Why we should respect the national treasure of Thailand – Elephants

It may seem like a dream come true for you to ride on an elephant’s back whilst on your trip to Thailand, or to learn to be a Mahout, but you might not realise that this is in fact mistreatment of the elephants. Many tourists visiting Thailand choose to do this activity and more and more elephants are being ill treated and held captive. Not only this, but extinction of the Asian elephant is a real possibility. So why are we not treating them with care? What can you do as a tourist or foreigner in Thailand to help?

Read on to find out how you can visit ethically run elephant sanctuaries that are improving the lives of hundreds of elephants and aiming to free as many as possible from the slavery of tourism and illegal logging.

Why are there so many elephants in the tourist industry?

Since the banning of elephants in the logging industry in Thailand 1989 (because it is considered animal torture), thousands of elephant owners began resorting to tourism to earn a living. For this, elephants are taken away from their mother up to two years too early and are ‘broken’ in order to train them for carrying people and performing tricks. This is effectively torturing young elephants until they comply to orders. Elephants in tourism and those still used in illegal logging are beaten, given drugs to make them work longer, and are often starving, injured and lonely. Don’t forget folks, elephants are meant to be wild, not caged.

Surely an elephant can carry a human safely?

Elephants’ backs are actually not strong enough to carry people, despite their size, yet many tourist operators will have elephants carry two or three people plus the bamboo or often metal seat for up to eight hours a day, depriving them of adequate food, water and shade.

You may see baby elephants being paraded around bars at night by Thais looking to make money from photos with tourists and selling food to give to the elephants. Where did they come from? Did you know that a baby elephant needs to stay with it’s mum for the first four years of its life, otherwise, they usually end up psychologically damaged. Monetary gain is causing baby elephants to suffer.

Having an elephant at your wedding might seem like a cute and harmless thing to do but this too is exploiting these beautiful creatures. All trained elephants (even those with caring Thai owners) will have been harshly trained and coerced with bull hooks to ‘train’ them to take part in your big day. Elephants are gentle and caring, but they don’t belong at a beach wedding in the heat of the day.

Asian elephants are endangered species

elephant-orphanage-600-433

Asian elephants are an endangered species with only around 4,500 left in Thailand, 3,000 of these being captive. Despite Thai law banning logging in 1989, there has been little done to protect the elephant community and support the mahouts (carers) of the elephants. However, there are more ‘safe’ havens popping up around the country. Not all of them will be as ethical as they claim, so watch out for elephant rides, elephants being tied up or having hooks used on them and any tricks or shows that are unnatural, such as painting pictures, dancing, or circus type acts.

If you visit a safe sanctuary you can be rest assured that the elephants are treated well. Just being close to the gentle giants will fill you with magic and wonder. You can sense their wonderful spirit and amazing personalities.

The following sanctuaries are recommended by Thailand Travel Bag:

Save Elephant Foundation

The Save Elephant Foundation has been running since the 1990s and is a not for profit organisation dedicated to saving mistreated elephants from around South East Asia and allowing them to live out the rest of their lives in peace. Their main camp is located just outside Chiang Mai,  and here and at some of their other camps you will hear about the elephants rescue story as well as feed them and then take them down to the river to be bathed. They have many different volunteer and day visits, such as; ‘Pamper a Pachyderm’ where you can bathe with elephants, watch them eat and spend intimate time with these wonderful creatures.

In one of their one day visits you can also have a an experience called ‘Sunshine for Elephants.’ where you will meet elephants that have been recently rescued from their toil of entertaining toursits. You will feed the elephants in the early morning and then walk with these newly rescued elephants through the forests witnessing their natural behaviours and freedom, after their recent release from the tourism trade.

Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES)

BLES is located outside the village of Baan Tuek in Sukhothai and cares for rescued and retired elephants. Boon Lott means ‘survivor’ in Thai and is the name of a brave elephant that founder Katherine Connor was inspired by more than ten years ago. After his death she dedicated her life to nurturing and caring for the Thailand elephants. There is 500 acres of forested land for the elephants to interact in. Katherine Connor has been recognized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare for her work.

Guests usually stay for at least a week, getting involved in all the aspects of daily life for the elephants from collecting elephant food from the jungle to maintaining herding areas and walking elephants to grazing grounds. And like all good sanctuaries, their is no riding and no circus tricks allowed.

Bring the Elephants Home

Bring the Elephants Home wants a better chance of survival for Asian elephants. They achieve this in Thailand by restoring natural habitat, by stimulating animal friendly eco-tourism, by developing alternatives for people who traditionally earned income with Thailand elephants and helps find solutions to human-elephant conflicts. Bring the Elephants Home mainly works with local communites but it is possible to volunteer too. They include the rangers of Thai national parks, villagers, schools, partner organizations, and all of the volunteers who help every day to make elephant’s lives better. This video of their Thailand elephant conservation work is inspiring.

Elephants are highly intelligent and emotional creatures.

Humans cannot fully understand the complexity of elephants’ emotions. They need to be free to roam the earth and interact in their unique social dynamics. Elephants have a very close knit society, more so than most other species on the planet. Their families can only be separated by death or capture. Elephants are also extremely intelligent and have the largest brain of any land animals with a total of 300 billion neurons; that’s three times as many as humans have. They have been known to use tools, problem solve and even mimic human voices.

Aristotle said of elephants, “The animal which surpasses all others in wit and mind”. Elephants have been an important part of Thai culture for many centuries, with kings mounting them to fight the Burmese on numerous occasions. They have always been a symbol of power and peace. It’s time for us to respect the power of elephants and give them the peace that they so deserve.

Please don’t support the unethical treatment of Thailand elephants. By cutting the demand the supply will hopefully diminish.

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8 peaceful beaches in Khao Lak, Thailand – 2016

Khao Lak refers to 30 km of coastline in Phang Nga Province, Thailand which reaches from Bang Sak to the north to Thap Lamu Pier in the south (see map below.) Khao Lak has a completely different feel to it’s closest tourist centre neighbour, Phuket. Whilst It has dozens of amazing 4 and 5 star hotels lined across it’s beaches it is a peaceful, family friendly place that is close to an amazing national park. Khao Lak is the perfect destination for beach lovers who want to eat in nice restaurants, do a spot of shopping but also want to avoid any dodgy nightlife. Note that Khao Lak is a seasonal area so during low season, prices will be lower,  some places will be shut and the ocean will be choppy and in some places not safe to swim. Low season is June-November.

The hub of Khao Lak is the area of Nang Thong but for the purposes of this blog we will follow the map from north to south starting with Bang Sak

1 Bang Sak Beach

 

Bang Sak Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
Bang Sak Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand

4km north of north Pakarang Cape you will find Bang Sak Beach which is extremely quiet and has gorgeous white sand and clear waters. The beach is lined with casuarina trees and is popular with locals who come to sit in the shade and have a picnic. There are around 5 resorts here and the main one is BangSak Village which has a great reputation. Bank Sek has amazing small seafood stalls and the grilled fish dishes are a favourite of local Thais. There are very few shops and restaurants in this area so if you have come for peace and quiet, this place is for you.

