A few people have asked me about my travel advice for Thailand, so I thought I’d write a post about it. Some of the iquireys have come from Peace Corps volunteers looking for travel advice from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer and others have simply wondered what places in Thailand I enjoy the most after living here for two years. So here it is, my rundown of places to visit in Thailand.
First there’s beaches, lovely, lovely beaches. The most popular ones are in the south of Thailand. Krabi provence has gorgeous beaches with lush cliffs that bulge out into the waters. Some of the beaches there are Ao Nang (touristy, but a jumping off point to other beaches) Ralley and Ton Sai (small, gorgeous and laid back, to get there take a long tail boat from Ao Nang) then there’s Ko Phi Phi (beautiful beach, packed with people). My parents love Ko Lanta which is south of these beaches. They say it’s beautiful and laid back.
Trang provence is near Krabi and is rummored to have gorgeous beaches with far, far fewer tourests than some of the other beaches. There’s a stronger Islamic influence there so it might not be appropriate to wear a swim suit on some beaches, but I haven’t heard of that happening very much.
Phuket is popular with tourists, but I don’t like it. Too many overdeveloped and seedy areas, but the beaches themselves aren’t too bad. Phuket is also a good jumping off point to other beaches because you can fly there cheaply with Air Asia and there are boats and buses that depart regularly to other places. Also the Similan Islands near Phuket are supposed to have great scuba diving. Some friends of mine have been to Ko Yao Noi near Phuket and loved it. They said it’s like a quiet Thai village on a beach.
On the other side of the penisila there’s Ko Pan Ngan, which is where the Full Moon Party is. Think all night party on the beach. Really, fun. I’ve heard the beach is decent, but I never checked it out in the day time. Because of the parties the island is packed with tourists (rowdy tourists) so I’d avoid it if you don’t like that scene. Ko Samui is south of Ko Pha Ngan and I’ve heard mixed things about it being seedy or really fun with clubs on the beach. There’s also an island in that area called Ko Tao, which my coteachers like.
Closer to Bangkok there’s Hua Hin, which I’ve heard is a really, resorty beach. From what I’ve heard about the other beaches in this area they’re ok, but nothing too special. I’d only go to this area if you really, really want to stay near Bangkok.
East of Bangkok there’s Ko Samet and Ko Chang. I had a fun time on Ko Samet. It’s not one of the best beaches in Thailand, but it’s close to Bangkok and sometimes that’s a trade off I’m willing to make. Ko Chang is a lot of fun with several laid back areas to hang out. The island of Ko Chang is a giant jungle hill and the beaches are strips of white sand leading into clear blue waters. It’s fairly touristy, but has more of a backpacker crowd than most of the places in the South.
The north of Thailand is filled with tree covered hills, beautiful handwoven textiles and hill tribes. I am in love with this area of Thailand. I’m a beach girl at heart, but the nature and culture of this area amazes me.Chiang Mai is the most popular city in the North. I love this city because it has a nice laid back vibe, without seeming sold out to tourists. The city is fun to just hang out in for a few days. You can do trekking trips, Flight of the Gibbons (ziplines), spas, yoga and cooking classes here.
Further north will be similar to Chiang Mai, but less populated, with fewer services to accomidate tourists. Pai is near Chiang Mai and is a really cute, little artsy town. This place is really crowded in the high season, but it’s a lot of fun. Nan and Chiang Rai are north of Chiang Mai and are beautiful areas that are a little more off the beaten trail.
Bangkok: meh. I only like Bangkok for the shopping and foreign food. In my opinion, there are so many better places to spend time in Thailand than here. If you do want to spend time in Bangkok I’d ride a boat along the river to catch views of the palace and Wat Pho. Near the river is Khoa San Road, where hoards of backpackers hang out. The Jim Thompson House (never been, but have heard good things) and the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant on Sukhumvit are fun to stop by as well. My cousins did a bike tour through Chinatown and loved it.
North of Bangkok there’s Ayuttaya, the second capital of Thailand, which has ruins and temples. It’s a good trip if you’re in Bangkok and want to do a day trip or if you want to see historical sites, otherwise, I’d skip it. About three hours north of Bangkok is Lopuri, where you can see monkeys play in an ancient temple. My feelings towards Lopburi are the same as Ayuttaya, fun if you have the time and not a big deal if you don’t.
Betwen Bangkok and Chiang Mai, there’s Sukothai, the first capital of Thailand. There are two parks here with the best ruins in Thailand. It’s a good place to stop for a night if you don’t want to do an overnight bus between Bangkok and Chiang Mai or if you’re interested in ruins and Asian history. If you’re pressed for time, I’d skip it.
For more travel information go to www.travelfish.org. This is my main resource for travel in Southeast Asia
Do you have any travel tips for Thailand? Write down in the comments or post a link.