We started our Thai island hopping adventure by flying from Chiang Mai to Krabi where we stayed in the town of Ao Nang for 7 days. We spent a lot of time wandering around the town sampling the bars and restaurants along Ao Nang Beach. It isn’t the biggest town so we also spent some time relaxing by the roof top in our hotel as well as some time exploring the nearby beaches and islands.
One morning we caught a junk boat over to Railay beach. After being a bit disappointed with Ao Nang beach (not as clean nor as big as I was expecting) Railay was a vast improvement. A small beach location, it is much less commercial than the nearby mainland with surrounding mountain greenery and wild monkeys living in the trees. The beach is clean with white sand and I got a 40-minute back massage for just over £5. Well worth a visit!
If you are looking for pristine beaches and blue waters while in the Krabi province then you need to partake in some island hopping. James and I booked on to the four-island tour which cost 850 Baht including the 400 Baht national park entrance fee.
We started the tour with a visit to Phranang Cave which is home to a huge cavern that is unique due to it being filled with wooden penis sculptures. We were given no explanation about this cave beforehand or after the visit so being the immature person that I am, I had a good chuckle upon entry (*ahem* sorry had to be done!) In all seriousness, I think that its some sort of fishermen’s fertility shrine so we left after a while to sunbathe on the pristine beach.
We then sailed in the long boat to the Tup Islets which was a big island that appears as two small islands due to an obscured connecting sandbar that it only revealed when the tide goes out. After some more sunbathing and a few grabbed photo opportunities, we made our way to Chicken Island, so called due to it have a jutting rock formation that is shaped like a chicken’s head. We stopped for around 40 minutes to do some fantastic snorkelling in the blue waters before finishing up on the beautiful Poda island where we stopped for lunch.
It’s known that a lot of Thailand is rapidly changing and losing a lot of its natural beauty due to it’s massive tourism trade but the beauty of Poda island is being kept somewhat safe as people are forbidden from sleeping or littering on the island. Once we had finished our lunch we had to give all of the packaging back to our tour guide so that she could dispose of it on the mainland.
Once our time in Krabi was up, we moved onto our next location of Koh Lanta Island. We stayed in a beautiful location where I was served a mean pineapple fried rice (see above). We had a relaxing time watching beautiful sunsets from some of the beachside bars and restaurants; but after four days we were ready to get going. I feel that Koh Lanta is more where you would visit in Thailand if you wanted to take your family. There was plenty to do for the kids but nothing really available for adults other than some fairly overpriced drinking.
Ready to experience some nightlife, James and I decided to board a ferry and head to Phuket. We had decided to skip staying on Phi Phi Don island enroute because we had heard some negative reviews and made a decision to save it for one of the island tours instead. This turned out to be a big regret for me because when we arrived on the island for our little visit I found it to be a quite charming and really pretty little island!
It took us much longer to reach Phuket than anticipated due to our ferry breaking down in the middle of the sea! We waited on the open water for an hour for a small speedboat to squeeze half of us onto it so that we could be taken onto the rest of our journey. A few hours later than expected, we arrived at our hostel which turned out to be one of the nicest stays of our entire trip. We stayed in a king room in Lub D Patong which was (although a little over-priced) nicer than a lot of the hotels than we had previously stayed in. I quickly freshened up and went down to join James who had already made some friends at the bar (which is why I love sociable hostels, such a great atmosphere in Lub D). We had a big group of people formed in no time at all and went out to experience the wildness of Bangla Road. I can safely say that I have never experienced anything like it.
It. Was. Wild.
Definitely an assault on the senses. The road was packed with party goers, merchants, and people trying to sell ping pong shows. The bars had all their fronts open facing towards the streets so it was deafening to hear all of the music being played but it was so much fun to experience. I would definitely recommend gathering a big group of people to visit it with on at least one occasion if you are planning on visiting the Patong area. The next day I felt less than fresh and was relieved to be able to sit in the hostel pool and later chill out during their movie night.
We spent around 7 nights in Patong because we figured that it would be easier to get to Phuket airport from there where we would be flying on to Hong Kong. We spent a few days in different hotels, relaxing by the pools but after a few days of inactivity I was ready to get moving again so we tried the Phi Phi Islands tour.
This tour was on a speedboat and we kicked it off by visiting the tiny island of Khai Nok. This little area of land was beautiful but the sea surrounding it was absolutely gorgeous! It was turquoise and so clear that you could watch fish swimming around your legs. After some obligatory picture taking, we made our way back onto the boat so that we could sail to Khai Nui which was a little reef area where we could snorkel. The tropical fish in Thailand are so pretty and I found a lot once I swam out from the boat a little. After snorkelling we were taken for some ‘sightseeing’ of Viking Cave and Phi Phi Lei island. I was fully expecting to be able to stroll along Maya beach but we were told once we were on the boat that we would not be getting off the boat during our stop there which is why we never had to pay the national park fee. I guess we should have seen that coming but I was a bit gutted. Still the view from the boat was nice so not all bad!
We were taken to Phi Phi Don island for lunch. We were told that we had just over two hours on this island so I left James on the beach and went for a little wander. The little market town was really sweet and full of little trinket stores and food stops. I wish that we could have seen the island at night because I’ve heard that its like nothing else. I would definitely recommend that you stop by Phi Phi Don at least once during any trips to Thailand that you might take.
We were taken for one last spot of snorkelling before heading back to Patong. I was knackered at this point and decided not to go in the water. Instead, I helped the tour guide thrown biscuits at unsuspecting snorkelers who would then get surrounded by hungry fish, hilarious!
We spent our last two days in Thailand relaxing and eating cheap (but very fresh and delicious) street food from the market place next to our last hotel. We had an extremely late/ early morning flight to Hong Kong on our last night so we checked out of our hotel that evening and went to the cinema to kill a few hours. I’ve had to add a little bit about our cinema visit to this post because it was such a different experience to what we are used to at home. For the total price of £11 James and I shared a sofa which reclined, it was the most comfortable cinema experience that I have ever had. We also managed to get a massive popcorn for a bargain price of £2 and were informed that we were to stand for the King of Thailand’s anthem which is played before every movie that is played in the cinema. A very different experience indeed!
Thailand was a beautiful part of our trip but not really what I was expecting. This isn’t a bad thing, but I was expecting to walk out of my hotel onto pristine white beaches but in actual fact the mainland beaches are quite polluted with rubbish and boat fuel. I suppose that this is the burden of tourism for Thailand. Don’t let this put you off visiting though because the islands are absolutely gorgeous and are definitely a ‘must visit’ if you take a holiday to the country.