Tropical beaches, parties, bachelor’s paradise, crowds are probably some of the words that would come to your mind when you think of Thailand because those are the words that came to my mind when my dad suggested travelling to Thailand this October. For as long as I can remember, I have always rejected a family vacation to Thailand in favour of more family-friendly destinations, a mistake that I have come to strongly regret. Though known to be a bachelor’s paradise, Thailand is a great spot for a family vacation.
How to get there?
We booked our flights on Thai Airways and landed at the Suvarnabhumi Airport and had to rush to get our visa done as our flight to Krabi was just an hour later. Indians have visa on arrival for Thailand, resulting in long queues at the visa counters but luckily for us, we took the express visa on arrival option which cost around 1000 baht extra per person. If you have a connecting flight to Krabi, Phuket or Chiang Mi from Suvarnabhumi airport, it is a wise call to either schedule the next flight at least 2 hours after your arrival or to take the express visa on arrival option because the queues at the visa on arrival counter are very long. Another thing to note about the airport is that there are multiple immigration counters situated near the various departure gates to make it easier on the travellers which can prove to be quite confusing for people travelling from Suvarnabhumi airport for the first time. Once our visa on arrival was done, we headed to our gate and boarded our flight to Krabi.
We landed at the Krabi International Airport at 10:30 am local time and after collecting our luggage very quickly and hassle-free thanks to Thai Airways, we set out to meet our waiting cab driver. We had already booked an airport pickup from the Hotel we were going to stay at, but there are also airport transfer and taxi services available as well as the option to book a ride on Uber. Thus began our 30-minute drive to The ShellSea Resort, Krabi.
Where did we stay?
Surrounded by the beautiful Fossil beach on one side and lush greenery on the other, stands the ShellSea, like a mermaid surrounded by waves. A five-star resort which exudes beauty, luxury and class like few others. They have a well lit and spacious reception area, with plenty of seating. It’s a new resort but you wouldn’t think so unless you knew first hand. We were guided upon arrival by a concierge to the main lobby where we were given warm towelettes and a refreshing drink to shake off the tiring journey. The hotel staff were very accommodating and tried to help us out as much as they could, they went above and beyond to meet our travel and other needs. They even arranged for an early check in as we had arrived there by 12 as opposed to their check-in time of 2 pm. From the bell-boy to the Manager, there was hardly a moment when I saw them without a smile throughout my stay. Kind, helpful, respectful and friendly are some of the most fitting adjectives for the ShellSea staff. My only regret in the entire trip- not spending enough time in the resort.
Day 1: 7 Island Sunset Tour
As soon as we checked in, we rushed to the information desk to book a tour for the day as we wanted to make the most of the trip and visit the main places of attraction, which in hindsight might not have been a good idea as the jet lag set in later in the day. Though the resort didn’t have the package we were looking for, they contacted Mariam Tours and Travels and booked the 7 Island Sunset Cruise for us. The company sent their own vehicle to pick us up which was an open van which allowed us to enjoy the afternoon breeze and the scenic beauty all around us. They picked us up 1 hour prior to the start of the tour and dropped us off in front of their office which is situated right next to the Ao Nam Mao Pier. By the time we paid them the tour fee (approx 1000 baht per adult), the other passengers had arrived. Snorkelling equipment was also provided free of cost for the duration of the trip. They then led us to the pier admission office where we had to pay a National Park Entrance fee of 400 baht person before entering the walkway to the pier.
Once we reached the end of the pier, we were asked to embark on a small boat before we were asked to shift to a bigger boat. We were then led to Koh Tan Ming, our first stop. This stop is for the snorkellers, who were allowed to jump into the water and swim with the schools of fish swimming in the clear waters. Our next stop was Poda Island, where we were allowed to enjoy the island for about 35-40 minutes before proceeding to the other islands. We were taken to Poda Island, Thup Island, Chicken Island to name a few. All of them were extremely scenic spots with the opportunity to click amazing beach photos as well as pictures of the sunset. As the sun sunk lower, we were asked to get back on the boat to leave before the tides got too high. The only issue with this package was the embarking and disembarking from the boats to reach the shore.
