The island called Phuket is surrounded by dozens of little islands and this archipelago is large and beautiful. Much of it is national park area and is a diver’s paradise. Here we list our top picks of small islands around Phuket, primarily for day trips. We are listing them alphabetically and leaving of ‘koh’ at the beginning of the name, which means island. As usual there is a helpful map at the bottom of this blog
Koh Bon is a beautiful little island that is quick and easy to reach, and so is perfect to take a boat for a day or half day of sunbathing and swimming. Koh Bon is only a 15 minute boat ride from the Phuket area called Rawai. The white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, make Koh Bon and ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. There is a lovely little beach side restaurant called ‘Bon’ here, which is the only commercial enterprise currently open on Koh Bon. This restaurant is a simple place but world famous for existing on a deserted island paradise.
Koh Maphrao or Coconut Island is only a 600m boat ride from the Laem Hin Pier area of Phuket. It is a small, unspoiled island, with mangrove forests and palm-fringed sandy beaches. It currently has only two resorts built on it and a small local population. Between Phuket and Koh Maphrao are floating restaurants, which are worth a lunch time visit. If you don’t want to stay at the resorts here, it is perfect for a full day or half day trip away from the main island of Phuket. Coconut island is also great for kayaking especially around the mangroves.
Koh Hae is well known for its coral reef so it is often referred to as Coral island. In addition to the excellent reefs there are two beaches here called Long Beach and Banana Beach and also some hotels, restaurants and watersports companies. Boats leave from Rawai and Chalong. Koh Hae can be reached by speedboat in around 15 minutes. This island gets busy during the day with day trippers, but it is still a lovely place to visit. Since it is close the the main island of Phuket, it is perfect for a day trip, or you could consider staying at one of the resorts.
Koh Dok Mai is a little limestone outcrop located just over 1 hours boat ride east of Phuket. In Thai its name means “Flower Island” and it gets this name from the stunning “flowers/coral” that lie beneath the surface of the water. Koh Dok Mai is a well-known dive site since it has one of the best wall dives in the area.
Koh Khai Nok is a very pretty island off the east coast of Phuket. It is has a pristine white sandy beach and is surrounded by a shallow reef which is ideal for snorkeling, even for kids. The water is very clear here and wonderful to photograph. Koh Khai Nok is uninhabited and only used for day trips, however there is a restaurant on the island. It only takes around 15 minutes by speedboat to get to the island, or 30 minutes in a longtail boat. It is a great place for relaxing on the beach, swimming and snorkeling. Again, it can get busy with day trippers so you could arrange for a private boat to take you there early to miss the crowds.
There are two Khaeo Islands one big/yai and one small/noi. At Koh Kaeo Yai you can see a replica of Buddha’s holy footprint on the beach and also a large and very beautifully situated Buddha statue, that looks back towards Phuket. The Koh Kaeo islands are a few hundred metres offshore from Phuket and is a great spot for snorkeling and kayaking. These two islands can be seen from Promthep Cape viewpoint on Phuket.
This large, mountainous island is only 20 minutes by boat from Chalong Bay, in the south of Phuket but is very secluded and undeveloped. There are lots of Thai inhabitants here who make their living from fishing, rubber and coconuts. If you are after some serious relaxing a visit to the island is an ideal way to do that. The best place for relaxing is the island’s northwest tip where a couple of tranquil resorts offer bathrooms and food. Koh Lohn is also great for trekking along the interior trails or along its beaches at low tide.
This tiny island off Phuket’s southeast coast has fine white beaches and crystal clear water; ideal for swimming, diving, snorkeling, diving or fishing. There are only two resorts here, is the 5 star Mai Ton Island Resort and the Honeymoon Island hotel. Koh Mai Ton, is 9 kms from Phuket and is perfect for lazing around in the sun for the day. You can take a boat from Ao Makham Port in Phuket.
There are two Naka Islands one big/yai and one small/noi. They are 20 minutes by long tail boat from Phuket. Koh Naka Yai is the larger of the two islands with beautiful views across Phang Nga Bay. Koh Naka Noi is situated south of the larger island and is also known as the “pearl island”
There are two Koh Racha’s – one big/yai and one small/noi. Koh Racha Yai and Noi are a 35-minute speedboat ride from Chalong Bay in Phuket. Those with a passion for diving should have the Racha Islands on their list of dive sites for sure. Both islands have wonderful clear water, snorkelling opportunities and perfect white sand. It can get busy with dive boats so if you want some peace, arrive earlier in the morning. Ko Racha Noi has an area of 3.06 square kilometres (1.18 sq mi) and Ko Racha Yai has an area of 4.5 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi). There is a luxury 5 star on Koh Racha call The Racha.
