Nobody owns the world. So feel free to explore it – E.A.Cabaltica
In 2017, I went to Thailand with my friend and spent the whole month of December there. It was a very exciting trip for me, having never traveled to Asia before, I was happy to make Thailand the first destination to visit.
Thailand is a country with hundreds of islands, and they are usually preceded with the word “Koh” meaning Island in Thai. I got a lot of questions of how I chose to go to Koh Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, and that is purely because these two are one of the larger islands in Thailand and they are among the top 10 best islands in Thailand.
How to choose islands to visit;
- Decide on the duration of your stay.
- Know what activities you would like to do.
- Identify which of the larger islands has your desired itinerary and are easily accessible for you to move from one location to another.
- Choose the number of islands you would like to visit based on the budget you have acquired from calculating your flights/boat, accommodation, meals and excursions.
When you want to go to more than one location in this case island hopping, the best thing to do is use a low cost airline. There are many low budget airlines in Thailand, however Air Asia is the most popular airline which not only flys domestic but also goes to a lot of countries in the Southeast Asia. We used Air Asia from Bangkok to Phuket which is an hour flight and we paid $100 each for a return ticket. We booked and paid for our flight a day before our journey; I believe if we had done that well in advance we would have had a better offer.
Phi Phi island is an hour ferry ride from Phuket, which costed us 1000 TBH for a return ticket, that is approximately $30. The ferry is the only way to get to and from the island and I think it is the best way to enjoy the whole experience of island hopping.
Where To Stay
If you can afford to pamper yourself and stay in a beautiful hotel, I would like to share with you the resorts that we stayed in whilst in Phuket and Phi Phi.
Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island: This resort is one of the few situated in Laem Tong Beach. If you start your travels with a couple of days in Bangkok, you will appreciate this hotel for it’s peaceful and serene environment. It is a 45 mins boat ride from Tonsai Bay which is the main port of entry and departure for Koh Phi Phi. Conveniently there are a lot of longtail boats to hire, so transport to the hotel is guaranteed. What I love most about this resort, is it’s sunset restaurant that is up a hill, where you can enjoy jaw-dropping Instagram worthy views. We stayed in the beach front bungalow and we were couple of steps away from the beach.
Crowne Plaza Phuket Panwa Beach: This resort is an hour drive from the airport, located in Panwa Beach. The long drive could discourage you from choosing this hotel among others in the island, however, use the time to enjoy the surroundings, the architecture, and the landscapes that you may not find in your home country. I love mysteries; something that does not look like it has potential, but once you dig deeper it can surprise you. That is the exact impression we had when we arrived at the resort. The place is without a doubt beautiful, the reception interior design has a tasteful balance of modern and Thai culture. The wow-factor comes when you go through the lobby where you are greeted by a picturesque view of the ocean and the aesthetic layout of the resort buildings designed to maximize the beauty of the place. All rooms have an ocean view, there are two swimming pools, two restaurants, one pool bar and different water activities for you to choose from. All these amenities are just few steps away from the beach, enticing you to always walk barefoot.
Where To Stay – (Continues)
Patong beach is a popular area to stay in Phuket, it has a buzzing nightlife full of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Similarly to Patong beach; Karon, Kata and Kamala beach are quite popular with tourists, staying in either of these locations will definitely make your vacation enjoyable.
Airbnb is also a good option, you can save a bit of money by renting apartments or shared villas and still be able to stay in beautiful areas.
Where To Eat
Street Food Markets: Thai cuisine is very famous and it’s robust dishes are experienced all around the world, but there is no place you can indulge in authentic Thai food like in the streets of any city in Thailand. In most countries street food is not popular and to some extent frown upon, but in Thailand, street food markets are frequent by many and locals get at least one of their daily meals there. I first had Thai street food in Bangkok and I was hooked from the first bite, I would go there to grab a quick lunch and sometimes have dinner. Most street food markets operate around the clock, they have vendors in small stands preparing savory and sweet dishes, some even have tables and chairs for customers who opt to not eat on the go. What intrigues me about Thai street food markets, is the wide variety of dishes that you may not find in a traditional restaurant and the food is so cheap that a meal can cost you as little as under $5.
