Let me begin by saying that as a traveller, we all have our own stories which combine not only the elements of the places one visits but also the perspective and outlook of the traveller! So while I am writing mine and hoping that it might give you some insights about the place, you must write your own. Also, never ever fall in the ‘should do this because people are doing this’ grid or ‘oh I want to be different and that’s why I shall go for this uncharted path’ grid!!!! Neither stand is good!
The best approach is to understand your own ‘want’ and choose a destination accordingly. When we decided to visit Thailand, a Southeast Asian country, on a short vacation, we zeroed on to the beaches, even though this country offers a vast array of exciting places to visit and activities to do! From tropical beaches, opulent Royal palaces, ancient ruins to ornate temples, from an ultramodern cityscape to quiet canal side communities, this country never stops to enthrall you! As I didn’t want too much crowd, we chose the archipelago of Phi Phi islands and Ao-Nang beach at Krabi !
Since we were flying to Bangkok first, we decided to explore this place a bit before we hit the beaches.
Where did we stay in Bangkok?
Bangkok is famous worldwide not for no reason. If I have to describe it, I would call it a city of contrast. Choose your shade of colour and explore! My chosen colour was architecture, food and lifestyle. Once that’s decided upon, choose a hotel or service apartment close to that. We went for a centrally located service apartment. Read reviews online before booking one. Ours turned out to be a good experience.
What did we do there?
As much as I would want to explore the city, I had only two days and so had to prioritise. I decided to go for the Grand Palace with Wat Phra Kaew which houses the small but perhaps the most significant statue of emerald Buddha (The ornate and fantastic architecture of the temple is sure to blow your imagination away!!! The temple complex is also the spiritual core of Thai Buddhism and Monarchy.), Wat Pho (It’s a temple, the compound of which is the host to the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. However, the highlight is the reclining Buddha.) and Wat Arun.
Besides these, we explored the famous Chatuchak weekend market which people can’t seem to stop talking about! Personally, I didn’t find much there. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I am not a shopping enthusiast. However, I did like its vibe and pulse. In retrospect though, I feel I could have utilized that time in a better way!
We also went to the malls, Terminal 21 and MBK centre (more because we didn’t want to travel and exert too much because of some sudden health issues, else the plan was to explore the floating market, about 100 kms away from Bangkok). Again, nothing that I can write much about. You get pretty much everything here in a Mumbai or Delhi mall or any mall in the world!
How did we commute?
I found that in Bangkok, the best mode of travelling is metro. It may seem a bit difficult to understand the routes in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, its super easy and convenient. Taxis and cabs are certainly not very reliable. Firstly, the traffic in Bangkok is awful and icky and secondly, it does take a certain level of diligence to deal with the cab drivers there. For a shorter distance, you can use Tuktuk. Also people, both -locals as well as tourists, travelling by ferries, running on the waters of Chao Phraya river is a common sight. Some destinations are covered best by these ferries (especially when you are going for the Grand Palace and temples) and it provides the tourists much more than just the convenience of commuting! Coming to dealing with people there, communication can be tad bit problematic as most of the people converse in local language only. We used the google translate app to communicate, especially with drivers and shopkeepers.
If you have time, you can explore China town and experience the night life as well.
Phi Phi Islands
Our next destination after Bangkok was Phi phi islands. To say that the Phi phi island is one of the best in South East Asia, will be an understatement. The pristine beaches with turquoise blue water, teeming with colourful marine life (actually u don’t even need to go snorkeling or diving to see the lovely marine life, it’s visible right from the beach and what a delight that was!!!!) The two main islands of the group are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. While Phi Phi Don is the larger part of the archipelago, bustling with life, Phi Phi Leh is much smaller and an uninhabited island with stunningly beautiful bays and beaches, including the world famous Maya bay where the movie ‘The Beach’ was shot!!!! Tourists visit Maya Bay and bamboo beach as a day trip.
How did we reach there?
We booked a flight from Bangkok to Krabi and then took a taxi to reach to the port. From there it takes about two hours by ferryboat to reach the Phi Phi pier. You can also fly to Phuket and then to these islands with the same commuting time!
