Let me just start off by saying that Thailand has officially kicked my case of "wanderlust" into super high gear. Enough time has passed that I have finally allowed my full experience to settle, sink in and be absorbed from the aftershock. After a ton of reflecting on my twenty five hour plane ride home (and every single day since), a large part of me doesn’t even believe that this experience actually happened. Deciding to embark on this journey was by far the most spontaneous, impromptu, go with the flow type things that I have ever done and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have experienced all that I did in this majestic country. After getting a very small but broad glimpse into this insanely beautiful part of the world, it’s easy to see why so many people spend their hard earned money & time exploring the country and then never return! My biggest problem now is wanting to go back and explore Thailand even further, tap into all the places i missed and this time, stay even longer. There is still so much to be seen. After all, this was the trip of a lifetime so there's no way I won't be heading back there in the near future.
Before fleeing Canada and jet setting off to this far away land, I did my due diligence and bothered a ton of friends who had already been to Thailand and asked them to send me a list of their Thailand travel recommendations. This way I could essentially copy their trips and not miss out on anything for myself (smart plan, right?)! Since I've now been for myself I thought I would do the same on my blog and share some of my experiences in each place that we stayed throughout the journey. This could get a little long.. but if you're planning on going to Thailand try to stick with me!
Stayed at Novotel Phuket Beach Resort (Patong beach). Flew into Phuket from YYZ (25 hour flight connecting in Shanghai) then 45 minute taxi drive from Phuket Airport to the resort on Patong Beach (main beach in Phuket).
I personally think that Phuket was a great intro to Thailand so I'm really happy that I started here instead of Bangkok. The resort was literally less than a 3-minute walk to the main beach strip, which couldn't have worked out better for us. Patong beach is SO lively!!! Plenty of street vendors and beach massages to go round. You can buy anything you can imagine down the side alley streets where they sell clothing, food, monkeys (haha), souvenirs, etc. We stayed here for 3 nights/4 days – Probably 1 day too many in my opinion. I loved the location of our resort because it allowed me to run up and down the beach during sunset. The sunset beach runs are definitely a top highlight of my trip.
MUST SEE IN PHUKET:
- Patong Beach Night Market (get ready for lady boys galore!)
- Run down the beach board walk & back (about 10km there and back)
- Tiger Kingdom (but not if you're an animal rights activist)
- Kok Chang Elephant Trekking (they use baskets on the elephants which i found out later was really inhumane as well)
- Rent jet skis and go joy riding!!!
- Local bars - so many to chose from and such cheap draanksss
- Have dinner at a beach bar on Patong Beach (the one we found was picture perfect)
- Try out so many different restaurants (no shortage of food here! & they offer MUCH more then just Thai)
We missed going to James Bond Island, which was an excursion that I really wanted to do but we couldn’t do everything in the short time we had. Also missed going to a famous Ping Pong show.. not going to explain what that is but we decided against it... LOL.
Koh Phi Phi
My most favorite place ever in Thailand!!! We stayed at P.P Casita, a very cute, but very small individual bungalow style resort. I was happy there. It had everything we needed and we weren't in our lil bungalow very much anyway.
To get to Koh Phi Phi Island we took a day boat tour from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi then got off at Koh Phi Phi and stayed on the island while the boat went back to Phuket (I highly recommend this – great way to see all of the little islands on the way there!). Our boat tour stopped at Mosquito Island & Monkey Beach 1.
The next day we rented a kayak for 4-5 hours and toured around Phi Phi Island ourselves as much as we possibly could – this was really BY FAR the best day of the entire trip. We got a little lost on the Kayak but the sun was shining and it was so much fun. We stopped at Nui Beach (MUST SEE – favorite spot of the trip - check my Instagram for photos) & Monkey Beach 2 (yes, there’s two! One is an actual beach and the other is a cove with Monkeys in the trees – bring food aka bananas and they'll love ya). We also found a really cool hidden cave we didn’t know existed. It was honestly so nice being out on the open water in 30+ degree weather.
