thailand

  • Dang Coconut Chips

    Do you love coconut?  Then Dang! you need to try Dang Coconut chips.  These things are awesome.  

    We ran across the Dang Coconut Chips at Whole Foods about a month ago.  They’re now on our weekly shopping list.  Their vegan, actually fairly low in calories considering this is coconut after all.  A small handful is all you need to get a burst of toasted coconut taste.  Dang! coconut chips also work great on salads, mixed with raw fruit (especially spring strawberries) and also in granola or muesli.  Their packaged well, so they’re great to carry hiking or just about anywhere that you travel.

    The thing we like about these most is their size.  To quote Baby Bear in Goldilocks, “They’re just right”.  Dang Coconut Chips look just like the photo on the package.  They’re about an inch long and 1/4′ wide, so they’re easy to grab and aren’t messy.  They’re very crispy, not chewy like other coconut pieces.  We have yet to try the Caramel Sea Salt version, but if they’re half as good as the plain, woohoo!

    You can order Dang Coconut Chips on Amazon or you can find a store near you by clicking here.

     

  • Black Canyon Coffee – Thailand

    Locations throughout Thailand

    Also locations in Singapore, Dubai, Myanmar, Cambodia
    Phillipines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos

    Black Canyon Website

    Other reviews: 
    Yelp
    TripAdvisor
    Open Rice

    [review]

    We first tried Black Canyon Coffee in the Bangkok airport on our first trip to Thailand about 9 years ago.  Once we tried it, we knew it was a great place for coffee.  Since then, Black Canyon has gone through a lot of changes.  They’ve opened a lot more locations in Thailand and closed some in other areas.  

    Black Canyon Coffee has evolved into being similar to a Starbucks type of chain.  In addition to the typical basic coffee and espresso, they serve many varieties of coffee-based drinks .  They also serve various varieties of tea, fruit smoothies, juices and more.  So, it’s not really your typical type of true espresso cafes.  But, that aside, service is always friendly and the coffee is very good.

    Most of Black Canyon locations are franchised, so it’s a good idea to verify that the location is still open before you make a special trip to one.

  • What’s More Dangerous Than Bedbugs?

    What’s more dangerous than bedbugs?  The pesticide to kill them.  Over the past few days, the Huffington Post and BBC have carried details about the deaths of four people earlier this year in Chiang Mai.  A budget hotel, The Downtown Inn, is suspected of spraying beds for bedbugs with a highly toxic pesticide.  While tests are somewhat inconclusive, there is a strong suspicion that the deaths were caused by exposure to the spray.  The Bangkok Post has an update on the story as of this past Saturday, here.  

  • Jetsetter: Elements – Koh Samui, Thailand

    Jetsetter is offering a great rate at Elements Resort & Spa in Koh Samui, Thailand through 7/23.  Rates as low as 30% or more off of rack rates. Click here for more info.

    We’ve been to Elements and it’s a great place to unwind and relax.  While it is on a quieter part of the island, you can still easily get to nightlife and other activities just a short drive or ride from the resort.  The spa here is excellent and is extremely reasonably priced.  You can check out our reviews of the hotel here and the spa here.  You can also take a look at more photos of Koh Samui and the resort, in our photo gallery, here.

  • Elements Boutique Resort & Spa

    53/5 Moo 4
    Phang Ka, Surat Thani
    Koh Samui, Thailand 

    +66 77 914 678

    Hotel Website

    2BR Beachfront Villa w/Pool:

    Rack Rate: $595 per night tax inclusive
    Our Rate: $465 per night tax inclusive

    Booked Via
    : Hotel Website

    Reviews: TripAdvisor

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    Location: The hotel is located on the far southwestern tip of Koh Samui, in Phang Ka.  It’s on the complete opposite end from the airport, so a transfer will take around 45 minutes or so, depending upon traffic in the more populated areas.  The resort is about a kilometer off of the main road.  You’ll wind your way through a small residential area and the resort will be at the end.  There are a couple of small convenience type stores about 2km from the resort for any snacks or small items you may want to purchase.  It can easily be reached by a short 15-20 minute walk or take one of the free bikes from the resort.  

