We took a trip to the Islands of Thailand, which were as beguiling and picturesque as you would expect. We stayed on Phuket (not the best part of the trip due to the crowds) and on the mainland in Krabi, at Ao Nang and Railay Beach and on Ko Lanta, and best of all, took a three-day trip on a catamaran.
#1 - Catamaran Trip
#2 - Sea Kayak tour
#3 - Beachcombing in Railay Beach
#4 - Rock-climbing in Krabi
#5 - Boardwalk and beach Thai massages in Ao Nang
#6 - Crowds in Phuket
#1 - Catamaran Trip - One of the funnest bucket list things we’ve ever done was renting a Catamaran for a 3 day, 2 night trip, sailing through the Andaman Sea. The Catamaran came with a captain and a cabin helper, so all meals were catered, and all the sailing and trip planning was done by the experts. These were some of the most expensive three days we’ve ever spent, but we’ll only ever do this once. We visited secluded islands, went snorkelling in secluded coves, ate wonderful freshly prepared food in the calm ocean breezes, and had magical time on the boat.
#2 - Sea Kayak tour - This was one of the most worthwhile boat trips we’ve ever taken, with beauty and adventure and one of a kind uniqueness. The Thailand Andaman sea around the Phuket area is full of hundreds of small islands. Many of these have high cliff walls surrounding the island, so from the outside, it looks like little more than limestone cliffs. However, on the inside, many times, the walls are like a cylinder, with steep nothingness outside, but delightful tropical fantasyland beaches, flowers, vegetation on the inside, which you would never know about, unless you were lucky enought to get inside. Getting inside is done from the sea, through hidden caves, which are only passable with certain tides. We started the tour on a large boat, and as we approached each karst island, we boarding 2 or 3 person sea kayaks, and paddled to the island wall, and along it until we found the cave entrance. Through the sea cave/tunnels we went, about 20-30 feet, until it opened up on a glorious hidden Jurrassic park-like scene on the interior. It was fabulous. As the tide rose, we needed to time each trip, to be able to make it back out, as some of the tunnels were completely submerged at high tide. At one point, we need to lie down in the rubber inflated kayak, and let air out so we would submerge a bit, to allow room between the water and roof for us to pass. Awesome!
#3 - Beachcombing in Railay Beach - Railay Beach is often on the list of top-ten most beautiful beaches in the world. It did not dissapoint. The cove is surrounded by stunning cliffs, and the only entrance to the beach is by boat (no roads). Railay Beach itself is walking distance to a number of other sugar-sand beaches on the small peninsula, which we walked to on various mornings. Since we were staying at the local hotel, our early beach trips were before the larger crowds came by boat.
#4 - Rock-climbing in Krabi - Krabi is world-famous for its many rock-climbing routes. We are not seasoned rock climbers by any means, but we hired a boat to take us to another beautiful secluded beach and cove, where there was an easy rock climbing route to climb from the water, and get up about 20 feet, before jumping back into the ocean. Climb, sweat, rinse, repeat. Add to it a picnic on the deserted beach, and some more swimming and snorkeling and sunning, and it was a perfect day.
#5 - Boardwalk and beach Thai massages in Ao Nang - We stayed in a little resort/hotel a couple of streets from the beach, with a pool. It was a fun place to spend the morning and early afternoon, but come evening, everyone would venture out to the beach and boardwalk, where the food vendors were, as well as the travelling massage-givers. They would come to you beach chair, and for 10-15 dollars, they would spend an hour massaging your feets and legs, and arms, either with lotion, or with the traditional thai methods of pressure and manipulation. If you’ve never had a Thai massage, it’s a little like yoga, but you lie down, and they move your body parts into yoga-like positions and hold them there to stretch and bend.
#6 - Crowds in Phuket - The allure of Thailand cannot be denied, it is stunningly beautiful, and everyone deserves to experience it . . . And everyone seems to be. Phuket beaches were massively crowded, especially the well-known beaches like Ko Phi-Phi and the “Beach” where Leonardo filmed the movie of the same name. By mid-morning, the beach was not even visible from the sea, becuase there were so many boats pulled up on the sand. Not my type of beach vacation. I don’t want to deny anyone else the priviledge of seeing it. I just prefer to see it in early mornings, when they are not there too.
This was one of our first big family Southeast Asia trips. We started in Bangkok, where we stayed for a few days, then we headed north to Ayuthaya ruins. We took the overnight train from Bangkok to Chang Mai (a miserable experience), but we had a marvelous few days in Chang Mai, staying in one of the best small hotels we’ve every found, before or since. We also had the incredibly cool experience of taking an overnight trek to indigineous Karen Tribe village. Add in a visit to a elephant sanctuary, where we washed elephants in the river, and it was an awesome trip.
#1 - Temples and Imperial Palace in Bangkok
#2 - Ruins of Ayutthaya
#3 - Karen village trek
#4 - Elephant sanctuary feeding and washing
#5 - Biking the streets of Chang Mai
#6 - Overnight Train ride from Bangkok to Chang Mai