We stayed on Phi Phi Island for two nights total but most definitely could have done four or five nights here. A lot of people told me to stay there longer but I really didn’t know what it was all about before actually going and experiencing it for myself. If I go back (which I WILL), I'll probably do at least four nights on Phi Phi Island. The day following the kayaks we rented a Long Tail Boat (for 60 CAD) with our own personal driver. He took us to the famous “Maya Bay” & "Long Beach” spots also one other beach that I forget the name. Long tail boats are so fun & I feel they’re so authentic to Thailand – also a must do! Koh Phi Phi is mostly a huge party land so if you ain't into that scene stay clear! Everyone is very young and very fun. There’s no elephants or tigers here but so much fun & endless things to do just by staying on and around the island itself.
MUST DO ON KOH PHI PHI:
- Must try bucket’s!!!! Not going to lie, I think I only had one during the time I was there and it was most definitely enough!!! Make sure you get the ones with sealed lids and you pour them in yourself (but seriously be careful because they’re deadly).
- Get a bamboo tattoo! You can get one literally on every corner & I got one, obviously!
- Go to DoJo’s, Stockholm Syndrome and Slinky’s Beach Bar- they have an insane fire show! We ate dinner right next to Slinky’s on the beach and this crazy thing happened in the middle of the ocean where the tide was so far back you could walk on the water!! Very insane but such a cool thing to experience.
- Full day booze cruise - we actually missed this but I keep hearing how much we missed out on this one so try to find it!
It takes one full day to get from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Samui... 2 buses + 2 boats = death while hung over – I literally puked all over the buss hahaha not kidding. sorry Scott!!!
Stayed at New Star Beach Resort (MUST STAY HERE) !!!!! I 100% recommend this resort.. you get treated like actual royalty!! It wasn't exactly on the beach or anything but we had scooters to ride so the distance was more than okay for us! We stayed here for three nights and I probably could have stayed one or two more days! I felt like I saw a lot but I really enjoyed our hotel and we never got to use the infinity pool like i wanted too.
I LOVE Koh Samui! At the time I was feeling super frazzled and sick but the traveling hell was all worth it in the end. This island had a little bit of everything and the airport is absolutely gorgeous, I've never seen anything like it - the island is totally set up for tourists. There’s beautiful beaches, night life, and SCOOTERS! This is one place that I definitely need to come back to revisit. While I was here I did some yoga at the Vikasa Yoga Retreat, which totally made my entire trip & the trek worthwhile. I need to come back to this place with some girl friends so they can experience it, too. It was more beautiful in real life then you can even imagine and no photo can do this place justice.
Must do in koh samui:
Check out Chewang Beach, hot oil/Thai beach massages, Nu Muang Waterfall & rent scooters. The downtown area is super lively/busy with lots to see & many places to eat.. it was so hard to choose just one! We didn’t get to Big Buddha statue because Scott had already seen it/I wasn’t too interested in going there anyway. One thing I was a little bit bummed about is the "Ang Thong Marine Park", which was a huge day trip that we missed. Try to look into this - I think it would be a worth while day trip pending the weather because it was raining for us.
It was a long, bumpy and dangerous 2.5 hour boat ride from Ko Samui to Ko Tao that we had absolute TERRIBLE weather for... it was raining, cold, wet and everyone was sick on the boat ride over. ew
Stayed at Koh Tao Resort but I would not recommend this one. By far one of the best views on the island (once it stopped raining) but very far away from the main Sairee Beach strip. We stayed in Koh Tao for two nights and that was long enough for us. Maybe because it was due to the fact that it was raining the entire time we were there so we didn’t get the full Ko Tao experience that we had hoped for!
Koh Tao island is best known for it's diving as it has one of the best dive schools in the entire world. It was raining for the entire time we were on the island so we didn’t really bother with it since the water wouldn’t have been clear enough for us to experience the diving like we wanted too.
