Island hopping in Thailand
We have always wanted to book a trip to Thailand but something always stood in our way. However, in February 2017 we finally decided to commit to it before anything crops up, so we booked our trip with an agency. We bought a combo from STA Travel and tailor made it to our own desires. We put down a deposit and were required to finish it off in September (which gave us enough time to save for the trip).
When the time finally came we were over joyed, it became very difficult to hide the excitement. I always start packing very early and keep on double checking my essentials every now and then just to make sure that I do not leave any behind. We left on Wednesday, 25 October 2017 and our flights combined, including the 3hr lay-over in Abu Dhabi was 22hrs (the longest I have been so far). The trip included spending time in Phuket, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and finally Bangkok. So the first stop was Phuket.
What we got up to?
On arrival we stayed in and only explored the City the following day. They say to fully explore and learn about the city you must mix with the locals and we did just that. After breakfast we walked to the city centre to get acquainted with the people and the culture of Phuket. On top of the fact that the weather in Phuket is very humid, to make matters worse for us from the dry City of Gold; the sun was scorching hot. Half way through we made an ‘executive’ decision to take a break, so we did not walk very far and had to have a small break (or should I say what was meant to be a small break). We sat at Starfish Bar where we met hostesses with the highest hospitality standards in the whole of Thailand. They let us play our own music, which was very intriguing because that was the first time we have ever experienced that, even in our own country it seldom happens. Needless to say the break took more than 2hrs and then we finally found the courage to move. We went to the malls to stock up on daily necessities like snacks and drinks. We also had a teaser of Bangla Walking Street (the busiest street in Phuket, the party zone) and then walked to the beautiful Patong Beach. We sat and enjoyed the sunset however, we did not stay long; we were so tired from all the walking so we decided to go home. When we got to the hotel we went straight for a dip in the pool. We enjoyed a very refreshing swim, gearing ourselves for a great night out.
After relaxing a bit it was time to hit the streets of Phuket. Did I mention that there is no sleeping in Phuket? We went to Bangla Street, the heart of Phuket where night life lovers are spoilt for choice. We danced the night away and only retired in the early hours of the morning. That did not work out very well as the next morning we had to go on a City Tour.
We opted for the Afternoon Tour. This experience could have been better, had our host explained about all the places we visited instead of giving us less than 20 minutes in each place. The programme was crammed and altered so many times, such that we missed some of the important parts of the tour. We went to the sunset viewing point way before sunset which then defeated the purpose of booking an afternoon tour. Having said all that, I still recommend it but with less activities.
While walking the streets earlier in the day, we booked ourselves into a boat cruise to Phi Phi Islands where we spent the whole day engaging in different activities and yes, I did another First.
Phi Phi Islands
So after breakfast we set out for a cruise to Phi Phi Islands. That experience was incredible, I did snorkeling for the first time. It was magical to swim with different kinds of fish and to see them up close. We also got a chance to just swim in open sea, when everyone was tired and decided to sit it out; I was amongst the first to jump in. We then went to the Monkeys Island. I have never seen such mischievous monkeys in my entire life, not that we were not warned. Not to mention that they are also very good swimmers. One monkey jumped into the water swam into one boat and grabbed a juice from one of the passengers and made a dash back to its resting spot and enjoyed the cold juice while we all watched in awe..lol. Visiting Phi Phi Islands was such an awesome experience and would again recommend it for a full Thailand experience.
This was the relaxation leg of the tour, we just wanted to wind down, take the beauty of Thailand in and rejuvenate. As per our tradition, on arrival we did the city tour. Again we walked the City, checking out similarities and what sets it apart from other islands. This beach Town is very cozy and intimate. Koh Samui boasts a beautiful stretch of beaches like Chaweng with the mostly beautiful shore line. Most resorts are right at the beach. You can hear the water crash against the embankment because the beach is just seconds away.
All we did was shop, dine, massages, swim and party. Samui is the epitome of holiday town, nothing much is happening but all the things that make you really feel like you are on holiday. Worth noting is Ark Bar where the partying never ends. Throughout the year everyday is a party and each party is as big as yesterday’s if not even better.
When we booked this trip we made sure that everything coincided with the original full moon party because there was no way we were going to come to Thailand and not go the party of the year, so we booked our tickets and our ferry to the Island. After having had a blast in Koh Samui, we left the island around 19:00 headed for Koh Phangan. On arrival, the mood was jovial, festive lights and all, and to balance things out the weather was perfect. The party was already in full swing so after getting food and drinks we wasted no time and started stage hopping.
To our suprize the DJs played songs we knew, so we danced the night away. Because the plan was not to explore the Island we did not book accommodation as the party carries on until the sun comes up. So we kept on it until it was time to vacate the Island at 07:30. This is one party you do not want to miss. Make sure you visit Thailand when it’s time for the Original Full Moon Party, you will not regret it.
The capital – Bangkok
We all know that a trip to Thailand will be incomplete if you do not go to the capital_Bangkok. After a very relaxed 4 days in Samui we headed for the ‘City of Life’. It did not disappoint, there is no sleeping in Bangkok. The City has many characteristics similar to those of Johannesburg, the traffic, the fast moving pace, the fashion, the list is endless. Bangkok is the business hub and fashion capital of Thailand. If you want to do a little bit of shopping Bangkok is your best option as some of the areas were a bit expensive. I personally would advise that you leave your clothes at home, take a backpack and start in Bangkok to buy all you will need for your holidays then proceed to other areas. Phuket on the other hand is the most expensive in every respects, technology, food, accommodation clothes and activities. Everything is ridiculously priced, in fact I would advise that one do not spend a lot of time there, do the City Tour; go to the islands and experience it’s vibrant night life then move on to the next city.
In all the places we have been around Thailand, boxing seemed to be a constant. I was surprised to find that Thailand had such a rich boxing culture. Everyday there was a promoter or two advertising a boxing match. At some point it got so annoying because they use loud haulers, therefore there is no way you would miss any of the noise coming from those promotion vehicles.
Though Phuket is overwhelming in all aspects we also found that the ladies of the night are found in even the smallest towns, they start working as early as 17:00 which was a bit odd. Another thing that came out very strongly was the number of gay man/ trans genders that were also found in the streets. I must say they also take this job very serious as they all looked very neat and healthy. Phuket is famous for its Ping pong activities, this is so big that almost in every street corner in town there is someone trying to sell you a show or two. Again we were shocked to find that even the old people were part of the advertising, given that Thailand is also a very religious country. The party scene is the most vibrant, they have huge and most stylish clubs and in most of them if not all, the entrance is free and there are always promotions where one gets free drinks tokens/ buy one and get one free; which you hardly see in South Africa.
All in all we enjoyed our trip to Thailand and we could have done with another week, to thoroughly explore the country. As you might now know I am an adventure junky and we did not do much on the adventure front. So, I am definitely going back for hiking adventures, chasing waterfalls, spiritual exploration, more beach living, shopping and another instalment of the Original Full Moon Party.