The J5Travel team visited Phuket, Thailand just last October. So why are we back again?
Well, while its always been a favorite destination of mine since first visiting back in the late 1980's, the team were also blown away last year. We're returning this soon because there has simply never been a better time to visit. Firstly, Thailand is fully open with no visa to complete and not even a customs or immigration form. If you have a vaccination certificate and a valid passport, you are good to go. With our carry-ons we were deplaned and with our driver within about 15 minutes. Secondly, Thailand is still missing it's main tourist market, China, due to their overbearing travel restrictions still. This means it is still quiet despite being fully open.
Thirdly, I don't believe there is a country in the world that provides better value at the luxury level than Thailand. With the US$ so strong and Thailand having to price aggressively to make up for the missing Chinese vacationers, here's just one example...below I will feature a Bangkok property that is true 5-star luxury and is priced at just $250 a night for the largest entry level room you will ever see. On top of this, from what we have seen so far, the top hotels have managed to keep their staff somehow, and service levels everywhere have been the best we have all experienced anywhere...ever.
So you can probably tell I am very passionate about advocating for Thailand which is the perfect first-time country if you have not visited SE Asia before. Yes, it's a long journey to get here, especially from the east coast, but it is so, so worth it.
Top 5 - USA to Bangkok
1. Japan Airlines
Our route to reach Thailand was a full 30-hour itinerary: Charlotte - Chicago - Tokyo - Bangkok.
That's the sort of journey where business class really makes the difference. Bear in mind that fares even from the east coast and all those miles is less than almost any route to Europe currently. So we experienced JAL business class for the long international legs.
Japan Airlines business class is somewhat of an enigma. While the 2-3-2 configuration suggests it's cramped, apart from being a little narrow, the lie-flat seats do provide great privacy. Service on board remains exemplary and the food is excellent with an extensive menu split between eastern and western dishes. The photos (above and below) were just my Japanese lunch!
2. Capella Bangkok (2 photos above and 1 below)
I'm slightly embarrassed to report that I had not heard of the Capella brand of hotels before the Virtuoso conference just last month. But a meeting with the Sales Director of their flagship Sentosa, Singapore resort set me straight and through this new connection the team was able to experience Capella Bangkok and it is truly exceptional.
With panoramic views of the majestic Chao Phraya River, Capella Bangkok is a beautiful urban oasis of the city. Inspired by the soul of riverfront life, there are 101 suites and villas with views of the river, offering both intimacy and immersion. It feels like your own boutique hotel yet has service levels and facilities to match any luxury property. Travel & Leisure even rated it at 4th best hotel in the world for 2021. All 3 of the team here saw no reason to disagree with that.
3. Maeklong Railway Market (above and below)
Our first private tour in Bangkok was to visit 2 famous markets about an hour outside the city. While we found the Damnoen Floating Market a little touristy, the Maeklong Railway Market was a very fun experience indeed. We'd visited some salt fields first and then boarded the train to this traditional Thai market selling fresh vegetables, food and fruit in the province of Samut Songkhram. While tourists do come to get their photos and videos of a train passing directly over vendors wares, this is a genuine local market that has been here since 1905. What makes the market special is that it occupies part of a train line. A few times a day, a train runs directly through the market and vendors and tourists alike have to scamper out of the way, only to return immediately once the train has passed.
4. Sindhorn Kempinski (above and below)
The team spent a few hours touring this property with the Sales Manager, Unchayar. Amazingly like 2 of the other properties we are staying at, it was only opened in the last 18 months. Bangkok clearly invested strongly in its luxury market over the last several years, and there is a very wide choice at the high end of the market, all of it pretty sensational. The Sindhorn Kempinski felt very appropriate for familes as there are many room configuartions that will comfortably sleep 4. This is the hotel that I referred to in my intro and I believe it represents extraordinary value. We were also lucky enough to be treated to spa appointments here and with 26 treatment rooms it's the biggest and one of the best in the city.
5. Husky Cafe (below)
A slightly surreal choice for a vist in Bangkok, but for any dog lovers probably a must-do.
With Shanna on the team being an owner of 3 huskies, when her Insta feed showed up with this place one day, we were always going to have to visit. I'm usually wary of animal experiences but this was special. As soon as you arrive you can tell these people love their dogs, from the way they talk to you about them through to the way they interact with them. There are 26 dogs, mainly huskies but also a gorgeous Old English sheepdog and a couple of other breeds. The cafe serves refreshments and a light lunch where you hang out first, and visiting time is limited to just 2 x 1 hour sessions each day.
Are you ready to take on Thailand with the J5Travel difference? As you can tell it is one of our favorite experiences that we even had to do it twice. Click the button below to get started planning your next trip.
I love travel and I love travel planning just as much and I am proud to be building a team as passionate about exploring the world as myself. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts. We provide a bespoke service, imagining and creating itineraries for independent minded families and groups.
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