I will be travelling to Phuket for tweeks in late May/Early June timeframe for my honeymoon.
If anyone has any experience or advice on the area I wouldbe very grateful. I'm basically looking for any help you can provide regarding hotels, recreation, tours etc.
Thanka in advance!
The Marriott Hotel is in a lovely but remote location -- we were just there for our honeymoon a few months ago. It's perfect if you want the all-inclusive experience. The beach was beautiful and not crowded -- sometimes we were the only ones out there. The hotel itself was a beautiful design with wonderful views over the pools. For us -- the location was a little inconvienent, as it is difficult to leave the resort without spending a lot of money on a cab or rental car. The meals, drinks, and spa prices inside are Western-level, while outside the resort, they are a fraction of the cost (~10%). If you stay there, rent a car in advance (at the airport the Thai rental companies are the best deals) and parking at the hotel was free. The concierge was not able to get the lowest prices for us, so we found our own. If we were to go back, we would stay at Kata Beach. Be sure to make a reservation at Mom Tri's Kitchen in the Kata area -- they offer cooking classes too! Our favorite experience was the John Gray Sea Canoe -- the sunset tour included truly magical experiences -- and incredible views of nature: brightly colored crabs, walking fish, and florescent plankton! Enjoy!!
We had the most magical time here. The resort is amazing. Make sure you get a Tai massage on the beach but also visit the spa at the JW. I have attached our itinerary with all the information. The comments in red are what we did. Don't miss the Siam Safari Tour or the John Gray. Stay in Bangkok for at least 5 to 6 days. We did three before Phuket and 3 days after Phuket.
8-25-05 Arrive Bangkok 10:30 PM (total flying time 19 hr 20 min)
After leaving the arrival zone (do not take any offers for taxis in the arrival zone. They are more expensive) we might stop at the currency exchange service. ($1 = approx. 40 Baht)
Take a taxi-meter. HINT: Use the exit on the 3rd floor (departure) and ask an incoming metered taxi to take you to our destination. First tell the driver your destination (I have a map of the streets to hotel) If he likes this tell him you want transportation "by meter". If OK get in the taxi! Let him use the "express road" and give him the tollway fee (40 Baht). Estimated fair 250 Baht (depending on destination) If the traffic is very busy in Bangkok (it happens sometimes...), many drivers do not like to go "by meter" and you must bargain for the price. You should not accept more than 70% of his first offer. Do not enter the taxi before fixing the price! Finally, you will pay 300-500 Baht (depending on traffic and location).
Note: We got in a Taxi that we thought was metered and negotiated a price before we got in. We needed two taxis because the cars are so small and we had four of us with luggage. We negotiated both fares. When we go on the freeway both taxi’s stopped and said we were not paying them enough and would not go any further unless we said we would pay them more. This was pretty scary. When we arrived at the Marriott the bell man did not let us pay until her verified the rate with the taxi and made him take what we had negotiated.
Check in at Bangkok Marriott Resort and Spa
257 Charoennakorn Road
Go to bed!
8.26.05 A Day In Bangkok (page 22) Wear something appropriate for dinner since we will be eating at a restaurant later.
7:00 AM Stroll in Lumpini Park. Stop at POP Restaurant for breakfast under the trees. Leave to the right of the restaurant at the west gate in Ratchadamri Rd. Stop at the Erawan Shrine, which is well known for granting wishes for success in love and lottery. Ask for blessings by buying incense candles and flowers.
Go to Narayana Phand (10 AM to 8 PM) 127 Ratchadamri and find Pratunam a real Thai Market. Proceed to Baiyoke Suite Hotel go to the 4th floor and transfer to the 77th floor to the Sky Lounge for lunch. There is a magnificent view of the city from this location. Return to Narayana Phand mall. This is the government's handicraft store. Look for Baht (eight flat sheets of metal that are pounded into a bowl that the monks carry in morning rounds.
Note: While we were in the city, after we had burned our incense at the altar and put flowers on the Buda a nice woman came up to us and asked if we knew where we were going. We fell into this trap…she said she was a doctor and gave us some suggestions for good shopping. She got us a “tuke tuke” with driver and we were headed off to where she told him to go. It was a place where they sell suits and silk and all kinds of jewelry. It was fun and we bought a lot of things here, I just think we got snookered into going to these stores because of her. She probably was not a Dr. at all but a front for the stores. Oh well, you live and learn. We should have known better. The “tuke, tuke ride was worth it though!
3:30 leave Narayana Phand and hail a taxi to Thewet Flower Market (if we get a late start or it is to hot we may have to skip this. Walk along the canal to the river. Buy a dock ticket and wait for the express boat (rua dan) The boat is long, narrow and painted white. We will see many things on the boat ride including the Grand Palace, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) etc.
