When my fiancé and I got engaged on December 18, 2015, we knew that we had some very important decisions to make.
First things first, I started where most soon-to-be brides start in my hometown, I attended the annual bridal fair with my little sister. I got to see all the venues, photographers, caterers, and other wedding “must-haves” that are available in my area.
As I was walking through the booths, my sense of adventure was not quite being fulfilled. I ended up leaving the bridal festival knowing that I wanted a destination wedding accompanied by an amazing honeymoon.
That evening, when I returned home, I asked my fiancé what he thought about eloping and he was very relieved that I suggested it. And just like that, the quest to find the perfect “wedding moon” location began…
Matt and I have both traveled a bit and compiled a bucket list of places we would like to explore. For our honeymoon, we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had ever been in order to have a more “unknown” adventure.
Our search started with google, where we would type the phrase “best destination wedding resorts in <insert country name>” to see what turned up. We looked at resorts in Greece, the UAE, Iceland, Bora Bora, Jamaica, and although we saw some amazing places in those countries, when we searched in Thailand we knew that was where we needed to start our journey together.
Fast forward ten months and a very long flight…
What words can I use to describe our resort? I do not know if there are even words out there that can articulate how serene, beautiful and relaxing it was.
Rayavadee Resort in Krabi, Thailand was built on an old coconut plantation that is surrounded by three beaches of clear emerald waters and limestone cliffs that take your breath away.
It's a 26-acre oasis that blends seamlessly with its natural tropical environment. For nature lovers, it is the ultimate experience. To reach Rayavadee, the adventure starts by a private boat picking you up from Ao Nammao Pier. Rayavadee is only accessible by water, which adds to its sense of seclusion and serenity. When we reached the resort, our first words were, “this cannot be real.” It is too beautiful to be real.
We cannot say enough great things about this resort and region of Thailand.
First, the employees at Rayavadee are the friendliest people. Since we were having our wedding ceremony and honeymoon there, we had an event coordinator named Nucharee assigned to us. She checked in often to make sure our stay was all that we had hoped for and that we had everything we needed.
The day of the wedding, she offered me a glass of champagne while I sat in the spa getting my hair and makeup done before the ceremony and her genuine excitement for my big day was contagious. Since Matt and I eloped, I did not have a bridal party accompanying me in the spa, but she stayed with me the entire time. I appreciated her more than she may ever know.
Second, the food was amazing! No matter where Matt and I would eat - on the resort, off the resort, at food carts, it was all delicious and mostly inexpensive. We fell in love with the fresh tropical fruit smoothies. You could watch the fruit being chopped up and blended right in front of you no matter where you went along the beaches or even out in the towns.
Some of our favorite dishes while on our honeymoon were Thai massaman curry, garlic fried beef with rice, and various noodle dishes that we ate at the four restaurants on the resort grounds or countless other restaurants within walking distance. On our last day there, we even saw longboats that served food on Phranang Beach. Just think taco truck, but food boat. I didn’t even know those existed!
Third, the beaches. How do I describe the beaches? The water was warm (I mean walk-right-in warm), the sand was white and soft, and the resort had kayaks and paddleboards for guests to use for free. One of Matt and I’s favorite memories was taking a two person kayak out into the water and kayaking around two small islands.
From the shore, we thought that it was one island, but when we got close to it, found that it was split in two. There is so much to explore! There are endless limestone caves along the beaches to climb in and macaque monkeys swinging from tree branches above. We brought full face mask snorkeling gear with us and spent most of our time in the water chasing little fish. We also packed an underwater camera which I would highly recommend bringing!
Fourth, our pavilion. Each guest had their own two story pavilion that was built to blend in with the palm treed landscape. The natural wood detail and curved staircase within was so beautiful, I never wanted to leave. I told Matt that if we ever lived somewhere tropical, I would need to request the blueprint to build one myself! One of my favorite memories in our pavilion was one morning, we woke up at about 3 am to a noise on the roof and realized it was a family of monkeys playing up there. Where else does that happen? After laughing for a bit, we went back to sleep.
Now, let’s talk about the wedding ceremony. Matt and I thought it would be romantic to fly off together and get married just him and me on the beach. Rayavadee surpassed our expectations of a ceremony site with their Grotto, a limestone cave that overlooked Phranang Beach, which is essentially why we chose this resort over the others we had looked at. We had our ceremony on close to sunset, which allowed for the most beautiful pastel colored wedding photos. We said our vows within the sand-floored cave, had our first dance, cut the cake and ended the ceremony with a champagne toast.
Since we eloped, and it was only the two of us, the resort staff was kind enough to throw white flower petals in the air as we exited to continue our photo session with the extremely talented Darin of Darin Images. Our wedding truly looked and felt like a fairy tale.
Our favorite experiences while on our honeymoon were exploring the beaches and infinity pool at the resort and going on excursions. One of our excursions was seeing Tiger Cave Temple. It is a Buddhist temple about 30 minutes by taxi from the resort. There is an enormous golden Buddha statue on top of the mountain, which to see, you have to climb 1,237 stairs. These stairs are all different heights, slant, depth for feet to land on, and steepness in slope. One flight could be somewhat relaxing, while the next not as much.
We brought four bottles of water in our backpack, and were we happy we did! We drank them all. When we reached the top, others who had made the climb congratulated us in some sort of shocked, “I can’t believe I made it” camaraderie. It was no small stroll! But once you got to the top, the view was spectacular. It was a complete 360 degree panorama of the world below.
Another favorite excursion we did was a four island tour and night snorkeling session with bioluminescent plankton. One of the best things about Krabi is that there are many uninhabited islands in the Andaman Sea that you can boat out to and snorkel around. This tour stopped at four islands and after dark, we all jumped in the water one last time to see the bioluminescent plankton glowing bright green in the black waters.
Did I mention that the boat resembles a pirate ship and the captain lets you climb up on the roof and jump off, if you’d like? Matt and I took advantage, and just a friendly tip, make sure to pinch your nose before you hit the water. This is coming from a person who forgot to.
Other activities we did while in Krabi were seeing a Manorah show (which is traditional Thai dancing), swam in the Emerald Pool (a natural spring in the middle of the jungle), and we even got to see the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya north of Bangkok, where we stayed for three days before we apprehensively headed on our 22-hour flight home.
As for cost, our airfare was $2,066 for the both of us to fly roundtrip from Washington State to Krabi, Thailand on Delta/Korean Air/Japan Airways. As for staying at Rayavadee, our cost for lodging came to $4,950 for ten nights the dates of 11/20/16-11/29/16. The wedding ceremony cost an additional $2,592, but that was due to the package we purchased.
Matt and I had the most amazing experience in the world, and our friends and family got to contribute to our honeymoon with their donations to our Traveler’s Joy registry. I highly recommend Rayavadee resort and this geographic region for people who want the honeymoon of a lifetime. Great staff, beautiful surroundings, wildlife co-mingling with people, delicious food, adventurous and easy to book excursions. We cannot wait to go back. Hopefully someday soon we will!