Warning – LONG report - Hopefully it helps as tripadvisor has helped me so much !
Everything written here is my Opinion, my experience. When I travel I Try to leave the USA daily life behind and embrace the new culture I am visiting. Read a little of the area’s history, learn a couple of phrases - so I can butcher the language once I get there : ), meet and learn from people who are not from the US. I mention this report is only my opinion to put into perspective how I experienced Thailand; your experience may differ. If I recommend some place to eat (cockroach ran across my table – great soup & dim sum !) or a lodging with 4 floors (no elevator), You may not have the same experience I had. I guess just my friendly two cents. First trip to Thailand (hopefully not my last !).
As for the screen name – given to me in Copenhagen (along with a small stuffed red demon) last August because I knew so much about the Scandinavian countries I was traveling in – all because of TripAdvisor. The demon is now my good luck charm !
Go to Thailand ! Go Now ! Stay as long as you can ! Just Go ! Had the BEST time, met so many people, beautiful beaches and people. The food ! I’ve eaten Thai food before but I have never Had Thai food until this trip ! Once you go, you will know what I mean.
TRAVEL DATES & WEATHER:
March 14 – April 3, 2007. HOT and HUMID. Only way to put it - slow down when you walk (I’m a fast walker) or you will be drenched with sweat ! But hey, you are on your way to the beach (right ?) so not to much to worry about. At the beach nice ocean breezes but still hot. Quick dip in the water takes care of that. At night sort of humid but not really bad at all. Perfectly warm for shorts and t-shirt.
General statement for Ao Nang area islands, WEST Railay, Phra Nang, Phi Phi island. The water is warm and beautiful. The SAND, now the sand is something that I never read about. It is, I guess, bigger in size than the west coast USA sand because it feels Good to have on you, and it rubs off So easily. Between the sand and temperature of the sea - think of a nice warm spa treatment that leaves you refreshed and rejuvenated.
NOT like the west coast USA sand that is small, fine grain and sticks everywhere, and to everything ! Also Patong and Kata Yai beach on Phuket has this same type of west coast USA sand.
HOW I TRAVELED THIS TRIP:
Single, backpacker style. Felt safe everywhere I went (have traveled all over the US, Europe, Mexico, St. Petersburg, Russia). If it helps, I am 6 feet, male. For this trip I only had a backpack which was as big as allowed on all airlines as a Carry-On. Inside the backpack was a smaller day pack for beach, etc. Everything you need can be purchased in the Thailand areas I visited – Cheap ! I did not book any of my lodging before I left home. Went from recommendations in TA and Lonelyplanet guide.
BUDGET & ATM’S:
Budgeted $100 a day. Only went over budget on two days (one day only $3). Most days I was $20 to $40 Under budget.
This daily budget included lodging, food (only ate Thai food), drinks (local beer only, every day), water (local water in plastic bottles - buy the 6 pack – Every day), 5 island tour, boat/taxi/skytrain, ferry, chair rental at beach, entrance fees (temples), club fees (Bangkok), ETC. I never felt like I missed out on anything.
Of course if you are a package Tour type of person than this budget probably does not apply to you. I tend to just go to a country (with plenty of research before leaving home) and then do everything on my own. Show up – find a place to stay that day. Five island tour – walk thru town to find the best price, place to eat – recommendations from TA or a travelguide. You get the idea.
Used ATMs exclusively. Withdrew money at the Bangkok airport atm. Visa check card. Interlink / Plus / Star system. Never had a problem with any atm or locating an atm. Usually took out 10,000B at a time (did not carry this much around with me). Paid cash (baht) for everything (except for a 5 star hotel at the end of the trip). My bank charges/fees, once I returned home, for total international transactions for the entire trip was $40.00 US
Los Angeles, CA (airport code - LAX) to
2 Hour layover in Tokyo, Japan - Narita airport (NRT), to
7 Hour layover in Bangkok (BKK) to
Krabi (KBV) – BKK to KBV portion booked separately, one week before I left USA. Thai Airways One way $117.00 BKK to KBV economy
LAX to BKK to LAX – roundtrip United airlines operated by All Nippon – booked thru United but the airplane was an All Nippon – economy seat, nice leg room, nice flight; by luck, the seat empty next to me made all of the difference.
