BANGKOK, KOH SAMUI, KRABI, KOH PHI PHI
Day 1 – Departure from London – Arrival to Bangkok
The flight with Oman Air with stopover in Oman’s capital Muscat lasted about seven hours. Muscat welcomed us early in the morning with very pleasant temperature 26’C but there was no time for sunbathing because we still have a five hour flight ahead of us. We are finally landing in the world famous city of Bangkok.
Upon arrival we took City line train to downtown but since the hotel was still a bit far from there we decided to get on a bus. And then it began… Since we barely slept on the plane and were really tired, we managed to get into the bus going to the opposite direction as we wanted to go. Just to put you in the picture, I knew which bus to take but to get the right direction of travel was not so easy. Unmarked bus stops and very weak English of the locals didn’t help either. So we have flown a bit but never mind. We like to get lost time to time and just explore new city. The bus ride in Bangkok with its 12 million people was pretty good adrenaline. Bus driver has no problem to stop in the third lane from the bus stop which means you have to run through two lanes of heavy traffic if you want to get on. And all this is happening more or less while driving. On the next stop we took another bus from the other side and soon we were getting off not far from the hotel Lamphu house near legendary Khaosan road.
Day 2 – Bangkok
Right after breakfast we set off for getting to know Bangkok. We had a little temperature shock because it was hot from early morning and during the day the temperature rose to 35’C. Our plan was to visit top 3 Buddhist temples. We started with the biggest and most famous one – the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo. The complex is huge and impressed us with gorgeous and ornate buildings. Gilded Buddha statues sitting under all types of roofs with amazing shapes and all possible colours. The only disadvantage of this place was the amount of tourists so we decided to carry on and visit another temple.
Before visiting next temple we decided to try the famous Thai food. I must say that the food is superb but when ordering I’d recommend to make sure it’s not ‘spicy’ because our stomachs are not built for their spices. Right after lunch we continued with a visit of the Wat Pho temple with about 40 meter long reclining Buddha. Since this temple is known for the finest masseurs in Thailand we decided to try authentic Thai massage. To be honest I didn’t want to do it that much but suddenly I was lying on the mattress and little old lady was turning my whole body like a chicken on the grill. I did not understand where she takes the power from but she shook me out like a Wiener Schnitzel… Good experience but once was enough.
We kept the best for the last – Wat Arun temple. Quick transfer by ferry across the river and we were there. We climbed up steep stairs where we could enjoy a magnificent view of the city. Really worth to go there.
After this amazing experience we decided to take a river taxi back home. We missed our stop and got off a little farther than we assumed but at least we have seen and new part of the city. We also found out if you ask the locals for directions they’ll send you easily somewhere else. Why is that I don’t know. From now on we just trust the maps.
Day 3 – Damnoen Saduak floating market – Koh Samui
Floating Market is located about an hour and a half drive southwest of Bangkok. We expected a minibus full of other tourists but we were pleasantly surprised when our guide Noon opened the door of a luxury Nissan we had all only for us. Really good start of the trip. On the way we stopped at a smaller market and finally tasted Thai fruit. From pineapples, bananas to mangoes and melons I can say that was the best fruit I had in my life. Before the arrival on the market we stopped at the elephant farm where we did elephant trekking. Amazing experience.
After that we arrived to our destination and now swooped into the boat, which was flying through the narrow channels into the centre of the marketplace. There we changed for a paddling boat and started to explore the market. You are buying and selling everything on the boat and from the boat. The best thing is that all vegetables and fruits are grown in home gardens and therefore still taste well. After a few mangoes and pineapples we’ve tried authentic Thai soup with pasta. Delicious treat.
We returned to Bangkok and from there we board the plane to beautiful island – Koh Samui. The flight lasted about 45 minutes and after a short while we were landing on the hilly island. Koh Samui airport is one of the most beautiful airports in the world. Arrival hall is a complex of small wooden houses with palm leaves, flowers, benches and fountains. Transfer by bus from the airport to the Hutcha resort in the northern part of island and after we dropped our bags we went out to taste local specialties on the market.
Day 4 – Koh Samui
After 2 hot days in Bangkok we couldn’t wait to finally swim in the sea. Right after breakfast we went to the beach.
Hutcha resort is located in the northern part of the island of Mae Nam. Soft sand, turquoise-blue water and all coconut palm trees around you. After refreshing swim in the sea, which means the skin on my fingers is completely shriveled, we went for a walk to explore the area and make some pictures.
We had lunch in our resort and for dinner we went to the city centre. Along the way we stumbled upon the bar owned by an English football fan. Ideal place to finish the day watching Champions League with a chilled beer.
Day 5 – Koh Samui – round trip
We love to explore new places and we wanted to see how the locals live. We decided to go on a half-day trip around the island and visit the main attractions. Trip began with a view of the cliffs at Chaweng Beach, we have continued to the stones of Grandmother and Grandfather, followed by stop with monkey show. Juice of a fresh coconut was exactly what we needed. Later on one of the monkeys showed us how they actually collect the coconuts. Within seconds she was on the top of the palm tree and started to turn the coconut with her hands and legs until it fell down. Really good experience. This was followed by a photo shoot with the little cheeky monkey which I couldn’t resist. I stepped next to her and she just jumped on my shoulder. Strike a pose with happy apple-eating monkey was really cool.
