Thursday, December 28, 2017

Avista Hideaway Sofitel - A Relaxation Resort That Our Family Enjoy

Avista Hideaway Sofitel is a 5 star resort located at the top of the hill. While being inaccessible by foot, there is a shuttle bus which will take about 10 minutes to the busy life of Patong. In fact, I like the inaccessible part which means lesser noise and crowd which translates into proper relaxation and holiday.

We arrived at about noon when we checked in and the room wasn't quite ready, so the receptionist told us to explore the area and go for our lunch before they bring our luggage back into the room.

We were also given a welcome drink and fruits to commence our stay in the resort.

The premises are huge, and the views were magnificent from the top. The weather was sunny but windy. For a moment, we never thought that we were in Phuket.

Big O starting to do his weird poses.

We went past the gym area beside one of the many pools, and again it was huge. Unfortunately, we didn't really get a chance for a workout when we already have two boys with us.

This is one of the exclusive pool for adult only, no kids which means we have to stay out.

Kid's Club

They have a Kid's Club which was rather deserted because I suppose not many families with kids come to this resort. This place caters more to honeymooners or instagrammers and it is not difficult to see why. In the end, we have the kid's club all by ourselves and we spent an hour inside.

Both Big and Small O playing their hearts out.

There's always time to rest!

Resuming to play again...

Kid's club all by ourselves...

Superior Room

Room was a decent size with classic Arab design and bath tub in the bathroom and a nice balcony to enjoy the view.

We also had the superior room with a double queen bed which I managed to find a deal online for SGD250 a night inclusive of breakfast which I thought was a steal. The original price was amost double.

Look at the picturistique view you wake up every morning greeted by that.

Activities Room

The resort also boasts a few activities such as the virtual golf arena, billiard as well as table tennis.

They aren't utilized as much by patrons as much as the majestic swimming pool so we had all by ourselves again :)

Swimming Pool

The pool is the main highlights of the resort and is usually our main target to hit when we stayed at the resort.

There are a couple of pools by the resort. They have the adults only hillside pool, hillview pool as well as the main pool overlooking the entire mountain and forest.

The view is simply breathtaking and is a genuine contender for an instagram photo.

We had a memorable stay at the resort and this is one that caters to both to the doving loving couple as well as families.

You dont get plenty of the activities that you get at Patong but there is a shuttle bus which can take you to all that action which runs almost every hour.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

8D7N - Bangkok + Phuket Family Trip With Children

We just came back from a 8D7N trip to Thailand which saw us moves across from one city in Bangkok to another in Phuket.

We loved the trip because we experienced so much together as a family, even while there was hiccups along the way like Small O getting sick and rains along the way, etc. I think that is all part and parcel of traveling which you have to endure if you want to go by this route.

Without further ado, here are the highlights of the itinery.


We stayed in BKK for 3 nights and I decided to book our accommodation at the familiar place of the Anantara Sathorn as I often used that for my work travel and its proximity to the central area.

Further, we booked for a 2 bedroom suites which can easily fit up to 8 people and I think the price was very reasonable at less than SGD 250 a night. With such a big group, I think it's inevitable that we have to book a larger space. This is also good for the kids to roam around.

The first night we went to the Dinosaur park which was located near Phrom Pong station. This was a newly created attraction and we heard so much rave reviews about it that we decided to experience it.

In the end, we were glad that we went because the kids liked it so much that they have good memory of it. Another experience list ticked off.

For the full review, please see here.

After visiting the dinosaur park, we had dinner at the Emporium mall which is a 5 min walk. This is a highly class mall which is also quite new and the interior design was impressive.

We had dinner at the Luk KaiThong after reading a good review from our local food blogger and we decided to try them.

We ordered a few of their signature dishes such as the steam egg blue crab and also the special horfun dish. The crab was amazing with light taste of steam egg, juicy and very tender meat. The horfun had a strong taste of the wok which seems to be popular among the taste buds.

On the second day, we proceeded to the Safari World and Marine Park, which was about an hour away from bangkok downtown.

I was alluding towards whether choosing between this choice or the open zoo at Pattaya but decide to go with this one.

The marine park area was amazing.

There were many animals and the shows were totally breathtaking, especially the elephant and dolphin show, which I rate among the best I have ever been in my life.

