What a better way to celebrate completing my 2nd year of Naturopathic medical school by packing up and heading to South East Asia with friends! First stop: Thailand! Throughout the past few years I have stumbled upon and screen-shotted gorgeous Instagram posts of Thailand. Screen-shotting these photos help me visualize and work hard to make a lot of my dreams into reality. I have a “Dream Board” photo album on my iPhone for whenever I see something that I like as inspiration, a dream travel destination or something I want. Dream boards sound so simple but work very well. If you are not familiar with the concept, I suggest you watch the movie “The Secret” on Netflix and start making your own dream board! Anyways, I am so happy to have made it to Thailand… it is even better than the photos on my phone that I’ve fantasized over.
We started off in Bangkok for two nights. What a busy, crazy and intense city! I was able to explore in the short time that we had in Bangkok since there was no jet lag involved even considering the 13-hour time difference. I will write a post soon how to avoid and cure jet lag. Bangkok was such a cool city but is very hot and hectic! Our hotel was really pretty with a rooftop pool.
During the full day that we had, we decided to check out the historical sites of the Grand Palace. It was a magical place indeed but there were so many tourists, a lot of locals trying to scam you, and the heat was so intense with thick humidity. I really enjoyed the temples and how their gold architecture glistened in the sun. Going to see Buddha was pretty awesome. We had to take our shoes off before entering the temple. The black marble was SO hot on our feet we were running inside! Inside was very calm with a lot of monks praying cross-legged. I found out that it is disrespectful to point your feet towards Buddha… oops! Learning new cultures one day at a time I guess! Here are a few pictures from the beautiful temples.
We did some shopping in the local market and were excited to receive too-good-to-be-true deals while bargaining with vendors. The last night we wanted to go to Lebua State Tower, a rooftop bar on the 64th floor (where the Hangover 2 was filmed). The bar was set up so perfectly, I’ve never seen a rooftop so magnificent. The staircase and gold roof is lit up at night.
I was excited to get dressed up for drinks but I realized that I only packed running shoes and flip flops. Off to the market we went and I didn’t even have to haggle a vendor since I found pretty sandals for 99 Baht (3 dollars CAD)! Even better, I realized I had put a picture of this skybar on my dream board a long time ago before even booking my flight. The bar was beautiful with the best views of Bangkok. We met a lot of interesting people and a live band played all night. There was a beautiful champagne lounge roped off where the band played.
Three of us girls walked at night from Lebua to our hotel and felt safer than during the day. Even though we were scoring deals, we still managed to get ripped off a lot in Bangkok! We had cab drivers try to make us pay triple what the meter said, we had scammers dressed as security come up to us to tell us the temples were closed and to try to sell us on another tour, etc. etc.. If you ever go to Bangkok, don’t talk to anyone except the main offices for excursions/temples… thats the easiest and best advice I can give. Also, never take what they first offer you even if they make it seem believable that it is indeed a good price. Always bargain for lower! The pad thai we had in Bangkok was absolutely the best pad thai I’ve ever tasted… the best part… it was only 95 baht (2$). I am glad we only stayed 2 nights as we were ready for the beach.
Next, we flew to Krabi. Krabi is beautiful, luscious, green and the beaches are fabulous surrounded by huge cliffs and rock formations. It is considered monsoon season here right now but there was only a little bit of cloudy periods and only one afternoon with heavy rain. It was a 30 minute drive to Aonang beach from the airport… the resort was so perfect. The water here was bright blue surrounded by luscious green islands, cliffs and rock formations popping out of the water all over.
My favourite part was jumping in the water and being amazed at how warm it was. It felt like bathwater. Even at night, to swim it is super warm! I felt quite safe swimming at night because our hotel illuminates the entire beach and water during the darker hours. We stayed at the Aonang Villa Resort. Our hotel was safe, relaxing and in close proximity to the beach bars, pharmacy, restaurants and street vendors. I would definately recommend it to anyone. We had great conversations over Singha beers on the beach with travellers debating about Veganism, travelling and entrepreneurship. We had a cute beach bar at our resort that had a nightly DJ that played good lounge music and the trees were lit up with lanterns. There was a dry lightning/thunder storm one night and it was a great experience to watch it from this bar listening to the music surrounded by happy people. Such a great time.
Next stop was Phi Phi island. After making sure to take a few natural ginger Gravols, we took a 2-hour ferry boat. We got to Phi Phi Don in the afternoon and our hotel’s little long boat was waiting for us. Therefore, it took two boats. There is no cars or anything on Phi Phi and our hotel’s beach was very secluded and amazing. CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF BAYVIEW PHI PHI HERE.
In Phi Phi, our friends from Aonang beach picked us up for a boat trip to Maya Beach! It was a really short ride. Maya looks beautiful from the distance as it is basically a huge mountain sticking straight up out of the water! It looks as if someone dropped massive boulders of rock into the water… looks unreal. The best part of this ride is when the boat goes behind it and starts to turn the corner into the lagoon… Your breath is taken away when the water gets crystal-clear and all you see is the long horshoe-shaped white beach.