Last minute fare – booked 2 weeks before trip $745.00 economy round trip LAX to BKK
Last minute fare – booked 1 week before trip $117.00 economy round trip BKK to KBV
The only other flight (or anything else for that matter) that I booked before leaving the US was a flight on Nok Air (owned by Thai Airline). Flight from Phuket (HKT) to Bangkok for $39.00. I suggest to book on NokAir early as the cheap seats sell out fast. Then, of course, the price goes up. Carryon limit – 15 pounds - 22” x 14” x 9”.
Overnight flight to Bangkok (2 Hour layover in Tokyo, Japan - Narita airport (NRT) – plenty of time for change of plane to BKK). 7 Hour layover in Bangkok (BKK) for 8:00AM flight to Krabi airport (KBV). LAX flight arrived in BKK around 11:40 PM. By the time I left the plane, walked thru the airport to the domestic area (didn’t go thru passport control as I did not need to pick up a bag – stayed in the airport and walked to domestic area) it was 1:00 AM. Stayed awake most of the night walking around the airport. Everything was closed but you can get some cool pictures around 3AM.
There is a large area to sleep on padded chairs and benches. Which a lot of people were doing. I believe it was on the second floor. Just a large waiting area close to all of the domestic gates. Does not cost anything – just padded chairs and benches.
8:00 AM flight. Checked in two hours early – airport gets Really busy, very fast in the morning, so give yourself some time to check in.
Arrived in Krabi airport 9:20 AM. Waited for 45 minutes to share a van to Ao Nang beach (approx. 20 minute ride). Lady at booth in airport was very rude about wanting me to take a van by myself and not splitting the price with other persons. I had to be a some what forceful about saying I would wait for more people to arrive to share the van. Cost was about 1/4th the price to share (around 100B).
BEACH & BOATS
Ao Nang’s beach is OK; mostly to the left side of where you take the long-tail boats out to the nearby beaches.
The best beaches are the nearby beaches of WEST Railay (not EAST Railay), and Phra Nang (maybe the most beautiful beach I have ever seen). These beaches can only be reached from Ao Nang by long-tail boat. Boats leave all day with 4 to 6 or more persons. Really up to the people driving the boat when they leave – about every 15 min. Purchase ticket at a ticket stand right next to the beach. Very easy to find.
I always just purchased a one way ticket – make sure you have small bills. Boat drivers don’t always have change for large bills. Or you can get a round trip ticket. Not a big deal either way. When on other beaches just buy your return ticket from the boat driver right on the sand. I think 60B one way ?
From Ao Nang the beaches are - in order of long-tail boat trip – 15 minutes to Ton Sai (never stayed on or checked out just went by – narrow beach at an sharper incline compared to the other beaches, low tide takes away a lot of the beach – real backpacker lodgings) / 20 minutes to Railay West (great beach) / 25 minutes to Phra Nang (best beach).
All long-tail boats from Ao Nang to all of the near by beaches and islands – you have to walk in the water to reach the boat – sometimes the water is up to your thighs. Boats are open so you can get fairly wet depending on the roughness of the sea. Worth mentioning because I once saw a guy in a Suit !, with luggage, departing a boat on W Railay – yes, he was not happy.
Took the boat back one night from Railay West – rough seas, people in the front of the boat got soaked and the driver said he had to drop us off on the extreme left side of Ao Nang town because of bad waves. O’well; found some cheap sandals ($2.00) at an out of the way store.
On another night (just after sunset) the ocean was like glass – Beautiful ! I guess it is up to the weather gods.
Everyplace, in all areas of Thailand, I stayed had AC, Ensuite, private room with one or two beds. Some hand breakfast included.
Sea World Guest House – Room #9. View to the ocean between trees. No elevator, walk up 3 or was it 4 floors? Two single beds, small refrigerator, private shower/toilet combo, balcony, AC and Fan.
Internet, food – ok, served on first floor. Clean, quite, friendly staff but only the owner (Pong or Bong – I was never really sure) speaks English. 1200B a night.
Only complaint - day leaving to Phi Phi island, myself and several other people did not get our breakfast (not included in price of hotel) even though we ordered a couple of times. Seems the issue is that if there are more than 10 people ordering, on a short notice, things get out of control.
