“Come with me it will be worth it, the voice said. I followed it and landed in paradise” ~ SothoGirlDiaries.
My first trip to Thailand was back in December 2015. I can still recall listening to Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon album (2015) on the plane from Dubai International Airport to Phuket International Airport. Every time I listen to that album it takes me right back there in the clouds where I kept imagining what Thailand would be like and all the fun I was about to have.
I travelled with my friend Fari (Gophari.com) and as we had successfully completed our first year as working girls, this was the perfect travel gift which we had been planning for months. Months before the trip, I prayed so hard that nothing bad happens or gets in my way. I wanted to create wonderful memories and God answered my prayers until I safely landed in Thailand.
ABOUT THIS POST
In this blog post I will share my 7-day itinerary in Thailand and all that I got up to while on holiday there. I’ve wanted to write about this trip for the past five years. As I write this post I’m thinking of a word that can summarise Thailand for me, one that will remind me of this beautiful country and the adventure. I plan on giving every city or country that I travel to a specific word or a phrase to remind me of my own authentic experience of that particular place from now on during all my future travels. One thing I remember is literally living in a bikini everyday in Thailand, so “BEACH-BUM” or “RESORT” are words that come easily to mind.
You are welcome to use my itinerary as a template for when you plan your trip (as soon as the travel bans are lifted internationally and once we have conquered #COVID-19)! Visit my previous blog post where I have shared all the tips that you need to take into account before planning your trip to Thailand here : “How to plan a trip to Thailand“
NOTE: I will only cover Patong and Phuket in this blog post because those are the areas where I visited for most of my stay. You are welcome to also do research on other attractions to explore while in Thailand and travel packages that extend to Bangkok, the capital city.
1. GETTING TO AND FROM PHUKET
We flew with Emirates to and from Phuket. As the island has its own international airport, you can fly directly to Phuket or like in our case via Dubai, depending on where you are traveling from. Useful money saving sites or apps for cheapflights (if not using a travel agent) are:
- We go
They always provide the best and cheapest flight deals to anywhere in the world.
2. WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in Patong Beach, at the 4 star Sunset Beach Resort Sunset Beach Resort Hotel which is known for its dark royal blue pool and the tallest palm trees ever. The hotel is placed away from the hustle and bustle of Patong town, but close enough for a short trip to the center of town. You can enjoy free WIFI and breakfast before stepping out to explore Phuket.
We shared a double bed room as part of our package (read more on my previous blog post for how much we spent Thailand trip for first time travellers).
If you are looking to book your own accomodation and not rely on an agent, then I suggest the following Apps or sites for you to check out:
- AirBnb (Get up to R850 on your first booking when signing up using my link)
3. GETTING AROUND
Ever been on a Tuk-Tuk before? Yep, those red mini trucks parked in a single file are called Tuk-Tuks. They get their name from the sound made by their small-capacity, two-cycle engines. This was our transport in Patong Beach. I won’t lie, it was so much fun riding in these red little trucks. However, for our airport transfers, we were picked up in a minibus.
The cost for a one-way trip to town was around 15 Thai baht = R7.50 at the time. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember paying a fortune for those Tuk-Tuk trips, after all it wasn’t an Uber.
We also had our own special hotel shuttle that took us from the hotel to Bangla road in Patong town. However, these shuttles only operated in the morning from 8am until 7pm in the evening.
Below I will outline all the activities that we got up to on each day of our trip. As it has been five years since this trip, I may be mixing days around and I’m using the dates on my “Thailand Album” as my guide.
4. WHAT TO DO
So now you have landed in Thailand and it’s time for some fun in the sun (literally).
SUNSET BEACH RESORT
Our very first day in Thailand was so full of sunshine and happiness and we were so excited for the day. We got dressed for breakfast, took so many selfies and met so many South Africans at breakfast. It really felt like we were in Cape Town or on a #ShotLeft somewhere in South Africa because there were just so many of us there. Like you turn around and someone is legit speaking Afrikaans or Sesotho/Zulu. It felt good to hear a familiar language. As I think of my word for Thailand, “FAMILIARITY” keeps popping up too.
