In April 2019 we heard on the radio that Qatar Airways is again having 50% price drop for all flights from Zagreb. Leš asked me whether I’d consider going to Thailand but I wasn’t really into it. I imagined Thailand very touristy, crowded and quite familiar because a lot of my friends and people I follow have been there. I love to explore unknown locations and Thailand just didn’t seem one of those places to me. At the same time, Leš and I thought of our friend Helena which immediately changed my perspective towards going. It has been her lifelong dream to visit Thailand and since none of our friends are frequent travellers, there’s no better candidates than the two of us to help her dream come true! One phone call later, we were buying our plane tickets, along with our friend Ćuk who joined us! The best part is, we bought those plane tickets almost a year in advance, allowing us all the time in to world to evenly distribute our travel expenses (huge recommendation). Throughout the year, all 4 of us would get together once/twice a month to plan our itinerary and book accommodation. We decided to skip Bangkok and enjoy as much time on the beaches as possible.
Best time to visit Thailand is between December and March, making February possibly the best month weather wise! If you decide to visit earlier than December or later than March prepare yourself for a lot of rain and moody weather! We organised 3 weeks in February to have time to explore both well known and also remote locations. First off was Phuket!
Phuket is a very busy and touristy town, second biggest in the country. We decided it will suit us best if we just spend the night, sleep off the jet lag and continue on to islands. We visited the town centre where the night market was held in place. I completely forgot my camera but it was documented a lot on my instagram stories, now saved in highlight ‘thailand’. I considered this to be a rather thailandy welcome to Thailand 😀 I was in awe of all the different kinds of food and the surprisingly chill atmosphere in such a busy place. We haven’t had the courage to try the insects but we had the best smoothie ever! Passion fruit in a smoothie combined with literally anything else is a win!
In the morning we went for breakfast (Pancake Corner and the coffee club, big recommendation!) after which we took a fast boat to Koh Phi Phi where we stayed for 3 nights. We found almost all our stays via booking.com because developing countries like Thailand tend to have more options on booking than Airbnb (which I use more often).
Ko Phi Phi is a perfect location for those ready to chill during the day and party in the evening. The main beach has 10 or so clubs which strikingly liven the beach and transform it to a nightlife wilderness. We spent our time mostly exploring the island during the day which made us too tired to party. I might be 25 but my body is somewhere between 59 and 67, depending on the occasion.
As soon as we arrived to the Sea Sky resort, we left our bags and went exploring – first location was Monkey beach. From the main beach you can take a taxi boat! We payed 600baht for round trip. Oh and don’t get carried away by the word resort – we spent 2 nights killing cockroaches in our room, but to be fair you get what you pay for 😀
We didn’t see monkeys on the beach, they are more active in the morning I guess! Monkeys on this particular beach are not cute and funny, but very devious and they will steal your stuff, food, come close to you and what not. Be careful 🙂
The next day we went on an island hopping tour, exploring the whole Phi Phi area. I recommend doing this trip because the beaches are otherwise inaccessible but so worth the visit! We didn’t book the tour in advance, there is no need to; you can just walk around the island and find an office to do it on the spot!
Thailand is a very good place for snorkelling and diving, don’t skip the opportunity 🙂 We took pictures with my camera, I have Ewamarine underwater case for it and it’s amazing!
This is as close as you can get to Maya bay due to the beach being closed right now!
If the tour includes plankton watching, I suggest skipping it! The plankton luminance is not as intense as you would expect so there is no need to stay an hour or two longer on the boat (they ask who wants to stay and take back the people who don’t). We stayed, but actually regretted the decision very soon. Make sure to bring your own food even though you get a lunch box it’s very small and there is no vegan/vegetarian options. As far as dinner options on the island, I suggest checking out Cosmic, it has great food, cheap prices and big portions. I don’t remember the name, but across the Irish Pub is a cute restaurant where I had the best Pad Thai in whole Thailand. I also suggest having as many fruit smoothies and fruit as you can 🙂
The next day we decided to explore another beach but on our own! We took the taxi boat and got their number to call them to pick us up when we wanted to go home. The beach is called Nui – so beautiful but a bit sketchy to reach and there is such a tiny amount of shade so be careful about that 🙂
This was our accommodation, Sea Sky resort (3 pics):
The pictures above are just some random island photos I took when I realised I didn’t take any pictures of streets or island in general to show you. We were spending our last minutes on Phi Phi hurrying to the pier so it’s not much but at least gives a little piece of the atmosphere 🙂 I recommend buying souvenirs here on Phi Phi because they have the biggest variety of them and are among cheapest ones! As I said, we were rushing because we were trying to catch the ferry to Krabi. Our friends Helena and Ćuk were going to Singapore for 3 days and Leš and I stayed in Krabi after which we all reunited and continued with our Thai trip.
