Intro – Building A Trip To Singapore And Thailand Around A Major Devaluation
Part 1: Getting To Singapore The Long Way
Part 2: The Singapore Do
Part 3: Tumultuous Thailand – Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, And Krabi
Part 4: At Long Last – My Ride Home Up Front In Singapore Suites
After a thoroughly enjoyable time in Singapore, I checked out of the Conrad and made my way via train back to my favorite airport, Changi. I made sure to arrive early so as to have time to wander around and test out a lounge or two.
One short Cathay Pacific flight later (booked using 7500 BA avios) I landed in Bangkok. There was a whole lot of political turmoil in Thailand at the time, so I debated staying at the Novotel airport hotel for the quick layover, as I had a couple of times before. My flight arrived fairly early in day, and with enough time to do some exploring, I ultimately decided to stay in the city at the Doubletree Hilton, which was easily accessible by airport and sky train.
The ride in was efficient and cheap and I arrived at the hotel in about a half hour. The Doubletree is situated right next to the Hilton. In fact, they appear to be on the same piece of land. I wasn’t going to be there long, so I opted for the lower points redemption at the DT. It was a new property, and had great reviews. I wasn’t disappointed. The rooms were clean, modern, and well appointed as was breakfast the following morning.
I went out to explore the city with what time I had, and found a perfectly functioning and safe city. Political protests were limited to certain areas, to be avoided, and there was nothing to worry about at all.
I headed back to BKK the following morning to catch my paid Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui. Lounge access is complimentary for all passengers flying Bangkok Airways, even those seated in coach. The lounge was basic, but had wifi and snacks.
Upon arrival I would be heading straight to the Conrad Koh Samui, which was on the opposite side of the island, and about 45 minutes away. I booked a private transfer through Samui Explorer since a taxi would have cost just about the same. The pickup was an excellent idea, and I ended up using them for other transportation needs throughout my stay on the island.
When you arrive at the Conrad Koh Samui, it is every bit as breathtaking as has been described. The resort is high up on a hill, and completely isolated from any main road. The friendly front desk agents were waiting there to greet me.
I was given a cold drink and towel while formalities were attended to. It didn’t take long, but I could have sat there forever, enjoying the amazing view.
From what I could tell, all the villas are the same, and there isn’t really a ‘bad’ one. Since all sit on the side of a mountain (on stilts!) all have amazing views. Some are closer to the sea, but farther away from the restaurant and pool. All have private infinity pools.
The ‘upgraded’ suites are the villas in the 300s though the only difference was a better entertainment system. After receiving my room assignment (located in the 300s,) I was taken by golf cart to the villa. The pathways around the property are very steep, and most opt to get around this way. I was situated fairly centrally, and didn’t use them beyond check in and check out.
The villa was huge and probably one of, if not the most beautiful I’ve ever stayed in.
I LOVED the Volkswagen sized bathtub.
There’s also a private infinity pool in each villa, which was big enough to do laps. I used it quite a bit during my stay. The views from the deck were spectacular and the water refreshing.
I was on an upper level, at the end of a row, so my villa was very private. Though I could look down and see the neighbor in the rows below.
The main pool and ultra small beach area (likely man made) were nice, small, and relatively empty – probably because there really wasn’t any reason to leave the amazing-ness of your private villa.
Breakfast is served in the Zest restaurant with more sweeping views of the Andaman Sea. There is a fixed menu as well as an extensive buffet. I tried things from both.
Thai Style Eggs Benedict Cooked To Order
The jetty attached to the property had been destroyed in a recent storm, so the complimentary boat ride to the pristine private island departed from an off property location. I didn’t take advantage of this excursion, as I had read from others that the island was neither private nor pristine. With only two nights I opted to stay on site to relax and enjoy the beautiful resort.
There is a full service spa, but I didn’t use it. I did take a short tour and it looked really nice. It was located right up the road from my villa, so the views were similar.
I contemplated redeeming the post deval 95k (!) points required for another night (I had booked using 50k pre-deval,) but after two full days of being isolated and sedentary, I was ready for a change of location.