We also roamed around the safari area after that with a car for about 45 minutes.

For the full details, you may see this post here.

On the third day, our plan was to go to the Underwater world located in the basement of Siam Paragon.

We headed down early after breakfast in the hotel to look for the After You dessert before heading to the Underwater World.

The underwater world was packed with people but a quick trick is to go around lunch time when the crowd subsides a bit.

While we have been to the sea aquarium in Singapore, I thought that the underwater world in Siam Paragon was really beautiful. We like especially the part where we can see the overview of the tank in full scale and there were plenty of that. We just sat down at times staring at the fishes who were swimming from left to right.

For the full details, you can refer here.

We had a light day as we have to fly in the following day to our next destination in Phuket.


The flight from Bangkok to Phuket was only about an hour but we were taken by surprise when the airline we booked was completely packed even if it is only a local domestic flight. We took the Thai Airways which has a 3-4-3 seating and it feela like a really long time we've taken a full carrier.

We reached Phuket at about 7+ pm and by this time we were all hungry and tired.

The cab there is extremely pricey as compared to Bangkok and we have to pay THB 1,200 from the airport to bring us to our hotel at Holiday Inn Resort, Patong.

The trip lasted about 1.5 hours on the road and I was also a bit surprised that Patong is not as near as I thought it would be.

By the time we reached the hotel, it was already about 8.30pm and all of us has not yet had dinner so Small O got road sick and vomitted and we had to take the rest of the day easy.

My elder son, Big O, got excited when he knows there are X box games in the room so I accompanied him to play until the night.

For the full review of the hotel, you may see here.

I had to cancel our day trip out to the sea because I'm afraid the two kids are still recovering from the tiring jet lag and also partly because they are too young so we have to postpone it to another time. But for those who has kids that are older and want a totally exclusive experience, you may book the tour via Captain Mark under Alternative Tours. The reviews are totally excellent and they bring you to places and activities that avoided most of the crowd.

On the third day, we moved to another resort, Avista Sofitel this time the 5 star resort by the top of the hill.

This resort is probably one of the most beautiful resort I've ever stayed in my lifetime.

The premises are super huge and the multiple swimming pool and gardens are stunning. There are also kids club, virtual golf and gymnastics for those who are looking to other activities. But the best part of the resort is its serene quietness and connectedness with nature.

The rest of the time we spent our time leisuring by the pool, going to the nearby Jungceylon mall which we had to take the complimentary Tuktuk bus from the hotel and just spending time together.

For the full review of the resort, you may see here.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ayutthaya Day Trip With Sunset Boat Ride - Review

I was expecting a lot from the Ayutthaya experience which did not disappoint when I booked them through Klook.

The Ayutthaya experience was a full day trip but it was a very memorable one for me as I love to go slow and emerge onto the historical wonders of the Thailand's ancient capital.

I quickly learned a lot about the history of Ayutthaya, especially for having such a wonderful tour guide who takes his effort to explain the background and history to us patiently. Ayuttaya is a dotted area with ruins and temples, surrounded by the 3 main river stream - Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lop Buri rivers.

The day trip takes us through 4 main places of attractions - Bang Pa In Summer Palace, Ayutthaya Floating Market, the 3 Unesco heritage temples Wat, and the sunset cruise on the Chao Phraya river overlooking the beautiful Wat.

Bang Pa-In

Our first stop was Bang Pa-In, which took just under an hour from our meeting point in Bangkok.
The Bang Pa In Summer Palace was a huge compartment of gardens and nature of palace, where royalty often comes on special occassions. The area was also used to host many foreign politicians who come to visit Thailand.

Overlooking the waterways, there were many buildings of colonials European style with some compliments of a Chinese red pavilion and Greek Monastry.

The Bang Pa In Summer Palace was a huge compartment of gardens and nature of palace, where royalty often comes on special occassions. The area was also used to host many foreign politicians who come to visit Thailand.

Amidst vast gardens and landscaping are these buildings that we saw: Wehart Chamrunt (Heavenly Light), a Chinese style Pavilion which is currently under renovation, a royal residence where the king would lived in and the Aisawan Thiphya Art (Divine seat of personal freedom).

The view from the top was magnificent as we have to climb 3 storeys high to see the overview of the whole palace by itself.

