As We Travel » Thailand http://www.aswetravel.com Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:58:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Experience Mysterious Thailand with a Local http://www.aswetravel.com/experience-mysterious-thailand-local/ http://www.aswetravel.com/experience-mysterious-thailand-local/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 17:56:21 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=48990 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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In some destinations, it’s best to do things strictly by the book. A person could visit Los Angeles, for instance, using a reputable guidebook and could have a perfectly acceptable experience. They’d hit all the highlights of the area and probably avoid some of the grittier neighborhoods.  However, other destinations (Traveling to Thailand) definitely deserve […]

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As We Travel - Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog

In some destinations, it’s best to do things strictly by the book. A person could visit Los Angeles, for instance, using a reputable guidebook and could have a perfectly acceptable experience. They’d hit all the highlights of the area and probably avoid some of the grittier neighborhoods.  However, other destinations (Traveling to Thailand) definitely deserve to be explored in a manner that’s more off the beaten path. A little unscripted wandering in these places means being able to interact meaningfully with local people and to experience their culture in a way that simply can’t be achieved when a traveler is chained to a guidebook.

Mysterious Thailand

One of these places is Mysterious Thailand. It’s an ancient, majestic and mysterious place that’s worthy of years of exploration. Unfortunately, most people who visit here don’t have tons of time to really absorb the local flavor. While a guidebook might be enough for the casual visitor, someone who wants to really delve into the depth and complexity of Thai culture won’t be satisfied with that experience.  As with any foreign civilization, the best way to view it is with the assistance of a local. Someone who has grown up with and is fully immersed in the Thai culture can open doors for the tourist who wants to go beyond the well-known temples and palaces. It makes for an intimate, highly personalized experience the likes of which would be virtually impossible to duplicate without having a local friend or two.

Mysterious Thailand

Mysterious Thailand

Fortunately, the Withlocals website makes connecting to local experts a breeze. It makes one-of-a-kind experiences a reality in a way that just wouldn’t happen otherwise. Imagine being able to dine in a private home, enjoying authentic Thai dishes that were prepared by a host who has been learning to craft traditional meals since childhood. It’s definitely not the kind of evening that would happen in even the finest restaurant in the nation.

Travelers visiting mysterious Thailand can go way beyond the major attractions with the assistance of a local guide. Hosts can arrange for a vast array of experiences. Depending upon their specialty and interests, a host might provide a lesson in Muay Thai, the nation’s style of martial arts. Others offer cooking lessons, tours of the local marketplace, or provide insider tips on how to get the best deals on locally made wares.

Hosts are friendly and accommodating, which makes it easy to arrange for a tour, activity or meal. There’s simply no substitute for being able to visit a temple or museum with someone who can bring the local perspective to the adventure. By sharing their thoughts and memories, hosts bring the Thai culture to life in a particularly personal way. They help visitors to understand not only what the Thai lifestyle is, but also why and how it has evolved the way it has.

Hosts on WithLocals.com are fully vetted, so visitors can rest assured that their experience will be safe and memorable for all the right reasons. More than one tourist has made a lifelong friend by using this service. It’s possible to arrange for a tour or other activity well in advance, but sometimes the hosts can be quite flexible when it comes to accommodating last minute requests.

Each experience is unique, and it is often possible to make special requests that the host is willing to tailor to the taste of the visitor. For instance, enjoying a home cooked meal with a local family is one of the most asked for experiences. The visitor may arrange for their own transportation, but in many cases the host provides a knowledgeable escort who can see them safely to the home of their host. Visitors are immediately put at ease by a warm and gracious welcome, and special dietary requests are respected. Each individual is treated like an honored guest and can expect to enjoy the finest Thai style hospitality. For many visitors, it is these unique, one-of-a-kind experiences that become the most memorable part of their visit.

Tourists may also arrange to observe some of Thailand’s most interesting festivals with a local host. Songkran, or the New Year’s Day celebration, is particularly popular. Many people also choose to visit on Ghost Day, traditionally known as Pi Tha Khon. Unique Thai festivals take on far more significance with a local guide. It’s a wonderful way for visitors to understand the meaning behind the celebrations and better appreciate the traditions and legends that are incorporated into each.