Checked out Andaman Sunset Resort – seemed ok. Did not stay here. Friendly English speaking staff. Small pool. $58 hotel w/ AC. $61 Bungalow. Located on main street facing ocean.
5 ISLAND TOUR
Booked my Five Island tour thu Sea World Guest House. The actual company MIGHT have been Ao Nang Speed Boat Tour. Walked around town checking prices and one place was 100B cheaper, but I decided that by booking with S.W.G.H I would be sure of my pick up in the morning.
5 island tour on a Speed boat (more expensive than longtail boat), ok lunch, water, cola, snorkel, mask, pick up and drop of at hotel 1300B – includes entrance fee to national park island (forget name) which a lot of the places don’t mention to you when quoting their price).
Short snorkel at first island, second island cruise inside Ko Hong – no stop, lunch at national park island and swim in bay area, stop at last island which is like those sand bars you see in all of the pictures where the water is on both sides and the land is so narrow that is looks like the last island on earth – awesome ! 5 island tour goes out further and more to the north west islands (Ko Hong – has a hidden lagoon is one main difference from the near by 4 island tour which takes you to the islands you can see off of the coast) Friendly people, English speaking. Total people on my trip 6 persons. Pick up early morning 8AM ? return by early evening around 4:00PM. I have nothing against the 4 island tour because I never took it so can’t say if it is good or bad. 5 island Awesome !
Wanna’s Restaurant – next to Andaman Sunset Resort – food was really good. Prices great; as were all of the restaurants I visited.
Ao Nang Cuisine – where I ate almost every meal. Fantastic food with unbelievably cheap prices for the quality and the quantity. Seems like only one employee spoke English, so if you hand any questions about anything on the menu you had to wait for your answer. Other than that, best place, right on the main street, big, open and airy. Great people watching.
O’Malleys Irish bar – yes an Irish bar – fell in love with this place, and the girls ! Located in a narrow side street off of the main street near Ao Nang Cuisine. St. Patricks day weekend just happen to be my first weekend in Thailand. So the Irish bar.
By the end of the night around 2AM at a table with 10 people from all different countries having a blast – try SamSung (spelling ?) and Orange. Local whiskey and orange soda – you will be on the floor in no time : ). 2AM the end of the night – O’No ! Off to the next place with some guys that have been in Thailand for Months and some nice girls from Ireland. Playing pool till 3AM – time to go home ? – No ! Off to
Luna Park – short cab right out of the center of town – the place is going off ! Huge bar, tons of people, dancing like crazy, drinks overflowing, and if you finally want to talk to whomever you have met that night, nice relaxing chairs on the beach under the stars right next to the dance floor but far enough away so you can hear yourself speak. Might have been 5 in the morning when we finally left. Good Times !
RAILAY EAST AND WEST
The West is the only beach – no matter what you read – the West is the only beach when considering Railay East or Railay West. Railay East is a mangrove swap that at times (check your local Thai wave guide) has water all the way up to the sand/rock path in front of the lodgings. Most of the times I saw the area the water was at least one maybe two football fields out away from the lodgings, leaving a muddy no-mans land in-between. Nobody tans, kayaks, or does any type of beach activity on this side. Although there is rock climbing. I was there most every other day for about a week.
Never stayed here (Railay East or Railay West) because I was told not a lot of night life. Easy 20 min boat ride in the morning from Ao Nang to R West beach then back to Ao Nang just after (or before) sunset, for the night life. Boat cost a little more after sunset. Sunset views are Great from Railay West.
Easy 10 minute walk form West to East Railay. One trail is even well lighted at night - if you are standing on the left side of beach R West going to walk to R East. This is a half paved, half dirt, trail. On the right side part of the R West beach is a more smoothly pave walk way to R East. Not sure if lighted at night.
The East side has cheaper lodging I am told – never checked this out. Only checked out one place where a friend was staying. Had a fair size pool and I just can’t remember the name – sorry ! Toward the left side of the beach if looking out toward the ocean.
West side – great beach. Hotels to eat and drink Oceanside.
West (and East) Railay. Railay Bay Resort stretches from the West to the East side. So if you really want to stay close to the West side make sure you know where your room is located. Never checked out the rooms.
Best beach (most beautiful ever ?)
