Thailand customer reviews
We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up to date as possible. Please have a read through to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a trip to Thailand with us. And please do ring if you’d like to talk with someone who has been there and travelled with the kids.
Looker Family (with children aged 8 and 10)
Travelled New Year 2018/19
Hi Caroline. We absolutely loved our holiday to Thailand. It all went so smoothly and was the perfect blend of adventure, sightseeing and time to relax. Our guides were all very knowledgeable and helpful and their insight really enriched our holiday. The highlight for my husband and I was definitely the trek to the village. Despite his reservations, he loved this and then said that he realized it would have been an amazing thing to do on New Year’s Eve too! The walk was great fun and not too challenging and the views were breathtaking.
When we arrived at the house, there was less interaction than we thought there would be, but looking back, I think that was because we arrived later than expected (slow walking children) and so they were all eating their dinner and then gave us our meal after they had left. However, in no way did this spoil our experience and one of the ladies did come and chat to us for a little while. Our two girls loved their home for the night and for me, the sounds of the jungle at night were just incredible. So noisy and yet so peaceful! I’m very glad that this was part of our itinerary!
New Year’s Eve in Chaing Mai was wonderful as you could feel the excitement and celebration of the city. We were actually all so tired that we didn’t even stay up until Midnight but we did see the lanterns and some fireworks which all started happening from around 9pm.
We loved the overnight train, although not that much sleep was had as the children were just too excited to go to sleep! J did comment that the beds were not quite long enough when you are over 6 foot but both very glad we did this.
Naturally the zip lining, elephant sanctuary and rafting were my children’s favourite activities and again everything was organised perfectly…
Our morning in Bangkok was brilliant and just when my girls were starting to get fed up of temples, we jumped on the boat and they forgot all about their weary legs as they were engrossed in feeding the fish!
The cookery course was also a real hit with all the family, despite having kids who are very fussy eaters! I was amazed that they tried everything.
Throughout our trip I could see the expertise that has gone into planning an itinerary, which ensured that it was a family-friendly trip with so much cultural experience, combined with more active days. At the end of the week, my youngest daughter asked if we could do another Stubborn Mule holiday, to which the answer was most definitely – yes!
Thank you to everyone at Stubborn Mule. We are looking forward to our next adventure soon.
Hilsen Family (with children aged 7 and 10)
Travelled Christmas 2018
Hi Kelly – Happy new year!… I just wanted to say a big, big thank you for all your help with our Thailand trip. The boys and I had an amazing time and once again you put together an itinerary that was just perfect in so many ways! The Bangkok bike ride was a huge success (although it took the boys some convincing initially), the waterfalls were amazing and I think the boys will remember working on the elephant camp for a long time to come. All the hotels also worked out so well… especially the raft hotel and the one in Krabi.
I can’t stress again how much I appreciated all your help and how easy you made it for me travelling as a single mum. Will be in touch again soon for our next trip and please let me know if you would like any reviews or photos (and if there is anything in particular you would like me to focus on)
All the best for 2019 for you and your family and also the business.
Brown Family (with children aged 10 and 14)
Travelled October Half Term 2018
Hi Charlotte. We had the most wonderful trip. All the excursions and activities were fun and fascinating and I can’t speak highly enough about the wonderful guides. To a man/woman, they were informative, friendly and taught us so much about the country. They really went the extra mile and were so sweet to the kids. It was superbly organised, and all the accommodation was great.
The Tamarind Village was fine in the end. It was a shame about the pool but it’s a beautiful hotel and we were so busy exploring Chiang Mai that we didn’t miss the swimming too much. The Koh Lanta section at the end was great, and the hotel was nice though probably not totally our style – very big, slightly blingy resort and the food fairly average but the pool and beach were beautiful and we really liked the island. I think we might have been better going with your suggestions on resorts there.
The only thing I might suggest for other people travelling to Thailand – and it really is a tiny quibble – it might be an idea to manage expectations a bit about the overnight train to Chiang Mai. It was totally fine and a very good use of time, but I didn’t realise that we would be in a carriage with forty other people and might have gone a bit better prepared in terms of eye masks/ear plugs, etc, and bringing our own food.
Overall, we loved it and have already started talking about where our next Stubborn Mule trip might be to! Thank you so much.
d’Arjuzon Family (with children aged 8 and 10)
Travelled Summer 2018
Hi Kelly – Indeed home safe and sound and we had the most wonderful trip so thank you so much. In terms of real highlights – definitely elephant world – fabulous day, exceptionally well run, varied and really nice people. The cooking course was also great and the chef was a really fun guy, which made it fun for the kids.
The hotel on River Kwai was fab – super lux, canoes outside the room to use whenever, Nespresso machine.
Tubing in the jungle was a great laugh, and the lodge we transferred to was great. Feel of a small friendly place but modern, clean with air con, and monkeys outside.
Koh Samui was great too and thanks for the snorkelling trip. It was fun to revisit Koh Tao 20 years after I first went as a backpacker. We also felt like real seafarers as most of the boat was struck down with sea-sickness but luckily no d’Arjuzons!
Baillie Family (with children aged 3, 6 & 8 )
Travelled Summer 2018
Hi Charlotte. The trip was amazing thanks, everything I hoped for! Jib our guide was the best thing about it, the kids loved her, she was really easy to get on with and told us so much we would not have known about otherwise. She also enabled us and the kids to try new and different foods by making sure they weren’t picking spicy stuff for example.
