Day 1 & 2: Flying to Thailand
We took a late night flight out of Frankfurt leaving at 9:45pm using Etihad. We used this airline last summer when we did Maldives so we knew what to except. We enjoyed our business class seats, food and lounges. It was about a 6 hours flight to Abu Dhabi where we had a 4.5 hour layover.
We arrived at 6am, so we enjoyed some breakfast at the lounge. I took a quick shower which makes you feel amazing after flying. We board our next flight and after 6 hours we landed at Bagnkok Suvarnabhumi airport around 8pm. We booked a Fast Track Custom package with transfer service to our hotel using IAsia. We had a representative waiting for us at our gate and walked us to the fast track line for customs. There was no one there, so we got right through. US citizens can stay for 30 days without needing a visa. Then headed towards baggage, exchanged some money and found our driver. This whole process was about 25 minutes.
We would be spending the next two nights at the Millennium Hilton hotel which is located on the Chao Phraya River which runs right through the city. We learned upon checking in that we were upgrade to a family suite room on the 25th floor! Thanks to Mario’s Hilton status. We prepared for bed as it was a long two days of traveling.
Things to know about Thailand:
Day 3: Bangkok
We got a late start but enjoyed breakfast at the executive lounge before heading out to explore. Every morning for breakfast we were given a extra treat due to Mario’s status. Today we took the hop on and off boat to see some of the sites. We got a day pass which was 150 baht each or $4, so 300 baht for both which was about $ 9. Our hotel is located right next to the ICONSIAM Mall which has a stop for the Hop On and Off boat.
Our first stop was the Grand Palace complex which was established in 1782 which has a royal residence, throne halls, government offices and temples.
There is a strict dress code policy, where men wear pants and women wear either pants or skirt and shoulder must be covered. After getting our admission tickets which were about $15 USD each we went inside.
The weather was overcast with rain on the way but we were able to see the palace before the rain.
We walked back to the boat and rode it to the Wat Arun stop. After disembarking we walked to the temple of Wat Arun. Ratchawararam which is the Temple of Dawn. Admission was 100 baht each, so about $6 and we were given a tiny bottle of water free of charge. We caught the afternoon storm but still able to see the temple.
Next we took the boat back to the mall and walked around the mall. The mall has 7 floors, with each floor is divided into a theme like one floor was focused on active wear, technology, etc. It had any store you could think of, a lot of the design stores. We had lunch and dessert at James Boulangerie and a yummy cookie from Gee’s dessert. Then walked back to our hotel where we relaxed, swam in the pool which is located on the 4th floor and had some snacks at the executive lounge before turning in for the night.
Day 4: River Khwae or Kwai
Today we headed towards Kanchanaburi which is located on the River Khwae. We were originally going to take the train to River Khwae, but due to the high temperatures and humid and no AC on the train, we opted for a taxi ride instead. We used the app Grab which is similar to Uber. It was about 2.5 drive from Bangkok in an AC car was totally worth it.
For those interested the train leaves two times a day from the Thonburi station and cost around $3 a person, while a taxi starts around $45. You can either get off at the Kanchanaburi stop or the River Khwae stop.
There are many things to see in the area around Kanchanaburi. We saw only three attractions.
We arrived around 1pm to our next hotel, Cross River Kwai, where we would be staying for 2 nights. As we checked in we were greeted with welcome peach tea. While we waited for our room to be ready we ate lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, The Bridge Bar & Bistro. After lunch our room was ready so we headed down to our room. There are many different rooms here but we wanted to be on the river. We went with the X Float Luxe which had a resting net, 2 person kayak with life jackets and a roof sitting area.
After unpacking, we took a 20 minute taxi ride into town to see the Bridge.
Then rested in our room until our dinner reservation. After dinner, we enjoyed our complimentary evening tea which consists of chamomile, mint and stevia… super yummy. Just what I needed after a long day of travel.
Day 5: Waterfalls and Hellfire Pass
We had breakfast and then went back to the room to rest until our taxi came at 9 am to pick up us. The driver that picked us up was the same driver who took us to the bridge last night. Our first stop would be to Erawan National Park which was a little over an hour away from the hotel. This park hosts seven waterfalls that you can hike up to see. One can also swim at the base of the waterfalls after renting a life jacket, safe first! We chose to just hike up. Hiking up to see waterfalls 1-4 wasn’t too bad but then the terrain got really rough and steep as we climbed up to see waterfalls 5-7. The waterfalls and the surround forest were beautiful. The weather was hot and humid, so were were dripping sweat and our clothes were drench by the time we got to the top.