There are two Koh Rang’s – one big/yai and one small/noi. Koh Rang Yai is a peaceful island lying about 5 kms off the east coast of Phuket and is covered in rainforest. Its western side has a 1 km long beach with fine white sand. The shady, tree-lined interior has several paths along which you can walk around. It is perfect for a day trip, when relaxing is what you have in mind. There are a variety of activities to do such as kayaking, windsurfing, mountain biking, mini-golf and volleyball.
Separated from the mainland of Phuket by a shallow mangrove swamp, this island is connected by a causeway to the east side of Phuket City, and so feels more like a cape than an island. Infact because you can walk/drive here a lot of people don’t realise they have left the mainland.
This is a quiet backwater with little development, and a string of coarse sand beaches. While the beaches here are not perfect, they make up for it with tranquillity. There is just a single hotel on this island, the luxurious Westin Siray Resort. It has its own beach and a small headland to give it elevation, and has great sunset views over nearby Phuket City.
Driving along Koh Siray’s leafy coastal road with its rubber plantations is a pleasure. There is an abalone farm that hosts a very nice restaurant with views out over Phuket’s east coast islands. Wat Koh Sirey, is a large temple on the hill and has a large reclining Buddha. This vantage point also provides lovely views of the area. Phuket’s largest settlement of Sea Gipsies or Chao Lay as they are known, is found on Koh Siray. They have their own unique culture and language and there are not many settlements left any more. Ko Sirey’s area is 8.8 square kilometres (3.4 sq mi)
That’s our top picks of little islands that can be found around the big island of Phuket, we hope you enjoyed it and can use it to pick your trips out on the Andaman sea. Here is a map to help you locate your paradise tropical island near to Phuket!
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Images courtesy of Flickr and Wikepedia – Featured image of Koh Lon by Cruiser Island Resort, Koh Bon by Del Adams, Coral Island by Kevin Poh, Koh Dok Mai by asiva. Koh Kai Nok by Diego DelsoWikimediaCommonsLicense CC-BY-SA 3.0, view over Koh Kaeo by %%%%, Koh Racha Yai by Eustaquio Santimano and Koh Siray by Westin
The Thai province of Krabi has 15 amazing beaches on the mainland (7 are described here), and it also has 3 wonderful island groups which are world famous. Krabi Province is this writer’s favourite part of Thailand too. Many people come on holiday to the Krabi area and don’t have much idea where they are, so this blog is here to help. It has a simple map at the bottom showing the beaches and islands and also has a clear description of the best beach locations in Krabi Province. We start at the top of the map and work our way down the coastline so it is easy for you to follow. Enjoy!
TubKaek beach is a quiet place about 30 minutes drive north of Aonang and a 40 minute drive from Krabi Town. The accommodations are nearly all 5 star, self-contained resorts that are right on the beach, making it one of the best beach locations in Krabi Province. With restaurants, spas and shops within the grounds, there is no need to ever leave the the resort, which is lucky because apart from the hotels there is very little here. TubKaek is perfect for those who want a quiet, luxury break, but it is still possible to do all the local tours from here, such as kayaking, the 4 islands tour, the hot springs and the Tiger Cave Temple. There are also shuttle buses to Aonang so that you can go shopping and try cuisine outside of your hotel.
Conversely, since there are no private beaches allowed in Thailand, and this beach is open to anyone, if you are staying in busy Aonang and want to head out for the day, give TubKaek a try because it has a private beach feel. Swimming is not particularly good as the coast is quite rocky and shallow but it is fine for swimming at high tide.
There is a stunning little National Park at Tubkaek Beach where there is a forest walk to a waterfall and you can continue further to the peak of a mountain with amazing views. The mountain trek takes 2 – 3 hours but is well worth it if you are fit and healthy.
And did you know that this was the beach used for filming the wedding in Hangover 2?
Klong Muang Beach
Less than 1km south of TubKaek Beach is Klong Muang Beach. This is my least favourite beach of Krabi Province because there is a quarry at the top end and so the little road running through the area has lots of lorries travelling back and forth. You won’t notice this if you stay in your resort, which will most likely be a self contained 5 star resort, but if you wander around the little village it will become apparent.
Klong Muang Beach does have stunning views and lovely sunsets and this beach is strewn with excellent resorts such as The Sheraton and Sofitel. There is more of a village atomosphere here than TubKaek, but again, come here if you want peace and tranquility in a luxury setting.
Nopparat Thara Beach
Noppharat Thara is a a 5km long sandy beach, which you can walk to from Aonang Beach. It is split into two halves by a river. The side closest to Aonang is the most developed because it has the coastal road running alongside it. Access to the other half of the beac is by longtail boat or by a dirt track off the Klong Muang road and is very secluded as a location.
The main beach itself has very few resorts and is a favourite of Thais who come here to sit under the trees with a picnic, but there are plenty of guesthouses in the village nearby which is a good location for longstay travellers and budget conscious expats. Noppharat Thara beach is wonderful for walking at low tide and has lovely sunsets too. There are also some really good local seafood restaurants here.
