This is part 2 of my travel blog to Thailand.
and now..off to the Islands!
In this blog:
2. Kho Phangan
|PhuketOn the south west side of Thailand, on the gazing blue sea of Andaman, you will find the biggest of all Thailand islands, Phuket.||
Phuket is a fine example of Thailand’s contradiction. In one hand Phuket offers beautiful white sand beaches and breathtaking sea and tropical forest expeditions, and on the other hand, it offers a wide range of family attractions, cooled shopping malls, fine restaurants and resorts, wild bars and in short, a lot of everything that you can imagine in that a well modern beach town in Thailand will have offer, making it a top tourist destination for families, romantic couples but also lonely travelers looking to have a good time.
If you ask me, I didn’t like phuket’s commercial scene that much. As a lone traveler there walking down the streets, I didn’t like the pushy salesman on the shop fronts and the pushy ladies and lady boys trying to sell their product as well… Looking back I would probably rather spent the time I spent there (3 days) in a different province of Thailand, such as Krabi, maybe going to relax at the laid back Reilly beach.
I arrived to phuket by plane from mae hong son, but phuket is also connected by road to the main land, so you can also get there and leave by land, as well as by sea. Phukets main and most popular beach is patong so these is probably where you would like to find your accommodation. No matter what’s your budget, try to find a place to stay that offers a ride from the airport. It’s about 30 minutes from town and should cost around 500-1000 baht if it’s not free.
What to do?
At day time, there’s plenty to do around town, in town and of course on the beach. Just make your pick. You can also go on one of the tours you’ll see offered at your place of stay and travel agencies, and that’s a boat tour of phuket’s surrounding islands. You can also hire a boat to get to one of the islands, enjoying snorkeling, diving, and a much better swim then the one patong beach has to offer.
One of those island and maybe the most popular of all is kho phi phi. Stunning. Another stunning place is the bay of Phang nga. You’ll get the chance to see the famous giant rock of “James bond” island, where the James bond movie “the man with the golden gun” was filmed.
At the night time, there is one place in particular that attracts the crowd, the infamous bangla road. This one of patong’s beach main streets, becomes a crazy and wild scene at night, offering bar after go bar after disco after another, and it becomes a live people’s circus.
When I turned left to enter bangle road as I first saw what’s going on, the only thing that came out of my mouth was “holy shit!”
thousands of western man and Thai women mostly, drunk, and each one trying to get there kick..it’s defiantly an experience not to miss, nor one you’ll forget easily. Walking down this closed down to traffic alone, I felt what probably a beautiful woman feels like when she goes out to a place full of drunken men.. all the Thai ladies are trying to get you to take them to your hotel..
One disco that’s really worth a visit is the well designed TIGER DISCO- you won’t miss it. It has 2 floors, 1st is the dance floor playing popular music, and the 2ed is has a nice bar and lookout. Nice looking club.
After spending about 2 weeks in the island, one day a truck passed me by with a writing on its side said: “live with nature, party by the moon- kho phangan”. I think this writing describes exactly this magical island essence. I think all nature lovers, party lovers, young and young in heart will love kho phangan. I also think that most of them fall in love. as did I.
The island was loved so much even by the kings of Thailand during all generations, so they preserve it by making 70% of the land a national nature preserve, making kho phangan a beautiful island filled with white sand blue ocean beaches, along with in land tropical forests, waterfalls and all different kinds of “nature pearls”, along with it’s always growing tourism.
In this fantastic atmosphere of nature and young in heart visitors, the islands offers its own special twist having one the best party scene in the world, with the one of the most famous party in the world: “the full moon” party at had rin beach.
How to get there?
The island has no air port, so if you want to get there by plane you have two choices. One is getting first to the neighbor island kho samui and from there take a 45 min ferry to had rin beach or a 30 min ferry thong sala- I recommend getting to thong sala, I will get to the reason why.
Two is getting from city of surath thani in krabi province and taking a 2.5 hours ferry from there.
Where to stay?
Well, that really depends on your own preferences.
Hat (“beach” in Thai) rin beach Is the most popular one having the most accommodation, stores and restaurants offers and of course it’s the home of the “full moon” party.
At the north side of the island you will find more remote quite islands without much happening except of peace quiet and romantic scenery. Before I got to phangan, I decided I wanted to stay close to where the “half moon” party is being held, which is around ban tai village.
Ban tai has a long and isolated beautiful beach stretches in the south west, filled with coconut trees and beautiful white sand. This perfect spot has plenty of isolated resorts with restaurants in them right on the perfect white sand beaches, where you can find yourself spending day after day enjoying true freedom. I stayed at “power beach” resort, and I recommend it highly. me and my friends found there great hospitality, and weeks of sometimes feeling this whole nice right on its own private beach resort is ours only. The resort also has a great location, being 15 min away from phangan peer in thong sale from one side, and 15 min away from had rin beach as well.
What to do?
“live with the nature, party by the moon” remember? Well, that’s what you should do.
You can either spend hours on the beach doing whatever you want, maybe even learning how to sky surf in ban tai village beach or diving. Or you can go to a Thai boxing match, for some shopping in the city of thong sala (the main city in the island, where you’ll get to with the ferry if you are not getting to hadrin), going to a yoga lesson, getting a massage and many more activities you can do.
One travel tip would be, to get yourself some transportation, either a quad, scooter, jeep, bicycle, or even a boat, and go and explore the different areas of this magical island.
Even if you’re planning on partying all night and relaxing on the beach all day and that’s , kho phangan’s is really worth exploring for all its choices. You will be surprised with what you will find sometimes..