While there are a number of reputable, well-written travel guides on the market, none of them can truly compare with having the guidance of a local insider. No book can possibly contain information on every attraction, festival and restaurant in Thailand. That’s why a local friend is so indispensable. With their assistance, greater understanding and appreciation is possible. It turns an interesting experience into a remarkable one, and mysterious Thailand definitely deserves to be appreciated in all of its complexity.

 

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Amazing Thailand Luxury Trip http://www.aswetravel.com/amazing-thailand-luxury-trip/ http://www.aswetravel.com/amazing-thailand-luxury-trip/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 22:05:03 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=46729 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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By Oliver Todd Thailand Luxury Trip Thailand Luxury Trip travel agents Kenwood Travel have over 35 years of experience in tailor-making amazing holidays bespoke to their customers’ needs. Central to this service is their ability to provide first-hand knowledge of the destinations they serve. Last year the Kenwood team traveled far and wide visiting the […]

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Thailand Luxury Trip
By Oliver Todd

Thailand Luxury Trip

Thailand Luxury Trip travel agents Kenwood Travel have over 35 years of experience in tailor-making amazing holidays bespoke to their customers’ needs. Central to this service is their ability to provide first-hand knowledge of the destinations they serve.

Last year the Kenwood team traveled far and wide visiting the crème de la crème of luxury locations including Mauritius, Las Vegas, Dubai, Granada and Barbados. Gaining valuable expertise and appreciation of these places, which can be passed on to customers in a uniquely personal way, is all part of the process at Kenwood Travel. These intrepid experts even squeezed in a bit of fun along the way too.

One travel consultant who embodies this spirit is Matt Hall. As one of Kenwood Travel’s Far East team, he was invited on a journey to Thailand to experience the best of the ‘land of smiles.’ He documented his Thailand Luxury Trip on video, which you can see here, and I thought it might be a good idea to ask him a few questions to accompany the film.

I started by asking him the obvious: Which of the places he visited were his favorite? It seems he found the question a little taxing at first. “Choosing my favorite place in Thailand is like choosing my favorite brother – they all have their good bits!” Feeling the pressure slightly, he finally decided upon the general area of Krabi as his number one locale. “Krabi really symbolizes Thai beach life,” he told me. “It’s the little things, like how the hotels agree not to bombard beaches with sun-beds, so they always look their natural, uncluttered best.” Matt went on to describe the incredible views that some of Krabi’s beaches afford, noting eloquently how “…hundreds of sheer limestone cliff-islands jolt sporadically and spectacularly from the turquoise waters.” Even more sensational views come at sunset and many of the beaches provide cozy beanbags in which to recline as you savor an exotic cocktail. Matt highlighted Tubkaak Resort as a good example of this. To summarize, he explained that Krabi is an all-round idyllic holiday destination that offers boat trips, trekking and diving, and while in the town, world-class shopping and dining can be found.

Saroijin Resort

Coming in at a close second for this Thailand Luxury Trip was Khao Lak. As a quieter and more laid back beach town, its untouched pristine beaches were particularly special for him. The area had to be extensively rebuilt after the tsunami in 2004 and Matt heard some stories that will stay with him forever. One such story featured the amazing Saroijin Resort. After the disaster, the owners stayed when the other hotels in the area left. They helped the local community rebuild and assisted in securing pipelines and infrastructure. As such the owners are deservedly held in high regard in Thailand. Matt was honored to stay at the resort. These heart-warming tales were told by the hotel’s ‘Imagineer’ who is on hand to help guests in any way – from setting up a dinner proposal on a remote beach, to spending an afternoon shipwrecked on a deserted island.

Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay

Matt’s favorite hotel proved to be another tough question: “Near impossible to answer.” He said the reason for his ambivalence was the sheer variety of hotels on offer in Thailand. Some are grand, opulent affairs like the “unbelievable” Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay (featured in the film Hangover 3, no less!), which provides four metre-long beds and “mind-blowingly extravagant rooms.” Others, like the aforementioned Tubkaak, have a more intimate, boutique appeal. The Rayavadee and Centara Grand Krabi are totally unique due to a combination of their accommodation style and setting – hidden away on sequestered beaches surrounded by limestone cliffs. In Khao Lak, Thailand’s leading architects got together to design Casa De La Flora – a property, Matt said, that is “… even more unique; ultra stylish and modern.”