Next stop was Khunnaram temple with mummified monk, something of the style of Lenin’s mausoleum. Tour continued further into Tropical Park Namuang with 40-meters high waterfall. Ascend up there took us about 15 minutes but the place is a real jungle so the view was spectacular. I came up completely wet and immediately jumped into that waterfall. After this refreshing swim we went back to the car and we still had 2 more stops ahead of us. The first of which was gold-plated statue of Big Buddha with its lovely promenade. There were also a few bells and everyone could ring them. I’m not an expert on Buddhism but it certainly means something.
The last stop was Wat Leam park with the statue of Chinese monk and after this we called it a day.
Day 6 – Koh Samui – Koh Tao trip
Our stay in Koh Samui was coming to an end but there was still 1 more trip to do which I was really looking forward to. Koh Tao island with nearby Koh Nangyuan island which is ranked among the Top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. Speed-boat journey took about an hour and three quarters. Just before we arrived we had a stop for snorkeling. Beautiful corals and fish of all possible shapes and colours pleasantly surprised us.
After that we finally arrived to Koh Nangyuan. Three wooded hills connected with a sandy shore dividing the sea into three (sometimes during high tide only into two) parts and creating wonderful bays. I quickly climbed up through the small woodland prospect, took few pictures and run down to bathe in those beautiful waters. It would be worth coming here and stay even longer.
After we return back home to the resort we had an evening swim and then we went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. As soon as we discovered the shark in the menu we could not resist and ordered it. Finely sliced pieces of shark meat gently mixed up with Thai pasta is an excellent delicacy. We couldn’t think of any better ending of our stay in Koh Samui…
Day 7 – Depart from Koh Samui – Arrival to Krabi
As I already mentioned at the beginning the airport of Koh Samui is a chapter in itself and will put you in a good mood when you touch down. To be honest with you we didn’t want to leave at all but our journey continued. Just a 40-minutes flight with Bangkok Airways and we were landing at the airport in Krabi. There was 36’C in Krabi that’s why the air-conditioned bus from the airport to the hotel Noppharat Resort was very handy. The complex is just about 5-minute walk from the beach but compared to the other hotels in the centre this one is an oasis of peace. Modern bungalows are located in a small tropical garden with palms and banana trees. As a bonus at the end we found fantastic pool with a hot tub. You know what happened next, right? Jump and splash…
We unpacked and went to the city to check the beach and Krabi itself. Ao Nang beach lined up with mountain range in the background is great but is only suitable for photography. Swimming-nothing much, mainly because of the amount of mud and sand boats with never stopping engines.
Krabi is in comparison to Koh Samui larger touristic point and also the prices here are much higher but if you don’t want to go to Phuket, Krabi is the perfect starting place for round trips.
Day 8 – Krabi – Trip to Phang Nga Bay park
After about an hour and a half drive by minibus we arrived at Phang Nga Bay Park and boarded a long tail boat. First stop – Canoe resort on Talu island. From a boat we changed to canoe and went on a half hourly circuit. Forested cliffs are full of holes and caves and canoeing through them is a real experience.
Next stop was the main point of the trip – Kao Tappo, better known as James Bond Island, where they filmed the James Bond with Roger Moore – The Man with the Golden Gun. The bay with famous limestone needle is gorgeous but always crowded with tourists. Although looking at Russian girls posing as Bond girls was really funny… I must praise the filmmakers for choosing this place because it’s really beautiful. It was a hot day again so I decided to cool off in the water and check the famous stone from closer perspective.
We were getting hungry so the next stop came very handy – lunch in a floating restaurant on the island Panyee. Classic Thai meal with fresh fruits was delicious. Upon returning to the mainland our last stop was the Buddhist temple Suwankhuha in the monkey cave. There are many monkeys at the entrance and bear in mind they don’t have a problem to pull out of your bag whatever they like. The cave itself looked calm and peaceful. With a number of smaller altars inside the whole space is dominated by a gilded statue of lying Buddha next to which is sitting a praying monk.
After this spiritual retreat we returned back to Krabi.
Day 9 – Krabi – Similan islands
Similan Islands are among one of the top destinations and that was the reason why I booked the trip before flying to Thailand. And I was glad I did it in advance… Since it is about 2 hours’ drive from Krabi, minibus picked us up at 6:30am. Upon arrival to Khao Lak we had a quick breakfast and afterwards we jumped into 1 of the speed boats and were heading towards Andaman Jewel – Similan Islands archipelago. The entire archipelago consists from 7 small islands but there are only 4 of them open for tourists. The other 3 are part of a protected park because there are homes of sea turtles. It was clear from the first snorkeling stop why Similans are such a great spot for underwater life. I’ve never seen such beautiful corals and fish in my whole life.
