Trip Report: Thailand (part 22) American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
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American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)

Well I will start off saying this wasn’t our original intended flight.  Our original routing was BKK-NRT-ORD all on JAL F!!!  About 3 weeks before our trip I got an email from AA with an itinerary change!! I looked at it said “WTF!”  It was now BKK-NRT-DFW-ORD! One extra connection, 12 hour later arrival and on AA vs JAL!!!!  Grrrrr….. I called AA the day I got the email with alternate routings but the number one thing is that I wanted to maintain my JAL trans Pacific F flight no matter what.  Well guess what?!??!!?  They were GONE and there wasn’t shit I could do about it!  OUR FIRST CLASS FLIGHTS ON JAL WERE GONE. Now the reason for the itinerary change wasn’t AA’s fault as JAL had changed our connecting BKK-NRT flight times in so that we would miss our connection.  The problem I have with this is that they just take it upon themselves to do what they please.  They should instead propose a routing hold the itinerary for 5 days and if you don’t like it you can call in to suggest alternatives but to just change your entire itinerary is crazy!!! I was on the phone for over an hour with AA while we were on vacation in Toronto dealing with this shit. In the end the best they could do was route through Hong Kong ensuring I get on AA’s new first class but I would still be arriving 12 hours later in ORD and having to make an extra stop in Dallas.  Not happy to say the least!

After deplaning from our BKK-HKG Cathay Pacific flight we saw a AA agent holding a sign with our names on it. I never realized how tight of a connection we had!  We met the AA agent and we waited for the 4 other coach passengers to deplane.  She advised they are boarding our AA flight to DFW and we needed to hurry!  I have never seen a lady walk so fast in high heels!!  If it was this tight she should’ve had a buggy or cart to transport us down the LONG terminal.  We then had to clear our carryon luggage through security again before another long walk to our gate!!!

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AA agent holding a sign with our names

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Our gate

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Long line to check our bags AGAIN before getting on the plane. Why again?

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AA 777 waiting for us

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My first class boarding pass

We were the last people in first class to  Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 21) Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)

Well it was time to say goodbye to Bangkok and end our two week vacation in Thailand.  We took a cab to the airport and the check in counter had no line so we walked right up. We were checked in quickly and given our lounge passes.

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Cathay Pacific checkin signs at BKK

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Cathay Pacific lounge entrance

We cleared security and made it to Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 20) Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Chatuchak Weekend Market

On our first day after checking into the St. Regis my wife wanted to check out the Chatuchak weekend market since we arrived on a Sunday.  We took the train right there from our hotel and the journey was maybe 20 minutes.  This is the biggest market we have ever been to!  There are so many people and shops/vendors!!! It would be very hard to get through it in one day so we just decided to get a map and wander in certain sections of the market.  There is such a variety of things for sale here its amazing!  It is very hot and muggy and the smells will stick with us for a while!!!

My watch battery stopped working while on this trip and one of the first shops we saw was a watch shop that does repairs and battery replacement so I decided to have them change my battery for about $4!! The watch worked perfectly after the battery change so that was nice as my wife wasn’t sure I should trust them with my watch.

There were tons of different foods on offer at many of the stalls and I really wanted to try some but I was scared I would get sick. My wife had no desire to even try any of it as she had the same fears.  We did end up picking up a picture frame for around $5 at one of the vendors as every trip we go on I try to pick up a picture frame to display one of our vacation photos.

We spent about 3 hours wandering around here and got a good workout walking in the heat and through all the other people!

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Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 19) Dinner at Vertigo at the Banyan Tree Bangkok

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop

We decided to have a nice dinner while in Bangkok to celebrate my birthday.  I had heard about Vertigo at the Banyan Tree hotel a long time ago and figured if I was ever in Bangkok to try it out.  I had emailed the hotel a few weeks prior to the trip to make reservations. It took 2-3 emails to finally get a response and confirmation.