25 Min boat ride from Ao Nang.
from Railay West - walk across 10 minutes to Railay East. Then walk about 10 minutes to the far right side of Railay East. There is a paved walk-way that runs along the Rayavadee resort that comes out on Phra Nang beach (5 minute walk). Once you get to Phra Nang beach, the further you walk to your right away from the walkway, the less amount of people – fairly long beach. Tons of people.
Only one place to lodge on this beach – the Rayavadee – something like $1,000.00 a night. Didn’t check it out. Can’t walk on the grounds. But why pay for a five star hotel when you will be sharing the same beach with everyone staying on Ao Nang, Railay, and all of the other beaches in the area ? If the beach was private – maybe the cost would be ok.
Food and drinks (can’t remember if there was any alcoholic drinks) can be purchase from the long-tail boats on the beach. Try the grill chicken tied between two sticks of bamboo – excellent !
Over hanging caverns / And a really rocky trail that supposedly leads to a hidden lagoon – never tried to find it in my sandals / Also, a small island you can walk (rough rocky bottom along here) or swim out too; very small sand beach appears at low tide / Princess Cave (Tham Phra Nang) – shrine for local fishermen – worth about a 10 min look and see / Also, watch out for the monkeys – they will steal your stuff !
If it starts to rain (this is a judgment call you will have to make) don’t leave. Hide if you want under the over hanging cliffs. Or just go for a swim – the best. Swimming in Thailand in a cool rain with the warm ocean all around you ! Most people left – I really don’t blame them, the clouds came out of nowhere and were really scary looking. I stayed with my new girl friends (was I trying to show off ?) and after about a half hour – Sunshine ! And a mostly deserted beach ! ! !
PHI PHI DON
You can only stay on Phi Phi Don. The island next to it is Phi Phi Leh – you can visit – Ao Maya is the place where they filmed the movie “The Beach”– but can’t stay.
FERRY RIDE TO PP
If you want to be in the sun for a couple of hours (not so if you are hung over) sit outside on the deck – not a lot of chairs – not sure if there actually were any. Or sit inside next to a window you can open. Ticket cost the same price 390B. Push your backpack under your seat if it is small enough. Bought my ferry ticket from S.W.G.H (see Ao Nang lodging above) – included pick up in morning (packed open air truck with some seats). Ferry leaves from a harbor about 10 minutes out of town. Not the same place as the long tail boats. Ferry in both locations leaves and arrives from a pier – no walking in the water.
Leaving PP to Phuket – ticket 350B.
All ferries (I believe) stop at the center of Phi Phi town.
PP BEACH & TOWN
Walking from one side of the town (where the ferry drops you off Ao Ton Sai Bay) to the other side of the town (Ao Lo Dalam bay) takes About 15 minutes because the walk ways cut back and forth. At the left side of town (just about in the same area if you are coming from the ferry) is a sand trail that goes directly to the other side. There are a lot of other walkways – have fun exploring. Walking east to west about 20 – 30 minutes. North to south 15 minutes. The town is small. No cars.
Ao Ton Sai isn’t really a beach where you hang out at. Mostly long tail boats. Great views - but not the beach area.
Ao Lo Dalam is were All of the action is. Chair rentals with umbrellas 50B a day / volleyball / a large pool 200B a day or 100B if guest of hotel – PP Princess Resort/Charlie Beach / jet skies, kayak, float rentals, etc. Drinks, food from vendors – at times a little annoying (but funny) if you are trying to sleep – “donuts ! 10 Baht, Donuts ! !” said in a singsong accent. ETC.
Only other beach I went to (short longtail boat ride) was to Hat Yao 80B (“long beach”). Beautiful, less crowded beach than Ao Lo Dalam with great views of Phi Phi Leh. Parts of the beach are more crowded than others and a fair number of lodgings with places to eat. Did not check out places to eat or stay at.
LODGING (ALL IN TOWN)
Kinnaree House – small, Ok, with AC. Close to everything. 1800B a night. Cost too much compared to other places. Also a rooster woke me up in the morning !
