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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: shauly on February 05, 2020, 01:35:13 PM

Title: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: shauly on February 05, 2020, 01:35:13 PM
For this trip report, I'm not going to bother reviewing any airlines or lounges. There's no information I can provide that isn't available many times over.

I am lucky enough to have a wife that let's me travel solo and with friends throughout the year. We finally had an opportunity to take a vacation together, so I knew I had to go all out. I knew she'd always wanted to go to the Maldives, so it seemed like that would be a good fit. We had about a week and a bit to go, and I thought we'd probably get bored in the Maldives for that long, so I had to find somewhere else to go for a few days. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Phuket, so that was an easy choice as well.

I booked Elal business class on the 787 to Bangkok for 75k QF each and $30 in taxes. Then I booked a revenue connection on Thai to Phuket for $60 each.

I've been to Phuket several times, but always with the boys. Previously we had stayed with the Diamond Cliff, which I think is a great value. It's close to Chabad, the rooms are nice, and I'm very comfortable there. But since the second half of the trip was going to be in the Maldives, I had to do better. After doing a lot of research, I settled on The Naka Phuket, which is a Marriott Design Hotel. I didn't even realize that until after I had chosen it. There was availablity for a standard room on points, but I wanted the High Bay room so I ended up booking it outright for about $500 a night for two nights.

To get from Phuket to Male, the quickest option was on Bangkok Airways via BKK. Etihad has great rates for PG but they couldn't see the space. I ended up calling Cathay, and was able to get it booked. The great part was that because HKT to BKK only had economy, it took the price down from 30k to 27.2k each.

For the hotel in the Maldives, I chose the Waldorf Astoria. I had a few Be My Guest certificates from a botched stay in Beverly Hills a while back (they were valid for a year, but Hilton was kind enough to extend the validity), and I planned to use those for part of the stay, as the middle nights I needed weren't available on points. I booked the other nights for 120k HH a night, and tried getting the certificates applied for the middle two nights. I had a lot of trouble, and left it after a few hucas. The next morning, I took a look and those nights were available with points, so I grabbed those as well. I called Hilton to get the three reservations combined, and bizzarely the rep insisted that since I was only booking four nights, I should book the night before as my fifth night free so I could check in early. I tried explaining that I'll be checking in whenever the hotel picks me up from the airport, so it won't really help, but she insisted.

For our flights back to Israel, I originally booked MLE-SIN-ZRH-TLV for 132.5k SQ + around $300 each. A few weeks later, my wife asked me if we were stopping in London at all on the trip. I checked, and there was Emirates available from DXB to LGW in F, and MLE to DXB was available in business. I booked my seat with 95k JAL that I had left from a previous trip, plus $450. I called Emirates to hold a seat for my wife, and they were able to see MLE to DXB in F for her, so I booked her in F the whole way for 125k EK + $450.

We were arriving into London at 6am, and I found a flight on the new BA A350 leaving at 9:10pm which I booked for I believe 32.5k BA plus $300 each.

We were arriving into Gatwick and departing Heathrow, so I arranged with Airportr to pick up my bags in Gatwick and check them into BA in Heathrow. It was 70gbp for four bags, but there was a 15% off code for giving them your email.

I'm sitting in the BA Galleries lounge right now waiting for the last leg to take us home after a very enjoyable trip. I have a ton of pictures to upload from a million different devices, and an endless amount of good things to say about the Waldorf, and I look forward to sharing it all very soon.
Title: Re: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: mmgfarb on February 05, 2020, 01:53:41 PM
Nice start! It's been a while since one of your TRs, looking forward to the rest.
Title: Re: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: aj8280 on February 10, 2020, 01:14:05 PM
Any drone footage?

I need drone footage!

Give me the drone baby!!
Title: Re: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: CRACKERJACK on May 04, 2020, 02:13:17 PM
Sounds like a grand start to a great tr To be continued?
Title: Re: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: shauly on October 05, 2020, 09:58:19 AM
I've been sitting home long enough, not really any excuses not to finish this, so here goes. Protip for anyone writing long overdue trip reports, Google Timeline is your best friend.

Our Elal flight left Israel at 820pm on Monday night. We live in Jerusalem and took the train to the airport, which is my favorite way to go these days. Elal was more than happy to check our bags all the way through to Phuket, even though they were separate tickets. It was a bit of a bumpy ride but we got a decent sleep and landed on time in Bangkok. After clearing transit security, we used priority pass to access the Bangkok Airways lounge. The flight to Phuket was uneventful. I ordered a kosher meal for this flight, and was served a plastic wrapped apple.