 

2.Pak Wip Beach

Pak Weep Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
Pak Weep Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand

1km north of Pakarang Cape and on the same stretch as Bang Sak is Pak Wip Beach which is 5km of gorgeous white sand. All year round swimming is possible here with a gentle and relaxing swell. There are some medium priced accommodation here, but this area is famous for its amazing 5 star hotels such as Pullman Khao Lak Katiliya Resort and Spa and Beyond Resort. If you are planning on staying in cheaper accommodation away from the beach area, don’t forget that there are no private beaches in Thailand so everyone is welcome to all parts of the beach, just don’t use the beachfront hotel’s facilities. This area is also quiet although there is a little village nearby with a few convenience stores. Inland, visitors can spend an afternoon at Pakwib, Sai Rai Rung and Bor Hin waterfalls.

3. Pakarang Cape

Pakarang Cape, Khao Lak, Thailand
Pakarang Cape, Khao Lak, Thailand

The next beach south is Pakarang Beach. It is around the other side of Pakarang Cape from Pak Wib Beach and is another very quiet and extremely beautiful beach. As you get towards the cape the sand is stony but still this beach is very pleasant. Like Pak Wip, this beach is renowned for its amazing 5 star hotels such as The Sarojin. The Cape is well known as a surf destination during low season (June-November)

4. Khuk Khak Beach

Khuk Khak Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
Khuk Khak Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand

4km north of Bang Niang, and just south of Pakarang lies the deserted beach of Khuk Khak, which is 3km long and this spot is lovely because of the white sand, palm trees and the view. The only resort on this beach is The Marriot and so it remains an authentically Thai area. It is the regional place for local hotel owners to buy things such as hardware and has a local daily food market that is fun to check out. Khuk Khak Beach can be reached by turning at the Marriott Hotel sign then carrying on past the resort to the beach.

5. Bang Niang Beach

Bang Niang, Khao Lak, Thailand
Bang Niang, Khao Lak, Thailand

The long Bang Niang coastline has lots of tracks leading to a long and white sandy beach. The beach is great for sunset and has clear and calm waters in high season (December-June) so is great for swimming and snorkelling. There are also trees along the beach which is ideal for when you need shade and overall this is my favourite part of Khao Lak. You can walk from Bang Niang Beach down to Nang Thong Beach since the beaches join up and although the beach of Bang Niang is not as wide or long as Nang Thong it does have many awesome hotels such as La Flora Hotel and Ramada Resort. Bang Niang is not as busy as Nang Thong but is developing fast. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, ATMs and massage shops if you want to head out of your resort (which many people never do if they find a great one).

6. Nang Thong Beach

Nang Thong Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
Nang Thong Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand

Nang Thong is the busiest beach area in Khao Lak. The beach is perfect for a sunset stroll, swimming, sunbathing and good snorkelling. It has a long white sandy beach with some rocks, casuarina trees and palms. It is a wide beach, with mountain slopes as a beautiful backdrop. There are many supermarkets, restaurants, pubs, bars, shops and diving schools found near the beach and up on the main road. Although it is the busiest part of Khao Lak it still has plenty of space and peace. There are many hotels spanning the length of the beach such as stunning The Sands by Katathani

7. Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
Sunset Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand

Sunset Beach is located at the very south end of Nang Thong beach and is a very pretty and quiet spot to spend the day. All the hotels along here are built on the slope of the mountain, within or near to the rainforest. Sunset Beach has a few little restaurants, bars, supermarkets and Khao Lak centre is within walking distance for more. An example of the kind of hotels you can find here is Khao Lak Sunset Resort which is a very nice four star.

8. Khao Lak (South) Beach

 

Khao Lak Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand
Khao Lak Beach, Khao Lak, Thailand

Khao Lak (South) Beach is 2km long and is the shortest of Khao Lak’s‚ beaches. Khao Lak South Beach has a tropical atmosphere because it is nestled beneath the mountains and National Park and is ideal for a quiet and peaceful beach spot. There are only 5 or 6 hotels and there is a small tourist area. An example of the kind of hotels you can find on Khao Lak Beach is Briza Resort which is a very nice four star.

Map of Khao Lak Beaches

Map of Khao Lak

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Images courtesy of flikr.com

Featured Image – Jeff Gunn

Bang Sak – Eric Baker

Pak Weep – Inchka

Pakarang Cape – Paul012

Khuk Khak – Curtis Foreman

Bang Niang – GlobeTrotteur17

Nang Thong – Kullez

Sunset Beach – GrzegorzMelczarek

Khao Lak – Phuket247

 

Why getting married in Thailand may be the best idea you ever had

Wedding on a Thai beach

When choosing the location of your destination wedding, the are so many places that really stand out. If you imagine tropical flowers, colourful food, gracious hosts and an exotic holiday spot for all your guests, then consider Thailand. Here are a selection of reasons why getting married in Thailand may be the best idea you ever had.

Amazing backdrops

Pak Meng Beach, Trang, Thailand
Pak Meng Beach, Trang, Thailand

Thailand is full of natural beauty. The beaches stunning of course,  but you can also hold your wedding at a jungle lodge, a mountain retreat, in a botancial garden or even at a private villa. Whatever you choose, you can be sure that Thailand will be your wedding dream.

Delicious food

Hor Mok Thale - seafood mousse
Hor Mok Thale – seafood mousse

Your guests will love the vibrant, fresh and delicious food that you serve. Thai food is ideal for a wedding and it is only when you come to Thailand that you experience it at its best. Thai food is zesty, colourful, healthy and inspiring. All top hotels in Thailand will also have an international chef to serve western food options to your guests for those who don’t have a pallete for Thai food.

Cost effective staff

Thai women in traditional dress
Thai women in traditional dress

Thailand is called the Land of Smiles and with good reason. If you are considering getting married in Thaikand, everyone around you will be gracious and thoughtful. Your wedding can also be well staffed without breaking the bank. There are many expat wedding planners in Thailand and they can help you navigate the wedding planning process. Wedding Planners based in Thailand are going to be more cost effective than a planner based in your home country.

Local traditions

Thai Monk Walking on Rose Petals
You can hire monks to perform a blessing ceremony

Many wedding couples incorporate Thai customs into their ceremony. Buddhist monks are happy to bless a wedding couple in an ancient and beautiful Buddhist blessing, or wedding planners can also help you incorporate any wedding traditions you would like.

Flowers

Thai Flowers

Flowers are everywhere in Thailand – they are gorgeous and inexpensive. You can hold your wedding in a beautiful garden surrounded by thousands of plants and trees, or make the most stunning arrangements at your venue. Even the beach can be strewn with petals.

Thai Lanterns

Thai lanterns at a wedding

Lighting a sky lantern and letting it float away is considered good luck. The Buddhist belief is that misfortune will fly away with these beautiful Tha lanterns. The offering of lanterns is also said to symbolise knowledge – their light guiding those who release it being on the right path in life. You can incorporate these and many other Thai customs into your wedding, giving a uniquely Asian flair to your wedding event.

Holiday destination for your wedding guests

Girls in the ocean on Ko Phi Phi

Turn your destination wedding into a holiday for your guests without missing out on your own honeymoon. Thailand is an awesome place to invite your friends and together you can snorkel, take Thai cookery lessons, get a massage, go jungle trekking or just hang out at the beach. You can have your wedding event with some days planned together and then encourage your guest to explore Thailand themselves while you, separately, embark on your honeymoon vacation too.

Modern and Chic Resorts

4seasonsKohSamui2

Whether you are planning an opulent wedding, or a budget wedding next to bamboo bungalows, there are some wonderfully designed resorts over Thailand. There are many award winning resorts in terms of design or if you are on a budget – plug in to the power of a local Facebook group to find a  budget gem.

