When jewellery brand Pandora asked a group of journalists and fashion bloggers to travel to Thailand to check out its factory, explore its Essence collection, and soak up some sun, we jumped at the chance to join in on the adventure.
Check out our Thailand travel diary here…
We arrived at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok after a 12-hour flight, and were greeted by the friendly staff with fresh fruit juices in the beautiful, flower-adorned lobby before being shown to our rooms to freshen up. Dinner followed in the hotel’s Lord Jim’s restaurant, where we enjoyed a selection of delicious seafood dishes, including out-of-this world sushi, from head chef Reto Weber, and beautiful views over Bangkok’s Chao Praya River.
The lobby at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
Sushi at Lord Jim’s restaurant
The day started with a drive to Pandora’s factory in the aptly named ‘Gemopolis’ part of town, where many international jewellery brands produce their wares. We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory, and saw how much craftsmanship goes into making a single charm. We also got a chance to make a glass charm ourselves, but Marie Claire’s effort was tragically poor. There was a real sense of community among the 8,000 workers, who go on an annual beach trip together, produce their own staff soap opera and stage a ‘Pandora’s Got Talent’ contest in their lunch hour.
A Pandora charm in production
In the afternoon, we headed out on Tuk Tuks for a journey through the city. Travelling around Bangkok in this way is a lot of fun but probably not for the faint-hearted. The highlight of our tour was a visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which is located directly next to the Grand Palace, and is a definite must-see. After this, we enjoyed a Swedish massage at the Mandarin Oriental’s spa, which is a short boat ride away from the hotel, followed by dinner at one of Bangkok’s top restaurants, The Banyan Tree, where you can eat on a rooftop terrace, enjoying incredible panoramic views over the city.
Features assistant Francesca on The Banyan Tree’s rooftop restaurant.
After a morning swim in the Mandarin Oriental’s gorgeous pool and another delicious meal at The Verandah Bar, it was time to head off for the second leg of our trip – a visit to the island of Koh Samui, which is just a short 1-hour flight away from Bangkok. As soon as we arrived at our hotel, the Four Seasons, we knew that we had officially arrived in paradise. We were each given our own private villa, complete with an infinity pool and the largest bath tub we had ever seen. Dinner followed at the resort’s Thai Kitchen & Bar restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious cocktails and a selection of beautifully executed local dishes.
The view from the Four Seasons Koh Samui reception
With the sun shining, we headed off on a boat trip around the island, aboard a chartered yacht, where we got to experience Koh Samui’s beautifully lush scenery, crystal clear waters and stunning white sand beaches. If you’re travelling to the island, make sure you check out the gorgeous Chaweng beach. During lunch aboard the boat, we were introduced to the Freedom charm from Pandora’s Essence collection. Each charm in the collection represents a different inner value. After returning to the hotel, we got to spend a little time at the resort’s peaceful beach, Laem Yai Bay, before jumping aboard buggies to visit one of the hotel’s 5-bedroom private villas, where we had a delicious buffet dinner under the stars and were introduced to the collection’s Zodiac charm.
Aboard the private boat
Our last day started with a relaxing yoga class on the beach, followed by a tour of the Wat Plailaem temple, located in the North of the island. A series of beautifully decorative giant statues surround the temple, including that of the Happy Buddha, and it is definitely a must-visit site if you’re travelling to Koh Samui. Both morning activities were designed to represent two further Pandora Essence charms: Balance and Faith. After returning to the Four Seasons, we relaxed with lunch on the beach, and then enjoyed another pampering session at the hotel spa, which introduced us to the final charm in the collection: Wellness. Our last meal of the trip was a beautiful BBQ on the beach, where we enjoyed a selection of tasty Thai dishes, topping off an incredible stay.
Morning yoga on the Four Seasons beach
The golden Buddha at the Wat Plailaem temple