It's time to say goodbye to Thailand *insert sad face here*. Our visas expire on Sunday and today is our last day on Koh Tao. Tomorrow we start the ten hour journey back to Bangkok - BOOOO! We have had a ball in the month we've been here but now it's onwards to the next location.
I've got quite a few photos and stories to share from the places we've been in the last month but they're for another day. For now here is my no bullshit guide* to all the cities, villages, islands and towns we have been too during out time here.
Not a big fan of big cities where it's a million degrees and there are loads of people so we pretty much only spent time in Bangok when we were waiting for flights or trains to other places. It's hot, it smells, didn't really spend enough time here to judge properly.
Stayed in Old Town and loved it. Big city but doesn't feel like one. Super relaxed and chilled out, much cheaper than Bangkok. Lot's of nature related activities to do such as interacting with elephants or jungle trekking. Magical at New Year. Go to the Best Walkinn 2, it's cheap and the landlady is a sweetheart.
Pai is good but there isn't loads to do there. Good gateway to Laos. Jody got a wicked tattoo and we bought some nice things from the night market. Good second hand bookstore. Get there by shared minivan for around £4. Be warned if you get motion sickness though as the road has 762 turns so isn't the most pleasant. Tony's guest house costs £8.50 p/n, super peaceful and offers cracking views of the hills. 1km out of town though so would recommend you get a bike.
Bit seedy. Good base to go on day trips to islands like Phi Phi and James Bond Island, especially if you're short on time/money. Good for pubs, clubs and ping pong shows. Quite expensive compared to the North but can find accommodation to suit any budget.
Koh Phi Phi (day trip)
Personally wouldn't bother unless you are desperate to go to the Full Moon party or it was low season. Definitely nicer islands that you can go too. Bit grubby. Maya Beach was heaving with people. Snorkelling at Monkey Beach was okay but overcrowded tour boat meant overcrowded ocean. Saw a lot of litter in the sea aswell as heaps of sea urchins. Booked through this website. Staff were good, food was good, but like I said, overcrowding ruined it. Would advise a long tail tour.
Phang Nga Bay (day trip)
From Phuket we did a day trip to Phang Nga Bay which included Suwankuha Temple (monkey cave), Sea Canoeing round Talu Island, James Bond Island and lunch at the muslim fishing village, Panyee. Monkey Cave was cool, lot's of different Buddha statues. Sea Canoeing was awesome as you get taken into caves by a guide. James Bond Island was busy (Nowhere near as busy as Maya Bay though) but if you are a JB fan like Jody is, you will love it. Panyee was interesting but personally felt a bit scummy going there as a tourist.
Nice little island that isn't too overdeveloped (yet). Clean beaches and reasonably priced restaurants and accommodation. There are enough bars if you like to party aswell as a half moon party (not as well known/crazy as the ones on Phi Phi/Phangan I believe). Had a great massage on Klong Khong Beach (two women have a space inside a bar, no price list outside). Can see Muay Thai fights here for cheaper than you can see them on Krabi. Lots of mosquitos.
Koh Rok (day trip)
Cute little island 45 minutes away from Lanta by speedboat (Can't recommend Opal Speedboat tours enough). White sandy beach that isn't too busy despite all the tours that go there. Option to camp overnight. The water was crystal clear and was like snorkelling in an aquarium. You will see lot's of fish you recognise from Finding Nemo.
Only ended up staying here for two nights and the weather wasn't great so we didn't really leave the hotel room. Would have like to have visited Railay but oh well.
Glad we spent 5 nights here. Not too busy. Fairly clean with loads of options for accommodation and food. Bit more expensive than the mainland but it is an island paradise so go figure. Plenty to explore although we mainly stuck to the Sairee beach area. Lot's of mosquitos here too. We stayed at the Simple Life Cliff View Resort in a fan bungalow for £15 a night. Highly recommended.
Various companies offer a cheap snorkelling tour around the island which was pretty good. We got bad weather in the morning though so couldn't go to a couple of spots. Millions of diving schools if you want to go a little deeper.
Have you been to any of these places? Do you disagree with me on any?
* These are just my personal thoughts. I know people who LOVED Phi Phi and despised Chiang Mai. It all boils down to personal taste. I'm not a fan of big crowds nor am I a big drinker so obviously I preferred the quieter spots.