After so many years of uncertainty when it comes to travel, on November 1, 2022, Thailand announced that they are re-opening to the world again! Together with that great news came one of the biggest new air routes for Canadian travellers, a direct flight from Vancouver to Bangkok. A GAME CHANGER. Not just for Canada but the entire North American continent. This is only the second direct flight to South East Asia (after a flight that goes from NYC to Singapore)! We were part of a group organized by the travel authority of Thailand to be on that inaugural, 16 hour flight on December 1, 2022. It was the longest, uninterrupted flight we have ever taken and I am happy to report that after hour 8 they all kind of blend together, you become numb to the passing of time and it goes rather smoothly. Not to mention that on the other side, adventure awaits! To book your direct flights from YVR > BKK visit www.aircanada.com
...a direct flight from Vancouver to Bangkok. A GAME CHANGER!... only the second direct flight to South East Asia in all of North America
Believe it or not, our 16 hour flight was just the first leg of our trip that day. You lose an entire day when you travel from Canada to Thailand because of the 12+ hour time change, so even though we left home on December 1st, we did not land until December 3rd. We went from our international flight straight to board a domestic flight into Phuket (THE beach destination of South East Asia!), when we landed in Phuket we then proceeded to take a shuttle to a marina where we boarded a boat to our final destination that day, Ko Racha Yai (Racha Island) and our first luxury resort, the Racha.
The Racha was everything we have been craving and more, even though the weather upon arrival was a bit overcast, the water was still an insane, clear and vibrant blue, a feast for the eyes. The entire resort comprises of individual villas, so no matter the price point you choose for your stay you are guaranteed a private entrance to your own little piece of heaven and an outdoor shower (!). Our room came with it’s own pool but even if that’s not in your budget, Racha has several shared pools on property you are able to use, including an adult only pool overlooking the beautiful bay and of course, the main event, the beach. The price point of the Racha was, shockingly the lowest of all properties we have visited on our trip, with rooms starting at $250US/night! OUTSTANDING! This will be the very first destination we will be coming back to on our next visit to Thailand. We definitely did not get enough time to spend in this beautiful place, we were on a schedule after all.
After only one night on this secluded Thai island we headed back to the main island of Phuket to spend the next three nights at the world famous Banyan Tree Resort
What an awesome treat it was staying here, it reminded me a little bit of being in Palm Springs but with a much more vibrant culture. The resort is so expansive that they provide bikes for their guests to get around the property. If yours is one of the further villas you can get a semi decent workout just getting around. Beautiful pools, restaurants and even some top tier shopping is available to guests during their stay, not to mention a full sized golf course for those who wish to fit in a game while they are there (or perhaps you like to travel for this specific purpose in mind, then you definitely do not want to miss Banyan Tree). Together with the world class amenities we were treated to another first for us, a floating breakfast (!) since our villas all had their own pools (what is life!). The villas themselves were a definitely highlight. The rooms were big, with extremely comfortable beds, giant walk in closets, and , my favourite, heated toilets! 10/10 recommend! Totally installing one for our next Reno project! Banyan Tree was also the first time we experienced an evening ceremony, with beautiful Thai music and a procession lighting candles, setting the mood for the night ahead.
Chiang Mai was immediately one of our favourite destinations, with super affordable massages at every turn. Our itinerary included night markets, shopping, exploring Chiang Mai old town and it's many Buddhist temples and a highlight of ours, a visit to the Patara Elephant Sanctuary
The vibe in Chiang Mai is visibly different from the coastal Phuket, but regardless of location the restaurants and food is just as outstanding and every restaurant offers an other worldly experience. Our first stop in Chiang Mai was the beautiful Lamour café, restaurant… and hair salon, of course nothing surprises us in Asia and we welcome all the quirks as they come, not to mention the cutest fur baby spotting before lunch started. Our welcome at Anantara Chinag Mai Resort included a tour of the beautiful river front property, including their residential suites which you can rent for longer term stays (my wheels started spinning immediately). Chiang Mai was immediately one of our favourite destinations, with super affordable massages at every turn. Our itinerary included night markets, shopping, exploring Chiang Mai old town and it’s many Buddhist temples and a highlight of ours, a visit to the Patara Elephant Sanctuary, a truly life changing experience. The service at Anantara was exceptional (as it proved to be across all of Thailand), we have never experienced such beautiful turn down service with little gifts left on our pillows every night to showcase Thai culture, and of course the people, who have quickly claimed the top spot for my favourite people ever with their kindness, calmness and friendly approach to everything. Despite it being a busy, highly populated part of the world it still felt like the most calming place. For a highly sensitive person like myself this is truly a gift.