    Chaweng is the center of nightlife and activity on Koh Samui.  It’s about a 20-25 minute car ride from the resort.  There are a few things in between, but not much.  We found the location to be an advantage not a disadvantage, but then we were looking for a more relaxing, do nothing vacation.

    While the resort is “ocean front”, it actually is on a secluded bay with shallow water.  During dry season and low tide, you can be as much as 500-100 feet from water more than 1 or 2 feet deep.  It’s still very beautiful, but if you’re looking to be able to jump right into the water from the resort, you may be disappointed.  The beach is sandy in front of the hotel, however beyond that it can be a bit rocky.

    There are many flights to Koh Samui everyday on Thai or Bangkok Airways. Most leave almost hourly from Bangkok or other destinations.  Note that if you do travel via Bangkok and arrive late in the evening, an overnight stay might be required before going on to Koh Samui.

    Rooms: Elements is a very modern, contemporary place to stay.  The resort itself is small and compact, so you’re never far from activities, restaurant, pool or spa, no matter where your room is located.  Larger and more expensive rooms are located towards the pool and beachfront in a “villa” type atmosphere.  Smaller, less expensive rooms are situated towards the center of the resort in “villa” style or “two story” type buildings.

    All rooms are simple, with modern Thai style furniture and furnishings.  We stayed in a 2BR oceanfront villa with a pool, that was directly next to the main resort pool.  The 2BR villa is a walled “compound” that consisted of four separate buildings, a single bedroom in each of two buildings, a central building that housed the living room and kitchen and a small half bathroom in yet another building.  Between the buildings and the ocean, lie the room pool, which was of significant size.  There’s also an in ground hot-tub in the villa.

    All of the “villa style” rooms are very private, with 8 foot walls surrounding each.  On the end of our villa, was a wooden screen that you could open to look out directly on the beach and ocean.  Almost all of the buildings in our villa were floor to ceiling glass on two sides.  During the very hot months, the air conditioning can have a hard time keeping rooms cool, even with the draperies shut.  The kitchen area included a small refrigerator as well as dishes and barware.  A flat screen TV was in each building and free wi-fi was available throughout the resort with fairly decent speeds.  Housekeeping was twice daily and the rooms were immaculate.

    Facilities: The hotel has a pool, exercise room, full-service spa and restaurant with small bar.  The exercise room is very large, with floor to ceiling glass on three sides.  There’s a wide range of exercise equipment as well as free weights.  There’s a small changing area and locker room as well.  The pool is a large rectangular shape with chairs and umbrellas down each side.  It opens on to the beach area, which includes additional chairs and umbrellas.  

    The restaurant is open-air style, with additional patio seating outside.  A small bar that’s elevated a few steps above one end of the restaurant, is a great place to relax in the afternoon or before lunch of dinner.  The food here was excellent.  There’s a great combination of traditional Thai food as well as Western favorites.  If you don’t see what you like on the menu, all you need to do is ask and either the Thai or Western chefs are happy to accommodate your requests.  Prices are reasonable.  There are also a couple of theme nights during the week, such as BBQ night.  Breakfast is included in most room rates.

    The spa here is really unbelievable.  You can see our separate review of that, here.

    Staff:  The staff at Elements was exceptional.  The entire crew were extremely helpful and accommodating, no matter what we needed or what we wanted to do. We’ve been to Thailand many times and we can truly say, that the service here is top notch, not only for resorts in Thailand, but most places around the world.  In addition to transfers to and from the hotel, we also hired one of the hotel’s staff members to take us on a tour around the island for a day.  The vehicle was always stocked with cool towels and bottled water or soft drinks to help survive the hottest part of the day.

    Pros: A very relaxing getaway at a very reasonable price.  Food and spa re great and the resort has a very quiet atmosphere.

    Cons: If you want to be near the hustle and bustle of Koh Samui, this may not be the option for you.  Also, if you want to be directly on the ocean, you may want to seek out other resorts.

    IAH TIP:  Occasionally the hotel has special rates on Jetsetter.  Rates are lower during off-season.

     

     

    For more photos of the hotel and Koh Samui, visit our photo gallery by clicking here.