Nopparat Thara Beach is 18km from Krabi Town and 28km from the airport and is a 2 minutes drive from Ao Nang, or a nice walk. In high season there are tourist ferry connections from Noppharat Thara Pier to the islands of Phi Phi, Lanta and Phuket and you can also arrange all the longtail day trips from here too.
Ao Nang is the centre of the tourist scene on the Krabi mainland, with lots of hustle and bustle near the main beachfront road, You’ll find souvenir shops, clothing shops, art galleries, spas, tour agents, and ATM machines along this stretch, as well as restaurants, bars and a huge range of hotels, some of which are really lovely despite Aonang being developed quickly and without much planning.
The quietest and prettiest part of the beach is beyond where the longtail boats dock, it is a lovely strip with a beautiful steep cliff as a backdrop and is great for swimming all year round. The view across the whole 3km wide beach is stunning especially at sunset, in fact it is one of the best sunset locations on Thailand. Despite it being a busy resort town, you won’t find the beach clogged up with hawkers and jet skis like you do in Phuket, and despite all the hustle and bustle, the area remains friendly and safe.
The tourists in Ao Nang are mixed; it is family friendly but there is also a small area of bars that are hosted by bar girls. Aonang also has a vibrant live music scene that plays until 1am. As mentioned in earlier sections, many people stay here or even in nearby Krabi Town to make use of the cheaper accommodation and then set off each day to see other, more exotic/secluded locations, such as the 4 island tour and The Railay Peninsula.
If you find the main strip of Aonang a little mediocre, there are some gems to be found nestled in the hills behind, such as The Hilltop Restaurant which is a stunning location and excellent food. There are also sunset cruises and booze cruises run from Aonang which are enjoyable too.
Railay is a beautiful peninsula between Krabi Town and Ao Nang, on the mainland, however you can only get to it by boat due to high cliffs cutting off access. It’s only 15 minutes from the mainland by boat, but once you arrive you feel very secluded. This area is extremely beautiful and increasingly expensive, however you can find some cheapish accommodation and some really fun nightlife too. Accommodation ranges from fan aired bungalows on Tonsai Beach, 2, 3 and 4 star resorts at East Railay, many amazing 4 and 5 star resorts on West Railay, plus the infamous 5* resort called Rayawadee.
There are three beaches on the peninsula, Tonsai, still with its hippy vibe and home of many rock climbers, Railay West, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and Phra Nang Beach, also totally beautiful. Railay East is also a beach of sorts, but is full of rocks, mangroves and boats so is not suitable for swimming. This area has some really cool bars and great seafood restaurants though. Be aware that you are in a tourist area on the Railay Peninsula so everything will be more expensive than the mainland, but it really is one of the best beach locations in Krabi Province, in fact probably THE best!
It is possible to come here for a day trip if you want, since it is only 15 minutes by boat and costs less than 100 baht each way. It is possible to walk between all beaches in less than 20 minutes, although getting to Tonsai from Railay takes a bit of effort. In high season (November-May) you can take a boat to the Railay Peninsula from Ao Nang Beach, Krabi Town or a little pier in the village of Ao Nammao. In low season very few boats go from Ao Nang Beach.
Railay Peninsula – Tonsai Beach
At Tonsai Beach there are 3 main three draws: the world-class climbing opportunities, the secluded location and the laid back chilled bars playing old school reggae. This is the place you come, to learn the art of reclining and hanging out with local dreadlocked Thais. The beach is a little rocky but still nice too. The crowd is young, but unlike Ko Phi Phi, the atmosphere is mellow. Tonsai has lots of cheap bungalows but like everywhere is going mainstream rather quickly. As with all beaches on the Railay Peninsula, the only way to get to it from the mainland is by boat. Read the section above to see details on that. Tonsai is cut off from the other beaches on the Railay Peninsula, but at low tide you can walk around the rocks or there is an hour long jungle route if it is high tide. It’s simpler to take a boat though.
Railay Peninsula Railay West Beach
Railay West is a beautiful beach of white sand and shallow water and is great for swimming and sunbathing. At dusk there is usually a game of beach volleyball and football going on and at sunset everyone comes out with their cameras as it is simply stunning at this time. Due to the limestone cliffs at either end of the beach, this place is one of the most beautiful on earth. It is a shame that over the last 10 years the building work has turned parts of this area into a concrete jungle but hopefully there will be an initiative to replant some trees in the near future. However despite this, Railay West Beach is still a stunning location and worth stopping off for 2 or 3 nights at least.
Pra Nang Beach, Railay Peninsula
Phra Nang Beach is another wonderful beach only a 10 minute walk from Railay West/East with a fine white sand, massive cliffs framing each end of the beach, and a lovely cave too. There is only one hotel there though which is the 5* star resort of Rayawadee. It is probably one of the best swimming locations in the whole of Krabi Province.
