Thailand: Bangkok, Koh Lanta & Phi Phi Islands
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Thailand is one of the best and most visited Asian countries. This post contains tips, secrets and even some thai phrases to inspire you to travel to the country of Tuk Tuks, James Bond and majestic golden temples.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok
Bangkok is one big city, with so many things to do. Visiting Grand Palace, the Big Buddha and sailing on the river, seeing the floating market, are just a few of them. When exploring around town, remember long pants for men, knee length for women and t-shirts or something long sleeved. They are very religious and have many religious places. Always behave with the utmost respect when visiting their temples, since violations and disrespect can cause huge fines or even prison.
As always when visiting a big city, it’s recommended to stay in the central part. I stayed at The Ambassador Hotel by the Suhkumvit Road. The Ambassador is a beautiful hotel, that has the perfect location! It’s close to the big shopping mall Terminal 21. Terminal 21 has an amazing design! Each floor is a new destination, such as Tokyo, London, Istanbul, Italy, France and San Francisco. Shops and food stores are correspondent to the culture of the destination.
The Golden Mount Wat Saket in Bangkok
Drinks and good food can be found at Suk/Soi 11, where Suk11 hostel and restaurant was located. They sadly closed down as of March 2017. One of my favorite places is Cheap Charlie’s Bar further down the street – it has the funniest interior, and you can easily spend hours looking at it! If cocktails is more desired, ZanziBar is further down the street. These bars and restaurants has local and authentic interior and is some of my absolute favorites.
Chinatown is also a must see, together with eating at one of the many street kitchens with small plastic chairs and the food being cooked open fire. It may seem dirty and as a recipe for diarrhea at first sight, but make no mistake that the best food comes from the street kitchens! And that Thailand is one of the cleaner Asian countries. Go for kitchens with many locals and not tourists.
Secret tip: the best Thai food is found at Mama’s – the official name is Suda Restaurant. It’s a Thailand tradition of mine to eat here and a must to order her spring rolls, Tom Yam Gung and Chicken Cashew Nut. And then top it off with Mango Sweet Sticky Rice for dessert! Mama’s is located at Suk/Soi 14, here’s a link to Google Maps.
The beautiful white sand at Koh Lanta Longbeach
Koh Lanta Islands
After exploring Bangkok, it’s easy to fly to another destination in Thailand. We flew to Krabi and hired a driver to drive us to Koh Lanta, where we stayed at Nakara Longbeach Resort. It was completely magical and had the most beautiful long white sand beach. The view was absolutely breathtaking. You live in small private huts with own terraces. This is my ideal living situation!
Walking along the beach you’ll find many restaurants and bars, each more enchanting than the other, each with possibility to dine and drink with your feet in the soft sand, each with small cottages to hang and chill in and each with a small hut where you can get any massage you require while listening peacefully to the sounds of the ocean. We lived on a diet consisting of Green Curry, Panang Curry and spring rolls – yum!
The island is not big and only has four roads, one on each side of the island with 2 roads to connect them over the middle. On the northern end of the island you’ll find the “capital” Salaman, where it’s possible to do a little shopping and browse through the big market and purchase sarongs, wooden figures and other handmade nicknacks. I recommend to dine at Pa-Pa’s Restaurant, which is located by the dock, when you walk up from the market and turn right. Their Panang Curry is still the best I’ve tasted. You can get their location here.
The gorgeous pool at Nakara Longbeach Resort
On the southern end of the island you’ll find The Old Town of Koh Lanta. It was (as the rest of the island) hit and ruined by the tsunami, although it’s more visible in The Old Town than the rest. If you go by the pier, you’ll see a pile of smashed bricks and concrete, which is the remaining rubble from the old pier and is now a memorial of the lives lost and the damage of the tsunami. Also in this city there’s good opportunities for shopping, especially spices and herbs.
If desired, there’s possibilities of jungle trekking, which takes end by a small waterfall. It’s an absolutely astonishing trek with a big cave to explore around the middle of the trek. It is recommended to wear gold shoes, along with some who can take being wet, since it is not optional whether or not you want to cross through the small river, you’ll simply have to cross it to complete the trek to the waterfall. Which for me only makes the trek even more exciting!