The kids favourite thing was probably Elephant World, as well as swimming in all the various different places. They also loved the journeys which was a relief as we were definitely in the car a lot longer than we expected. I didn’t realise for example that the hotel would be another hour and a half from the airport and then the Bangkok day trip was a similar distance. So another time I would probably prefer a hotel in a different location in Bangkok. But it actually gave the kids a chance for some downtime which was nice, just wasn’t what we expected.
Similarly at Kanchanaburi the trips were quite a distance but again this did work out unexpectedly ok! I think because the 3 year old was not in a car seat she was much easier to keep happy and the bus was incredibly comfortable.
One disappointing thing was that the swimming pool at Hintok was flooded and out of action which apparently happens in rainy season. The bikes also didn’t work very well especially the kid size ones, so if we hadn’t had the trips we would have been limited as to what to do, especially as it was quite muddy and damp. We managed to get a shuttle bus to another hotel to use their pool as we had talked it up a bit and the kids were disappointed (also because sadly they were a bit scared of the massive fish in the waterfalls to swim!!) and the pool there was incredible – hot spring by the side of a lake! But we were clock watching and hurrying due to the time of the shuttle bus so a bit stressful.
Even without the swimming the waterfalls were incredible – my eldest spent half an hour plucking up the courage to jump in because the fish were following us wherever we went but she finally did and we swam very quickly to a little rock, which was a big moment! I’ve got a great photo I’ll send you. They loved clambering around the rocks as well.
Dolphin Bay was perfect, could have stayed there forever! Kids play park and play room wit DVDs for a bit of downtime after swimming. They also had quality bikes for adults and children and even toddler seats so we could all go. A real treat was kids massages so they could come in and be massaged alongside me! Amazing.
We mainly stayed in the hotel grounds but my highlight was a boat trip to see an incredible cave. It was a 40-minute climb up rocky steps through the jungle so my husband stayed back with the 3 year old as he would have been carrying her. But the 6 and 8 year old did so well climbing in the heat and it was well worth it. Again I’ll send some pictures when I have time.
The only disappointment was that the beach wasn’t particularly nice to sit on and play or paddle, we saw a fair few jellyfish and there were lots of shells and tiny crabs. More of a walking around collecting shells type beach. Kids were too nervous of the jellyfish to swim (but were v happy with the pool) but we did kayak – another new experience!
So in summary it basically satisfied all of our requirements! Culture, action, swimming, amazing food, beautiful scenery, we didn’t feel like we were having to keep the kids entertained at all even on the long journeys and had a fair amount of relaxation at the end. Perfect!
Macfarlane Family (with children aged 8 and 12)
Travelled Summer 2018 – Thailand & Cambodia
Dear Liddy – Thank you for another wonderful family holiday! Our trip to Thailand and Cambodia was incredible. 3 weeks went so fast! We enjoyed Bangkok and the Nuovo City hotel was a great choice. It’s a modern hotel in a good backpacker area close to all the sights, with some good restaurants on the same street (especially Madam Musur).
The rooftop pool is small and did get crowded, but was perfect for when we arrived off the plane. The grand deluxe rooms had good a/c and were spacious and breakfast was good too. We saw lots of sights and enjoyed ourselves, but it was very hot and crowded and so we were pleased to be moving out of the city after 2 nights.
Ludia on the River in Ayuthaya was a nice hotel, but did not have a restaurant and there was not much local choice. They recommended the very smart hotel boutique hotel next door and we ate there both nights. The swimming pool was lovely. We spent a day walking around but it was very hot and given we were heading to Angkor Wat in Cambodia we could have skipped Ayuthaya. However, if this would be your only visit to an ancient site, then it was interesting, but I would recommend hiring a tuk tuk/guide for the day to take you around.
We really liked Khao Yai National Park. The evening trip to see millions of bats exiting their cave was like being on a wildlife documentary and was absolutely incredible. Next day hiking the park was also good, if muddy – our highlights were being in the jungle tracking gibbons swinging through the trees above us and seeing a variety of snakes. Our guide via the hotel was excellent and the Khao Yai Nature Life resort itself was a good choice – simple but good a/c, 2 pools and a decent dinner.
We passed across the land border into Cambodia – an interesting experience for us all. We loved Siem Reap and were very pleased that we had 5 nights there. The Damrei Angkor was the perfect choice of hotel – great location and good modern rooms. Definitely use tuk tuks to get around – we tried walking a few times and it’s not worth it! Siem Reap has a really fun atmosphere and lots of amazing restaurants with the French influence.
We would recommend the local market near the Kings Road area as it’s less hectic than the Pub street one and had more choice. The reason we were there was it’s the gateway to Angkor Wat, and even with our high expectations, we were blown away. We had a guide booked for day 1 and ended up booking him for day 2 also as he was excellent and it made such a difference. We had a much needed rest day on the 3rd day before driving out of town with him on the 4th day to see the lake and the temple in the jungle, which was a good trip.
The flight from SR to Phuket was very easy and we transferred to the jungle camp. We loved the lake boat trip, but it rained an incredible amount. In dry season we could have stayed another night here and done another trip as there were several that looked good, but the rain and jungle was very loud at night and in August we thought 2 nights was enough.
