I don’t think I know anyone more excited for their wedding than my friends Chris and Jason. After a gorgeous wedding at City Hall in San Francisco, they went back to work for a few days before leaving for their absolutely incredible honeymoon in Thailand and Bali. If you’re considering visiting either country anytime soon, you won’t want to miss out on Chris’ thorough recommendations below.
When and where did you honeymoon?
We went to Thailand and Bali for just over 2 weeks during the last 2 weeks of June into July 2015. Specifically we were in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ubud and Seminyak.
I think it’s helpful to note that we got married on the 13th, we took off the following Monday from work which was a godsend. I maybe slept for 18 hours straight due to pure exhaustion from the wedding weekend festivities. Because we went back to work the week after the wedding and everyone was aware we were headed out for our honeymoon the following week the workload was lower than usual – no one is going to have you start on something when you’re leaving for 2+ weeks. It was really nice to come back into the office to retell the best parts of the wedding, catch up on emails from the week of the wedding, and then wrap things up before your honeymoon. If we ever renew our vows and decide to go all out with another honeymoon I would 100% do the same thing when it comes to the work schedule. Game changer.
How long was your trip?
17 days. We left San Francisco on Friday, June 19th and flew into Tokyo. We had a few hour layover which gave us enough time to have semi-authentic Japanese sushi at the airport, then we flew into Bangkok. We were in Bangkok for 3 nights and then went to Chiang Mai for 2 nights. From Chiang Mai we had to layover in Bangkok before heading to Bali and were in Seminyak for 4 nights, followed by Ubud for 4 nights. After Ubud we flew back to Bangkok for 2 more nights and then head back home via Tokyo again.
How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?
Between Jason and me, we have hit up almost every continent and most major countries. We wanted to spend our honeymoon somewhere where neither of us had ever been before. It was also important that there would be good sun for me to get a nice tan and for us to go to a place with a lot to do as Jason canNOT spend all day everyday laying out.
The best part about our honeymoon was…
2+ unadulterated weeks away from work and responsibility! It’s the one time in your life that you’re encouraged to be fully obsessed with your partner and celebrate how much you love each other! The food was also ridiculous – some of the best I’ve ever had in my life! And the memories… I will never forget our honeymoon – Best. Trip. Ever.
We stayed at the Oberoi in Seminyak which was our favorite hotel for the whole honeymoon – everything from the rooms, the service, the pool, the food, everything was the best we’ve ever experienced. The hotel set us up with some concierge at the airport so that we got whisked away through customs where the diplomats go (no line) and he carried our bags and got us to cut every line. It was awesome. I’d recommend you call your hotel and say ‘YES’ to the car service and ask if they can hook you up with the airport concierge service so that your travels through the airport are seamless. It was a game changer!
We got the private pool suite at the Oberoi. It was riDONKulous. Something that is a must do if you also love the idea of laying out topless in your own privacy. :)
Food recommendations below:
- One day we wandered a bit and ended up at a place called Sea Circus. Go there every day for lunch if you can. Things we loved – the tacos, the quesadillas, the quinoa salad with chicken, the fries, the ice cream… it can be super light or a little heavier depending on what you order, but it was all delicious and I dream about that salad.
- We did lunch at Wacko Burger which is like a 30 second walk from the Oberoi. There are 2 locations so see which is closer to your hotel. It’s more of a casual lunch place than a place for dinner – but it is delicious and totally worth it if you want a fun burger.
- Go to Ku De Ta and get drinks while you see the sun set. It reminded me of a Vegas pool party club but classier.
- We also went to Madame P’s for hookah before dinner 2 nights. They are super sweet there. We did ZERO activities in Seminyak besides laying out, eating and drinking.
- Make dinner resos at Swept Away. The food was good – not amazing, but the experience was one of a kind. You HAVE to make resos for the ‘100 candles’ dinner there. It’s just gorgeous. This ended up being our most expensive meal of the trip – so advice is don’t do the wine pairing with the dinner, just cause the wine isn’t worth it.
- Locavore is still our favorite meal of the whole honeymoon. MAKE A RESO THERE NOW! We tried to change one of our other dinners to go there again but they were booked up to JULY 23RD!!!
