Real Honeymoon: Hong Kong & Thailand

Friends of last week’s couple who went on a honeymoon in Paris and the Maldives, Katie and Christopher also went on an incredible honeymoon recently. In search of delicious food and gorgeous beaches, they decided to split their time between Hong Kong and three different places in Thailand. Read all about their amazing multi-moon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We left bright and early Sunday, June 15th [2014], the morning after our wedding. We flew to Hong Kong where we spent a few days sightseeing, eating, and generally just enjoying the amazing city. From Hong Kong we flew to Chiang Rai, Thailand where we stayed at the Four Seasons Tented Camp. After a few days in Northern Thailand, we went to Bangkok for a couple of days and then to the lovely island of Koh Samui for five nights of relaxation. We ended the honeymoon with one more night in Hong Kong.

Katie and Christopher at Camp Peak

Katie and Christopher at Camp Peak

How long was your trip?

Two weeks.

   photo 5 (34)

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

My husband Christopher picked our destination and did a large part of the planning (with a little help from a travel agent). Thailand has always been one of the top destinations on our travel bucket list and it seemed to have the perfect mix of everything we wanted for a honeymoon: adventure, wildlife, and beautiful beaches. We paid for flights with miles so it worked out best to fly in and out of Hong Kong, which turned out to be one of our favorite cities.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is heaven on earth and was by far our favorite part of the trip. We stayed in our own “tent” which was the most luxurious accommodation I’ve ever set foot in. It overlooked a beautiful river, low mountains, and all the wildlife you could take in.

Golden Triangle

Golden Triangle

The resort also partners with an elephant reserve where they rescue elephants and take care of them in their day-to-day life. We were able to feed the elephants every morning and even got to ride and help bathe them. They are such amazing and gentle creatures, and being so close to them was a once in a lifetime experience.

photo 4 (44)

Riding elephants

On top of the amazing scenery and wildlife, was the incredible food. Our first night there, we were served a traditional Thai meal and it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I will forever dream of the food at this resort.

photo 3 (45)

Traditional Thai dinner

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Perhaps where we stayed in Koh Samui. We stayed on the northern tip of the island which was beautiful and secluded but the airport was only a few miles away so the planes flying in and out would go directly over our resort. The resort was amazing and well worth this small hiccup but I would be interested in seeing some of the other resorts. Also, Koh Samui the island was a little more developed and crowded than we had expected, although apparently significantly less so than Phuket. For a truly “remote” experience, we probably would have chosen a different beach destination. All of that being said, it was still an incredible island with beautiful views.

View from the deck at Six Senses, Koh Samui

View from the deck at Six Senses, Koh Samui

How much planning did you do in advance?

I’m a planner so I did LOTS of research before our trip. Christopher did most of the general planning (picking locations, hotels, flights, etc.), but I did a lot of research on the specifics of each city (restaurants, activities, etc.). I made must do/see lists for each city and we just checked things off as we went. We never had a set itinerary so we could do as little or as much as we wanted each day which was perfect.

photo 3 (43)   photo 4 (42)

Cooking class

Cooking class

Continue reading

Advertisements

Real Honeymoon: Paris, The Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong & Japan

Yes, you read the title correctly. This week’s real honeymooners went to Paris, the Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong, AND Tokyo on one of the most amazing honeymoons imaginable. My friend Danny and his husband Graham travel frequently and very well, so of course they had to really step it up even more for their recent honeymoon. Read all about their ultimate multi-moon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

As a global traveler on a regular basis for work and a huge airline “dork,” I wanted a honeymoon that would allow me to travel on a wide variety of airlines (in first class, of course) and to at least one exotic location that I had never been before. Fortunately, my now husband was on board with my ambitious plans and we settled on a pretty crazy itinerary.

maldives honeymoon

In the end, we went to Paris (Westin Vendome) , the Maldives (Niyama Maldives), Singapore (The Ritz-Carlton Singapore), Hong Kong (The Hotel Icon) and Tokyo (The Peninsula), experiencing Suites class on Singapore Airlines, First Class on Lufthansa and Thai Airways and business class on ANA, including a trip on their new Dreamliner.

maldives

How long was your trip?

To keep the wedding/honeymoon as one celebration, we left on our honeymoon the Sunday after our wedding and spent roughly two weeks traveling (May 2014).

maldives honeymoon   maldives honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

For as long as I can remember, my number one criteria for my honeymoon was spending at least part of it on an overwater villa someplace tropical. Since Graham and I have been together (over 6 years), our favorite memories have been our tropical trips, sitting on a beach, drinking something fruity, and gorging ourselves with beach/pool side food. As such, he was more than happy to indulge me once again in this dream, so the focus became finding the best overwater bungalow we could.

maldives honeymoon   maldives honeymoon

We narrowed it down to Tahiti and The Maldives, but ultimately decided on The Maldives, as it was easier to get there for free with my miles and there seemed to be far more options with extra perks, like personal infinity pools and underwater nightclubs, that Tahiti did not seem to offer.

