Happy Holidays, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Our Happy Jar. Matt and I recently returned from a 20-day trip in Asia, where we attended a wedding, visited family and friends, and celebrated our long-awaited honeymoon, so I have a lot of blog catch-up to do!
I thought I’d start with a few highlights of our time in Thailand, where we spent 1 week—a few days with friends in Phuket for my good friend R’s wedding (where we also got a lot of sun, beach time, and the resort life) and another block of time ourselves in Bangkok for our honeymoon. This was a fun and eventful lag of our trip, so this is going to be a long post!
Phuket is definitely a destination for R&R. We all stayed at the Cape Sienna Hotel Phuket, which is where the wedding was held. The views were stunning, and the resort it beautiful! The best part was getting to hang out with all my childhood friends, who I miss a lot. Because I don’t live in Hong Kong anymore and only visit every other year, this was one of the longest stretches of time I’ve been able to spend time with them in a LONG time. Definitely made the trip that much more fun and memorable!
Most of the time was spent at the resort hanging out by the pool (our favourite spot was the infinity pool across the street from the hotel), but we did manage to experience a bit of the nightlife at Patong Beach and the sun and waves at Surin Beach.
We also got to try Lotus Restaurant at Bangtao Beach with a small group of our friends. The restaurant has an awesome view of the beach and is known as a spot to watch the sunset, but unfortunately, a storm rolled in while we were there. The food at Lotus was good though (it’s one of those places where you can go out and pick your seafood before they cook it), and it was fairly inexpensive for the amount that we ordered!
After the wedding, Matt and I flew from Phuket to Bangkok for our honeymoon! I haven’t been there since I was in my teens, and the city has changed a LOT since then. One of the best changes is the updated transit system. I remember having to cab everywhere with my parents back in the day, which was a nightmare given the notoriously bad traffic in the city.
If you don’t have a ton of luggage, I’d highly recommend taking the Bangkok Airport Train. It didn’t take a long time to get to our hotel, and the transit maps were fairly straightforward to understand (they also have everything in English, so no worries there!) We did have to walk up/down some stairs with our luggage though, but that was fine!
We also took the BTS everywhere during our visit to Bangkok. While you can purchase single trips, we stayed for almost 5 days, so we purchased Rabbit cards; issuing and deposit fees plus a package of 15 trips equated to around $20 CDN per person, which is not bad at all!
Prepaid SIM Cards
Another lifesaver was getting prepaid SIM cards, which were available at the airport—it was about $10 CDN for unlimited data for a week. It was extremely useful to have data to access Google Maps to find our way around the city and to be able to look things up on the spot. Also, because the protests in Bangkok were ongoing while we were there, my parents were really worried, so having data allowed me to keep them posted.
The W Hotel Bangkok
The jeweled wall in the lobby; tablet-controlled room functions; cute labels on everything!
Because Matt and I got married at the Westin, we racked up enough Starwood points to use toward our week-long stay at the W Bangkok, which is very stylish and high-tech. They gave us free drinks and had cupcakes sent to our room for our honeymoon, which was a nice touch! While we did do a lot of things outside of the hotel, we also enjoyed a lot of time in the hotel, watching movies, chilling in the deep-soak tub (I never take baths anymore!), and lounging by the pool.
We had a cute pair of “lights out” sequined Thai boxing gloves on our bed
The twinkling lights in the pool at the W Bangkok and hanging out in the private cabanas
The location of the hotel is also super convenient! The W is right by the Chong Nonsi BTS station, so we were able to take access skytrain really easily to get around the city.
We briefly visited Siam Square (Siam station is also a major interchange station), where they have a lot of restaurants and a number of big brand-name malls like Siam Paragon. I personally didn’t love the mall because a lot of the stores are ones that we see here, along with a lot of high-end ones.
My friend R actually recommended Terminal 21 at nearby Asok station; each floor of the mall has a theme of a different city, which is pretty cool. The stores are also somewhat unique (a mix of brands we might see here, as well as some more local brands). The food court there is also decent and really cheap: Matt and I had lunch there and spent less than $5 CDN for two meals plus drinks!
We also managed to visit Health Land, where you can get massages and other spa services, almost everyday while we were in Bangkok. It’s a reputable and clean place, and the prices were more than reasonable. There are multiple locations, but we liked the one near Asok station more than the one near our hotel.
During our multiple visits, we got to try the aromatherapy body massage, traditional Thai massage, and foot reflexology—almost 5 hours of massages—for only just over $50 CDN! That’s unheard of in most other places (like Toronto, for one), so massages are definitely a must in Thailand!
Asiatique Riverfront Night Market
Saphan Taksin station was not too far from our hotel, so we were able to easily get there to access the boats to Asiatique, a night market located along the riverfront. The converted warehouses are now home to little shops, cafes, and restaurants, so you can spend a good few hours there just browsing the stores and eating.
As a little tip, the market itself doesn’t open until around 5pm (the first ferry there runs at 4:30pm) and the last boat back is at 11:30pm. The ferry ride is free (there are signs indicating the correct line-ups), but we saw a number of people hastily jump onto tourist boats, where they charge you for the ride there. Luckily, we’d done our research!
The Grand Palace and Wat Pho
That same pier was where we took a river boat to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. I’d visited both with my parents before, but it seemed like a must-see for Matt’s first time in Bangkok. The structures are really grand and beautiful, so it was definitely worth it!
Because the tour packages cost an arm and a leg, we decided to do our own self-tours instead. We followed this handy article on how to get there and what boats to take; this is because tourist boats can charge you ~$5 CDN compared to local boats that cost ~50 cents per person (granted, it’s not a lot of money in general, but still)! That same article also has some tips to avoid getting scammed by people who approach you outside of the palace gates. Another tip for visiting these tourist sites is to do some research on what clothing is appropriate. Out of respect for the king and the temples, you should wear long pants/skirts and tops with sleeves.
Local Cheap Eats
There were a lot of street vendors near our hotel—one day, we stopped to buy a yummy, filling lunch for less than $4 CDN total—but my friend R also suggested we try Soi 38 night market at Thong Lo station, near where her boyfriend lives. In total, we spent less than $10 CDN on juice, skewers, BBQ pork dried noodles with dumplings, pad thai, mango sticky rice, and banana pancakes, all of which were delicious!
Somboon Seafood and Issaya Siamese Club
One of my mom’s former colleagues actually lived and worked in Bangkok for a brief time, so he provided us with a lot of recommendations. Two of the sit-down restaurants we decided to try were based on his recommendations.
The first was Surawong location of Somboon Seafood, which is known for their curry crab and is apparently popular among HK tourists. The seafood was very good!
The real highlight though was Issaya Siamese Club, which serves modern Thai food. We went on our last night in Bangkok, and it was an awesome way to end our trip! The location is quite hidden—going to this restaurant is the only time we cabbed during the entire trip—but the restaurant is absolutely beautiful (this article has some good photos of the interior).
We decided against the tasting menu because it looked like a lot of food, so we went for the next best, the set menu. It was around $50 CDN per person for a total of 8 courses! Every course was delicious, but the boneless curry lamb shank and spice-rubbed pork baby back ribs were to die for, as was the dessert. Even the complimentary take-home marshmallows were just as yummy!
It was such a treat to eat there, and an absolutely amazing meal to mark the end of a wonderful honeymoon in Thailand!
Overall, Matt and I had a blast in Thailand—such a great way to spend our honeymoon! Stay tuned for a future post about the Hong Kong portion of our trip 🙂