Phra Nang Beach can be reached by walking to the far end of Railay East and following the footpath around. Don’t be surprised to meet lots of monkeys on the way. Phra Nang beach gets very busy everyday but is not polluted by the noise of jet skis or partying as you might find in Phuket. It does have Thais selling drinks and barbecued food, offering massages and foot scrubs, so if this sounds pretty nice then give this beach a go. The cave is host to a shrine to fertility and is a unique photo opportunity in itself, if you want to see dozens of giant wooden penises!!
Koh Jum Island
There are two words to describe Koh Jum Island: Chilled Out. Situated between Krabi Town and Ko Lanta Island (about 25kms from Krabi Town) this island has around 20 resorts that are generally basic and it also has a few chilled beach bars. The one luxury resort on this island is Koh Jum Villas. This island only got electric in 2008 and is developing nice and slowly. It still has dirt roads and virtually no cars.
The beaches are not pristine but are swimmable despite the rocks and a key highlight is that they are quiet and lined with hammocks courtesy of the resorts. The island’s most popular beach is Long Beach which is connected to Golden Pearl Beach. Further north are remote and more rocky beaches with 4-5 low key resorts. Many islanders refer to the north of the island as ‘Koh Pu’ which is where the highest peak of the island is. Climbing this peak is a great jungle trek to embark on. Strong winds and choppy seas mean that Ko Jum becomes super quiet from May to October and many resorts close.
Most travelers get to Koh Jum via the tourist ferries that connect Ko Lanta Island and Krabi (see the travel info in the Koh Lanta section of this blog) and in less than an hour you disembark from the big ferry onto longtail boats which take you onto the shoreline. From there you wade onto the beach. The tourist ferries do not run in low season (May-November) but you can easily get to Koh Jum by a different route. Go to Laem Kruat Pier in a blue and white songthaew (truck) which leaves near the 7/11 shop opposite Chao Fah Pier in Krabi Town. It takes around 30 minutes to get to the pier and then it is a 40 minute boat ride to Koh Jum on the local ferry.
Koh Phi Phi Island (including Maya Bay)
Ko Phi Phi Islands are considered to be one of the most beautiful group of islands in the world. There are six islands of Phi Phi but most are uninhabited. They lie 50km east of Phuket and 41km west of Krabi and are part of Krabi Province. Koh Phi Phi Island gets a bad rap because of overdevelopment in the area of Ton Sai Beach. The ‘village’ is full of pubs, bars and clubs which operate into the early hours of the morning. Accommodation is expensive and resorts are cramped together. But Ton Sai Village still has its own charm and really is a great party area. If want to avoid it, there are dozens of other beaches that have an awesome secluded island feel. Koh Phi Phi has a young, party vibe which means you don’t see lots of seedy bars with Thai girls as ‘hosts’, and this also adds to its attraction.
Ferries leave from Phuket and Krabi everyday throughout the year (from Krabi – 09:00, 13:30, and 15:00 and from Phuket – 09:00, 11:00, and 14:30 (11:00 high-season only).
There’s lots more to say about Koh Phi Phi Islands but we’ll save that for another blog. The video above should whet your appetite and show you that beauty can still be found here. Enjoy!
Koh Lanta Island
Kantiang Bay, Koh Lanta, Krabi Province, Thailand
Located 70kms from Krabi Town, Ko Lanta is a large, quiet island 6 km wide and 30 kms long. It has 12 attractive beaches all along the west coast, and the west coast means great sunsets! The other coastline is mainly mangroves and fishing villages which are perfect for kayaking. The island is very peaceful with white sandy beaches, more than 60 tiny islands and many coral reefs.
Koh Lanta Island is popular with an older set than Ko Phi Phi Island but there is some nightlife to be found which tends to be frequented by residents as well as tourists so it’s pretty authentic. The 12 beaches have a massive selection of places to stay and the coastline is so long that despite lots of tourists being there in high season, it will still seem uncrowded. You can stay in a fan aired bungalow for less than £10 a night or stay in a 5 star epic resort for £500 a night. It’s a honeymoon location, a retreat, a restaurant lover’s dream, an excellent diving location, a place to make friends, get to grips with a scooter and find your zen.
The nearest airports are Krabi or slightly further away, Phuket which both have road and boat connections. Most 5 star resorts will pick you up from the airport and transport you directly to your resort, sometimes by private speedboat or even seaplane! For the regular traveller however, the tourist ferry takes about an hour and a half from either Phuket or Krabis’ ports. Once you arrive on the island, if you have a booking at a resort, there will be a person at the ferry exit with a sign waiting for you.
