Category Archives: Thailand

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 2 Bangkok to Chengdu

Good Morning Bangkok

Our flight to Chengdu was 10.05 am. Although we had already done online check in for our flight, we would want to be at the airport by 8 am. So we went up to the rooftop restaurant for breakfast slightly before 7 am.

Breakfast would start at 7 am and was getting ready by the time we arrived. We took the opportunity to look around the Bangkok scene from up here. On hindsight, we should have come up here the previous night to check out the night scene with the busy night market below. The views of the surrounding were pretty nice with the sun beginning to rise from the far end.

Next we helped ourselves to the modest breakfast spread. Breakfast was decent given the price we paid for the room. The breakfast wasn’t sumptuous but sufficient. After this quick breakfast, we returned to our room, freshened up and then checked out at front desk. We got back the same THB500 deposit we gave to the staff upon presentation of the receipt.

Patra Hotel to Ratchaprarop Station onward to Airport

According to the map provided by Patra Boutique Hotel, there is a short cut to Ratchaprarop Station. So instead of turning left out of Patra Hotel and then left and another left turn again towards Baiyoke Sky Hotel to walk back to Ratchaprarop Station, we turned right and walked across the railway tracks and then turned right to walk to Ratchaprarop Station not far ahead. It took only 5 minutes. However, you can’t drag your bags all the way as the path is uneven and having to walk along some dirt path. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 2 Bangkok to Chengdu

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 1 Bangkok

Flight from Singapore to Chengdu

We had wanted to visit Jiuzhaigou for quite some time. So when there was an offer from Singapore to Chengdu flying Thai Airways at only $272, we booked our flights for November. The catch was to transit in Bangkok. Instead to having a short transit from Bangkok to Chengdu where we had to take a very early flight from Singapore to Bangkok, we planned an overnight stay in Bangkok to have a more relaxing arrival in Chengdu on Day 2. Our flight details are as follows:

Singapore to Bangkok 12.25 pm to 1.45 pm
Bangkok to Chengdu 10.05 am to 2 pm on the following day

Chengdu to Bangkok 3.05 pm to 5.20 pm
Bangkok to Singapore 7.25 pm to 10.45 pm

Since we had quite a bit of time in November, we decided to visit Chongqing as well, a city in under 2 hours away from Chengdu by high speed train. We also took advantage of the Accor super sales and booked Sofitel Chengdu Taihe and Sofitel Forebase Chongqing at 50% discounts.

Original Itinerary for Chengdu and Chonqing

Day 1: Singapore to Bangkok

Hotel: Patra Boutique Hotel

Location of this hotel is near Platinum area, easily accessible from the airport using the airport rail link six stations away.

Day 2: Bangkok to Chengdu

Hotel: Leeden Hotel

This hotel is located near MRT Station walking distance to Chunxi Shopping Area.

Day 3: Chengdu to Juizhaigou

Hotel: Jiuxiang Hotel

This hotel is located near the main entrance into Jiuzhaigou National Park.

Will need to take a nine hours bus ride from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 1 Bangkok

3 Days 2 Nights Phuket Vacation Day 3

Breakfast at Grand Mercure Hotel

Since there was nothing to watch on TV due to the passing of the Thai king, we slept quite early. Hence we also woke up early. When our stomach started calling, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.

We thought we were going for breakfast early, however, the restaurant was already quite packed with hotel guests. Occupancy rate was quite high for this popular hotel located in the middle of Patong. So the restaurant was a little noisy.

We managed to be seated and regular coffee was served to us. But the restaurant staff were very busy and hardly had time for small chats like the day before. They were obviously rather stressed up with tourists from certain countries.

We went to collect our food and surprisingly, we found the breakfast spread here better than what we had over at Novotel Kata Avista Resort. The variety and quality of food here were very good. We went to get food a few rounds, a little each time to sample the food here.

After many of the noisy tourists left the restaurant, one of the staff asked whether we would like to have some special coffee. We were of course delighted and we requested for mocha to wash down the wonderful breakfast we had just moments ago.

Shuttle Bus to Patong Beach

Back in our room after the sumptuous breakfast, we rested for a while and made ourselves comfortable. We would be heading out to Patong Beach for some shopping. Near to 10 am, we went to the lobby. Grand Mercure Hotel provides regular shuttle service to Patong Beach and Jungceylon Mall as well as Central Festival in Phuket Town.

Continue reading 3 Days 2 Nights Phuket Vacation Day 3

3 Days 2 Nights Phuket Vacation Day 2

Breakfast at Novotel Kata Avista Resort

The suite room at Novotel Kata Avista Resort was great. We had a very good night sleep. Pulling away the curtains, it was already daylight. We had three balconies to walk out to for a good morning view of the surrounding. Kata Beach was very peaceful in the morning. No sunrise to watch from the resort here as the sun rose from behind the hills of Kata Town from our vantage point.