The other destinations were picked more based on getting to and from the Maldives with miles, maximizing our time in First Class, and getting to destinations where we knew the food would be amazing (our other big criteria).

tokyo honeymoon

asia honeymoon
   singapore honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

We may differ on this, but other than the amazing flights, and beautiful Maldives, I have to say the best part was just spending 2 weeks together, with no one else and no other distractions. It was the longest time we had spent together, just us, and it was pretty amazing. Über emo, I know. Hopefully you aren’t all throwing up now….

first class honeymoon   paris honeymoon

Continue reading

Real ROUND THE WORLD Trip: Asia, Australia & Africa

How great would it be to have the time to go on a multi-month round the world (RTW) trip with your signifiant other?  Pretty amazing, right?  When you both have full-time jobs it can be really hard to turn that dream into a reality, so when the opportunity presented itself to Robin and Darin (i.e. a cross-country move and the start of a new job), they enthusiastically took it.  Read all about their absolutely incredible travels in Asia, Australia, and Africa below:

How long was your RTW trip, and how did you find the time to go?

We traveled for seven weeks – July through August [2013] – and we were really lucky to travel for that amount of time. We had been living in Boston, and Darin was offered, and chose to accept, a job in Florida. Since we were moving and both of us were going to have to change jobs, we tossed around the idea of traveling before starting work. Before we knew it, our apartment in Boston was all packed up and heading to storage, our new lease in Florida wasn’t starting until September, and we were on a plane to Asia.

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Where did you go (and how much time did you stay in each place)?

Darin has family in Sydney and Johannesburg, so we knew when we started talking about the trip that we had to go to those cities. We then planned around those destinations and decided to go to places that would not be easily accessible on a one or two-week trip once we went back to work. We basically looked at a map and picked out places we had interest in going to or that our friends had been to. We are an active couple, so we were more excited about seeing a country’s natural beauty rather than eating at high-end restaurants or wandering through museums.

Bike riding in Tokyo

Bike riding in Tokyo

We also tried to plan our trip by choosing destinations that we could get to on direct flights. So inevitably, our first destination was going to be a big city.

The Itinerary:

Tokyo – 3 days
Beijing – 2.5 days
Hong Kong – 2.5 days

At this point in our trip we were tired of big cities and were excited to have the same currency for longer than a few days. We spent about two weeks traveling around Thailand.

Chang Mai – 3 days
Koh Tao – 4 days
Koh Samui – 3 days
Gillham’s Fishing Resort, outside of Krabi – 1.5 days

From Thailand we headed to Cambodia based on friends’ recommendations.

Siem Reap – 2 days

We left the northern hemisphere summer for winter down under. It was nice to be able to spend time with family without being jetlagged.

Port Douglas (launching point for the Great Barrier Reef) – 2.5 days
Sydney – 5 days

From Sydney we had a direct flight to Jo-burg, and met up with Darin’s parents for two weeks of travel throughout Southern Africa.

Johannesburg – 2 days
Botswana – 4 days (Nxabega Okavango (tented camp) and Sandibe Safari Lodge)
Zambia (Victoria Falls) – 2 days
South Africa – 5 days (Londolozi and Ulusaba (Richard Branson’s private game reserve))

At Victoria Falls in Zambia

At Victoria Falls in Zambia

Did you have a set itinerary from the start, or did you play things by ear?

We booked our RTW ticket on OneWorld, and they have a very user-friendly website that made it easy to build an itinerary. Although the ticket is flexible (we could change the flight dates and times without a penalty and pay a small fee to add a city), we had all of our stops planned before we left the States, and we had our hotels booked before we arrived in each city. We only had to change a flight once, which is pretty impressive since we took more than 20 flights during the trip.

We planned most of our activities when we got to city based on hotel recommendations and from other travelers we met along the way.

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

How hard was it to pack for a RTW trip?    

The hardest part of packing was that we needed clothes for both the northern and southern hemispheres. Southeast Asia is very hot, humid, and wet in the summer, and southern Africa is very cold at 6AM which is when you do your morning safari drive.

In the weeks leading up to the trip I followed the blog Travel Fashion Girl which has great advice on how to pack for various cities and activities, and there is even a packing list for RTW travel. We certainly were not fashionistas on this trip and definitely packed for function. We are embarrassed to admit that our lifeline in Asia was our Tevas – they kept us cool, they didn’t get ruined in the rain, they were easy to hike in, and we didn’t have to travel with many socks (clean or dirty).

We packed a lot of exercise-type clothes because they are light, sweat-wicking, and easy to hand wash. We quickly got tired of our bathroom being a laundry facility but we couldn’t afford the laundry prices at the hotels. However, just blocks from our hotels we were usually able to find shops that do laundry for $1 / kg.