Year round beach destination

Soneva Kiri Resort, Thailand
Soneva Kiri Resort, Thailand

Thailand has a rainy season between June and November but it is not at all like the monsoon season you are probably imagining. It doesn’t rain everyday and if it does rain it will only be for an hour or two. Koh Samui is ideal if you want to get married between June and November because this island is unusually dry and it only rains a lot during November. If you are planning a wedding during low season on the other coast (Krabi, Trang, Phang Nga or Phuket) then you will be getting excellent prices. Just make sure you have an indoor alternative plan and your wedding will go without a hitch.

Bangkok

Sky Bar, Bangkok
Sky Bar, Bangkok

You can make your wedding a combined city/beach break, and delight your guests by throwing a party in the chic city of Bangkok. Bangkok has some amazing private party venues including rooftop bars that are on the list of top rooftop bars of the world.

What time of year is best?

December to May is the official “hot/dry” season, but it is hot and humid all year round. It is hottest in April and you may find the heat too much in this month.

The rainy/green season lasts from June to November but it is not monsoon weather as you may imagine it. It doesn’t rain everyday and if it does, it will only be for an hour or so. If you book between June and November you will get much better rates and all you need do is make sure your venue has an indoor back up plan.

The east coast is drier than the west coast except in November when it rains for most of the month. If you want to get married on Koh Samui or surrounding islands we recommend you don’t do it in November. We hope this has given you inspiration for destination wedding in Thailand

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The History of The Lanna Kingdom

Wat Phrathat Sri Chomtong, Chiang Ma

This guide is a great accompaniment to visiting Northern Thailand, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and the surrounding cities and provinces. If you are interested in the grand history of the South East Asian region known as the ‘Lanna Kingdom’ and want to know more about the origins of the famous ‘Lanna Style’ then please read on. As usual, there is a useful map at the bottom of this guide which shows how the Lanna Kingdom looked at the height of it’s territorial reach, in relation to the country boundaries of today. Enjoy!

 What Comes Under The Umbrella Term, ‘Lanna Style’

‘Lanna’ is a melting pot of culture and crafts from many eras and ethnic groups. Architecture, masonry, bronzeware, silverware, woodcraft, textiles, weaving, sculpture, dance, cooking and an ethnic language make up a heritage that is revered and replicated in the 21st Century.

So here is a potted history told in order to whet your appetite for visiting the region and hopefully get you out of the tourist trap that is the ‘Chiang Mai/Hill Tribe Group Tour’ treadmill. This guide may encourage you to embark on a beautiful adventure back through Asian history starting in medieval times and ending with British Colonial influence and Bangkok rule.

8th-13th Century – The Roots Of Lanna

City states such as Lamphun and Lampang which are now provinces bordering Chiang Mai Province (see map) were already well established in the 9th Century. These cities were founded more than 400 years before the founding of Chiang Mai and a visit to Lampang (only 60km from Chiang Mai) to see relics more than 1,000 years old is highly recommended. If you have time, visit the other cities mentioned at the end of this guide too.

The inhabitants of Lamphun and Lampang were known as Lawa and Mon who had a rich culture. The kingdoms of Nan and Phrae to the east were also flourishing with a different array of cultural influences including the then Hindu, Khmer Empire.

In the 9th Century the first Thai (Tai) peoples also started settling in the area. They came from the north, migrating from Southern China and Northern Vietnam in large numbers. They were Chinese in ethnicity and were called the ‘Yuan.’ They are the original people referred to as ‘Thai/Tai’ and their very first kingdom started in Chiang Saen in the east of the region we are discussing.

The Yuan (Tai) people migrated south mainly due to the threat of the Mongols, the mighty warriors who ruled most of Asia at that time, and were heading south. The Yuan kingdom began in the 10th Century and a Yuan dynasty continued from then, gradually extending its territory little by little in all directions, even into what is now Lao.

The First King Of Lanna, King Mangrai

In 1260 the Mongols under the leadership of Kublai Khan sacked the historic Burmese Kingdom of Bagan (which is very close to Lamphun) and it is during this time that the future first King of Lanna started consolidating his position. His first move was to bring outlying areas that used to be part of the Bagan Kingdom under his control. The person who led this consolidation was the King of Yuan, Mangrai who had ascended to the Yuan throne in 1261. The process of conquering and consolidation began, initiated by the ambitious, highly political great war leader, King Mangrai.

We can therefore trace the creation of the Lanna Kingdom back to the Mongols and the threat they posed to the area. King Mangrai moved his base north to Chiang Rai, expanded his influence over the Southern cities of Lampang and Lamphun and brought areas in the north under his control reaching into China and Burma. In 1292 he conquered the famous Southern Mon Kingdom of Hariphunchai and so the Lanna Kingdom took shape. King Mangrai called his new enlarged kingdom ‘Lan-Na-Thai.’ (which for the purposes of this guide I will call Lanna) It translates as ‘Thai Kingdom Of A Million Rice Fields.’

 In 1287 the 3 Thai/Tai Kings of Lanna, Sukhothai, and Phayao made an alliance which led to the control of Northern Thailand by Thai kings for the next 300 years. This pact was very important for regional stability, and a golden era for Thai civilization began. However, only three years later, in 1290 Kublai Khan’s fierce Mongolian armies invaded Lanna. King Mangrai resisted with genius guerilla warfare tactics and sharp diplomatic skills.

Six year later, in 1296, Mangrai ordered a new capital city to be built which he named Chiang Mai. He saw this as the best location for the centre of his new empire, with its fertile land, which had plenty of rivers and a good climate. The city quickly flourished to become Lanna’s new centre although, Mangrai continued to live in his preferred city, Chiang Rai.

King Mangrai managed to avoid more invasions from the north through political negotiations and payment of large tributes. At the time of his death in 1317 his Lanna Kingdom covered a very large area although in the next century it would get even larger. As a great king, he brought prosperity and stability to the whole area. Many beautiful towns and temples were built during his reign, and the arts flourished. This is all very impressive for a conquering king who was at war so much of the time.

A key point to note about King Mangrai, the first King of Lanna, was that he wanted Buddhism to be an essential part of the state, and so ‘Theravada Buddhism’ became a lynch pin of the empire. After King Mangrai’s death, many kings of the Mangrai Dynasty would rule the Kingdom of Lanna, shifting administrative HQ between Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen, and Chiang Mai. Buddhism flourished and became a way of life for the people and many customs developed in this time, are still alive today.

King Tilorokarat – King of The Lanna Kingdom (1441-1485)

In 1441 King Tilorokarat (Tilok) the 9th King of Lanna was crowned and this marked the beginning of a great period of wealth, trade and religious expression. It was also a period of development for the distinctly ‘Lanna Style’ of arts, including dance, weaving, metalware and cuisine. King Tilorokarat was intensely religious in both Theravada Buddhism and the Brahman ways and he commissioned many now famous Lanna bronze Buddha images. There was large scale construction of temples and shrines many of which can still be visited today, either as working temples or as ruins.

The Kingdom of Nan and Phrae was integrated between 1443 and 1449 (not without resistance) and other land was also brought under Lanna control, reaching up into what is now China. Some of the Shan States (now Burma) were also integrated and at this point in history Lanna was the largest it ever was.