These tourist ferries run November to April so in low season a minivan/car ferry duo is the only means of transport. It will take 3-4 hours by minivan due to the 2 car ferries your minivan must take. The minivan will drive down the entire coast, dropping everyone off at their destination which is very handy but a bit slow if you are on one of the last beaches.
There is plenty to do in Koh Lanta provided you are not looking for cinemas, shopping centres, water parks or the like. There are also no international restaurant chains here. You can visit the Sea-Gypsy village, attend a Muay Thai gym, get a Thai Massage at one of the many spas, go sea kayaking, mangrove kayaking, diving, snorkelling or take the 4 island trip which includes visiting Koh Mook’s Emerald Cave. There are also some amazing local restaurants such as The Red Snapper
Map of the beach locations of Krabi Province
Images courtesy of Flickr.com
TubKaek Beach – Pietro Motta, Klong Muang Beach – Conrad, Nopparat Thara Beach – Michael Jiang, Aonang Beach – John Abel, Tonsai Beach – Alexanr Zykov, Railay Peninsula – Nicolas Vollmer, Railay West Beach – FabioAchilli, Pra Nang Beach, Railay – Mazime, Koh Jum Beach – Tara Lucile, Kantiang Beach – Koh Lanta – Petter Salveson, Featured Image – Railay Peninsula, krabidiscovery.com
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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 (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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
<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;”><b>by Denis Segaller (2005) </b></p>
<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>
<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/”>#
<b>Bangkok Found: Reflections On The City</b></a></p>
<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>
<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.
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.
Noodle Soup (Kuay Teaw) can be found on almost every street corner of Thailand from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. Here is a quick and simple guide to ordering soup on the streets of Thailand so that you can sample and try out lots of variations and find your favourite for less than a pound/dollar a bowl.
A stand will usually be serving one particular type of meat; pork, chicken, beef or duck. There is also one other type of stand which sells boat noodles which I will explain later.
It’s usually easy to figure out which stand sells what as they generally have icons like cartoon pigs or chicken drumsticks, however if you are not sure, just look into the stand and check it out. Note that almost all stands regardless of the meat they sell, will have stacks of meatballs and fishballs, so looking at these will not give you much of a clue. If you are still not sure, you can point and ask. Moo is pork, Gai is chicken, Nua is beef and Pbed is duck. They will quickly tell you what they offer. The beef and duck soup will have a darker broth.
The varieties within the meat type
Once you’ve found the stand that offers the meat you fancy, you can then choose the cut of meat that you want and also add or deduct extra items such as dumplings, liver, blood cake, wantons and meatballs. Meatballs or fishballs are almost always included so knowing that they are highly processed is a good tip and you may want to ask for them to be deducted. ‘Mai Luk Chin’ ( I don’t want the balls)
Cuts you can get
Beef – Meatballs (Luk Chin), small cut beef (Nua Sod), and the soft beef (Nua Peuay).
Naam Sai is a plain broth that is always yummy and tastes so different depending on which vendor you go to. This is the real go to dish for tourists and when the little veggies and garnishes are added, just tastes wonderful.
Naam Tom Yam
Naam Tom Yam is the same recipe as Kuay Teaw Nam Sai, but chili paste, crushed peanuts, lime juice, chili powder, sugar and fish sauce are added to give it that classic tom yam flavour.
Naam Tok is broth where blood has been blended into the stock which it makes it totally delicious and gives it a deep brown gravy colour.
Yen Ta Fo
Yen Ta Fo is a pink coloured noodle soup served with fish balls, prawn balls, fried tofu, squid, morning glory and fried dumplings (giaw). The pink colour comes from adding red bean paste to the broth. The soup is a little sweet and it’s always a surprise as to what ingredients you will find in there.
Soup without the Soup?
You can also get your noodle soup dry by using the term ‘heng’ (dry). All the items will be cooked in the big container of broth but no broth will be added to your bowl. (The broth is served on the side.) You end up with something a bit like a noodle stir fry but the ingredients are boiled.
Boat Noodles – Kuay Taew Ruea
This type of noodle soup was first served on boats that were converted into noodle soup stations on the canals of Bangkok. Blood called “Nam Tok” is poured into the soup right before serving which gives the soup a distinct colour. It also has different herbs to regular soup such as cinnamon giving it a really rich and distinctive flavour. In the past, a person who sold boat noodles would have been selling alone so if the bowl was too big it would be difficult to hand over to the customer on the land. For this reason the bowl is usually small. Kuay Taew Ruea can come with pork, beef or duck depending on the vendor and liver and blood cake is often added. Don’t be put off by the term blood cake, it is delicious and soft. The featured image is boat noodles with beef.
Types of Noodles To Choose From
Rice noodles are called ‘Sen’ and come in various styles: sen yai (wide, flat fresh noodles), sen lek (thin, flat, dried noodles), and sen mee (thin, round noodles) Other noodle types are: ba mee (egg noodles) woon sen (glass vermicelli made from mung beans) and mama (instant noodles) – what noodle you choose is entirely up to you, there are no rules.
