Happy 4th July everyone. We will have been celebrating in Phuket, Thailand, as we relax for an extended stay to enjoy the company of family and the adventure possibilities of this Thai island. As you can see from the photo, I think I discovered a new motto on one of our flight legs, and am not sure my life could be summed up better in just 4 words right now.
Anyone who follows this blog regularly knows I am a huge proponent of maximizing airline and credit card loyalty awards, and this trip really highlights how it can work so well. All it takes is long term planning and just a little bit of luck. We are one of only a few travel advisors anywhere who will work with you to incorporate such awards into your itineraries. Read on for this weeks Top 5.
Top 5 Highlights, Charlotte to Bangkok
1. Award flights outbound
We did have to purchase Charlotte to Chicago flights with AA, but 11 months ago were lucky enough to find an open award booking for 4 of us in business class all the way from Chicago to Bangkok with a connection in Doha, Qatar. I was extra excited about this particular booking as it enabled us to reserve the Q-Suites configuration for 4 on Qatar's B777-300. As you can see from the photo above, this can set up a family facing each other around a large central table. It's pretty ingenious, and if our children had got annoying at any point, then we could have closed it up! This was an $18,000 flight itinerary on the best business class product in the world that cost us just $280 total in taxes and it's even bookable with AA miles, although I used Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles for this particular reservation. This is what long term planning in consultation with us can get you.
2. Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit (above and below)
When you've flown for 24 hours or more, even in business class, you really need an oasis of calm on your arrival and if it's an early morning arrival, that early check-in can make all the difference. We always request an early check-in for clients arriving in the morning, and whilst it can't be guaranteed, just the fact you have an advisor advocating on your behalf, increases your chances significantly. If you book a Virtuoso property through us, then those odds are raised even further. The brand new Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit surpassed expectations by offering all of us a complimentary breakfast and having us installed in our beautiful rooms by 9:30am.
3. Chatuchak Weekend Market (above and below)
I was in Bangkok as recently as last September, but as with all major cities in the world, there is always somewhere new to explore. I've never seen anything quite like it. This huge market, popular as much with locals as tourists, covers over 27 acres and there are more than 15,000 booths and stalls selling everything under the sun, from the famous Bangkok street food, to furniture, household goods, jewelry, kitchenware and both modern and traditional Thai clothes. The colors everywhere are incredible and it's a labyrinthine place to get lost in for an hour or two, whether you're a shopper or not.
4. Tuk-tuk tour
Whilst I caught up with some work, the family enjoyed the same tuk tuk tour I had taken last September. Apparently it's been upgraded a little since, and the flower market visit now includes creating your own lotus flower offering by meticulously folding in the outer leaves (above).
Of course just the tuk-tuk itself is a huge part of this fun experience and a wonderful way to get around Bangkok whether on a tour or not.
Originating from an old-fashioned rickshaw during the second World War, a tuk-tuk is essentially a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. Just be sure to agree the trip price before you begin your journey.
We definitely have a photo for the family album below of my daughter and niece.
As in many cities across the world, pop-ups are all the rage, ranging from brief restaurant installations, to art festivals and so on. Bangkok is no exception and we were lucky enough to have a space almost opposite our hotel, currently dedicated to a food and artwork evening market (cover photo & below). Never be afraid to explore these type of events wherever you are. They often represent the absolute best of local talent who are making their products and experiences available to the public at the fairest value you are likely to find.
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