Monday, 8 June 2015

Quick guide to backpacking Thailand!

A while a go I boshed together a little travel guide based on our experiences, this is presuming you’re landing in Bangkok and want to take the classic backpacker route…

Upon landing in Bangkok, once you’ve learnt to cross the road and use the rail system, head to the boat company ‘Lomprayah’. Although it seems odd to be instantly leaving Bangkok, I think Bangkok is best experienced at the end of your travels upon your return home when you’re more accustomed to the hectic environment of Asian cities. Vietnam in particular will better prepare you for it - it comes as a shock first off. You either hate it or love it… It just so happened we HATED Bangkok - least favorite place ever, but each to their own.
Everyone tends to use the company Lomprayah but it’s cheaper going directly to them then booking it through someone else. It’s not that hard to find and is close to Koh San Road (the tourist scene). 

Here, you can then book a boat to Koh Phangan because as tourist, it’s well known that you must go to the full moon party! You’ll want to be there for 4 days - Pool party (though you might catch an STD in the water), Waterfall party & Jungle party as these all lead up to the full moon. There is little to do during the day though other than beach so I wouldn’t recommend staying there longer than 4 days if you’re on tight schedule. If you want to soak up the rays, I’d leave that for Koh Tao as the island is far more beautiful. 

I’m not sure where to recommend for your stay in Koh Phangan as we personally didn’t stay in a great place, it was too far out. Make sure you get a hostel on Haad rin, the place of the full moon otherwise literally NOTHING goes on elsewhere in the island (you’ll have to get tuk tuk to other parties, but that’s fine and cheap! ).
Straight after the full moon party, the next day everyone goes to koh tao - remember to pre-book boat and hostel as they book out fast. Go stay in Spicy Tao, the rooms are pretty shitty but its a central location and the atmosphere is wonderful, real family feel! Many people learn to dive on Koh Tao - if you have money do it. If not, snorkelling was still so much fun, you could see lots too. We went to the Japanese Gardens island and split a taxi boat there, super cheap again (About £4 including snorkel hire).

I’d recommend staying on Koh Tao for about 3 or 4 days - depends entirely of course if you plan on learning to dive. When you boat then bus back to Bangkok, it’s likely that you’ll have to stop over Bangkok for a night. Then, if you like history, head to Ayutthaya. Only stay there a night though, just has amazing temples, old capital of Thailand, not much else there though, it’s a shame that most travellers miss it when it’s such an undiscovered beauty. There are few tourists there unlikely the plagues of people that swarm common historical sites such as Angkor Wat. 

From here, I’d then recommend getting the overnight train to Chang Mai and then getting a bus to Pai for £3 from the bus station, they leave every hour until 5:30pm, takes 3 to 4 hours to get there, but beautiful journey! Best place ever. You MUST stay at Spicy Pai as that’s the thing that made it totally worth it. Again, real homely big family feel, and the huts are mega cool that you sleep in - have to book AT LEAST a week in advance though - you can do this through their facebook page. One thing that was a problem though was the frogs in the nearby rice fields. They were super loud. I’d recommend booking a tour in the center, it’ll be about £7 to see all the sights in Pai - 2 waterfalls, hot springs, WW2 memorial bridge etc. Such a cute little town with a great night life. Also super place to rent mopeds if you want to try your hand at them as it’s really quiet.

When you get back to Chang Mai, I’d recommend staying for a few nights as there’s lots of good excursions - MonkChat was the meditation center we went to. It was £10 but that included clothes, accommodation and food for 2 days, interesting experience. Also went white water rafting and elephant riding. It’s a cheap place to do things in Chang Mai. Stay at Deejai’s hostel or SpicyThai (though we heard better reviews from Deejais).
On the way to the Laos boarder, try to stop at the White Temple, really great place to be!

**Warning** Be careful of scams! We’ve heard of many people that have been robbed of their money as taxi drivers are known to charge ridiculous prices, especially in bangkok. Always ask for the meter to be used.
Most of all - Have fun & Good luck! Travel safely. 

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