Making sure anything you don’t want stays out!
No entrails/intestines/offal – ‘Mai Nai’
No blood – ‘Mai Leo-od’
No liver –
Vegetables and garnishes
As your vendor prepares your soup you will see them adding veggies. They tend to be roasted garlic, bean sprouts, morning glory, parsley and sometimes spring onion.
The last step is to season your noodle soup to your liking which you do yourself at your table. Every table should have a little hand carrier with four kinds of seasoning in it.
Dried chili flakes
Fish sauce (salty)
Vinegar and sliced chilies (sour)
Here is a little video which shows a Thai lady making noodle soup
There are many ways to travel around Bangkok and it is probably far cheaper and more simple than you can imagine. Of all of the transport methods, including the river canal and the famous tuk tuk (which I encourage you to try) the 2 rail systems provide the quickest way to get from one point to another. Here’s a quick guide to the Skytrain intended to make you feel confident about stepping out in Bangkok for the first time.
Many people stop in Bangkok for 1 or 2 nights en route to beaches and islands but I would encourage you to stay longer and to stay on your way out of the country rather than when you first come in. If you stay in Bangkok at the end of your holiday you will be feeling braver, familiar with the heat, currency and the fabulous ‘Asian’ vibe.
Bangkok is best segmented into 2 areas when you are a tourist; there is the main city with it’s night life, restaurants, shops and the Skytrain and there is the other side of the city with the river, the Grand Palace and Khao San Road. Both areas of Bangkok have their glitz and glamour and both have a seedy side which most people are intrigued to get a glimpse of, which you can do relatively safely provided you take care.
The ultimate stay would be 3-5 nights which runs over a weekend, with some time spent in a hotel easily accessible to the Skytrain and not far from the hub of Siam Square and some nights spent down on, or near to the Khao San Road.
For reference, Khao San Road and The Grand Palace (popular attractions for tourists) are further west of the centre and are located in old Bangkok, near the river and has no direct Skytrain access. Your best bet for getting around this area is to take a taxi.
Easy ways to get from the Airport to the City
If you are flying into Bangkok from an international destination you will be flying into Suvarnabhumi Airport which has simple and easy transport into the city. It is not too expensive to take a taxi from Suvarnabhumi to anywhere in Bangkok, but it can take a really long time in and around rush hour.
If you don’t have a huge load of baggage, use Bangkok’s newest public transportation system, The Express Line which takes you directly into the city, skips all stations and brings you directly to the Phraya Thai Skytrain Station right in the centre of the city.
Getting Around Bangkok
There are two systems of Metro lines in Bangkok; the Skytrain which runs elevated over the city (called BTS) and the MRT, the underground system. However as a tourist you are unlikely to use the underground MRT but If you do, note that they have different ticketing systems so a Skytrain day pass won’t work on the MRT. However, it’s all so cheap and simple to use, so don’t worry about switching between the two.
Both systems are efficient, comfortable and air-conditioned. They don’t operate at night (there are night buses in Bangkok).The lines serve the east side of Bangkok and don’t reach the old Bangkok where the Grand Palace and the Khaosan street are located. They don’t reach the Chao Phraya river, except at the station Saphan Taksin
The BTS Skytrain
BTS Skytrain is very modern and very convenient. I’d recommend just buying single tickets because the chances are on your first day you will walk into one of the amazing malls and not reappear for at least 3 hours! If you intend to do more than 3 trips then buy a one day pass which is very cheap at 130 baht.
You can purchase a Rabbit card or a monthly/weekly pass for the BTS from the kiosks but it often does not work out cheaper for short stay tourists. Note that the trains stop at midnight though after which I advise you to take taxis.
How to buy a ticket for the BTS Skytrain
The most common method and easiest for tourists is to simply insert coins into the ticket machines located just before the barriers. Beside each machine is a map showing your present location and the rest of the BTS stations.
It’s all in English so is very simple to follow. On the ticket machine press the number of the station. Insert your coins (coins only) into the machine until it counts down to zero. A thin credit card sized ticket will then appear from a lower slot. If you only have notes go to the kiosks located beside the barriers and they will give you change.
Travel easily on the BTS Skytrain
Now that you have the BTS ticket proceed to the metallic barriers and choose one with a green tick. Place your ticket into the lower slot on the barrier and the ticket will be taken in and pop out on top as the barrier pulls back. Take the ticket and walk through. Don’t delay too much as the barrier only stays open for about 5 seconds.
The platforms are named with the last station on the line. So if you need a station before that one, then go to a platform with the last name on that line. When you get on the train there will be a map above the doors showing you where you are and the next stations. There are also announcements telling you what station is next.
