Bangkok and Southern Thailand
• Bangkok: The capital of Thailand with its around 10 million inhabitants is by far the biggest city in the country. In the very first moment Bangkok seems to be dirty, hectic and a continuous traffic jam but the longer you stay the more interesting this megacity gets. I could write pages about it but since I need to keep it short here, make sure to check out the following things once you get there.
Tip 1: Anybody interested in impressive temples should visit Wat Phra Kaeo in the Grand Palace which is among Bangkok's major tourist attractions and situated right in the city center next to the Chao Phraya River. A visit can easily be combined with a river cruise. An overview of many available boat tours including booking options can be found here.
Tip 2: A great option to discover the less visited and authentic parts of Bangkok, is a guided bike tour for example with Co van Kessel. For more information, click here.
Another thing not to be missed is the amazing variety of delicious street food. You should definitely taste the fried grasshoppers, mealworms or spiders – meanwhile I even prefer them over popcorn! Without doubt the most popular backpacker spot is the world famous Khaosan Road. Lots of bars, restaurants and hostels are found here. But be aware of pickpockets and people who want to take you to one of the miserable ping pong shows – by far the biggest waste of money ever!
Tip 3: For breathtaking views over this giant city check out at least one of the spectacular (but expensive) sky bars such as Vertigo Bar on top of the Banyan Tree Hotel (61st floor) or the Sky Bar rooftop at Lebua State Tower (63rd floor). Furthermore Bangkok offers huge shopping malls, countless great restaurants, nightclubs and much more, so try to stay at least for three nights if not a week.
• Southeast Coast: Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao (from south to north) are the three most popular islands in the Gulf of Thailand providing a well-developed touristic infrastructure. Ko Tao is the smallest and least developed island with good diving opportunities for beginners as well as advanced divers. With a bit of luck even whalesharks can be spotted between April and July.
Tip 1: Rent a scooter and explore Ko Tao on your own. Check out the beautiful view points in the North such as Mango View Point.
Tip 2: For diving, I recommend “Alvaro Diving” situated in the south of the island on the 3rd largest beach (Ao Chalok Ban Kao). They also provide nice bungalows in a quiet corner of the beautiful bay.
Tip 3: Take a boatride to nearby Ko Nang Yuan with its incredibly beautiful lookout and beaches!
Once a month thousands of people meet up on the beach of Hat Rin in the southeast of Ko Pha Ngan to celebrate the world’s biggest Full Moon Party. There are even package offers in Bangkok or on the Westcoast that take you here for an insane party night. For more information you can find the official Full Moon Party website here.
• Southwest Coast: Without the tourist masses this region including Phuket, Phang Nga Bay, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi and many more tiny islands would probably belong to the most beautiful parts of Southeast Asia. The landscape with its impressive limestone rock formations, tropical palm-fringed beaches, turquoise waters and dense jungle is simply amazing so my biggest suggestion is to avoid peak times such as Christmas or New Year. In general the so-called dry season between December and March is busier and more expensive so you should consider travelling here during the other months. A tropical rain is different to rainy weather in other parts of the world: usually strong but often lasting for only a few minutes to an hour. And it can be refreshing as well. The rest of the day can be sunny. But to avoid the hottest and wettest months I would recommend going there around October/November or March/April. In the following I provide some tips for adventure lovers about what to do in this part of Thailand:
Tip 1: Ko Phi Phi is incredibly busy (especially during high season), cramped with accommodation, tour operators, bars and tattoo studios. It can be a paradise for young party folks but also a nightmare for travelers who focus on relaxing and unspoiled paradise landscapes. To enjoy famous Maya Bay (main setting of the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio which is situated on the neighboring island Ko Phi Phi Leh) with less than hundred other tourists, you need to get there very early or in the late afternoon! There is an overnight sailing option with sleeping aboard inside the Bay so one can avoid the masses in the evening/morning. It’s supposed to be basic but fun. For more information, click here.
Tip 2: If you like climbing or want to learn it you should go to the Krabi area (e.g. Railay Beach) for great limestone walls with stunning beach views.
Tip 3: If you are an advanced diver check out the dive sites in the Southern Andaman Sea like world famous Hin Daeng and Hin Muang where mantas and whalesharks can be spotted. Best times are between November and April.
Tip 4: If you intend to visit Ko Lanta (much quieter than Ko Phi Phi) and want to stay in a private bungalow on beautiful Bamboo Beach I recommend staying at Baan Phu Lae Bungalows. Prices start around 12 US-Dollars per person/per night depending on the season and furnishings. For more information, click here.
Southwest Thailand (2018)
Bangkok and Southeast Thailand (2012)