By Janice Strong

One week in Thailand, six days, actually. And our dilemma was how best to spend it? Visiting temples? Touring museums? Heading out into the countryside? Shopping? Spas?

Our first decision was easy – split our time between Bangkok and Phuket. We started in Bangkok and made the Hotel Pullman Bangkok King Power our base of operations. The Pullman boasts 366 rooms and suites with a sleek Asian contemporary decor, marbled bathrooms, high-speed connections, six dining venues, meeting and banquet facilities, pool and spa. It also sits in a prime downtown location, near the Victory Monument and easy connections via the BTS Sky Train to some of the city’s great shopping districts.

Directly next door the King Power Downtown Duty Free Mall offers two floors of tax-free shopping, fine dining and traditional Thai performances.

Khlong Cruising

templeJanice StrongWe opted for a khlong tour on our second day. Until the turn of the 20th century there were no asphalt roads in Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River and its khlongs were the main transportation routes for the city, leading visitors to call Bangkok the “Venice of the Far East”.

Our long-tail boat sped past iconic sights like the Temple of Dawn and the Royal Barges Museum before turning onto the quiet canals with waterside homes and shops that preserve life from days gone by.

A cruise up Khlong Bang Khu Wiang and Khlong Bang Yai is rewarded with views of canal-side temples, the Royal Barge Boat Shed, Thai-style house and the early morning Khu Wiange Floating Market.

The island of Ko Kret, on Khlong Om is home to a community of Mon artisans who are renowned for ceramics and sandstone sculptures. There are also Buddhist artifacts on the island.

Another way to enjoy the Chao Phraya River is aboard a dinner cruise where fine dining is complemented by nighttime views of downtown Bangkok.

Ahh, The Spa

Spa03PotolaiFeeling the need to relax, we went in search of a spa on our third day. Thai massage, known as nuad pan bolarn, is an ancient practice, reportedly developed by hermit ascetics 2,500 year ago who relieved the aches and pains of extended periods of meditation by adopting certain postures. Today’s Thai techniques involve acupressure and assisted yogic stretching using the practitioner’s hands, elbows, knees and even their own body weight. You wear light-weight, loose-fitting pajamas during treatment.

You can find Thai massage at spas all over Bangkok, many of which offer European rejuvenation therapies along with the Eastern healing traditions. We went to Photalai, The Thai Wellness Centre for our treatments. This family-run retreat has a 150-year association with Wat Po, The best-known school of Thai traditional massage, and offers a full menu of treatments and pampering that range from 45 minutes to four hours. Treatments are based on massage, herbal and holistic medicine, and aromatherapy.

Fabulous Phuket

Thailand’s largest island is renowned for it’s magnificent white sand beaches lapped by the clear blue waters of the Andaman Sea. But it also hosts scenic attractions like Sirinat National Park, with 13 uninterrupted kilometres of beach; and cultural attractions like the Thai Village, with shows featuring dance, sword-fighting, boxing and elephants, Wat Phra Thong, home of a partially buried Buddha image and Wat Phranang Sang, a fort built to resist Burmese invaders.

We flew south to Phuket for the second half of our trip and settled into the Six Senses Yao Noi Beyond Phuket for some well-deserved pampering.

Ocean Panorama Pool VillaBasil Childers/Six Senses Yao Noi Beyond PhuketNestled on the Island of Yao Noi, between Phuket and Krabi in the Andaman Sea, Six Senses Yao Noi boasts villas, plus the Hilltop Reserve. Normally a private haven for the rich and famous, royalty and high society, the Reserve is open daily to all guests as a pool and restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and snacks. All suites come with full amenities and a butler.

After a 45-minute launch ride from Aor Por Pier, we were greeted by our butler who handled the in-suite check-in and check-out procedures and was there to transport us wherever we wanted to go onsite. Other dining options at the resort include buffet breakfast and dinner in the Living Room, a more formal setting in The Dining Room and in-room service for true romantics.

cliffJanice StrongNext day, we opted for an afternoon boat cruise of the intriguing limestone formations off the coast of the island from the resort’s complete menu of excursions. A guide and a gourmet picnic lunch were already aboard the long-tail boat when we arrived at the resort dock, then it was off for an afternoon of cruising and swimming on small beaches.

The resort also houses the Six Senses Spa, which offers a wide choice of holistic wellness and pampering treatments.

All too soon it was back to Bangkok and the end of our six-day Thai adventure.

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