Travel Guide: Thailand
Okay fam! It’s been a minute! Almost 2 months exactly since we’ve returned from our Thailand trip, but you know, #birthdaymonth is in January and drinking too many cocktails with friends took priority over this post. BUT - we’re back in action and hopefully this proves to be useful for future travel plans and vacation-inspo planning. Going to try to break this baby down into travel plans by day.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Good Luck Car Service is the BEST for those of you who live in NYC. Linking them here : https://webres.luckyexpressnyc.com/JlimoWeb/ - still unclear why they have such terrible reviews online. Sure their store front looks shady and their driving may feel unsafe at times, but it is $37 cash to JFK and they are always 15 minutes early and text you upon arrival. Just try them once and you’ll be convinced, I promise. We had an 8:15pm flight from JFK via Singapore Airlines. Arrived in Singapore at 7am and departed for Ko Samui at 8:35am.
A COUPLE NOTES ON SINGAPORE AIRLINES
We flew straight up peasant class. I was in the MIDDLE SEAT for 21 hours. I have to say, it WASN’T THAT BAD. Singapore Airlines probably has one of the nicest economy class seats and service I’ve ever seen. You get a nice hot towel before departure, they feed you so much food it’s out of control, and if you score a seat next to the service area, the free wine will be flowing WITHOUT JUDGEMENT from the flight attendants. I know because I consumed 10 glasses on the flight home while watching every Netflix series available on in-flight TV..
3 DAYS AT RITZ-CARLTON KO SAMUI
Spend the money you saved on economy class to upgrade your hotel stays. We cannot say enough amazing things about Ritz-Carlton Ko Samui - linking the site here: http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/koh-samui?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2
Splurge for the Mercedes-Benz airport pick up, which you can easily book through the hotel. You really appreciate a smiling face, a sign with your name on it, an air-conditioned luxury vehicle, a cool lavender scented towel and a water bottle after you’ve endured 21 hours in a middle seat eating airplane food overloaded with sodium. The reception/welcome area has beautiful views with stepping stones in their infinity pool, great for the gram. Spend day 1 at the pool because you really need a full day to recover from that flight. The resort has its own secluded beach area that is super relaxing and private. Force yourself to go for a run throughout the resort for both exercise, mental sanity and to get your bearings. The spa is pretty amazing. We did not get any treatments but took photos on the steps of the spa lounge area, it’s such a beautiful and relaxing space.
DINING AT THE RITZ-CARLTON KO SAMUI
TIDES: Lunch at the pool bar: order a bottle of Whispering Angel and the cuban sandwich. Literally one of the best cuban sandwiches I’ve ever had was at this resort.
PAK TAI: Traditional Thai cuisine: we went for Christmas Eve and while the food was excellent, the entertainment was better.
SHOOK: The most extensive morning dining experience and impeccable service.
EXPLORING KO SAMUI
Reader’s warning: we did NOT explore Ko Samui as much as we should have. Our only outing was booked through the hotel, but it was pretty awesome. For about $150 we had our own private van with this ridiculous mirrored ceiling. This guy was perfect. He literally waited for us at each location. We were mindful of his time (and our cashflow) until we got to our last stop: Coco Tam’s (more on that below)
CRYSTAL BAY BEACH: supposedly the most beautiful beach in Ko Samui. I found it a little trashy. We got a drink and an app at a bar at the Silver Beach Restaurant. http://silverbeachsamui.com/
THE LIBRARY HOTEL: just die for it here. They’re really sticking to a design theme, which I appreciate. Known for their iconic red pool. Had wine and cheeseburger spring rolls here. http://www.thelibrarysamui.com/
BIG BUDDHA: the only temple we went to. So stunning, amazingly vibrant colors and so serene. No worries if you forget to cover up, they will give you shawls for free. http://www.kosamui.com/big-buddha-beach/big-buddha-temple.htm
COCO TAM’S: this place is SO MUCH FUN. I have minimal photos from this bar because we ended up meeting a random groups of friends from London and had a blast chatting with them. Our driver wasn’t even mad that we were gone for 4 hours (because he was getting paid to sit in the car and wait for us) - but literally best night ever. https://cocotams.business.site/ - you can pay $15 for a private “day-bed” area that is so worth it - also wine in Thailand is so cheap!