Tell the conductor to go to the Oriental Hotel. This is one of the classic hotels of Asia and its Author's Lounge is one of the reasons. Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maughn, Noel Coward, and Graham Green stayed here. Order tea and we will relax under bamboo trees. Make a dinner reservation at Sala Rim Naam restaurant for 7:00. We will relax at the hotel until sunset or we can walk through the Oriental Plaza just behind the hotel where there are shops. At about 6:45, walk through The Oriental' lobby to the private boat landing. The boat that ferries diners to the Sala Rim Naam restaurant across the river is free. Enjoy a delicious multi-course Thai dinner followed by a program of Thai classical dancing.
(If you go to this hotel you MUST have closed toed shoes and no shorts. They will not let you in! I went and bought a pair of $4.00 shoes so I could go in. It is so historic. They have a great bar in the garden area of the hotel.)
Take a water taxi back to our hotel.
8-27-05 Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Rose Garden: (page 51) This is a full day tour that we should book at the hotel. Starts at 7 AM (don't worry we will relax when we get to Phuket!) Journey by boat through Damnoen Saduak Floating Market; visit the world's tallest Buddhist stupa; enjoy a cultural show, complete with elephants at the Rose Garden.
The floating market is a Thai wonder. Most tours stop at the Talaat Hia Kui. There are plenty of shops here. The tour will continue to the town of Nakhon Pathon to see the colossal Phra Pathom Chedi, the world's tallest Buddhist stupa and the oldest such structure in Thailand.. We can buy incense, a candle and a lotus bud here and make a wish!
(We actually had to do the floating market tour on its own day. This was the most fascinating. They take you down the river in “long boats” past people’s homes before you get to the market. People here have no electricity or plumbing in their homes that are right on the river. You can really bargain here. Even if you don’t buy anything you have to go. They are selling some antique smoker things as you exit the market to get back on the bus. I do not know the exact name but I think they smoked cocaine out of them. : ) I know nothing about that. We booked this tour at the Marriott in Bangkok)
Some 20 miles west of Bangkok is the Rose Garden (8AM - 6 PM) After lunch we will go to its Thai Village for cultural show (folk dancing, Thai boxing, cockfighting, sword fighting, a wedding and a monk's ordination ceremony. This is followed by a demonstration of elephants at work and the chance to ride on an elephant for a small fee.
(This was really interesting. A whole day tour where they took us to see how they make paper and beautiful carvings of everything. We had lunch in the Rose Garden. We booked this tour at the Marriott in Bangkok)
We will take a long ride back to Bangkok in traffic arriving about 7:00 PM. Head for an early evening at either the Siam Inter-Continental or we may decide to eat at the Riverside Terrace at the Marriott. They specialize in barbecued seafood and mixed grill buffet beside the river.
We may decide to eat on the Manohra a 40 year old authentic river rice barge that has been restored by the Marriott. They offer nightly dinner cruises on the "River of the Kings"
(We went on the Manohra and it was like stepping back in time. You must do this! The floating boat restaurant is at the Marriott. You make reservations through them)
8-28-05 Thai Airways #209 leaves Bangkok at 10:45 am arrived in Phuket 12:05 PM
Check into Marriott Phuket Beach Club
230 Moo 3
Mai Khao, Thalang
Conf # 8740313 Interval International
8-29-05 Relax/ Got to Beach/ Get a massage at Mandara Spa @ J.W. Marriott
(This hotel was like paradise. We were in the timeshare part and the J.W. was right along side it. The service is 7 star. The pools and beaches were like Shangri-La. I never wanted to leave this place.)
8-30-05 Elephant Ride if we did not take one before/ Visit Night Market in Phuket Town (about 45 min away from hotel
(We booked this tour at the airport in Bangkok believe it or not. It was an Ecco friendly tour company, Siam Adventures. It was wonderful. We rode elephants in the rain forest after which they took us to eat in the outdoor ecco friendly dinning hall where they served us a wonderful Thai lunch. They had place mats made of banana leaves and there were monkeys watching us. After lunch they took us to the river where we got in a canoe with a guide and sailed down the river where we saw snakes and bugs etc. They stopped half way down the river where we got out and they fixed us hot tea. It was amazing. After tea we sailed back down the river where we finally reached a mud hut town. From here they put us on a bus and took us back to the hotel. We had a female guide from England. She was a blast)
8-31-05 Open Day
(Make sure you get one of the $10 massages on the beach. Make sure you tell them not too hard or they will break your back! You could have $10 massages all day long if you want!)
9-1-05 Visit Phang Nga Bay by John Gray's Sea Canoe
(This was an incredible experience I will never forget. We boarded a boat that took us out to all the formations in the ocean. We got in rubber boats and paddled right into the formations and learned all about this beautiful mountain like formations. We then went back to the boat where they fed us lunch after which we went swimming off the boat and paddled onto a beach where we did some exploring. Back onto the boat where we had dinner and then made banana leaf offerings with flowers and candles. Once it was dark we got back into the boats and went back into the formations in the pitch dark. When you ran your hands through the water the water lit up. We then lit our offerings and put them into the water. Being perfectly still we watched them all burn until they burned out. This was surreal. I will never forget it.