Where Did we stay?
We stayed at The Beach resort at long beach for three days with complimentary breakfast! Clean Private beach with three swimming pools (one infinity) made my stay there way much more than what I had wanted it to be like! The sight of Magnificent and stunning limestone rock formations in the middle of clear, blue- green water from the beach, and finding colourful marine life just like that, the stay couldn’t have been better! We surely got a great deal as a result of advance planning and prior flight and resort bookings. You can find a number of options for staying in Phiphi. It just takes some research and planning to get the best of what you want.
What did we do there?
Besides relaxing and lazing around, we did scuba diving. The experience turned out to be far better than what I had experienced at Havelock. We dived till 12 meters and for about two hours excluding the ‘instruction time’! Underwater bliss that a scuba diving adventure offers is something words can’t explain. Exploring the mysterious depths, unfolding the world hitherto unknown, coming across the coral reefs teeming with life, exotic fish and plant life- can one really wrap these experiences in words!
I am so hit by the magic of scuba and the world it presents that I am already contemplating a scuba instructor course!
Evenings were usually reserved for the inhouse activities like fire show and other stuff! I tried my hand at the fire show and to my delight found that, I could rather take it up as my vocation if I ever decided to adopt the full time vagabond life!! Hehehehe!!
Ao-Nang Beach, Krabi
Our next and final destination, before flying back to Bangkok and then to Delhi, was Ao-nang at Krabi.
How did we reach there?
We took the same ferry boat ride that had taken us to Phi Phi from Krabi. Though it took us lesser time to reach Ao-nang! The sea route from Phi Phi to Ao-Nang was as magical as the destination itself! You get to see the bamboo island, the Railay beach and beautiful lush green limestone cliffs!
Where did we stay?
We stayed at the Krabi Resort, again with its own private beach and pools with complimentary breakfast. Spread in a vast area, this immaculately landscaped place was as much a treat to explore, as those adventure activities! Again, there are plenty of other staying options to choose from, depending on what you want! I repeat, just invest some time to research.
What did we do there?
There is so much that you can do here at Krabi in terms of adventure activities. Canopy zipline, ATV riding, rock climbing, kayaking, are few of them. We went for kayaking in the open sea. A rookie at this, it took me some persuasion but once at it, I couldn’t stop screaming with excitement! To find your balance on the waves was challenging and that was the fun quotient.
Ao-Nang beach has very fine sand and one can go far in the waters when the tide is low!
We tried to feel the pulse of that beach city in the evening! The beach market, which ran parallel to the Ao-Nang beach, had a number of massage parlours ( ahhh… do I even need to mention that!) and the centre of the market had a number of bars and some cool cabret places where one could enter for free. The market was also dotted with tattoo parlours, and gosh…was I tempted!
What did we eat?
Though one can find plenty of Indian restaurants in Bangkok and elsewhere, we tried to experiment with our taste palate and most of the time, ate Thai food. To me the best way to know a place is through its food and even though it does come with its own set of challenges which usually comes with the unfamiliarity of taste, it’s worthwhile. As far as Thai cuisine was concerned, our pick would be Tom Yum (Shrimp soup) , pad Thai Noodles, Pad Thai Salad and Sticky Rice infused in coconut milk with mango for dessert!
Money management is something which makes a very crucial part of your travel plan, especially when you are travelling out of country. In Thailand we found that it was better to use credit card as mark up fees turned out to be in the range of 2.5 to 4 percent, whereas currency conversion is invariably at a higher rate. However, there will be requirement of some currency also. Carrying about 20,000- 25000 bahts Should be sufficient . That amount can be withdrawn either from the ATM or from the currency exchange as the rates are nearly the same. And yes, you should not go for currency conversion at the airport as they always give inferior rates as compared to what is readily available in the market shops ! 1 Thai Baht= 2.35 INR roughly.
Hope this Travel story helps you plan yours. Come up with your queries freely, if any.
Copyright © Aradhana Mishra