(Our complimentary alcohol free drinks the morning we arrived in Thailand)
After breakfast we met with our assigned travel agent who informed us about our ‘complimentary’ sightseeing tour of Phuket city which was a bonus on our package and all the other activities we could try out during our stay. He also gave us advice on transport services we could use and different activities which we could explore during our stay. This was useful information as there were a lot of agents trying to sell us trips and activities on a daily basis. He advised us to be careful of some tour packages as they were priced high for tourists and encouraged us to review all the trips accordingly.
We decided to explore Bangla road first and this area reminded me of Long Street in Cape Town, but multiply by 10 (10x the heat, the people and vendors). In a nutshell, Bangla road is a very busy town in Patong and at night it becomes the life of the party (you have to go there at night to see it for yourself). We used the hotel shuttle which dropped us right in the center of town. I can still remember how hot and humid it was and I remember feeling like I was in a movie.
It was packed with a lot of people (mostly white people and a few asians and other mixed race). It was simply a diverse mix of people and accents from all over the world. I could instantly feel that I was not in South Africa. Most of the time we found ourselves being the only two black people. I will never forget one random happy-old asian guy who shouted “Jambo” (hello in Swahili) with a big smile to us. We laughed. He meant well, or maybe he just came back from his East African trip and wanted to flex on us with his African salutation and we were probably the first black people he’s seen since that trip. Either way, he made our day and we greeted back saying “Jambooooo!” (+ the giggles)
Things to check out in Bangla Road
- The Street Market – We basically ate from the streets when we were out during the day and Thailand definitely takes street food to a whole other level. I personally gravitated more towards the sea food because I love seafood and I had never ever seen so much seafood in my life! I can’t remember Cape Town or Durban selling that much seafood at markets as openly as street vendors in Patong do. But it’s still the best seafood to date.
- TIP: Just be careful not to eat anything you are not used to at the markets, especially if you have a very sensitive tummy. Don’t try to eat other animals you wouldn’t eat at home (that’s all I have to say).
- Shopping: Shopping in Thailand can be a bargain, but always do your calculations and think it through before splurging. It also helps to first go have a look at what is sold and then coming back another day to shop with a clearer mind. There are also a lot of designer knock-offs too, so be on the lookout. However, I really enjoyed Thailand shopping and buying some souvenirs for myself and my family.
After our busy, hot and humid day spent in the Bangla road, we went back to the hotel for a little poolside chilling and sipped on some really delicious cocktails and enjoyed the sunset.
DAY 2: SIGHTSEEING TOUR
Day two was an exciting day because we got to go on a sightseeing tour to the View Point and Wat Chalong temple. This was a complimentary (FREE) tour provided by our travel agent and we were not about to miss out!
There are a few viewpoints around the island to explore – FOR FREE! They offer a magnificent view of the island and a fresher view of Phuket. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes when going on the sightseeing tour as there are many staircases to get to the top part of the view points. I wore those shoes for the photos (jokes), I only realised that I should have taken flats afterwards.
Wat Chalong Temple
We also visited Wat Chalong Temple on the same day we visited the view point and our tour guide had advised us to cover up for the temple tour, as this was a sacred place of prayer and needed to be respected. As the weather was hot that day, I remember I wore my custom made Dashiki and covered up with a kimono once we got to the temple.
We also had to take off our shoes before entering the temple as a sign of respect.
I still cannot believe how beautiful Wat Chalong Temple was and still is. This is the largest temple in Phuket. This colourful building is said to be elaborately decorated with numerous images of Buddha along with imagery from Thai and Buddhist mythology and it also houses many Buddhist statues.
I was so in awe with how big and magical this temple looked and how peaceful it felt being in this sacred place. Although my Christian values would not permit me to participate in the prayers, I did step inside the temple to have a look at how the temple was inside, but did not stay for long. I honestly loved everything about the experience of being at the Wat Chalong Temple, for its beauty, the architecture and the peace surrounding the whole building.
DAY 3: Phi Phi Island Cruiser
After searching for reasonable deals to Phi Phi islands, we finally managed to get a package that was reasonable enough and we paid around 1500 Thai Baht each for the trip (R750).
The package tour varies from a daily package of = 1500 (adult) and 1200 (child) Baht or a VIP package of 1800 and 1500 respectively.