Lanna began trading extensively with neighboring kingdoms which created a more affluent lifestyle for the local inhabitants and led to more patronage of the arts by the rich. Although Lanna had many altercations with its neighbours at this time it also had a deep spiritual connection with some of them including Sukhothai and Bagan. Many of temples for instance have a similar style to Burmese or Sukhothai style temples.

In 1455 the World Buddhist Council was held in Chiang Mai which just shows how powerful the kingdom had become on a global scale.

16th Century – Lanna Kingdom’s Decline and Burmese Occupation

Lanna’s gradual decline can be marked by the death of King Kao in 1526. Large building projects had put a great strain on the royal treasury and the tax paying population. The massive ramparts built around cities for instance had cost the kingdom dearly. Government institutions began breaking down and 6 rulers took the throne in only 25 years. A long period unrest, treachery and corruption began in the kingdom.

At this point Lanna was being repeatedly attacked by Laos and Burma and finally in 1558 the Lanna Kingdom was taken by the Burmese. The Burmese conquerors broke Lanna up into several city states: Nan (1595), Phayao, Phrae, Chiang Rai (1600), Lampang (1614) and Chiang Khong (1624).

 A Burmese prince sat on the throne in Chiang Mai but other than in the tightly controlled Shan States, there was no direct colonisation by Burmese people, only annual tributes/taxes that had to be paid. The areas of Nan, Phayao and Phrae in the east were virtually independent because the Burmese rule was too weak to control the land they conquered. In this way Lanna culture survived and did not become integrated into Burmese culture despite 200 years of Burmese control..

Constant warfare however led to a huge depopulation of Lanna and the former kingdom became both economically and culturally ruined as the Burmese plundered Lanna’s riches to fuel their wars. Many towns and villages were abandoned and the much of the region became derelict. More than 100 years later in a monumental victory, in 1767 the Burmese occupied the Siamese kingdom in the south called ‘Ayutthaya,’ which bordered the Lanna Kingdom. After this massive victory for the Burmese, the old Lanna nobility decided to combine their resources with other Thai Kingdoms in order to defeat the very powerful but overstretched Burmese.

King Taksin of Thonburi to the rescue (1734-1782)

Taksin was a Thai/Chinese man who led the liberation of Siam (Ayutthaya and surrounding Thai Kingdoms) from Burmese occupation. By the 1770’s, the Siamese commoner turned king, unified the scattered Siamese people and created a large army which pushed the Burmese out of Siam forever. In 1775, Taksin’s armies and the armies of the Lanna noble, Prince Kawilla of Lampang, ousted the Burmese from key Lanna territory.  Kawilla was crowned king of a new, but smaller Lanna Kingdom and from then on taxes were paid by the Lanna kings to Siam.

King Kawila – King of The Lanna Kingdom

King Kawila, with support from Bangkok, rejuvenated Chiang Mai. He resettled a lot of the population from rural areas into Chiang Mai City and restored important buildings and temples built during the Mangrai dynasty.  Although Lanna was now a tributary kingdom of Bangkok, Kawila was trusted to govern his kingdom without obstruction. King Kawila worked hard to resurrect Lanna cultures and traditions, such as the coronation ceremony, important Buddhist ceremonies, Lanna celebrations, music, dances and crafts. He dressed in the full Lanna costume as the kings of the Mangrai Dynasty had once done and his dynasty ruled Lanna for more than a hundred years under the gentle support of Bangkok.

Lanna Resurges Again Under Siam’s Gaze

Although King Kawila initiated an enormous Lanna revival, the whole kingdom was in a state of disrepair and it was not until 1804 that the last of the Burmese were kicked out of the furthest corners of the kingdom which is 30 years after Chiang Mai was liberated. From 1810 the Lanna Kingdom finally went through a resurgence, once again enjoying peace and prosperity, especially the nobility. There were still small border disputes but Lanna had support from their Southern Siamese protectors at these times. While Burma was bogged down with internal conflict and war with the British, the Lanna Kingdom, gradually assimilated more and more Siamese customs, including their language.

The Lanna Kingdom in the 19th and Early 20th Century

In 1884 provincial status was imposed on the Lanna Kingdom by Siam and the Lanna kings were made into mere city mayors. All this was most probably pushed through quickly due to the threat of the British who by 1885 had full control of Burma. British influence came to the Shan states first and in then in Lanna itself. British companies arrived in Lanna to exploit the teak forests and brought Burmese and Karen (Chinese/Tibetan tribal people living in Burma) workers into Lanna all of which had a big impact on the culture of the region.

Meanwhile, alongside this growing colonial influence (which can especially be seen in the architecture of Chiang Mai),  Siam was also increasing its control. Siamese nobility was installed over the ‘northern provinces,’ (what had been called the Lanna Kingdom until 1884) and in 1886 Princess Dararasmi of Lanna was married to the King of Siam as a symbol of union. In 1893, Lanna was formally annexed into the Kingdom of Siam. When democracy came to Siam in 1932, the monarchy in Lanna ended for good replaced by a government appointed by the central Thai government.

The Legacy of Princess Dararasmi

The final piece of this story goes back to the famous Princess Dararasmi who married the King of Siam in 1886. Several years after the King of Thailand died, Princess Dararasmi took up residence again in Chiang Mai. She played a key role in reviving traditional performing arts in the area formally known as Lanna and taught folk and classical dance, music and handicraft skills to school children in the region.

While the region was gradually assimilated into the country of Thailand, she actively encouraged a renaissance of Lanna culture, which helped to keep it alive in the heart and minds of the locals throughout the rapid modernisation of the area in the 20th Century. Before the arrival of the train to Chiang Mai in 1912, travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai had taken 3 weeks and suddenly the region was opened up to the modern world and it transformed rapidly.

Lanna Culture Remains Alive Today

We can see that throughout the years, despite multiple invasions, great expansion and contractions, virtual abandonment by the people and annexation by foreign kingdoms, the Lanna culture which began it’s slow bloom from the 9th century and officially began in 1292 is still very much alive today, With key influences from Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhism, Mon Culture, Animlalism and Hindu religions, Burmese culture, Chinese culture and also influence from its Thai neighbour, Sukhothai, and later Ayutthaya, the Lanna culture blossomed into a wonderful artistic and cultural style that is loved and revered all over the world today.

As a part of the Kingdom of Thailand the Lanna cities of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Saen, Payao, and Nan are all administered by Thai governors and officials, just like the rest of Thailand. However, the legacy of 1,000 years of history is stunningly beautiful in its complexity, making Lanna, and Chiang Mai in particular, one of the most visited historical cities in the whole of Asia.

The area is totally modernised today and after the first train and roads were built between 1912 and 1922 progress happened fast. However, there are still some amazing gems to be seen in all the cities of old Lanna and Chiang Mai’s old city is hurtling towards UNESCO World Heritage status. We hope this brief history of Lanna has thoroughly whetted your appetite for your visit to Northern Thailand.

Map of the Lanna Kingdom and present day Northern Thailand
The map on the left shows the Lanna Kingdom in blue in 1317 at the end of the reign of the first King of Lanna, King Mangrai. The map on the right shows the major cities of the current Northern Thailand. All areas except the yellow area used to be part of the Lanna Kingdom.