Many people say the best underwater life is in the Red sea but I was snorkeling in Taba in Egypt and have to disagree with that. This was absolutely the best, you just have to see it to believe it. Until now my private nr.1 was the Paradise island in Bahamas but from today it’s definitely Similan islands.
The only thing I regret is we didn’t stay overnight. There is a small camp on one of the islands so if you ever get there, stay at least one night. It will be worth it…
Day 10 – Depart from Krabi – Arrival to Koh Phi Phi
Early morning ferry from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi seemed to be full but in the lower deck we found a lot of free seats and a good view for a few pictures. After 2 hours we reached the port in Koh Phi Phi. While getting off from the boat we’ve noticed a huge swarm of rainbow fish in the water. Very nice welcome… We just quickly dropped our bags and went out to explore the area. We wanted to get familiar with the island first but some of the trips looked pretty tempting and we decided to go for the evening trip today. The boat left at 3pm towards nearby Phi Phi Lei island and the first stop was snorkeling near the Viking Cave.
The next stop was the legendary Maya beach from the movie The Beach (luckily without DiCaprio). The advantage of this trip was that we arrived at the beach when all other boats were already leaving. The disadvantage on the other hand was the evening tide that reveals what’s below the surface. But again thanks to that we’ve managed to see lovely Nemo in action.
From the beach we have moved to the other side of the island. Not only the beach but also the rest of the island with exotic vegetation and birds is amazing. We returned back to the boat and while waiting for dinner we watched the sun setting into the sea. The pinnacle of the evening was after the dark when the captain turned off the light and we jumped into the water and swam with luminescent plankton. The more you move the more they shine. I didn’t even wanted to get out of the water. To see the stars above your head and to see the luminescent plankton underneath was something we’ll never forget…
Day 11 – Koh Phi Phi
In the morning we decided to take a trip similar to the one yesterday but during the daylight. One agency offered us the same + swimming with sharks and turtles as a bonus. That was exactly what we were looking for. We booked it and we went to the port. We have embarked a little boat with 12 other people and went to sea. First stop was swimming with the shark but somehow I did not believe it. Guides told us we’ll see only baby sharks which do not attack people. To see them we had to stay calm and move our legs under the water as little as possible. We put on fins, snorkels started to admire beautiful fish in the water. After a while our guide stopped and pointed the finger in front of himself. I looked around and about three meters from us I could see about 1 meter-long shark. You can say whatever you want even if it’s a baby shark for me shark is still a shark and I have a huge respect for them. Later we’ve seen more of them and to see them like this in an open water was really cool.
We returned back to the boat and went to visit the Viking cave, next stop snorkeling in the turquoise lagoon and after we finished we were heading to Maya beach. There was no sign of yesterday’s tide and the beach showed itself in her full beauty. That was the Beach we knew from the movie and despite the number of tourists it was a pure feast for the eyes.
Next stop was swimming with turtles but as we were told it is not always possible to find the turtles. On that day everything was going well and after maybe 10 minutes by our guide pointed at one turtle who was easily swimming in about 2 meter depth.
After that we returned back to Phi Phi with and the last stop was the monkey island where a few monkeys live in the trees. They just hang around and wait for tourist to get some bananas and pineapples from them. We came back around noon and the rest of the day we just relaxed. I found out that about 15 minutes from us is a viewing point so I decided to go there. On the map it looked like an easy walk but in reality it was a steep climb uphill. It was the hottest day of our stay with 35’C and I came up to the viewing point completely wet. The view from there was absolutely breath taking and was the highlight of the day.
It was just me and 4 other guys up there and we all just enjoyed the silent and peace of that magical place.
Day 12 – Koh Phi Phi – Phuket – Bangkok
On the last day we decided to go look up one of the remote beaches in the eastern part of the island. We got up to the end of the promenade where we found a small jungle forest with lovely bamboo bungalows. Behind them we found a little bay and we just rested on the beach. We realised our stay not just in Phi Phi but also Thailand was coming to an end and we enjoyed every minute of it.
We returned back to the hotel for luggage and then we boarded a ferry to Phuket. It took us 2 hours to get there. To be honest we didn’t like Phuket that much but it all depends on what you are after in Thailand. We didn’t have time to go and see some of the beaches so we just moved out of town to the airport and flew back to Bangkok.
Another short flight with Air Asia and we were back to Bangkok. From there we took a minibus to Silver Gold Garden hotel near the airport and started to get ready for our morning flight with 24-hour stop in Muscat of Oman.
Tip 1: Do not book any trips with your hotel. You’ll get better price in nearby travel agency or local guide.
Tip 2: In Bangkok try the real Thai massage in Wat Pho temple.
Tip 3: If you have enough time stay in Similan Islands overnight. You won’t regret it.
Tip 4: In Koh Phi Phi don’t let the steep stairs put you off from going up to the viewing point. The view is spectacular.
Total costs: 12 days (Thailand + Oman): £1100.00
(prices as of March 2013)
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