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Trip Report -

Phuket & Koh Samui

· Travel

Just a brief mention to begin with, that there are only 3 weeks left of the excellent Celebrity Flora offer for the opportunity to join Helen and I on a Quito, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands cruise/tour in December 2020. Full details available HERE.

Yes, we are still in Thailand and the entire Rees party of 8 departed Bangkok and made the short flight to Phuket. We came wanting relaxation, family connection and fun and we achieved all that and more. Phuket has every variety of hotel and entertainment imaginable, from the downright seedy in Patong (pretty much to be avoided), to ultra-luxury havens with private beaches away from any crowds. The young backpacker crowd still come here and are not disappointed, but equally, those with refined tastes are also charmed and delighted by the warmth of Thai hospitality and some incredible properties.


3. Phang Nga Bay
Off the NE coast of Phuket Island is Phang Nga Bay (above), home to dozens of stunning vertical limestone sheer islands. Here's the skinny. Do not take the boat tours to "James Bond Island" and Koh Panyee. Nearly all the tourist boats hit these sites up at the same time and it's ugly. Do take a longer scenic tour that encompasses more of the Bay, and if you can, enjoy the amazing sea-kayaking expedition that we experienced. From pickup to drop off and all the fun and food in between, this was an exemplary small group excursion.
It wasn't many years ago that aerial surveys first revealed the Hong, or "rooms", that lie inside some of Phang Nga's islands. These fabulous microcosms, hidden realms rich in unspoiled flora and fauna, are collapsed cave systems open to the sky and surrounded by towering limestone walls. Our sea-kayaking enabled us to navigate several caves into the mysterious hearts of islands such as Koh Panak and Koh Hong.
Then at dusk we finished with a spiritual natural light show as we floated our self made flower "krathongs" (below). This gave a nod to Thailand's annual Loi Krathong annual festival which takes place every November and is a spectacular floating lantern show that represents offerings to the water spirits. It was such a calm end to a wonderful day on Phang Nga Bay and as we launched our krathongs we each made a wish.

4. Keemala (above and below)
We said goodbye to Rees family Australia and our own 2 children, as they all headed north to Chiang Mai. Helen and I had one day and night spare in Phuket before heading to Koh Samui, and we made the most of it by experiencing a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property, Keemala. It's a stunning design for a boutique hotel, set dramatically in the hillside above Kamala Beach. Pure luxury throughout with a focus on holistic wellness in their food, spa and resort activities. Very highly recommended for an adults hideaway retreat.

5. Banyan Tree Samui (above and below)
As much as we loved Keemala, the Banyan Tree here in Koh Samui may be better. We have arrived for a wedding later this week, and the setting is going to be rather wonderful.
Each building you see in my photo above is just a single room, so that gives you an idea of the size of just the base category Deluxe Pool Suites. Our ceilings must be 20ft high, those meaningful extra touches are everywhere (I do love coconut macaroons), there is complete privacy from neighboring accommodation and the private pool that you can jump into from your bedroom is a very generous size. We feel spoiled.

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