We took a cab from our hotel (St. Regis) to the Banyan Tree.  We then walked through the lobby to find the bank of elevators associated with Vertigo and Moon bar.  The lobby has signs indicating which way to go so that helped.  When we arrived at the hosts desk we were made aware that due to the weather we would not be able to be seated outside and if the weather changes they would try to change tables to sit on the rooftop. We were puzzled because the weather seemed perfect to us. There was no rain when we arrived so we didnt know what to think.  So we were seated in one of their normal dining restaurants located just below the rooftop.  There were good views if you had a table close to the windows but we didnt get a table with a view but were sort of secluded in a nice way.  Our server was very attentive and prompt. My wife and I had the set menu for two and after our appetizers were served they let us know that the weather had cleared.  They asked if they could move us to the rooftop as per our reservation.  We agreed and so we went up another level to the 61st floor and up a few sets of stairs, we were out on the rooftop and it was very nice.  The ground was damp so maybe it did rain and somehow we didnt notice it?? Anyhow we had a nice corner table right on the railing.  We enjoyed our main entree’s and dessert on the rooftop.

We both thought our meal was good but nothing extraordinary. It was a very good experience with great views. The weather was good and just a tad breezy but not bothersome.  Our meal with a few cocktails ran just over $200. Our server doubled as a photographer and offered to take a few pictures of us at our table. He actually was able to change and tweek our camera settings to get pretty good results in the dark night sky! They also take a picture with their camera and print out a copy in a paper frame for you to keep as a complimentary keepsake. The meal was about 2-3 hours and like most other countries outside the USA we were left to sit at the table for a long time before we were able to flag down a server to get the bill.

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Bread basket

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Vertigo set menu (click any picture to make it larger)

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My cocktail

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Amuse bouche

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Tuna and avocado

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My wife’s appetizer

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Butternut pumpkin soup

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Lobster bisque

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Not a very good long island ice tea

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Enjoying our cocktails on the rooftop at Vertigo at Banyan Tree

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Views from our table at Vertigo

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Moon Bar at Banyan Tree Bangkok

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Sorbet

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Flame grilled Waygu beef

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After dinner snacks with our nightcap drinks

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View of Bangkok from our rooftop table at Vertigo

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My complimentary birthday cake

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Mint

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Views of Bangkok from the Banyan Tree hotel

We would recommend Vertigo for a decent meal in Bangkok with a unique setting and great scenery!

-pointspinnacle


 

Target Prepaid REDcard Arrives and Impresses!!!


______________________

UPDATE: As of May 6, 2015 credit card loads are no longer allowed for loading the REDcard

The Target REDcard

About a week or two ago I heard about a new prepaid product from American Express distributed by Target.  I was alerted to this new product by this Flyertalk thread.  Of course blogger Greg aka the FrequentMiler got a hold of this puppy ASAP and reported results last weekend and the results were GOOD!!! The card is named the Target “Prepaid Redcard”!!!

Before heading out to Target and trying to pick one of these great cards up I needed to call (877-486-5990) and cancel my AMEX BlueBird card which I had been using for over the past year. You can only have one account between Bluebird, Serve or REDcard since they all run on the same platform. These are the rules set forth by AMEX.   The call went smooth and took less than 3 or 4 minutes.

I went to my local Target and found the REDcard right away at the first register.  I looked it over and walked to the customer service desk.  I told the lady behind the desk I would like to load this new REDcard.  She scanned it and asked for my drivers license.  I would then be prompted to enter various personal information such as my SSN and other very basic info.

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Good selection of Target REDcard at my local Target

The customer service rep then asked how much I wanted loaded on the card and I replied $500 which is the maximum allowed. I used my Citi AAdvantage business card that I was finishing up my minimum spend on.  I signed the signature pad and the receipt popped out showing $500 loaded!!!  Wow that was easy!!

I then needed to go home and follow the instructions on the package to register my card.  It is very easy!!! I got an email confirmation that I was registered and my permanent REDcard would arrive in 7-10 business days. The card ended up arriving the following Saturday so 5 business days would be my experience.  I logged back onto the REDbird website to activate my new card!!!  That again, was very easy!

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There is a $5 purchase fee for the initial load only!

