Another jam packed article, with tips and my favourite bits in each spot!
This AMAZING country, I think is my favourite! I’m not even to sure where to start! A love affair for the past 10 years is a good way to put it. If I had to choose on the spot, somewhere to live forever, this country is it!
Now I know it’s the most popular one to travel out of the South East Asian lot, but don’t be deterred, it truly does offer such a variety, that there’s always so much more to explore here! The culture is beautiful and despite some of Thailands political cracks, the locals are warm and welcoming people, there is a reason Thailand is named ‘the land of smiles’. From the Northern beauty that is Chiang Rai which borders with Laos, right down to Thale Ban National Park which borders with Malaysia… Pure Bliss!
This was a hard one to think through, but these are my 5 spots! Bangkok should be in it, but as I’ve got so much to say about the place, I’ll have to type up a seperate article!
I couldn’t put them in my favourite order, so I went North to South! Enjoy…
1. Chiang Mai and Pai
I know, it’s two places technically, but with the easiest mini van ride you’ll take in Asia, you’d be silly not to nip to Pai from Chiang Mai or visa a versa. With only 145ks between them, the journeys 3 hours normally but with stops etc.. you’re looking at an easy 4/5 hours depending on what company you go with. Take some travel sick pills if you get car sick though, it’s a little windy but bloody beautiful!
Getting to Chiang Mai is super easy too. An overnight train which is my personal favourite in Thailand, will cost about $30 from Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok straight up to Chiang Mai. These overnight trains are fantastic and comfortable, also when travelling on my own I feel very safe in them, great hack though, book the bottom bunk, it’s much darker than the top.
Both places have a very similar vibe to them, chilled out, relaxed and peaceful. While you can still trip balls in a hammock somewhere! Both have awesome cannons you can go see, Chiang Mai you can swim in, so take your trunks, while Pai you can not. Grab a scooter and go explore in the country side, rice fields and palm trees galore! If you like a good national park check out Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, waterfalls, temples, walks and heaps more! Accommodation is cheap, food and coffee is beaut!
This is the public swimming pool in Pai, at a tiny price of 200B to get in ($8 or 4 squids, because I still do that every now and then) You’ll be very grateful for it when the heat doesn’t give up! Plus you’ll meet every traveller in Pai!
2. Ko Pha-Ngan
This comes close or maybe is, my favourite spot in Asia! Nope don’t even think it, there is so much more to this wonderful island than the bloody Full Moon Party!
This is the joy of this wonderful place, most people tend to swing through for the full moon party and then chip onto Koh Tao, which isn’t be missed. However if, after you recover from the FMP, then take a trip over to the West of the island first, where you will find an entirely different vibe to Haad Rin in the South. From many yoga retreats, awesome local restaurants, night markets and heaps more. If you don’t mind ruffing it a little, check out ‘Golden Rock Bungalows’ on that side of the island, completely chilled, slightly rougher, yet typical Thai style bungalows, which in peak season are a little pricey for what they are, but off season you’ll get them for about 200B! Spend your days swinging in a hammock,watching the waves go by.
Wait it gets even better, if you really want to drop off the grid for a few days, head over to the east, Mai Pen Rai Bungalows, this was the first spot I found on the island many years ago, in fact it didn’t even have a road down to it, so was cut off in the wet season, now there is a road so easy life to drive yourself down there or get a Tuk Tuk. There’s very little signal and the worst Wifi you’ll find in Asia, but completely worth it, if you just want to loose yourself for a little bit! Prepare to do not a lot! Take a walk over to the derelict huts past the water lizards! Yes be careful they can be a little feisty, but for sure worth the walk over. Smoke a joint, sip on a fresh fruit smoothie and enjoy the pure bliss this place has to offer!
This is the most “organised” trip I take in Asia. You take the bus down to Champhon and take the boat across from there, again you can buy all this together and yes believe it or not there is in fact a system to get people onto the boats and to the correct island. Or you can take a boat from Surat Thani which is quicker, but if you want some fun take the overnight boat! You’ll be looking at around 1000B – 1500B depending on what company you go with. $40-$60 AUD.
I could keep banging on about Ko Pha-Ngan but you get the point, get a bike and go exploring!!
3. Khao Sok
Khao Sok National Park!!! South West from Ko Pha-Ngan, this place is the bloody bomb!!! Want to live in huts on the water?? This is the one! Amazingly I don’t hear heaps of people talk about it, but surrounded by mountains, the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world and some of the bluest water you’ll see, why would you miss it?!
You can explore the park with a variety of hikes or raft, kayak or canoe your way around the Sik river! If you’re lucky you may come across the Gibbons or even a tiger!
This brilliant place is awesome if you’ve had enough of beach bumming and would like not to have sand in your bag for a few days. Again off the grid but pure bliss!
4. Ko Lanta Yai
Where to start… Stunning, set off the coast of Krabi and super easy to hope on a ferry and get over there. Koh Lanta district spans across several islands and the most popular being Koh Lanta Yai. However with a small population of 30,000 or so depending on what time of the year you go, you’ll find yourself being the only one on the beach! Pure Bliss! The locals are wonderful, fresh coconuts all day long and some of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen. You can walk heaps, go tracking through jungles and spend as much time in the sea as you feel. Riding a scooter is a massive advantage here, however there are still the Tuk Tuks to help! Lanta Yai is over 25Ks long and 3Ks wide, with a mountain range in the middle and over a dozen different beaches you can choose from, you’ll find somewhere you love! Phra Ae Beach or commonly known as, Long Beach would be the most well known and not surprising, it’s 3.5Ks of white sand and beautiful sunsets, you’ll see why!
If you’re a diver, you are in luck my friend, with some awesome diving and snorkelling spots too.
There of course, as any other island, are many different tours you can jump on, from snorkelling trips to jungle tracks. Don’t forget to check out Khao Mai Kaew Cave.
Great cooking schools and massage places on the island to!
5. Koh Lipe
So you’ve figured it out, I do love a stunning island. This one truly is off, of a postcard!
Koh Lipe, is just one of many small islands in Arutao National Marine Park. This PLACE is famous for diving in the pristine, clear waters.
Now this one has a little tricky part, that alas no-one tells you about. As it’s a marine national park and they try to keep some sort of control on the amount of visitors, you’ll get a boat over to the island from Pak Bara Pier on the mainland. However there’ll drop you off on a pontoon in the middle of the bay and charge you 50B to get the long tail boat onto the island, which isn’t the worst thing, but always nice to know.
So what to do if you don’t dive? … Honestly… Not A Lot!!
Prepare to chill like you’ve never chilled before!
The island is tiny, at 2Ks long and 1K wide, you’d be silly not to walk around and check out the main beaches. Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach and Pattaya Beach.
The main street, ‘Wlaking Street’ there you’ll find places to eat and drink, or check out the bars and restaurants on the beach fronts.
If you want to, you can get the boat over to Koh Adang and climb the mountain there, for a stunning view of Lipe. You’ll soon see why it’s named the Maldives of Thailand. The walks sweet, about 30-40 mins each way, don’t forget to bring heaps of water though!
One last wonderful aspect of this island, is you can border cross to Langkawi, Malaysia. It’s one of my favourite crossings and the easiest one of them all!
So that’s it! Just a few of my favourite bits! This won’t be the last Thailand article.