     

  • Elements Boutique Spa – Koh Samui, Thailand

    53/5 Moo 4

    Phang Ka, Surat Thani
    Koh Samui, Thailand 

    +66 77 914 678

    Spa Website

    Spa Treatments: $15-$60 US

    Reviews: TripAdvisor

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    Elements Boutique Spa Koh Samui is located inside of the Elements Resort.

    Facilities: The spa is located within the resort and has several treatment rooms.  While the rooms are a bit small, they’re very comfortable.  While all can be enclosed, most of the time they are “open air”.  Even on the hottest days, the breezes keep rooms cool and make for a heavenly experience.  Your greeted with soothing cool towels and a very nice iced or hot tea.  There are no additional facilities such as steam rooms, locker rooms, etc., but with a resort this intimate, you won’t miss them at all.

    Staff: If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ll know the Thai people are extra ordinarily friendly and pleasant.  The spa staff here takes that to a whole new level.  They are all very professional and genuine.  All of us had various therapists while we were here and each and everyone was excellent.

    Treatments: There are plenty of spa treatments on the spa menu.  During our six day stay, we tried most of them.  Our favorites were the Hot Compress Herbal Massage and the four hour Elements Signature Massage.  If you get a bit too much sun, the After Sun Recovery Wrap is especially nice.

    Pricing: Prices are very inexpensive.  But don’t think that means the quality of the treatments suffer, they don’t.  On some days, we did two to three treatments a day because of how reasonable they were. 

    IAH TIP:  Because spa treatments are so reasonably priced, it’s highly advisable to book very early.  We booked our treatments two months in advance to make sure we could get in.

  • Egypt: The Perfect Reason To Be Prepared When Traveling Abroad

    Recent events in Egypt over the past few days show how easy it is for political situations to change in foreign countries.  Situations can deteriorate rapidly.  If you happen to be in a country when things change, are you prepared?  By taking a few simple steps before you leave, as well as remain “in-touch” while you’re traveling, you can be ready for most things that come you’re way.

    Register Your Trip

    In the US, you can register with STEP, at the US State Department.  In the UK, you can register with LOCATE, a service of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  Each service allows you setup an account, so it makes future registrations quick and easy.

    Travel Insurance

    Travel insurance is always a good investment.  If unrest or an emergency situation breaks out before you leave home, your policy may help protect your travel investment.  Make sure to check policy coverage before you purchase to make sure you’re covered in these types of situations.  Some companies like Global Rescue or Red24 provide evacuation or extraction services while traveling.

    Know Your Options

    Before you leave on your trip, take a few minutes to know what your options are should you need to leave a country unexpectedly.  Last year, we went to Thailand during the protests in Bangkok.  Even though we were headed to Koh Samui, over 500 miles away, Bangkok was our main airport gateway back to the US.  We researched other options of leaving Thailand by air from other cities, just in case there was a take over or shut down of the Bangkok airport.

    Be Aware

    Vacations and holidays are for relaxing.  Getting away from the rat race and “checking out” of daily life.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world carries on and things happen.  As difficult as it might be, you should tune in to world news on a TV from time to time, so you can stay posted on developments.  BBC World is carried in most hotels worldwide.  It’s an excellent source for up-to-date information and repeats it’s top stories every few minutes.  Many hotels in foreign countries provide their guests with one-page mini-newspapers from outside countries during breakfast.

    Contacts

    Knowing who to contact in an emergency situation is key.  Before you leave home, program the phone number of your Embassy in the country your traveling to, as well as their address, into your wireless phone.  Even if your phone doesn’t work in your destination country, you’ll have the information available to use on a land line.  Also take the phone numbers and websites of other airlines that you may need to use, if you can’t go back to your arriving airport or if your original airline stops flying.  Many people in Egypt were unable to leave Cairo because many of the major airlines stopped flying when unrest broke out.

    Communication Options

    Don’t rely on the internet when traveling abroad.  Egypt severed all internet connections as the situation grew worse.  If your wireless phone won’t work in the country your traveling to, consider purchasing a cellphone that accepts SIM cards.  You can purchase a SIM card when you arrive in your destination country and insert it in your phone.  That will allow your phone to work on the local cell network.

    Taking a few minutes before you leave to plan for unexpected emergencies, can help you cope with any situation that may arise.  Most of all, remember to stay calm.