Customeized Private Phang Nga Bay Tour in Phuket with a Toddler
Other blog posts on Phuket: Hotel, Preparing for a Phuket Trip, Big Buddha, Safari Tour, Phi Phi Tour, and Kid Gear Recommendations.
Almost every traveler knows the frustration of the last day of vacation. Check out is usually early in the morning, flight doesn't leave until much later and you're stuck with your bags and no place to call home. It almost seems like a waste of a vacation day. Instead of begging the hotel to keep our luggage, having to come back from an outing to retrieve it, and then heading to the airport we decided to put the Easy Day Thailand tour company to the test. I wrote them an e-mail and outlined our problem. We wanted to do a few things that were not available on a set tour and we wanted to be able to get dropped off at the airport at the end of our day with our luggage. They took my challenged and really earned all the great reviews I read about them before we left Korea. They set up a custom private tour just for us. We got our own private tour bus, driver, and tour guide for the whole day. We were allowed to set the timeline, pace, and pick exactly what we wanted to do. Not only that but we could just throw our luggage in the back of the van and get dropped off at the airport at the end of the day. Pure mommy-traveling-with-toddler bliss!
In the morning we were picked up at our hotel around 9. Sam was running low on diapers so I asked our wonderful tour guide T if we had some time in our schedule to stop by a few baby stores. He was more than happy to take us over. He made a few phone calls to a few female colleagues and asked where was the best place to take us and off we went. We stopped at a few adorable clothing stores and a baby supply store. I was able to buy a few cute outfits for Sam and get the diapers she needed.
Our tour guide was amazing. The Easy Day Thailand staff assured me they put "thinking" tour guides on their private tours who are able to adjust the schedule and do everything we would like and they weren't overexerting. T was not only able to find us diapers, in the middle of one of our conversations about how much my husband and I love spicy food he asked our driver to stop for just a minute and he ran out to get us some delicious Thai street food that was just the right amount of spicy and sweet! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it! We were just tickled with delight at his attentiveness and quick thinking. He was also more than happy to answer all the questions we could think of. Between my husband and I, T was bombarded with an avalanche of questions about Thai politics, the education system, health care, the tourism industry, home life, and even ingredients to our favorite Thai dishes! When he didn't know, he found out. The conversations made all the drives to and from each location go by in a flash. Not only that but we were learning as a family. I gained more understanding of Thailand and the Thai people in one day just with talking to T than I had when reading the Thailand guide books. Not to mention Sam took a real liking to T, he was more than happy to help play with her and carry her around. She even asked to stay with him when we got to the airport and gave him kisses goodbye. So sweet! (Thank you T!)
SCS Daddy and I had read the wonderful legends behind the buried Buddha in Wat Pha Thong so we made it our first stop to the day. Outside the temple were wild roosters and chickens. Sam enjoyed chasing after them.
The temple was free for entrance and tourists were no where to be seen. It was relaxing change of pace from our other locations. We were able to go in, have a moment of reflection, and then explore the grounds. There were signs for a playground in the area but we didn't stop to check it out.
After the buried Buddha we headed to the Samchong Seafood restaurant for lunch. Lunch was included in our tour price. The spread and the view alike were sensational. There were a slew of animals scattered around the restaurant for Sam to enjoy. She loved the talking birds at the entrance until they decided to mimic her squeals of delight and she was terrified. *hilarious*
At the dock of the restaurant our long boat was waiting for us. The joys of a private tour: when we were done eating the boat was ready to set off, no waiting around!
Sam could feel us relax as we got in the boat and she made herself right at home. She was able to sit in the front of the boat with dad or walk to the back of the boat and snuggle with mom, queen of the ocean. Our tour guide T also brought along a cooler filled with sodas and water for our journey.
Our first stop on the long boat was at Paynee Island. It was an entire village built on stilts over the ocean.
Another perk of a private tour is that T was able to walk us around everywhere, haggle in Thai with the shop keepers for us, show us all the interesting streets to walk through, give us more background history at each stop (for instance, why is there rice laying out in front of all the houses?).
During this stop Sam started to near her nap time. I packed the Ergo and settled her to be walked to sleep while we toured the island. After she feel asleep I got hot, yikes having a 98 degree heater attached to me was less than ideal in such hot temperatures. In hindsight I should have packed my mesh wrap. I stopped for some ice cream and sat right under the fan.
The island had a large restaurant at the entrance and several food stalls around the island.
Restrooms were also available for use. When we decided we were done we just meet T and our long boat the dock and took off. (I could get used to this private tour idea!)
We then headed to my favorite experience in Thailand, the canoes! We went to view the limestone caves.
Our long boat docked next to a large commercial boat where we boat tickets and lined up to jump in a canoe. Thankfully the canoes are all driven by experienced drivers so no need to paddle, just sit back and enjoy!
When SCS Daddy told me we were going to be asking Sam to lay down so we could glide through small gaps in the rocks I had more than my share of mommy reservations.
Thankfully as soon as Sam saw where we were headed, she was more than willing to lay down with me. ;) Smart girl! There was even a boat along the way selling fresh coconuts!
We soaked up the tourist experience and boat our own! Joy!
The canoe was very sturdy and Sam was even able to hang off the edge and play splash in the water.
In hindsight I should have bought and brought a toddler life vest for her. The only ones available were in adult sizes and it would have done her no good if she fell off the boat. Thankfully between Daddy and Mommy we are lifeguards, avid swimmers, and CPR & First Aid certified. Not to mention Sam has been "water trained" since she was a month old. So we thought it would be okay just this one time. (If we would have had it she would have been wearing it!)
After we finished our canoe trip we re-boarded the long boat and headed to our last ocean stop, James Bond Island.
We went in the afternoon and there weren't may tourists on the beach, another perk of the private tour. T walked us over the mountain to the beach and even stopped to take several family pictures for us! No tripod needed on this tour, plenty of family photos, wonderful! We let Sam swim until she was content and then we changed her and headed back to the boat. Once again, private tour was wonderful for a toddler, when she was done we could just move on!
On our way back to the mainland we were running on low. We had packed a lot in and knew we had a long night flight ahead of us. After a quick chat with T we decided to skip our last scheduled stop and head to a nice dinner instead. Since it wasn't in our original plans we paid for our meal this time around. We were enjoying the company of T and our driver so much by this point we asked them to share a meal with us and they were happy to oblige. T took us to the 360 restaurant. The restaurant was set on top of a hill and a perfect location to watch the sunset on our last day in Phuket. The restaurant was all outdoors and had children's play equipment all around. Sam was smitten and it was just the running around and play she needed before our long flight home. The food was great, company was great, setting was great.... in total just a great way to end the day.
After we ate we hopped back in the van and headed for the airport. Thankfully the way T had set up the days events we gradually worked our way towards the airport with each event so by that time we were almost there with very little travel time left. We were dropped off right at the entrance to the airport. Our driver got us a cart loaded our suitcases, we did our farewells and thank yous, and we were on our way back to Korea.
SCS Fast Facts Where and How:
Baby carrier, baby carrier, baby carrier. Leave the stroller at home. :)
Easy Day Thailand (Tell them Sippy Cup Sojourner Sent You!)
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