Monday, 20 December 2010

Thailand Island Holiday once Again

Thailand called to us once again and we found it had to resist the pull of the exotic beaches and spicy hot food. We had an initial plan but as it all came together the end result was quite different.

Koh Samui Thailand

Rather than staying the whole trip in one place, something more adventurous was called for. Not quite totally carefree travel but we did manage to take in five resorts which meant we has a little bit of travelling to do.

Our first plan was to take in some more locations on the Gulf of Thailand. Island hopping through Ko Tao, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Samiu became a tentative plan. Ko or Koh Samui was the destination of a recent trip which we found quite enjoyable. A little resort on the north shores of the island. It was not far from the town of Chaweng, which was typically busy and full of tourist. Our beach was quite a contrast with hardly another person on the beach apart from a few local Thais fishing in the water.

The idea looked good, a few days on each island before moving on to the next. The plan started to settle for a few days, but Krabi was still on our mind. Maybe something was pulling us back there.

Nothing was fixed yet, no hotels or flights booked yet so it`s of no surprised that the trip suddenly changed. Was it Krabi calling to us? No quite and not even Thailand. Further south in Malaysia the island of Pinang over on the western coast looked a great starting point. It was easy to get too with a direct flight for us and initiated the idea of another trip.

Starting in Pinang then ferrying over to Langkawi with the island further up the coast in Thailand looking like good resting places with their beaches. Taking in Ko Sukon, Ko Libong and Ko Muk then further north.

Koh Lanta Thailand Sunste

OH! it was suddenly Krabi and Ko Lanta, how could we not miss a chance to renew some our memories of those long long beautiful beaches. It is an island so we have no reason not to put it on our list. Form Koh Lanta it would be over to the famed Phi Phi islands immortalized in the move “The Beach”. We had been reliable informed that there are no dangerous sharks in the seas around Thailand.

Ending the trip was the island of Phuket to spend the last days before jetting out back home.

As with most plans, there is always something to mess them up. The lure of exotic paradise islands were a real temptation but how do we get there.

The thorn in the plan was “Off Season Travel”. Getting ferry connections to some of the islands would be quite hard for us to plan. I expect when you are there on the ground the possibilities of getting from A to B are much easier, but for us thousands of miles away it seemed like it was not going to be practical.

In the end, taking some of the islands that we thought were going to be hard to get too and the thought of spending precious beach time waiting for connections the second plan began to fall apart.

You`ll be glad to know we eventually did arrive at a suitable plan for our journey. Koh Lanta and Krabi did welcome us along with some new places that will be going on the list of places to return to one day.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Travelling to Koh Lanta

The trip to Koh Lanta was relatively easy despite the island being quite remote. The closest airport serves Krabi province and is an ideal point of of entry as it was for us without a long overland journey.

There are very few direct flights to Krabi Airport so if you are origination from overseas then Bangkok international airport will be your arrival point. Every time we have entered Thailand via Bangkok we found it to be quite efficient for getting through immigration and customs without much delay.

Bangkok to krabi Airport.

Our flight connections favored us with a short stopover with just enough time for a bite of food before we were off again. Krabi airport is mostly served with flights from Bangkok with internal flights but there are flights from Koh Samui in Thailand as well as Singapore and Malaysia.

Flying time was quick and we were soon at Krabi airport and without waiting for baggage as we were traveling light we were soon ready for the next part of our journey.

Krabi Airport caters well for the traveler with pickup and drop off for minibus routes as well as taxi hire. It was a bit like being herded like sheep as the the passengers were segregated in to groups depending on destination and soon picked up by transport. There is a bit of trust here but the Thai people at the airport do get your sorted even if you do not have much of a clue what is happening.

Koh Lanta Minivan

Krabi Town to Koh Lanta

We could have went to Koh Lanta from the airport by getting picked up by a minivan but we decided to spend a night in Krabi Town instead.

The only problem anybody might have is timing, especially if they are arriving late and taking a taxi. There are two ferry crossings and some drivers may not want an over night stay on the island as the ferries do not run overnight.

The seasons affect how you will get there. Some services run only during the more busy season but the minivan service runs all the year round.

