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Thailand -2004


Our trip to Thailand in early 2004 was an exceptionally memorable one. We took advantage of special pricing from Premier holidays, upgraded our flights to EVA Air premium economy (Evergreen Deluxe) and off we went. The service from Premier holidays equalled that of our Bali trip in 2002 - excellent.

Our flights were on a 747-400 both ways and could not be faulted. The extra legroom and seat width, provided at a relatively modest price, more than justified our decision to upgrade. All transfers, initially to the Landmark Hotel in Bangkok and then return to the Anantara in Hua Hin, were excellent and the service provided from Premier Holidays ground agents was first class.

We had a deluxe corner room at the Landmark - a well-appointed, spacious room in an excellent position - close to the Nana, skytrain station in Sukhumvit. The breakfast at the Landmark still rates very highly and memories of the Huntsman bar will linger for a long time - an excellent venue to meet up prior to going out for the evening or for a welcome drink on return from an evening in Bangkok.

Dusit Maha Prasat Hall - Grand Palace
Wat Arun

Grand Palace - Dusit Maha Prasat Hall

Wat Arun from Chao Phraya River

Our time in Bangkok was taken up with DIY sightseeing (Skytrain to Saphan Taksin pier, river boat to Wat Arun / Grand Palace, exploring the Palace and Wat Po and return via Chinatown). An easy trip, even for a novice to Bangkok, utilising an inexpensive skytrain day ticket and cheap boat tickets on the river. Bangkok can only be described as a vibrant city. It is noisy, with tranquil areas, dirty, with ultra-modern ultra-clean areas, refined, with seedy areas and beautiful, with very drab areas. A true assault on the senses! The sheer beauty of the Grand Palace is astounding and the way the old and new co-exist within Bangkok is amazing.

We took a trip to Kanchanaburi see the Bridge on the River Kwai, Museum and cemetery. A poignant and sad reminder of the Second World War and the way it was fought in S.E. Asia.

The food in Thailand is well known for its delicious and spicy nature and we ate in many places, always enjoying the atmosphere. A delightful surprise (where we still frequently return) is a Thai restaurant, Suda, which looks uninteresting and dingy but serves an excellent selection of typical Thai food. It is located just off Suk Soi 14 and is a great, very informal, experience.

Anantara Gardens - Hua Hin
Anantara Pool - Hua Hin

Hua Hin - Anantara Gardens

Hua Hin - Anantara Pool

The Anantara (formerly the Royal Gardens) resort hotel is situated on the seafront about 5 to 10 minutes by tuk-tuk to the North of Hua Hin. This is one of our favourite hotels, with lovely gardens, water features, two pools (one for lagoon room guests), 3 main dining areas/restaurants, 4 bars and a beautiful spa.

The main pool is excellent with a swim up (and dry side) bar. The lagoon pool offers a quiet area with infinity edge to the inland lagoon. We found the main pool to have more breeze and be more informally laid out.

Overlooking the beach, which was sandy and more than adequate there are additional loungers provided. The beach is much less busy than beaches at the hotels nearer the town, and had few beach sellers. There are informal massage providers along the beach (far, far cheaper than in the hotel) which suited us fine.

The hotel restaurants are on the expensive side, but we ate here probably 50% of the time - the food, service and ambiance were great. The staff did everything possible to make the stay enjoyable (we subsequently have returned quite a few times). The Baan Thalia restaurant, offering an international menu, was a first class experience and for slightly less formal dining, the Rim Nam offered a great menu, with a bias towards Thai food, and great service.

Many guests seemed to go out to dine and Hua Hin town offers a wealth of restaurants and entertainment experiences.

Sunrise - Hua Hin

Hua Hin, Sunrise over Gulf of Thailand

Hua Hin town is very much a working town as well as offering facilities for travellers. It was a very quiet village until the King of Thailand built a summer Palace (Klai Kangwon Palace) there. It can get busy at weekends with Thai people from Bangkok heading for the beach. It has a delightful railway station (designed for the royal visitors), an excellent night market (with local food also being available), an old fishing pier (once again with interesting seafood restaurants), a selection of bars and restaurants. An interesting place to stroll around in the evening, but not much (other than the Palace and the railway station) through the day.

The beach, to the south of the Hilton (formerly Melia) hotel, gets very busy with many annoying vendors and people trying to persuade you to take a horseback ride. We all know what horses leave behind (or what leaves horses behinds) and there are several traps to be encountered in the sand. This also attracts the flies - superb!

Trips can be arranged from the hotels and there are several good golf courses around Hua Hin.

In summary, we thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Thailand - enhanced by the great hotels and service provided.

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