Phi Phi Hotel – stayed in a part called “the dome”. Older part of hotel which is actually separated from the main part – just in front and to the side. Two floors of About 10 rooms total. Good rooms, AC, toilet bathroom combo, but a little bit of a mosquito problem. Not sure why this is. One night I had to spray the hallway myself because of so many mosquitoes. Breakfast included, which was generic hotel breakfast. Ok but very American generic. Also has a small pool out front which I never really saw that many people hanging out at. Maybe because not a lot of chairs / shade and too much chlorine ! Close to everything. 1500B a night. Place was nice; seemed very hotel like.
PP Princess Resort/Charlie Beach – same place, two names. I think one of these places was actually destroyed during the Tsunami. Both places were run buy the same management. Good rooms, AC, toilet bathroom combo, 1400B a night plus refundable 500B key deposit. Closer to the good beach than all of the other places mentioned. I thought, out of all of these places that I stayed at, this was the best option – price, English speaking, location, rooms. No breakfast.
Wood/bamboo shacks (not sure of the name). 500B a night. Did not stay here. Closest to the good beach. A few basically right on the beach. These are just small shacks in rows going back from the beach. Have to rent or have your own lock for the door. Communal bathroom ? Never saw it. Real backpacking. Also I think you would need a lot of bug spray because around the door is about a ½ inch gap. Cheap but not for everyone. Sleeps 2 ? Check-in at the small market next to the shacks.
Papaya – my favorite ! Small hole in the wall place in a short dirt alley next to Tiger Bar and Rolling Stoned bar. GREAT food and more than one person can eat portions. Very cheap prices. Friendly family owned. Ate here almost every day. Kinda in the “center” of town. Watch out for the baby kitten under your feet – so cute !
Cosmic – so Ok, one day I did break down and have a pizza. Come on, I’m from CA. I just had to have a pizza and this place was pretty darn good. There are two locations. I ate at the smaller location with less ambiance. Just fine – small tables, good size pizza for one – almost, almost I say, couldn’t finish it. Nice people watching also. The other bigger Cosmic is near Kinnaree House.
Pee Pee Bakery – had a sandwich from here the day I left to Phuket. Ok for the price. Seems to be a popular place.
All of these bars are in a 10 min walking distance of each other. Some are right next to each other.
Carlito’s Bar – along the water / “beach” (ferry side) of town. Most (if not all) drinking places are in the “center” OR the ferry side of town. Great place gets busier as the other bars start to close - as this is one of the last before entering the center of town. Open air with a dance area – which really is the whole bar as the night progresses.
Apache Bar – a must for the Fire Show ! Pretty lively at times but everything stops for the fire show. A little past Carlitos Bar as you walk out of town. Multiple acts with fire that is so close you can get burned if you don’t watch what you are doing (as you walk to the bar) – or the fire stick slips out of the persons hand – which it did on one night and cleared a table out ! No one got hurt.
Really great show – checked it out a couple of times – it’s free. Great place to start, nice looking girls, easy to talk to as all the tables are close together. Also the place has 3 or 4 levels which you can look down on everyone – again, great people watching. O’yes – worst toilet in Thailand – fully open – no door and stinks to high heaven. Plus water ? (hopefully) all over the floor. Other than that – great place with Huge drink bucket specials.
Reggae Bar – more in the “center” of town. 3 floors but never was really that busy. Muay Thai boxing matches on first floor; which are really exhibitions between the same two guys each night.
Now with that being said - after all of the other bars close - the 3rd floor of this place is still open with Muay Thai matches between drunken bar patrons. Some guys and one girl seemed like they actually knew what they were doing. The girl was a killer ! And yes, drinks are still flowing.
Rolling Stoned – Next “street” over from Reggae Bar. Went here for live rock one night. Pretty good local Thai band, “Made In Thailand”, taking request to a chill crowd.
See “Ferry ride to PP” above. Same thing except on this ferry the inside seating is down stairs and they try to make you put your backpack in a HUGE stack at the front of the ferry. The entrance - the one person at a time stairs are at the back of the ferry. I just sat next to the stack, then when the employee left because the stack was just a large mess, I took my backpack with me, moved a few seats back and put it under my seat.
As we approached Phuket, I got my bag and headed top side before Everyone top side tried to come down the one person/one way only steps. Either this or expect about a half hour or more to get your bag if it is at the bottom of the pile.
PATONG (WEST SIDE OF PHUKET)
Shared a van to Patong. They try to jam in 8 or more people into a van that can only hold really about 6 people and once again try to encourage you to take a van by yourself (or two people) - at 4 to 5 times the cost. They won’t even tell you if other people are waiting to go to the same area.
