When I was offered a place on a Premier Holidays familiarisation trip to Thailand I jumped at the chance – they have a fantastic Asia portfolio. The week-long itinerary included two nights at Elephant Hills camp and two nights in Khao Lak, in the company of 10 equally excited people. We arrived in Bangkok feeling refreshed (thanks to Club World). First stop was Shangri–La Hotel located on the Chao Phraya River, which we could see from the lovely rooms. Staff were very welcoming and the décor was warm and homely and grand. Day two began with a site inspection then a half-day city tour.
We visited Wat Pho Buddhist temple with its impressive reclining Buddha (it's huge), walked the grounds and learned how old the temples are. We then drove through Chinatown and The Flower Market to the MBK Shopping Centre: seven floors of bargains.
A quick, cheap Skytrain ride back, then to the Aloft Hotel for dinner – fabulous for anyone who is happy to be in the bustling Sukhumvit Road. We carried on the evening with more shopping and drinks at Patpong Market (well, when in Bangkok…). Up at 05:00 (ouch) for flight to Phuket and the next adventure as we were collected by Elephant Hills private transport and taken deep into the jungle and allocated our luxury tents. After lunch and a briefing, it was time for a canoe trip down the Sok River taking in the beautiful limestone mountains and local wildlife: I spotted monkeys jumping from and blending nicely into the trees. Elephant Camp was a very short road journey to meet the beautiful animals up close, helping prepare the food then feed them, watch them have fun bathing then help scrubbing them clean. This was so much fun - so glad I got the chance to do this. Back at camp that evening there was a cooking demonstration and a dancing show from local children. In between howls, the dog that set up home outside got more sleep than me. Next day we headed to Cheow Larn Lake with its rainforest backdrop. I relaxed for the afternoon soaking up the atmosphere. That evening and the next day were spent on the lake, before the boat transfer back to the mainland, and Le Meridien Khao Lak. After spending time in the jungle (where, even in luxury tents, electrical goods are not really usable), a good hot shower was wonderful. The hotel was impressive, open-plan so the pool area blends into the sea, and the deluxe rooms were beautiful. The night was spent at Khao Lak Beach Resort for dinner and a look around - the hotel will be going under a refurbishment at the end of the season. Our final full day was at leisure. I opted for the centre of Khao Lak, which isn’t the biggest of resorts but has a great selection of shops, bars and restaurants so you will never be stuck for choice. A gorgeous hosted meal Baan Thai in Le Meridien marked our last evening. Departure day crept round so quickly, but before the airport came a viewing of Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort, which I really liked. Great for families as it has an array of activities for all ages, and the freedom to eat at any other hotel in the area and sign it back to your room (this applies to any hotel you stay at in the Laguna area). Then back to Phuket to start the flight home, ending an amazing trip full of great people and fantastic experiences.