Family Thai vacation

2012-12-13 17:31
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Reconnecting in Thailand

If your family is scattered across the globe, why not decide to meet up at an exotic location for an epic family holiday break.

kalahari.com

The world is definitely becoming smaller. If not physically, most certainly virtually. People find themselves expatriated more and more in search of cosmopolitan career stepping stones dotted across the first-world river of life. It’s no longer a case of me casa or su casa – instead the latest expat trend seems to be meeting family and friends somewhere in the middle. Which is exactly what we did on our last trip to Thailand.
 
My wife and I are South Africans living in Amsterdam for 2 years and once a year we travel home to Cape Town to escape the cold of Holland. We decided to change things up on our last trip by meeting my brother and his wife in Thailand.
 
We spent the first three nights in Bangkok at the Sivatel Hotel which is a five-star hotel in the Putamwan district of Bangkok and worth the spoil. The location is excellent because it is just outside the busy traffic area but close to taxis, tuktuks and the sky train. Bangkok really is a hive of nooks and crannies. We spent a few days exploring, think excellent quality clothing and the obvious search for affordable electronics. I’m a guy, what can I say.

But if anything, Thailand is about food. Don’t believe the hype about street food making you sick. It’s all cooked fresh, right in front of you. Not only is it cheap but absolutely excellent. In a normal restaurant you could pay about R100 for a meal but Thailand’s pavement specials only have you forking out about R10 for the same meal. 

We also met up with some local friends who took us to the Sky Bar, made fomous in The Hangover 2. Dress up to visit this bar, it’s a little posh to say the least, as everyone seems to be posing for an imaginary movie camera, but well worth the visit.

Nahm is a Bangkok fine-dining itinerary must-do. Named as one of top 50 restaurants in the world for 2012. it’s certainly more pricey than your average restaurant, but if you love Thai food, the way we do, then it is an absolute must.

 

Our next destination was Koh Phi Phi. We flew to the southern end of Thailand and hired a private, long tailed speedboat to get to the island. This is not as expensive as it would seem and its possible to bargain with the operators to secure a good rate.

Otherwise, wait in line for a rather over-crowed and slow-moving ferry. You decide?


 
On the island we stayed at Phi Phi Beach Resort, another boat ride away from the main tourist town, Tonsai Bay. Staying in the town itself is also not a bad idea, if you don’t mind the endless partying and music. In this instance, we practically had an entire beach to ourselves when we wanted some peace and quiet. We spent the next five days island hopping, swimming and diving in various spots.
 
Next stop, Railay Bay. Another boat ride back to the mainland took us to our final destination, The Railay Bay Resort and Spa. This is a great resort nestled between three beaches, only two of which are suitable for swimming though, the other is a marshy beach used for boat landings and deliveries. Another ideal paradise on which to waste another five days. This corner of Thailand is diving-trip heaven. You need to spend an entire day out on a boat at the very least, diving off various islands and exploring caves. We swam with sharks (small sharks, not big ones), had a Thai curry dinner on a secluded beach and then got to swim after dark in the bio luminescence - the dark sea lights up with blue sparks, which is in fact plankton. I would go as far as to say that this was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. Certainly a holiday memory of a lifetime – and I can’t wait to go again!
 
If you go:
- We went the very last week of February and the weather never dropped below 30deg. April is the hottest month with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees and monsoon season blows in between July and October with most of the annual rainfall falling between these months. The humidity also reaches a staggering 90% at this time of year, so the best time to travel to Southern thailand is between November and February.

- It’s important to note that Thailand is a high-volume tourist area with extremely busy bars, pubs and clubs. We opted for seclusion. You can avoid the business by choosing your resorts accordingly with beaches only accessible to other people in your resort.  

- Also, bear in mind that the activities we participated in were exactly what we expected from the areas we stayed in. If you are looking for a more high octane adventure with jet skis and paragliding then these destinations won’t do it for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for hikes and swimming and a bit of snorkeling and relaxation, then you could do a whole lot worse than these little bits of paradise.

 - Don’t be afraid to try new eating spots, we discovered a family home where you could order food and it was some of the most delicious Thai food I had ever tasted, and I have tasted quite a bit.

 - When looking at holidays in Thailand, it is a good idea to do some research before you book through an agent, they will certainly make it a bit easier but booking things online, by yourself, can sometimes be a lot cheaper and more exciting.


 
Getting there:
We flew directly from Amsterdam and my brother and his wife flew directly from Johannesburg to Bangkok. Most major airlines have direct flights or you can opt for a cheaper option and fly with stopovers but because these are long hauls we chose direct flights.

Airlines servicing OR Tambo International
Thai International Airways
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
non-stop

South African Airways
Codeshare
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (16 hours)
Various

Emirates Johannesburg:
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (17 hours)
Dubai (DXB)

Etihad Airways
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (18 hours)
Abu Dhabi (AUH)

Singapore Airlines
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (19 hours)
Singapore (SIN)

Cathay Pacific Airways
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (18 hours)
Hong Kong ( HKG)

Ethiopian Airlines
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (18 hours)
Addis Ababa (ADD)

Qatar Airways
Johannesburg Airport (JNB) to Bangkok (BKK)
1-stop (17 hours)
Doha (DOH)

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