3 DAYS IN PHUKET AT THE SHORE AT KATATHANI
We took the 1-hour flight from Ko Samui to Phuket to stay for 3 days at The Shore at Katathani. Disclaimer: the car ride from the Phuket airport to the hotel was long, bumpy and busy. Not my most favorite moment of the trip.
A COUPLE NOTES ABOUT THE SHORE AT KATATHANI
While this resort is a trek from the airport, I found their service to be outstanding, their rooms insane and their food top notch. http://www.theshore.katathani.com/
UPON ARRIVAL: you’re served the typical welcome drinks and cool towels, but our room was not ready (even though we arrived in time for check-in) - concierge paid for our entire lunch by the pool, great service in my mind.
YOUR ROOM: our room had it’s own private infinity pool - your bedroom had a large glass sliding door that led out onto your own deck + pool. Take advantage of this view and privacy. You can get brunch delivered to your outdoor dining area for no extra fee.
ARE HOTEL WELCOME RECEPTIONS A THING?: the second night of our stay included a welcome cocktail hour. This was like a legit wedding cocktail hour. Live music, tons of amazing appetizers, food stations, etc and free beer and wine. We watched the sunset by the pool and met fun friends that we ended up drinking wine with all night. Again - another added value that made the price tag of our stay a bit more manageable.
3 DAYS IN KOH YAO NOI AT TREE HOUSE VILLAS
Take the ferry from Yacht Haven Marina in Phuket to Koh Yao Noi and prepare to experience one of the most surreal hotels EVER.
LUXURY TREEHOUSE VILLAS: Cannot say enough amazing things about this resort. https://www.treehouse-villas.com/ Your villa features 2 distinct floors.
Floor One: includes your own private plunge pool, dining table, lounge chairs, bar (re-stocked daily with your choice of 2 complimentary spirits), half-bathroom, adorable chandelier and ceiling fan. All open air.
Floor Two: Standard hotel room + soaking tub and balcony. Completely covered / full AC / luxury.
You truly can stay in your villa the entire time because it is essentially a proper home with everything you need. But the pool + restaurant + bar is a 2 minute walk away and the restaurant serves delicious options all day long. There is also a happy hour every night by the pool.
ISLAND HOPPING IN KOH YAO NOI
Book the classic long boat / island hopping tour through the hotel. I suggest paying extra for the private boat so you can stay as long or as little at each island - (you’re the boss). We had an amazing guide who took us to several different beaches, set-up a private picnic lunch and was essentially our personal photographer.
We actually went back to Ko Samui for one night for New Year’s Eve. We stayed at Belmond Napasai https://www.belmond.com/hotels/asia/thailand/koh-samui/belmond-napasai/ which was so lovely.
However the real stand-out here was the 12 hour layover in Singapore on the way home. I am obsessed and would move there in a second. Here is why I loved it:
Aside from the fact that I watched the Crazy Rich Asians movie 4 times on the plane over, Singapore is truly the most clean, gorgeous and interesting city ever. It actually doesn’t even feel like a city, it feels like a magical resort where everything is perfect, safe and fun.
DINING AND DRINKS IN SINGAPORE
We had the best time with Pete’s friends who have been living in Singapore for a few years now. They recommended every place listed below and each spot was better than the next:
MARINA BAY SANDS: the iconic hotel of Singapore. We had brunch at LAVO. It’s important to note that you can totally just go up in the elevator on your own and grab a seat at the bar vs waiting to speak to concierge in the lobby of the hotel. We ordered the meatballs and the caesar salad and it was one of the best dining experiences ever. https://www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/lavo.html
THE FULLERTON BAY HOTEL: Amazing views of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Their rooftop bar, Lantern, and pool is perfect for afternoon happy hour cocktails. https://www.fullertonhotels.com/the-fullerton-bay-hotel/lantern-rooftop-bar.html
MERCI MARCEL: We stopped here for dinner before boarding our flight back home. They have created a “modern day” french onion soup that I still cannot stop thinking about. https://mercimarcel.com/
I highly recommend traveling to Thailand. The people are so kind, the experience is amazing. If you have any other questions feel free to send us an e-mail or a DM on insta!
xoxo, Basically Soho