I just got back from beach hopping for two weeks in the
“Land of Smiles.”
Thailand was pure tropical paradise.
If you are thinking about going to Thailand soon or just curious how perfect it is, read on, this article is for you!
AKA the gateway to Southeast Asia
Don’t skip over this “stop-over city.” There are true treasures to find among the bustling streets of massive Bangkok. Stay one to two nights, and hit up the street food, ornate temples, rooftop bars, and at least one tuk tuk ride. Depending on your flight you may want to do one day in and then one day out. Just FYI the airport is about 45- one hour away from Khoasan Road (which is where all the traveler/ backpacker/ average hostals/ hotels are).
I stayed at the Chillax Resort for only $30 a night. Request a room with a spa tub (SWEET!), enjoy the infinity pool on the rooftop, and workout facility with a view. One mile walk to Grand Palace, and a one mile walk to Wat Pho Temple (both are in Old City). There are many rooftop bars, some have entrance fees, and bar minimums, so TripAdvisor your fav’s before you go. Highest rooftop bar in the world is here, at the Sky Bar (Lebua) – drinks range from 400-850 THB (10- 25 USD).
So where to next… you’re probably a bit overwhelmed because literally EVERY island is a dreammm AND a must on the list, but here’s the low down. My suggested route below – Promise it is all solid advice.
Get a mid-day flight to Phuket (HKT) for $25.
Make friends with people while en route and get a shared taxi to the beach.
We stayed at Lub’d. It was probably the coolest hostel I’ve ever stayed at in my entire life (which says alot). Loved it, despite a massive power outage for 6 HOURS (no AC or internet but we lived cause look at this pool!) Upgrade just $10 more for a private room with a balc and hammock.
Take a cooking class here! I chose KATA Thai Cooking Class. Sally and the team were soooo sweet. We cooked (and ate) three meals. The whole class had take-home boxes and smiles on when we left. Many people skip Phuket, but don’t, it was the cheapest flight from Bangkok. My friend Becca and I enjoyed lunch on Patong beach, I did a sunrise run and solo exploring, too. Get a drink or two @ Bangla Road (basically a nightly festival of neon lights, loud music and cheap dranks). Twas fun. Twas fun.
Oh another great little food place for what I believe is THE BEST THAI FOOD in all of thai thai is called No. 6 Restaurant – Patong, Phuket.
Phuket was a great introduction to paradise.
FYI: All our transfers to the next upcoming islands were booked the day before at the dozens and dozens of tourist stands, via ferry. We chose the cheapest ferry for every transfer – Songserm – Range: 300- 600 THB.
KOH PHI PHI –
Hello, beautiful. Probably the most well-known out of all the places we visited, but this island gets a bad rep by reviewers stating that the island was “ruined” or “littered with garbage.” How bout this. Get outta the town center, hike up to the viewpoint, and decide for yourself.
Do some research and choose a day tour to Maya Bay. We chose Shipwrecked for an afternoon tour to 5 different locations, it was beautiful and we met the most incredible people. Highly recommend this company because they see the most locations + you get free unlimited beer and mixed drinks.. I mean come on. #WINNING
Both my friend and I left Phi Phi saying… “Maybe we can come back here to live and be scuba instructors.” The funny thing is we really could. It’s a beautiful thing to think we have all we need on our backs and could explore here a bit longer if we chose to do so.
The show must go-on.
One night stop over. We took a private longboat (get em’ down to 400 THB) along the Krabi River to the Khao Khanap Nam Cave, then to a fishermans village among wild mangroves and lush green vegetation. Although it rained it was beautiful. The next day we got up early and hiked up to Big Buddha, it just so happened to be Vesak or Buddha Day, which celebrates three major events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, Enlightenment and passing away. I said a prayer and thanked God for allowing me to reach that viewpoint. It was a remarkable morning, I will never forget. 1,237 steps people.
- FYI: Most people stay near Railay Beach, but we only had one night here so we chose near the port. If you have more time I would add this spot in for rockclimbing, beaches and endless sunset views.
Kho Pha Ngan –
This island provides much more than just the Full Moon Party (but for the record it was one of the best parties I have ever celebrated, and a rare sunset to sunrise bash). Here’s the low down, the Full Moon Festival, is this crazy glow in the dark rave party where thousands of people from all over gather to this little island in the Gulf of Thailand to rage in the streets and beaches of Koh Phangan, more specifically Haad Rin beach.
They also have the Half-Moon party and Jungle Experience (If you can’t make it to the Full-Moon). I do not recommended staying at Moon Paradise. Management was crappy, no wifi, our showers were trickling down cold water three different times, but it was a cool lookin cabin. If you plan on partaking in the festivities I suggest you book on or near Haad Rin Beach.
I also took a mini hike by myself. Suggest you bring a friend – it was a little risky alone and with no cellphone. Trail not marked (I honestly can’t even find the name of the mountain on the web). But, if you ever see to the view below you know you’ve made it (Crying laughing emoji, Good Luck to ya)!
KOH TAO – Diving
This island is just north of Koh Phangan, and is known for it’s colorful diving spots. People come from all over the world to come and dive here, WHY? Cause it’s reasonably price. Oh and it’s Thailand. It took me a whole two days to decide which school I wanted to use to gain scuba skillz. I would find one that suits you the best (no pun intended.) I chose Ocean Republic, because the amount of dives and their small group classes. Some of the others were larger groups, more a social setting, but I actually wanted to learn. I was sooo beyond pleased with the entire staff and guides. Shout out to Martin aka Froggy for the skills unda the sea.
But even while the island may be synonymous with diving, there is much more to the place. Chalok is south of the island, and provides sun and sand. I got lost one morning in the mountains on this end of the island. It was beautiful finding my way. Small shops line the road, and people grin from ear to ear when you pass.
Koh Samui –
The biggest of all the islands we stayed at. I was here for one night (stayed in Fisherman’s Village) and flew out the next day. It’s the most popular area on the island. We got in and walked along the beach after a storm rolled in.. we stayed near the airport along the north east shore.
This afternoon was all about #TREAT YO SELF. We had a spa day at Anantara, Koh Samui, it was the prettiest spa I had every laid my eyes on. A beautiful property tucked away off a secluded beach. That night we had dinner at The Link in Fishermans Village, and shared an ice cream on the walk home. The next morning I couldn’t believe I had to leave. Traveling the islands seemed timeless and mesmerizing. I parted with my friend, and said my goodbyes to the shore. I’ll be back another time, I just know it.
A small blurb from my journal…
I fell asleep to the sound of waves against the coral shores, earlier I had some Pad Thai at a nearby scuba shack.
The smell of the sea was in the air. I had a book in my hand. A smile on my face. And sunshine on my skin. I felt pure bliss.. I thanked God for my journey thus far, and grab my backpack and headed in for some shade.
That night we celebrated me choosing a scuba school.. we had some frozen daqs and shared fries, I said “Cheers to us, and the celebration of LIFE.” We’re celebrating the simple things, and enjoying now. Tomorrow I will scuba dive for the first time. I can hardly wait. This life. This is the life I have always dreamed for myself. Till next time XOXO – me