Following my first post about my amazing trip to Thailand, I wanted to mention a bit about the places we stayed, as well as a few things that I would recommend in terms of activities. There is so much to see and do in Thailand, whatever you’re into, and with it being so cheap, we tried to pack a lot in!
Most of our hotels were booked through Booking.com, and all bar two of them were booked the day before we got to each place. I would recommend looking at Trip Advisor for any hotels, as some that looked amazing in photos got awful reviews, so as with travelling anywhere, I find having a quick look at a hotel’s overall score there to be a great indicator of the quality of the hotel. One or two bad reviews doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad hotel (some people’s gripes on Trip Advisor are ridiculous), but if there are a lot of negative reviews, steer clear!
We landed at around 10pm local time, so we got a taxi straight to our first hotel, which we had booked in advance. Nicky’s Handlebar was hands down one of my favourite hotels, and probably one of the most memorable I’ve ever stayed in, because of its unusual theme. The motorcycle theme of this hotel is carried throughout the bar and restaurant through to the pool and bedrooms – it is not done by halves! From the authentic Harleys out front, to the utilitarian/motor style rooms, I found it really cool and quirky. The rooms are really modern and comfortable, the staff are super friendly, and its a 10 minute walk or 2 minute tuk tuk to Bangla Road…ideal!
The nightlife in Patong is like nothing I have ever experienced before, and Bangla Road is the centre of all the action! Even if you aren’t planning on a big night out, it’s worth a walk down just for the experience…it’s a lot to take in! Some of the bars are really expensive but the arcade about half way down has bars that sell buckets of spirits and mixers for the equivalent of a few euro that you can buy and carry as you stroll about!
This was the best place to shop of all the places we visited. I don’t like the word fake, but there are some pretty good designer ‘dupes’ along Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi Road! Make sure to haggle hard, as first prices are never the best price, and you can expect to pay a fraction of the initial asking price for most items!
This is a pretty decent hotel by Phi Phi’s standards, and it wasn’t too expensive either. Phi Phi is a really small island, and there are no cars on it, so you walk everywhere (it takes 10 minutes max!). This hotel is far enough away from the beach (where the centre of the nightlife is) that you can get away from the noise, but it’s still really close to the beach, nightlife and restaurants. We stayed in the rooms rather than the chalets, because with all the plants outside each one, they apparently get more bugs in them!
There are bars all along the beach, but the fire shows at Slinkys were the my favourite. We were on Phi Phi for New Year’s, and it was absolutely amazing! They also have a rodeo bull, which provided endless entertainment for our group! Buy a bucket along the street first, and then take a wander along the beach…much cheaper than buying drinks in most of the bars. Try Thai whiskey – it’s actually surprisingly nice and sweet!
There are loads of boat tours available on Phi Phi, but we went with Phi Phi Sunset Tours which went out in the afternoon to see Monkey Beach and Maya Bay, as well as do some swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. There are booze cruises as well, but we wanted to do some activities and actually explore the islands, and we just took a few beers on with us! The tours are well worth the money – an amazing experience with breathtaking views!
Some of the food in Phi Phi can be a little dodge, and there’s a lot of pizza! But Unni’s is really good food (with plenty of western choices as well as Thai dishes), and good value, plus the staff are really friendly and speak perfect English. It can be a little busy, which is a good sign, but a table usually comes up within a few minutes anyway.
Baan Thai Lanta Resort
After a disastrous experience booking with a rep on the boat here, we ended up in what was probably the worst hotel I’ve ever seen. Luckily, we swiftly got our money back, and terrorised, we marched over to this resort to enjoy 2 nights of luxury to unwind and recuperate after Phi Phi! It was expensive for Thailand, but the resort is GORGEOUS. With traditional Thai villas in stunning gardens overlooking the sea, it seems to be a small family-run place. You can walk up along the beach to bars and some great restaurants on the sand that serve all kinds of food – the fresh fish is delish! This place was worth every penny…none of us wanted to leave!
About halfway between Klong Kong beach and Saladan, there are some fantastic markets with amazing street food, which is well worth trying while you’re in Thailand (most places you’ll visit have loads of food stalls). Be sensible and pick stalls that look clean, but all-in-all, the standard is very good. From fresh juices and cocktails to delicious potato swirls with flavoured salt and Pad Thai, some of the best food we had on the whole trip came from stalls! Thai pancakes with Nutella are simply a must…SO GOOD!
Apple A Day Resort
This is a new and modern hotel, but it’s really good value and the rooms are lovely! The pool is a little shaded, so not ideal if you are a sun worshipper! However, it’s very close to the beach and the main strips of restaurants and bars, so as well as being good value, it’s an ideal location!
This is actually across the road from Apple A Day, so we stayed here on the way back from Koh Tao. It’s a decent hotel with a good breakfast, and although we had some issues in our room, the staff were helpful at sorting it out and moving us to a new room quickly! Some of the rooms back directly onto the pool so you have a ladder from your balcony into the pool, but the other rooms are equally as nice and less than half the price.
Ploen Chaweng Hotel
Again, this is a relatively new hotel, and is quite modern, but I really loved the rooms in this one! It was kind of quirky (there are knitted monkey teddies on every bed), but really comfy and good value, as well as only a few minutes from the beach!
This for me was a must-do in Thailand, and it didn’t disappoint. You pay an entry fee to get into the ice room (it is an ice room with a bar, rather than a whole venue made of ice), but with drinks included, it’s really not expensive! The dress-up area provided great entertainment for us all (we started out as eskimos, and by the end, had all kinds of wigs and onesies on!), and when you get a bit chilly, the beer garden is a great spot to relax and watch the beer pong tournaments!
This is the island to do watersports, and you’ll find loads of stands offering different things. We were wary of jet skis, as there are all kinds of horror stories about scams saying tourists damaged the jet ski they hired and making them pay extortionate amounts, so we stuck to the Aquapark and banana boats! Well worth a go – we had an absolute ball!
Koh Samui was our chosen pampering spot, so we all went for massages on the beach here (costing between €7-€10 for an hour), as well as the girls getting gel nails and hair done one evening (€10 for gel removal and a full set). It’s so cheap here as well as on most of the other islands, so I would plan for a big pamper session or 2 if you can!
I wasn’t a massive fan of Koh Tao, because I’m not into diving, and we had already snorkelled, but the visit to this little island alone made it worth the trip! You can get a taxi boat out to the island, and wander around for a few hours. The viewpoint at the top is SPECTACULAR, and absolutely justifies the sweaty hike to get up there! The food on the island is expensive and crap, so eat before you go and bring snacks!
Peach Hill Resort
We finished our trip in this resort, as we wanted to try somewhere new while still being close to Patong to get one final big night out! Make sure you book the main building, as there are a LOT of steps in this resort and the other buildings are far away and not as nice. It’s up a steep hill from the town, and has 4 lovely pools to choose from. It’s decent value, and although there was a little issue with our booking, the manager sorted it out swiftly and was very apologetic about the mishap.
As you can see, there was loads to do and see in Thailand, and the traditional food is amazing. This is only a fraction of what we crammed into our time there, and we enjoyed every moment! My one piece of advice is to try and eat as much delicious Thai food as you can (far safer than eating Western food, which they don’t always know how to cook properly), stay in as many authentic Thai hotels as you can and just lap up the Thai experiences, because I can honestly say that for me, this was a trip of a lifetime with too many fantastic memories to even mention!