While we were in Koh Tao we met up with two of my good friends from back home, which made it all the more fun! It's always so cool to see friends you know from home in another country. The only place I really wanted to explore while in Koh Tao was a little spot called Koh Nang Yuan. Koh Nang Yuan is a famous look out point that involves hiking to the top of a steep hill to get to the top. The cool thing about this site is you are able to see a large part of the island divided by a path of sandy beach! I found this spot on Instagram when I was searching must see’s in Thailand so regardless of the rain I knew we had to check it out for ourselves. We ended up going to this site by a personal long tail boat ride and had it been nicer weather, it would have been an incredible day spent on the beach with turquoise views!
Overall Koh Tao was very much chill, laid back, hippy vibes. I found it super relaxing with lots of fun places to eat, drink and share some laughs. I even found some yoga - but when don’t I find yoga? The rain actually gave me some time to get my work done. Even though I was traveling Thailand I was still putting in lots of time working each day. One really cool cafe type spot we found was called Koppee Espresso Bar. We almost spend an entire day there when it was raining just eating endless amounts of muesli and overdosing on coffees :) The island has these bar hop adventures that they offer on Monday, Wednesday & Friday’s. We didn’t take part in the pub crawl because we were preparing our bodies for Full Moon Party the following day but it looked like it could have been a lot of fun!
It is a 1.5-hour long boat ride from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan and once again, it was yet another terrible boat ride that involved everyone being sea sick… including us!!! The rain, heavy waves and high winds made it so rocky on the boat that everyone ended up puking either into bags or off the side… YOU’VE BEEN WARNED PEOPLE!
So last but maybe the most memorable of all, Ko Phangan. We stayed at Haadlad Prestige Resort in Koh Phangan. A very long 45 minutes away from the famous Full Moon Party/Haad Rin Beach and I would absolutely NOT recommend the resort. Regardless of price stay somewhere on Haad Rin Beach, that’s where all of the action is and the 45-minute scooter ride was very inconvenient for getting back and fourth. We booked so last minute that all the near by hotels filled up because of the Full Moon Party so we got stuck pretty far away.
The island, similar to all of the islands I visited in Thailand was beautiful. On the night we arrived went to one of the most incredible restaurants I have ever experienced in my life called Koh Raham/ Haad Son. The restaurant was situated on the bay of Thailand and overlooked the ocean. This place was literally a JUNGLE in every sense of the word. I can’t really explain it because trying to emulate the experience of this restaurant would never do it justice. You literally just have to go here and see it for yourself. Picture you were in the middle of the amazon but it had with rope swings, white twinkling lights and deep house music? Probably doesn’t make much sense to you but I will never forget the feeling I felt when leaving this place. It was the feeling of needing to experience it again, only this time, for the sunset. Oh, and the company wasn't too bad either!
Ko Phangan was great, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting it to be. The island is huge and I think the main reason people go there is strictly for the Full Moon Party because it's filled with tourists (more so then the other islands from what I could tell). Since we weren't staying near the party itself I feel like we kind of missed out on the entire Koh Phangan experience. We planned to stay here on December 24th then attend the Full Moon Party on the 25th, but our plans were slightly changed when Scott got terribly sick (food poisoning!!!!!) and we sadly didn’t end up making it to the party that night. Safe to say it was a very interesting Christmas for the both of us aha! Looking back, all that really mattered was that we were both together and safe because that situation could have turned out lot worse then it did!
Overall Ko Phangan did not do it for me. I mean, it did because it was Thailand and it was incredible, but compared to Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi I don’t know if I would go back. The only way I would feel like going again was if I was back there to experience the party that we had missed. It was definitely an unfortunate way to end the trip but it was a small set back in the gran scheme of how incredible this journey truly was.
