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Girlie Getaways- Bangkok, Thailand

by Anna Streatfeild on 17 January 2012, 15:01PM Girlie Getaways- Bangkok, Thailand

So, the friends were recruited, time was booked off work, it was just left to where we were going to go. We had two birthdays and a job promotion to celebrate so wanted somewhere extra special and different, having been to Spain, Portugal, Prague and Las Vegas on previous trips together. It was eventually decided that Thailand was the destination of choice, offering  everything we wanted out of a 10 day break- great shopping, nightlife, spas, great hotels, wide range of dining options and perhaps most importantly, value for money. We were to spend three nights in Bangkok and then venture south to the beach resort of Phuket.

Setting off in late November for some winter sun was a much needed treat and last minute work stresses and packing dilemmas were quickly forgotten as we settled into our premium economy seats on EVA airlines, drink in hand, planning the next few hours of movie watching. If you can afford it, I’d definitely recommend paying that little bit more to fly premium economy as you get that extra leg room with a foot rest that pops up, thus giving you more of a comfortable recline position which is definitely appreciated on a long haul flight.

A couple of movies, a flick through some magazines and a glass or two of wine (OK, OK five glasses but we were on holiday so it’s allowed right?), and we landed in Bangkok, peeling off layers of clothing as we made it towards the exit. It’s that satisfying smack of hot air as you walk out of an air-conditioned airport that I love, reminding you that you are miles away from home and holiday mode should be firmly switched on!

Our base in Bangkok was the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, a 45 minute cab transfer from the airport, located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Described in its literature as ‘Tropical Serenity in an urban oasis’, they weren’t lying, after a quick check in and turn around, we were enjoying a cocktail at the Longtail Bar. Watching the twinkling lights of the city sat in the calm hotel gardens really was a perfect introduction to our Thai adventure.

A slight lie in was allowed on the first morning, after which it was all systems go for a sightseeing tour of the city. First stop was one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok; Wat Pho, which is nearly 200 years old and is home to the gigantic and famed Reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 46 metres long, 15 metres high and inlaid with exquisite mother-of- pearl.  Of course, as a group of girls  we love a bit of bling and this temple is a magpie’s dream, with seemingly endless amounts of gold and coloured porcelain glistening in the sunlight. The sparkles continued at our next stop- at Wat Phra Kaeo- this remarkable glittering complex of temples and palaces is ornately decorated in the traditional Thai style and houses the eye-poppingly beautiful Emerald Buddha, the most sacred Buddha in Thailand. If we could have taken it home we would have, but had to instead, make do with pocket size plastic souvenirs.

With some sightseeing ticked off we turned to more serious matters- shopping! The MBK centre is a one stop shop for pretty much anything you would need- from sparkly flip flops to pirate DVDs, the latest electrical equipment, fake designer handbags, sunglasses, watches and pretty much anything else you may want. With no windows you can very easily lose track of time and it was only our rumbling stomachs that alerted us to the fact that it was nearly dinner time.

Although in a new city you may be tempted to rush around as much as possible, I’d really recommend perhaps the first night being taken easy to help banish that jet lag. Did we take this advice- did we heck!! We had a wonderful meal at Red Sky, accompanied by a cocktail or two (rude not to). The al fresco restaurant and bar is located on the 55th floor of Centara Grand at CentralWorld and boasts probably the best panoramic views of the city.

After a very upmarket and civilized dinner, we ventured on to the Khao San Road. This area was traditionally a backpacker area but is now also popular with locals, with plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and market stalls. It was here we discovered the local ‘delicacy’ that is buckets. Be warned, these are not for the faint-hearted and most probably should be shared between two – which naturally we did not do. A ‘bucket’ is a way local drinks are served and is a small child’s bucket, into which is poured about a quarter bottle of spirit and whatever mixer you like, usually accompanied with the local Red Bull (think UK style Red Bull but turbo strength). One of these down each and you could hear our group from several streets away. As you can imagine, our sophisticated appearance at the beginning of the evening was in stark contrast to how I can only image we looked like when we made it back to the hotel.

Thank goodness the next morning was set aside for spa treatments at the hotel. The Mandara Spa offers a range of amazing treatments, I went for a 90 minute traditional Thai massage, not really knowing what to expect. I guess the saying ignorance is bliss when it comes to this type of massage; it’s definitely intense. My limbs were pulled in directions I didn’t know they could physically go, I was poked, pummelled, stretched and clicked into place. Although not the most relaxing of treatments, I certainly felt like a new woman afterwards and can definitely recommend it.

Afternoon activities were, yes, you guessed it- shopping! We had timed our trip to Bangkok perfectly, coinciding with a weekend so we could take a trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is one of the largest markets in the world, covering an area of 27 acres. As well as clothes, Handicrafts, food and antiques, there’s even a section where you can buy pets. It took a lot of will power not to take away one of the adorable fluffy little puppies but we managed it and left the market, pet-less but laden down with several kilos of clothing and souvenirs (thank god we packed light for this holiday, in the knowledge that we needed the spare luggage space for purchases).

You may think that our holiday so far consisted of little more than shopping and drinking, with perhaps a nod to sightseeing, but you’d be wrong. Eating played high on the agenda and we had some absolutely amazing meals out and about in the city, both in restaurants we just happened across, and snacks from street vendors. However, one of the memorable meals in Bangkok was at Anantara Riverside, where we had their ‘Dine By Design’.  This is a private dining experience, where the staff prepare a dining area within the resorts tropical gardens, ours was underneath the branches of a Banyan tree, surrounded by tea-lights and the air scented with incense, it was magical, the food was incredible and was a great end to the Bangkok part of our trip.

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