Leš and I stayed in Snoozz hotel Krabi and spent our days making more day trips. Our first trip was ‘4 islands tour’ and the next day we took a private boat to the Railay beach. Big recommendation for both! I must say you have to be a little bit patient going on group tours because of obvious reasons. We are not really used to travel with a lot of people so it takes a lot of energy and focus to get those ‘alone pictures’ and the time is liiiiimited. Sometimes it feels like a job even though it isn’t hahaha.
4 islands tour.
Down below are pictures from Railay beach! To get here, you need to go the Krabi pier in the centre and just ask any boat driver there to take you. You need to wait for at least 8 people to go in group or go immediately by yourself for a slightly bigger price. My advice is to wait! There are constantly people circling around so you won’t wait for long and you will save some money 🙂 The beach itself is not so nice swimming wise but the caffes and restaurants are to die for! You also have to explore the other beach as well! Just follow the path thorugh the jungle, it’s so interesting and it might be one of the prettiest and most Thai experiences we’ve had. Make sure to go in the morning or even stay the night (there are many amazing accommodations) because you won’t want to leave!
The jungle – a path to the other beach.
Cave path along the way.
There’s this very strange cave on the beach which was unexpected to say at least, hahaha! It is all about worshiping the Princess Goddess who is believed to reside in the cave underneath the cliff at one end of the beach.
On our way back we stumbled upon a magical scenery because the sun was giving such a pretty light. The classic Thai mountains in the back are my favourite detail in this shot.
We finished our day back on the first beach flying our drone, drinking smoothies and watching the sunset. It was unforgettable! 🙂
Pineapple, passion fruit, lemon, strawberry smoothie – best combination in the world!
You can see both beaches in this picture!
Three days solo flew by quickly so it was time to pick up Helena and Ćuk on the airport and move on to the next island – Koh Samui. We booked most, maybe even all of our transportation through 12goAsia web. It’s very easy to use and convenient because you can book all kinds of transports as well as combined transportation! Our accommodation on Koh Samui was the best place we had in Thailand. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it was. It’s called Orchid Lodge and you can book it on Airbnb.
The 4 of us spent most of our time on Koh Samui enjoying the pool because it was cloudy and too windy to go to any beach! Instead, we explored the inside of the island 🙂 There are few waterfalls to check out, easily found on google maps. We hiked the ‘Samui waterfall 2’ which is easy accessible by motorbikes. We rented ours in Orchid lodge with the help of our host Eva.
The entrance of the waterfall hiking area.
The pictures above show entrance, the start of the path and a big waterfall in the middle. If you reach it, there’s about another half to go to reach the viewpoint.
Just as we reached the top, the rain started pouring! Our clothes and bags were all wet inside out. I was worried about my camera equipment but everything turned out okay in the end 🙂 We stayed up there taking pictures and enjoying the rain. It was one of my favourite moments from Thailand!
There are so many great beaches here in Koh Samui so if you’ll have better weather than we did definitely take time to explore them 🙂 Our next and final island was Koh Tao which was also our favourite one as well! There is an everyday ferry from Samui departing several times a day. We rented the motorbikes again because even though the island is small, there are so many locations to visit which are impossible to cover by foot in such a short amount of time. Renting the motorbike for a day will only cost you around 150/200 baht.
We would start our day with some nice breakfast. The factory cafe and Living juices were our favourite places, I highly recommend checking them out 🙂
The beach we discovered, which completely blew our minds, was this one from the picture above! Beach Sai Nuan number 2. There is no direct path to it but you can reach the beach number 1 (or just Sai Nuan beach), park your motorbike there and then hike 5 minutes through the woods until you see the beach! You have to pay 100 baht per person to enter it. The best thing was having the beach to ourselves for the majority of time. After several hours only few more people came and it was as if they weren’t even there. It is still quite undiscovered 🙂
The next day we booked a day trip and went exploring the island by the boat! It was a different experience because we went exploring the nearby small island, went snorkelling on the biggest coral reef called The Japanese garden and also visited some beaches which are not inland accessible. My favourite was this Seychelles looking beach on the small island Nangyuan 🙂
There is a famous viewpoint just above this beach but I was too tired to go up. We spent our time swimming/enjoying the sea because sadly it was our last beach day in Thailand! We explored at least 4/5 more beaches on Koh Tao but since the weather conditions are depending if it is morning or afternoon, we decided to move onto the next beach very often. The picture down below shows a beautiful yet windy and wavy beach. Later in the day the same beach was a paradise so just choose carefully when to explore them 🙂
We also spent a lot of time hanging out in local bars and restaurants. It was Leš’s birthday during our stay in Koh Tao and we decided to have a pizza night, just the two of us! If you get tired of Pad Thai, I get you, but pizza is not the answer, especially if you are from mid Europe. They don’t have conditions to grow all the needed ingredients so they either import low quality food or make their own. We were eating Pad Thai every single day so I needed a change but it might have been better if I tried something local again! We learned our lesson! We said goodbye to the island and went to pack our bags for the next adventure.