From Ko Phangan we took a 1 1/2-hour boat ride to Ko Samui where we then took a flight from Koh Samui Airport back to Phuket. From there I left for Toronto & that ended my fairy tail Thailand adventure. I flew back to Toronto and Scott continued (and is still continuing) on his on journey through Asia, Australia, etc.
my Five biggest learning's while traveling in Thailand
1) Thailand is not as inexpensive as everyone says it is. I mean yes, if you want to eat meat and noodles off the street from vendors then you can definitely find a way to spend zero dollars here. In our case, we stayed at all extremely nice/clean resorts, went out for dinner every single night, we did every excursion we could find, and the list goes on. This trip for me was most definitely not cheap (or as cheap as I thought it would be). If you want to experience all that Thailand has to offer you will need some money to do so... sorry to crush your dreams!
2) NOTHING IS CLOSE BY!!! Before starting this journey I was under this impression that getting from place to place was going to be a damn walk in the park. REALITY CHECK - it was most certainly not! Each destination took at least a half day of traveling to get too. For example; The bus and/or driver will pick you up from your hotel at least 2.5 hours before you need to catch a boat to your next destination. The boat you're taking will leave at least 30-min to 1hr late (every time..guaranteed) then the boat ride itself will take anywhere between 2-5 hours from island to island (if the weather is good). Next you have the struggle of getting off of the boat with 1000 other people/luggage and finding a way to your hotel. In some cases, the hotels are an hour or more away, then there’s the process of arriving, checking in, unpacking and you catch my drift. Just don’t underestimate how far these places are from each other. Biggest learning… Do your research beforehand so you can factor in the length of time it will take you to travel, duh!
3) SCOOTERS BEWARE. Scooter's were all fun and games till i tried to take one up a steep, muddy hill alone then fell off and lightly scraped the side part of one. I was totally unharmed but upon returning the bike the next day we were forced to pay a ridiculous amount of money for the two scuff marks UNDERNEATH the bike. This obviously still doesn't bug me at all anymore... aha It was very annoying and the worst part is that they keep your passport when you rent the bike so that when these situations happen, you're basically screwed. Not going to lie, stealing the passport in the middle of the night and ditching the scooter crossed my mind more then just once!
4) Thailand is the most magical place on earth and I need to get back there again soon. I would love to spend some more time exploring South East Asia. Since returning from this trip I've done some research into Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and they're now all on my "list". I really learned so much from taking this spontaneous this trip. I used to have a very poor idea of what South East Asia would be like before ever actually going there for myself. For a long time I didn’t even want to travel there because all I could think about was “I can’t eat noodles everyday…what about my yoga..” and other stupid misconceptions such as those. Thailand has so much more to offer then pretty beaches and Pad Thai (which I didn't even eat once, btw). The entire essence of the culture and way of living there are all things that I find difficult to describe. I learned a lot about myself during this short trip. A lot of things were really put into perspective for me such as how little I really need to feel happy, whole and content. Also how much I genuinely enjoy traveling, exploring, seeking new adventures and being in the presence of good company.
5) Speaking of good company... Good company is everything!!! Scott was by far the most perfect person I could have ever traveled with to Thailand, even though I didn’t know him too well beforehand. I was actually so surprised at how well we connected, literally in every sense. Our travel compatibility was "on point", to say the least. We were completely on the same page on our adventure and it made traveling together so much easier and stress free for the both of us (#goals). I really can’t say enough great things about the person he is and how much I truly admire him after getting to know him as I did, and essentially living with him for the duration of this trip. He totally helped bring out a light, playful and spontaneous side of myself that I absolutely loved and will always hold onto. I can proudly say that I learned more from my time with Scott in two weeks then I have ever learned from anyone... ever. Everything about him is so uniquely fascinating to me I kept wanting to know more and more! It's always fun getting to know someone so different then yourself. Most importantly, I really could not have done this trip in the same way without him. When I say I “left my heart in Thailand” I actually mean it.
By far the hardest part of my entire journey to Thailand was surprisingly not the twenty-five-hour flight there, but the final goodbye. Getting on that plane home had me feeling like I was walking away from the best memories of my whole life. I will forever hold this experience near and dear to my heart and I truly recommend Thailand to anyone and everyone who is blessed with the opportunity to go. I hope this post gave you some good insights into your trip to Thailand and if you have any questions about money, resorts, etc. I am more than happy to answer them for you!