The Shore Katathani

Pushed for an answer as to his ultimate favorite hotel, he eventually decided upon The Shore by Katathani. He enjoyed being able to amble along Kata beach to the little restaurants, shops, massage parlors and bars, and a short taxi ride took him to Patong and its vibrant nightlife. The beach at the Shore is “one of the best” and its pool villas are in Matt’s top three room-types of all time. He went on to describe the comfort, service, cuisine and location as first class. Certainly sounds like it ticked all the boxes.

Six Senses Koh Yao Noi

Elsewhere he loved his stay at Six Senses in Koh Yao Noi. This resort is eco-friendly and boasts spectacular sea views from the Hilltop Reserve infinity pool and bar. There’s a palpable “Robinson Crusoe” atmosphere to the place, and it boasts some unique extras, like 24-hour homemade Gelato ice cream.

I mentioned to Matt how much fun it must be to travel by boat in Thailand, being able to gain new perspectives on the stunning scenery. He was quick to agree. Arriving at the Rayavadee in Krabi, the Centara Grand Krabi, and the beautifully remote islands of Koh Phi Phi or Koh Yai Noi, was amazing: “Arriving by boat really gives you that sense of freedom from the rat race back home.” He also confessed that it’s a great way to top up the tan! Many resorts in the area offer transfers on private speedboats and very often have private jetties on the mainland to take clients to and from the islands.

Thailand Luxury Trip

Thailand Luxury Trip

It could be argued that, following films such as ‘The Beach,’ Thailand suffered a reputation for attracting too many gap-year backpackers. Some detractors were quick to stamp it with the ‘tourist trap’ label. Finally, I asked Matt whether he experienced any of this while he was there. He explained that Phuket is the busiest tourist hotspot so you have to expect other travelers and backpackers. His advice is to choose your locations carefully and recommends calling Kenwood Travel to speak to either himself or one of his colleagues to plan your Thailand Luxury Trip. They’ll be able to gauge what type of holiday you’re looking for, and place you in the ideal resort. “If you want busy, you can have busy. If you want off-the-beaten-track barefoot luxury, then places like Zeavola offer this,” he said. Knowing where to go helps, as you can even find empty beaches in Phuket. You may encounter backpacking revelers in Ao Nang in Krabi and in several spots in Phuket, but, generally, Kenwood resorts are all on separate beaches and again, he said: “Just ensure you tell us what you want and we can deliver.”

Oliver Todd is a travel writer living in London. He writes for the blog at Kenwood Travel.

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Going to Phuket? What to Know Before You Go http://www.aswetravel.com/going-to-phuket-what-to-know-before-you-go/ http://www.aswetravel.com/going-to-phuket-what-to-know-before-you-go/#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=38618 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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When planning a trip to beautiful Thailand, choosing which sites you’ll visit while there is just the start – in addition to brushing up a bit on the language, you’ll need to know a little about the culture too. To make your stay in Phuket completely enjoyable, take a few moments to go over everything […]

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When planning a trip to beautiful Thailand, choosing which sites you’ll visit while there is just the start – in addition to brushing up a bit on the language, you’ll need to know a little about the culture too.

To make your stay in Phuket completely enjoyable, take a few moments to go over everything you need to know to get around and interact with the locals as courteously as possible.

Tipping

Tipping service men and women is customary in Phuket, and these people may be relying on it for income – remember that one Baht is about three cents (in USD); money can go a lot further in Thailand.

Expect to tip the following:

  • Hotel maids: Leave a tip at the end of your stay if you appreciate the service – it’s not expected, but a tip of around 200 Baht for the stay is equal to their entire day’s wage (only a little over six dollars) and will be greatly appreciated.

  • Bellhops: Give bellhops 20 Baht whenever they carry your bags or show you to your room.

  • Sit-down restaurants: Anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the total bill.

  • Fast food or restaurants that don’t have at-table service: Nothing, but rounding up to the next even number and letting them keep the change is often very appreciated.