The park does a cashless entrance fee, so we needed to download the app QueQ where we were able to buy our admission ticket. So for two people and parking for the car the total was $20, which I didn’t think was bad at all. Plus the bathroom were super clean and they had some shops to get snacks and food.
Our last stop was at the Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre and Memorial Walking Trail. This center and walking trail honors the prisoners of war who were forced to build a railway connecting Burma which is now present day Myanmar and Thailand. There are two different walking paths one can take, we chose the smaller of the two.
After a long day of touring, we came back for a late lunch and then a early dinner before relaxing the rest of the night.
Day 6: Back to Bangkok
We said goodbye to Cross River Kwai. The staff was super nice and friendly and were always willing to help. If you ever in the area, definitely check them out. On our return drive to Bangkok, we booked the same driver, Mr. Game, who originally brought us to the River Kwai. After 2.5 hours due to Friday afternoon traffic we arrive at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok where we would be spending for the next two nights. Our welcome drink was butterfly pea with lemongrass, it tasted like Trix cereal. We would be staying on the 12th floor in a king deluxe room with park view. Mario’s status got us free breakfast, food and spa credit with late check out, which we won’t use due to an early morning flight.
We were able to get a quick lunch before they closed at 3pm at the hotel’s restaurant named Brasserie which serves breakfast and lunch
After lunch we walked a few blocks to the Lumphini Park. As we walked we took in the views and caught a glimpse of the water monitor lizard that lives in the park.
Day 7: Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Today we headed towards Ayutthaya which is a little over an hour from Bangkok. This is the former capital of Kingdom of Siam and a UNESCO heritage site. Our tour entitled: Ayutthaya Anciet City Instagram Tour was through Forever Vacations. I found them by booking a tour through TripAdvisor. Then I contacted them directly to book some other tours. There communicate through WhatsApp was incredible. We received a discount for booking additional trips with them. They offers tours in different countries, so I definitely plan on using them in the future.
Today was a super hot day with partly cloudy skies with lots of humidity. It felt like 107 Fahrenheit. We were sweat buckets of sweat! Our guide, Pa, made sure we have cold water and umbrellas to use to block the heat.
It was a royal temple complex during the Ayutthaya Period.
Wat Maha That
It is the royal temple that houses Buddha’s relics. You may know about it since it has the Buddha’s head in the tree roots.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
It is a royal palace which has three main stupas containing the ashes of the kings (a father, son and grandfather).
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
It is a Buddhist temple.
Then had quick lunch break at a local coffee shop which had AC so it was nice to cool down.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
It is a Buddhist temple. You can climb up the stairs to the top and walk around.
After a great day with our tour guide and driver Pa, we headed back to the hotel to relax. We used the app Grab to order pizza and enjoyed it while we watched a storm roll in.
Day 8: Phuket
Today we said goodbye to our hotel in Bangkok and headed towards Phuket. We boarded our 7:30am flight on Air Asia and landed a little after 9 due to a late departure. Since we couldn’t check into our hotel until after 3pm, I figured why not see the area around Phuket. So I booked a tour using the same company as yesterday entitled: Phuket Instagram Tour: The Most Famous spot. Once we landed our guide Bessica and driver, Mr. K were waiting for us.
Our first stop was exploring downtown Phuket. While exploring, one of our stops was at the hotel used in the movie The Beach starting Leonardo DiCaprio.
Next, we visited Chalong Temple which is the largest of Phuket’s temples. Click here for more information.
Next we drove up a hill to see Mt. Nakkerd Buddha Garden. The statue is covered with white jade marble. Click here for more information.
After driving down the mountain we arrived at Rock Beach. Our current car wasn’t able to go down the steep hill so we needed to get into a Land Rover to get us to Rock Beach. It was a bumpy ride!
Our final stop was taking in the amazing views at Karon View Point.
As we drove to our hotel we passed many beaches and different towns. The hotel we picked was a little out of town on a hill side which over looked the area and the beaches below. We would be staying at the Keemala for the next two nights. We bid farewell to our guide and driver who we would be seeing the next day. Since the hotel is on a hill we needed a golf cart to take us and our luggage to the lobby. We were given welcome tea and cold towels. There are different cottages and villas but we chose the Birds Nest Pool Villa. We would be staying in Villa 707. After exploring our villas we headed to dinner which was right down the hill from our villa so we were able to walk and didn’t need a golf cart.
Day 9: James Bond Island Tour
Today we took another tour with Forever Vacation, this time we would be heading to James Bond Island and the surround area. Our guide Bessica and driver Mr. K, picked us up from our hotel and headed to the pier where we would be boarding a long boat for our day’s of adventures. We would be exploring Ao Phang Nga National Park. This park had small islands, caves and mangrove forests.
