Destinations - Thailand

"My trip to Thailand was AMAZING, all I had expected and much, much more"

Kelly from our Head Office tells us in her own words about her trip to Thailand

Words: Kelly Hill, The Travel House Head Office

For many years Thailand has been at the top of my wish list. With many friends and colleagues travelling all over the 'land of smiles', experiencing wonderful adventures, I was very jealous to say the least. That is until Gold Medal called me with the best news ever!

I was lucky enough to be selected for the Gold Medal Mega Fam which would be visiting Khao Lak, Elephant Hills and Bangkok. A stunning itinerary, with an array of wonderful activities to really show the very best Thailand has to offer.

The trip started at Heathrow and once we had met all members of our group, it was a swift process through check in and onto the departure lounge ready to depart for Bangkok via Abu Dhabi and on to Phuket with Etihad.

The flight was on the Airbus A380 which is a lovely aircraft, very comfortable with plenty of leg room and a great range of in-flight entertainment from movies, games, music, seat to seat messaging and much, much more. I was very surprised at all the services available for example the flying nanny – cabin crew members dedicated to looking after children on board. For the traveller who requires nothing less than luxury – The Residence. The Residence is basically an apartment with a lounge, bedroom with en-suite bathroom and even your very own butler and chef. Amazing concepts that all add to a brilliant flight experience.

Khao Lak - The Sarojin Hotel
From the moment you walk into The Sarojin you feel yourself relax. This hotels concept is to make you feel at home and it truly does. You will find only one sign on site directing you to the spa. The hotel mainly caters for adults with children over the age of 10 years permitted to stay.

There is a wonderful pool area with pagodas to lounge on and relax in a tranquil setting. These can also be transformed into an incredible romantic private dining area, perfect for honeymooners or special occasions. Across from the pool is The Wine Bar offering a great range of drinks and there is no need to rush to breakfast either as it is served all day along.

La Flora Hotel
La Flora is a smaller hotel but much more my style. There is a real intimate feeling here with a relaxed atmosphere. We were met by Fom and Phan who took us on a tour of the rooms, grounds and facilities the hotel had to offer. The rooms are beautifully decorated and there is great attention to detail with handmade copper sinks embossed with the hotels name. The hotel is situated on the beach front and has a range of water sports available along with a spa and fitness room.

We were lucky enough to be able to dine at this hotel and I can safely say that the meal we had at La Flora was the best I had during my entire trip. This hotel definitely benefits from having a young dynamic team running the show. They are very welcoming and their enthusiasm and love for the property and resort is infectious.

Khao Sok National Park
We stopped off at Khoa Sok National Park on the way to Elephant Hills, a beautiful area with spectacular sights over the Rajjaprabha Dam. The dam was created in the early eighties by the King of Thailand but in doing so 385 families who lived in the valley had to be relocated. The village with its temple still lies beneath the lake.
There are a wide range of activities available in the National Park from Jungle trekking to canoeing and boat tours.

After taking in the beauty of the area we took a short transfer on a long boat that would take us on a speedy tour of the lake. The lake is surrounded by the oldest evergreen rain forest in the world. In a secluded part of the lake you come across the Rainforest Camp, 10 luxury safari tents that sit upon the water complete with decking area and your own kayak. You really get a feel for the areas unspoilt beauty. After a lovely lunch at the camp restaurant our group spent the afternoon swimming, kayaking and even gibbon spotting.

Elephant Hills
There are 35 tents at the camp and all are on individual plots and have all the mod cons such as hairdryers and a fan to keep you cool so it's a bit more of a glamping experience. The tent also comes with 2 hammocks to relax and unwind in while taking in yet another fantastic view of the mountains.

The main reception area houses the restaurant, gift shop and bar. The camp is very environmentally friendly and invests in many local projects. During our stay a group of local children performed a number of traditional Thai dances to showcase one of the many causes the camp contributes towards.

The Elephants
At first sight you can't quite believe the scale or the beauty of the elephants. We had arrived early and the plan was to give the elephants a bath and feed them their breakfast. There were 10 elephants in total one for each of the agents. After some frolicking and a quick mud bath we started by scrubbing the elephants with coconut husks and a hose pipe to get them clean, which they seemed to really enjoy – but not as much as us.

We were then trusted with a meat cleaver to cut up pineapples, sugarcane and bananas. The elephants all lined up ready for their breakfast.
Once our elephant encounter had come to an end we took a short stroll to take in a canoe safari on the Sok River. Life jacket on, two by two we jumped into inflatable canoes with a guide perched on the back. The scenery made you feel as if you were in a middle of a James Bond film.

On to Bangkok
I was so excited to be on my way to Bangkok, I had envisioned a crazy city with amazing shopping and nightlife – it didn't disappoint.

First we headed to Patpong market to grab some bargains and have a little fun bartering. The market is smack bang in the middle of many bars and there is a fantastic atmosphere here. We pulled up a chair at the Pink Panther Bar and enjoyed a few bottles of Chang. The bar played host to a Thai Boxing match which we were able to watch – you really wouldn't want to have a cross word with one of these guys. We then took our life into our hands and jumped into a tuk tuk. Speeding along the streets of Bangkok enclosed in something that looks like a hen house on the back of an old moped was equally as thrilling and scary!

During the trip the itinerary included a bike ride around the city. When I saw the words biking tour on the itinerary it actually scared me. I am not sporty, athletic or any other word of this description nor have I been on a bike since the age of 10. We left the hotel at 5am for a short transfer to the office where we met our guide and collected our bike of choice. We were ready to take on the roads of Bangkok. With a slight wobble I was off and took my place in the winding line of travel agents. As we got going we realised we were getting to see the unseen Bangkok. Our guide took us down narrow alleyways and side streets so close to houses that you were virtually inside the front door.

A few hours into the tour we visited a little wooden restaurant on the side of the river. As we walked in there lay a large wooden table filled with amazing dishes – noodles, vegetables, omelettes, rice and curries. This really was an amazing lunch with the lady who owned the restaurant cooking on a gas burner behind us – a truly delicious meal in a wonderful authentic Thai setting. This was a great day out, taking us off the beaten track and seeing the true Bangkok.

My trip to Thailand was AMAZING, all I had expected and much, much more. I will definitely return one day.

To find more about Thailand and to book your holiday please call us on 01792 478852

Article Reference: 000105