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The basics of visiting and having fun on Koh Phi Phi

Phi Phi Viewpoint

Koh Phi Phi Don (or Phi Phi Island as it is often called) is a beautiful small island which has a vibrant, young nightlife and fantastic beaches. However staying here will come at a price. –  There are crowds, everything is more expensive and the Thai smile is seen less and less. However Phi Phi remains a must-see destination and provided you know which area is best for eating, sleeping and partying, having fun on Koh Phi Phi should be easy.

What exactly is Koh Phi Phi?

Pronounced as Ko Pee Pee, Ko Phi Phi is an archipelago of six islands set in between Phuket and the Krabi mainland in Southern Thailand. It is around a one hour flight from Bangkok to Phuket or Krabi and you take the ferry from those towns. There are several ferries a day from both locations which take less than 2 hours. Only one island has accommodation, and this island is called Koh Phi Phi Don. Phi Phi Don is 8 km in length and 3.5 km wide so is actually pretty small. It looks breathtaking as you approach from the sea. Pure white sand framed by dramatic cliffs and surrounded by water that’s a beautiful shade of turquoise. Most of its 28 square kilometres is forested hills, while its edges are fringed with white sandy beaches and tall limestone cliffs.

The 2 famous bays of Koh Phi Phi

A long flat sandy strip connects the mountainous east and west of the island, scalloped into the much photographed double bays of Ton Sai and Loh Dalum. (or Ao Ton Sai and Ao Loh Dalum as they are also called)

One side of this scallop is Ton Sai Bay, where the pier is and where most boat activity happens. If you think about all the food and hotel supplies that must be shipped in, you can imagine how busy this beach is. There are some nice restaurants here though and it is still pretty. Between the 2 beaches is the busy Ton Sai Village, where most of the hostels and cheaper accommodations are, plus there are tonnes of shops. Walking through the alleyways takes you to Lo Dalam beach, the other scalloped bay, a pretty area and the island’s main party scene.

The Scalloped bays of Ton Sai and Lo Dalam
The Scalloped bays of Ton Sai and Lo Dalam

Getting There

Ferries leave from Phuket and Krabi daily (from Krabi three ferries a day at 09:00, 13:30, and 15:00 and from Phuket at 09:00, 11:00, and 14:30 (11:00 during high-season only). Tickets can be purchased online or from most local hotels and tourist offices or down at the port. If you buy in advance a minivan will take you from your hotel to the port.

I hear Koh Phi Phi is ruined?

All the islands of Koh Phi Phi are technically part of a marine National Park, but the millions of visitors have taken a toll over the years. 25 years ago there was one boat a week to the island and only a few dozen tourist bungalows. Now there are more than 150 hotels/resorts and 15 hostels. However, although it is crowded, it is not as developed as Koh Samui or Phuket and the are no lady bars or stripper poles which is a major bonus for a lot of people. Having fun on Koh Phi Phi is not seedy like other destinations.

In 2013 the island’s visitor arrival numbers were 2.5 million for that year, including day-trippers and since this is a national park, for the main island there is clearly a lack of a sustainable plan which worries many. So when you are there, treat this lovely little island with a bit of respect and put your cans, plastic and cigarette butts in the bins. With a bit of politeness you will also see the Thai smile, which has been lost by some of the weary island workers. Some of the most famous bars and restaurants before the Tsunami of 2004 have been rebuilt and are still the most famous today which makes a lot of people very proud too.

Ton Sai Village

Ton Sai village is FULL to the brim with guesthouses, hotels, bars, restaurants, tailors, tattoo shops, travel agents, ATMs, mini-marts and many stalls. There are some lovely jewellery and handmade clothes to be found – all overpriced of course, but fabulous. Shopping can be really fun. Tourists are loudly touted diving trips, places to stay and eat and it can all get a bit much but it can also be fun too. From this village you can book many activities including rock climbing, fishing, diving, snorkelling, island hopping and cliff jumping.

The ultimate party beach Lo Dalam

Once the sun sets on the island, the volume gets turned up, and the main area of the island becomes a young and silly party playground offering some awesomely entertaining events such as live music and fire shows. Follow the crowds down to the beach and get involved with the music, the cocktails and also the famous alcohol fueled buckets which are great for sharing. Fire shows happen nightly and never cease to be wonderful. Many of the young Thai guys have been honing their craft for years so it’s really impressive most of the time. There is also lots of nightlife in other areas around the 2 bays, a few up in the hills and in the village too.

The famous Thai bucket

Should I go to Koh Phi Phi?

Along with the full moon party on Koh Phangan, Phi Phi Island, is one of the most talked about places in Southeast Asia for those under 30. With its natural beauty and reputation for great beach parties it has put itself firmly on the tourist trail. If you don’t plan to sleep until 4 am then stay wherever you like, but if you want to sleep quietly read the reviews of places first and try the lovely places nestled up in the hills. You can do 5 star seclusion too but that’s for another blog.

Limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, white sand beaches and miles of trackless forest make Phi Phi a perfect tropical island. Overcrowding and over drinking in the main areas sometimes causes an unusually aggressive atmosphere for Thailand but keep your wits about you, keep smiling and you will love it.

Ton Sai Beach, Phi Phi Island
Ton Sai Beach where the Pier is – still pretty, right?

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the basics of visiting Koh Phi Phi PI

All images courtesy of Flickr.com. Featured image by Don Kullez, cloudy photo from viewpoint by Gregg Knapp, Thai Sangsom Bucket by Leah Gregg and Tonsai Bay by Fabio Achilli1

 

 

Thailand Bloggers to follow

So you want to know all about Thailand? There are many top notch bloggers who are totally worth following. Some (like me) live here, some lived here but left recently, but their Thailand blogs ares still relevant and helpful, and then their are the long term travel bloggers, who come and go, but give a unique and often funny take on travelling in Thailand. Here is a list of blogs we love to follow and share that are all about Thailand, or have a great blog category on Thailand.

Alex in Wanderland

Paper Planes

Expique

Bangkok Glutton

8 Mile from Home

Oilinki

Tieland to Thailand

Jamie’s Phuket Blog

Richard Barrow

She Simmers

Sirinya’s Thailand

Mark Wiens – Eating Thai Food

The Travallure

Tom Yam Thailand

The Thaizer

That’s our top picks for Thailand bloggers to follow – if you know of any more, we would love to hear about them

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Essential Travelling Tips for Thailand

Pak Meng Beach, Trang, Thailand

Thailand is a long haul, exotic holiday destination and a lot of folks over prepare for the event, acting like they are on their way to visit an alien world. Chill! Don’t worry! There really is no need to over do you preparation plans. There are ATMS, mini marts, shopping malls, pharmacies, taxis and English speakers everywhere. Other than getting a few vaccinations a month before and wearing mosquito spray just before dusk each evening you are there – there really isn’t anything you need to do other than book your flight and pack your bag. You don’t even need a visa (for up to a month stay) Here are some essential travelling tips for Thailand

Consider Emirates or Thai Airways for your flight

If you are flying in from Europe, the two best options for flights are Emirates or Thai Airways. Emirates is very comfortable and you get a nice 2 hour or 3 hour stop in Dubai to stretch your legs. Thai Airways is also a great choice because you can fly direct from Europe to Bangkok in around 11 hours. The food and service is very good. The seats are not as spacious as Emirates, but the bar is much better.

Once you arrive in Bangkok, we have a nice blog for you about how to get into and around the city of Bangkok or transfer to the domestic airport. Thai Airways domestic flights actually leave from the main airport, so that is also another reason to consider this carrier, as you don’t have to change airports in Bangkok for domestic travel.