    However, if that amounts to only one Baht, avoid tipping or tip another five Baht. Tipping only one Baht anywhere in Thailand is akin to saying you weren’t happy with the service.

  • Taxi cabs: Depends on whether or not the taxi driver negotiates a flat fee from the start. If they do negotiate a flat fee, they’re including a tip, so you need not pay extra. If the taxi runs on a metre, a 20 to 50 Baht tip is customary, particularly if the service is good.

  • Tuk tuk: If you take a rickshaw, you don’t have to tip, particularly if the experience is unpleasant. If the driver is nice, a 20 to 50 Baht tip can show your appreciation.

  • Drinks: Tip bartenders and servers 30 Baht per drink.

  • Tour guides: If a professional tour guide spends an entire day with you all over the city, a 300 to 500 Baht tip is customary (and in that case, don’t worry about tipping drivers, as the tour guide will likely do so).

Internet Access

Wifi is very common throughout Thailand, and if you happen to end up in a hotel without wifi, there is probably a cafe around the corner that offers it for free. But expect slower speed than you’re used to.

There are internet cafes here and there where you’ll find stationary computers – these tend to be pretty costly.

Some guesthouses also tend to offer wifi for free, but charge a hefty sum to use their computers, so bring a laptop or tablet on your trip!

General Etiquette

There are a few customs you will need to respect in Thailand, or you will get many strange glances your way..!

  • Never use your foot to point to something or someone.

  • Never touch a person’s head.

  • Refrain from displays of public anger.

  • Refrain from public displays of affection with your significant other beyond holding hands.

  • Take off your shoes when entering someone’s home or a temple.

  • Don’t wear tank tops, tight pants or short skirts into a temple; don’t go shirtless, either…

  • Stand for the national anthem before a movie plays in the cinema.

When in doubt, be patient and polite. If you follow these tipping guidelines and general etiquette tips, your vacation will go more smoothly and you’ll have a great time, leaving you with memories for many years to come.

About the Author: Praepilai Vaughn is a contributing writer, travel agent and native Thai. She blogs about her travel experiences and great travel deals on her company website.

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VIDEO: Eastern & Oriental Express – Singapore To Bangkok http://www.aswetravel.com/eastern-oriental-express-singapore-to-bangkok/ http://www.aswetravel.com/eastern-oriental-express-singapore-to-bangkok/#comments Sun, 04 Nov 2012 07:00:40 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=38275 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Earlier this year we had the opportunity to travel on the Eastern and Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok – the 3-day trip was one of pure indulgence with good food, beautiful views and 5-star service! It’s a beautiful train and a trip of a lifetime, and we made a short video summing up our […]

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Earlier this year we had the opportunity to travel on the Eastern and Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok – the 3-day trip was one of pure indulgence with good food, beautiful views and 5-star service!

It’s a beautiful train and a trip of a lifetime, and we made a short video summing up our experience – check it out below:

You can also read more about the trip below:

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Temples & Monks In Chiang Mai – Photo Essay http://www.aswetravel.com/temples-monks-in-chiang-mai-photo-essay/ http://www.aswetravel.com/temples-monks-in-chiang-mai-photo-essay/#comments Sat, 11 Aug 2012 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=35205 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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With the overwhelming number of Wats, it comes as no surprise that Chiang Mai has very strong Buddhist traditions, and temples have become a very important part of peoples’ lives in the city. Many temples act as community centers, and they are also very popular places for people to go to just relax, sit down […]

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With the overwhelming number of Wats, it comes as no surprise that Chiang Mai has very strong Buddhist traditions, and temples have become a very important part of peoples’ lives in the city.

Many temples act as community centers, and they are also very popular places for people to go to just relax, sit down in the shade and contemplate - below I have posted a series of photos we took while walking around Chiang Mai last week.

The temple grounds are peaceful and quiet – and although the hectic streets are just outside the temple walls, you feel like you’re a world away from it all – there is so much to look at, and we loved all the wooden signs with words of wisdom that were nailed to the trees, reminding you of what is really important in life.