Jungle trekking on Koh Lanta – can you spot the elephant?
Phi Phi Islands
For me, Phi Phi is something close to heaven. It simply has everything I need. When arriving with the boat from one of the many surrounding islands, you’ll get a good view of Phi Phi’s entire southern bay with all of its resorts, boats and beaches. The boat will dock at Phi Phi pier. If you’re not staying in the city centre, you’ll board a boat to take you to your resort down the coast. Phi Phi Island does not have any roads, only a small yellow brick road (yes it’s true). There is however a small number of scooters on the island, if you’re too lazy to walk. Other than that boats are the only transportation options.
We stayed at Bayview Resort, which is the last resort on the beach in the southern bay. It has a breathtaking view of the entire southern bay and Maya Bay. Maya Bay is the island known from the movie “The Beach”. The Resort itself is located partly on the side of the mountain. It has around 50 small huts scattered around the mountain side. This means you’re in for quite a workout, if you’re not so fortunate to stay in one of the first huts. But it gives an amazing view, so it’s worth it!
From the Resort there’s only a small walk down the beach till you reach the town. The town is packed with restaurants, resorts, hostels, bars, dive centers and everything else you could possibly wish for. Phi Phi is a small and funny proportioned island. It’s quite slim at the middle, where Phi Phi Town is located, making it possible to walk to the northern bay in 5-10 minutes. The northern bay is the party bay. The bay packed with backpackers, bars and nightclubs. Here you can dance until sunrise barefooted in the sand, swinging a bucket in your hand. Each Tuesday and Thursday there’s being held a big Pool Party at Princess Resort. There’s endless possibilities to experience one of their many Booze Cruises and Full Moon Parties. It will never get boring if you’re in the party mood.
Almost mandatory when going to Phi Phi is a trip to Maya Bay. It is one of the most beautiful places our earth has to offer, although it is packed with tourists. To escape the crowds, there’s possibilities of joining one of the early bird tours, that departs at 6:30 AM. Around Maya Bay there’s also great possibilities of going snorkeling or diving. Here you’ll even have chances of seeing both sea turtles and reef sharks. There’s endless dive sites around Phi Phi, which all offers a different but almost equally beautiful experience.
I became so attached to the life on Phi Phi! I silently swore to myself, that I would one day return and live there for a while.
The view from our gorgeous hotel. The island in sight is the famous Maya Bay (and yes, this is where the picture in the header for the blog is taken)
Weather and daily expenses
The weather in the biggest part of Thailand is mild and warm year round. In the northern Thailand it can get colder, so you might need to bring long pants and shirts. The south can get pretty hot, at least 30+ degrees during the day and 26+ during the night in December, January, February. It’s possible to wear a bikini 24/7 if that’s your desire.
Everything is quite cheap in Thailand. Even though it’s probably the most expensive of the Asian countries, due to the increasing tourism. A good Resort costs around 1500 Thai Baht (42$) for a hut per night. A nice looking hostel or guest house can be all the way down to 400-500 THB (10-15$) per night, if not less.
A good meal at a restaurant can cost around 50-300 THB (1-8$), although it’s often around 120 THB.
Phrases that are good to know in any country is hello and thank you. Please don’t rely too much on my spelling of it, this is simply as it sounds.
Hello = Sawadee-kah
Thank you = Kopkun-kah
Important to mention is that this is only if you’re female. If you’re male, simply replace the “kah” with “kap”, and you’re good to go! I’ve used these phrases aaaaall the time, and they don’t care about your pronunciation, they’re just happy that you’re trying!
River houses in Bangkok
I hope that this has inspired you to visit Thailand! It’s a truly amazing country and a good starting point, it it’s your first trip to Asia.
Asia is probably my favourite part of the world to travel. I long for it all the freaking time (it’s quite annoying really). So I can only highly recommend you to go, if you haven’t already been!