Last month I began to tell you about my amazing trip to Thailand and yes, it was that epic I had to break it up into two parts. One of the beautiful things about Thailand is in fact, the diversity of the places to see while you’re there. The experience in Bangkok is very different from the experience in Phuket, but I very much appreciated them both. But before I get into sharing my love affair with Phuket, let me interrupt this program to share with you my experience getting to the other side of the world.

My travel mates and I knew we wanted to make a stop in Dubai, so we decided to do it big and have the Emirates experience. If you’ve never heard about or actually had the Emirates experience let me enlighten you. It is beyond first class – even if you are flying economy class. Since this was also birthday trip, my saint of a mother upgraded our tickets to business class as a birthday gift. BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER!

Business Class

Literally from the moment we stepped out of my house to find our Suburban waiting to escort us to the airport, Emirates made us feel like superstars. Every meal, from breakfast in the lounge to the lunch and dinner and snacks on each flight, was cooked and seasoned to perfection. The service was impeccable. The rest that I got in my seat that converted into a lay flat bed was the best sleep by far I’ve ever gotten on a plane. Emirates even took care of a complimentary hotel room where we could go and freshen up during our 10-hour layover in Dubai. The only bad part about it all is that they’ve completely ruined me from wanting to experience another airline, and certainly not economy. [Insert chuckle and fake eye roll here.] I will be flying Southwest in a few weeks and I will be just fine.

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I have to admit though, after the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, which is not unlike most highly populated major cities around the world, I was ready for the calm and serenity of Phuket. And it did not disappoint. Phuket is by far one of the most beautifully charming cities I’ve visited. From the moment we stepped out of our transfer onto the beach, my heart skipped a beat. I felt like I was in heaven on Earth. The almost white sand and blue green water glistening from the brilliance of the sun immediately relaxed all the leftover tension I was holding in my body from back home.

Baan Amandeha

We walked onto the property at the villa and I had another reaction – complete awe. This villa was incredible and none of the photos or videos quite do it justice…but I tried! At the last minute, the vendor that I used to book the villa upgraded us from what was already a phenomenal property to this 10-bedroom beachfront dreamhouse. There was nothing about this place I didn’t love, but my favorite part was the infinity pool and the direct view of the sunrise from my bedroom every morning. The day of my birthday I decided to take a bath while I watched the sunrise. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Sunrise

While I have to admit that it was quite hard leaving that place, all of the activities we experienced off the property were just as incredible. If you know me you can probably guess my favorite, which was the Thai cooking class. It was awesome! Our concierge connected us with Pat’s Home Thai Cooking Class – a must visit! We cooked several traditional Thai dishes – Tom Yum Goong soup, spring rolls, chicken green curry, papaya salad and a banana in coconut milk dessert. Yum! It was one of my favorite meals on the entire trip.

Thai Cooking Class

Next on our agenda was to visit the Big Buddha Temple of Phuket and the Elephant Sanctuary. The temple was one of the most gorgeous structures I’ve ever seen. The Big Buddha statue sits on a hill directly overlooking a 360-degree panoramic view of the island and Chalong Bay. It was absolutely breathtaking. The temple, which sits adjacent to the statue, has a number of Buddha statues made of gold and marble that are equally incredible.

Big Buddha

Our visit to the Elephant Sanctuary was just as we all wanted it to be – short and sweet. We liked the fact that the sanctuary we went to gave us the option to ride or feed the elephants and we all opted to feed them. I had researched prior to the trip about how elephants’ backs are actually not built to hold the weight of humans. Our interaction with them was just long enough to get our photo ops and get some baby elephant kisses along the way.

Elephant Sanctuary

One of my other most memorable parts of the trip was our trip to the Phi Phi Islands (pronounced pee pee if you were wondering). Ever since I put Thailand on my vision board and bucket list, I had dreamed of going to the Phi Phi Islands. And I must say, I was not quite prepared for what I actually experienced. Let me explain. First, no one told us about the speedboat ride there. It was rough, to put it mildly. So rough, ten minutes into our trip we had to turn around and go back because two of the ladies could not take the ride – for stomach and fear issues. To say it was bumpy would be an understatement! But the rest of the girls and I battled it through for the more than an hour-long ride. Once we got there, we could all say that it was absolutely worth it. There really are no words to really describe the majestic beauty of this place.

Panoramic Phi Phi Islands

We stopped a few times, once to see Monkey island (where you can imagine what goes on there) and another time to hop off and do some snorkeling. I don’t know if it was the crazy ride or the heat of the afternoon sun, but that was the most refreshing water I’ve ever experienced. The final stop was a shopping area where we scored on some great souvenirs and a delicious lunch.

Phi Phi Islands

After that day trip, we were happy to get back to our villa where our massage therapists were awaiting our return. We had no idea how much we were going to need them that day! One quick note here, massages are amazingly cheap in Thailand (as low as $20 for an hour), so make plans to load up on massages while you are there!

Massage Therapists

We had our own massage room in the villa!

I would be remiss if I ended the recap of my Thailand trip without sharing my birthday experience with you. We hired a chef to come in and cook three meals for us that day (which was also very cheap by American standards) and it was absolutely amazing! Imagine this: you wake up when you’ve finished sleeping (which happened to be at sunrise), soak in a nice warm bath, eat breakfast that’s waiting for you, have a photo shoot with your friends, wade in the water, have another amazing meal, get a massage, take a nap, and have another amazing meal. Heaven!

Birthday Meals

That’s pretty much the word I would use to describe this trip. Absolute heaven. That’s why I will be returning to this charming destination and I recommend you add it to your bucket list as well.

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