The amount we paid included:
A full day trip and lunch, so you may want to schedule a full day for this one. Our itinerary for Phi Phi Cruiser looked something like this:
07: 00 AM: Pick up from your hotel
08:30 AM: Departure from Rassada Harbour
10:15 AM: Sightseeing at Phi Phi Lay (Maya Bay, Pileh Bay, Loh SaMah Bay and Viking Cave)
12:30 PM: Enjoy lunch at Phi Phi Don and free time to explore the island
14:30 PM: Departure from Ton Sai Bay
16:30 PM : Arrive at Rassda Harbour and transfer back to the hotel
I really enjoyed snorkeling (I can still remember having an out of body experience after swimming so close to the fish for the first time).
I can still remember how scared and refreshed I felt after my first snorkeling experience, like I had seen God in another form. Crazy. I’d definitely do it again.
Another island which we did not get to visit was James Bond Island, as we ran out of time and people kept on saying it is similar to Phi Phi in a way. However, if you can, do try and visit James Bond Island too and if you have the budget and time to explore.
DAY 4 : SPA DAY / THAI MASSAGE
Going to Thailand and not trying a Thai massage is simply like going to the sea side and not seeing the beach. Like that just doesn’t make sense. Even though my first experience of a Thai massage left me wondering if I were breaking my bones or what?! However , like any massage you have the option of asking for minimum or moderate pressure. I must have a low pressure threshold because I still felt scared for my life that my joints were coming loose.
To this day, I am still not sure if I can say for sure if I will ever put my hand up for another Thai massage or not. We will see.
We paid about 650/800 Thai Baht = R400 for a full 1 hour Thai Massage at a fancy spa called the Oriental Spa in Patong.
DAY 5: PHUKET PARADISE ADVENTURE TOUR
Although we did this activity on the same day as our spa activity due to overbooking in previous days ( as it was December and peak time in Phuket), I would advise you to divide your activities like I have. Like set a side at least one major activity for a every day of the trip. You have to make room for rest and for really just taking a day off to relax too.
On this particular tour, you could select between different programs such as:
- Elephant trekking
- Snake show
- Monkey show
All for one price of 1800 Baht. However, we did not do everything as some of the shows were a bit too much to witness honestly (like what are you expecting to see at a snake show? I can barely watch it on TV!).
We did the elephant trekking and the the ATV and watched a sneak peak of the monkey show. However, given my knowledge now on animal cruelty, I really would not support any of those shows – and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have cut some of them off. As over the years people have called put many countires on using animals for entertainment.
Day 6 and Day 7
For the rest of the days, I honestly just remember eating Thai food like no one’s business.
Our day 6 and day 7 we used to wrap up any activities that we felt were still outstanding, and one that did not require a boat ride or a lot of money. I would suggest that you plan your trip with the above activities in mind and make sure you do as much as you can in the beginning, so that you can leave room for a bit of rest and packing for your last day and also enjoying more of Patong.
We also played around in the streets and had a fun bikini photoshoot in peak time traffic. (I hope you have worse travel stories than that)! But we honestly had so much fun and the blue pastel coloured house made it worth our while. I was low key nervous, but what happens in Patong – stays there!
There was one Thai guy who once said to us “OMG-123” and that will be my Thailand word – for now because there is a lot that went on and a lot of laughter that we shared. But OMG-123 is definitely what went down there.
That’s it folks for my 5 year trip down memory lane to my 7-day Thailand itinerary and one of the best trips of my life! I really had the best time with my friend Fari.
I was really looking forwarding to kick starting my travel adventures again in 2020 given that I have completed my studies and really looked forward to reward myself for obtaining my Masters, as I have more room for fun now. But #COVID-19 came along.
Reserving my plane tickets and the accommodation for Thailand was probably the best decision I’ve ever made for myself because it actually opened my world view a bit. The trip alone opened my love for travel and my desire to see more of the world. You know that feeling when something just feels so right and perfect? I felt this way about my trip to Thailand. I’m sure I’m yet to witness these travel sensations again once I can pack my bags for the next vacation and follow my heart to next destination that says “COME“. I also do hope that if you choose Thailand as a destination, you will find this guide useful and add your own mix of “OMG-123” to it!
Until next time, Pray, Live and Stay Home.