If your staying in Krabi your hotel can arrange a pickup by minivan. We we were just around the corner and took the time to get a coffee and walk to the pickup. It just took a couple of hours with the ferry fares included in the price of the ticket we were dropped off at our resort and ready for the beach.

Our choice of transport suited us as we were just heading for Koh Lanta. If your travelling around a few places and expect lots of modes of transport then you might be a little bit upset. Ferry services and speed boat hire can be had from other locations like PhuKet but may just run a high season service or run infrequent.

Our next trip will possibly be a straight in and straight out single destination holiday like we have done before . But if we were planning to experience a few more locations on a holiday in this part of Thailand then I think we would set aside a few extra for travelling and not expect frequent transport connection.

You will not be stranded but it just might take a bit longer to get there. As this is Thailand and anybody arriving here should have left the stress and speed of city life behind then a few extra hours relaxing and taking in the beauty should not matter.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Keeping Healthy on the Island.

There is nothing more upsetting about going on your ideal holiday and falling ill. Days wasted perhaps stuck in bed or unable to enjoy the pleasures that you originally came to see.

If you are going to fall ill it is best that it happens at home and not on those precious days that you looked forward too. The biggest cause of sadness here is the one of the main reasons you came to the island. Like all areas in the tropics the Sun can be quite a demon and we tend to learn those lessons the hard way.

Sunburn The basics apply here, a good strong sun-block no matter how much you think you don’t need it. You will not look silly and it is much better than looking like a cooked lobster along with the aching pain that goes along with sunburn. Hats are more than essential, preferably something with a brim to keep the sun off your face and neck. Water, Water and more Water. Your body will be loosing lots of water and and with the heat instantly evaporating the sweat you may not notice. Keep a bottle or two near by and keep taking the occasional sip even if you thing you might not need it. Do not just rely on the complementary water in your hotel or resort, you will need more than just a bottle each day.

Lanta Beach Hat

If your planning to get off the beach then do cover up a little bit. This applies both to keeping healthy and as a bit of respect to the local culture here, this applies especially for women.

Insect Bite Insect bites can occur, especially from those little mosquitoes. But on our trips which have mainly been close the coastal areas we rarely have the pleasure of being bitten. It does happen and prevention is better then cure here for anybody who may be a bit more allergic than others.

The other major cause of health problems in food. We enjoy the Thai food and have eaten in western style restaurants and also taken food from the back of motorcycles. I have to say we have never had any tummy problems whatsoever in Thailand. If the local style of food is not to your appetite then there are many outlets along the beach that can serve food western style.

Hopefully your trip to Koh Lanta or other beautiful areas of Thailand will be a happy and health one. Should the worst happen and you may need medical care then the staff at your resort will be able to help. The island hosts a hospital and one thing we should have, but never use, is medical insurance.

Taking those little precautions will will help you enjoy one of the best holiday locations you will experience.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Weather in Koh Lanta

During our trips to various parts of Thailand the weather has always started off looking a bit grey. Usually while waiting for transport in Bangkok or getting off the plane we are met by a down pour of rain. It’s actually a bit refreshing for a few seconds then you start to think is the whole holiday going to be like this.

Bangkok Monsoon Rains

Fortunately the rains soon pass and the rest of our trips are mostly full of warm sunshine and blue skies.

Koh Lanta and southern Thailand is just above the equator and is all you could want from a tropical island, even the weather.

The seasons here are dictated by the directions of the Monsoon winds. This can be either one of two directions and splits the year into the hot dry season or the cooler wetter season. The exact months of when the seasons start and ends vary each year but mostly you could guarantee the dry season centered around April and the wetter time around September.

The average temperature across the year is around 30C with this ranging up to 36C during the hot season and 21c for the cooler monsoon. If your coming from someplace much cooler then either season would seem warm enough to be enjoyable.

Koh Lanta Low Season Monsoon

During out stay in October we has a few darker skies and some short light showers. But overall we had lots of sunshine , clear blue skies and maybe someday a little too much heat.

The cost of hotels and resorts can be twice as costly during the dry season when koh Lanta becomes more busier. Our visit was low season and I think we had the best of what was on offer. Sometimes the sand was a little to hot to walk on barefoot and shade was a bit welcoming.

