Number 2 – Visit Thailand (Two of Clubs) – Tuesday 7th February
Part 4 – The Islands
This is going to be the final part of my Thai adventures; with this the 2 of clubs is finally complete! I’m pretty certain I could spend twice as much time here in Thailand, and believe me when I say it is an incredible destination. I hope these posts and the pictures have gone some way to showing you that and inspired you.
I’m also going to do this post slightly differently. The islands have been mainly about chilling out, so I haven’t done as much this past week in terms of sightseeing. So rather than break it down into days, I’m just going to write a little about each destination. I’ll probably miss things out, as this week has been pure bliss!
I arrived in Krabi having flown from Chiang Mai. I obviously can’t comment on other ways of getting to Krabi, but I would thoroughly recommend arriving by plane during the day. The landscape is incredible and I had a great window seat from which to see the huge limestone structures and tropical climate on the ground. It was truly stunning. Getting into town was pretty easy and although the hostel I stayed at (Holiday Station) was slightly more expensive compared to the northern prices I had become used to, the hostel was well worth the money, so check it out if you’re in town. Krabi is a small fishing town which serves as a jumping off point for some of the Thai Islands. A lot of younger tourists opt for the nearby beach resort of Ao Nang, but if you want a slice of local Thai culture that is less touristy, I would definitely recommend Krabi town. 3 days was enough, but it was great wandering around the town. Whilst in Krabi you MUST head down to Chao Fa pier for the street food. Krabi is a fishing town, so the seafood here is fresh, tasty, local, and most importantly, cheap! I had the best seafood noodle soup with a banana milkshake for less than £2!
Whilst there I also took a day trip to Railay Beach. This was somewhere I really wanted to visit because of the scenery and the climbing on offer there. You can catch a longtail boat from Krabi Town to Railay east pretty easily and then the walk to the more popular Railay west beach in less than 5 minutes. It did rain in the morning whilst I was on the boat, but it only lasted maybe half an hour. Railay west beach was really beautiful, and the limestone cliffs encasing the beach are spectacular, but it was pretty busy with tourists. However, I had heard about a hidden lagoon that some people climb to and I was excited to try. So I headed to the south end of Railay east to find the trail to the climb.
Getting to the lagoon was tough. I mean really tough. I consider myself quite fit, and I was absolutely shattered by the time I had finished. Additionally, the health and safety considerations were pretty much non-existent – there was one rope leading up the rock face that you could hold onto, and a few natural hand holds. That was it, the rest was up to you. In Thailand it’s almost as if, ‘if you’re dumb enough to do it…’ I was. The climb was gruelling. It recommended that you didn’t attempt the climb after rain because of the loose clay and slippery conditions and I wish I’d listened. The 300m climb took around 40 minutes and by the end I was covered in clay, my legs were bruised from a few close shaves, and I was literally pouring with sweat. However, the lagoon was something else. Because of the difficulty, not many people make it to the lagoon and so it was almost deserted when I arrived, and whilst I was there, the others left and I had it to myself. It was a small pool, surrounded on every side by cliffs reaching what must have been easily more than 50/60m. I swam for a while and renewed my energy. After there I climbed back and went to the viewpoint. Again this was brilliant, and the views over Railay… well just check the pictures!
For Breakfast and good tea/coffee whilst in Krabi Town, check out ‘The Art of Tea’ on Utakritt Road, just by Chao Fa Pier. For lunch and dinner, make sure you eat at the markets and from street vendors. They are just incredible.
From Krabi I made my way to Koh Lanta. This island is known as the chill out island, with a lot of tourists retreating here after the craziness of Phi Phi. I got the minibus down from Krabi, which I would recommend as its cheaper, has good views, and just as quick as the boat. Additionally they will pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation. The first day I booked into a hostel by the pier in the north of the island and headed to the north beach. I’m not a beach person: my ginger hair makes the sun hate me, I don’t like getting sand everywhere, and I get bored after a few hours. Apparently this is something I’m going to have to change in the future; we’re going to have to come to sort of compromise! However, the beaches I’ve visited in Thailand really have been good. The sand is super white, the water is crazy warm (seriously, similar to the temperature I would have my bath!) and on Lanta at least the beaches are really quiet! In the evening I met an English couple, Mitch and Alex, and we ended up eating and then heading out to a few bars. You meet a lot of people travelling, but a few stand out. These were two super cool guys that stood out, and I really hope that we can keep in touch. We finished in a bar on Long beach called the Funky Monkey. It was karaoke night and it was a lot of fun! Really good quality equipment, a great range of songs and the host was a guy from the Philippines who sang the best Whitney and Jennifer Hudson I have ever heard! Make sure you check him out!
