It’s coming down to my last month of teaching in Thailand and I’ve decided to review a few of the places I’ve visited during my ten months here. I used my weekends and extended holidays to travel all over Thailand. I’ve covered a good amount of ground since being here but it seems like I’ll be missing some of the main places I wanted to visit; for example Koh Samui, Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin. I’ll still be living nearby in Taiwan, so if I’m craving some Tom Yum soup (I’m always craving Tom Yum) I’ll just take a quick plane ride over and hopefully visit the areas I didn’t get to see.
10. Ao Nang, Krabi
Krabi, I expected a lot from you…maybe that’s why I didn’t find you so interesting. This was one of the last stops on my month-long travel so I could have just been getting tired, or the rainy season didn’t let your beauty shine. The sunset cruise was too much for me. It took about an hour to get everybody off and on the boat at each of the 7 islands! I just kept thinking the boat was in such bad condition that it would be a miracle if we didn’t sink. I did enjoy some of the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever had on the main strip and was probably the highlight of this trip haha.
9. Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is cool for some cheap scuba courses, there are a ton of companies and mostly foreign instructors. This is definitely a party island with a booze cruise lasting all night. So if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve found the perfect island. Drinking on land is also strongly encouraged. The main beaches were nothing to boasts about, so my sister and I rented a kayak and found a beautiful private beach. Although, be careful with the mean monkeys all over. They will steal everything!!
Ayutthaya is a lovely little town with a lot of history. It is only a short hour van drive from Bangkok. I spent two nights here and found it to be enough. This city is all about biking to see all the different temples in the daytime and you can even take a sunset cruise around the island. There are many cheap hotels and restaurants to try. My favorite breakfast place right across the famous Banyan Tree is Coffee Old City and is a great starting point.
Historical city that was the first capital of Siam. This town is a lot like Ayutthaya in the sense that you are bike riding all day to check out the temples. These were some of my favorite temples in Thailand, all of them were so grand and majestic. Also, had the best SomTam of my life (Papaya salad). It’s very easy to get to using the buses and then just rent a bike to explore the area. This city is apparently hotter than the rest of Thailand, didn’t think that was possible, so just the prepared.
Everybody has heard of Phuket, I know I know. Patong beach (Tourist Area) is nothing to rave about just overran by tourist and a dirty beach. I suggest you stay in Kata beach area, a lot nicer and has some decent surf. The only reason to head to Patong is for their wild walking street, I had a great time with people I met in the hostel. There are many different islands to visit and activities to try during your time here so you will never be bored.
Elephants, quirky markets and delicious food. Oh my! My main reason to visiting Chiangmai was definitely the elephants, they are my favorite animal. We spent the day feeding and bathing them, I went with Thai Lai Orchid as they are an ethical park that treats their elephants nicely although they ARE still locked up and not roaming free in the wild like they should but I digress. Make sure you go to the walking street on the weekends for some shopping, they’ve got the most interesting artisanal gifts.
Dear Bangkok, when we first met I hated you. That has changed drastically. After a few weekend trips to Bangkok, you start to enjoy it, all of it. This city will awaken all your senses, even the ones you didn’t know you had. You smell spices and smog, you hear all the tuk tuk drivers zip by with their techno music blaring, and there is so much to look at you just don’t know what to focus on. The city has some of the best shopping in the world, cute themed restaurants, and thousands of bars to have an afternoon Chang. Sorry I doubted your charm Bangkok.
3. Pai, Mae Hong Son
Thailand’s Hippie Oasis, or at least pretend to be a hippie traveling Thailand. I’ve heard about Pai ever since I arrived in Thailand and was awaiting my time to visit. It’s a hectic bus journey so I went on a long holiday weekend. It’s a little town in the middle of the mountains and even has a canyon and some hot springs. It’s bigger than I expected, it actually had 3 Mexican restaurants; for a town in Asia, that’s a lot! Mark and I rented a motorcycle and just drove around to see all the natural wonders of Pai and of course watched football at night. There’s a circus school, mushroom shakes, and enough elephant pants to make your heart content.
2. Koh Samet
I spent New Years holiday here as it’s a lesser known island so it wouldn’t be as crazy as the one’s down south. I’ve been spoiled since I grew up next to some of the best beaches in Florida so I will say I am very picky and I LOVED Koh Samet! The beaches for the most part were clean and the water was crystal clear. This is one of this instances were all the pictures actually look like that in real life. It’s about a 45 minute boat ride from Rayong port. Spend your day relaxing on the beach and then have a nice candlelight dinner listening to the waves crashing on shore.
Okay, so I’ve got a soft spot for Phetchabun, so what? You’ve probably never heard of Phetchabun and it’s unlikely you will see it in a guide-book. Spending 4 months here seemed like eternity but eventually you find your groove and you end up loving this town, loving it so much that you decide to stay another semester. This province is definitely off the beaten path but has an abundance of beauty, extremely cheap cost of living, and incredibly kind people. Spend a day in the mountains of Khao Kho or take a drive to Tat Mok National Park. Get out of your comfort zone and let this little province surprise you.
That concludes my personal list of my favorite spots in Thailand, unfortunately I didn’t get to explore more. I just know that this country will amaze you with its abundant beauty and kindness. What are some of your favorite spots in Thailand? I’m trying to sneak one more trip before I leave.