Published on December 13th, 2013 | by Tom Firehill0
30 Days in Thailand [Quick Guide]
I recently spent a month in Thailand and I thought it might be useful for those of you planning on jetting out there. Thailand holidays certainly live up to the hype and it was clear to me after a few days why so many people love going out to South East Asia, either on vacation or to travel the entire region.
So here’s my quick guide on what to do and see in the different towns in Thailand. I can’t pretend I saw all of what the country has to offer but here are my highlights.
There’s no doubt about it, Bangkok is a largely Westernised city. Beyond the heat and food you aren’t going to notice much outwardly to distinguish it from any other metropolis. However once I spent a few days here I noticed a few differences from my native London that make it a more pleasant place to live, in my opinion. Travel is dirt cheap, a taxi to get across town from my apartment to Khao San road cost half what it costs to even enter a taxi in London. Getting about by Skytrain (BST) was super easy and made exploring the city that much more convenient.
It may just be that I am used to western cities but I found the lifestyle and attitude of people here to be much more relaxed than anywhere else. There’s no “stick to the right” rule on escalators because nobody is in rush. Obviously yours truly stuck to the right out of habit but it was a nice change not to see stressed people rushing around, I guess it was too hot to get stressed.
I loved Bangkok and it would certainly be worth spending a few days there. The temples along the river are worth visiting in particular.
A well known place with backpackers. This has long been a staple place to visit for travellers and it doesn’t disappoint. I only spent two nights there but managed to catch the Lantern Festival Loi Krathong which was fun even though there was a torrential downpour towards the end which soured the performers desire to be there. I also managed to get up into the country side and visit an elephant sanctuary to ride some elephants and train as a Thai Mahout, great fun and probably one of the single best experiences of my life to date.
As part of the tour we went rafting down a local river which was surprisingly a lot of fun. We past a few elephant camps on the way and navigated past elephants crossing the river. Then a quick trip to a Long neck hill tribe village, though I was dubious as to whether they really lived there or not. Either way an interesting part of the tour.
For those of you who still like to do a bit of partying there are a bunch of clubs and bars in Chiang Mai. There are plenty of bars, one of which was possibly the strangest bar I’ve ever been to. It was small and on a corner of a side street, we sat upstairs with some French people and it was literally like a tree house, plywood walls and rickety stairs. As for clubs I went to two, the name of the first escapes my memory and the second was called Spicy. Decent music and mostly filled with foreigners, so if you’re travelling on your own it’s easy to make friends.
As for getting to Chiang Mai, I went with a company called Sombat Tours due to the train line being closed for construction, their coaches were clean and their service brilliant a single ticket cost around THB 600 (£12).
Easily my favourite part of the trip. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked here and the weather could have been better since I arrived at the end of the rainy season, but this didn’t detract from a great couple of days. Firstly a warning for those of you susceptible to sea sickness, if you are travelling via train from Bangkok or bus to Chumporn then getting a ferry over, be aware that the Lomprayah Catamaran is pretty brutal when the seas are rough. 80% of the people on board my ferry were sick at some point during the 1.5 hour trip (including me) and I felt like a combination of 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and the worlds worst hangover – you know the type that lasts for a couple days after you drank.
There is a slower option in Seatran Discovery which I wish I had of known of beforehand, but never mind. After spending the afternoon recovering, we went to a bar to catch the Arsenal vs Liverpool match, where 99% of the patrons were Arsenal fans, or at least supporting Arsenal for that match which is always nice to see.
Koh Tao has a nice atmosphere that is difficult to describe, it is a tiny relaxed island but there are enough people there to have a good time partying. On my next trip I’ll certainly be spending more time there. We stumbled across some beautiful beaches, in particular Sai Daeng beach which was deserted aside from us and a few tourists.
Koh Tao is mainly known for it’s diving locations and I wasn’t able to indulge myself unfortunately however I am certain I’ll be back for longer and will definitely check out all it has to offer.
For more information have a look at http://kohtaoonline.com
I decided to take a slower ferry over to Koh Phangan, as to avoid losing a day to fatigue and nausea. The Seatran ferry was most enjoyable and I didn’t even need to take the sleeping tablets that they gave me at the office where I purchased the tickets.
Once there we weren’t sure how best to get to our bungalow which was all the way down on Haad Rin beach. In the end we decided to rent mopeds which were fun, if not extremely scary on the massively steep hills down near Haad Rin. The idea was to attend the Half Moon Party, but we got our dates wrong and it was actually the next night and we also found it was a different place to where we were staying so a quick look on Booking.com and we found a place for the next night that was closer to where the event was.
Overall Koh Phangan was fun though a fair bit larger than Koh Tao and didn’t feel as relaxed, though that may just have been the rush we were in. If you find yourself down on Haad Rin, the Lighthouse Bungalows are excellent and definitely check out the Sandcastle bar, it is on the street parallel to Haad rin beach and has sand as a dance floor (Update 2017: No longer has sand 🙁 ), great music and great people.