How we ended up going to Thailand AGAIN?
We were sat on the porch just outside our room in Caramoan town in the Philippines. Depressed by the pouring rain and contemplating where to go next. It felt like even though we still had lots to see in this beautiful country, it was time to move on. The main goal of this first trip there was already achieved, we discovered Caramoan. It felt right to go and have a reason to return in the future again.
We thought that after discovering new countries, maybe it was time to go to a comfortable place where we ‘knew the ways’, so to speak. And that’s basically how we decided to go backpacking in Thailand again. Greg quickly found cheap flights to Phuket with a cheeky 1-day transit in Singapore (the result of which you can watch here), and that’s how our journey across Thailand began this time around.
Our Itinerary during 1 month.
- Three days in Phuket. You can always stay there longer if you want to explore this huge island.
- Three days in Krabi Town, including a day trip to Railey Beach.
- Two days in Surat Thani to explore this non-touristy industrial town.
- Seven nights in Koh Tao. The best place to sign up for a diving course.
- One night in Chumphon. A transit stay.
- Four nights in Prachuap Khiri Khan. A lovely, underrated town with beautiful National Parks nearby.
- Seven nights in Bangkok.
- Two nights in Ayutthaya.
Arriving in Phuket
It was our first time in Phuket – and even though in a way we knew what to expect in terms of the level of tourism we would encounter there, it still exceeded our expectations. Staying at hectic and loud Patong Beach after spending nearly two weeks in the quietness of beautiful Caramoan came as a shock to all of us and definitely something we would have to get used to from now on. We enjoyed our days there despite higher prices and lower accommodation standards in proportion to our budget. You can check our Guide to Prices in Thailand to find out how much we spent during our backpacking trip.
Tasting Thai cuisine again after a year’s break was an incredible experience I cannot possibly describe with words. We were happy we could check Phuket off our bucket list afterward. I know it can be a fantastic place for a party-goers, but it’s not our cup of tea. We decided to move on.
Discovering Krabi Province
Shortly after getting our SIM cards ready and doing some necessary shopping done for the journey ahead, we departed from the bus terminal to a lovely town of Krabi. Still crowded, but quite pleasant and friendly.
We spent a few days there enjoying the busy weekend market and the beautiful and tasty Thai food. We also rented motorbikes for the day to explore the area. While the biggest tourist attraction in Krabi province is the infamous Railey beach (where we went for a daily trip you can check out here), there are many other cool places you might want to check out. There is the Emerald Temple, Natural Hot Springs, the Emerald Pond and many local Buddhist temples. If you like to spend your holiday actively, it’s a great area to drive around.
Krabi was a really nice place to find some great tourist attractions and not overspend. You can still eat Thai food at local restaurants at low prices. Tourism isn’t as aggressive there as in Phuket. If you’re not all for western bars and crazy parties and you’d just like to spend your days actively and skip the crowded island and head straight to Krabi. Thinking of it now, I wish we had stayed there for an additional night.
Under the radar in Surat Thani
Our next stop was the sleepy, slightly industrial and non-touristy town of Surat Thani. We were really surprised with low accommodation prices and cheap food there. As you can imagine, we spent most of our two days stay there eating. Sushi, Pad Thai, noodle soups, even western food – really cheap! I regret nothing! Even though I couldn’t move at the end of the day.
Surat Thani is not a popular destination for tourists in Thailand. Most westerners just go there early in the day to avoid having to stay for the night. They catch a tuk-tuk to the pier and depart via ferry to one of the nearby islands. Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao ferries are available at the Surat Thani pier.
Can’t resist the tropical islands – One Week on Koh Tao
Koh Tao is my weakness. It’s our weakness. I feel like most of these popular islands in Thailand have similar pros and cons and they are equally as loved as they are hated. Overpriced food? Yes. Thousands of western food restaurants and bars? Yes. No value whatsoever for your money when comes to accommodation? You have no idea. And still the sunsets on those beaches, the sunrises, evening walks, the chill-out atmosphere of diving schools, playing ball on the beach and sipping the cold beer in the pubs – it feels like a college guy’s dream fantasy.
It is the ultimate paradise that you can’t say no to. And as much as I see all the flaws of Koh Tao, I was thrilled to go back there for the second time when Greg wanted to do his Open Water certificate. Even though we had no hot water and no air-con, and even though Internet was bad, I enjoyed a break from being on the road. Koh Tao is the island where the passing of the time doesn’t seem to matter, especially if you find a hotel somewhere further away from all the parties, pubs and bars.
After a week’s stay on the Turtle Island, it was nice to get back to reality, but the dreamy beaches of Koh Tao are always going to haunt me when I’m back in Europe and it’s December and I’m crying under the blanket because why-is-it-so-cold-I-can’t-deal-with-this-rain-anymore.
Visiting Prachuap Khiri Khan
After leaving Koh Tao we stayed for the night in Chumphon which was just a necessary stop after a delayed ferry from the island. The next day we caught a minivan to Prachuap Khiri Khan, a little town somewhere in the middle of the road from Chumphon to Bangkok. Even though we couldn’t find a lot of information about nearby attractions, it turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of Thailand thus far.
We spent two days exploring the area and the nearby Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. It’s a great place for everybody who enjoys trekking and spelunking. We love caves and we’ve never had such a great experience spelunking anywhere else. We definitely recommend it if you’re tired of exploring temples, sunbathing or drinking! Just make sure to bring a torch and lots of water along with you! Make sure to check out our video from the caves in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park – it was hands down one of my favorite days during this trip.
Bangkok Shopping Madness
Our last destination of the first half of our journey across Thailand was Bangkok, the city that will be to you whatever you need it to be. Regardless of whether you want to do some shopping, or if you want to party all night, or maybe if you want to explore some of the most beautiful temples in the country! We highly recommend scheduling a visit to Bangkok towards the end of your trip. That way you can actually get some shopping done before going back home – the prices are good and the possibilities are infinite. You can check out Creative Travel Guide to Visiting The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.
Old Town of Ayutthaya
After a few days in Bangkok, we took a train to Ayutthaya. This old town is full of breathtaking temples and it is a must see. Make sure, though, to get a hat and drink lots of water! Most temples are just open air old ruins, so it’s easy to get a sun-stroke.
Ayutthaya is also the place where our journey forward continued on bicycles. Backpacking was no more, but I will leave that story for Part 2 of our itinerary.
Fantastic Second Time Around
We had a great time backpacking on the beaten track for a first month in Thailand. Even though some people think otherwise, I dare to say it is still worth it. I do not think tourism ruined the beaten path – Thailand is still a great and friendly country.
I consider Thailand one of the best destinations for a person who wants to taste backpacking for the first time. It’s an amazing place where you can immerse yourself in a foreign culture, taste unbelievable food, meet lovely people and make wonderful friends for life.
What else would you like to know about this part of the trip? Leave a comment and we will work on that in the future!
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