We went down to the restaurant for breakfast. The buffet spread for breakfast at this 5-star resort wasn’t lavish but was pretty good. There was the usual international fare with the local mixed of food options. We collected our food and enjoyed our breakfast.

After another round of servings, we decided not to stuff ourselves with more food. There would be more eating later in the day when we moved over to Grand Mercure Hotel at Patong Beach. We were actually looking forward to staying in Patong to do some shopping. Continue reading 3 Days 2 Nights Phuket Vacation Day 2

3 Days 2 Nights Phuket Vacation

Phuket Itinerary

Our last trip to Phuket was two years ago. So we were waiting for Jetstar to launch another round of sales for this destination. We managed to purchase cheap return tickets to Phuket for under $75 for October. Our intention was to get away for two nights to chill out in Phuket to shop and dine. Our flights details were as follows:

Singapore to Phuket 8.20 am to 9.10 am

Phuket to Singapore 10.00 pm to 12.50 am

This flight timings gave us three full days to enjoy Phuket while we spent only two nights on hotel accommodations. Hence, besides offering us opportunity to chill out at 5-star hotels, we would have sufficient occasion to do some shopping as well. We won’t be heading out for island hopping tours this time for our short stay.

The Accor Group’s Super Sales event also happened to coincide with Jetstar Sales. So on the same day we booked our flights, we also booked a one night stay at Kata Beach and another night stay over at Patong Beach. For Kata Beach, we booked a suite room package from Novotel Phuket Kata Avista Resort And Spa and for Patong Beach, we booked Grand Mercure Phuket Patong. Both accommodations are 5-star hotels and cost slightly over $100 each night during the super sales event.

For airport transfers, we contacted Phuket SRC Tours via whatsapp. Transfer from Phuket Airport to Kata Beach cost 700 THB and returning to the airport from Patong Beach cost 600 THB. This agent is pretty efficient and their transfer charges are among the lowest. We find them very reliable and their service has been very good. The contact number for Phuket SRC Tours is +66 86 270 7585.

Singapore to Phuket

Our air tickets and hotels were booked in August. October came so quickly. We arrived at Changi Airport rather early before 6.30 am. Since we had already done our web check in, we cleared immigration, had a quick breakfast over at McDonalds at Terminal 2 and then went to the boarding gate at Terminal 1 to wait for our flight to Phuket. Not long after, we were called to board our flight and soon on our way to Phuket. We landed on schedule.

After clearing immigration, we exited the departure hall to look for our driver from Phuket SRC Tours. This airport in Phuket is very new. We were told it was just opened less than a month ago upon our arrival. Once outside the terminal building, travel agents and drivers from hotels were all lined up holding cards and papers with names of arriving visitors. It was pretty chaotic. Continue reading 3 Days 2 Nights Phuket Vacation

Yunnan Tour – Kunming Day 2 (11 Days 10 Nights November 2015)

We woke up with much anticipation for the start of our Yunnan tour heading to Kunming this morning. It was just 6.20 am as we pulled away the curtains to watch the sunrise show from our suit room windows. It was still dark in Bangkok City but the sky was getting a tinge of greyish blue with a tiny red ball creeping up ahead above one of the buildings in the city. The clouds added to the beauty of the sunrise with the far end painting up an expanding stretch of pink turning red. The sun rose higher and pierced through some clouds and not long after, the city had awaken.

Breakfast time came soon enough as we needed to catch our late morning flight to Kunming. We went to the restaurant at 7 am. The restaurant was quite empty early this morning. This hotel does cater to tour group. So it was important to have early breakfast. We saw many Chinese tourists at the hotel the day before hence it was prudent to be early to avoid the crowd.

The restaurant was like any typical hotel restaurant and the buffet spread was fine with the usual local and international selection. Although Grand Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok is a 5-star hotel, the buffet spread can’t be compared to other 5-star hotels like Sofitel or Pullman under the Accor Group. Anyway, we were still pretty satisfied with our breakfast, especially for the price we paid for our stay of just around $90 for the night and upgraded to a suit room. The service staff were quite good too.

Back in our room, we freshened up again, packed and checked our bags and then lingered awhile watching Bangkok City starting its day now with the sun fully out. Road traffic wasn’t very heavy yet but the city was gradually coming alive. Near to 8 am, we went to the lobby to check out. It was over in a moment and soon we were waiting for a taxi outside the hotel. Concierge helped us get a taxi willing to go on the meter. Next we were on our way to the airport.