With an activated permanent REDbird card I went to Target right away to load my card.  I used my Alaska Airlines card first because I receive a $100 statement credit when I spend $1000 on my card.  I gave the customer service rep my REDcard and asked her to load it. She swiped on the register and asked how much. I said “$1000 please”!  I was then prompted to swipe my card on the swiper machine.  Bingo! Out came a receipt showing $1000 loaded! I then did the same exact thing with my Citi Hilton Honors card to try and meet my $10,000 hurdle to obtain a free weekend night at any Hilton in the world plus pick up 3,000 Hilton points per $1000 loaded.  Again the results were perfect! I did one last $500 load on the same Hilton card because the most a person can load in one day is $2500.  After that I went back to my car grinning ear to ear looking at the receipts!! NO FEES!!!  Just pure miles!

I then went home and logged into my REDcard account online and went to bill pay section of my account and added payees.  I added the three different credit cards I loaded my REDbird with and the proceeded to paid them all off.

I can load up to $5000 per month per REDcard account. This is the easiest and cheapest way to earn miles and points since I have started collecting miles and points!!! No more $3.95-$6.95 fees per gift card or vanilla reload card!!! I will be wearing a path to my local Target for as long as this lasts!

Let me know if you have any questions!

-pointspinnacle


 

 

 

 

Trip Report: Thailand (part 18) St. Regis Bangkok

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

St. Regis Bangkok

We had a great two night stay at the St. Regis Bangkok in September! Our cab driver from the airport had no idea where the property was (which was surprising to us), when were getting close he was asking us questions but there was a major language barrier.  We said “next to Four Seasons” and he instantly knew where that was.  The St. Regis happened to be just right next door.  The St. Regis offered a Mercedes ride to the property for 3,000THB (around $65) per way but the cab was much cheaper although much less glamourous.

We were greeted warmly upon exiting the cab! Two bellhops came and grabbed our bags and showed us to the elevators.  The St. Regis was undergoing a lobby renovation during our stay.  So we walk through the renovated areas that were partitioned off. My wife and I seem to love St. Regis properties aesthetic and this was no different.  The design is a sleek contemporary but also classic style.  The top several floors are reserved for the residences which only had a penthouse left for sale I believe. The property is just a few years old and it was surprising they were doing a renovation as the condition of the property is very nice! The construction was due to be completed just a week after our stay around September 15th. Since the lobby and guest rooms are located on the 12th floor or above their would be no noise issues.

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Construction upon entrance at the St. Regis Bangkok

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St. Regis Bangkok entrance

After going up a several floors we were on the lobby level.  Straight ahead was a bar and to the right was the concierge staff. I believe the concierge area was a temporary due to construction and will be located back on ground level after our stay.  We walked over to the reception area where we checked in seated at desks for a more comfortable checkin.  We where also offered some welcome beverage/juice. Checkin went smoothly except for the fact the front desk agent was looking at my wife and explaining that due to her gold status we would be getting xyz benefits!?  I am the gold member and she has no idea what a gold member is LOL! I had booked our two nights as two separate reservations as we weren’t originally supposed to stay overnight on our last night but due to flight changes we had to pay for an additional night.  After checkin we were given room keys and directed to the elevators.  The checkin agent also noted my birthday in the reservation and wished me a happy birthday.

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St. Regis Bangkok checkin area


Deluxe Room 1828

We booked a Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 17) Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)

Once again we found ourselves back on my favorite “boutique airline” for our flight to Bangkok. We flew Bangkok Airways to Phuket earlier in our Thailand trip and I thought it enjoyable.  We arrived around and hour and a half early.  There was virtually no line to checkin.  Our bags were weighed and the combined weight of the bags was good to go. We were issued our boarding passes and cleared security quickly. All that was left was to wait around the boarding area for a bit.

I found all the same features of our first Bangkok Airways flight to carry over to this one as well.  This time we were on a bigger plane. I am not an aviation geek but it appeared similar to a Boeing 737 narrow body plane with 3 by 3 seating. A perfectly comfortable plane for a 1 hour and 15 minute flight!

Once again I am surprised they offer any type of meal service but they do. They offered us a lunch service which consisted of fish and rice with a blueberry type crumble dessert and water, orange juice and coffee. My wife commented that now the whole plane smells like fish which was funny and true. But we eat most of what was served!

