Before we got married Mo and I decided Thailand would always be the destination for our honeymoon. Life happened, and the question for many months was "When do we have time to go?". Truthfully, we kept on pushing it off and one Sunday afternoon we checked our schedules and booked our flights with Qatar Airlines. I spent time googling what cities we should visit, what activities we should do and obviously where we will find Kosher food. After doing all that research We decided to spend the first five nights of our trip in Phuket and the last five nights in Chiang Mai. We chose nice hotels that were walking distance from the Chabad House so accessing Kosher food, especially on the Sabbath, was easy. But if we're really being transparent I know you guys just want the details already so let’s dive right in!
Tips on Phuket:
1. Do NOT rent a scooter, or any motorized water sports equipment in this city. We were told by locals and friends who have gone that Phuket is run by the Mafia. Many times they will say you damaged the stuff you rented when you didn't which ultimately will leave you paying a lot of money to get out of the mess.
2. This city is very touristy which inevitably means the prices are jacked up for Tuk Tuk's (Taxi), daily tours, custom suits and anything else. Anything you can avoid purchasing here, avoid it. Thailand isn't that expensive but when you can pay less in other cities, pay less!
3. Roaches in this city love to join in on the nightlife. If you are like us, walking at night becomes slightly terrifying knowing they can be crawling out of the street drains. If you are able to prepare for this (mentally & emotionally) beforehand it may not be so bad. However, I couldn't see well walking down a side street and turned on my flashlight. NEVER turn on your flashlight and shine it on the ground at night. I'll leave you with that.
4. DO NOT DRINK THE TAP WATER. Not even to brush your teeth. Bottled water is seriously the only way to go. If you have the fear that you will end up on a trip with no bottled more water, I highly recommend purchasing a "life straw" by the red cross on Amazon.
5. Always bargain with people on their prices for anything.
Taxi From Airport to Patong, Phuket: We used the Taxi service right outside the Airport. They charged us 800 Bhat which is more or less $25
Our Hotel: The Marina Phuket Hotel; 240/9 Phangmuang Sai Kor Road, Patong, Phuket
This hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the Chabad House, a 5 minute walk from the night life, 40 min drive from the airport, 10 minute walk to Patong Beach. The room we got cost $43 a night and it was really nice for two people.
Chabad House: 9/6 Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Rd, Patong, Krathu Phuket 83150 Thailand
This Chabad has a wonderful meat restaurant as well as a Dairy restaurant/ pizza shop. In their location they have a modest selection of groceries you can buy. Mo and I bought Pita, Tuna cans, Mayo and Bissli for our day trips and always came to one of the restaurants for dinner.
Shabbat meals here are technically free of charge but it is nice to give a donation if you are able to.
Travel Agency/Tour Booking:
We used a Travel Agency that is right next door to the Chabad's Dairy Restaurant. I don't remebr the name but an Israeli man helped us book all of our tours for a pretty affordable price.
Taxi from Hotel to Airport: We pulled one off the street the night before and exchanged whatsapp numbers. We agreed to pay 800 Baht and they sent us a car from their company on time the following morning. We first tried to book it at our Hotel desk and they said they can for 900 Baht. Which again, is around $25.
What We did in Phuket:
Day 1: We landed in Phuket on a Friday morning. We hopped into the first taxi we found and made our way to the hotel. Once we got there we charged our phones for a bit, changed out of our flight clothing and started making our way to the Chabad. We arrived at the Chabad house after walking for 10-15 minutes and were very impressed with the facility. We ordered lunch for ourselves, Fresh pita and snacks just incase we got hungry later, confirmed we were eating both meals for shabbat there and then went to the tour agency to book our tours. After, we walked back to our hotel to swim until we had to get ready for Shabbos. The pool in our hotel was a rooftop infinity pool that had views of the ocean, city and mountains. It was wonderful! We took a nap and ended up being too tired so we slept almost straight through the night.
