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Thailand - 2011 (Spring)

2011


We flew to Thailand by EVA Airways, premium economy (Elite). An excellent flight, on time departure, early arrival, good seats, good food, good service and our baggage came out early - so we were off to a good start!

We transferred to the Shangri-La, for a one night stopover, taking a normal deluxe room but with Golden Circle Jade benefits.


Chao Phraya River at night
Thai Dance - Sala Thip

Chao Phraya River at night

Thai Dance - Shangri La, Sala Thip Restaurant


At the Shangri-La, from check-in to check-out, the service and staff were great. We had an excellent, recently redecorated, room in the Shangri La wing.

We decided to dine in the hotel, at their Sala Thip restaurant overlooking the river and had a first class meal, with entertainment.

This was followed by breakfast, the following day, in the main restaurant. We love a good breakfast and the selection, quality and service outstripped our last stay in the upmarket Krungthep wing!

We had started to relax already and departed in a leisurely fashion for our Thai airways flight to Krabi.

Krabi Beach
Hongs at Krabi

Klong Muang Beach - Sheraton Krabi

Krabi - "Hongs"


We had a good flight on the brief trip to Krabi, complete with snack. We, once again, landed early and were off the Sheraton Klong Muang for a speedy and efficient check in to a club room. The interior furnishing has been described, elsewhere on the web, as being sparse, but to us it was spacious, stylish, in good condition and absolutely first-class with a good view to the sea from the balcony.

Unfortunately, the weather was not kind for the whole of our 10 night stay with some rain almost every day (fortunately mostly in the afternoon / evening). This did however prevent us from making plans for various outings and rather put a dampener on the experience.

The Sheraton is situated on one of the best parts of this beach and has ample restaurants and a few shops and massage places within easy reach, with a 7-11 next door. Our first experience of food at this hotel was breakfast. Oh dear what a poor selection of unappetising options, served in a chaotic buffet style by not too well trained staff. Sadly this first experience was repeated every day. There was no facility to take breakfast in the club area.

This was always intended to be the laid back part of our trip. We mainly chilled out by one of the pools, which were very good, lazed or walked on the beach or hired a long tail boat to visit the various hongs and Railay beach / Ao Nang. The hongs were quite spectacular and very pleasant early in the day or late in the afternoon, at other times (and especially Railay) they were overwhelmed with boats and tourists - many in large parties. Fortunately, by hiring a boat directly, we were able to find quiet or deserted beaches on the islands.

Ao Nang town did not really appeal so we spent no time. To be honest we were quite surprised by the numbers of people. Krabi was not the quiet, laid back area that we had imagined.

The best part of this location
was the peace and quiet of Klong Muang and its beach. The local restaurants served a variety of foods; Thai, European, Nepalese, Indian, pizza/pasta etc., all within easy reach (less than 100m) of the Sheraton.

Our 10 day stay in Krabi was over very rapidly and we were off to Hua Hin (via Bangkok). Once again we had a good internal flight with Thai, a speedy transfer (about 2 1/2 hours) to Hua Hin and we were being welcomed at the Sofitel!


Sofitel - Hua Hin
Hua Hin Beach outside The Sofitel

Sofitel - Hua Hin

Hua Hin Beach outside The Sofitel


Our check-in at the Sofitel was speedy, most welcoming and was undertaken in the club lounge. We were then shown to a magnificent period styled room on the top floor with what must have been the largest balcony in the hotel. There were only 6 of these rooms, with magnificent views over the topiary, lawns and pool to the sea. The view was stunning! The room and facilities were top notch - including free Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, once again, the weather was not too good and on one day the temperature struggled to get up to 19C (it is normally in the mid 30s at this time of year). Nevertheless we managed some pool time on most days; we wandered on the beach and in town and met up with an ex-colleague in the evenings.

The club facilities at this hotel were excellent. Plenty of staff - offering great service at breakfast, throughout the day and for afternoon tea and evening cocktails / canapes. Everything was in plentiful supply and nothing seemed too much trouble.

We had one evening meal at the hotel which was very good but there was little atmosphere when dining. The restaurants did not seem to be busy, possibly because of the price and because the main town is almost on the doorstep. This was a shame because the only downside to the meal was the relative emptiness of the restaurant, perhaps less than a quarter full.

We ate out on all the other evenings. We returned to a great Thai restaurant slightly out of town and tried two other restaurants even further; one on Soi 90 and the other a few miles down Soi 88, the Palm Bistro. This restaurant was a great find, with a UK chef, serving various Thai fusion dishes, through Indian specials to navarin of lamb (all at an affordable price and excellent quality).

All in all we had a good time. Hua Hin is changing rapidly, even the tuk tuks have gone up market, but we had a very enjoyable break. Even the check out at the Sofitel was painless.

The transfer back to Bangkok was spoiled
only by the insistence of the transfer company of a ridiculously early pick up. Despite being checked-in and needing only 1 hour at the airport we were deposited there almost an hour before check in opened and 4 hours before our flight (despite the driver taking an unusual and lengthy route from the outskirts of Bangkok).

We had a great flight back with EVA Air, getting the same good seats, service and food as on the outward journey. I even managed to get some sleep, which is almost unheard of. Perhaps, though, it just the ridiculously early departure from the hotel). We arrived back in the UK to temperatures similar to those in Hua Hin - somehow though, London Heathrow was just was not the same!


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