In Koh Samui the Lawana was a very busy hotel. We had a 2-bedroom apartment, which was spacious with good a/c, but the pool was not big for a busy beach hotel and was constantly full, it was difficult to get a lounger and the restaurant areas were not great. Food was ok, but a similar price to the very smart hotel 2 doors down where we ended up eating several times. I loved swimming from the beach, which had nice sand, but it’s quite narrow and is part of a strip of hotels. There is no snorkelling directly from KS, so we booked a day’s boat trip to nearby islands. It takes around 1.5 hrs to get to them though, so it’s only a good idea in good weather. We enjoyed the trip, but it was busy – there were around 40 others on our boat and perhaps 3 or 4 other boats at each stop.
The overnight train to Bangkok was fine – definitely pleased to have tickets that gave us a 4-berth compartment.
U Inchantree in Kanchanaburi was a fab hotel – amazing river views with a nice restaurant making the most of them. Rooms are small, but perfectly formed. Pool is not huge, but not busy and with amazing views. We loved the area which is very beautiful, but haunting due to the history of the Burma/Thailand railway. The train ride and memorial visit were well worth it. We also did a day’s cookery course with Tom who was brilliant, especially with the children and he helped us cook one of our best lunches. We especially liked going to the market with him first in the sidecar of his motorbike!
We then stayed at the Hintok Camp but were a bit disappointed with this. Felt it was a little unloved and was the only place we stayed where we did not feel a warm welcome. It was a difficult situation in that the recent rain meant their pool had been flooded by the river and they had closed it and all their sitting spaces too, so we were very limited on what we could do. Food was a buffet and very average – we had been expecting a BBQ under the stars which did not happen. Tents were fine, but the treehouses in Khao Sok were much more comfortable.
Erawen waterfalls is one of our favourite ever walks – truly amazing. It took around 4.5 hours to climb to level 7 and swim and then come down but absolutely worth it. We also did a 2 hr hike the next day along Hellfire pass, which is a memorial walk along parts of the original Burma railway. The audio headsets were brilliant and although it made us sad, it was a good thing to do and the children learned a lot about WW2.
Overall we had a wonderful trip and are so very sad it’s over. Thank you for all your help!
Smith Family (with children aged 7 and 8)
Travelled Summer 2018
Hi Charlotte – We had a fantastic time thank you! The trip was really well organised and the two guides we had were super! We appreciated their advice and local knowledge. There was just the right amount of touring, and we enjoyed all the places and experiences we visited. We were glad to have a few days rest at the end at the Dolphin Bay Resort, which was a fantastic family hotel.
Tonkinson Family (with children aged 4 and 7)
Travelled February half term 2018
We had a really fabulous time – everyone enjoyed themselves and got a lot out of the many varied activities and experiences that we had. Elephant World was a particular highlight for us all. It was really a wonderful experience to get up close to elephants. Our 7 year old son really learnt a lot about elephants and loved swimming in the river with them at the end. He has been telling his class at school all about Elephant welfare! Another highlight was how much attention our 4 year old got – he was a minor celebrity everywhere he went and he enjoyed this a lot and made lots of friends! We also benefited from having other people willing to entertain him!
We liked seeing the markets of Bangkok and going on the local train. We found the temples and palace a bit too busy and overwhelming and could probably have missed some of this out. Having a driver and guide made Bangkok much easier to manage with young children than it might otherwise have been and gave us more confidence. The canal trip was enjoyed by all and revealed a different side to Bangkok.
U Inchantree was a really lovely place to stay after the busy days in Bangkok. The boys loved swimming in the pool in the dark and the interconnecting rooms were great and luxurious. We could also walk to the bridge from there easily.
I was not really able to enjoy the Jungle Rafts. We found it a bit stressful after a full day at the Elephants. We arrived just as it was getting dark and I could not relax as F (4yr old) cannot swim, has little common sense, and was already very tired! I could not take my eyes off him for fear of an overboard situation. I think it is probably better for slightly older children (or those with more common sense!)…
Erawan waterfalls, though beautiful was very busy and finding somewhere safe to allow the boys in the water was not too easy. We did find a spot in-between the main levels in the end that was much quieter and had some easier rocks to negotiate.
The overnight train was fun and the boys enjoyed this. F enjoyed it so much that he didn’t want to go to sleep and miss any of it! Which meant that we were glad to have a quiet day the next day! Anurak was great and we really liked it there and the food was delicious. We discovered Thai Iced Tea there and it was a new favourite drink.
The boat trip on the lake was spectacular and in the afternoon we tried out the kayaks and swam. There was an option to go on a jungle trek that we had not expected and decided might not be suitable for F but then heard from others how they only walked for an hour or so and went on another boat trip and saw fabulous views. We may have gone if we knew what to expect! Maybe next time!
The homestay really stood out as a different experience. The host was very welcoming and went out of his way to show us around the local village. It was fascinating to see the local fishing village and watch the locals collecting shellfish off the sand bar at low tide. We stood in a local fishing boat and watched the sunsetting. This was off the main tourist trail and felt like we were seeing a more real side of Thailand. The food again was delicious and the staff went out of their way to make things that F could also eat that we really appreciated.