I would only do the John Gray tour. You can look him up on the internet. He is a former professor from UCLA who left it all behind to live this great and simple life. We booked this tour at the Marriott hotel )
9-2-05 Phi Phi Islands if they have recovered/ Sea Kayaking
Have a nice dinner. This is our last night in Phuket
9-3-05 Have a massage early! Will be going back to the airport for a 6:55 PM flight. We will not have to check out of the hotel until we are ready to go to the airport
Thai Airways #218 leaves Phuket @ 6:55 PM
Arrives Bangkok @ 8:20. Back to Bangkok Marriott Resort and Spa.
9-4-05 Chatachak Weekend Market: World's largest outdoor market. Chatuchak Park off Phanhonythin Rd. on highway to airport. Take a cab or Sky Train (get off @ Mo Chit Station)
(We took the train. It was very easy. The water Taxi picked us up at the back of the Marriott and then just a block you are at the train station. I have never been in a place like this in my life. If you are afraid of crowds don’t go but if not you will have the time of your life. They had some wonderful antiques here from Vietnam that I picked up.)
Canal Cruise and Royal Barge Museum: (page 43) Take a journey into the canals for a flavor of riverside life and a visit to the Royal Barge Museum. Hire our own rua mai (a motor launch, not a long-tailed boat) for an afternoon cruise. The low-roofed launch chugs along sedately and seats 8 to 10 people comfortably. The price will depend on our bargaining ability, but it should not cost more than 300 Baht an hour. Take sunglasses and hat.
Arrive at the Oriental Hotel at about 2PM. Walk past the entrance and down the driveway to a lane on the left that runs between the hotel and a wall to a small boat landing. It is possible to rent a motor launch (rua mai) here. The boast will take us upstream past Wat Arun and the Grand Palace. Before entering Khlong Bangkok Noi. A little after turning into the wide khlong (canal) and just before reaching a bridge , ask the driver to stop at the Royal Barge Museum (9am-4pm), After the Barge Museum the rest of the ride will show us a cross section of Thai Life.
(We booked this as a tour at the Marriott in Bangkok because we decided that was better than trying to do this on our own. It was a great tour and it combined the Barge Museum the the Grand Palace which is in the next paragraph. I would have liked a little more time at the royal palace but they did take us to the largest gem store in the world where they make jewelry. It was so well priced of course we had to buy some. It was good to have a guide as well to tell us all about what we were seeing. The Temple was incredible. It is all made of broken China dishes. You have to see it to believe it.)
9-5-05 Wat Phra Kaeo, Grand Palace and National Museum (page 24) Have breakfast on the edge of the river @ The Shangri-La Hotel's Coffee Garden. Take the express boat upstream to the Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace. Take a guided tour of the treasures of the National Museum.
9:00 AM walk to the boat landing at the end of Soi Oriental (on the south side of the Oriental hotel) and take the express boat upstream and disembark at Tha Chang Wang Luang landing just past the Grand Palace, visible on the right. Walk straight down the street about 650 ft to the entrance of the Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace (8:30 - 3:30) You will never be prepared for the flittering reality of these buildings. The admission ticket is for both buildings. We will go to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. We will go to Wat Phrae Kaeo Museum, which contains the largest collection of Buddha. There is a restaurant here where we can get chilled coconut to eat and drink. There is a shop that sells Chian Mai - waxed umbrellas.
Have a great dinner at the Hotel or the Monohra because this is our last night in Bangkok!
(The best time I had was Wayne and I got up very early in the morning one day and walked from our hotel to the local market. Along the way we saw many monks out looking for their meals for the day. This is how they live. They wear orange robes and no shoes. When you give them food, in return they give you blessings. We really spent this whole morning seeing what it was like to be a local and not an American in a beautiful hotel.
Remember you will have to pay a tax before your leave the country. After you check in your bags, before you can go to the gate you must pay the tax and get a receipt. I do not remember how much it was. Get to the airport very early. The day we got there all their computers were down and it was a mad house in the terminal.)
The Marriott hotel is great, and the timeshare apartments aren't too bad either-a little low on equipment compared to the regular timeshares though.
The only negative is that the resort is very remote, and the taxi drivers run an expensive co-op. They charge a high outward fare, give you three hours complimentary waiting time and charge the return trip at a 20% discount. If you wish them to wait longer they charge a waiting time of 400 THB per hour. So the ride and a six hour stopover would cost 2,800 THB about 90 US $.
It is impossible to get a one way trip out to town, and then hitch a separate taxi for the ride back at the end of playtime!.