Day 2: Jet lag woke me up just in time to watch the city wakeup from our balcony. Being that we slept and missed dinner we were starving so we sought out some vegetables and fruits from our hotel. It was still really early so we walked 15 minutes to the beach to see the views and then made our way to the Chabad house. We davened in the shul, ate lunch with a great group of guys, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel. After Shabbos ended we headed out to the Chabad to grab some dinner and to discover what the nightlife was like. This is the night that left me jaw dropped. Besides for seeing that their Roaches join in on the night life and walk anywhere and everywhere, we learned a lot about the culture of this town. Lady-boys are a very well-known when you discuss Thailand. We walked down Bangla Rd. which is a street of many bars and clubs with strippers and lady-boys dancing on every bar, or standing on the street trying to pull you into them. Being that I have learned and taught Pole Fitness to women, I was unimpressed by their techniques but that’s neither here nor there. It was a very interesting place to be in the middle of. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are travelling with children, or if you simply feel uncomfortable with half-dressed individuals dancing on bars. We were very uncomfortable and over whelmed but Mo and I were entertained by the lack of technique and talent so we left unscarred and more amused. After 20 minutes of laughing and seeing that this scene isn’t for us, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for a day of adventures.
Day time: A combination tour that included white water rafting, ATV-ing, elephant trekking and Zip-lining.
Night time: Fantasea Show
The drive to this tour was pretty long with a lot of winding roads. We got to the place they immediately rushed us onto a platform so we can get onto Elephants. When we first saw the Elephants we were SO excited. It was the closest we had ever been to them in our lives. Then we sat down on them and immediately realized just how wrong and abusive elephant trekking was. But we will have a separate post to discuss the difference between Elephant Trekking and an Elephant Sanctuary. We then were told to walk a little bit down the road and we did a short Zip Line that lasted about 15 seconds. It went from a tree, over a river, and you landed. (Take off your hat if you zipline... Mo lost his in the river) After this we waited for ATVing and everyone in our tour told us they had gone and the ATV company told us we couldn't go unless we paid more money so off we went (very confused) to the rafting. We had a 1.5 hour break to eat lunch and then thought we'd immediately begin rafting but we waited for a while. Once we finally got onto our raft and into the river the fun finally began. We got stuck a few times and felt like the raft would flip other times but all in all the rapids were really great! After the rapids we drove to see a small waterfall on the way back and then stopped off at a Monkey Palace where we got to feed Monkeys Banana's.
We wouldn't recommend this specific tour just because you spent a lot of time sitting a waiting, then we the activity began it felt like it was being super rushed. It was an adventure that we won't forget but we could have done without the Elephant trekking and wish we got to do the ATVing.
The Fantasea show was something we have never seen before when it comes to a circus. This place was enormous you needed a map to get around. They had a night market that you can attend before the show. The shops and booths were designed with next level animation and detail, we were in awe walking through it. They have options to meet baby tigers and elephants which are adorable but thinking back on it, probably very abusive to the animals so I wouldn’t recommend paying for that. There are purple seats and gold, I cannot remember which is VIP but we did the VIP option in section E (very important info!) we had INCREDIBLE seats. I was exhausted so I kept falling in and out of sleep, but from what I saw and what Mo described, It was next level. The acrobatics, dancing, animal performances (which amaze me but also break my heart) music, and indoor fire-works made this show unforgettable. I don’t know how to properly describe it, but this is so fun for adults and obviously even more so for children.
Day 4: Phi Phi Island Boat Tour
Our last day in Phuket We booked a boat tour to see the Phi Phi islands. This tour took us to a few really beautiful locations to look at from the boat, two stunning locations to snorkel in, Phi Phi main island to stop on for lunch and souvenir shopping. We really loved this tour because it was very diverse in terms of the people on the tour and we made a lot of cool friends. The tour provided an unlimited amount of water and soda, life jackets and snorkeling equipment. We would suggest sitting in the front of the boat on the outdoor area but keep reapplying sunscreen every 20 minutes because we got SO burnt. The water we snorkeled in was so clear you were able to see the coral reefs from the boat. We sailed past the Monkey Bay and saw a Momma Monkey breast feeding. On this tour we didn’t stop on this island to see the monkeys up close which was a little disappointing. Maya bay is a beautiful location but is temporarily closed until the coral reefs recover. If you plan to walk to the shallow ends by the reefs, wear water shoes that won’t slip off. We recommend any tour that goes to the Phi Phi Islands because they are so gorgeous. If you have the time, stay for a night or two on the main island. Everyone we came across told us to do this but we unfortunately didn’t have the time. For food on this tour and all the others we asked to be provided with whole fruits and we bought tuna, pita and mayo from the Chabad of the main cities we were staying in. For this tour it was the Chabad of Phuket.
** This post is long so I will be posting the Chiang Mai half of our Honeymoon in a different post