Every temple is beautifully decorated with golden details glittering in the sun, and they all have their own touches that makes each Wat unique and different from the rest - whether that’s a huge Buddha head statue or a Donald Duck statue eating noodle soup …

You can easily get templed-out while in Chiang Mai, but as soon as you leave you realize how much you took all of these beautiful serene places for granted …

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Get Healthy & Beautiful In Thailand Medical Tourism http://www.aswetravel.com/get-healthy-beautiful-in-thailand/ http://www.aswetravel.com/get-healthy-beautiful-in-thailand/#comments Wed, 25 Jul 2012 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=35045 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Thailand Medical Tourism Thailand Medical Tourism is becoming increasingly popular in Thailand as people are realizing that traveling abroad can actually save you more money than getting the treatment in your own country. Walking down the streets of Chiang Mai, it’s hard to avoid seeing all the signs and shops offering amazing deals for all […]

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Thailand Medical Tourism

Thailand Medical Tourism is becoming increasingly popular in Thailand as people are realizing that traveling abroad can actually save you more money than getting the treatment in your own country.

Walking down the streets of Chiang Mai, it’s hard to avoid seeing all the signs and shops offering amazing deals for all sorts of health treatments – so why not go for it?

We took advantage of the cheaper prices in Thailand Medical Tourism and had a bunch of health and beauty treatments in Chiang Mai, from a visit to the dentist to another detox and getting my hair cut.

Whether you’re just looking for some touch-ups, to spoil yourself, or looking for a more serious surgery, Thailand is definitely a place to consider.

Here are some popular treatments that are much cheaper in Thailand…

Thailand Medical Tourism Dental Treatments

Thailand Medical tourism

Thailand Medical tourism

Normally, people don’t just pop into a dentist and get their teeth fixed in a “spur of the moment” kind of way – in Thailand, that’s pretty much exactly how you do it.

A lot of people go there to just whiten their teeth, but having a check-up and do some fillings is also a great idea.

The dental clinics in Thailand are very modern and equipped with the latest technology, so we were happy that we decided to go there ourselves.

Thailand Medical Tourism: To give you an idea of the prices, a tooth filling costs from 500 baht (15 USD), whereas in Europe it costs around 100 USD.

Spa Resort / Detox Center Packages

Stay for an hour, a day, or a week – there are plenty of spa resorts, detox centers and other types of wellness retreats all across Thailand Medical Tourism – both for those who just want to pamper themselves, as well as for those who want to change their whole lifestyle – detoxify their bodies and meet with alternative health doctors.

Tao Garden outside of Chiang Mai is one of the best health retreats in northern Thailand, mixing new medical developments of Holistic Western Medicine with traditional Eastern arts like Taoist Massage, 5 Element Chinese Healing Systems, Acupuncture and Ayurvedic practices from India.

In the South, Kamalaya on Koh Samui has won many awards for being one of the best wellness retreats in the world, as much for the beautiful location as for the service itself.

Massages and Manicures

A Thai girl we met said that just like every Thai woman learns how to cook Pad Thai, they learn how to do a great Thai massage – which might explain why they’re so many massage parlors everywhere..!

Massages are so cheap in Thailand that you can treat yourself to one every week – but I would suggest visiting a real parlor rather than sitting down in a chair by the street, it’s just not the same.

There are many different types of massages to choose from, and just to let you know, the Thai massage is not as relaxing as it sounds, although it is an experience in itself..!

Manicures are also cheap and a great way to spoil yourself, and you can hustle a good deal if you go for a pedicure as well.

A 1 hour Thai massage costs around 4 USD, while in Europe the same massage costs 60 dollars. A manicure costs around 5 dollars, while in Europe you would pay around 30 dollars.

Cosmetic Surgery

Walking around Chiang Mai, you pass by a lot of clinics advertising everything from botox to face lifts – even specialized surgeries like a tummy tuck, cost half the price from getting it done in Europe.

While botox is probably not on top of most people’s lists, I know several people who traveled all the way from Sweden to Thailand Medical Tourism to get help with their skin and health issues because the treatments were both cheaper and better than at home.

How about you? Have you done anything like this last time you were in Thailand?

