I’m finally getting around to blogging about our amazing trip to Thailand! I need to stress that I don’t believe all that we saw and experienced can be expressed though words or photos but I want to give you a snapshot of our travels through the beautiful Thailand.
Photo Credit: justjuicedetox.com
We travelled both Thailand and Vietnam during the month of July, while we only spent about ten days in Thailand, we literally used every minute to explore and see all that we could. I’m going to break down our trip into a day-by-day diary. If you have any questions or would like to know anything else, please just comment below, I’d love to hear from you! I should also mention that this wasn’t a “boozy” holiday; that wasn’t what this trip was about for us as we wanted to see as much as we could during the day. Also, we didn’t really do backpacking in the true sense of the word – meaning we didn’t stay in any hostels! I won’t include everywhere we stayed (we’d be here all day!), but I will include a few of the special ones.
Day 1 – Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui
We made the decision before we left home to fly straight down to Koh Samui, as we wanted to make the Half Moon party in Koh Phangan on the Friday night.
On Wednesday 8th July, after travelling from Dublin-Dubai-Bangkok-Samui, we landed in Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui. Many people had told us that Samui was a party destination, however, Fisherman’s Village was a lot more quaint and the beach was so beautiful. It was the ideal start to our adventure. We stayed in Hacienda Fisherman’s Village. There are a number of similar named guest houses but our one was recommended by Lonely Planet. This was a tiny guest house with a rooftop pool and our room was so close to the sea that I could here the waves from our bed – paradise! We paid a tiny bit extra for the deluxe room with a sea-view and balcony – I highly recommend.
Deluxe Sea View Room
The view from our balcony
Dinner on the Beach – Fisherman’s Village
Day 2- Koh Samui to Koh Phangan
After breakfast, in one of the cute little cafés in Fisherman’s Village, we took the ferry from The Big Buddha Pier to Koh Phangan. Having paid for the taxi from our hotel to the pier beforehand, in a little travel agent, we realised that you should always question the prices – or you will pay extra. *Tip* number one of Thailand – BARGAIN with everyone, it’s almost expected! This is a skill that will improve over your travels – trust me!
Long Tail Boats near the Big Buddha Pier
When we arrived at Koh Phangan we checked into The Coast Resort. This is such a cool hotel, we all loved this place but for completely different reasons to the Hacienda. The Coast Resort is very modern with polished concrete surfaces throughout and the staff are so helpful. The pool is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. It’s based on the beach and has a pool bar with stools in the actual water.
The pool at The Coast Resort Hotel
Sunset on the beach at The Coast Resort Hotel, Ko Phangan
On the Thursday night we went for cocktails with another group of friends who were in Koh Phangan. We went to ‘Sunrise Bar’ and had cocktails on these cute little mats sitting on the beach – you might begin see a growing trend here, I’m obsessed with the beach and the sound of the sea!
Day 3 – Koh Phangan
By this stage the jet lag had really kicked in and we were wrecked from all our travelling so we had a really chilled morning by the pool and beach.
Morning stroll after breakfast
Fresh Coconut water at The Coast Resort Hotel
In the afternoon we went to “The Challenge Pha Ngan“. This reminded me so much of watching Takeshi’s Castle on T.V. when I was a child. It’s like a giant obstacle course based in a huge lake. We had such a laugh but there were quite a few bruised egos by the time we left – Alex and Howard aren’t quite as tough as they’d like to think!
The Challenge Pha Ngan
On Friday night we had the infamous Half Moon Party. This was insane, I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s like a one night festival in the jungle! I know a few people who have been to both the Full and Half Moon Parties and many of them said they actually preferred the Half Moon. The Full Moon is based on the beach so it’s a little different.
We were lucky enough to have arranged to meet a group of people from home so we had a big crowd for the night. I would say that you need to keep your wits about you, particularly if there are only a few of you or a group of girls on your own, it’s like anywhere, you just need to keep safe.
I can honestly say that this was one of the best nights out I’ve ever had – and there have been quite a few of those!
Half Moon Party – featuring the infamous buckets!