After visiting 6 islands, we were then taken to Railey Beach for a barbeque dinner. For all the people who fancy a dinner under the stars, surrounded by unspoilt nature, this is an ideal dinner. Post dinner, we were taken back to the pier and then there was a small firework demonstration which was quite breathtaking. After the fire show, we were dropped back in our hotel in an air-conditioned coach,
Day 2: Elephant Trekking
After a tiring and hectic first day, we decided to take a day of leisure on our second day there. We went for a late breakfast at the Cerulean Restaurant situated in the resort and decided to take a little bit of sight-seeing later on. We found elephant trekking at an elephant camp close to the resort (package arranged by the resort). The camp was called Nosey Parkers Elephant camp, a place where the elephants were allowed to live in peace and were not harmed in any manner as far as we could tell. They were well-taken care off and treated with love and affection. It was like a trek through a dense forest, with the shade of the trees and the sound of crickets chirping and the playful exchange between the elephant trainers and the elephants. After an eventful few hours with the elephants, we got back to the resort and went about exploring it. We got to witness a beautiful sunset, one of the most serene and beautiful ones indeed. Thailand beaches are indeed a photographer’s paradise!
Day 3: James Bond Island
On the third day, we booked a private longtail boat tour to James Bond Island. The resort sent their car to drop us off at Phrang Nga, from where the tour guide took us to James Bond Island. On the way to James Bond Island, we were taken canoeing as well, at an eco-group run organization.
After canoeing, we then proceeded to the infamous James Bond Island. It was a beautiful island with a beautiful view, but other than that, there is nothing else to it. As most of the trips to the island are in the afternoon, the guide will suggest stopping for lunch at the Koh Panyee Village, also called the Floating Muslim Village. The lifestyle, the mannerisms of the people, the handicrafts which they make and sell, all add to the rustic charm of the place. The people are extremely laid back and friendly, with kids running around and helping you navigate through the village. It is a paradise for people who love handicrafts, as they make the prettiest windchimes from seashells in this village. After a while there, you forget that you’re standing on wooden planks in the middle of nowhere above water, it is a world of its own with the quaintest charm to it. The people are self-sufficient, sweet and nice, they don’t drive a hard bargain. Most of all, they deliver every line with a smile and, that makes all the difference.
After disembarking from the long tail boat, we were led back to our resort by about 4:30 in the evening. We decided to make the most of our last evening in Krabi and went to soak in one last sunset on the beautiful beach. As the sun went down that blissful day, it was a glorious sight. The sky had hues of pink, orange and purple. It was a picture perfect moment, one which will be remembered for a thousand sunsets hence.
After watching the sunset, we stumbled upon the Otium Spa and decided to try it out. It was a beautiful room, with floor to ceiling windows and white decor and the smell of aromatherapy oils in the air. The masseuse was extremely respectful and polite, I would even go as far as telling she had magic hands. It was a wonderful spa service, it was refreshing and calming. The smell of the essential oils, the soft music and the amazing spa treatment was the perfect end to an amazing stay.
After a blissful 3 day stay in Krabi, it was finally time to say goodbye to the Land of Beautiful Sunsets. Of all the places I’ve travelled, of all the people I’ve met, Krabi will always hold a very special place in my heart for its stunning beauty and serenity. To go to such a laid-back hamlet from the fast-paced city life, was a welcome change. The serenity, the calmness and the solitude of the waves went a long way in helping me lay back, soak in the rays and unwind.
It was the perfect break from reality, from life. It helps you take a step back from reality, to just enjoy the smaller things in life and regain your perspective. It is also a perfect place to bond, to forge new bonds and help mend the broken ones. I may have left Krabi behind, but the memories are far from forgotten. Those waves are magical, they help you breathe, to dream and to let go.