Long story short – I asked all of the people standing around if they were going to Patong – got a group of 7 people together (the employee told me I needed 6) and then when I went to the counter with the 7 people they said we needed 9 people. By this time, there was no one left except us 7 ! They tried to say that we had to wait for the next ferry. Yes, not all Thai people are nice (of course a lot are). I got the crowd worked up and they finally relented and put us in the van. I believe the price was 160B, maybe 170B. Nice air-conditioned ride later – right to my hotel.
See Kata Yai beach below
LODGING & EATING:
Stayed at C&N Hotel (there is also a C&N Resort where the pool is located for the C&N Hotel, about 40 min away – the guide book I had didn’t mention this). Again, nice place, more of a hotel than all of the other places I stayed (except Phi Phi Hotel); AC, large bed, etc 1000B. Elevator, lobby, concierge (really didn’t speak English which just seemed odd for this type of place – don’t get me wrong – I feel like I should speak the language of any country I am in, but if you are trying to be a mid-range hotel at least one person should speak fairly fluent English at the concierge desk – I guess).
Anyway, hotel right in the middle of everything (10 min walk to Bangla Road) – great food at a small open air place right across the street (alley really). Try the boiled rice soup with an egg in it for breakfast. Sounds simple but great tasting. Was told this is very traditional Thai breakfast.
Also when you walk down the alley (lined with shops and restaurants) to the very busy main street, just across are two busy but good places to eat. Again cheap prices, hole in the wall places but great food. Communal type tables.
See above and
Hole in the wall – actual name of the place. 10 min walk to the right of C&N hotel (on the main street). Great food but was never busy in the day. Seems like it would be a fun bar at night but I never went there at night.
Bangla Road (about 10 min walk from end to end; of course without looking or drinking) – Bars, bars, bars ! Hookers, hookers, hookers. I think almost every bar on the Bangla is a hooker bar. People drunk all day. A ton of fun but after a few days (and what seems as if every Thai girl you meet is a hooker) it was time to get out of town. The road closes down at night to cars so - pedestrian traffic only. Fairly safe, saw lots of families walking up and down in the early evenings. Word of warning – some sections of the street really stink – raw sewage or worse.
Now I went to the beach all day everyday and yes, I hung out in a hooker bar most nights. The one closest to the actual beach (fun dice rolling game & great people watching – it seemed as if all of Phuket would walk by in just a couple of hours). I don’t even think the bar had a name. Just me and 15 hookers.
You will know you are in the right one if they are playing great rocknroll ! and the Pimp is Jim. The toughest girl I ever met but does she have some funny jokes. Word of warning – if she tries to show you a video on her phone of a hot blond girl – well lets just say that it ain’t.
So be warned – my opinion; what you do is your business and actually using a hooker is NOT for me – according to Jim most the working girls (and believe me they are beautiful looking) are not girls.
Banana Disco –
more upscale than all of the places on Bangla Road. Just around the corner on the street that fronts the ocean. Cover charge. Went here one night with possibly the only two Thai non-hookers (of course this is an over exaggeration – please read above) and had a great time. Danced the night away.
Worth mentioning ? - an example of how, it seems, that everyone thinks that any thai girl with a white person is a hooker. During the evening at Banana Disco a drunk guy came up to me and shouted “Damn dude, two hookers !” – which I just ignore and when one of the girls asks What did He say, I replied “He said, Hi I’m an A**hole” – which we all laugh about. The best way to handle any problem, especially not in your own country – laugh it off and don’t get too drunk – definitely if you are traveling alone – I think its time I step down from my soap box. Yes, I know all Thai girls are not hookers / I mean no disrespect to those that are / Yes, I did see how poor the country is / no I don’t want to start a debate.
Place to have Changs -
Chang is a brand of Thai beer. Don’t remember the name of the hotel (I think it is Patong Bay Garden Resort). But . . . if you walk down the Bangla Road toward the ocean. At the street that fronts the beach (thaweewong Road) take a right. Walk past the Savoey Restaurant which is on the right side of the street (the hotel is on the left). There is what looks like a back entrance where cars can pull up (white building). Walk thru this short drive way area, thru the lobby, past the pool you will find an open air bar next to the pool that looks right out to the ocean with tables to eat at right on the sand. Changs for about $1.00 US – great view, low key during the day and afterwards walk right out on the sand for a great sunset.
