Thinking of going to Thailand’s islands? Well, YOU SHOULD! I don’t really know whether I should start talking about the amazing landscapes, or the delicious food, or maybe the awesome nightlife because Thailand’s got it all. Do you want to party like an animal? You’ve got it! Do you want to just chill and relax by the beach? You’ve got that too! Do you want to meet people from all over the globe? You name it! Thailand’s got you covered.
Planning the trip
I’m personally not a fan of planning too much when it comes down to traveling, but if you want to visit Thailand, you will need a bit of previous planning. The reason why has to do with time mostly. I had a month to explore Thailand and I felt like discovering beaches so I decided to go south and see the islands. If you have more time, you could do the islands down south and the north of Thailand as well (and people say the north is awesome!) So, first things first: consider how much time you’ve got, then decide if you feel like hiking mountains up North, or if you prefer scuba-diving down south.
I don’t know about you, but I love hostels. Especially if you are a solo traveler. That is probably the easiest way to meet people. I first arrived in Bangkok and I had booked my hostel online. It wasn’t until I arrived in that hostel that I realized the room prices change depending on the booking way. Apparently, booking online costs more than simply arriving and asking for a bed. For this reason, I literally stopped booking in advance and decided to live the real adventure. As soon as I went south to the islands, I pretty much just arrived and started “hostel shopping”. The pros of doing this are: you can see the place right away, see how clean it is, see if they have bed bugs (very common in Asia! Please don’t forget to check… ALWAYS) and to get a better price. On the other hand, the cons of this are: the good ones might be full and you might have to walk more than expected, carrying a heavy backpack with you and add the heat on top of it all.
Thai cuisine is probably one of my favorites, and the awesome part is that it is VERY cheap! You can buy a delicious pad thai on the street for only 50 Baht, or you could also go to a fancy restaurant which will obviously be way more expensive but will still offer a decent price for the quality of food you get. I never really got any kind of food poisoning by eating on the street, and I don’t think you should unless your stomach is very sensitive. You can see how they make it and how clean it looks, so judge for yourself. Don’t be afraid to try street food, not in Thailand at least, because it’s DELICIOUS. My suggestions: Pad thai and mango sticky rice are a must.
Tours in Thailand are probably the most expensive part of the trip – but fear not. It is still pretty cheap compared to other destinations. A whole day tour can cost you 1800 Baht… you do the math! And when I say whole day tour, I really mean it. In Koh Phangan, I took a tour that included pick-up from the hostel, elephant park, zip-lining, awesome lunch and it wrapped it up with archery lessons. 1800 Baht for all that is really not that much considering that this was the most expensive tour I took. In Koh Phi Phi I took a 750 Baht tour that included pick-up and a boat tour that takes you to the monkey beach, some crystal clear waters where you can snorkel in open waters and swim around colorful fish, they also take you to Maya Bay, home to the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. A-MA-ZING.
Nightlife in Thailand is crazy. People say Las Vegas is crazy but actually, in my opinion, Vegas is nothing compared to Thai parties. You will soon realize this once in Bangkok: Khao San Road is no joke. During the day it’s pretty peaceful, and you can shop some souvenirs over there (don’t forget the bargaining art, much needed in Asia!). As soon as the sun goes down, Khao San Road changes drastically: the street is full of people from all over the world, music from all different bars can be heard all at the same time very loudly, there are people offering you to see the ping-pong show (and if you don’t know what that is, I suggest you Google it now), buckets for 100 Baht, pool tables, food trucks, anything you want can be found here. If you are not a party kind of person, don’t stay here for too long or else you will feel overwhelmed, but I still definitely suggest you go visit as a part of the journey! Same is true in Phuket (even crazier, I would say), Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan. In the end, Thailand is home to the famous Full Moon Party, isn’t it?
If you go down south to the islands, you will mostly be on ferries. I took a flight from Bangkok to Phuket and then it was all ferries-buses, but I’m aware that you can also take trains (even more so if you want to go north). Ferries can cost you all the way from 400 Baht to 1000 Baht depending on where you are heading and how good you are at doing your own market research plus bargaining. Writer’s tip: always tell them that you got a better price somewhere else. I’m sure they will lower the fare.
Asia is all about negotiating unless we talk about food or legit brand stores, say Mac Online (you don’t want to try to get lower prices there!). But if we talk about tours, ferries, souvenirs, or clothes on the street, feel free to practice your negotiation skills. It might be funny in the beginning and can get pretty tiring by the end of it, but keep on practicing! You might end up buying something 60-70% off the initial price. It’s worth the shot, right?
In the end, what did I discover in 1 month?
Bangkok-Phuket-Koh Phi Phi-Krabi-Ao Nang-Koh Tao- Koh Phangan. I didn’t have time for more because when I liked the place I just stayed for as long as I felt like it, but I’m sure you can do more places in the same amount of time, it’s really up to you.