The homestay was rustic and quirky – there were frogs in the toilets that gave F a big surprise! The many nature noises at night took a bit of getting used to but the boys didn’t notice this! The kayaking trip to the caves was good and we were also taken to see a lagoon that the other boats didn’t go to and that meant we experienced it in peace and quiet.
We had our first go at swimming in the sea and snorkelling the next day on a trip around some of the islands. I had a fleeting glimpse of a Hornbill at one quieter spot.
Anyavee was perfect for our needs at the end of this trip. Beach with idyllic views and sunsets but also suitable for children as shallow and safe. And a pool area that the boys loved too. Nice big room and friendly helpful staff but hotel not too big so didn’t feel too “resorty” either. Enjoyed our little taster of climbing at Railey Beach, even if the boys weren’t that into it (we used to climb a lot pre-children!).
The added boat trip on the cruiser was brilliant and so glad that was included. Was only 16 people so lots of space on boat, the staff were really great with the boys doing colouring with them,watching them on the beaches we visited – and the snorkelling was awesome. It was a relaxing way to travel and soak up the views. There was also a demonstration of how to make flowers from a palm leaf and the an activity to make some Thai sweets!
We agreed that it was definitely one of the best holidays we have ever been on. We had some trepidation about a long haul trip with the boys but I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Having everything prebooked and organised meant we could relax and enjoy the experience without the stress that can go with organising it as you go. It has given us confidence to think about other travels we could go on and where we might go has already been discussed! Thought we may have to save up again for a few years first!
So many thanks for the planning and organisation and suggested activities. We will recommend you to anybody else who might be planning a trip with young children!
Child Family (four adults with two children aged 9 and 12)
Travelled Christmas / New Year 2017/8
Hi Helene. We are just beginning to shake off the jetlag and I sense that you would appreciate a review of the trip from our perspective. First and foremost it was a wonderful experience for the grandchildren and they both coped with the travel very well. It was well paced but it was right to end up in Krabi for a few days to unwind. Secondly you have an excellent in-country partner. We were always met on arrival and the guides were friendly informative and good fun. They dealt with our little hiccup in Khao Sok very quickly.
– Nouvo City Hotel was an excellent choice – great hotel and location. Bangkok was not quite as crazy as I imagined it!
– It was a long journey to the Rafts but all was quickly forgotten once they found they could jump in the River Kwai. You were right that one night on the rafts was sufficient and U Inchantree was a lovely hotel and location.
– Elephant World was brilliant
– My fears about the history of the Bridge on the Kwai were unfounded. We were able to explain the facts, view the cemetery and then benefitted from the museum tour –all fairly low key
– The cookery class started with a bike ride to the market and an analysis of ingredients. The children just loved the cooking part and it was an excellent lunch!
– We all coped with the overnight train and “first class” meant that we had 2 bunks to ourselves in the 1950s Korean rolling stock! I did say I wasn’t expecting the Orient Express…
– Jungle Tarzan would have been OK but in retrospect the meal we had there was served by Basil Fawlty as they seemed intent on getting everything wrong. However the trip to Khao Sok was ample compensation as it was a varied day with a good hike and a cave visit.
– I had not realised that Koh Jum was so far from the mainland but it is a pleasant resort and a good choice.
– We enjoyed Chiang Mai and the hotel was excellent
– I would recommend Eva Air Premium Economy
It has been a great pleasure working with you to plan the trip and to know you were available when something went wrong. Your concern for us does you great credit and was much appreciated. I have no hesitation in awarding Stubborn Mule 11/10 for Outstanding Service!
Buxton Family (with children aged 8 and 11)
Travelled Christmas / New Year 2017/8
Hi Lee and Liddy – We’re back now and we’ve had a lovely holiday. Thank you so much…. For H and me, our favourite part was the first week. We loved all the excursions and the kids had a great time with those and the train journey; we weren’t quite as fond of the traffic, but I guess being in Chiang Mai gave us more eating options in the evening. Having said that, the best food was the food that we prepared on the day visit to the Karin tribe.
Christmas in the tree houses and on Khao Sok was also much appreciated. The Apsara was a great hit with the kids, particularly the swimming pool, and New Year’s Eve was fun. We also managed a day out snorkelling in the Surin Islands, which was lovely. Khao Lok itself was a bit disappointing, but as a final rest and relaxation the Apsara resort was a good choice.
So, once again, thank you. We shall be looking at a visit to China some time soon. Is that somewhere you can help with too?
Taylor Family (with children aged 8 and 11)
Travelled Christmas / New Year 2017/8
Hi Kelly. The holiday was fantastic, everything I wanted, thank-you so much for all your help and recommendations. The elephants were a major highlight – the girls are still buzzing. Highly recommended for all – there were groups of adults there too and they seemed to enjoy it just as much as the children. Would happily go back tomorrow and the day after and the day after…
Another highlight was to go snorkelling when in Ko Lanta. Unfortunately all the hotel run trips were full so we took one off the high street. It was run by Tin Adventures, and I would highly recommend them too – new boats, new snorkels, new life vests etc and well organised. We took the trip that just went to one place – Koh Rock or something like that, so we didn’t have to spend too much time travelling around. The boats were coming from all along the coast so you could stay practically anywhere near there and still go. Saw loads of fish – the girls were especially impressed with real Nemo fish, plus a moray eel, barracuda, corals, star fish etc.