(photo credits: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4)

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Eastern & Oriental Express – The Photo Essay http://www.aswetravel.com/eastern-oriental-express-photo-essay/ http://www.aswetravel.com/eastern-oriental-express-photo-essay/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 06:00:14 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=33684 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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The best way to describe what the Eastern & Oriental Express was really like is to simply show you – after all, don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Below we have put together a photo essay to showcase the best of our train trip (you will even see us dressed to […]

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The best way to describe what the Eastern & Oriental Express was really like is to simply show you – after all, don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Below we have put together a photo essay to showcase the best of our train trip (you will even see us dressed to the max in a suit & evening dress :P) - also if you would like to read more about the train and our personal journey – you can click here.

The observation car was one of our favorite things about the E&O – located at the very end of the train, you could enjoy the landscape sweeping past, slowly changing as you traveled from the south in Singapore all the way up north to Bangkok.

Those getting up early to watch the sunrise through the mist were served hot tea, which added a nice touch to the colonial ambience of the car.

Our conversations during lunch were always interrupted by one of us going “hey – look at that!” pointing out the window, seeing something odd, funny or amazing.

Like Agatha Christie says: Trains are wonderful… to travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns… and rivers, in fact, to see life.

This journey was all about relaxing, indulging and enjoying yourself.

After all the extra hassle that comes with planning your own travels, it was really nice to have a break and just sit back and relax letting the exceptional and friendly staff take care of everything for you, from the excursions to the wonderful food.

When darkness fell outside the window, the train got even brighter and livelier inside – men dressed up in tuxedos and a tie, women putting on their evening dresses and glimmering jewels, and the piano bar full of people mingling after dinner with a glass of wine or two.


And finally, the food – those who know me are well aware that I have a SERIOUS sweet tooth, so as you can see I was very spoiled with all the beautiful desserts and sweets served on the train.

Note: Our trip was sponsored by Eastern & Oriental Express, but as always our opinions are our own.

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Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other http://www.aswetravel.com/eastern-oriental-express-a-journey-like-no-other/ http://www.aswetravel.com/eastern-oriental-express-a-journey-like-no-other/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 02:00:59 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=33039 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other After a couple of days enjoying the best of Singapore, we had the pleasure of traveling on the Eastern and Oriental Express up to Bangkok – the train took us through the jungles of Malaysia and rice fields of Thailand during 3 luxurious and unforgettable days. […]

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Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other

After a couple of days enjoying the best of Singapore, we had the pleasure of traveling on the Eastern and Oriental Express up to Bangkok – the train took us through the jungles of Malaysia and rice fields of Thailand during 3 luxurious and unforgettable days.

Check-In & Boarding

Since Woodland’s train station is slightly out of town, we checked in for the train at the Regent Hotel, a five star hotel on Orchard Road with the same luxurious, traditional style of the Eastern and Oriental Express train.

The air was filled with excitement, and looking around the room there were all sorts of people who were taking the journey: solo travelers, couples, friends and families.

From the hotel we were driven by bus to the train station, where the border crossing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced (why can’t all border crossings be like this?), a world away from how we crossed the border into Singapore just a few days earlier …

The Compartments

When boarding the Eastern and Oriental Express, your steward takes you to your “room” – there are 3 types of compartments: Pullman Cabins (bunk beds), State Cabins (twin beds) and Presidential Suites.

They’re all very well appointed and beautifully designed with walls of cherry wood and romantic decorations in Oriental style.

We stayed in a Pullman Cabin, which was slightly small but well laid out - each cabin has a bathroom with shower, a writing desk, panoramic windows and a couch that is converted into beds by the steward when you’re out for dinner.

The Highlights

The observation car was one of the highlights on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and one of the first things we decided to check out.

When there is no window separating you from the rice fields, jungles and rural countryside, it feels more real: you can smell the country – hear it – feel it.

The view from the train was exactly like in the movies, where children play by the tracks and farmers look up and waive their hands with a big smile as you pass.

The saloon car, library car, restaurant cars and piano bar car really made you feel like you had stepped back into a glamorous past.

There was a traditional luxury over the whole train, both in the design as much as in the service and general vibe.