Even though you are in this bustling centre of culture and commerce, staying at Capella felt like a getaway into an oasis, away from the craziness of a busy city
Only a one hour flight away from Chiang Mai is Bangkok (fun fact, most flights around Thailand take around 1 hour, as area wise, it is not that big of a country), where we spent the last leg of our trip, and even though Chiang Mai takes the spot for our favourite destination of the trip I was very VERY excited to get to experience more of this huge bustling metropolis. We were thrilled to find out that we were staying right on the Chao Praya river, which is the major artery that connects Thailand to the rest of the world. The sunset views from Capella Bangkok are absolutely unbeatable. Even though you are in this bustling centre of culture and commerce, staying at Capella felt like a getaway into an oasis, away from the craziness of a busy city, this was a theme that followed us through our trip. The Thai people figured out a way to find peace and calm in what we are so used to in the west as usually being chaotic and sometimes quite anxiety inducing (all my introverts raise your hand). Upon arrival we were greeted with a Thai desert making workshop hosted by the hotel, which they offer to all of their guests, scheduled weekly. The amenities on site take the cake for the most luxurious and memorable of any trip we have ever been on, including preparing a bubble bath at your request, in room amenities such a a full sized bar, service drop off door so you can get your order on your own time, turn down service with memorable gifts highlighting Thai culture and traditions, an incredible breakfast spread, a beautiful spa with a vitality pool, steam room and a tropical shower, available to all guests at no additional cost anytime during operating hours, a complimentary river shuttle which offers stops at the skytrain and icon siam, concierge services available 24/7 which can help organize any experience you’d like to sample on your visit, a beautiful high tea experience, a coffee shop, bar and a hotel shop that carries incredible thai designers and makers that will elevate any outfit (see the orange feather wicker bag I purchased during my stay), of course there is an infinity pool, individual villa rooms and even an onsite vegetable garden that guests can visit anytime of the day. If I had to stay at one hotel for the rest of my life I think Capella would be my first choice. Five stars definitely does not do this property justice.
An honourable mention must go to the Standard Bangkok, even though our group was not staying here we did visit the other group travelling to Thailand, for dinner at the Sky Beach rooftop bar and the Standard Grill. Let me tell you, the colors and design of this place just blew me away into outer space. It is everything I dream of for interiors, on the scale of basic to tik tok worthy this hotel exceeds all expectations. Primary colors, bubble furniture, rounded edges, photo ops at every turn, it is hard for me to put eloquently into words just how excited I was when I walked inside. Of course I had to pay the hotel shop a visit before closing and pick up a few things for myself and Tyler. The Standard Bangkok is definitely on my list of must stay properties on our next trip to Thailand. I just can not wait already! eeeek!
Thailand, in fact, is so much different from anything you have ever seen in movies or read in magazines, it truly is a place that offers everyone something unique, I really don't think anyone can have the same experience in Thailand twice
Our 10 days in Thailand really felt like an incredible feat, we saw and did so much that could fill up a months worth of travel. It is incredible just how much there is to see and do in this country. Whether you are a rookie or a seasoned traveler, travelling on a budget or living it up at the most luxurious hot spots there is something for you here. If you are a foodie you do not want to miss everything Thailand has to offer, even for a picky eater like me who doesn’t like spicy foods there is an unlimited amount of choices, flavours and colors to discover. If you love wellness travel we don’t have to tell you just how incredible the services in Thailand are, from luxury spas to street massages you can just not go wrong, everyone in Thailand has the magic touch and you can not convince me otherwise. If you are a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a family with kids looking for a relaxing vacation, if you want to travel for the culture and to learn more about local communities, or just come to Thailand to shop, if you are seeking adventure and thrills or looking to wind down on a secluded beach you can find an endless amount of destinations and experiences without much of an effort. I always thought of Thailand as a popular travel destination, but I have to admit that the image I had of as Thailand turned out to be just a tiny version of it painted by pop culture and stereotypes. Thailand, in fact, is so much different from anything you have ever seen in movies or read in magazines, it truly is a place that offers everyone something unique, I really don’t think anyone can have the same experience in Thailand twice. After we left I realized just how much more there is to see and to explore here. We merely scratched the surface. I can not wait to be back!
Also see my posts from Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok for a more in-depth recap our our experiences in each destination. xoxo