Maybe we missed the heavy downpours of rains, there was some evidence of dirt on the roads after being washed down from the hills. Koh Lanta was extremely enjoyable and the weather should not put us off going there again at any time of year.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Ban Saladan Town

Really much more of a village than a town, Ban Saladan situated on the north east of Lanta Yai is where nearly all travellers will first set foot on Island.

Holiday makers arriving by road will arrive by the car ferries slightly south of the town and those coming by sea come alongside the docks in town.

There are not many roads here for you to walk around and do a bit of window shopping, keep that for the cities. From the passenger ferries a short walk to the north passing a mixture of houses and restaurants just out in to the sea standing precariously on stilts. Reaching a junction the road continues north with more sprinklings of places to eat or stay.

Saladan TownSaladan Town At the junction going East means your paddling in the sea so it`s best to head west where this road continues and eventually runs down the west coast of the island with the abundance of beaches.

In the town itself, you should find everything you need. clothing stores, maybe you need an extra hat or forgot a bikini. Dive shops if you want to arrange some underwater activities. Tourist centres for those who have wandered here and need to find some accommodation for a few days. Optical shops are abundant, I noticed at least four in this tiny village so you wont have problems finding some sunglasses.

  • As a side note, We did not see many Thai people wearing glasses for seeing, maybe they all wear contact lenses or just have excellent eyesight here.

Saladan Town

The mini mart in town is stocked well and should be a one of your fist stops to stock up on all those sun creams and toiletries that have been left behind at the airport security. 7-11’s , ATM Machines,Pharmacies and Banks for those currency exchanges can be found and even a tailor shop should you even need a suit.

There are lots of restaurants, some with quite an international flavour. Italian, Mexican and of course Thai. As you continue further along this road, the buildings become a bit more sparse and the spaces are take up by local food stalls and travelling markets.

Ban Saladan is small but it still can offer a nice visit and break from the beach.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Koh Lanta The Island

Situated near the southern tip of Thailand are the islands of Lanta,  A little bit more remote than some other destinations that the country has to offer but nonetheless just a beautiful.

Regionally the location is Krabi Provence and comprises the area of Amphoe District. Here is where the islands are situated. Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai are the two main islands and generally Koh Lanta Yai is referred to as Lanta for us tourists.

Basking itself in the Andaman sea on the west side of Thailand the islands is mainly covered in tropical forest and with high hills running down its spine. Most of the locals and have set up home around the coast in small fishing villages.

View Larger Map

The first port of call for visitors is usually the small village of Ban Saladan on the north of the island which hosts the car ferry crossings to the mainland and the passenger ferries from islands further afield. Roads lead down the east coast to Lanta old town near the south of the island and on the west coast little settlements and tourist resorts are speckled among the long beaches.

Shops, markets, street stalls are abundant along the roads and you are never really far from the smell of something tasty cooking. Buildings on the island are not high and keep nuzzled below the tops of the trees. The signs of concrete can be found but mostly the island looks natural and untarnished by construction.

The beaches stretching down the coast are long and we found them to be extremely peaceful and quiet. A lot of the resorts sit on their own little bit of beachfront along with lots of restaurants and a few bars. These places are ideal for that lazy afternoon meal or in the evening watching the fabulous sunsets while sipping a cool drink.

The people of the are are mostly Muslim along with a mix of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese and the ocean settlers the sea gypsies. This mixture along with the influx of tourism makes the island very accommodating to everybody. But still everybody should be a little bit aware of customs.

Violence is extremely low and even with it being a destination spot for western tourists. The unwelcome baggage that is generally associated with them is left behind and the island still keeps it ambience of peacefulness.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Secret Beach on Koh Lanta

Before we took our trip to the islands of Lanta we had read about the resort having a secret beach hidden away someplace. I guess there are lots of little secret beaches around the world either made up to for adding a little bit of spice to the location. At the other end of the scale they are so secret that every body knows and decided to visit on the same day as you.

The resort at Kaw Kwang was really spoilt for its beach front and with not many other tourists soaking up the ambience of the place the secret beach idea drifted from memory. We were just spoilt for space and sand and had no need to go searching for that little bit extra quietness.

But on chance after a few days it did cross our minds and although we never really went searching our curiosity made it’s location reveal itself. Really we could have just asked and somebody would have pointed us in that direction.