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Bangkok Airways checkin counter in Chiang Mai

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Our boarding passes for our flight to Bangkok

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Bangkok Airways gate 5 in Chiang Mai

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Our chariot awaits

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All aboard

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Lunch is served

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L
unch on Bangkok Airways

In the end this was a uneventful flight but pleasant and the price was right! Service was good and seat comfort was fine. We will have no problem flying Bangkok Airways if we ever find ourselves back in Thailand, in fact it will be my preferred domestic carrier there.

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

We booked this flight through Kayak.com just like our prior two Thailand domestic flights.  The best price I found to be just over $100 for both of us for the one way flight to Bangkok from Chiang Mai.  So maybe $52-$53 per person all in.

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Reservation details for our flight to Bangkok

Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

-pointspinnacle

 


 

 

Trip Report: Thailand (part 16) Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple

While in Chiang Mai we decided to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple.  We asked our driver to pick us up around 4pm from the Four Seasons.  It took about an hour to make it to the temple.  The road is a very twisty on the way up and there are two lanes going up the mountain but only one lane for going down and there are plenty of motor bikes on the road to slow you down.

Our driver dropped us off and we decided he could meet us back at the drop off point in two hours.  We bought lift tickets for about $1-2 and waited just a few minutes to take an automated lift up to the top.  You could take the stairs but there are quite a bit and for only $1-2 we took the lift.  I think it was only a few bucks entrance fee/donation to visit the temple area.

There are some very beautiful structures and buildings decorated in gold around the temple area.  There are many visitors praying around the grounds and before you enter its mandatory to take off your shoes. There are shoe lockers outside the temple but we just left our Havaianas  flip flops on the ground with the rest of them before entering.

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One of the cool parts about visiting the temple is that Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 15) ELE- Elephant Life Experience Elephant Camp

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

The Elephant Life Experience (ELE) Elephant Camp

In researching elephant activities I stumbled upon ELE via reviews on Trip Advisor.  ELE had all perfect 5 star reviews and it was a smaller more intimate camp which I found attractive. I emailed the Four Seasons Chiang Mai to find out which options they use when booking guests looking for elephant excursions.  They had a list of several however they agreed that ELE is a very good experience and were happy to book it for me.

The camp is expensive compared to all the others but it is worth it in my opinion as it is completely private. The only guests on the day we went were me and my wife and you are paying for that privacy and exclusivity.  The rate for the full days activities was 15,000THB or over $400 or 75000THB per person.  That is including our lunch provided and delivered by the Four Seasons. Just to repeat my wife and I had the entire camp to ourselves and we could pretty much do whatever we wanted we were told. EXCEPT due to heavy rains over the past week the river was too high and fast so for our safety we could not take the elephants through the river where the guests would normally bath the elephants.  In addition, we could not hike with the elephants on the trail across from the river.

We were picked up by our driver and on our way to the camp.  The camp is somewhat remote and a bit of a ride from the Four Seasons Chiang Mai.  Our driver initially passed the entrance to ELE on mistake and circled back after realizing that.  We were then greeted by our main “guide” Nicky who was a young Thai man that spoke good english! Upon entering the camp we were greeted also by Natalie.  Natalie was an 8 year old Indian elephant staring right at us about 10 feet away!!

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Being greeted by Natalie at ELE

I admite I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the elephant up close.  I am used to seeing elephants gated off and 50 feet away so I was intimated somewhat initially. We were introduced and given bundles of sugarcane to feed Natalie so that we both got comfortable with each other.

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A little apprehensive at this point yet feeding sugarcane to Natalie
Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 14) Four Seasons Chiang Mai

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Four Seasons Chiang Mai

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Four Seasons Chiang Mai entrance

We took a cab from the Chiang Mai airport and wow cabs are cheap in Chiang Mai.  After about a 45 minute drive and around 600THB we arrived at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai.  The alternative option that could be booked through the Four Seasons was an airport transfer of 2800THB+7% tax per car per way which compared to a normal cab was quite high in our opinion (no mention of what type of vehicle they use for the transportation).

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Four Seasons Chiang Mai signage (in Thai letters) and security check office

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Driving up to the Four Seasons Chiang Mai entrance

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Driving up to the Four Seasons Chiang Mai

When we arrived we were greeted like Continue reading