Be prepared for the hot weather

Thailand has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 23 – 38 degrees depending on which month you visit in. Not only is the sun very hot, but it is also extremely humid throughout the day and night. I would avoid travelling during the hottest month of April unless you really want to sweat it.

The best time of year to visit would be from November to February as the temperatures drop slightly and the air isn’t as humid. June to October is rainy season, but don’t be put off. It doesn’t rain all the time and you can get great deals during this time. Whether you love being outdoors or not, wear sun cream to protect your skin and stay hydrated with plenty of water.

Learn basic Thai phrases, especially thank you

Knowing a few Thai words is not necessary in tourist areas because in these areas most Thais know basic or advanced English. However, you always get a nice big smile for trying! Try sawat dee kha/krap (hello), chan mai khao jai (I don’t understand), kau thot kha/khap (excuse me/I’m sorry), and khap khun kha/krap (thank you).

You can also try the ‘Wai’ which is a great way to begin or end a conversation especially someone who is old. Bring your hands into prayer position with the tips of your fingers at the level of the tip of your nose, then bow your head. It’s a very polite and respectful way to say hello and goodbye and fun to try.

Play by the rules

Like every other country, Thailand has its own rules, customs and culture. The majority of Thai people are Buddhists so when you visit temples, make sure you dress appropriately by covering your shoulders and knees and taking off your shoes before you enter, because they are always working temples (sometimes with monks living there) and so you should treat the whole area with respect.

Try cover up a little when you leave the beach or pool area, especially in the south of Thailand, because the islands can be up to 80% Muslim. The same goes for public displays of affection. it is polite to keep it to hand holding, as although a Thai would not say anything, full on passionate kissing in public is not the done thing.

It is best not to raise your voice if you are exasperated or angry, as this comes across really badly – even worse than in your home country. There is very little chance that you would get angry in this happy country, but if things are not going well, take a deep breath and smile through resolving the problem, speak slowly and explain the issue in a different way as it may be a language barrier problem.

Shopping Etiquette

Thailand has many options when it comes to shopping, but not all of them are appropriate for bartering. If you are in a market, then go ahead, but in a regular shop, the ticket price is what you should pay. There are lots outdoor markets which sell clothes, souvenirs, handmade goods, food and other various items. Often, at these markets, you can bargain with the sellers so don’t always take the first price that you’re offered. If you walk away and you are not called back, then the seller was not willing to go as low as you wanted. Be respectful and refuse politely if you’re not happy with the price that you’re offered.

One thing which is great about Thailand is that there are always sales at the shopping malls, so if you prefer shopping in an air con mall environment then Siam Paragon, MBK or Central World are great places in Bangkok to take advantage of the sales.

Romancing a Thai

If you are in a tourist area and get approached romantically by a massage worker, bar staff, or tour guides, take good care. There are some Thais who top up their income by having many holiday romances and deploy tried and tested methods to make money from you. Even a few hundred dollars will go a long way especially if the day after you leave, the scam starts all over again. If you want to have a holiday romance, just keep your eyes open and your wits about you.

It might well be that the handsome Thai man has fallen hopelessly in love with you, but it’s best to take it slowly, or just enjoy the experience as fun. If you feel that the man or woman is getting possessive my advice would be to back off immediately – just as you would in your own country.

That’s it for a quick hit on essential tips for Thailand. If you have any questions, you can contact us using the contact form on this site – have a great holiday in Thailand!

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6 Awesome Books About Thailand For Your Travels and New Life

  • Travellers’ Tales Thailand: True Stories by James O’Reilly (Editor) (2009)
  • Thai Ways by Denis Segaller (2005)
  • Bangkok Found: Reflections On The City ’by Alex Kerr (2011)
  • Culture Shock Thailand: A Survival Guide to Customs &; Etiquette’ by Robert Cooper, Nanthapa Cooper (2005)
  • Next Life in the Afternoon: A Journey Through Thailand’ by Carl Weaver (2012)
  • Fieldwork’ by Mischa Berlinski (2009)

<img class=”alignleft wp-image-444 size-medium” src=”http://thailandtravelbag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Travellers-tailes-191×300.jpg” alt=”Traveller’s Tales Thailand” width=”191″ height=”300″ /></strong></strong><b></b>

 

style=”text-align: left;”>href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Life-Afternoon-Journey-Thailand-ebook/dp/B0096SLRUO/”>

Travelers’ Tales Thailand: True Stories</b></a><strong><strong>

<p style=”text-align: left;”><b>by James O’Reilly (Editor) (2009)</b>

<p style=”text-align: left;”>This collection of personal stories paints a unique portrait of Thailand, a complex and captivating land. One contributor lives as a monk for a month, another discovers Bangkok’s riverine pleasures, a world away from its car-choked streets. Yet another finds refuge as the houseguest of an isolated tribesman. Through these engaging personal stories, with this book about Thailand readers witness how Thailand satisfies just about any traveller’s hunger for the exotic and the beautiful.<p style=”text-align: left;”><p>

 

<p style=”text-align: left;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thai-Ways-Denis-Segaller-ebook/dp/B00I06TMFU/”><b><img class=”alignleft wp-image-449″ src=”http://thailandtravelbag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ThaiWays2.jpg” alt=”Thai Ways” width=”191″ height=”291″ /></b></a></p>

<p style=”text-align: left;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thai-Ways-Denis-Segaller-ebook/dp/B00I06TMFU/”>#

<b>Thai Ways</b></a></p>

&nbsp;

<p style=”text-align: left;”><b>by Denis Segaller (2005) </b></p>
&nbsp;
<p style=”text-align: left;”>This is a delightful collection of nearly everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Thai customs and beliefs, engagingly explained in a grandfatherly way by a long-time English resident of Thailand. The stories in this book about Thailand demystify constructs like the system of royal ranks and the Thai musical scale, and customs like the Loi Krathong festival.<p style=”text-align: left;”><p>
&nbsp;
<p style=”text-align: left;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bangkok-Found-Alex-Kerr-ebook/dp/B006FROX50/”><b>
<img class=”alignleft wp-image-452 size-medium” src=”http://thailandtravelbag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/BangkokFound-197×300.jpg” alt=”BangkokFound” width=”197″ height=”300″ /></b></a></p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bangkok-Found-Alex-Kerr-ebook/dp/B006FROX50/”>#
&nbsp;
<b>Bangkok Found: Reflections On The City</b></a></p>
&nbsp;
<p style=”text-align: left;”><b>by Alex Kerr (2011)</b></p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Evocative and incisive, this book about Bangkok looks deep within traditional culture to discover how Bangkok is like no other contemporary city. It’s the book you read after you’ve seen the temples and enjoyed the nightlife – and then start to wonder where the mysterious appeal of Bangkok really lies.</p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Culture-Shock-Thailand-Survival-Etiquette/dp/1558689419/”><b><img class=”alignleft wp-image-453″ src=”http://thailandtravelbag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/culture-shock.jpg” alt=”culture shock” width=”189″ height=”319″ /></b></a></p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”><a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Culture-Shock-Thailand-Survival-Etiquette/dp/1558689419/”><b>Culture Shock! Thailand: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette</b></a></p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”><b>by Robert Cooper, Nanthapa Cooper (2005)</b></p>
<p style=”text-align: left;”>This book about Thailand explains the customs, traditions, social and business etiquette in a lively and informative style. The books in this series have a friendly and honest writing style and are full of personal experiences, practical advice and useful information. It contains: insights into the people and their culture and traditions; advice on adapting into the local environment; linguistic help and hints on how to learn the language and do business.</p>
&nbsp;

&nbsp;

<a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Life-Afternoon-Journey-Thailand/dp/1475249853/”><b><img class=”alignleft wp-image-456 size-medium” src=”http://thailandtravelbag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/NextLifeintheafternoon-200×300.jpg” alt=”NextLifeintheafternoon” width=”200″ height=”300″ /></b></a>

&nbsp;

&nbsp;

<a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Life-Afternoon-Journey-Thailand/dp/1475249853/”><b>Next Life in the Afternoon: A Journey Through Thailand</b></a>

<b>by Carl Weaver (2012)</b>

This reads like a novel but this book about Thailand is the true story of what happens when the author’s plans to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Thailand are derailed after he has arrived in the country. This is spiritual, funny, at times irreverent, and full of personal lessons learned along the way.

