Saturday, 9 December 2017

Thailand | How Long Should You Spend in Bangkok?

Before we left for Thailand, we heard all sorts of stories about Bangkok. The general consensus seems to be not to spend much time there. I wasn't sure how we'd feel in the chaotic city. We loved our first day in Bangkok, but were worn out by all the hassle at the tourist spots the next day. On our second trip to the capital, at the end of our 2 week trip, we'd gotten really sick in Ao Nang and were too ill to get out of the hotel. On the one hand I wish we'd only booked one night either end of the trip, but on the other hand, it worked out just right. I'd of been gutted if we'd been ill anywhere else, but we'd already done Bangkok at the start so didn't feel like we were missing out on anything.

Expect to be harassed around the temples by people trying to sell you things or even just send you in the wrong direction for no apparent reason. We had one incident where a taxi driver took us to a random pier and we were almost forced to spend 1000THB each on a boat trip we didn't want to do. Instead we refused and walked away but it took us an hour to get our bearings. I probably wouldn't of been brave enough to wonder around on my own without Gordon. It made me suddenly aware of how easy it is to get conned and I was really wary of everybody after that, even the ones who seemed genuinely helpful! Just make sure you tell the taxi driver where you want to go, don't let anyone tell them in Thai for you.

It wasn't all bad though! Like I said our first day was really fun and we did enjoy the temples once we eventually found our way into them. If it's your first time in Thailand, I'd definitely say give Bangkok a chance and spend at least one day exploring the city. If anything you'll appreciate how laidback everywhere else is afterwards!

Things To Do

Shop at the markets - This was my favourite thing about Bangkok! We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and headed straight for Chatuchak Weekend Market. It's one of the biggest and busiest in the city, you could literally get lost. We stopped at an eatery in the market and tucked into gigantic plates of chicken satay and phad thai, and I had my first taste of Thai iced green tea. 

We saw loads of stuff we'd of liked to buy but as we didn't want to trail it about for 2 weeks, we thought we'd come back when we returned to Bangkok at the end of the trip. Obviously we hadn't planned on being sick so that didn't work out! I never got to bring home any matcha tea or coconut bowls! It's my biggest regret - just buy things when you see them guys, and don't forget to haggle for a decent price.

Visit the Temples - It is worth it. We decided to visit the the 3 main attractions in one day as they're all so close to each other. Wat Pho houses the famous reclining Buddha, and The Grand Palace (not a temple as such, but the previous home of the Thai King) is where you'll find the Emerald Buddha - which was a lot smaller than I expected! It's also packed with Chinese tourists. We could barely move due to the amount of people visiting at the same time, which took away from the experience and we left pretty quickly.

Wat Arun was my favourite. You have to get a boat across the river to reach it, which is probably why it's quieter than the others. It was far more peaceful which I feel a temple should be! We had a delicious lunch of chicken & cashew nuts with rice for just 100THB (£2.30) at a small café by the pier. Expect to pay to enter the temples in Bangkok, and go through a separate tourist entrance at some. You should also dress respectfully, making sure your knees and shoulders are covered, and remember you will have to remove your shoes!

Drink at a Rooftop Bar - There are loads of these in Bangkok, with the most famous one probably being the Sky Bar from the Hangover. We visited Above Eleven, which was just round the corner from our hotel on Sukhumvit 11. The views were fantastic and we enjoyed the experience - our cocktails were top notch but the food was average in my opinion. You can get much tastier dishes for a lot less money elsewhere. There is a dress code so do make an effort, but they didn't seem too strict about it!

The Siam Center - This was the only place we ventured out to on our final day! A huge shopping centre with an awesome food court, next to the Siam Paragon (where you'll find Chanel, Dior etc.) We didn't get to enjoy it properly but I could easily have spent a couple of hours here had I been feeling better. The Moomin Café for a cup of Moomin Mamma's hot tea was about as far as we got! Avoid taxis and catch the BTS Skytrain to get there.

Find a Secret Cocktail Bar - Speakeasy's are a big deal in Bangkok right now. We happened to be staying right around the corner from Havana Social, which is next to Above Eleven rooftop bar so make a night of it like we did. You enter the laidback Cuban style bar through a "phone box" by entering a secret code! Just phone ahead to get the number, or ask your concierge to do it for you. Expect rum based cocktails, live latin music and good vibes!  

Where to Stay

Aloft Sukhumvit 11 - A few people recommended this hotel and we went ahead and booked it after reading Kristy's review. The hotel is brightly decorated with subtle Thai touches in amongst the modern design. Other than the location - right next to some cool bars and plenty restaurants, and round the corner from Nana BTS station - the pool was my favourite thing. Watching the sunset over the city with a cocktail in hand was pure bliss. Free wifi and complimentary bottled water were also a bonus.

Avani Atrium - If I had to be ill in any hotel I'm glad it was this one! It was slightly further out of the city centre but still had a metro station within walking distance. The staff were lovely and helpful, and brought us toast and chips to nibble on when we couldn't stomach anything else! Within the hotel you'll find the Japanese steakhouse Benihana, which also specialises in sashimi and sushi, all prepared right at your table. Something I definitely would have liked to check out under normal circumstances. 

Getting Around

Taxis - All taxis in Bangkok should be metered. Make sure the meter is on before you start your journey! You can arrange a set price with the driver instead but we learned the hard way that this will cost a lot more. When we first arrived in Bangkok a taxi to our hotel cost us 1000THB (roughly £23). The second time we got a metered taxi to the hotel which cost just over 300THB (approx £7). Granted these were from different airports to different hotels but it's a hell of a difference. Grab your taxi ticket and wait in the queue.

