I was so excited to be visiting Thailand, even though I had been to Phuket a few times prior. After checking in at the Brisbane airport, we quickly made a dash for the duty free before boarding our Singapore Airlines flight to Phuket via Singapore. It's been a while since I've flown Singapore Airlines and now I don't think I'll fly anything else. The plane was so spacious in economy with plenty of legroom. The food was great and the service was 10 out of 10. After a quick transit in Singapore we were off to Phuket with Silk Air.
After arriving in Phuket, we had an hour drive to the Banthai Beach Resort and Spa in Patong where we would be staying for the next two nights. Banthai is a myTime property and it was fantastic to receive the myTime treatment of a refreshing welcome drink and a special check in service, not to mention all the added extras. Banthai is very modern and all the rooms overlook the pool (they have three at the resort) which makes for a lovely view. They even had complimentary beach bags and thongs you could take home. The swim up bar also served some nice cocktails!
We spent the following morning on a Phuket Island Tour passing Karon and Kata beaches to visit the Big Buddha which offered spectacular views. We then went to the old original town of Phuket and admired the unique architecture before touring the food markets and trying some interesting dishes including chicken balls and meat skewers. Although not normally on the tour, we also stopped in at Tiger Kingdom where we got up close and personal with the tigers - absolutely incredible and a little scary at times - those tigers are BIG!
We had a marvellous dinner at the KEE Resort and Spa Sky Lounge. It definitely lived up to its reputation, the view was amazing and the cocktails were good too (and the food). The hotel is very modern and hip and there were plenty of young people enjoying the swim up bar. It's in a great location, so close to the beach and the nightlife is literally next door.
The next day we were up early for a three hour drive to Elephant Hills. I'm not a camper so I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. Each tent had a proper bed which was very comfortable, timber flooring and a large bathroom. It was very much ‘glamping’ and I was more than happy with the accommodation. We even had hammocks out the front to laze in.
Once we were settled in we were ready for our once in a lifetime elephant experience. We got to wash, bathe and feed the elephants - it was surreal. We then canoed down the river and were lucky enough to have our guides do the paddling. We sat back and enjoyed the view which included frogs, snakes and even monkeys. Back at the camp we had a sumptuous buffet of Thai food for dinner. There was pre-dinner entertainment each night which consisted of Thai dancing by the local school children and a cooking demonstration.
The next day we headed off to the Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp which was over an hour away by long tail boat. The scenery of the limestone cliffs and crystal clear water was breathtaking. We arrived at the camp which has ten luxury safari overwater tents. We spent the afternoon kayaking and swimming and of course eating more delicious Thai food.
The following morning we set off for our jungle trek in the rainforest. We crossed over water on floating bamboo rafts, trekked through the jungle and saw thriving vegetation and wildlife. We stopped for a jungle lunch which was prepared by one of the locals. Barbeque pork, Thai omelettes and chicken coconut curry, cooked on an open fire using fresh ingredients grown from the jungle and local surrounds. I just loved it.
Back in Patong, we checked into the Novotel Phuket Vintage Park Resort. Newly renovated, this hotel has the largest resort pool in Patong. It’s in a good location, a little further away from the hustle and bustle of Patong but still close enough to all the action. We had a lovely dinner at the Impiana Hotel, one of the only beachfront hotels on Patong. We sat under the stars and enjoyed yet another mouth-watering Thai feast.
I find it amazing that it doesn't matter how many times you visit a place, you can always find something new to experience.
If you would are seeking your own Thailand adventure, contact Jenny Egan on 07 3005 6455 or email email@example.com. Jenny is a consultant at Escape Travel Queens Plaza, Cnr Edward and Adelaide Street, Brisbane.