Date of stay: January 2015
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Our first stop in Thailand was Koh Samui, where we arrived after long drive by bus. First, we arrived at the Surat Thani Airport and then we managed to hire a bus just outside of the airport and paid AUD 40 approximately.
At the north coast of Koh Samui, a beach called MaeNam Beach is located. This beach did not impress us. The water was cloudy and seemed dirty. Activities such as snorkeling seemed impossible. Stinging was kind of regular there, We thought that it could have been some jellyfish larvae or fish, but I did not see any. Maybe it was just salt water.
Anyway, back to the beach. It is long with yellow sand, not crowded, only few people there. That is something that I only liked about Koh Samui. There is a sharp descent into the sea, and it is not necessary to walk 100 meters off the shore to swim as it happens in some places.
This beach seemed to Bophut, they are next to each other. It is close to the airport, and obviously closed to the main attraction which is the Big Buddha monument (definitely worth a visit). It is also close to Chaweng Beach if you are looking for some partying. I reckon the Big Buddha Beach is fine, however I wouldn’t book a room in this are if I had the opportunity.
Chaweng Beach is a place for those lovers of the partying scene. In Chaweng, you will find heaps of shops, restaurants and night markets.
The sand is white and the sea water is clear; however, the beach is crowded and therefore you won’t be able to lie down in silence on the sand.
Chaweng is quite noisy at night given that there are lots of drunken tourists, cars and motorbikes. Heaps of ladyboys on the streets – In one word: “Chaos”. I recommend this place only for those party animals.
Koh Phangan is in the Gulf of Thailand and is one of the most known places for backpacking in Southeast Asia, particularly because of the world famous Full Moon Party, so be prepared for a lot of partying here. We just spent one day there and it was enough according to us. You can also escape from the madness and head to the eastern or northern beaches on the island such as Haat Rin.
To be honest, the only purpose of going there was because of the Full Moon Party. At this party, each bar has its own sound system, so you’ll hear different music every few feet. The beach is lined with people selling alcohol and fire dancers putting on shows. Little booths are also set up, which sell glow-in-the-dark face paint as kids run up and down the beach hawking trinkets and glowsticks. It happens during the full moon every month.. It you miss it, there’s always the half moon party, quarter moon party, and black moon party. Really, every day is a party here.
Koh Phi Phi is to my knowledge the most popular islands in Thailand. The famous Maya Beach (made famous in The Beach starring Leonardo Di Caprio). Destroyed by the tsunami in 2004, the island has been rebuilt and developed to an even greater extent than before. Though I’ve had a lot fun here, I personally don’t like Ko Phi Phi. I find it too built up and touristy. It’s very overdeveloped and ruined, but thousands of people visit each year and love it. Visit for yourself and decide.
Things to do in Phi Phi
Nightlife– It is crazy. Fireshows and Thai boxing matches are regular at the beach bars. Massive beach parties. Partying is not cheap here and is one of the reasons people spend too much money here!
Shark Feeding – One of the most popular trips out of Koh Phi Phi is an early morning excursion to feed sharks. A six-hour trip will start at about $15 USD and will have you feeding black tip and leopard sharks. Most tours also include visits to coral gardens for snorkeling.
Snorkel in Maya Bay – Made famous for its starring role in the Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Beach, Maya Bay is on Koh Phi Leh and is usually included with all the island/snorkeling trips you see advertised. For those who want to see the place without lots of boats and people, you can spend a night on the island. It’s a far better way to experience the seclusion of this place.
Hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint – The twenty minute walk up to the Viewpoint will be rewarded by an amazing panoramic view of Phi Phi Le and Phi Phi Don. The Viewpoint is over 600 feet high, so you’ll need to be reasonably fit to get here, but your camera will thank you! The best time to go is at sunset or sunrise.
Useful information in Thailand:
Be aware of the drugs in your alcoholic drinks, some local bartenders might put methanol in your drinks. As there are heaps of beach parties, you might be able to get in with alcohol bought at 7 eleven.
Try to keep emotional intelligence when dealing with street vendors. In Thailand, they can be rude if they think that you are trying to cheat when bargaining.
If you arrived at the Surat Thani Airport, bring some Bahts (Thai Currency) with you. I couldn’t find an exchange office in the airport so I had to withdraw money and therefore some fees were applied.
You can usually find expats working there so they can give you useful information about where to buy stuff or hire tours.