Water Taxis - While you can get around by taxi or tuktuk, you'll likely spend more money and more time in traffic than you'd like to. I recommend figuring out the water taxis on the canal. It's easy enough, the locals will help you and it cost us just 13THB (30p!) to get from one end of the city to the other. A huge difference than the 500THB (£11.50) taxi we got in the morning, that didn't even drop us off where we wanted!

Trains - We used both the MRT (metro) and the BTS Skytrain to get about. The skytrain took us from our hotel (Nana station) to the Chatuchak weekend market (Mo Chit) for just 40THB (92p). From the Avani hotel we were able to walk to the Phetchaburi station and catch the MRT to Sukhumvit where we switched to the Skytrain for Siam. It's really easy to figure out - if you can handle the London underground or Paris metro, you've got this.

How long would you recommend staying in Bangkok?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Travel | Aberdeen Airport's NEW Northern Lights Executive Lounge

I don't know about you, but I love an airport. It's all part of the holiday - browsing the duty free, watching all sorts of weird and wonderful people passing through, grabbing that pre-flight drink to celebrate the fact you're off to explore the world and escape the 9-5! Now you can do all of that in style at Aberdeen Airport, with the opening of their brand new Northern Lights Executive Lounge!

Open to everyone for just a £25 fee, the lounge is comfortable and spacious, with a hell of a cool colour scheme - think navy walls, monochrome seats and an eye catching pop of yellow. Charging points & free wifi are a bonus. Our flight was an early one so once we'd checked in and breezed through security we were able to grab ourselves some breakfast.

There's something for everyone - whether you're a full Scottish or a light bite and coffee kinda person. Gordon piled his plate high with bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages and tattie scones. I debated over fresh fruit and yoghurt or delicious looking pastries, including the ultimate local delicacy -a good old fashioned buttery! (Sorry "rowie" folk). Eventually I settled on a big bowl of porridge topped with honey and raisins. 

The drink selection is fantastic too. You can help yourself to wine or craft beer from the fridge - provided by local heroes Brewdog & Harviestoun Brewery. For an extra fee, you can choose from a selection of Scottish gins or over 50 whiskies! Gordon enjoyed a Bitter & Twisted ale, before going onto the hard stuff with a nap of Glen Garioch Founders Reserve. For me, it was a classic Porter's G&T to kick start our honeymoon.

I'm really impressed by the lounge, with it's runway views and stylish interiors, and love that they've made a point of featuring Aberdeenshire brands. The menu even has the stamp of approval from the "Kitled Chef" Craig Wilson, of Eat on the Green - check out the new winter warmers menu!

At £25 the Northern Lights is a fantastic way to start your holiday in style. By the time you've had a good bite to eat and a few drinks you've definitely got your money's worth, ready to jet off on your adventures...

*I was invited to experience the Northern Lights Executive Lounge in exchange for an honest review. 
As always all opinions are my own and 100% genuine.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Thailand | Vlog

A wee video from our adventures in Thailand.
Full stories coming to the blog soon!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Our Thailand Itinerary

By the time you read this, we'll be on our way to Thailand! I feel like we've been counting down to this trip forever. Back when we were planning our wedding, we made the decision not to honeymoon straight away. We'd bought our house and had our wedding all within a year and wanted time so save up and do something really special. 15 months later here we are jetting off on our honeymoon, at last, to South East Asia!


Our first stop is Bangkok. Fairly obvious as it's the main destination for international flights. From what I hear, it's a bit of a marmite city - you either love it or you hate it. We have booked a couple of nights at the beginning and the end of our trip. More than some people would recommend so hopefully we fall into the love bracket!

We'll stay at both the Aloft Bangkok and the Avani Atrium hotel, and plan to explore the many temples the city has to offer. Top of my list are The Grand Palace, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) and Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha! I'm also hoping to check out Chatuchak weekend market, sip cocktails at a rooftop bar and sample plenty street food!

Chiang Mai

Next we're heading North to Chiang Mai. This is something we debated over for quite a while. I was worried that going so far North wouldn't leave us enough time to visit all the beautiful islands we want to see in the south. In the end, my need to see elephants in an ethical and safe environment won and we booked flights to Chiang Mai!

I've scheduled in a day at the nearby Elephant Jungle Sanctuary as well as a surprise excursion for Gordon's birthday - I'll share more on that once he knows what it is! The Hyde Park Residence will be our home for a few days and we'll hopefully have time to visit the Old Town and yet more temples in the area. Chaing Mai seems to have a reputation for cool coffee shops which I'm looking forward to checking out!

Koh Lanta

As we fitted in the trip to Chiang Mai, we had to limit how many islands we could visit! After much research, we narrowed it down to Koh Lanta as our priority. We're not looking for the typical backpacking, Full Moon party experience. All we want is to see some beautiful beaches, explore and experience the culture and chill out with some good food and drink.

Our home on the island is Oasis Yoga Bungalows. Our very own private bungalow is only a 2 minute walk to the beach and, as the name suggests, we'll have the chance to join some yoga classes in a treehouse. There's also a healthy kitchen/smoothie bar, but most importantly there's a resident dog named Mango! Speaking of dogs, Koh Lanta has a well known animal sanctuary which we can visit and even volunteer to walk the dogs in the morning! My island life will be all about yoga and dogs. The dream!


Our final destination (other than Bangkok for our flight home!) is Krabi. Back on the mainland, Krabi is a handy location for getting to various islands. We're staying at the Bluesotel on Ao Nang Beach. The idea is to base ourselves here and do day trips to the likes of Railay beach and the Phi Phi islands - including Maya Bay (The Beach) - for some snorkelling and kayaking! I'd also like to visit Krabi town and climb the 1237 steps to Tiger Temple Cave. 

It's a lot to pack in to 2 weeks and I really hope we have time to fit it all in.
If you have any tips on things to see and do, or where to eat I'd love to hear them?!

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