Explore bustling Bangkok then chill out on Koh Samui’s paradise beaches
With its mix of culturally rich, bustling cities like Bangkok set against a stunning backdrop of misty mountains and pristine beaches, Thailand attracts those who like a bit of adventure with their lounging.
Dannii Minogue visits the country regularly, and Kate Moss has holidayed there with hubby Jamie Hince.
We opted to cram in the best of the country, with a twin-centre holiday to the capital Bangkok and idyllic island Koh Samui.
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Koh Samui is littered with beach resorts along its amazing coastline – and five-star luxury can be found at the Amari Palm Reef resort, with its idyllic bar area and swimming pool.
Designed for relaxation, it’s worth considering treating yourself to one of the suites – they’re so gorgeous you’ll want to run around whooping.
Over in Bangkok, sister hotel Amari Watergate offers the perfect location to enjoy the city.
With more than 30 floors, views from the luxury rooms are nothing short of spectacular.
The spa at Koh Samui’s Palm Reef lulls you into serenity the moment you enter. The staff members speak in hushed tones as they hand you herbal tea and assess which treatment will suit you best.
The massages either energise you, calm you or even send you to sleep. An hour-long massage will set you back about £45 and you’re unlikely to disagree it was worth every penny.
The Angthong National Park Tour is also a great way to chill out on Koh Samui, with the day-long trip taking in picturesque beaches at Talay Nai Lagoon and Koh Wu Ta Lap Island.
And if you get bored of sunbathing there is the option to enjoy some snorkelling or even a 90-minute hike.
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The capital is extremely busy and it’s easy to get lost so the Bangkok City Tour is a good place to start, with the day trip taking in the Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew Temple (gothailandtours.com). The tour is the perfect way to see the city’s iconic sights.
As you drink in the decadence of your surroundings you’ll learn all you need to know about the history of the site.
And Thailand’s king is quite a character, so it’s definitely worth listening up when it comes to the Thai royal gossip. A buffet lunch is included in the tour as well.
The highlight of our visit to Bangkok was the famous Rose Garden in Sampran (rosegardenriverside.com). Plan to spend a full day here because there is a lot to do.
There are boat rides to an organic farm, herbal product workshops, cooking classes and even elephant rides. But the best part is the Living the Thai culture area which showcases a host of local skills, with painting, weaving and crafting. There’s also a Thai Village cultural show twice every afternoon where intricate dances thrill the crowds.
The Rose Garden experience will leave you with masses of knowledge about Thai people.
Food in Thailand is pretty cheap with main courses often costing less than £5. In Bangkok, we had a taste of local food at its best at Thai on 4 in the Amari Watergate. As we gorged on tasty spring rolls and spicy soups, you’d never have guessed we were in a hotel restaurant.
Over in Koh Samui, Preggo has a packed Italian menu. Later you can hit the bars just 10 minutes’ walk from the Palm Reef resort on Chaweng Beach Road. We headed to Starz for one of the twice-nightly ladyboy shows where they pay tribute to the likes of Tina Turner and Madonna. It’s fantastic fun.
The nightlife in Bangkok is great too. Backpackers tend to go out along Khao San Road and it’s worth joining them for the atmosphere – and the prices. Cocktails only cost a couple of quid with beers even less.
Bangkok’s best spot for shopping is the CentralWorld complex in Pratunam, which stretches across seven store-packed floors.
In fact it’s officially the world’s third-biggest shopping centre with enough retail opportunity to keep even Paris Hilton happy. And as it was only a stone’s throw away from the Amari Watergate where we were staying.
Department store Isetan offers everything from homeware to souvenirs while you can also indulge in brands you’ll recognise such as Topshop and Calvin Klein. When it all gets too much there are restaurants to suit every taste.
The nearby Platinum Fashion Mall is packed with clothing shops for women. There also plenty of markets in the city, but avoid them if you want a relaxing shopping experience!
Destinology (destinology.co.uk; 0800 210 0428) is offering three nights at the Amari Watergate Bangkok (amari.com/watergate) in a deluxe room on a room-only basis and three nights at the Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui (amari.com/palmreef) in a superior room on a bed and breakfast basis, from £1,349 per person in November.
Price includes private car transfers in Bangkok and Koh Samui, and flights with Eva Air (evaair.com; 0207 380 8300) from Heathrow to Bangkok in economy class and with Bangkok Airways from Bangkok to Koh Samui in economy class.
Think light layers. While all you’ll need on the beach is a bikini, visitors are asked to cover their arms at temples.