Two weeks in Thailand for US$90 a day for a couple

Leaving Malaysia

We took a short flight from Penang to Phuket. Customs was simple and we paid 1000 baht for taxi transport to the Melody Phuket Hotel near Kata Beach, where we spent 9 nights. We decided to spend a bit of time at Kata Beach relaxing at our new hotels pool.

Kata Beach

Kata Beach should perhaps be renamed Little Russia judging by the number of Russians and cyrillic signs. The beach itself is lovely and not crowded. Karon beach, just down the road, is a nicer and bigger beach. We walked along the beach a few times during our stay, and enjoyed a couple of meals and sunsets there.

Food at Kata Beach was a bit of a letdown from previous visits to Thailand. Our hotel served the best meals. Other restaurants seem to cater for Westerner tastes.  We did not do an awful lot at Kata Beach except enjoy our hotel and explore a little of the surrounding area. We decided not to do the islands after seeing the numbers on the boats going out in the morning and instead relaxed at our hotel pool. Feedback from other people who did the trip out to the islands confirmed it was a bit like the landings on D-Day. In saying that, I have visited Thailand beaches before in earlier visits and been on ones with no people or hawkers and wanted to keep those memories. If you have not been then do go as they are beautiful beaches even with the hordes of people.

The Melody Phuket Hotel

The Melody was one of the best hotels of our trip so far. The hotel is a 3-4 star and only been opened five months ago so everything is new. The staff are lovely and always happy to help with any problems. Ms Poung on reception speaks excellent English and helped us out several times with information or minor problems. The pool almost surrounds the hotel and when we were there was nearly always empty. I spent a lot of time in that pool and loved it. I wish I had remembered to take some pictures of it! The hotel only did breakfast and lunches and we enjoyed both. The bed was comfortable and even though the hotel is near a busy road we heard no outside noise at night. The wifi worked brilliantly as did the in room safe. If you are ever in Phuket and need a place to stay we had room 2116 that overlooks the main pool and has a balcony. We spent 7 nights there and on our last two nights were upgraded to room 1112 with direct access to the pool. It was five star service all the time at the hotel and we were glad we chose this hotel and not one near Kata Beach.

Transition to Vietnam

On our last night on Phuket Island we stayed at Nai Yang Beach Resort Hotel. The hotel is only five minutes from the airport. The accommodation was fine and we got a room by the pool. The beach is minutes from the hotel and there are lots of restaurants along the beachfront. You would not even know you were beside an airport as the flightpath is not over the hotel. We had an early start to Bangkok which went seamlessly. On arrival at Bangkok we stayed at the Amari Don Mueng hotel. Our flight for Hanoi left at 6am the next day. The hotel was lovely and we may even stay again on our return to Bangkok to get our connecting flight to India in June.

What did our two weeks in Thailand cost?

I got out 24,000 Baht or US$730 and spent US$340 on accommodation with a credit card. The total spend for 12 nights in Thailand was US$1070 or US$90 per day. The above included all our meals, laundry, several massages and a few taxi rides. All in all it was a great few weeks relaxing before we headed off to Vietnam.

Melody Phuket Hotel accommodation cost for nine nights was £238 or US$368

Nai Yang Beach Resort Hotel for one night was £26 or US$40

Amari Don Mueng Airport Hotel for one night was £37 or US$57

We are now in Vietnam and enjoying the hectic bustle of Hanoi.

Advertisements

A bridge to far and the Thai-Burma Death Railway at Kanchanaburi

I have always been curious about seeing the Death Railway ever since I saw the movie A Bridge to Far. Yes, I know the movie was filmed in Sri Lanka but the actual site by the river is well worth a visit. A few years ago while staying in Bangkok we decided to do a day trip to see the Thai-Burma Death Railway over the river Kwai. We booked with an agency at the hotel we were staying. The mini bus turned up at the appointed time and away we went. It is about 2-3 hours travel time even though it is only 80 miles from Bangkok. It could be faster but will depend on traffic congestion. The early start of around 6.30am managed to avoid the traffic in the morning but coming back was less successful with a lot of traffic congestion. We had limited time but if we did it again I would take the train as it sounds fun. We also did not have enough time to go all the way to Hellfire Pass so it would be worthwhile to stay a few nights.

The tour we choose visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery which is beautifully kept. Across the road is the Death Museum which I found very interesting and you can see how the prisoners lived during their incarceration. Then it is a short ride to the bridge where you have time to walk across it. Afterwards we took a train ride across the bridge to Wangpo. It is a lovely train ride through the countryside. We did not do the Tiger temple, boat trip or any other side trip. It was a full enough day with what we decided to do. It costs around 40 pounds each to do a tour from Bangkok. Below is a website of a tour company with good reviews.

http://www.viator.com/tours/Bangkok/Thai-Burma-Death-Railway-Bridge-on-the-River-Kwai-Tour-from-Bangkok/d343-3685BKK36C

We are going back to Thailand next year for a month or two and I wondered if anyone have any suggestions of places to stay in Kanchanaburi?