We arrived at the airport without incident at 9 am. We took our bags and went to Thai Airways to check in our bags and then proceeded to clear immigration. Not long after, we were roaming the shopping mall like airport window shopping to wait for the call to board our flight. There were some shops that were quite interesting and we made a mental note to look at some watches from one of the duty free shops upon our return trip where we might pick up a watch that could be on sale.

Soon we were called to the boarding gate. We then took the transfer bus and boarded our flight to Kunming. The 3 hours flight was uneventful and we were served lunch onboard. The service of this airline was good. We disembarked, cleared immigration, collected our bags and then headed to the airport exit.

Our hotel in Kunming is the Grand Park Hotel Kunming located near Cuihui, the Green Lake area and airport bus 919B would terminate near this location. We then went to look for the counter to buy the bus ticket for the bus 919B to the city. It was just outside the airport slightly on the left. Having made payment of 13 CNY per ticket, we made our way to the left and boarded a waiting bus.

The airport bus was very new and pretty clean. The bus left not long after and two passengers were eating melon seeds on the bus. The bus driver told them to stop eating and not litter the bus. Along the way, the bus stopped at a few locations to pick up passengers. Some passenger alighted at different locations in the city as well. The journey was pretty comfortable and for the price of just 13 CNY, it was very good. Taking a taxi to the city would cost over 100 CNY. Continue reading Yunnan Tour – Kunming Day 2 (11 Days 10 Nights November 2015)

Yunnan Tour (11 Days 10 Nights) – Transit Bangkok

The beauty of Yunnan and the mysteriously captivating life in Shangrila highland made famous by the movie, “The Lost Horizon” decades ago had been on our mind for a long time. So we had been wanting to tour Yunnan for quite some time. Finally last year, we began to seriously plan for such a tour. The only time we could possibly take such a tour would be in November.

Having checked with a number of tour companies, the tour prices per person for a seven nights packaged tour to Kunming, Dali and Lijiang was around $1500, not including out of pocket money for shopping and dining. For a nine nights packaged tour including Shangrila, the cost would come up to about $2000 per person. There will be other expenses for tour activities to be factored in for such a tour as well.

As such, we decided to plan our own tour to Yunnan. Air ticket wasn’t cheap. Silk Air flies direct to Kunming but air ticket costs too much and China Southern Airline costs about $500 and needs to transit in Guangzhou. Thai Airways so happened was having a promotion for flight to Kunming but had to transit in Bangkok. The cost of the air ticket was under $430. So we took the deal and booked our flights to include a night stay in Bangkok on the way to Kunming so that we would arrive Kunming in much better condition.

Next, we had to do our research on how to travel between the cities in Yunnan. Kunming is close to 1900 m above sea level and Dali has an elevation of 2000 m and more than 430 km from Kunming. Lijiang is about 180 km from Dali and has an altitude of 2400 m. Another 180 km away from Lijiang is Shangrila also known as Zhongdian has an elevation of over 3100 m.

We would have to fly into Kunming, travel to Dali, onward to Lijiang before heading up to Shangrila. This would allow us some time to acclimatize as we travel upward to Shangrila. We would take the same route back to Kunming before flying back to Singapore via Bangkok. This is the usual route for most travellers unless we fly out of Shangrila or Lijiang and transit somewhere before heading for home. Airfare would cost a lot more if we take this route which is not really necessary. The return trip back to Kunming would afford us more time to cover places we missed during our onward journey which isn’t bad at all. Continue reading Yunnan Tour (11 Days 10 Nights) – Transit Bangkok

Robbed while on Vacation

Going on a vacation is a happy occasion but the happiness index could quickly head south when holiday goers fall prey to crime. Many years back, I had my wallet stolen while in Paris and another time I lost my wallet while shopping in Medan.

The experience was anything but pleasant. It would be a hectic realignment of itinerary and frantic phone calls to settle the serious matter at hand to add to the loss of personal items. This is definitely an unwanted distraction.

But falling prey to some other crimes could be much worse. We are not talking petty crimes like pickpockets or about carelessly leaving our wallet and mobile phone on the table in a café or a restaurant creating our own crime. There are crimes that are so serious that will not only cut short travel plans but terminate them.

We should be conscious of the fact that there are criminal elements every where in the world that specifically target tourists to rob them or even kill them during such attempts. Such calculations should be factored into out travel planning and do proper research about the destination where we wish to visit and the accommodation where we wish to stay.

Recently, a group of female tourists from Taiwan were robbed while they slept in their villa in Pattaya. The news report gave the impression that it might be an insider job. From the way they were checked into their accommodation till the time when they reported their loss to their hotel where help wasn’t given to report the matter to the police, this just doesn’t smell good.

Taiwanese Tourists Robbed of $2,700 in ‘Strange’ Pattaya Hotel

Continue reading Robbed while on Vacation