Our first stop was sea canoeing through the mangroves and caves. Mario and I shared a canoe along with our canoe driver. We just finished our tour as the rain started, super lucky.
From there our long boat took us to the Diamond and Ice Cream caves. On the way, I had the pineapple which our guide picked up from the stand on the side of the road. It comes with sugar and chili dipping packet, I tried it and the spicy and sweet worked well together.
Then we went to James Bond Island which is named after the James Bond movie, The man with the golden gun, which was filmed there.
Day 10: So long Phuket, Hello Krabi
Today we said good bye to Phuket and would be heading to Krabi for 2 days. We checked out and caught a taxi which took us to the airport. It was about 45 minutes. Then our new hotel, Phulay Bay, A Ritz Carlton Reserve, picked us up and drove us to 2.5 hours to the hotel. Our driver came in a luxury van, which had cold water, snacks and sandwiches for us. There was also WiFI and massaging seats. Fun fact: Phulay Bay was used in the filming of Hangover 2.
The meaning behind the hotel name mean where the mountains meet the sea. The name was inspired by Thai words: Phu (Kano) meaning mountain, tha mean lay meaning sea. About 5 minutes from the hotel is the national park. We would be staying two night in the King Beach Villa where we booked the Beyond Phuket package which offered breakfast, spa credit, Hong Island trip pass, 24 butler and round trip transportation to and from the airport.
When we arrive we were greet and taken to the welcome pavilion where cold towels and lemongrass tea was given. Then we meet our personal butler named Aea who took us to our room by golf cart. We would be staying at beach villa # 2 which over looked the Andaman sea. We could walk a few places from our room, but still places still required a golf cart ride.
From there we walked around and ate a quick dinner at the pool bar. Then around sunset we headed to the sunset bar where drinks and popcorn was served so you could enjoy while watching the sun set.
Day 11: Hong Island
We started the day off with breakfast at our hotel, which had a nice spread. Today we would explore the Hong Island. Our hotel, offers complimentary long boat rides to the island, but since it is a national park there is a entrance fee. It is 300 baht per person which is around $9USD each. As we drove towards the lagoon, we saw fisherman caught in jellyfish. After the lagoon we went to the island. We had 2.5 hours to explore the island.
First, we headed to the outlook which consisted of climbing up 700 stairs to the top. The view were unreal. It was another hot and humid day in Thailand but the views made the climb worth it.
We didn’t bring our swimsuit so we found a bench and relaxed talking in the views and beach breeze. There is a walking trail which goes around the island, but we decided we would leave that for next time.
Once we got back to the resort, we had a quick lunch at the pool bar. After relaxing we swan in the hotel pool and then relaxed. Tonight the hotel was offering a manager’s cocktail hour which had free drinks and finger food. After cocktail hour we headed up to the reception pavilion which is lite up at night, we couldn’t stay long because it was set up for a private party.
Day 12: So long Krabi, hello Bagnkok
We had an early morning check out before we drove 2 hours to the airport. Below is one last picture of our view. We would be flying back to Bangkok and spent the day relaxing before our flight to Cambodia. We stayed at Le Meridian Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Golf Resort and Spa, which is a Marriott property. It was about 30 minutes from the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport which is why I chose it.
Day 13: Hello Cambodia
Things to know about Cambodia:
We took the airport shuttle to the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport International terminals. I wasn’t sure what to expect but we checked our bags, did security and passport control in under 25 minutes and we arrived around 8am. I wonder why can’t all international wings of airport be this simple. Since this process took less time than I expect we walked around the terminal. I was surprised to see a Diary Queen, Taco Bell and Subway there.
We soon learned that our flight from Bangkok to Cambodia with Bangkok Airways was on a small propeller plane. Thank goodness it was only a quick 55 minutes flight which I spent filling out our entry and customs forms.
Siem Reap is a small international airport, so we were able to deplane and walk right into the airport. There was no one in the EVisa line and within a few minutes our luggage was coming out. I did exchange some US for Riel but soon realized it would have been easier to keep my US dollars. I had booked us a driver for only $20 who was waiting for us and took us to our hotel.
We would be spending the next 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap. We booked a Rooftop Garden Suite. We were to check in early at 1:30pm. Later that night we swam in the freshwater pool but the hotel also has salt water pool. Then did dinner at the Living Room restaurant.
Day 14: Phnom Kulen National Park.
Today we met our guide and driver who we would be travel with for the next four days. In the morning, we headed towards Phnom Kulen National Park which is the largest forested area in Siem Reap Province and it’s the primary water source. The entrance fee was $20 per person. As soon as we left the city the roads were full of pot holes and dirt roads as we climb closer to the attractions.