Little Oasis at Hua Hin and the Phraya Nakhon cave

We were lucky enough to spend 10 days here in 2009. It is a couple of hours from Bangkok by car or you could take the train. There are several trains a day leaving from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station. The train takes around four hours to cover the 120 miles from Bangkok. We stayed at a beautiful spot near the town and surprisingly a quiet little oasis. The hotel is located away from the busy main resorts on the other side of the town.

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Putahracsa Hotel for 9 nights at the end of August and early September in an Ocean villa. The hotel is split in two with a road to cross to get to the beach which is the side we stayed. This was not a problem. The villa had a lovely private outside space and a jacuzzi which runs on cold water too! The food was fantastic and we had several evening meals overlooking the beach. What was great is watching the lightning storms as well as the bizarre sight of several naval vessels lit up like Xmas trees. They are their to protect the King who resides just five hundred metres up the beach. We spent a lot of time by the pool which we had mostly to ourselves and the staff provided brilliant service.The hotel provided complimentary wireless which was great for keeping in touch with people.One small gripe I is that breakfast was not included in the room price so we found a place in Hua Hin which allowed you to make up your own breakfast called Sweet Oasis. Just turn left as you come out from the hotel on the ocean side of the road and turn left at the first road you come to and Sweet Oasis is around 50 metres on the right side of the road. My wife was unwell so we took it mostly easy beside the pool aside from one trip. My trip review of the hotel is below:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g297922-d613761-r40077811-Putahracsa_Hua_Hin-Hua_Hin_Prachuap_Khiri_Khan_Province.html

What to do in Hua Hin

A few tips are the hotel provides a golf cart to take you into Hua Hin one way which does save a bit of time walking in the heat. It not that far to walk around 10 minutes or so. My wife and I had several foot massages which were wonderful in several places in Hua Hin costing between 200-300 Baht or around five pounds. In the town we wandered around a lot and ate at several restaurants during our stay and visited the Hua Hin Night Market a few times. Of course there is the beach although it is a bit crowded along the resorts and their pools were extremely busy. We were so happy we stayed where we were as it was like a little oasis with the pool mostly to ourselves.

We visited the famous Phraya Nakhon cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot Marine National Park. It was a great day trip and not hard to climb the 430 odd steps to the cave from the beach. An excellent description of how to get to the caves is described in the blog below:

http://www.eatprayflying.com/phraya-nakhon-caves-khao-sam-roi-yot-national-park/

I hope we have time on our trip next year in Thailand for a short stopover in Hua Hin.

One night in Bangkok

I always enjoy visiting Bangkok. The people, food, culture and temples are wonderful. I have been lucky in being able to visit Bangkok several times as a budget traveller and also for work. I have some lovely memories of Bangkok and only wished I had invested in a better camera. One thing I have noticed over the years is how transportation has improved compared to other Asian cities in particular Manila in the Philippines which never seems to improve and only get worse. The recent addition of the sky train is wonderful and is brilliant in being able to avoid the traffic congestion from the airport.

Where we have stayed

The last time I visited was in early 2012 for work and I spent 10 nights in Bangkok. I stayed at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel Towers beside the river. My review of it is below. It is beside the river, has a great breakfast buffet and near the terminal where the dining river cruises depart.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g293916-d301808-r125485768-Royal_Orchid_Sheraton_Hotel_Towers-Bangkok.html

Below are also a couple of other hotels I have stayed at in Bangkok including the Best Western Premier Amaranth Suvarnabhumi hotel with a lovely pool. The hotel is convenient to the airport and ideal if you have a short stopover.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g667499-d1426153-r120806002-BEST_WESTERN_PREMIER_Amaranth_Suvarnabhumi_Airport-Racha_Thewa_Samut_Prakan_Prov.html

Another hotel we have stayed at the Amari Watergate Hotel for 11 nights in 2009. This hotel is near the Central Mall with lots of shop and if you want to have a great view of the city go to the 55th floor where their is a nice bar.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g293916-d300434-r39024166-Amari_Watergate_Bangkok-Bangkok.html

All of the hotels we stayed at were fine.

What to do in Bangkok

The top five things I would recommend to do in Bangkok.

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo Palace and if you can arrive by the river taxi. Ignore anyone that tells you that it is closed it is not. Make sure you see the Emerald Buddha

The Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn and do try and see it from the river. There is a great view from the top of the temple but be warned the steps are steep.

Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha and if you feel brave a traditional Thai massage

Hire one of the long boats and do a river tour. It is a great way to see another side of Bangkok and I always use the river taxi’s as that is the quickest way to get around Bangkok for places beside the river.

Enjoy the food it is glorious.