It’s no wonder Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles”. The locals are so welcoming and friendly while the tourists, also beaming with smiles, look so happy and relaxed. A place with such positive vibes, it makes the perfect destination to celebrate special moments with your loved ones.
I was fortunate enough to have had one of the best vacations and birthday celebrations of my life there. During the same trip, we also attended a friend’s wedding ceremony.
Looking back, I think everything was simply amazing. However, it probably wouldn’t have been as great without all the careful planning that we went through to make it all happen.
With that, allow me to share some insights that helped us to make our trips in Phuket unforgettable:
Choosing the Destination
Thailand has many attractive destinations that would appeal to a wide variety of travelers. For those who are seeking a lively nightlife and great shopping, I would recommend visiting Bangkok. When it comes to those who are yearning for a spiritual yoga retreat, head to the North of Thailand and check out Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai.
Lastly, for family vacations, honeymoons, and celebrations of special occasions, I believe that islands like Koh Samui or Phuket would be the best bet.
As I was a travel agent when I was planning this trip, and knowing our budget as well as the fact that we were going to be traveling with another couple (the one who was getting married), I concluded that Phuket was indeed the perfect choice for us.
Planning and Figuring Out the Best Time to Visit
We traveled to Phuket in November, the weather was very pleasant and it was hardly raining (note that summer months mean rainy/wet season in Thailand). Needless to say, this trip was very carefully planned.
After 2.5 years of stress and exhaustion from living and working in Dubai, my husband and I decided that it’s time to quit our jobs and return to our home country. However we thought that, before doing so, we very much deserved a good long break before starting our new jobs in Ukraine.
Also, my birthday was coming up and we had always made a point to celebrate it in a special way.
So, we started planning five months in advance and found out from friends that the time between November and February is a good one to visit Phuket.
Booking the Flights
This was one of the challenging parts of the planning process since we had fixed travel dates in November and there were no direct flights from Ukraine to any destination in Thailand.
Regardless, we were able to snatch a great deal for our flights. Four months prior to our trip, we got a return flight with Singapore Airlines departing from Russia that has a connecting flight from Singapore at only 550 USD per person!
But alas, we had to travel from Ukraine to Russia to catch our flight and this turned out to be an adventure in itself. Due to a political situation at the time, all flights from the Ukraine to Russia got canceled two weeks before our travel date. So, we had to take an overnight train from Kiev to Moscow.
Fortunately, we had no regrets as we ended up having the opportunity to visit and explore Moscow a bit. During our connecting flight in Singapore’s Changi Airport, the transit time went by quickly, especially considering that they have many things to do and see especially their Butterfly garden.
However, if I were to travel to Thailand again, I would probably opt for a flight with a connecting flight in Dubai with Emirates Airlines as it takes less time overall and is more convenient.
Either way, if you would like to travel comfortably while on a budget, I highly suggest booking your tickets 4-6 months prior to your trip to get cheaper rates.
Picking the Accommodation
From the start, all four of us agreed that we didn’t want to be those tourists who stay at the hotel's pool the entire day. We wanted to explore this island as much as possible and be more independent. And when it came to accommodation, privacy was key but we still wanted to stay within budget.
It didn’t take us a long time to find and book a simple two bedroom villa close to Bang Tao beach. I think it was a perfect location as this beach ended up being my favorite in Phuket.
We were located only 4-5 minutes (by motorbike) from the beach, had easy access to very nice Thai cuisine restaurants, and a supermarket. Famous night markets also took place at least two times near our location during our stay, which offered a very different and interesting experience. I highly recommend this part of the Island for your stay.
Things to-do in Phuket
There are thousands of blogs and destination guides which talk about “things to-do in Phuket”. So, i’m not going to write about things that you can easily find on TripAdvisor.
Instead, I want to share with you "special leisures” on the island. We would wake early up in the morning and ride our motorbikes to the beach. Then, the men would jog and us ladies, would have a yoga and meditation session.
For breakfast, we usually would go to the restaurant near the beach and order the best in the world banana pancakes. Once full, we would go shopping for fruits and snacks and return to the villa to chill or go to the beach.
After lunch, we would usually plan some activity like visiting Big Buddha Phuket. During the evening, we would visit a spa for a Thai massage or go to Patong Beach area for shopping, or roam around and explore the area.
My point is, during our trip, we were not aiming to see or do as many things as possible. We were just going with the flow, making sure that our holiday was full of relaxation and enjoyed every moment on this beautiful island.
The Birthday Celebration
My special day finally arrived and my friends surprised me with gifts in the morning. They gave me two books which, in my opinion, always make the best presents.
My lovely husband also surprised me by booking an entire day for me at the spa. I had all kinds of treatments that day but my favorite was a Thai facial massage. I think my face ended up looking at least five years younger afterwards.
In the evening, my husband booked dinner at a fine-dining restaurant located on the rooftop of Amari Phuket Hotel. Here, you have to book the table at least one day prior because this restaurant is very busy during the high season. It was romantic with an outstanding view, delicious food and wine. It felt like heaven on Earth.
The Wedding Ceremony: Planning and Celebration
As you may have imagined, everything for the wedding was already planned in advance.
Our friends had found a wedding organizer, a photographer, the location for their wedding ceremony, as well as their make-up/hair stylist simply using their social media accounts! Since everything was arranged, we only had to hire a car for the day.
The first part of the ceremony was at a Buddhist temple. Note that our friends are not Buddhists but the organizer had offered them this option and they decided to go for it. To this day, they remember it fondly as something very special, a life-changing experience.
We also went to different locations in Phuket for the photoshoot. The photographer was a Russian guy, and lucky for us, he was very proactive and had a lot of creative ideas.
The second part of the ceremony was at the beach with a beautiful arch of flowers, a wedding speech, and another photoshoot. We ended the day at the nice Heaven Restaurant & Bar that has a stunning view.
The newlyweds had booked a room for one night at a hotel (instead of staying in the villa) and continued to celebrate their special day. We were all very tired but extremely happy that everything worked out so perfectly.
I hope my experience and tips prove to be useful for you when planning a trip to Phuket. Keep in mind that what you choose to spend your time on during your travels, should be something you enjoy - and not merely just doing things or visiting places that you believe other people would be impressed about. With that said, I wish you all the best in planning your travels!
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Anna Ivanova is from beautiful Ukraine. She lives in Kyiv and adores her city. Anna is a passionate traveler, yogi, and a very curious person. She leads a healthy lifestyle and likes writing about her experience.
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