When people ask why I wanted to visit Thailand, I still don’t know what to tell them. The people I hadn’t met yet? Maybe. The food that I already knew was delicious? Getting closer. Could it have been the idea of visiting a continent that I knew hardly anything about? Most likely.
It seemed as though my life’s mission was to get to Europe. No country in particular, just the entire continent of Europe. I know what you’re thinking. How absurd that I would just want to go to an entire continent and not somewhere specific. But that really was all I wanted: all of it. So after I finally had my first (hopefully of many) whirlwind European adventures in summer 2015, I set my sights on something bigger. Something more unknown, unfamiliar and maybe a little more uncomfortable. So this is how I went about planning and enjoying my first trip to Thailand for 9 days, including travel and a long layover in Seoul, South Korea.
There was a time when I would book the cheapest possible flight with the most inconvenient layover and travel time ever. Those days are gone. I’m 5’8” and domestic economy is hard enough going cross country for 6 hours, how would I ever survive long-haul travel for 11+ hours? Hint: I wouldn’t have. My husband is 6’3” so I like to say that the real reason we shell out for exit row seats is because of him 😉 I did my research as diligently as I did for our nonstop flight to London a few months earlier and while Korean Air was a little more expensive than other airlines I could have flown, I was more than happy about what I’d discovered about their in-flight service, meals and legroom in economy (some day soon we’ll be flying at the front of the plane and on miles! But more of than in another post). A more honest depiction of my excitement would be giddy. I could not wait to experience Korean Air.
International economy shames domestic economy. I mean embarrasses them. For people who think they can’t stand to be in a plane for longer than a few hours haven’t flown on the right airlines. Korean Air’s flight attendants were wonderful. I’m not the type to ask for much of my attendants but there were several families with small children and they were especially helpful to them. We got exit row seats for our first 13 hr flight to Seoul and we were so comfortable, we even slept most of the flight Big deal. Huge. There was plenty of food and it was all delicious. If and when you finally get to Asia, fly Korean Air (or Singapore Airlines if you can; I’ve heard fabulous things about them too).
We landed in Bangkok very late on a Monday and probably got to our hotel around midnight. We stayed at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit on the largest street in Bangkok. We’d planned to take this same road all the way into Cambodia but that didn’t work out. After a whole next day exploring Bangkok, we caught a flight to Phuket for a few days of beach and sun and to celebrate NYE 2016 – our absolute favorite holiday and time of year.
Phuket was less than 2 hours from Bangkok by airplane and Thai Airways was great. Clean, comfortable and they fed us. I don’t know what our obsession is with being fed on the airplane but it’s the least an airline can do. Am I right?
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Phuket and it was fab-u-lous. We booked this hotel on points transferred from my Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card and the points-redeemed room was so lovely. We had the tiniest, most perfect view of the ocean from our room, the bed was big and comfortable and we were given robes and slippers to wear around the room. Again, I don’t know what our (see my) obsession is with robes and slippers in my hotel room. I’m not on vacation until I’m in a robe.
The sun is a vital part of my existence. Beach destinations fuel my soul like food fuels my body. And Bangkok was HOT.
Get it? I don’t know that I’ve ever been that hot before. Phuket was hot too but hot with an ocean breeze which makes all the difference in the world. Phuket included a day trip (a death ferry) to Phi Phi Island and the greatest New Year’s Eve party probably in the entire world. Ok, so I can’t speak for the entire planet but I still feel pretty secure in my statement.
These photos taken on our iphones do not even begin to do that night justice. Counting down to the new year could be heard in Russian, German, French, Thai and English – and that’s just the languages I could make out. It was phenomenal. New Year’s eve in Phuket, Thailand set the bar pretty high but if you know me, I’m already planning the next great NYE adventure!
After exploring Phuket, we returned to Bangkok where we took it nice and easy. We rented THE most perfect Airbnb hosted by the coolest guy ever. Seriously, he was always available to answer questions and was so excited to tell us all about Bangkok and Thailand in general. Not that I needed much convincing, but he’s the reason I’ll be returning to Thailand sooner rather than later to explore the northern part of the country. Send me an email if you’re interested in more about our Airbnb host and experience in Bangkok.
We left Bangkok for the airport for a midnight flight late on Tuesday night. You don’t know traffic until you’ve sat in Bangkok traffic during rush hour. It took us 2 hours to get to the same airport it took us 30 minutes to get from the week before. Our cab driver even yelled at us for choosing such a terrible time to fly. Uh, our bad?
We landed in Seoul early Wednesday morning and actually enjoyed our long layover after a huge miscommunication and disappointment over a tour that I’d hoped to take. The great thing about the huge time difference is that we actually got to live Wednesday twice! We left Seoul Wednesday afternoon around 4:3opm local time and landed at SFO before 10am on Wednesday – same day! Wasted, however, because we fell asleep almost as soon as we got home.
Have you ever been to Thailand? What can you suggest for me the next time I go?