KATA YAI BEACH (SOUTH OF KARON BEACH)
Beach about 30 minutes south of Patong – 300B taxi ride one way. Beautiful beach. Much more clean (water and the sand) than Patong beach. Patong water is littered with garbage. Both beaches - chair and umbrella rentals with many vendors selling everything. Kata Yai beach is nice to get away from the city feel of Patong and is much nicer overall. Karon beach is closer to Patong and looked nice also – didn’t stop there.
600B taxi early morning to Phuket airport (arranged thru the hotel).
Check to see which airport you fly into – domestic and/or international (there are two airports Not close to each other). When I was there, what airport you actually flew into was changing on what Seemed like a daily basis.
Budget airline NokAir flight. 240B taxi from airport to New Saim Guest House II. At the Phuket airport the information person wrote down the directions and address to this hotel/hostel in Thai. I was told this is a good idea to give to the taxi stand persons.
Stayed at the New Saim II Guest House near (10 min walk) the Khao San Road. No reservations just showed up. Seemed like a busy place but they had a room. Place also had a pool right in front of the cafeteria were everyone would eat; so not that cool of a pool to hang out. Nice place that was like a big hostel with a hotel feel. Private rooms, two beds, toilet/shower combo etc. The only place I stayed at that seemed like they would enforce the “can’t bring anyone back to your room” rule – had a lot of signs saying same. 840B with a refundable 200B door key.
Bangkok is a Major city. Hot and sweaty to walk around. Air is fairly dirty and my lungs would be hurting the first few nights after walking around all day.
Take the river boat to get to most places and then walk from there to any temples near by.
KHAO SAN ROAD
Tons of places to eat and drink. VERY packed street at night. Great people watching but it is a young crowd. Seemed like most of the backpack / party crowd was 18 to maybe 25. Must go for at least one night – crazy carnival atmosphere – not for young kids.
There Is one bar – the only one I saw that was like a traditional bar with pool tables and dancing later in the night. Also great place to watch the European football. Internet café upstairs. Older crowd 21 to 31. Don’t remember the name, but it is at the corner of Khao San Road and Chakraphong St. The end of the Khao San Road closer to the river.
There are a lot of streets one over from the Khao San that are easier to walk around and have just as many places to eat and drink - so explore. Just down the street (Chakraphong) from the bar mentioned above is a hooka (not hooker) bar called “Gazebo”. Great for when everything else closes down – they are still open with a rooftop bar. Very cool place to drink till around 5 in the morning (people pass out flyers on Khao San).
D&D Inn – didn’t stay here but it seemed cool – right in the middle of Khao San just down a short walk way. Seemed very popular as all of the rooms were sold out the couple of days I was in the area. I THINK they have a roof top pool.
Did all the temples near the Khoa San area – the Reclining Budda is a can’t miss in the Wat Pho - 50B. Didn’t need to wear pants to go to this temple.
Grand Palace – also really awesome. Didn’t need to wear pants to go to this temple either. You rent sweat type pants that you get your money back when you return the pants.
The other temples were also cool but these are the don’t miss ones.
LITTLE INDIA (NEAR CHINA TOWN) Chakraphet and Phahurat Streets
Saphan Phut boat stop. Then a walk to the best Indian food I have ever had. Down a short, kinda dirty alley. Cheap ! GREAT food. Royal India Restaurant 392/1 Chakraphet Road 02-2216565
This whole area is jammed pack full of little stores selling all kinds of Indian/Middle eastern (?) food and cloth and clothing. Streets are very narrow and packed full of people and sidewalk stalls. Great fun !
Also, stop by the Old Siam Plaza – a big indoor mall with a great candy area, Etc – didn’t know what I was eating but the candy sure was good – sold in individual pieces.
Additionally, while in the area, take a taxi to Wat Traimit 20B – Golden Budda – solid Gold ! Very long walk back to the river – take a taxi – I didn’t, but wish I would have.