The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China

The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Hong Kong, Maldives & Tokyo

Another couple of newlyweds who really took advantage of their travel points and miles are my good friends McKenzie and Curtis who spent the majority of their honeymoon in the picture perfect Maldives.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are definitely perks to being a consultant when you want to go all out on your honeymoon.  Read all about their “baller-status” honeymoon below ; )

When and where did you honeymoon?

We left the Monday after the wedding and our first stop was Hong Kong. We were in Hong Kong for two days before trekking to the Maldives. We were in the Maldives for 10 days and on the way back to the U.S.A. we stopped in Tokyo for a day.

maldives

Look familiar? Seema and Tommy took the same photo!

How long was your trip?

Two weeks total.

maldives

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Your honeymoon is your one chance to do it big. When else in your life are given cart blanche to take multiple weeks off work and spend money like you are rockstars? It has been a dream of mine to stay in an over-water bungalow, and there are only a few places in the world that have those, one being the Maldives, the exotic and remote honeymoon were looking for! After deciding on the main attraction, we needed to determine which route to take. We wanted to make a stop on the way there and back for two reasons: 1) To break up the 36 hour journey and 2) If we are going half way around the world, we might as well make the most of it. Since we have both been to Europe several times, we decided to take the Asia route. We decided to visit China on the way there (Hong Kong) and Japan on the way home (Tokyo).

maldives

The best part about our honeymoon was… 

Our resort in the Maldives. I can officially say that I have stayed on a private island. For the first five nights we stayed in an over-water bungalow, a dream come true. While sleeping you can hear the Indian Ocean lapping underneath you. During the day, we would hang out on our deck and whenever we wanted, we would just walk down the deck stairs and we would be knee-deep in the Indian Ocean. We could go snorkeling, swimming or just float in the 80 degree water. It was heaven, we almost did not want to switch to our second room, but we are glad we did.

maldives

For the second five nights we had our own private villa with our own private infinity pool. Privacy walls surrounded the villa so every morning when we woke up all we could see was our pool and the Indian Ocean. We spent our days lounging on our patio and when the 90 degree sun got too intense, we could cool off in our own private pool!

We also did several activities while at the resort. We had a spa day, we did two snorkeling trips and we went on a sunset dolphin watching cruise. Every night we would get drinks on the beach and go to one of the six restaurants on the island. In contrast to the couple Mexican vacations that Curtis and I have taken together, this vacation was heavier on the relaxation and lighter on the tequila.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change… 

I would have packed more casual clothes. Since it was my honeymoon, I packed cute dresses and heels for dinner every night; however, the paths through the island were sand and the one night I wore heels, I ended up walking home barefoot. Most people wore casual sundresses and flip-flops, and I wish I packed more outfits like that. During the day, we only wore bathing suits and cover-ups.

maldives

Continue reading

Making the Most Out of Layovers: Part 1

I really hate layovers.  To me, they’re almost always a waste of time and just another chance of a delayed/missed/canceled flight while the airline loses my luggage.  That’s why earlier this year, my husband and I made the conscious decision to always pay extra to fly direct whenever we possibly can.

However, flying direct to many popular honeymoon destinations is just not feasible, even for those who live near big hubs like Los Angeles or New York.  So if you need to have a layover or two, why not try to make the most of it à la Anthony Bourdain?

Los Angeles

You may find yourself stuck at LAX en route to Hawaii, Australia/New Zealand, Asia, or Tahiti/Fiji.  Depending on how much time you have, you will probably want to rent a car since the city is so spread out.

I totally agree with Tony that your very first stop should be In-N-Out Burger – there’s one right by the airport.  (The burgers aren’t huge – you’ll still look awesome in your bikini, I promise.)  After that, the world is your oyster.  If it’s your first time in LA, you may want to drive over to do some shopping in Beverly Hills or The Grove.  If you’re looking to just take it easy, maybe drive over to Malibu or Santa Monica.

Beware of LA traffic though, and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport before your next flight.

Miami

Miami is the gateway to the Caribbean and South America.  The infamous beaches are just 30 minutes away, and you can easily get there via the super shuttle or a taxi.

South Beach is a pretty amazing place to people watch and get some excellent seafood.  But if you don’t want to venture out of the airport, there’s a pretty decent Cuban restaurant that you should check out in Terminal D.

London

London is a great city for a layover because there’s so much to see and do, and Heathrow will connect you to many airports throughout Europe and Africa.  Unless you’ve got tons of money to spare, take the Tube into town because taxis are incredibly expensive.  In fact, everything you do is going to be pricey, so just be aware of that.  If you’re going to be in London for < 24 hours, just buy a one-day travel card.  But if you’re going to be in town for longer than that, buy yourself an Oyster card.

Crunched on time?  Just go to a pub.  Which pub, you ask?   Any pub will do.  Really.  Beers will be at least $8 each, but they will be delicious and worth it.  Order some fish and chips as well.

Have plenty of time?  There are so many great (and free!) museums in London, my favorite being The British Museum.  You’ll also want to take obligatory photos near Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.

Continue reading