Day 4 – Koh Phangan to Phi Phi
So this was one of those disaster days! We really wanted to get to spend a few days on Phi Phi as this was the highlight for most people we had spoken to; so we made to the decision to travel there on the Saturday morning. As a major *Tip* – DO NOT book a boat journey at 6.30 in the morning, the morning after the Half Moon Party! It nearly killed us!
On a serious note though, a *Tip* I would give is to price a few different travel agents, we tried about 3 before we got the best price and saved nearly €40 each. I would also say that booking these out in Thailand with the local travel agents is the cheapest way to travel. We got flights much cheaper out there than booking before hand, online at home.
To get to Phi Phi we took a taxi at 6.30am to the pier, a ferry from Koh Phi Phi to the mainland, a 2 and a half hour bus to Krabi and then another ferry from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi. (Just pop into a travel agent and they’ll sort out the whole trip for you – Phew!!) Needless to saw we were pretty dead by the time we reached our hotel, but when we say where we were to spend the next few days, it was so worth it!
We stayed in Phi Phi The Beach Resort. This resort had been recommended to us by a family member of mine and it was such a beautiful place.
I should mention, for those of you that are planning on visiting Phi Phi, there are no cars on the island and most transport will be by Long Tail boats around the little bays. Phi Phi The Beach Resort is located on Long Beach and is a short boat ride away from Phi Phi Don – the main town. This wasn’t an issue for us as we didn’t stay out late, however, it might not suit you if you want to be able to stay out, as Long Tail boats stop around midnight.
On one of the nights we were on Phi Phi the water was too choppy for the Long Tail boats to sail, so we managed to hire a few local guys to drive us to Phi Phi Don on dirt bikes, through the hills and forests – an experience in itself I can tell you!
Koh Phi Phi Beach Resort Huts
Views from our Beach Hut in Koh Phi Phi The Beach Resort
Day 5 – Phi Phi
We woke up feeling fresh again and ready to explore our new paradise! From our resort we took a Long Tail boat trip to Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island.
Bamboo Island has the most beautiful beach, with the clearest waters I’ve ever seen. We just chilled here for an hour and then went snorkelling off Mosquito Island. We would have loved to do the diving course while in Thailand but, unfortunately, we just didn’t have the time. Snorkelling was a really good substitute though, as I said the waters are crystal clear so you can see really far down and the fish are just so pretty!
Taking in the picturesque scenes on Bamboo Island
Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice – Served in a Pineapple
Sun starting to set on Koh Phi Phi, Long Beach
Day 6 – Phi Phi
This was probably the most dramatic and memorable day of our travels! We decided to take a private Long Tail boat out to Monkey Island and Maya Bay. Unfortunately disaster struck shortly after arriving on Monkey Island! Alex and Howard got very brave and got out to feed the monkeys while Joanne and I took photos. At one point Howard crouched down to pose for a photo with what I can only describe as “King Monkey”! The monkey bit him in the arm and off he had to go to A&E for a (rather expensive) Rabies shot. (He had to go back for booster shots every couple of days for the next few weeks.) It was one of those hysterical, nervous laughter kind of moments!
A photo taken seconds before that infamous monkey bite!
A few hours later we decided to look into attempt number two of a trip to Maya Bay! We took the Original Phi Phi Sunset Trip. This boat stopped off at Monkey Island (we didn’t get off the boat this time!), then on to Phi Phi Ley. We passed the Viking Cave and stopped at Pi Ley Lagoon for snorkelling and kayaking. Pi Ley Lagoon has 200m cliffs surrounding the pure blue waters and is such a mesmerising place to spend an hour kayaking – it’s not very strenuous, don’t worry!
Photos of us all just before we went kayaking and snorkelling in Pi Ley Lagoon.
The final destination of our day-trip was the famous Maya Bay – you know that surreal place you’ve seen in the movie ‘The Beach’ – well it’s just as beautiful in real life! Considering the place was stunning despite a mini-typhoon hitting just as we landed on the little island, resulting in strong winds and a minor sand storm, I can’t even imagine what it’s like on a good day!
Day 7- Phi Phi & Chiang Mai
For our last morning on Phi Phi we had breakfast on the beach and sobbed that we had to say goodbye!