There is a natural awning over half the beach made out of the cliffs’ caves. So incredible! The sand is so soft and the water is so shallow and warm. This is the exact place where they filmed the incredible shots from The Beach movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. Definately should be on everyone’s bucket list. I recommend going in the afternoon when there are less tourists and boats. When we got back on our boat, the driver drove us around to a secluded cove. I jumped out with a few of the guys and we started swimming to a net hanging off the side of the cliff. Getting to the cliff was actually really dangerous! The waves were big and the white caps were smashing us against the rocks. Everytime a wave would come, our knees would drag against the rocks or your body would crash into something that didn’t feel too good!
By the time we regained control and climbed up to the top of the net (not without leaving a lot of red blood all over the net), we were finally in the safe zone. It was a good view but we realized the path we just got access to was only to go back to maya beach where we just were. We saw our friends struggling in the cove and we yelled at them to turn around to avoid also getting hurt. A lot of busted toes and bloody legs. Not to mention on the swim back, there was a few jellyfish stings. It was actually pretty hilarious! I fortunately only had a little scrape on my leg. Of course, I had packed a mini naturopathic medical kit. After providing our friends with some arnica and anti-histamines for the stings, we were good. The adventure was worth it. Swimming and floating around the lagoon water looking up into the sky was honestly better than any therapy. We all had the sensation of ultimate zen. After our boat trip, we had lunch at Phi Phi’s port which had really good gin and tonics, fresh shrimp and fun tiki huts and swings.
With all this unique natural beauty… there is some MAJOR ugly I feel like I should share. One night while on my balcony, I clicked CNN.com on my phone and the first thing to show up was this…
I totally agreed with this article concerning Thailand. I found that Maya Beach was extremely touristy to the point where I was wondering how it looked before the popularization of this spot. It was indeed beautiful, but was missing the wildlife and greenery seen in cliffs outside of the major tourist spots. I hate to be a hypocrite since I ,in fact, was a tourist contributing to this problem but I believe that there are ways to avoid tourism damage from getting out of control. No matter where you swim in Thailand, you end up with a piece of plastic wrapped around your ankle. Several times, I got tangled in one of those bulk water bottle bags. By the fourth huge piece of plastic I pulled out of the water, I had a really somber feeling. There is definitely ecosystem damage here and tourists need to be more aware while the Thailand government should enforce more restrictions or better clean up activations. Therefore, if you are ever touring Thailand, please do not litter. As tourists we must protect the land as it is so generous to graciously welcome us. Another thing, the boats are all very outdated and emit a disgusting black exhaust that is probably doing another massive negative impact on such a beautiful place. Hopefully this is figured out soon before the area and the wild life is irreversibly damaged. I think Leo Dicap should get his butt back here and do another one of his oscar speech’s about saving the planet so there is more light to be shined on this 😉
A long time ago, I was browsing Instagram and saw that Paulina Gretsky was posting pictures in a place called “Phuket”. I told myself… wherever Phuket is in the world, I will go one day. Well.. here I am currently in Phuket, Thailand. We took another boat here from Phi Phi.
Phuket is more luxurious and modern in comparison to Phi Phi Don island life. We were impressed with the food, impeccable service and clean hotel. Island life on Phi Phi was more run down, service was almost too laid-back but the grounds were more naturally untouched which is nice sometimes. We got to Phuket late so we didnt have much time to explore beaches but we got to see the coastline from our boat trip. I got to the hotel, did some laps in the pool, went for dinner, did a 30 minute abs and booty workout with the girls and now we are headed to bed.
In conclusion, Thailand was incredible and I would love to see more islands like Koh Samui next time I am here. In the morning… we go to BALI!
Tips for cheap travel to Thailand to make your trip possible:
-Book flights on Expedia 3 weeks or more in advance specifically on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon
-Convert your money at the airport or money exchanger in the streets in Thailand instead of in Canada or using an ATM
-Research nice hotels that you want to stay at, get a taxi to bring you there, then book once you get to the hotel. You will get a better deal this way rather than pre-booking on Expedia. If not, show the resort how much you can get the hotel for online and they will lower their price for you.
-ALWAYS bargain prices that taxis, vendors, hotels, massages, tuktuk’s offer you and always agree on the price before the service is chosen
-Eat at restaurants just off the beach instead of on the beach to get half-priced of the same dishes
-Try to pack a suitcase under 15 kg (33 pounds) in order to not get charged too much on local airlines and boats… suitcase in my opinion is a much better option than a heavy backpack as that looks hot and strenuous.
-Rent a tuktuk or long boat for the day and ask the driver to take you on a tour rather than booking an excursion with 20 other people… you will save money and have a better/more unique experience.
-Smile at everyone but don’t talk to the people who come up to you on the streets. Someone will always try to sell you on something even though you think they are just trying to make conversation or trying to help you with something. A lot of tour vendors come up to you to scare you saying that your bag will be stolen if you don’t hold it properly blah blah… and then try to sell you on a “safe” tour. Don’t believe them… they are going to rip you off.