There were a couple of minor points that I would change. I hadn’t realised how long the drive was from Ko Lanta to Khao Sok. Ko Lanta was lovely, but there were probably nearer beaches that we could have gone to… The caves and little walk were fine in themselves, but we spent a lot of time getting there and it really wasn’t worth it.
However, the next day we took ourselves independently to the park entrance and walked around. It was wonderful – very jungly, swimming spots, monkey families on the path etc. It would have been much nicer to spend the day with a guide there and get off the main tourist track to properly explore what was on our doorstep.
Everything else was really good. It’s worth highlighting that we had some great guides who really helped us to understand what we were seeing and get the most out of our experiences.
Traves Family (with children aged 6 and 8)
Travelled Easter 2017
Hi Kelly… we had an amazing couple of weeks, Thailand was great. Have just about recovered from the holiday and the marathon!! Marathon was fabulous too – I ran it in 4 hrs 34min, which am chuffed about, the running machines were all spot on in the hotels! Overall everything worked out great with the itinerary and the length of time in each place was perfect.
The pick-ups and transfers worked out spot on each time and our guides for tours were all great, so thank you for this! I can give you some feedback if you like on things we would change for future trips, these are very fine print and please don’t take them as things that we didn’t enjoy!!
In Bangkok, we were going to be picked up for the trip at 0700, but asked for him to come at 0800 as 0700 would have ruined us!! We didn’t realise that the drive to the market was 2 hours, it was worth it, but felt a long way after the previous days journey! If there was a market closer this might be better…. unless that trip was not the day after a big travel day!!
The day at the temples was very hot!! Might not have done so many temples and maybe something else instead of the second lot of temples, that said, they are stunning – just not sure our kids thought they were that great in the heat at the end of the day!
The overnight train was fabulous fun…. wouldn’t change that at all!
Jungle tree houses were as good as expected. Again hot, humid and no air con took some getting used to, but great fun. The guide who took us to the lake was lovely. We were supposed to go for a jungle trek in the afternoon but he thought it was short, muddy, over walked and busy and that wouldn’t actually see anything else we hadn’t seen in jungle we were staying in, so we stayed and kayaked and swam in the lake – kids had a ball and the day was probably highlight of our trip! He took us to a further away lunch/ swim spot that was less busy and much better than the supposed one to go to (we looked at it on the way and his decision was right!!!). On our spare day we bathed elephants, which was great too.
Hotel on the beach was perfect. I would recommend it to your future guests – if they want a quiet island with not much going on its perfect. If they want to be able to eat at different places each night, then it wouldn’t be right as there was no where else to go! That said, food was amazing and eating on the beach overnight with amazing sunsets was spot on!!
There weren’t huge amounts of “things” to do at the hotel i.e. activities for children, but ours were more than happy with the pools and beach. If you are looking for isolated peaceful beach with nice rooms then this is the place to go. (It wasn’t kept up to immaculate standards in places but this added to the rustic quiet Thai charm!!!). The manager was so accommodating for us with O’s milk allergy and they got soya milk in for us, made him bread everyday and pancakes for breakfast, so he was a happy bunny!!
Hope that’s helpful feedback?… Thanks again, have had a couple of friends ask us for your details as they have seen are holiday photos and fancy it too…. so hopefully they will come your way!!
Fulberg Family (with children aged 6 and 8)
Travelled Christmas/New Year 2016/17
We had a great holiday, thank you so much. It was pitched perfectly, enough to do without feeling exhausted by the end. We thought the hotel in Bangkok was lovely, nice staff, great pool, lovely rooms and very well situated – we loved wandering around the Koh San Rd in the evenings.
Our guide was excellent, very knowledgeable, could see when we had had enough and took the kids needs into consideration. I loved that he took note of our dietary requirements and then ordered for us in restaurants! My only comment about our activities in Bangkok would be the length of driving to get to the floating market – it took 4 hours in total to get there and back – this was really too long and if I had known it would be this much driving in an afternoon we would have opted to spend the afternoon by the pool!
We loved Elephant Hills and it’s only a shame we couldn’t have stayed by the lake as swimming there was definitely a holiday highlight.
Tubakaek beach is lovely, incredibly quiet and really felt like we had got away from it all – especially having spoken to friends who went to Phuket and said it was rammed. The hotel was nice although a bit run down. Having a whole villa with our own pool was a real treat!
We all had a great time at the tree tops course and our youngest particularly liked having her own instructor take her round the harder course which she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.
I was particularly impressed with the service provided by the Thai agents – they let the hotel know when they would be picking us up in Krabi, our guide took us to the airport in Bangkok, very early in the morning and even queued with us!
So, overall we had a fantastic holiday, thank you. I have even passed your details onto friends. We’re thinking Belize next but might have to wait until Christmas 2018!
Waugh Family (with children aged 16 & 22)
Travelled Christmas/New Year 2016/17
Dear Kelly – We had an extremely enjoyable holiday thank you. The delay with this feedback is partly because on the return flight we were among the thousands who got trapped in Istanbul for three days because of the snow storm. We received our final suitcase last night. At least we received them!! Anyway, that is just a bye-the-bye, and nothing related to the holiday.
