Whew! It’s felt like a flurry here in Thailand!
And it’s certainly been a wonderful thing. I can’t even begin to go through all the amazing sights we’ve gotten to see, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, to our current beach escapades in the Phuket and Krabi areas.
As a US citizen, we have the luxury of not needing to apply for a Thai visa before our visit. On arrival through Bangkok international airport, we received a stamp in our passport allowing us a 30-day visit, which can be extended through an application and fee once here. (I only mention the airport because I read that if you arrive to Thailand by land, your visa is for 14 days instead.)
We’ve spent a week in Bangkok, seeing some of the most intricately detailed temples I’ve ever seen; 5 days in Chiang Mai, where the smaller town feel is much more apparent; and now we’re quickly coming up on a week in some of the world’s most dramatic coastlines, complete with limestone rocks, thick lush greenery covering the land like moss, caves, crags, and quirkily-shaped mini-islands.
Our first stop on the coast was the most popular first stop on a trip to the Andaman Coast—to the Phuket airport. It’s an easy enough trip to make from Bangkok or Chiang Mai, with daily flight options (under $100 USD!).
Gotta give props to Thai Airways here—they are upfront with their fees, meaning no hidden charges for carry-on OR your first check-in bag. In a rare move with airlines these days, they also serve snacks, water, tea/coffee on EVERY flight!
We stayed in Patong, on the Western part of the Phuket peninsula. It’s a pretty popular beach, so depending on what street your hotel is, you could potentially be in party central. It reminded me of Cancun, but without the luxurious resort aspect.
The coastline though, is beautifully dramatic, with the jungle seeming to spill right up to the beaches along much of the bay.
I’d read in Lonely Planet that the authorities are trying to “clean up” the area, and had tried to remove umbrellas (and I think the beach chairs) from the beach, but there was still a rainbow of umbrella-cover lining the sunny sands.
The waters are so nice and warm, but plenty refreshing for the daytime sun and heat. Once you step off the white sand and into the water the ground is a soft and fine silt. Because of all the longtail boats, speedboats, and jet skies, the swimming area is roped off to keep the many many water-goers safe(r).
After a weekend in Patong, we headed east to Krabi province. More specifically, to a beach called Ao Nang.
Also, in case you’re like me, and had never heard of any of these places before, here is a crude map with our travel routes to help 🙂
The Phuket Ferry company makes travel from Phuket to the nearby beaches and islands pretty simple. Tickets from the pier on Rassada Pier on Phuket are only about $17 USD, and they’ll pick you up from your hotel in Patong for literally $2 USD more. Definitely less of a hassle than having to catch the bus and risk missing the early morning ferry.
We didn’t get to visit Phuket Town outside of our little drive through on the way to the ferry, due to some food poisoning after eating out our second night at the Patong Food Park, a collection of street food stalls. This was our first food poisoning in Thailand, and was NO FUN.
Looking online, it seems that most travelers that write/post about food poisoning are visiting the beaches, but I still have to credit our lovely hosts in Bangkok for taking us to some of the most well-established and local street food haunts and restaurants so we never ate something that made us sick. Somehow I avoided the brunt of it, but Jon got hit pretty badly. Random tip: carry activated charcoal when traveling—you can even take some as a precaution for food illness. Two days later and all was mostly normal.
The ferry ride itself took about 2 hours and takes you by some lovely ocean sights (I’ll admit that I fell asleep for a portion of it).
Toward the end of the day, there were not too many beach-goers at Ao Nang beach, and even fewer long tail boats, which typically line the beach waiting to transport passengers to Tonsai and Railay beach, which are just in the next bay over to the left.
More on Tonsai and Railay coming soon!