&nbsp;

&nbsp;

&nbsp;

<a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fieldwork-Mischa-Berlinski/dp/1843547651/”><b><img class=”alignleft wp-image-454 size-medium” src=”http://thailandtravelbag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Fieldwork-196×300.jpg” alt=”Fieldwork” width=”196″ height=”300″ /></b></a>

 

<a href=”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fieldwork-Mischa-Berlinski/dp/1843547651/”><b>Fieldwork</b></a>

<b>by Mischa Berlinski (2009)</b>

This novel is a brilliantly original and page-turning story of anthropologists, missionaries, demon possession, sexual taboos, murder, and one obsessed young American reporter in Thailand. If you were to buy one novel about Thailand, this should be it.

 

Recommended Party Places on Koh Phi Phi Island

PP Princess Pool Party, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Despite the limited land-area, Koh Phi Phi stellar night time entertainment mainly directed at the under 30’s. It’s laid back, fun and not sleazy. The island comes to life at night, and there is live music, DJ’s, fire shows, party games, Thai boxing and buckets local cocktails. We’ve made a solid list of the best bars and clubs to help get your party started. Enjoy!

PP Princess Pool Party – Koh Phi Phi

PP Princess Pool Party, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

This is a really fun day time party place on Koh Phi Phi – if you’re not staying at the resort then it’s 200 baht entrance to unless it’s PP Princess Pool Party Day (normally Fridays) in which case it’s free to get in and they’ve got the place decked out. Guest DJ’s bring fresh tunes and extra bars are set up around the area. The swim up bar is very cool and if you’re feeling hungry then the resorts restaurant has a standard menu of Thai and Western food. At the Friday pool parties they set up a small Barbecue.

Reggae Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Phi Phi Reggae Bar can be summed up in one phrase – ‘Muay Thai with Margaritas.’ It is one of the longest-established night spots on Koh Phi Phi and is located in the village near to Jordan’s Irish Pub. Reggae Bar is a large venue featuring music, five bars, pool tables, and in the centre: a Thai boxing ring. Every night professional demonstrations are held, but spectators are also invited to fight in the ring for fun nightly too.

The bar is laid back but can become rowdy as the night proceeds. Fighting kicks off at around 9pm but if you are drinking it may be wise to leave the gloves off and simply enjoy the show. For those who fancy their chances in the ring, bear in mind that getting into any boxing ring when drunk is dumb. Drinks are quite expensive here compared to other bars.

Sunflower Beach Bar & Restaurant – Koh Phi Phi

Sunflower Beach Bar and Restaurant, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Sun Flower Beach Bar & Restaurant is a relaxed beach bar and a great place to watch the sunset and spend the evening. Situated at the north end of Loh Dalum bay, it has hammocks and mats set around a bamboo bar. The ambiance could not be more laid-back.

There’s a boat on site which has guest rooms within it and the main part of the bar is underneath. There’s also a charming overgrown garden. Drink prices are reasonable, the food has a great reputation and the chilled out music is very good. In the evening, fire shows and acoustic live music are performed.  Sun Flower is the perfect place to escape from the noise.

Relax Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Relax Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

This big bar has a Thai style feel to it, with big wooden furniture and high ceilings. Relax Bar is actually a Skandonavian themed bar. This bar tends to stay open later than most other bars as well so drop by for wind down drinks on the way home.

Carlito’s Beach Bar & Nightclub – Koh Phi Phi

Carlito’s Beach Bar and Nightclub is a buzzing night spot located along the path leading to the eastern end of Tonsai Bay. With the reputation of being Phi Phi’s first bar, it is definitely one of the oldest party places on Koh Phi Phi Island. At Carlito’s, people can enjoy the famous ‘bucket, watch a fire show and they can also dance on the very big dance floor. Carlito’s captures Koh Phi Phi’s vivacious atmosphere and is worth checking out. It is the place to go if you are sociable and love noisy parties.

 Banana Rooftop Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Banana Rooftop Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Banana Rooftop Bar in Tonsai Village is set on the roof of the Sombrero Mexican Restaurant. The terrace of the building has great views over Loh Dalum – including stunning sunsets – and houses half a dozen of bamboo salas provided with cushions and mats. Two bars – also made of bamboo – serve cocktails,beers and spirits. Fire shows and even hula hoop contests are performed in the evening, making the venue a great place to party.

The upper decking of the bar provides 360 degree views of the village and bays surrounding. Just after sunset the deck chairs are scattered on the soon to be dance floor and a movie is played. The movies closing credits blend into music videos and the partying begins.

Rolling Stoned Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Rolling Stoned Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Rolling Stoned Bar is one of the most popular night spots in Tonsai Village. Established in 2001, it hosts the best live band that performs in the entire Phi Phi group of islands – pop, blues, rock, hard rock, reggae these musicians are able to play any style right for the great pleasure of their cheering audience; they even enjoy an occasional jam with musically skillful punters. The venue has  a hippie feel with low wooden tables and floor cushions It also has four pool tables.

Carpe Diem – Koh Phi Phi 

Carpe Diem Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Carpe Diem is a great place to chill out in the evening. Located on Tonsai east beach, it has a large terrace and a wooden building with the bar and on the second floor, a terrace with cushions and low tables, and offers great views of the bay. They even lay mats and cushions on the beach in the evenings, surrounded by tea candles, to create an intimate ambiance. With cool live music, beach dance parties, and relaxed ambience, Carpe Diem is the good choice for a great evening and for mingling if you travel alone.

Slinky Beach Bar – Koh Phi Phi (4play Bar)

Slinky Beach Bar is one of the wildest parties on Koh Phi Phi. It is a large open-air disco/club set right on the beach of Loh Dalum, offering people a choice of entertainment opportunities, including dancing, a mechanical bull ride, face and body painting, fire shows, fire skipping and fire-limbo. The 10pm fire show is an extravaganza and probably the best fireshow on the island.

Cocktail buckets and other drinks are affordable, and the ambience is quite mad – yet friendly. Slinky Bar’s sound system is huge and the music played here is up to date with trendy European clubs.

Dojo Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Dojo Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

One side of this big square venue houses a bar with a large selection of quality spirits including a large variety of flavoured vodkas. The other three sides of this bar open onto the street providing the perfect place for people watching. The bar hosts a beer bong table which draws a crowd. As the night goes on, the music gets loud and it is time to hit the dance floor. This bar stays open late.