As the station you want approaches an announcement will be made. Be prepared to leave promptly. To exit the station, first insert the ticket into the slot in front of you at the barrier which will be one level down. Since this is a single ticket, it will not reappear this time but the barrier will pull back so you can exit.
Every holiday should be an adventure especially when it comes to trying new foods. Thailand has delicious fruit that is incredibly cheap such as bananas, mangos, watermelon and papaya, but if you want to try something exotic, check out these 7 Thai fruits that are tasty, healthy and unseen in western shops.
Durian ทุเรียน (thu-rian)
Reputed to be the king of all fruits, this fruit is massive, sometimes weighing in at more than 10kg. It has a very strong smell which means most people store it outdoors (yes it really is that bad) but although the pungent smell sometimes turns many western people off, it tastes creamy and delicious. You either love Durian or hate it but Durian is one of the most popular fruits in Thailand so it’s worth trying. Durian is available as a paste and Durian derived snacks are popular. It is in season from May to July.
Pomelo ส้มโอ (som-o)
The Pomelo originated in South East Asia but has been grown all around the world for centuries. It is the largest citrus fruit around and sometimes weighs more than 2kg. Pomelo tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit with little of the grapefruit’s bitterness and its rind is very thick. Pomelo is normally sold in peeled segments as it is difficult to peel yourself. It is delicious and Thais also attribute many healing properties to it. The season for Pomelo is August to October.
Rose Apple ชมพู่ (chomphu)
Shaped like a bell and about the same size as a pear, this fruit is crunchy, refreshing and not too sweet, kind of like a cross between the taste of a cucumber and a pear. The rose apple is very common in Thailand and not expensive to buy. From bright red to pink or sometimes green, Rose Apples are worth trying for yourself since they are hard to describe. The season for Rose Apple is May to July but they can be found all year long.
Jackfruit ขนุน (khanun)
Even bigger than a Durian, it is not unusual to see a 30kg JackFruit. It is the largest fruit to grow on a tree. Jackfruit is made up of hundreds of flowers that are fused together and you eat the “fleshy petals” that surround the seed (which is the actual fruit.) It tastes better than it smells, mango/peachy/pearlike. The texture is a little stringy and quite soft when it is overripe. Personally I don’t like it too much.
Longan ลำไย (lamyai)
Brought into Thailand by Chinese immigrants hundreds of years ago, Longan was first planted in Bangkok and then in the North. It is in the North that the fruit has flourished and become one of Thailand’s largest export fruits. The most famous species is the pink longan produced in Chiang Mai. Its flesh is pinkish and thick and sweet, larger than a grape but smaller than a plum. The longan or “dragon eyes” is so named because of the fruit’s resemblance to an eyeball when it is shelled. When you start to eat this fruit it is hard to stop because they are so delicious. Luckily a bunch is very cheap to buy.
Mangosteen มังคุค (mongkhut)
Mangosteen is delicious and has a limited season so if you see them I suggest you snap them up. The flesh is incredibly sweet and juicy but don’t eat the seed inside each segment as it is bitter. You’ll need a knife to get in through the purple skin and then just segment it like an orange. The fragrant, fleshy fruit is both sweet and tangy.
Rambutan เงาะ (ngo)
In bright spikey red with a greenish tinge, the Rambutan is beautiful. You buy them by the kilo and they are a bit smaller than an apricot. A Rambutan’s taste is sweet, and juicy. Breaking open the skin reveals a firm whitish fruit containing a seed. You can use a knife or your teeth to get in as the spikes are not sharp in any way.
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Featured image courtesy of Aidan Jones via Flickr.com
The island of Koh Phangan has more than 20 beautiful white sandy beaches which are perfect for those looking to unwind and relax. Aside from the mayhem of the Full Moon Party – for the other 28 days of the year, it is a peaceful spot, full of yoga classes, more low key parties, nature, waterfalls, snorkeling and mountain trails.
Here is a blog about the 4 main areas of the island of Koh Phangan, which are all distinct in terms of landscape, types of beaches, reefs, nightlife and accommodation. We hope this little taster of the island of Koh Phangan helps you to decide where you would like to stay on this amazing island and where you may like to explore on a motorbike or with a local driver.
The north west of the island of Koh Phangan is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, laid back vibe and the best snorkeling and dive spots. The area offers many lovely resorts and well run local restaurants and is a great option if you are looking for a quiet environment. Koh Phangan’s north west coast is where you will find the island’s most diverse coral reefs. It’s possible to snorkel and scuba dive off the beach at Haad Salad, Haad Yao and Mae Haad.
Many of the beaches along this stretch are less built up than the south east and south western parts. The north west coast of Koh Phangan is one of the best places to watch the sunset on the whole island. Almost all year round you can witness the stunning evening views along the north west coast, from Haad Khom, right down to Srithanu Beach. Also in the north west of Phangan is Chaloklum which is a working fishing village where you can watch the local fisherman depart and arrive from their daily catch out at sea. Dive centres also use Chaloklum as their main port for taking customers out on diving or snorkel trips.