Path to secret beach

Kaw Kwang beach ends at the top of the island with a rocky outcrop with covered in lots of tropical greenery, trees and bushed growing thickly. But Through this jungle a little path was spotted leading up the rocks. Climbing up the hill expecting a long trek which really turned out to be 50 or so meters of well kept path and suddenly ending at the edge of a cliff. Climbing here in darkness and you`d be over the edge.

Lanta Secret Beach

Down below gradually exposing itself was the secret beach. A short stretch of sand bounded by rocks on either side and totally deserted. The clear water gently lapping up the sand as the waves break on the shore.

Lanta Secret Beach

Unfortunately the sun was setting and probably not the best time to venture down – actually there was a set of wooden steps leading down to the beach. Managing a few photographs and walking back down the path the only animal life here I noticed were a few hermit crabs, not where you`d expect to find them far from the water.

Path to secret beach Maybe next time we might make a point of really going there, but as the other beaches were extremely quiet the idea fell from memory. But if you want a little bit of tranquillity you might find it here or maybe there a few other hidden beaches along the island.

Looking back it was a missed opportunity. Then we did have a lot of happiness from the days we spent on the island. It is probably something that will keep for the next visit unless everybody finds out about it.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Krabi, Bangkok and Home – End of the Dream

Weather – Dry and Sunny

Woke early, really early about 4 hours too early for being on holiday. At 6.45 a.m. I was out on the streets of Krabi Town on the search for some 7-11 and a dose of chocolate milk for breakfast.

Krabi Town Traffic Lights Krabi Town Streets Krabi Town Streets

The streets were practically deserted, well what sensible people would be up walking around town so early apart from the foreigners. It was a good chance to get a look around without the crush of people and standing in the middle of the road without, much, fear of getting ran over by a speeding taxi driver.



Later we had breakfast proper and with a few hours to spare headed over to a morning market a few streets away. The place was full of everything imaginable here. Vegetables of all kinds, fruit and flowers along with a good sampling of fresh fish and seafood. It was a shame we had breakfast as there was also quite a bit of cooked food on offer.

Krabi Morning Market

Weather – Getting much Hotter

Decided to have a little walk along some of the roads and double back to the hotel to freshen up before heading to the airport. Using our excellent navigation skills of angles of the sun to gauge our direction everything was going fine until we realized we were lost.

It was turning out to be a good morning, forgetting to take our hats, the sun getting hotter and the sweat making us look like we had just stepped out of the shower clothed and the impending realization of not getting back to catch our flight.

Buddha or whatever must have been looking down on us and on the most deserted of roads sent along a little motorcycle and sidecar. Thinking this was a taxi we waved it down and it passed looking like it would never stop. Turns out it wasn’t a taxi but just some locals and their intuition that we were lost in Krabi Town. Despite us not speaking Thai and them not speaking English (how do you say “oh no another lost foreigner” in Thai) they took us back to the centre of town and relieved we walked the familiar streets to our hotel.

If that was not enough, Buddha also made our flight late just in case we somehow were late at the airport. The delay, unknown, at this time would call for a bit of skill by the pilots once we reached Bangkok.

IMG_4097 Finally taking off and leaving Krabi and Koh Lanta far behind we had some nice view of the East coast. Gulf of Thailand where a few more island paradises. In the distance was Koh Samui and the memories more sandy beaches, great food and sunburn.

Koh Samui

Weather – Monsoon and some more.

Approaching Bangkok and the reason for the delay was appearing. The blue clear skies of krabi were replaced by dark grey clouds as we slowly descended to land. It was difficult to catch any glimpses of the ground but the plane carefully tried to line itself up for the runway. It was not to be, the clunking of the flaps going up and the screaming of the little Boeing 737’s engines indicated an aborted landing. It was hard to see how close we got but I’m guessing a few feet more and the wheels would have touched the flood that was once a runway.

Monsoon Bangkok Airport Luckily after a bit of holding and a break in the rains we landed. The thickness of the clouds must have helped obscure the dangers from the passengers as they mostly seemed unconcerned.

Air Asia Airbus A short stop over in Bangkok and then boarding the flight back to home and reality. It was all over and the warming sun was gone, no more getting up in the mornings and lazing on the beach. The speed of life was about the change and the time on the clock will begin to rule our days again.