Jordan’s Irish Pub – Koh Phi Phi

With its 3-for-1 buckets and iced beer on tap, Jordan’s Irish Pub is the hub of Tonsai village’s party hub. There’s TV, pool tables, and reasonably priced drinks too. You can drink downstairs or grab an upstairs spot to chill and watch the merriment unfold outside. Sine Jordan’s Irish Pub shows major sporting events, there is a ‘football’ style with air conditioning which is handy because the place gets packed. They also serve Guiness and have an Irish themed venue.

Stockholm Syndrome – Koh Phi Phi

https://vimeo.com/76680247

Located in the centre of the village, Stockholm Syndrome has a large open front decorated with massive signs and beer pong tables and loud music constantly blaring out of it. The DJs select an array of genres from Hip-hop, RnB and Pop. Funneling drinks competitions is sometimes take place. The dance floor is illuminated by an lasers and lights with the occasional blast of the smoke machine to fog things up.  There’s a pool table and upstairs is host to a load of comfy sofas for a more chilled out lounge experience. This is one of the loudest party places on Koh Phi Phi Island.

Hippies Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Hippies Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Hippies Bar originally opened at the end of the nineties,  and is set right above the beach on a terrace filled in with low tables, mats and cushions. The building is mainly made of drift-wood and is very pretty in a hippy fashion.

Hippies Bar is the perfect place to hang on and chill-out after a busy day acd the food menu is pretty nice and not too expensive Hippies Bar becomes lively after 9pm and is more laid-back alternative to the madness in action at Slinky and Apache Beach Bar on Loh Dalum.  Don’t miss the Fool Moon party held here: they can get pretty wild, with guest DJs, dancing on the sand, as well as plenty of booze and noise.

Kong Siam – Koh Phi Phi

Kong Siam Live Bar, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Kong Siam hosts live music every night by the band also called KongSiam. The bar is quite small but has a lively atmosphere and sometimes the audience are invited to sing with the band, if they can just about hold a tune. The bar is slightly more expensive than other bars on Koh Phi Phi but with such a good band and limited capacity, that seems reasonable.

Indie Sports Bar – Koh Phi Phi

An English owned and run pub tucked down a quiet street, the music’s kept at a fairly low volume so you can still speak over it, which makes a change from most of the bars. The many TV’s around the bar are dedicated to sports, whether it be live or replays. The big games take over the speakers so don’t expect much music on the weekends. They have a foosball table which can be fun and check with the staff about other traditional pub style events such as quizzes and live music.

Ibiza Beach Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Ibiza Beach Bar, Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand

 

Sunset Bar – Koh Phi Phi

Located 10 minutes from the center of town, on the hillside overlooking Phi Phi’s party beach is a lovely bar. You couldn’t call this bar any other name, this is the best spot to watch the sunset on the island. Get here before 6pm to find a table for the sunset or if you want to escape the crowd during the day time this is a lovely place to enjoy some views during the day. The food is excellent but quite pricey and the cocktails and fresh shakes are really good.

That’s it! We hope you enjoy yourself on the delightful, tiny party island. We have also written another blog about the basics of having fun on Koh Phi Phi which gives you information on how to get there, where to stay and where everything is.

We hope you have a lovely and happy time on Koh Phi Phi Island.

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Party Places on Koh Phi Phi

 

30 safety tips for Thailand – at Koh Phi Phi, Full Moon Party and Koh San Road

Bottle of ice cold change Beer, Thailand

Everyone wants to have fun when they travel through Thailand and it is totally possible as long as you stay safe and use your common sense. Here are our top 30 safety tips for Thailand for the under 25’s

Top 10 tips for Khao San Road – for the under 25’s

  • There is no Skytrain in this area so play it safe and take a metered taxi until you are familiar with the area
  • Beware of scams. Buy onward travel and tours online or from a shop –  not off the street.
  • For really authentic Thai food, research the good ones in the area (Banglamphu), otherwise you are likely to end up with something substandard
  • Nightclubs sometimes ask to see your passport before they let you in so keep yours with you if you intend to go clubbing
  • Don’t ask tuk-tuks to do wheelies……really, it’s dangerous!
  • Keep your wits about you late at night if you are drunk
  • Even the police may not be a safe option as night turns into morning. This is one of our top safety tips for Thailand
  • If you buy anything super expensive on Khao San Road – it will either be overpriced or fake
  • Haggle!!!
  • Kids trying to sell you anything on Khao San Road should not be there. Kids are not tourist attractions.

Top 10 tips for The Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan – for the under 25’s

  • Here are the things to do 2 weeks in advance: Book your accommodation, your flights or overnight bus or train. Book the ferry/speedboat to the island, book the ferry/speedboat off the island and finally book your transport to your next destination. Last minute organisation can take the fun out of the party….
  • If you are staying outside of Haad Rin, negotiate taxi’s early and fill it up with friends otherwise it may not leave until it is full.
  • Don’t take any valuables to the party
  • Do your best to make pickpockets jobs as hard as possible, so have a zip on your bag and keep it on you at all times
  • Have a plan if you lose your friends
  • Don’t start too early – the highlight is dancing until dawn
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Another of our top safety tips for Thailand: More than 10 people die each year at The Full Moon so don’t be reckless with any aspect of your safety including swimming in the ocean, taking drugs and getting into fights
  • Don’t be too scared of the bucket – they are fun if shared – but the bar owner won’t be tight with the alcohol content – you will get merry quickly
  • Take care when playing with fire (literally) – the ropes look fun but lots of people have a nasty scar from doing that at the Full Moon Party because even a light burn heals slowly/poorly in the tropics

Top 10 tips for Koh Phi Phi Island – for the under 25’s

  • This island is small and there is no transport other than boats, so you will be walking everywhere. Learn the footpaths as soon as you can so you don’t get lost. Top safety tip for Thailand: Remember where your room is because at 3am you might find yourself wandering around alleyways with no clue as to how to find your bed.
  • If you come just after the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan you may find that there are no rooms available because this is when everyone heads to Phi Phi, but at any time of year we recommend you book your room in advance. Booking.com or HostelWorld.com have great choices.
  • Getting some sleep – Lo Dalam Beach is where the main partying happens so sleeping in this area might be noisy. Long Beach is a great option if you want some peace and quiet and don’t mind paying 150 baht each way to come in and out for the nightlife and shopping. Ton Sai Village is where the cheapest accommodation is plus there are some newer cheap bungalows up in the hills above the village.
  • Koh Phi Offers some extreme sports like cliff jumping so make sure your insurance covers you
  • Remember you are in an Asian country so:
  • Don’t go topless as a woman
  • Don’t have sex on the beach,
  • Don’t get into a fight with locals
  • Drink spiking – Some visitors have claimed they were robbed after their bucket drinks were spiked –uhhhh, you just drank enough alcohol for a month! Taking your watch and wallet from you as you lay passed out in the sand was always going to be simple.
  • Have a meeting point if you lose friends, don’t think that all Thai’s are your best mates, there is barely any police presence on the island, so just take good care of yourself – don’t get so drunk you can’t take care of yourself if left alone.

Most of all – be confident, well planned, ready to party safely – be polite, even if it is late at night even if you feel unsafe. If in doubt, walk away. Stay in a small group… wander off during the day time.

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30 safety tips for thailand - David McKelvey - PI

David McKelvey, Featured Image from Flickr.com