The north west coast is also home to the longest beach on Koh Phangan, Haad Yao. Stretching almost 1km, Haad Yao beach is big enough to attract the crowds in high season while still leaving more than enough room for everyone. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and resorts here to accommodate your needs whether you’re party goers, or an older person looking for peace and chill.
The areas surrounding Srithanu beach, are popular with the spiritual community. This part of the island has many open spaces, both at the beach and in the jungle, that it creates the ideal place to practise yoga and meditation. There’s lots of well established and well priced yoga retreats, detox centres and holistic practitioners in the north west of the island especially.
The north east of the island Koh Phangan is surrounded by jungle and known for the relaxed atmosphere and seclusion from the crowds. The beautiful small bays are stunning and the luxury resorts of Koh Phangan canmainly be found here. The rugged mountainous coastlines are some of the most beautiful on the island. Giant boulders nestle into the clear turquoise waters, creating a striking look and feel. Bottle beach (Haad Khuad) is a popular beach for day trippers and despite being very much on the tourist trail is still very peaceful.
The Thong Nai Pan beaches also sit on the north east coast of Koh Phangan. Thong Nai Pan Yai and Thong Nai Pan Noi are beautiful bays, great for swimming with pristine white powdery beaches. The area has retained its laid back village vibe and offers a range of accommodation to suit every budget. Also in the north east area of Koh Phangain, hidden away on the eastern side of the island is Than Sadet which is a gorgeous bay where you are guaranteed peace and tranquillity. There are only a couple of places the stay here, all which are basic bungalows but it has a lovely vibe and is well worth exploring.
The south west of the island of Koh Phangan is a good choice for those who want to be near the nightlife while staying in a more quiet area than Haad Rin. There are lots of transport options to take you to Haad Rin for the shopping and night life and the area also has the main port of Thong Sala which has become a very cool shopping destination in its own rignt. The south west of Koh Phangan is a central location to explore the island and there are many great beach side resorts to choose from.
Thongsala the heart of Koh Phangan The town has dozens of attractions and shops and all the amenities you could wish for on a small island for locals and tourists. Unique boutique shops are springing up to cater for the more discerning shopper and there are plenty of handicraft shops to keep the tourists happy. The main ferry terminal for Koh Phangan is situated in Thongsala, so beaches surrounding the town are rarely used for beach goers since many boats come and go from the pier, and the beaches are not kept clean.
Hin Kong and Wok Tum are just south of Srithanu. Here the beach is narrow and long and the shoreline runs parallel and very close to the coastal road. For uninterrupted views out across the ocean and to Angthong National marine Park, stop by Plai Laem beach which is at the base of Khao Hin Nok, a mountain that dominates the landscape, making it an area of rounded boulders and views over the national park.. This stretch of beach is certainly a beautiful setting for those who enjoy capturing those picture perfect photos of paradise.
Haad Rin is located on a small peninsula at the most Southeastern tip of the island of Koh Phangan and is the epicentre of the famous Full Moon Party and the island nightlife in general. The village has a really nice vibe outside of the full moon party time and has some great shopping opportunities, international restaurants with great priced food, and has lovely hand made jewellery for sale too. Despite one of the beaches along this coast being the venue for the world famous Full Moon Party, this area also has many small secluded bays ideal for total relaxation.
Haad Rin Beach is wide, with fine sand created by the waves of the Northeast Monsoon. The water is clear and ideal for swimming except during the monsoon months of November-January. Haad Rin Nai lies on the opposite side of a little peninsula, 500 metres from its famous sister the Full Moon Party beach. The sand here is narrow and the water shallow, and it is often covered rubbish. Most accommodations are distinctly budget in quality, though the prices during party time are ramped up.
Sri Kantang Beach is one of the hidden surprises of Koh Phangan. Though it is just a short walk from the famous Full Moon Party beach and the noisy concrete ‘village’ Sri Kantang beach enjoys the silence and atmosphere of a hidden escape. The beach is quite narrow, but with lots of foliage spilling over it, and even a small forest of trees growing up out of the sand. If you go exploring just once, go and find this beach and stretch your legs just a short way from Haad Rin.
We hope this little introduction helps you to get oriented with the island of Koh Phangan. It’s a perfect island to spend a month or two exploring at your leisure especially on a little motorbike. Even the Full Moon Party can be quite a lot of fun if you take it in your stride. Enjoy!
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Image courtesy of flickr.com – Featured image Stefan Magdalinski view over The Sanctuary, Haad Yao Beach by, eric molina, looking over Thong Sala by Ian XYZ and Haad Rin beach by Fabio Achilli