Thailand holidays: My paradise island trip where you can have luxury, magical moments and even elephants - with direct flights

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
It has been on the radar of young travellers backpacking around the world, for years. A ‘must’ for those on gap years or just wanting to explore.

But now that Thailand is so much easier to get to than ever before, thanks to direct flights from the UK, TUI is opening up this beautiful country to us all. And it has to be seen to be believed.

Tui now flies direct to ThailandTui now flies direct to Thailand
Tui now flies direct to Thailand | NW

All those ‘Insta perfect’ photos you see of white sand, crystal clear turquoise seas and palm tree-lined beaches are now no longer a bucket list dream for this nearly 50-year-old mum-of-two.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And rather than Thailand being an “I wish...” destination, it’s now on the “When can we go again?” list. It feels so much more do-able than before, knowing that flying there is hassle free now that you can fly direct from the UK to Phuket with TUI - the only airline offering this.

The pristine beach which forms part of the luxury 4T Robinson Khao Lak resort The pristine beach which forms part of the luxury 4T Robinson Khao Lak resort
The pristine beach which forms part of the luxury 4T Robinson Khao Lak resort | NW

‘Paradise’ is a word often used by tourists, but it is the only one which comes anywhere close to describing my eight day trip to this corner of southeast Asia. I lost count of the number of ’pinch me’ moments experienced.

It felt like it should have been a once-in-a lifetime kind of trip, but because Thailand is so accessible now, and luxury is so affordable over there, it makes return visits a real option.

I visited as part of a TUI multi-centre trip and cannot recommend this kind of holiday enough for how easy it was. It was seamless, with transfers between the three resorts I visited running like clockwork.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Having a busy, stressful job and all that having two children entails, it was such a relief to switch off as soon as we left Gatwick airport, knowing that everything was in hand. I didn’t have to think about was pure bliss, and a real treat!

Elephant Hills, ThailandElephant Hills, Thailand
Elephant Hills, Thailand | NW

The first hotel on our whistle-stop tour was the beachfront Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, which was elegant, immaculately clean and the service from the staff was second to none. It had an air of class about the resort, plus one of southern Thailand’s biggest pools.

The huge lagoon-style pool is 400m long, with a 7,000sqm swimming area and a swim-up bar and jacuzzi. There is a section for the kids, complete with an inflatable water course, and if you book a pool suite you get direct access from your room. You also have your own private pool.

Nothing is too much trouble for this hotel, with a big selling point the private experiences it can offer - whether that is a beach barbeque, a Thai cooking class or a special dining experience under the stars overlooking the pool. The hotel prides itself on making dreams come true.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The white sand and turquoise sea is picture postcard beautifulThe white sand and turquoise sea is picture postcard beautiful
The white sand and turquoise sea is picture postcard beautiful | NW

And talking of magical moments, taking a pre-booked TUI excursion from the hotel certainly provided plenty of those.

We took a boat trip along Phang Nga Bay to take in the spectacular scenery - including dramatic limestone islands, an unforgettable turquoise sea and remote beaches.

We stopped at the famous James Bond Island, which is popular with tourists after featuring in 007’s The Man with the Golden Gun, and after a climb to a vantage point the view was breathtaking. The perfect place for photos, but it really is impossible to capture the real beauty of the place, the colours, the light, how vast it was a special trip and the perfect way to see Thailand.

The swimming pool at the Elephant Hills resortThe swimming pool at the Elephant Hills resort
The swimming pool at the Elephant Hills resort | NW

The next part of our trip was in complete contrast to the grandeur of that first hotel, but totally unique and a place I will always remember. This was all about authentic Thailand, getting close to nature and elephants!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Elephant Hills is a jungle camp in the beautiful Khao Sok National Park, where guests stay in safari-style tents, going to sleep and waking up to the sound of nature. This is all about switching off, ditching those devices and enjoying the spectacular great outdoors.

Sunrise over ThailandSunrise over Thailand
Sunrise over Thailand | NW

Think luxury glamping rather than camping - each tent has its own private bathroom, a traditional bed and even a terrace with chairs and a hammock.

It is a base for adventures - whether that is a jungle trek though the rainforest, a canoe safari or spending time with rescue elephants in a local sanctuary. You can also book a boat trip to take in Cheow Lake with its spectacular scenery.

Breathtaking scenery Breathtaking scenery
Breathtaking scenery | NW

But, as the name suggests, this part of the trip was really all about the elephants. Getting to feed these incredible creatures and watch them bathe in their natural environment away from hordes of tourists was the highlight of the trip and an experience I will never forget.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Back at Elephant Hills, another memorable moment was taking a dip in the camp’s swimming pool to cool off. It is by no way the biggest pool you will ever see but you will struggle to find one in such a jaw-droppingly beautiful setting as this.

Where we stayed

TUI offers a range of different holidays to Thailand including multi-centre and tours:


TUI offers 14-night holidays to Thailand, spending two nights at Elephant Hills and 12 nights at the 4T Robinson Khao Lak. Prices from £2,008 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing a double room, flights departing from London Heathrow airport on October 3, 2024, 23kg of hold luggage and all transfers.


TUI offers 7-night holidays to Khao Lak, Thailand staying at the 4T Robinson Khao Lak. Prices from £1,245 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing a main building double room with balcony or terrace, flights departing from London Heathrow airport on October 9, 2024, 23kg of hold luggage and all transfers.


TUI offers 14-night holidays to Thailand visiting Krabi, Khao Lak and Phuket. Staying for four nights at the 4T+ Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, seven nights at the 4T Robinson Khao Lak and three nights at the 3T Front Village Phuket.  Prices from £2,208 per person. Price is based on two adults, with flights departing from Manchester airport on November 13, 2024, 23kg of hold luggage and all transfers.

There is also a bar and restaurant at the camp, but there were no late nights when we visited, the emphasis is more about getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and falling to sleep content (and shattered!) after an action-packed day in the great outdoors.

To finish off our trip, we swapped the jungle for pure indulgence at the Robinson Khao Lak. And this frontline beach hotel has to be experienced to be believed!

My jaw first hit the floor when I was shown to my room (more of a suite) and discovered it came with its own private pool and garden.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Thailand's beaches are spectacularThailand's beaches are spectacular
Thailand's beaches are spectacular | NW

Then I saw the beach and again, was speechless. White sand, palm trees, crystal clear sea...heaven!

Some guests were fortunate enough to have villas with their own pools right on the beach front - to wake up to that view and watch the sun go down night after night must have been pretty special!

The sunsets here were incredible and we found the perfect place to enjoy them - on the terrace at the beach bar with a cocktail or two! With live music at the bar most nights, the vibe was perfect for a beach holiday.

But talking about beautiful beaches, the final day of this trip will stay with me forever.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Stunning viewsStunning views
Stunning views | NW

Another TUI excursion took us on an catamaran island hopping and snorkeling trip where we pulled up on beaches I’d only ever dreamed about. I’d always thought of Caribbean beaches as being up there with the best, but Thailand’s are going to take some beating.

In fact, Thailand as a whole is going to take some beating.

I know I only scratched the surface of this special country on this trip, but it captured my heart and I can’t wait to return....time and again!

To find out more about these holidays or to book go to, visit your local TUI holiday store or download their app.   

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.