I find it really nice that it was not as crowded as the Grand Palance and feels like more of a relaxing nature garden by itself.

Ayutthaya Floating Market

After spending about an hour at Bang Pa In, we quickly went ahead to our second attractions of the day, which is the Ayutthaya Floating Market.

It was not too far away and just about under 15 minutes, we reached our destination and went ahead to grab our lunch first, which was scheduled by the tour (lunch at own expenses).

After lunch, we went ahead with taking the longtail boat to tour around the floating market, which lasts about 10 minutes or so.

I didn't really enjoy the boat ride as it was packed and we could hardly move our butts and take photographs, but I think it was still a decent experience. The boat ride charge is included in the package, so we didn't have to fork out anything. Else, we'd have to pay around THB 200 or so.

There were exhibitions about riding elephants which was optional and feeding the goat session for those interested, but we went ahead without it.

We were told that the charges would go as donation, but I guess I'm not convinced.

This silk thing is apparently very popular with children.

I wanted to get some but the portion is so huge!!! Look at that!

Wat Maha That

After lunch, we were brought to the main attraction of the day.

Wat Maha That is probably one of the great relics ruins I've ever seen in my life to date. This is a place that is under the UNESCO World Heritage site for its preservations and rich history culture.

There are aplenty of ruins which was built and destroyed when they fought wars with the Burmese in the 17th century. The ruins also had plenty of Buddha which has no heads. Apparently, the story is that there were many thieves back then from Siam who sneaked in, cut the head of the Buddhas and have them exported out to European countries for profits.

The only one Buddha head which apparently had miracle power became the antics of the attractions as the head was entwined in the roots of a fig tree. This is also one of the most popular photo shoot amongs the locals as well as the foreigners.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Our next stop is Wat Phra Si Sanphet, which is just a 5 min away car ride from Wat Maha That.

There were many local and tourists who are riding bicycle as they moved from one place to another. If the weather was a little cooler, I might consider doing it.

The three chendis are the main landmarks of Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

The chendis were each built by the three Kings of their generations - King Trailok, King Borom Ratchathirat III, and King Rama Thibodi II.

The compound was actually located within the Royal palace grounds. There were no residing monks,  and the temple was used for royal ceremonies and for storing royal relics.

This place is insanely beautiful on its own, and you got to see it at your own eyes to feel the beauty of it. There were plenty of history behind the three chendis which was due to the fight they had with the Burmese, and the gold was melted and burnt and they are left what they are today.

Wat Lokayasutharam

Our third stop on the temple visit was the Wat Lokayasutharam.

The important landmarks of Wat Lokayasutharam was the reclining Buddha, called Phra Bhuddhasaiyart, which faces to the East.

The tour guide gave us an explanation run show which says that for those who are born on Tuesday, their Bhuddha would be the reclining Bhuddha. This says that the person is usually calm and peaceful, with an incline towards peace and harmony.

We didn't spend too much time on this and we quickly left after listening to the history and taking photo with the reclining Bhuddha.

Sunset Boat Ride

Our last attraction of the day was a sunset boat ride which lasts for more than 40 minutes (yes, it was that long!)

We took a traditional longtail boats and there were only our group this time round.

I like this boat ride a lot because it went around the river and we went past a few of the important relics, Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Phutthaisawan, and Wat Chaiwattharam.

We were even given each a huge loaf of bread to feed the fish. I know someone might say it's a common thing to do but to do it in the middle of river overseeing the sunset is just breathtakingly beautiful.

Final Verdict

For all the activities above, you might think that you need to pay a large sum of money but it's actually not.

Through Klook,you only need to pay for $54.70, which includes a bottle of water and all the entrance fees and transportation back and from.

Personally, I love the trip very much because of the small group of people who share the same passion as I did in exploring these ancients and history of the relics. There were no touts of buying stuff and all the unnecessary stops which usually happen to larger groups. Over here, the group is smaller so there are more concentration towards what the group really wants and it was wonderful. Our group was 11 pax, which comes across Taiwan, Phillipines, Singapore and Indonesia (hey, that's me).

I'd explore other Klook activities again and am very satisfied with how the trip went today.

Full disclosure: This post is brought by collaboration with Klook. However, opinions are purely my own. If you decide to purchase using the above link, I will earn a small commission but it will not cost you anything extra otherwise.