The next day I moved down to a hostel on long beach in order to be a little closer to where things were happening. I spent a bit of time on the beach again, but my sunburn was truly taking hold so I had to escape. I found a couple of really nice restaurants whilst here, not on the beach but on the main street. I’d had papaya salad in the past and not really been too bothered about it, but a guy at the hostel had recommended a particular restaurant for papaya salad with deep fried shrimp. Seriously, it was one of the best salads I have ever eaten. The restaurant was Sununtha, and it’s really close to the 7/11 and the pharmacy towards the south end of long beach.
I also did a snorkelling day trip to Koh Rok whilst I was here. This was pretty awesome. The boat set off at 9am and travelled an hour to the deserted island of Koh Rok. We went straight to the first snorkelling site and stayed there for one hour. The sea life was incredible: there was so much to see, including luminescent fish, coral and huge sea cucumber. The clownfish were really funny though, you could maybe see one hanging out at the edge of some coral, but as you got closer, the rest of the family appeared out of coral as if they were protecting their home! I even saw one clownfish attack a fish twice his size for getting too close! Pretty cool. After here we went to the beach on Koh Rok for lunch, which was really nice. We had two hours on the beach in which time most people sunbathed or did some more snorkelling. However, I had heard about a view point on the island, and also some big monitor lizards that you can spot if you’re lucky, so I went in search. The walk to the viewpoint was intense, especially in the tropical heat! I didn’t find any lizards on the way up either. But the views were pretty awesome: a perfect blue sea in every direction, with a few islands protruding from the sapphire every now and again. On the way down I was in my own world when I heard a little rustling in the undergrowth near me. I stopped to take a closer look, and there it was! A huge monitor lizard crawling towards me! He saw me and froze, so I froze too. After around a minute, he must have felt comfortable because he decided to walk right onto the path in front of me and carried on without a care in the world. I followed him for a while and got a few pictures and videos. Mission accomplished!
Back at the boat we had another snorkelling session, which again was really good, and then headed back to Koh Lanta. I would highly recommend the snorkelling tours, but barter heavily; I got more than 500THB off the price.
Koh Phi Phi
I have a confession. I was extremely underwhelmed by Phi Phi. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t spend much time there, but everything was double the price, it was far too busy and touristy, and completely centred around partying. I guess this would be fine for the younger traveller, but I didn’t come halfway around the world just to drink vodka buckets! However, there were a few saving graces. I paid the 30THB to climb to the viewpoints above Phi Phi on the east of the island and was suitably speechless. I know I know, I’ve been to all the viewpoints, surely I must be getting bored. But not even slightly. There are some amazing sights around Thailand and because of the dramatic nature of the islands, the views just don’t get old. They are each unique and the cliff and beach combinations are just incredible. It also gives me an opportunity to get a bit of exercise, as I’m very conscious that I’m not working out whilst I’m away and need to keep fit somehow. Phi Phi was no exception, and perhaps one of my favourite views. It is up there with the views from Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. (read about my adventures in Chiang Mai here).
Aside from the views, the north beach was really pristine, not as busy as Tonsai bay a little further south, and also the entrance to the bay was great. If you are wanting to party, then stay a night or two on Phi Phi. If not, and you are on a budget, I would say you could probably do most of Phi Phi in a day. The reason I say on a budget is because the only cheap hostels are in the loud party areas. If you have more money, you can stay at some of the more expensive accommodation in quiet areas, but believe me you will pay for the luxury.
From Phi Phi I spent 2 nights and one day in Phuket, in order to catch a plane to Cambodia. It was only meant to be a layover destination, but I fell in love with the city, so I am going to write a bonus entry on Phuket later The islands have been great, but I feel like I’ve been relaxing too much. I get itchy feet easily and I’m ready to do some more sights now. So that’s it. After a month in Thailand, I am officially crossing off the Two of Clubs. It’s been a great month, and Thailand is a fantastic country, with so much to offer. As I said in my introduction, I’m sure I could spend much longer here and not get bored. The food is incredible (especially the street food), the culture is great, and despite the horror stories, it’s actually very safe. I don’t think I have felt in danger once; the Thai people are for the most part really friendly, and a little vigilance goes a long way.
Thank you for sticking with me this last month, and if you’re new to the blog there are links to my other Thailand entries below. Cambodia is next in order to cross off the Three of Clubs!
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Carpe that Diem!
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