Chit-chatting over a tray of peanuts and a glass of wine while listening to beautiful piano music was a reality I never thought possible on a train – everything was immaculate and so full of character and charm.

Dining

We felt truly spoiled with the exceptional food we indulged in during the trip on Eastern and Oriental Express.

A lot of thought and skill were put into every single dish, from the unique mixture of Asian and European influences to the presentation – I have no idea how the chefs managed to make such great food in such tiny kitchens on a bumpy train!

Breakfast is served in the cabin on a big tray with everything from Danish pastries to local Malaysian tea.

Lunch is served in one of the restaurant cars, and we were surprised to find that even this was a full 4 course meal!

Afternoon tea was served in the cabin, with a nice selection of local treats to try.

We really liked how they used a lot of local Asian ingredients and specialties – the local cuisine is a big part of experiencing a country, and on the Eastern and Oriental Express you really got a taste of South East Asia.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in the span of three short days..!

The dinner on the Eastern and Oriental Express is quite an event, where suit jacket and tie is compulsory for men, and women dress up in evening dresses.

To see everyone dress up in their finest clothes, from a Kimono to evening gowns and lots and lots of glittering jewels, really enhanced the whole occasion – and I got to enjoy the rare sight of Nathan in a suit ;)

In the romantic dining cars you’re served a 5-course meal every evening, with some absolutely delicious desserts and chocolates to finish the night in perfection.

The Entertainment

With fruit tasting, palm reading, foot massage and a Thai dance show, there are many things to keep you busy on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and on both days of the journey you take a small excursion.

In Malaysia you go for a guided Trishaw tour around Georgetown, Penang, and in Thailand you visit the Bridge on the River Kwai for a boat tour and a museum visit.

These are great ways to take in the culture of the places you visit, but it’s the journey and the Eastern and Oriental Express in itself that is the real experience.

The Service

While the Eastern and Oriental Express truly knows how to provide a glamorous vibe and luxurious experience, what made the journey most memorable, were the exceptional staff.

They treated it like something more than just a job, they were really enjoying it – and it showed through.

They were professional and yet personal, making us feel very pampered and special.

The staff makes all the difference, and the people working for this company were what made the journey the best it could possibly be – this trip was something very special for everyone onboard the train, and the staff treated it as though it was special also for them.

Our journey with the Eastern and Oriental Express was exactly what people say it is: a journey like no other!

Note: Our trip was sponsored by Eastern and Oriental Express, but as always our opinions are our own.

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Why People Visit Thailand Again & Again http://www.aswetravel.com/why-people-visit-thailand-again-again/ http://www.aswetravel.com/why-people-visit-thailand-again-again/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=30742 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Only a year has passed since we last visited Thailand, and in a few weeks we’re already going back for more – Thailand is a country that people either love or hate, and regardless of which, nobody leaves without an opinion. Many of the people I know have either never gone on holidays to Thailand, or they […]

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As We Travel - Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog

Only a year has passed since we last visited Thailand, and in a few weeks we’re already going back for more – Thailand is a country that people either love or hate, and regardless of which, nobody leaves without an opinion.

Many of the people I know have either never gone on holidays to Thailand, or they have gone at least twice.

There is something captivating about the country that makes people go back again and again, some even make a habit of it when they travel – and fly to bangkok for that little kick, that spark, before moving on.

Why do people love going back to Thailand? We all have our own reasons – here are some of mine…

The Beaches

You only need to look at Tripadvisor’s latest “award” for the best beach destinations in Asia 2012, and you’ll get my point.

7 beach destinations out of 10 on the top list were located in Thailand – if you want long, white beaches, clear turquoise water, coral reefs and cheap bungalows right on the sand – Thailand has it.

Many people have been going on Phuket holidays year after year, but are now starting to look around for more options – which there’s plenty of (and yes, there are still many secluded beaches!).

Personally, I wish there were a few beaches with good surfing, but I guess you can’t have everything … ;)

The Easiness

It almost seems like every new place I travel to reconfirms the fact of just how easy traveling around Thailand is.

In many of the cheaper countries we’ve been to, getting around has been a huge hassle and very limited – in some places you can only choose between private taxis or taking horrific overcrowded and slow public transport.

