By Yasir Saeed

Being a photographer, one of my life long dreams is to work while on a leisure trip. I have travelled to a lot of countries but for one reason or the other, I couldn’t visit Thailand. I have been in transit on Suvarnabhumi Airport a couple of times on my way to Malaysia and Singapore but couldn’t get a chance to experience Thailand. Recently, I decided to visit Phuket and Bangkok, a long overdue trip to the sin city of Asia, famous for its legendary nightlife, shopping and out of this world Thai massages. It wasn’t going to be another version of Hangover II because I was travelling alone and I was looking forward to a relaxing trip into the heart of this very culturally rich and naturally preserved piece of God’s Land.

I asked my local travel agency to book me a ticket. The plan was to first fly to Phuket via Bangkok, with 2 nights stay in Novotel Vintage Park Resort, a four star property and after that wrapping up the trip with two closing nights in Bangkok at the 5 star Westin Grande. The usual mid-night flight to Bangkok flies 5 days a week from Lahore to Bangkok. The business class lounge at the airport was awesome with complimentary snacks and drinks before getting on the flight. A very dim-lit executive lounge was classy and very different from the rest of the airport.

I landed at Bangkok airport and took a connecting flight to Phuket with an even nicer Business Class accommodation on the new domestic plane. The overall travelling experience was wonderful and there was hardly any fatigue despite a total of 5-6 hours of travelling.

After landing at the Phuket airport I was shuttled to Novotel Vintage Park Resort on a private minivan arranged for me by the hotel. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and heaven for beach lovers. It is the most popular holiday destination in the region. Blue lagoons and salmon sunsets make for a dream-like atmosphere, and indeed, a vacation here can feel a bit surreal. Watersports are the most popular activity, though once you’ve had enough sun there’s still plenty to explore at the island’s aquariums, gardens, and Buddhist temples.

Novotel Vintage Park Resort is located in the heart of Patong. It was a 4 star resort featuring contemporary South East Asian architecture and modern facilities. The hotel is a few steps away from shopping centres and the lively Patong nightlife. The resort offered a wide selection of indulgences ranging from water-based activities in the 2000sqm swimming pool to fitness centre, Thai cooking class and a kids club. The rooms were spacious and modern, equipped with world-class amenities. 

My agent had planned back-to-back activities for me to explore the island. I saw the famous Phuket Fantasea Show which is inspired by Thailand's rich and exotic heritage, and not only showcases the charm and beauty of this country, but also enriches ancient Thai traditions with the wonders of cutting-edge technology, theatrical performances and live special effects. I also got to eat at their theme restaurant offering a grand buffet of Thai and international cuisines and of course a designated area for their Muslim guests with a wide selection of Halal dishes.

The next morning I had my day trip planned to the famous Phi Phi Island. The ferry ride was awesome. The breeze, clear sky and surrounding beauty were the perfect backdrop for my most memorable photos. It was a 2 hours ride to Phi Phi Island. The boat manoeuvred between giant mountainous rocks that are synonymous of your entry into the island. One can never miss snorkelling areas in the shores of the beaches the boat docks at small pieces of land. You virtually feel like you are inside an aquarium with beautiful fish and corals and could actually touch some of it. I couldn’t stop myself from swimming into the clear blue water and experience snorkelling. I spent the whole afternoon exploring the perfect white sand beaches and then headed back to Patong before sunset.

Phuket is a fun place to wander around and everyone can find something or the other to keep them entertained at any time of the day or night. This place is also famous for its bargain shopping from clothes to handicrafts, from replicas of designer handbags to watches.

Novotel is located right next to Patong Beach and the whole area around the hotel is lined with bars, restaurants and shops. Once the sun goes down, the adrenaline goes up. That's when Patong's liveliest party zone becomes closed to traffic and ready for action. Famous for its raunchy nightlife, Bangla goes all out to entertain with street dances and music that increases. Jammed most nights year round, it is actually totally unthreatening and lively place to walk around as bars compete for customers. It was something completely crazy yet memorable. I had a fun 3 days and 2 nights at Phuket, which I will never forget.

After 2 amazing nights in Phuket my next destination was Bangkok. I stayed at the Westin Grande Hotel located in the heart of Bangkok's best shopping, food and entertainment area. This luxury five star hotel is within easy reach to leading shopping malls and with the added convenience of the Sky train and a subway almost at the doorsteps of the hotel.

I stayed in Westin for two nights. The hotel lives up to its name. The room was huge with every possible necessity and luxury one would want. Westin is famous for its hospitality and heavenly beds and rightly so. The breakfast was an experience in itself with such a wide spread catering from every part of the world that it is a bit overwhelming to say the least. For the next 2 days I enjoyed some window shopping at Terminal 21, Emporium, Siam Paragon, MBK, and Central World Mall which were all within easy reach of the hotel. I got an opportunity to take a day tour to most of the Buddhist temples including the reclining Buddha. Bangkok’s roadside night markets are something not to be missed with great deals and cheap stuff that you cannot avoid buying. My last dinner in Thailand was on a cruise with live music and a backdrop of Thailand’s Royal Palaces. Next morning I spent the whole day relaxing at the pool, which was a good size with plenty of sun lounges and great ambiance. It was a perfect way to end my magical holiday that I felt was worth my time and money in the amazing Thailand.