The Mango Garden: I stumbled upon this place in Koh Phi Phi while looking for a quick bite before catching our ferry back to Phuket. It was during the early morning hours and my go to quick meal is a smoothie. I ordered a mango and coconut smoothie and I have to say it was the best smoothie I have had so far.
Things To Do
Maya Bay: Maya Bay is a beautiful bay in Phi Phi Island and quite popular with tourists after the movie “The Beach” was filmed there starring Leonardo Dicaprio. The bay has a number of small beaches with stunning views of big cliffs. Apart from sunbathing by the beach, it is a perfect place to snorkel, however, the place can get crowded with tourist so I suggest going in the early mornings or late evenings.
Beach: This is without a doubt comes as the obvious thing to do while in Phuket, Phi Phi or any island in Thailand. Grab your beach towels, sunscreen and whatever essentials you might need, head out for some beach relaxation time or involve yourself in a snorkeling session.
Big Buddha Temple: This is another landmark in Phuket that is significant to Thai culture, it is a 45 meter tall statue seated on the Nakkerd Hills that can be seen as far as from Phuket town. A religious monument such as this, might not be a place that peaks everyone’s interest, but it offers stunning views of the island and the best part is, there is no entrance fee.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuaries: These places are home to rescued elephants that are injured or sick, and are being nursed to good health under the environment that is similar to their indigenous habitat. The caretakers do allow human interaction with the elephants by giving tourists fruits such as bananas to feed them and they also allow to bathe them. It is a great way to learn more about elephants and also take memorable and exceptional pictures.
Muay Thai: A trip to Thailand can not be complete without having a couple of muay thai sessions. It is the country’s national sport and there are gyms almost everywhere. AKA Thailand, Tiger Muay Thai/MMA Training Camp, and Kombat Group are some of the famous Muay Thai gyms in Phuket.
Good To Know
- Currency: Thailand uses Thai Baht (THB), when you arrive I suggest you convert your money in a bureau de change and not at a bank to get better rates.
- Carry ID: It is good to carry your ID/passport as you move around in case of an emergency, that way it is easy to show you are in the country legally.
- Tour Guides: If you are a planner like me, you can get carried away with online research and want to pay for your excursions before arriving in the country. I suggest you arrive at your destination be it Phi Phi or Phuket, talk it over with your hotel or your Airbnb host and compare prices with the local taxi drivers who are equally knowledgeable of tour packages that most tourist take.
- Language: Thai is the official language spoken in the country. English can be heard in establishments such as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, to name a few. Most of the locals do not speak english so you will find yourself having to use a lot of sign language when expressing your needs.
- Best time to visit: November to April, which is during the dry season is the best time to visit Thailand.
- Public transport: I think public transportation in Thailand is the most convenient, fast and affordable way of moving around. The BTS (subway) is quite reliable and very clean, and they have food stalls in every station which is such a bonus if you ask me!.
- Visiting temples: For women, wear clothing that cover your knees and elbows, it is considered disrespectful to wear shorts, small dresses or anything that shows a lot of skin when visiting any temple in Thailand. Unfortunately my friend and I did not research this before going to visit the Big Buddha temple in Phuket, however, they do provide shawls that can be used as a cover up.
- Ladyboys: Yes!, you will encounter ladyboys almost everywhere, so the polite thing to do is not stare.
- Telecommunication: There are several mobile networks to choose from such as DTAC, Truemove H, AIS, to name a few, they provide various prepaid tourist packages and you can buy the sim cards in any 7-Eleven shop. Wifi is easily accessible in cafés, restaurants and malls, so connectivity will not be an issue.
Save For Later…Pin It!