I don’t expect it to always be easy and smooth, but from our experience you have a good range of options in Thailand.

You can go third class if you like, but the VIP First class buses are cheap and awesome as well, and knowing that you have the option makes things so easy.

Things like Wi-fi connection is another thing that hotels in Thailand seem to really get, where in other countries in Asia it’s near impossible to find.

The Food

I won’t say that I enjoyed all the food in Thailand, but there are a few favorites that I have longed for many times during the past year; the curries in northern Thailand, the banana pancakes, the typical fruit shakes, the fresh warm corn waffles from local street vendors, pad thai, mango sticky rice etc … :p

The Prices

I was often surprised by how much cheaper accommodation was in Thailand compared to many of its neighboring countries, and the wide range of street stalls everywhere makes it super easy to grab a cheap snack or meal.

The cheap prices is one of the main reasons why Thailand has become a good base for digital nomads, where you can live cheaply and have more money left over to spend on building up your company.

Besides, when we looked for an apartment in different places around the world, we often found that you got more for your money in Thailand – maybe you spend the same, but you live a lifestyle impossible for that same price in Europe.

Have you been to Thailand? If so, what makes you want to go back there again?

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How To Enjoy Thailand Without Visiting The Beach http://www.aswetravel.com/how-to-enjoy-thailand-without-visiting-the-beach/ http://www.aswetravel.com/how-to-enjoy-thailand-without-visiting-the-beach/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2011 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=23459 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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When you think of Thailand, I bet one of the first things that come to your mind are long, white sandy beaches and those beautiful long-tail boats with colorful cloths tied to the front. You would be forgiven to think that life is a beach in Thailand, but there is so much more to the […]

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When you think of Thailand, I bet one of the first things that come to your mind are long, white sandy beaches and those beautiful long-tail boats with colorful cloths tied to the front.

You would be forgiven to think that life is a beach in Thailand, but there is so much more to the country than the beach.

In Thailand, we had some of our most memorable experiences inland, and while a visit to the beach is almost compulsory when visiting Thailand, I really think a trip inland is a must, and then I don’t mean a short visit to Bangkok.

Some people choose to take one of those great Thailand tours which takes them all over the country without them having to worry about a thing, but if you’re in for something more challenging and if you want to choose your own schedule, I would suggest doing it alone.

We chose to travel through Central and Northern Thailand by train and bus, and while we saw far from every place, here are a few places we recommend which are ”off the beach radar” and still easy to reach:

LopBuri

This place is often overlooked because it doesn’t have any huge attraction, but there is something about this town which I really think deserves a night or two.

The place is overrun with crazy fun monkeys, and it’s pretty interesting to see how instead of finding a way of ”getting rid” of the monkeys they have chosen to play by their rules and put bars over their houses and windows to avoid the monkeys from coming inside their homes.

The vibe here is relaxed, the people are friendly, and everything is a lot cheaper than elsewhere in Thailand.

Sukhothai

Sukhothai has the most fascinating and beautiful historical park in the country, and it’s easy to get stuck there for a while.

Many people would recommend Ayutthaya, which is also a nice place and very close to Bangkok.

It’s great fun during one of the many festivals there, but if there is nothing special going on at the time you travel, skip that and choose Sukhothai instead.

It’s more beautiful and personally I think everything there was better, from the accommodation and food to experiences.

Chiang Mai

People fall in love with Chiang Mai for different reasons – some like the cooler climate, others the extrordinary food, or the cheap accommodation.

Chiang Mai is a great place to base yourself in and take small day trips to surrounding villages and towns.

There are tons of activities and tours to choose from, like cheap cooking courses, zip line adventures and Elephant camps, but also just hiring a scooter and driving around the outskirts is a great option.

Chiang Mai is also famous for its abundance of temples. If there is any place in Thailand where you can get “templed out”, it’s here.

From here you can find buses to Chiang Rai, Pai, Lampang and even Mae Hong Son, which are other interesting and fun places to visit.

These are just a few places away from the beaches in Thailand that are worth exploring, but you could spend months in Thailand exploring villages and cities without ever even see the water.

Which are a few of your favorite places to visit away from the beach in Thailand?

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