Breakfast on Phi Phi
We took the ferry back to Krabi and got a flight up to Chiang Mai for the next part of our Thailand adventure.
On our way from the airport to our hotel we stared chatting to the taxi driver. He put together a whole trip for us for the following day and said he’d pick us up at 8.30a.m. – it is quite common for taxi drivers in Chiang Mai to do this so don’t be afraid to ask.
Day 8 – Chiang Mai
At 8.30a.m. we set off for Bobbie’s Elephant Home at the Waterrunner Tours. This was such a special day for all of us. We learned some Thai in order to speak to the elephants, we fed them, went for a trek along the river banks on their backs, and washed them. This was by far my favourite memory of Thailand. I cannot explain how beautiful these creatures are in the flesh. For such huge beings, they are so gentle.
If you plan on visiting elephants while in Chiang Mai just please be careful to visit somewhere that cares for the elephants as there are quite a few that don’t treat them very well and this is not something we should support.
Bobbie’s Elephant Home
After lunch we headed to Tiger Kingdom. While it was amazing to see these big cats up close, I wasn’t a big fan of Tiger Kingdom. I felt that the animals were very restricted in small enclosures that were in no way similar to their natural habitat. Maybe it was just me but it made me feel uncomfortable.
That evening we hit the Chiang Mai Night Markets – these were fantastic! Anything you could want can be bought at these markets, from handmade trinkets and oil paintings to fake handbags and clothes!
Day 9 – Chiang Mai
For our last morning in Chiang Mai, Alex and I had breakfast in such a cool little café – Cerebrum and Friends. (Poor Howard and Joanne had to head to the hospital for one of Howard’s Rabies booster shots!)
If you’re looking for a very tasty Egg Benedict, excellent coffee and some serious home decor inspiration then this little gem should not be missed!
In the afternoon we had a cooking course booked. A cooking course is a must-do at some point in Southeast Asia! We booked the Smart Cook short day course. Alex and Howard were a little hesitant about doing this but they turned out to enjoy it even more than Joanne and I did!
We cooked a selection of dishes between the four of us including: a variety of curries, Spring Rolls and Pad Thai. They also gave us each a comprehensive cookery book to recreate the dishes back home – we plan on having a Thai themed dinner party really soon as a little reunion!
Smart Cook Cooking Course
The head chef kindly dropped us to the airport for a small fee which was so convenient! And off we went for the final stop on our Thailand Adventure – Bangkok!
Day 10 – Bangkok
We purposely left Bangkok until last as we had heard so many mixed reviews about the place. We felt that we would be a little more acclimatised by the time we got there – and we were right! I think if you had just landed into Bangkok from Europe you’d get quite a shock!
We stayed in Buddy Lodge, again it had been recommended to us, mainly for it’s really convenient location. This is located in the middle of Khoasan Road, which, for us Irish peeps, is like Temple Bar multiplied by 100 in terms of intensity and insanity!! Buddy Lodge is ideal in that it is one of very few hotels in the area with a roof-top pool and trust me, in Bangkok a roof-top pool is an essential!
We spent the morning visiting some temples and The Big Buddha. By the time the afternoon came we literally couldn’t take the heat and intensity of the city any longer and hit the pool for the whole evening!
The Big Buddha, Bangkok
Travelling in Tuk-Tuks through Bangkok
Night life in Bangkok is fast paced, although you could say that about life in general in Bangkok! I especially loved the atmosphere of live music at every bar and cocktail promotions to be reckoned with!
Looking down On Khoasan Road, Bangkok
Khoasan Road, Bangkok
While I wouldn’t say Bangkok was my favourite part of Thailand, I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience it; I think it’s a pity to visit a country and not spend some time in their capital.
Day 11 – Vietnam Bound
On Saturday 18th July, with tears in our eyes, we packed our bags and boarded another plane – this time bound for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
I hope you got an insight into my love for this stunning country! A huge shout-out to Alex, Joanne and Howard for being the best travel buddies!
Have you been to Thailand? What are your favourite memories? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!
P.S. My post on Vietnam will be up over the next few weeks so keep an eye out!