Our first stop was the quarry where the got the rocks for to build Angkor Wat Temple. Our guide told us once they chiseled off the rock it would fall, then elephants would transport the stone to the river and then it was go down the river to the temple location.
Next stop was the River of 1000 Lingas. On the bottom of the river are carvings of Lingas, the phallic symbolic of Shiva. We would find these carvings in the different temples we would visit.
Next stop was the Reclining Buddha which is called Preach Ang Thom. It is the largest Buddha statue in Cambodia. The temple was built in 16th century..
Our last stop was the waterfalls, where you could swim.
Day 15: Visiting Temples
Over the next three days we would be visiting the temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park which is a UNESCO heritage site. The park contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. Many of the temples have been destroyed by war or nature, but conservation work is happening to preserve these temples.The temples were built out of bricks, sandstone or lava rock.
In order to visit the temples you will need to get a ticket. There are 1, 3, 7 days ticket options. We went with the 3 days option which was $62 USD each. We got it right at the ticket office and was able to use our credit card. There is an option to preorder online, so you have it when you arrive.
At the entrance of each temple they ask to see your ticket. Each day we visited, they hole punched that day. I put them in a protector so it was easy to pull them out, I saw many people wearing them on a landyard for easy access.
Ta Prohm Temple
It was built in the late 12th century and made famous by the Tomb Raider movie. It was incredible to see how nature has taken over. Our guide said the tree grew onto of the temples by birds dropping seeds.
Ta Keo Temple
It was built in the late 10 Century and is a temple-mountain. It possibly the first to be built entirely out of sandstone by the Khmers.
It was built in the early 12th century.
Chai Say Tevoda Temple
It was built in the early 12th century.
Prasat Suor Prat
We saw this one from the road and didn’t get up close, so no name marker for this one. Our guide told us that they used to hang ropes from tower to tower and do acrobat.
Terrace of the Elephants
It was build in the late 12th century
It was built in the late 10th century.
It was build in the late 12th century and a richly decorated Khmer temple. It was the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII.
Day 16: Sunrise and Temples
Our day started off super earlier at 4:45am. We went to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat temple. We learned there are only 2 times a year in June and September where the sun is directly over the temple. Every other day is either on the left or right side. Sunrise was at 5:40am and there was a good amount of people.
Since we were at Angkor Wat, we figured we would tour it. Keep in mind it was 6:00am and the humidity was already 96%. As the morning went on, it did drop to 74% but was still miserable, but we pushed through. This temple opens earlier than the rest so we took advance of it.
It was the capital city of the Khmer Empire.
Preach Khan Temple
It was build during the late 12th century.
Neak Pean Temple
It was built in the late 12th century and is on an artificial island with houses a Buddhist temple.
Ta Som Temple
It was built in the late 12th century.
East Mebon Temple
It was built during the mid 10th century.
Pre Rup Temple
It was built in the mid 10th century. I jumped out of the car to get quick pictures but we did not tour it. The heat was getting to me.
Banteay Kdei Temple
It was built during the late 12th century.
Day 17: Temples Take 3
Banteay Srei Temple
It was built in the late 10th century and located about an hour from city center. Banteay Srei means the city of the women.
Next, we stopped at the Cambodia Landmine Museum. It was $5 each to get in and was very informative.
Banteay Samre Temple
It was built in the mid 12th century.
It was build in the late 9th century.
It was the late 9th century.
We saw a totally of 20 temples and there are so many more to see. All of our tour day were super hot and humid which made walking around the temples exhausting at times. Thank goodness for our AC van and ice cold water. We did picked a private tour so we could decide how long we wanted to spend at each temple and it was worth every penny.
Day 18: So long Cambodia
We left Cambodia on the same plane as we arrived, landing in Bangkok around 1:30pm. We only waited about 10 minutes in line for passport control to get our entry stamp. We would be staying at Le Meridian Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Golf Resort and Spa again due to it’s close proximity to the airport. We would spend the night to rest up before you evening flight the next day.
Days 19/20: Travels Days
On Day 19, we took an evening flight back home to Germany using Etihad. We had a layover in Abu Dubai before landing in Frankfurt the follow day on day 20. After taking three trains home we finally made it back home!
Mario and I spend 14 days (minus travel days) traveling around Thailand and Cambodia. We took some amazing pictures, learned about history and new cultures and sweated more than we would like to admit! There are still more places around Asia we want to see so stay tune for our future adventures in Asia. Till then, another great trip in the books!
A teacher who loves traveling the world.