I can give you some comments which I hope will help to make improvements to the few things mentioned. They were minor irritations in an otherwise flawless holiday.
Our guides for Bangkok to Ayutthaya (Bumie) and Chiang Mai (Keng) were both very professional, well-organised and attentive. We thank them both for their dedication to the client. In Chiang Mai, we elected to spend our free day with elephants. There are very many offers on the market, but with help from Keng we chose to go to Woody’s Elephant Camp, which turned out to be a delightful experience with well-treated elephants (I have later seen that it scores 4.5 out of 5 from Trip Advisor).
Arriving to the south, we were collected from the airport by a driver and went straight to the Cliff & River Jungle Resort, a spectacular venue. The reception staff thought it was the height of hilarity that we asked if there would be any New Year’s celebration (there wasn´t), but by good fortune there were several Dutch families determined to uphold their tradition by diving into the pool at midnight! The rooms were comfortable, but I will mention that the bathrooms had a definite unfinished feel (I have a photo of a very nice toad in one of the bathrooms, and the ants were fearsome).
The New Year’s Day boat trip was pretty good under the circumstances, because it rained on and off the whole day (I have since seen the news that the whole region was drenched after we left). It meant that the hanging bridge, picking organic fruit, etc did not happen, nor the jungle walk, but we did have the boat trip and a swim in the lake, and got some scenic photos.
The following day, of leaving the Cliff & River Jungle Resort, there was some confusion because the hotel porter came to collect the bags at 09.30am, far earlier than the itinerary had led us to believe. In the reception a Khiri guide appeared, saying that her instructions were to collect us in the morning. In the end we re-packed quickly and left, but I have to say that the guide was not much help, and in fact we only needed a driver.
Krabi was busy, as you had warned, but it was fine, and very good for last minute shopping. We took a trip one day to Hong Island, and the next day to Phi Phi Island. It was fun, despite the crowds (I think that Leonardo Di Caprio would be horrified by the density of people on ‘The Beach’!). The hotel was excellent.
Family J (with three children aged 7, 9 and 9)
Travelled Christmas 2015
Happy New Year! We are back, have survived the first day of work and school, and are just about coping with the jet lag. Our trip was amazing, we had a really great time and saw and did so much – thank you for a great itinerary and ideas for things for us to do. The River Kwae rafts were delightful – definitely not for those wanting the luxury experience, but for us just great. We floated down the river so many times (although less than the kids would have liked) and it was just such a beautiful place. The longtail boat rides each day were a real treat.
The elephant place was good, although a little quirky (I’m going to put it down to the fact it was Christmas day, and also that we had a very off message volunteer from Singapore as our group leader), but the kids really loved it.
As you said the kids did like the museum and cemetery etc, and the old ruins we explored were fantastic.
The overnight train was (as predicted) a total hit with the kids. And then Our Jungle House was quite simply awesome. It really is a very wonderful place, totally amazing surroundings, but coupled with great service and food and coffee, and the Happy Nest was really lovely – a fully 2 storey house on stilts, with beautiful furnishings – I highly recommend this place. Lovely river right next to it for the kids to swim in, they spent ages in the “rapids”.
Final stay at the island was very nice, and we were ready to do nothing by this stage!
We had a really lovely guide called Ohm for the first leg at river Kwae, driver was very lovely too, they looked after us so well. We were spoilt.
Few wee snags – Ohm wasn’t right there to meet us when we arrived at Bangkok – we went to right place, but no guide for us – he arrived after about 15-20 mins, so no big deal, but I guess you just want to see your name on a clipboard when you walk out from long flight. We asked the tourism desk to phone Khiri, which they did, and he appeared 15 mins later.
Similarly when we arrived in the early morning to Surat Thani from the night train there was no driver to meet us – we waited more than half an hour, and had to call Khiri etc, and the driver did eventually arrive. But it was a bit annoying as we were all tired.
When we arrived at Kho Yao Yai Village they messed up our booking and tried to put us in 2 bungalows far away from each other – and it then took an hour of waiting to resolve – they’d moved someone else into one of our bungalows basically, and it was then hard to accommodate us as they were full. But they did sort it out in the end! The bungalows were really lovely and we had a great stay. But I’m pleased we only did a small amount of beach as it wasn’t nearly as charming or interesting as the rest.
I do want to stress apart from these wee glitches it was a hyper successful trip, and we had a great time. But I thought it’d be useful for you to know.
I’ve got loads of pics if you’d like to see any!
Happy to give further feedback if you need any, and no doubt we’ll be back to plan our next adventure hopefully very soon!!! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year.
Family M (with two children aged 4 and 7)
Travelled November 2015
We just returned last night (we spent a few days in Mumbai before after Thailand) and are slowly recovering from the long trip home. We had SUCH A GREAT TIME in Thailand! The itinerary was perfect for our family and we got to see quite a lot over the course of the trip. I think the pace was perfect for the kids and allowed us to tour during the day but have some late afternoons off to unwind and enjoy some of the amenities of the hotels.
We really appreciate all the variety that was packed into the trip, from the big city feel of Bangkok to the slower pace of the Kanchanaburi and the Kwai River. I particularly enjoyed the outdoor elements including the Lawa caves and the waterfall hike after spending time in Bangkok. It was a nice change of pace. We also had fun in Chiang Mai with the temple visits & seeing the monks up close, the different markets and especially the elephant sanctuary.
