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Client Blog: Sara & Steve’s Thailand adventure



I have had the pleasure of looking after Sara and Steve since 2013, and have booked them holidays to various destinations, such as South America, China and Russia. I love that they like to explore places slightly off the tourist trail and always enjoy their exciting itineraries.


Their recent visit to Thailand and especially Elephant Hills was one I was eagerly looking forward to hearing about...


 

We have booked several wonderful holidays with Susan including trips to China, Trans-Siberia and Portugal, and after two pandemic-enforced cancellations, it was third time lucky for our 2022 adventure to Thailand.


The paperwork wasn’t straightforward, and just three days before we were supposed to go, the Thai Consulate rejected our pass because the Covid certificate had a blue background.


After a panic call, Susan dealt with it straight away, sending us a black and white copy which was immediately accepted.


As we weren't staying in one place within Thailand, there was a need for several lateral flow tests and Susan managed to juggle flights accordingly, putting together a perfect itinerary for us to incorporate the things that we are passionate about, such as conservation, history, arts, and wildlife.



We flew with Thai Airways direct to Bangkok from Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and after a tiring 12-hour journey, we were very happy to arrive at our first port of call, the fabulous Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort. We then had to comply with Covid protocols, the necessary PCR test and a day’s quarantine in our room.


Fortunately, it was large and immaculately clean with a balcony overlooking the beautiful swimming pool, which we made good use of during our stay. We enjoyed a couple of lovely meals at the hotel, some delicious cocktails and plenty of breakfast choices.


With the regulations reducing our time in the capital, we were determined to make the most of our couple of days. As enjoyers of the arts, history and exploring the culture of different countries, we visited the Grand Palace, floating markets, the Shadow Puppet Theatre and some local dancers at a small village outside Bangkok.



A special mention to Diamond G, the charming concierge we did our guided city tour with.


Onwards to Phuket and a two night stay at the excellent Dusit Thani Laguna, where Bangtao Beach is right in front of the beautifully designed pool.


The hotel is located near to some small shops and eateries, and with our bellies in need of filling on our first night, we ventured for a stroll to satisfy our hunger.



After consideration, we decided on Bake, both settling on the rotisserie chicken with garlic butter rice, mine French roasted and Steve’s Thai spiced. It was divine. The chicken was succulent, and the rice cooked to perfection with a tasty fresh salad accompaniment.



We loved our small group snorkelling trip the following day, arranged with the amazing Wicky, the tour guide.


The three-night luxury camp and rainforest nature safari at Elephant Hills in Khao Sok was something we had eagerly anticipated, and it met all our expectations and beyond.


I had been assured in advance by the brilliant staff that the elephants are extremely well cared for - they certainly are - and being domestic rather than wild, their personalities shone through. I loved feeding them, their eyes are so wise and gentle with such long eyelashes and our guide was very knowledgeable about them.



Our tented accommodation was very comfortable with a lovely view of the jungle, and I loved the two little elephants on the bed.


Kayaking in the mangroves was superb. It was great seeing the macaques in their natural environment, fighting over a coconut; and snakes sleeping in trees.



To be able to swim with the fish in the lagoon was fabulous. The trek with the knowledgeable guide pointing out everything of interest, including all the amazing fauna, was fascinating and eating wonderful food in the jungle was another great experience.


We also had cooking demonstrations, films about the surrounding nature and conservation, and the pool was perfect for cooling off in the humidity after activities.


What a delightful place.



The final leg of our Thai adventure was seven nights spent at the delightful Aava Resort and Spa in Khanom, seeing pink dolphins, bats in caves, an exquisite white sandy beach, a warm Andaman Sea and enjoying a magnificent pool.


Aava is the brainchild of a charming Scandinavian couple and has just 28 spotless rooms, stylishly designed in a fusion of cultures and boasting friendly Thai service, fantastic food and its own spa and wellness centre.



The staff and owner were so hospitable, kind and courteous, making us very welcome. When I genuinely felt a little tearful when it was time to leave, one of the restaurant staff even gave me a hug.


The hotel food and cocktails were wonderful, both often enjoyed whilst watching the ocean.



We had chosen Khanom primarily because of the pink dolphins that inhabit the region, and the resort kindly threw in a wonderful complimentary half day longboat trip to see them.


It was exhilarating to see these beautiful pods of dolphins swimming and playing in their natural environment - I just hope that they are there forever.


In between relaxing on the beach and in the pool, we managed a few trips out with terrific local drivers and guides Sa and Ae, who really looked after us.



The city tour to Nakhon Si Thammarat was very interesting, seeing spectacular temples and the highlight, visiting the Shadow Playhouse of Suchat Sapsin, a museum filled with puppets from different parts of the world.


After looking around the museum, you are invited to watch a magical 30-minute performance with an explanation in English before a local family member demonstrates how the puppets are made from cow hide. It is important to them to keep this lovely tradition alive.



We enjoyed a splendid lunch in the city before visiting a cave which had great stalactites and stalagmites; and as a lover and member of a local group, I was thrilled to see bats too.


Sa and Ae kindly returned with us the following morning as we had run out of time to see the local waterfall.


I treated myself to a blissful last night’s Thai massage on the beach, listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean.



Khanom is perfect for lovers of wildlife, chilling, the beach, Thai massages and some authentic local trips, and I would go back in a heartbeat to see the dolphins. We absolutely loved the hotel and would have been very happy to stay another week.


We were genuinely sad to say farewell as we began the long journey back home. The holiday was memorable, everything went seamlessly as planned due in no small part to Susan’s outstanding efforts and we extend a big thank you for making it all happen.


We cannot recommend her highly enough.



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