Finally, it was time to visit Chiang Mai! We took a direct flight from Surat thani, booked via 12goAsia again. Excited to explore the north, we did a bit of research considering the elephant sanctuaries.
The one we chose to visit is called Bamboo Elephant Family Care. Now I know there will always be some of you who will decide to name me for even going, but, our experience was calm, kind, with no signs of doing harm to these amazing creatures. Elephants saved from captivity are unable to be sent to wilderness because they would simply not survive. Taking that into consideration, I am only saying the time we spent there felt ethical, but I can’t tell for sure what goes on behind the closed doors. A lot of shelters call themselves ethical when it’s obvious they’re not, but on the other hand there are few well known very ethical sanctuaries in the world and while I was reading their instagram posts comments few people said it’s all a hoax. Generally, the idea of a sanctuary is not bad for itself, but the unethical execution of it is a problem.
Definitely the highlight of this experience was meeting baby Bamboo! 🙂 We also learned to prepare medicine for elephants which they need several times a day, it helps them to digest all the food they eat (200 kilos of food a day per elephant)! There is a huge debate about touching the animals, but since they depend on humans who take care of them I guess it’s inevitable, although I am not sure is it really necessary to let us tourists touch them as well. I have to admit, ethical or not, it is one of a kind experience to be in such close vicinity of a majestical creature such as elephant!
The next day we took a daily trip to Chiang Rai! I always wanted to visit the white temple there and I was happy to hear that the Karen long neck tribe was included in itinerary. However, before coming here I have to say I didn’t do any research at all and was ignorant about whole situation! Having visited them, I did my research afterwords because things seemed a little bit off.
After reading about Karen long neck tribe in northern Thailand, I learned that the Thai government doesn’t let them go back to their homeland Burma (Myanmar) because they use them as a touristic attraction. There is so much more than just this but I won’t get into details now. I felt sad to have taken part in such thing so if you don’t have good reasons, it might be a better idea not to go at all (at least not in Thailand).
On the brighter note, visiting Wat Rong Khun temple was a whole other thing! Even thought it is considered a temple, it is more a huge art exhibition if you ask me. First of all it is a private temple, owned by its creator/architect, second of all you will find Hello Kitty, Harry Potter, Angry birds, Spiderman and many more confusing characters on the interior walls which are still unexplained and only known by the artist himself. Thirdly, unlike other temples this one has a metaphor in the building composition and the required visitor behaviour – representing the life as we know it is an entrance area, followed by the long bridge which leads to the main building. Once you cross the bridge you are not allowed to go back (literally) and when you do you’ve arrived to the afterlife.
Visiting Wat Rong Khun was a nice introduction to our last stop in Thailand – Bangkok. Since our flight to Croatia was from there, we stayed for a day to visit few temples. We tried to escape the city as much as we could and this one day was more than enough for us. If we stayed longer we would have lost our minds! The heat is just unbearable comparing to the islands.
The temples we visited were Wat Pho, Wat Anongkharam and Wat Arun. There is a boat which connects the two sides of the river to quicker get to Wat Arun and the ride is only 4 baht per person! I am not a huge fan of temples so I wasn’t that much fascinated with all of this. Too much gold and luxury for sacred objects in my opinion.
We stayed at the Vivit Hostel Bangkok and it was great, I would even recommend it if you’re staying more than 1 night. Other than walking around wats, we didn’t do anything else worth writing about. We were really homesick at this point so we were just waiting to board the plane. It’s always like that for me, I easily have a need to travel and even easier wish to come home. Gemini, what can I say. If you have any additional questions regarding our trip, feel free to leave a comment or dm me! Hope you enjoyed and it wasn’t too long 🙂
Stay adventurous and I wish you happy travels! 🙂