Travelling the Southern Thailand islands- weekends spent escaping from the rural & into the farang
Khao Din, Thailand
I found it a let down compared to the other islands, I would say you need to go but not spend too long there. We stayed in the tourist area of Chaweng, which was probably where part of the area was. The hostel/guesthouse turned out to be cheap because it was above a nightclub, so the music was still going even after going out (earplugs were my best purchase on Samui). We went out a few times but the bar we liked turned out to be crawling with prostitutes and sleazy men. There was a strip club right opposite, not hidden away at all like at home but there clearly inviting everyone in. We may have gone in for a look one night…well it was free entry! We didn't stay long.
We did a half-day day trip around the island which included elephant trekking, going to areas of outstanding beauty and the famous Grandmother and Grandfather monuments. I enjoyed the day trip although it seemed very expensive for what we got and nothing was as genuine as I have found in other places. The elephant trekking was only after enduring an elephant show and a monkey show, which in parts you couldn't help laughing but the majority was awkward and slightly cruel.
My favourite place from my previous trip, it had a lot to live up to in the eyes of my friends. I'm pretty sure it won them over, especially after they did their PADI open water which they loved (recommend doing it at Simple Divers, you get accommodation included when you pay for your course). I didn't do any diving this time around to save some pennies, but being back was amazing in itself. The first two days ruined my plans to sunbathe as it decided to pour down in true monsoon style, but after that it was glorious and I loved relaxing on the beach, even getting a cheeky massage on the beach. We met loads of people in the bars and at the beach parties, including fire shows which were immense. Me and Koh Tao are still very much in love!
Had been here before briefly when I went to a Half Moon Party, so had high expectations when we returned for the New Years Eve Full Moon Party. It was crazy and definitely lived up to my expectations. We stayed on the other side of the island, Haad Gruad and spent our days on the beach at Haad Yao which was amazing and chilled with a beautiful beach and surrounding resorts. It was nice to be away from the busyness of Haad Rin, but was a slight pain getting a songtaew to the main beach 40 minutes away (and the up and down and twists and turns made me and some of the girls feel travel sick, especially after a night at a warm up party on the buckets!). I don't think a trip to the South is complete without a visit here.
Koh Phi Phi
I would possibly say that Phi Phi is more mental and party orientated than Koh Phangan! We had an amazing time there but I think you have to be ready for a full on experience. There are no roads and the island can be walked across from one side to the other in half an hour. After a day or two you start to recognise familiar faces (all farang of course, the only Thais here are those who are working). We met a really nice group of people at the dive shop 'Moskito' who were really helpful in pointing us in the right direction to get cheap accommodation and cheap food, which is really difficult to do here because it's quite expensive compared to other islands. We stayed at 'The Rock', which was lovely but we were lucky to make it before a massive group of backpackers came and the 'no more rooms' sign went up shortly after. Although I wasn't sure about it at first (it felt a bit claustrophobic with so many people and no space!) I've decided I love it and will be going back in March to celebrate my 22nd birthday in Slinkys.
We were only in Phuket for one day as part of a school trip. We were meant to be going as part of school competitions going on, but having left our house at 3am (!) four hours later we were there having rice and fish for breakfast in a Thai restaurant near the competitions. We stayed at the competition for about an hour before taking a trip in the car around Phuket to 'see the sights'. Phuket seems to be divided into really beautiful parts and horribly touristy European-looking parts. We went to the view point which was lush and a few of the beaches, we didn't really see enough in a day to make a judgement so heading back once we finish teaching in March.
Ao Nang and Railay
Ao Nang is our regular weekend beach spot. We must have been nearly 10 times now! It's good to go and relax, lie on the beach, get a massage and speak ENGLISH! Something that is rare where we live. Our favourite bars are Boogie Bar and of course Chang Bar in the middle of Centre Point. There are loads of shops on the main road to buy souvenirs too. Railay is a beach you can only access by getting a long-tail boat (about 15mins from Ao Nang) and is famous for rock climbing and stunning beaches. Rach and I went recently for the day and did a half day of rock climbing. Well, I've never been so exhausted in my life! My hands were in pieces and had blisters, my legs ached and I felt sick! The over 30 degree heat didn't help either. It was amazing though and I really surprised myself with how high I managed to climb first time.
So that's it for now, roll on March for a new place every few days! South Thailand you will always be my first love.
Hwyl pobl x