I would definitely recommend that to everyone who visits Chiang Mai over the elephant rides. It was spectacular to spend the whole day up close with the elephants and we met some interesting travellers over the course of the day. The train ride was also an enjoyable experience, especially for the kids. Seeing all the bustle at the train station was fun and we had a good time eating dinner and breakfast while looking out the window of the train. We all slept well (the bunks were comfortable) and waking up in Chiang Rai to start our day worked out well.
I also wanted to mention a little about the trip mechanics and emphasize how smoothly everything went. It could have been really overwhelming to figure everything out on the fly with 2 kids in tow but all of the transitions went so well and it really added to our positive experience. The guides were so great –> personable, interactive with the kids, responsive to our questions/ideas and very punctual. They contributed greatly to our trip and were very generous with their time. (ex. Wat, our first guide in Bangkok was only supposed to transfer us to the hotel but ended up spending 1/2 day with us b/c we were unable to check in early).
The lodging was great, particularly in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The hotel in Bangkok had a nice staff and a great breakfast but was a little dated with regards to the quality of the room.
Overall, I really can’t say enough about how much we loved the trip and I thank you for helping us put together such a memorable experience.
I look forward to planning more travel with you in the future.
Family W (with two children aged 8 and 11)
Travelled summer 2015.
We had a great trip. The kids really enjoyed the elephant trek and the hill tribe stay – both were unique experiences. Rounding the trip with a few relaxing days in Koh Samui was very welcome. The trip was very full on and especially with the combination of the heat in Bangkok it was quite tiring at times. Having said that we got to see a lot of different places and temples.
Our guides and drivers were all extremely helpful and enthusiastic. Bob our guide in the hills was very knowledgeable and patient, particularly as the trek up was quite physically demanding. Natalie did a very good job at mothering us through Bangkok and Ayuthaya. Again she was very knowledgeable and got us to try lots of different fruits etc. she was rather keen on very early morning calls!
The hotels were good and worked well for us. Very impressed with the one in Ayuthaya, beautiful pool and rooms, although the air conditioning was very noisy. Staying overnight at the Novotel was the right decision as it took away the stress of an early start from Koh Samui, plus we pretty much got a full day on the beach. Some of the internal Bangkok flights were cancelled so we were glad not to be delayed.
Coco Palm resort was good and a little quirky at times. Beach was ideal. Our rooms were good, excellent air conditioning, and we were pleased to have space to unload our cases at that stage. The staff were friendly and helpful, although service at lunch and dinner could be a bit slow at times. One observation was they served pool-side drinks in glasses rather than plastic glasses. My daughter managed to drop a glass – thankfully she wasn’t cut but with people wandering around bare foot it’s not ideal.
The train journey was certainly an experience. Second class was fine but due to the ticket allocation we were in two separate compartments. For future reference, the local agents should try to stipulate four couchettes together. With suitcases we could only put them in the middle of the compartment as they didn’t fit under the seats or could be left in the corridor. Thankfully the other people were travelling with small bags but had they large cases it would have been very awkward.
With regard to the hill trek, we understood towels were needed which we duly carried with us, only to find these were provided. We also took three small rucksacks on this trip – it would have been helpful to know if we could have left a couple for the truck to take to the village. In the heat and the climb it was an additional weight we would have preferred not to carry, particularly for my son who had to off load his bag onto the guide.
Obviously this is our first taste of this type of adventure and it proved to be really enjoyable and memorable. We really enjoyed the mixture of culture and activities together with relaxation time. It was a holiday where you could only focus on what you were doing so there was no time to think about things at home. We hope going forward this is the type of trip we would try again and would like to thank you for putting together a really exciting adventure for us.
I hope we can speak again in the near future regarding our next trip.
Family M (with two children aged 11 and 14)
Travelled summer 2015 in Thailand and Cambodia
We had a wonderful holiday – it lived up to our expectations and was truly memorable. Very happy to give you some feedback to help you plan for others – and what follows below is all in the spirit of the holiday being fantastic overall.
For us, it is hard to keep the list short, and every visit was really interesting, but the absolute highlights were:
The elephant trek. Absolutely amazing, a once in a lifetime experience we won’t forget. The kids totally loved it.
The trek to the village and stop overnight. Not easy for our 11-year old daughter, who needed lots of encouragement, but the walk was interesting (Taksin was very entertaining!) and the visit at the end of it was brilliant. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday so there was no school, but we still met lots of the local children who took great delight in meeting us and messing about with our kids. We were made to feel very welcome, and the facilities, while basic (as we were expecting), were clean and inviting.
Angkor. As you would expect we were blown away by the ruins, though the bike ride was more of a challenge than perhaps we had realised (see below). My 14-year old son said it was so much better than any ruins or castles he had ever been to in the UK.
Kwai River Floating Raft Lodge. Loved it, and the “river drifting” was as you might expect a massive hit with the kids.
Kwai Bridge, railway and museum. We all learnt such a lot and enjoyed (if that is the right word) hearing about what happened to the PoWs and other workers. And of course the kids thought it was really cool to walk (and lie down on!) the train tracks.