Upon arrival in Phuket, we had a brief wait before our driver that I had booked on Klook ($50 round trip) showed up. We had also ordered sim cards ($5 each) which the driver provided us with.
If you've never been to Phuket, the Chabad is located in Patong Beach, which is definitely more of a run down area. There are some OK properties, but the nicer ones are mostly outside of this area. Our hotel, The Naka, was about a 15 minute drive north of Patong, in Kamala. It's a large, spread out resort with an impressive outdoor lobby area. Like a lot of the resorts in the area, you need to take a golf cart to your villa. The hotel has 24 hour service so you'll never get stuck hiking up to your villa. The villa itself is very spacious. We had booked the high bay room, and it had very impressive views from the private infinity pool and the bedroom. Due to the way that the villas are stacked on the hillside though, not all of the private pools are actually private, and judging from the shows our lower neighbors provided, it's not so obvious that the people above you can clearly see what's going on. They have a private beach for the resort as well, but it was very rocky and I saw lots of jellyfish floating around. If you plan to swim here, definitely bring water shoes for the rocks. We did not use any of the other amenities the hotel provides.

(https://i.postimg.cc/L5gCDK2y/20200128-170404.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/fSZfWP3X)

(https://i.postimg.cc/fb5rTf8v/20200129-105242-1.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/LqYTxLKq)

(https://i.postimg.cc/DfC4dJMY/20200130-110230.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/pyFdPTxD)

After a quick swim, we headed to Patong for dinner at Chabad. They have a meat restaurant, as well as a pizza store. Since my last visit, the pizza store added a cappuccino machine, which was so nice to have. The food is great, and very well priced. We didn't see him at all this trip, but Rabbi Mendy is an incredible man who really cares for everyone who walks through his doors. After dinner, we went to Teddy, an Israeli who lives in Phuket and provides the typical Phuket tourist attractions. I had previously done the full island tour, including Koh Phi Phi, and while I had an excellent time, I couldn't see myself making it through such a long day again. We ended up choosing a half day island tour for the next day.

One of the things that Patong is known for is its nightlife, which never disappoints. There's something for everyone, whether you want night markets, cheap drinks and loud music, or endless massages. It also has other things it is known for, and for that reason I would not recommend visiting if that is not something you want to be near. If you enjoy dance music, I'd highly recommend Illuzion. Just don't get there too early.

The next morning we slept late, and went right to the pizza store. They sell personal pies, but they are quite big and definitely enough for two people, if not more. We ended up taking half our pie with us on the boat tour which got a lot of laughs from the Thai ladies at the tour agency when we got picked up. The half day tour turned out to be incredible. The drive to the dock takes about an hour, including picking up other guests. Once you get to the dock, there's some refreshments, opportunity to buy things like waterproof bags for your phone and water shoes. After a safety presentation you finally get onto the boat. Since we only took the halfday tour, we only stopped on Koh Khai Nok and Khai Nai Island (thanks again Google Timeline). Having done both full day and half day options, I really think the half day is enough to get the idea of what's going on out there without leaving you completely wiped out. There's plenty of time to explore the islands, enjoy cheap drinks, and relax in the water.

(https://i.postimg.cc/7PTrXjs8/20200129-163541.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/QVszdYZ0)

(https://i.postimg.cc/525Cz7d8/Whats-App-Image-2020-10-05-at-4-56-38-PM.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/Jsn0VQhh)

(https://i.postimg.cc/xd0b3vnh/Whats-App-Image-2020-10-05-at-4-56-38-PM-1.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/PCRxt8LQ)

We were dropped off at our hotel around 7pm. After a stop at Chabad for dinner, Teddy to book activities for the next day, and a visit to the Bob Marley bar around the corner, we spent another night enjoying the night markets, the fresh fruit, and the night life.

(https://i.postimg.cc/8kwXR4DQ/Whats-App-Image-2020-10-05-at-4-55-04-PM.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/z3bk5nV0)

We had reserved an ATV tour and Zip Lining for Thursday afternoon, and after a morning of enjoying the hotel and the beach we were again picked up and driven to the zip lining course. It was good fun and the guides were funny. We had taken a shorter option but you can also do more stations if you want to spend more time on it. As with the island tour, I think it was enough to get the idea without overdoing it, and soon enough we were on our way to the ATV tour.

The ATV tour takes you through the forest on mud and dirt roads, at times alongside elephant tours, up to the Big Buddha (which you don't need to enter), and then back down.

(https://i.postimg.cc/d1ZQ23kg/20200130-173553.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/XG303Vgg)

(https://i.postimg.cc/Hk3LHf1v/20200130-173038.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/FYdvVCR0)

As we had an early flight the next morning, and we planned to stay out late, I hadn't booked The Naka for that night. Instead I booked a cheap room closer to the action to leave our bags and get a couple hours of rest after another night enjoying the city. Friday morning at 4:15 we were off on the way to the Maldives, finally!

Title: Re: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: tavster on October 05, 2020, 10:23:32 AM
Great TR. Looking forward to the reading the rest  :)
Title: Re: Phuket, Maldives, and London
Post by: MEIR613 on October 22, 2020, 03:21:54 PM
Wow!! Great TR!!

Totally forgot you went to the Maldives, looks like you had an awesome time!