, head across the river to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and get stellar views of the city from atop the temple. It’s my favourite temple in the city because of the view!
Take a tour of the Chao Phraya river, a relaxing and beautiful experience that shouldn’t be skipped.You can enjoy a half-day visit to the floating markets around the city (Khlong Lat Mayom and Thaling Chan are the two most popular). It makes for a filling morning adventure and if you get there early, you can avoid a lot of the crowds.
After a fast paced culture filling three days on Bangkok I opt for a beach break. With hundreds of beautiful tropical islands, Thailand has no shortage of fine beach resorts. Most of the luxury beach resorts can be found on the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket.
The best prices for accommodation can be found during Thailand’s low season, which not surprisingly also coincides with the region’s monsoon season.
Resorts in Thailand are apt for the perfect getaway from the hectic city life of Thailand. Located mainly on the shores of azure blue waters these resorts feature views that are a treat your eyes.
Featuring infinity pools, fine dining restaurants, private beaches and state of the art Thai spas, each resort out does the other.
These properties are nothing like the ones you typically find flying south, they offer guests the chance to enter a realm of opulence and style in the warmness of Thailand's tropical climate. With its perfect weather, perfect beaches and extensive list of perfect attractions and fabulous food.
The island of Phuket has long been one of Thailand’s star attractions—especially since making a significant comeback from the devastating tsunami that hit the area in 2004. It’s where you’ll find some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, and travellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury resorts that rival any others in Southeast Asia. Many of the best resorts on Phuket not only make use
of the natural surroundings (snorkelling, scuba diving and kayaking are all popular pursuits in this part of the Andaman Sea) but enhance it with design that works seamlessly with the island’s lush landscape and oceanfront setting. Strung along the western coast like jewels, this island should be a must do on your Asia visit.
Still fresh from its 2014 opening, Anantara’s newest Phuket property (the other, Anantara Mai Khao, lies 40 minutes south) manages a perfect balance of jungle-shrouded seclusion and spot-on service with sleek, modern design. The glamorous result feels like something out of a James Bond movie—especially at the resort’s just-completed Residence Villas. The mini compounds, each self-contained and consisting of villas with three to seven bedrooms, sit high on the property’s hillside overlooking Layan Beach and the Andaman Sea. The views alone make it difficult to leave, but with their own private infinity-edge pools and 24-hour butler service, there’s really no need to. From only $160/night you will see the excellent value of these properties compared to similar down south.
While you stay in Phuket you really must visit Phang Nga Bay. You will know it perhaps as James Bond Island.
Phang Nga Bay is a remarkable sanctuary of some 60 towering limestone outcrops, some of which have collapsed in the centre to form hongs (huge hollowed rooms with sunlight above) that are usually accessible at low tide. The water around here is emerald green and the whole area is simply breathtaking, even if the scene sometimes resembles a regatta.
Most tours will include a visit to the very touristy floating Muslim village of Koh Panyi.
Here are some travel facts. Getting to Thailand can cost as little as $900 on a good airline such as Air Canada or Emirates. Then add the hotels which can be very reasonable you will find that a week can actually cost you not much more than a week in Mexico. I priced out recently for a honeymoon couple a flight in Premium Class, villa with its own pool for 9 nights and two excursions all for under $4000 a person and this was super high end.
A 5 star beautiful beach resort coupled with the Marriott Marquis in Bangkok where I stayed (which I loved) will cost from just $1800 including flight from Toronto and Buffet breakfast daily. Meals are typically from just $10 to eat well. Street food is famous here and will cost even less.
I urge anyone to take the time to explore this wonderful area as it really is so different from anything you may have seen before, beautiful, interesting and will fill your culture cup to overflowing!
For More information and to book your Thailand Trip or any vacation you would like call Lorraine Simpson on 289-273-8095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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