- We had lunch at Naughty Nuri’s which is famous for their ribs and holy shit do you need to go there for lunch. Their ribs and the sauce are SO good. Their martinis are also as strong as nail polish remover so be careful! In fact we went there for drinks before dinner at Uma Cucina and I completely blacked out at dinner. After 1 and 1/2 martinis (Jason had only 2 – he blacked out too). From the specs of what I remember at Uma Cucina – it was delicious! It’s actually a shame that we were SO drunk for that meal because I think it was another amazing place to eat.
- We had lunch at The Sanyan House which was also SO good. I loved their salad and Jason got something random that he also really liked.
- We had dinner at Bridges which is like ranked as one of the best restaurants in the area. It was definitely a good meal, but NOTHING compared to Locavore and even Uma Cucina (even though I barely remember it).
If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…
After Seminyak we went to the Amandari in Ubud. In general Ubud has a much quieter and smaller feel than Seminyak. If we could do it over again we’d probably only stay in Ubud for like 2 nights and spend 2 more nights in Seminyak/Kuta. Anyway, we did lunch at the hotel when we arrived. It’s good food – but nothing crazy amazing, just something to know is that it’s a remote, quiet place – but they are known for their celebrity guests so there’s a chance you run into someone if you checked out the hotel! The hotel set us up with a 3 hour bike tour in the villages that was beautiful and awesome. I’d highly recommend it. We had loose plans to go do the Campuhan Ridge Walk, to go to a volcano and to see a waterfall but we ended up just laying out.
We brought a ton of bug spray and sun block because I get attacked by mosquitoes and my dad is a derm, but I would recommend you call all of your hotels to see if they have complimentary bug spray and sun block so you don’t have to lug it around. I only recommend that because every hotel we stayed at in Thailand and Bali had cans of both in our rooms – if we knew I wouldn’t have bothered bringing them with us.
Also, they are known for ‘Kopi’ in Bali which is essentially coffee. But a night animal eats the beans then poops it out and only THEN do people take the beans and roast them and all this stuff… at the end of the day it’s a tourist trap and tastes like coffee… but an animal pooped it first. I wouldn’t do it again.
How much planning did you do in advance?
Jason did all of the hotel and transportation planning. He did a lot through American Express which ended up being a GREAT deal for all the high end luxury places we stayed at. I planned almost all of our dinners. Everything on Tripadvisor is legit. People use that and Yelp doesn’t even really exist as a place to get things out. Also – random tip: by Bali we had a week’s worth of laundry and Jason googled a laundry service that does pick up and drop off that was like $10 USD for all of our dirty clothes and only took a day! Something else to consider!
I also planned for us to do an authentic cooking class in Bangkok which was PHENOMENAL. Thai Cooking Class with Chef Leez – do it.
The touristy activities I planned were to see elephants and tigers in Chiang Mai – the elephants were awesome. The tiger kingdom was a bit depressing to be honest.
And finally the only other activity I planned was to go volunteer at a children’s orphanage in Chiang Mai. We went to the Care Corner Orphanage which was ~45 minutes away by cab. It was important to us to give back in some way to the wonderfully kind and welcoming place we were spending our honeymoon. Especially since it is ridiculously cheap comparative to everywhere else we could have gone for our honeymoon. The hotels were expensive, but everything else was so beyond reasonable we felt obligated to give back. Plus it was a lovely way to kickstart our marriage. Something I found out during the process of planning this activity was that a lot of people try to scam volunteers in Bali or require money from the volunteers in Thailand. Care Corner is a Christian based orphanage and did not require any money from us (which was even more of a reason for us to donate when we left).
What was your biggest honeymoon splurge?
Probably the hotels/resorts we stayed at. We were at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok (saw Matthew McConaughey and his whole family at our small intimate pool!), the Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, the Oberoi in Seminyak and the Amandari in Ubud. Some of the best places in each of the cities we stayed in and 100% worth it!
Like I said earlier, the dinner at Swept Away was the most expensive of our meals (I think it ended up being $450 USD) but the experience was worth it!
Where do you want to go on your next big trip?
Although Jason has been, I’d love to do Greece and Italy. I’ve been to almost all of the other European countries but I’d love to spend time there. For Jason, he’d love to see Australia and Fiji – which I have been to already. I’m honestly happy to hit up any of those places! And when we do I’ll be sure to visit the blog to use everyone’s recommendations!