Our guides. All were very knowledgeable and friendly. A special mention to Nue and Taksin who went out of their way to accommodate us (particularly my daughter) and made the visits really special.
Hotels in Cambodia. We loved the Hanumanalya Villa and the Tamu was also really special.
The food! We had so many lovely meals, but the best were often in the basic restaurants that our guides took us to for lunch where we would have fresh cooked dishes – we were never disappointed or worried about hygiene.
A few small bits of feedback:
The Buddy Lodge. A great location and nice rooms: however they backed onto a nightclub and so we had two disturbed nights of loud music and noise until 2am. Not great on jetlag…
The Gate hotel in Chang Mai. Compared to the other places we stayed it felt a bit tired (and the breakfast was always cold!). But my family say I am being too fussy. The staff were very friendly though.
Cycle ride round Angkor. I hadn’t really factored in the distances; heat; traffic and the uncomfortable bike seats that you inevitably get on hire bikes, so this wasn’t quite the romantic, leisurely pedal around the ruins I had envisaged! Having said that my son and I really enjoyed it, especially the off-road bits. My husband and daughter would be less enthusiastic, and it certainly detracted from my daughter’s experience of the ruins. I would still recommend doing it though, but you may just want to manage people’s expectations a bit.
Hope that helps! Thanks again for a great itinerary.
Family H (with three children aged 6, 11 and 13)
Travelled Easter 2015
The holiday was absolutely fabulous… thanks so much for all the help in organising and advising and we would recommend Stubborn Mule Travel to everyone looking for an expertly organised trip.
Our guide Peter in Bangkok was fabulous. Wonderful with the children and a really informative on our day of sightseeing. Buddy Lodge was great albeit a bit noisy one night with a club downstairs but would expect that with such a buzzing location. Chiang Mai was fabulous. Had always wanted to go and it met all expectations. The Elephant Orphanage was a great day and more interesting than just doing a tourist elephant ride. Singh was a wonderful guide on the trek. S got a bit ill that day which made it a bit hard – but in normal circumstances the distance would have been fine.
The Village was an extraordinary experience and I’m so pleased we built this into the trip. It was real leveller for all of us and the family, food, traditional dancing etc. was great. The basic accommodation was a refreshing change. We did the zip wire on J’s birthday and it was just brilliant. I hate heights and expected to be nervous but we all loved it.
Koh Tahlu was a revelation. I’d looked it up on trip advisor and had a mixture of reviews really depending on what people expected – but it exceeded all our expectations. It was just paradise. I can’t imagine ever again having that sort of tranquillity – literally empty beach and see for much of the time and the perfect Villa with a beautiful view. Staff were friendly and helpful and we made the most of all the activities – squid fishing, snorkelling every day. Overall the combination of the holiday across the three locations was perfect. It felt like we were away for a month.
I knew it would be a great holiday – but it was truly amazing. The kids threw themselves into everything and it was a real lifetime experience for them. It’s inspired me – when we can afford it! – to have more adventures.
Family L (with three children aged 6, 8 and 8)
Travelled Easter 2015
We had a great break – thanks. The kids really enjoyed the elephants and any hardship was something only noticed by the adults, and then only one of us. The 3-day stay worked out quite well as unfortunately F was not well on the day we arrived so she missed day 1 but got a good re-run on day 2.
A couple of bits of feedback from us that I hope you find useful.
Pick up and general logistics were spot on …. every time
First hotel – lovely , definitely “boutique feel” .. We’ll stay there again if we go back
We felt there was a noticeable difference between riva suriya and the de Lanna. They were not on the same level – my perception is that the new extension has lowered the overall standard as they focus on bigger volumes. Examples are 1. The breakfast was very functional not pleasurable 2. The area around the pool was not maintained very well and needs more attention. It was Ok but not quality boutique.
Lunch on the first day tour in Bangkok was just lovely and a great welcome to the city. It set a high standard and the hotel where we had the buffet on day 2 was not the same.
Chang Mai – zip and elephant house were ace – super friendly people and no issues with the kids ages at any point
Bangkok – tours were nice and guide very friendly
Train trip was and cabin was ok – it really is a long trip taken very slowly! As a lot of it is at lowlight with tinted windows I am not sure it is an amazing scenic trip but it was a good experience with the kids
Anantara – we’re glad we had a few days just to unwind at the end. It was probably good that these days were spent at a big hotel.
We had a great family experience and it was wonderful that it was so well organised and it made the whole thing possible.
Family R (with four children aged 3, 6, 8 and 11)
Travelled December 2014
Our trip was beyond fantastic. Your local operators cannot be faulted. Pete was informative, considerate and pre-empted a few scheduling disasters. I had no idea how manic a public holiday could be in Thailand. The traffic was really bad, even outside of Bangkok and Pete constantly shifted the itinerary. The children never got bored or overtired and Pete’s knowledge of the area and alternative attractions was invaluable.
He quickly sized the children up and realized that they were not great in crowds and wanted to be outdoors or see animals. He tailored the trip around us. The children loved the boat ride to the hotel, swimming in the river was a highlight and we did a spontaneous elephant ride, which also got top marks.
If we had done this trip independently, we would have had a tough time figuring out alternatives when there were traffic delays etc…
I really appreciate your help with this short trip.
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Thailand in pictures
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