I requested and received a late 4pm checkout, and arranged for Samui Explorer to transport me to Le Meridien Koh Samui Resort & Spa located in the bustling Lamai Beach area, where I would be spending the next two nights (booked with an SPG Cash & Points award.) A fellow travel blogger friend would also be staying there, so we made plans to meetup.
The hotel is situated behind gates, and sits right on a nice stretch of Lamai Beach. There are stand alone villas, and traditional rooms, all nicely appointed and within close proximity to the beach area. Some had plunge pools in the villas, and others shared one of several common swimming pools located throughout.
I was given an upper courtyard view room, which was beautiful. The room had a lanai with comfortable sitting area, desk, and a huge bathroom with an outdoor shower and separate tub. As a Starwood Gold level guest, I was also provided bottled water and a bowl of fruit, which was replenished daily.
The property is compact, yet really tastefully and beautifully decorated. The main pool is large with lots of lounge chairs, the beach out front mostly deserted. Kayaks and snorkel gear were free to use, and there is a gym and fitness classes available to guests.
Each night there is a lantern ceremony, which guests can participate in.
The property is far enough away from the bustling center of town and off the main road so is very peaceful and quiet. Yet its a short fifteen minute walk to markets, shops and other activities. A very different experience than at the Conrad. I was glad I was able to experienced both.
I arranged for my final ride to the airport, and jumped aboard another Bangkok Airways flight, this time to Krabi, en route to the island of Lanta. There isn’t a commercial airport on this island, so I booked a private speed boat transfer, which was supposed to be faster and more scenic than the usual bus / ferry ride. They would also drop me off at my hotel, the Baan Lanta.
The ride was fast, but I found the slow ferry on the way back equally as scenic and much more laid back (and a lot less expensive!)
Even though I really wanted to stay at the Pimalai Resort, it was out of my budget range so I settled on a place just down the beach called Baan Lanta. I had been here on a previous visit to the island for lunch so was somewhat familiar with the property.
The room and the property needed a bit of updating, but for the most part everything was in working order, and it was reasonably clean. The view from the bed and from my private deck was amazing.
And it was located steps away from one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches I had ever been on.
Ko Lanta doesn’t have the party island reputation of either Koh Samui or Phuket, but if you are looking for a reasonably priced place to relax with amazing sunsets and a beautiful beach, I highly recommend Ko Lanta. I’ll be back.
I took the complimentary hotel shuttle back to the pier, then caught the two hour slow ferry back to Krabi. The cost was about $10 and it was packed , but perfectly comfortable. The weather was amazing and the ride went fast.
The Holiday Inn Resort Krabi is about a fifteen minute walk from the pier, and on the way into town. I had booked it because of location, price, and to help with completion of the IHG Big Win promo.
My corner room was very modern, with a private balcony and super nice bathroom. It looked like it had been renovated (or built) recently.
There property was beautiful, and very resort-y. I had an excellent view from my third floor balcony.
After settling in, I walked about ten minutes into town to do some exploring. The town is very tourist friendly, and there are plenty of places to pick up trinkets or have a delicious meal.
After an enjoyable time in Krabi Town, it was time to get back to Bangkok, to position for my much anticipated ride home with Singapore Airlines. Rather than take a taxi the thirty minutes to the airport, I opted for the cheaper, more local option: The airport bus. I was first on, but it soon became very packed. I was lucky to get a seat. Seeing the bus driver trying to accommodate so many people provided great entertainment during the hour or so journey.
I made it in plenty of time to catch my flight back to BKK on Thai’s budget airline, Thai Smile. The one way fare was a steal at $49.
I opted to stay at one of the Holiday Inn’s in Bangkok, getting me one more night closer to my IHG Big Win promo. With all the turmoil in the city, tourists were staying away, occupancy was low, and rates were amazing. This particular location was also very close to the sky train, making it easy to get back to the airport the following morning for my early flight. I again experienced relative calm, and after a restful night, headed back to BKK to begin my journey back home.