MUAY THAI BOXING
Long Taxi ride from the Khoa San area. Given the wrong times that the matches started in the LonelyPlanet guide and on TA. First Fight is at 5PM not 6:30PM, next fight 8:30. So triple check before heading to the stadium. Also check for prices. When I went Saturday there were no cheap seats (400B) for sale at all. The ticket window vendors do not speak English and could not answer any questions. There are people outside of the ticket window selling tickets at a discount price (1400 instead of 1700 approx ?). Did not do this as I missed the fight I wanted to see.
Instead I walked about 5 min. around the block to:
SUAN-LUM NIGHT BAZAAR
Totally touristy but a great time. TONS (3700) of places to shop / HUGE open air beer-food garden / great people watching / giant jumbo screens showing European football. Word of WARNING – if you try to get a taxi back to the Khoa San road, you may have trouble. It took me getting into and out of 12 taxis, yes, TWELVE, to finally get one that would take me back. For a lot of various reasons no cab would go to K.S. Mostly because it was “too far”. I was also standing at metered taxi stand !
KHOA SAN to SUKHUMVIT
Boat ride from Tha Phra Athit (The Banglamphu) to Tha Sathon. Than short walk to the Skytrain – Saphan Taksin station to Asoke Station – exit walk right over to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvet.
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvet. – deluxe room on the 26th floor overlooking the pool. Can’t say enough about this hotel. Everything PERFECT. Deluxe room. Buffet breakfast included – Awesome. Approx. $300 night – I thought well worth the price for my last two nights in Thailand. Cool club on 1st floor. Not busy the two nights I was there Sunday, Monday. Great pool.
Q Bar – I walked here but take a taxi instead. Not really hard to find but not a lot to see on the way. Soi (street) 11 all the way up the street and then a short left (can only go left or right at this point. It’s a club, not very big, playing hip hop when I was there. If you live in any major city (or not) you have been to a club like this – think small size with the usual crowd. Great mix on the Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” – if anyone has heard this and knows who it is please let me know – forgot to ask the DJ that night.
Little Arabia (an area of middle eastern restaurants) – walked down a few blocks to Soi 3 ½. Turn the corner on the right (opposite side of the street from the S.G.S), half a block up, small place with falafels served right on the street. Seems like a street vendor but is connected to the place. Can’t remember the name. Perfection ! I had two and could barely finish the first one. Try it with the Thai sauce on the table !
MBK shopping Complex – HUGE ! Cheap food on the 6th floor. Asoke Station to Siam station. Just a giant shopping mall. Didn’t buy anything or really look at the prices. Just wanted to see what a huge Thai shopping mall looked like.
Near MBK is the Siam Discovery Center (across the street). Saw a Thai horror movie “Fad”at the EGV Cinama. Top floor. Took awhile to translate to the cashier that I indeed wanted to see the Thai movie (English subtitles). Leather seats that fold down flat with remote / blanket & pillow (yes, I could barely stay awake !) / popcorn and drinks brought to your seat after you order from the cashier (not included in price) / one non-alcoholic drink and cookies included in prices when you first arrive. 500B
Chatuchak Weekend Market – Huge / Hot / Tons of people. Lots of stuff for sale. I wasn’t all that impressed. To me (I’m sure there are lots of opinions) it was like going to a giant flea market (for the southern California crowd – think of The Rose Bowl Market in Pasadena) in the USA but with a Thai twist. Nothing really all that unique. Sure, everything was Thai oriented, I just didn’t see anything that was really, “wow I’ll never be able to buy that anywhere else in the world”. Same stuff over and over, stall after stall. With that being said, I’m sure there is something for everyone at this market. I did find a hand panted (looked like old wood) Budda image (conquering pose). For 200B – wanted 800B at first. Asoke Station to the end of the line Mo Chit station – get off and follow the huge crowd.
Street vendors – by this time I did not get sick anywhere – so . . . , I started eating at any street stall that had a lot of Thai people. GREAT food ! O so cheap – cheaper than cheap. Try the fried chicken feet for something different. My only recommendation is eat were the Thai’s eat and I guess you will also be ok.
If you read all that - you are Crazy ! Hope it helps. I don’t know much more than that but if I can clarify anything, just let me know.
I had such a wonderful time, I wish every day I was back in Thailand, on vacation of course, seeing the next amazing area.
Love and Peace - Thailand !