My friends and I rented a jeep one day, got a map, and went inland to see the forests, animals and birds, waterfalls and different beaches. one of the places worth a visit is “paradise” waterfall and its area. (try to chat with the old man there, he might have something interesting to offer you..)
another place is the most beautiful beach of thansadet, with its river and waterfall coming down its back side mountains and jungle. It’s definitely worth getting there and swimming in its perfect temperature water. You can get there by parking you car in a nearby village and renting a taxi boat from there.
One special place that’s worth a visit, is “Amsterdam bar” (Yep..). This place has the most beautiful sunset in all kho phangan and a very special atmosphere…if you travelling north from thong sala on the north west side of the island, you can’t miss the big stone sign right on the hill side of wuk tom village. Trust me, go there at sunset.
Party tonight? Kho phangan got famous basically from having all young travelers gather to the island from all over south east Asia, when it’s time for the “full moon” party in had rin beach.
Starting back from the 70′s, this kind of spirit lives on today.
I think all kinds of party people will find a right kind of party for them. And I mean all kinds..
“Full moon” party, hat rin beach –
The world’s most famous beach party is being held every month (check for schedules before you come). All the bars and resorts on had rin beach are starting to boom the sand with music, starting from around 10 mp as the island gathers, till the last of the people that made it dancing till 10 am. You can party there to all types of music, usually with thousands of people around you, drinking loads of whiskey buckets or consuming any other inhibitions releaser.. (Don’t come with a scooter or something…).
For my taste, I thought the best place to dance was at “Tommy’s bar”, where they play electronic music, mostly psychedelic trance all party long.
In general, I found the “full moon” party a nice tourist experience, but not the best party in the island.
One travel tip – get to khophangan at least 4 days before the full moon, the place gets full and expensive!
“Half moon” – now this is the best party in phangan for my taste.
The “Half Moon festival” is being held twice a month about 2km from ban Tai village. Located in an open dance floor around beautiful jungle scenery, this party can take you places…from about 10 pm till the morning after, you will dance to psychedelic sounds around about 5000 beautiful party people from around the world.
One travel tip would be, if you’re not tired yet and you want to keep the party going, try to find about any after parties going on. When I was there, “Ban sabaii” bar on the beach of ban tai, were holding small scale after parties.
Other parties –
So as we well understood, the island of phangan is a party island. Besides the “full moon” and the “half moon”, there are several around the year scheduled parties like “black moon” (smaller scene, more dark psy music), or “jungle experience” (3 days before every “black moon” and “full moon”- another jungle scene rave in a beautiful area, minimal, techno, progressive through psy).
In short, if you’re a party lover, your soul will be satisfied…
Thailand’s capital name in Thai means “plum village” (ban means village), and it’s also called in Thai “khroung thap”, which means “city of angels” (believe me, not only angels live there..), and it’s also short of a much bigger name, which is listed in the book of gunnies at the longest city name.
This busy metropolis is the economical central and areal gateway to Thailand and to many connecting journeys around Asia. Here, you will feel Thai city life at it most.
Your options as a tourist are endless. You can check yourself in one of the luxuries hotels the city has to offer wine and dine in top bars and restaurants, shop at luxuries malls and choose your recreational pleasures. Or, you get yourself a nice affordable guesthouse to sleep in for around 150-300 baht, better near kha o san road in the center of Bangkok – the backpacker’s road filled with budget accommodation; eat yummy street food and shop at huge never ending open markets.
2 travel tips (you know what, let’s make it three…):
1. If you’re planning on getting around with a “tuk – tuk”, be aware that you’ll get blacking..Get yourself some cloth to cover your face. My advice, get a cab, it’s not expensive and a much better way to go in a very hot, humid and polluted big city like Bangkok.
2. About the cheap places to stay around kha o san road – check them out good. Some of these places have bugs and cockroaches lying around having fun a lot more time than you. About the street food, it’s great!, don’t hesitate to eat from any clean enough food stand of your taste, in most of the times it’s delicious.
3. As I mentioned in the beginning, my advice would be to leave Bangkok for last on your trip to Thailand, everywhere else you’ll go in Thailand, in most times you will enjoy there much more, plus you will find almost everything you wanted to buy, most times cheaper.
What to do?
Well, you can visit a few temples, go to see the royal palace, someone even told me that there is a great sea observation not to be missed. At night time, you can basically enjoy in any way you want.
But let’s face it, Bangkok biggest tourist attraction is called shopping!
Handcrafts, fashion, fake fashion, art, fake art, electronics, fake…(well, you get it by now), dogs and what not, everything is for sale in Bangkok’s big open markets and shopping malls, and most of the times cheap..
If your time is short, better plan ahead what you’re interested in getting. I had 2.5 days, and went to “Chatuchak”, the “weekend market” which is one of Thailand’s biggest open market with over 8,000 stands and shops shaped and designed in different ways, selling everything from designer clothes, antiques and what not. Another good one is “China town”, in the Chinese quarter, between the royal palace and the train station. You can find here plenty of cool stuff in wholesale quantities, in the price of one in any other market. Stuff like toys, stickers, clothes, customs, even gold. While you’re there, sit back and relax from your shopping in a good Chinese restaurant.
There are plenty of other markets to go to like the “night market” to get another set of luggage for all of your shopping and maybe one more set of souvenirs or fake watch.. You can also go to top modern air conditioned shopping malls like “siam paragon”, or other modern shopping districts. Just do you’r research on the choices you have, and enjoy spending..