We travelled to Thailand by China Southern Airlines, which offered the best price for flight, a puzzling online check-in website, and an accommodating staff with limited English speaking skills. Our flight from Vancouver International Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok was approximately 17 hours. Surprisingly, there were a wide selection of Hollywood films, comfortable seats, and decent food and beverage services on this cheap flight. We reached Bangkok at 10PM and caught an overpriced cab to our hotel: Baan Dinso.
I had found our hotel through Airbnb’s website, and our room was more than we had expected. Upon arrival, the hotel manager upgraded us to their Grand room with a view of the Democracy Monument. We were a five minute walk from Khao San Road and close to all of the other attractions that the Banglamphu district had to offer. During our time in Bangkok, we ate many varieties of fried rice, Pad Thai, fresh fruit, grilled meat, and vegetable from bargaining street vendors along any road we ventured. We bought trinkets and T-shirts on Khao San Road, perused the Chatuchak market, toured shops along the Chao Phraya river, climbed temple stairs, and experienced the best rooftop bars of the city.
Moon Bar was by far the most incredible rooftop venue we visited in Bangkok. We were able to get a table almost immediately and enjoyed the 360° view of Bangkok from 61 floors above ground. Everything was overpriced, but worth it to experience the extravagant restaurant bar and all that it had to offer.
The most memorable temple we visited in Bangkok, Wat Arun, is known as The Temple of Dawn. If you are travelling on a budget, this is the Buddhist temple to see. It costs about two U.S. dollars to enter and climb to the highest balcony of this 250 foot seventeenth century tower. Despite the heat, we layered on long sleeved shirts and pants outside of the gates before heading in. Demons and monkeys adorned the walls of the temple. The climb up the stairs was steep, but there were railings to help us along.
To get to the islands, we caught a one hour flight via Air Asia to Surat Thani Airport. As part of the Air Asia package, we were led to a bus and given a ride to the pier where we had lunch at a small restaurant connected to a waiting area. It wasn’t long before a huge and smoky ferry arrived to take us on our remaining 2 hour journey to Koh Samui.
We stayed for two days on Koh Samui at BT Mansion,a fantastic hotel that we found on Hotels.com. Our corner room overlooked an empty lot inhabited by friendly stray dogs. These pups roamed the streets during the day and were fed by shop owners, tourists and locals. During the day, we ordered mixed cocktails from street vendors, tanned on the beach, shopped for sarongs at the small shops along Lamai Beach, and took advantage of the amazing massages offered for 300 Baht, or 9 USD.
We had our best dinner experience on Koh Samui at a restaurant called Bali, serving Indonesian cuisine. The owner was welcoming and attentive, and the food was tasty. He suggested for us to stay for Trivia Night at 7:30PM, and we were not disappointed! Although we were the youngest team to compete, we managed to answer some questions about facts before our time and intimidate the other tables. Safe to presume we lost Trivia Night, but gained friends, wisdom and a belly full of delicious food, cocktails and dessert at a fair price.
Another memorable experience was had at The Cabaret near Lamai Beach. We bought reasonably priced tickets to the ladyboy show, and it was worth every penny! The performers were awesome, interactive and fun. We were given front row seats and watched these dancers lip sing to popular songs, like “It’s Raining Men!”
We caught a boat from Koh Samui to Koh Phagnan for the Half Moon Jungle Party. The manager of The Blue Parrot Beach Resort greeted us upon arrival and helped us settle into our new accommodations. Our corner room had the best view of the beach, air conditioning and prime access to the outdoor bar and restaurant. A fifteen-minute walk from our resort led to the Night Market, open for those who want to experience the best street food on the island.
During our time here, we took a 400 Baht tuk tuk ride to Haad Rin beach and spent a day touring the shops, lying on the beach and watching the sunset. We also signed up for an Orion Boat Tour recommended by our resort, called Marine Park Cruise. This tour was packed with activities, from snorkelling near Koh Wao to hiking Koh Wua Talap for some spectacular views of Ang Thong. We were given kayaks to paddle around the caves of Mae Koh. Fresh fruit and thai cuisine were served between each activity. This tour was worth every Baht.
In preparation for the Half Moon Party, we bought neon outfits at a nearby shop and ventured to The Beach Village next door to our resort for some pregaming and paint. The outdoor bar hosted a body painting party for all those attending the event. We caught a tuk tuk to the jungle party and got sloshed to a terribly monotonous techno-house beat 🙂 Not worth every Baht…but all the “same, same”, a good experience.
We checked out of The Blue Parrot and headed up North after spending a day recovering on coconut water at the beach. Our next stop was Haad Yao Bayview Resort. This hotel was clean, comfortable, and offered a complimentary breakfast. On this part of the island, we did a jungle trek into Bottle Beach, and took a boat from here to Coconut Beach. We spent a day at Mae Hat Beach, had some amazing food at one of the beach eateries, and watched another beautiful sunset.
Our last stop, Koh Tao, was my favorite island of the three. We booked our stay at Asia Divers Resort, and spent a day touring the shops on this highly populated island. We had our best meal at The Gallery Restaurant, rated #1 in Koh Tao by TripAdvisor. The photographer of the gallery owns the establishment with his wife, who manages the restaurant.
This island is the most lively at night, where there are endless parties on the coast. We spent the next day at Koh Nang Yuan and hiked up a busy path for this view:
The next day, we headed to Chumphon by ferry and stayed for one night at an excellent hotel which we booked through Agoda.com, Talay Sai Hotel, for 30USD. We were located across the street from Tung Wua Laen, the best rated beach in Chumphon. This area of the city was quiet and pristine. There were tons of tiny hermit crabs along this expansive beach. We had the whole place to ourselves! The restaurants along the beach served delicious food at a steal, and we spent the day settling in without the hassle of aggressive salespeople, a luxury that you could only relate to if you have spent time in the more touristy parts of Thailand. Our hotel scheduled a taxi to take us to the airport at 6AM the next morning.
We had one night in Bangkok left on the itinerary! A visit to Lumphini Park to feed handfuls of pellets to schools of fish from our swan paddle boats made for a fun activity. This was the place to see Komodo dragons, which skirted the lake, the trees and grass searching for small game. We capped our evening with a phenomenal three layered chocolate cake and homemade ice cream at Moon Bar.
If you are interested in seeing the two minute video I made of our trip, click on the YouTube link below. Sawatdee ka!
Youtube Link: Thailand – Bangkok to the East Coast Islands