Sa-wat-dii, khâ ( Hello )

Thailand is now sitting at the top of my favorite destinations in the world! On arrival in Bangkok it was evident that this is a city that never sleeps. It is bustling, busy and bursting with culture! Our first two nights were spent at the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, which is just outside of the city. This hotel offers a fabulous roof top terrace with bar and amazing views over the city. Our adventure began with a canal cruise on the ‘Chao Phraya River’ or the ‘River of Kings’, where we meandered through the canals on a longtail boat. We witnessed the small villages and the relaxed way of life here and was shocked to hear there are no less than 27 temples along the canals. First stop was at the Royal Barge Museum to see eight of the magnificent and ornate barges used by Thailand’s Royal Family to mark special occasions. Next stop was a highlight for me, the Wat Arun Temple located in the former Royal Palace, this is the biggest temple in Bangkok, built in Pagoda style and did not fail to impress!

Our evening tour took us to the markets of Asiatique housing over 1000 boutique style markets located on the Waterfront, the atmosphere here was very lively with plenty of bars, restaurants and music. Our night ended with a Muay Thai Live show exhibiting the traditional art of Thai Boxing.

We headed south by coach to the beach resort of Hua Hin, after a 3-hour pleasant journey we arrived at the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas which I instantly fell in love with. Oozing with history, I particularly loved the colonial style, the beautiful manicured gardens and direct beach front location. Even though it is 5 minutes’ walk from the center of Hua Hin the ambience of the hotel is peaceful and calm. This hotel also offers family suites with private pool which are amazing.

The next morning, we visited a local market to source produce for our Thai Cookery Class and this was an experience. The Market opens at 4am and shows the way of life of the locals, coming to sell their fresh produce of fish, vegetables and spices. During the cookery class we prepared our ingredients and after a demonstration, proceeded to cook our Penang Curry, Tom Yum Soup and Papaya Salad and I must say I was very impressed with my dishes! This evening we paid a visit to the night markets in Hua Hin, so don’t miss out on the bargains to be had here. Just remember to haggle!

The following day we began our journey back up north to the historical town of Kanchanaburi. Passing through we stopped at the cemetery, the resting place for those that perished while building the railway from Thailand to Burma during 1943 and 1945. Extremely poignant moment.

We had an interesting journey by long-tail boat on the river to get to our next hotel. We headed further up river to visit the original Mon Village, an ethnic minority originating from Myanmar. The local people reside here peacefully and traditionally without the use of electricity and live in bamboo homes. We returned to our hotel via bamboo rafts on the River Kwai. This evening we enjoyed a cultural Mon dance show after dinner before retiring to our peaceful jungle style chalets at the Riverkwai Resotel.

The following morning, we were taken to the Hell Fire Pass Museum and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this. Although it is extremely sad and the museum tells the story in detail, I found it so interesting and highly recommend this tour for everyone. One of the cutting passes constructed by the Prisoners of War during 1943 – 1945, the only sound was that of the crickets emanating from the stone walls which made me feel like every soul lost here was communicated with us. The memory of walking through the pass, on the actual railway track will stay with me forever. Continuing our historical visits, we had the opportunity to visit the Bridge over the River Kwai. I was surprised how busy it was with markets stalls at the starting point. But on reaching the far end the ambience was the total opposite and very peaceful, another highlight of our trip.

Coming near to the end we ventured back to the bustling city of Bangkok for our final night at the Centara Grand at Central World located directly in the city. This hotel was amazing and our room on the 43rd floor had spectacular views of the city. On the 55th floor they host an outdoor restaurant and bar circling the entire hotel and you won’t get a better view of the city than from here!

This evening our group was taken on a Tuc Tuc tour of the city and I can say this was the most fun, we were like children, cackling and laughing along the way! They scoot through the traffic at speed so again not for the faint hearted. Finishing in China Town we enjoyed dinner in a local Chinese and witnessed the many street food stalls. Final stop was at the famous Pat pong markets in central Bangkok. I enjoyed this but be aware there are many local bars around the markets with various types of entertainment. If you are open minded then venture here, if not Asiatique is the market for you.

Our amazing trip had to end with one final night in Bangkok before heading home. For me personally, Thailand did not fail to impress. I am already planning to return for my own holiday. If you would like to combine city, culture, history and beach in one holiday then Thailand is the perfect option for you. A perfect destination for couples and honeymooners, families, groups of friends and single travelers. I do hope that you enjoyed my blog and I am happy to discuss any details on the above with you. If you would like to contact me I would be delighted to hear from you.

Khob-kun-Ka, (Thank You)

Sharon Tiernan-Murphy


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