My husband and I fell in love with Thailand on our honeymoon, the following year we went over again this time with a few of our family members. They loved it and we explored more of Thailand together, but we still felt like we had not seen everything. After moving to the UK at the beginning of their fall season (which felt like Cape Town’s winter) unfortunately meant missing the South African Spring and Summer. We felt very sun deprived and ready for lots of sun. Naturally we thought Thailand, we know it’s warm, lots to do and see. We made sure that if it’s our last time in Thailand, we make it our best time.
If you are an outdoor person, who appreciates the beauty in nature, Thailand will be perfect for you. Are you planning a trip to Thailand or considering to? Then keep reading because I will give you all the details about our holiday. Of course, depending on when you read this blog things may have changed, so feel free to use this as a guide, but at the end of the day you need to do what is best for you.
We got quotes for holiday packages from a few travel agencies, but at the end of the day we were able to book it at a better rate ourselves. We were also not sure which dates would be best, so we shuffled the dates around to take less days leave from work with maximum weekend use in Thailand and at the best flight prices. I was able to book flights through lastminute.com at a good rate without having crazy lay over times. We ended up booking the accommodation through Flight Centre as they were able to get a slightly better rate at the hotel. We booked our airport transfers through Vecay in Thailand.
Where did we stay?
We stayed at the Old Phuket Hotel in Karon Beach, Phuket. We really like this hotel because it’s neat, it has a very nice pool area, the room (Deluxe Pool View, Serene Wing) is spacious, there is a tasty breakfast daily, and it has a free shuttle to certain places in Phuket. On the days we wanted to stay in, it was still a pleasant place to be, not just a bed at night.
We like Karon beach because it’s not too busy, but there is still a lot going on. It’s not as busy as Patong, but it’s slightly more expensive. There are still a fair number of restaurants, shops and many massage/beauty parlours available. You will very quickly notice that massage shops are everywhere.
What did we do?
We like to explore, don’t get me wrong we certainly had some soaking up the sun (with sunblock on) at the pool days, coffee on our balcony, peaceful moments. But we made sure to also make some memories at new places.
This time we decided on Phi Phi islands. We took one of those trips that stop at many spots. I think we had 7 stops in total. We saw Maya Bay from a distance, because its closed to the public currently, we saw the Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Island, snorkelled at the Camel Rock and stopped at Kai Nai Island. Stopping at so many places could get rushed, so if you want a more relaxed trip then this is not for you.
With the previous trips we took to Thailand in 2014 and 2015 we also visited some of the other islands. On our honeymoon we went to Raya Island, which was absolutely beautiful, we didn’t have a lot of stops on that trip, we stopped at a spot to snorkel and had a lovely lunch on Raya island with some chill time. On our family trip we went to James Bond Island with a few other islands stops (maybe 3 islands) but it was an amazing trip not rushed.
The first two times we were very unsure of booking trips, so we booked everything through the hotel tour desk. This time we were a bit braver and booked through a lady with a stall in the busy Karon beach street. Her company was called “Welcome” and one thing to check is that they have insurance, they normally frame the insurance certificate. We only booked our boat trip closer to the end of our holiday and we noticed throughout our stay that the lady was at the same spot daily, so we knew she had to be legit.
Hiring a scooter
If you have been to Thailand, you will know that hiring a scooter is a risk. There are a lot of accidents so unless you are very comfortable with the amount of traffic or have a motorbike license, I would not generally suggest this. I personally would not rent my own scooter, but my husband on the other hand is very comfortable with motorbikes and the traffic so we did it. It really was a lot of fun, we could see more places and we were on our own schedule, free to stop whenever we wanted to.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen our journey to Freedom Beach and how beautiful it was. This was a hidden gem that our driver on our way to the hotel told us about. If you just want to relax on a more isolated beach, that still has drinks and food available, this is for you. We went in high season, so there were a lot of people but much less than on the popular beaches. It’s just beautiful there. The trick is, you have to get to Freedom Beach either by boat or you have to take a bit of a walk through the jungle. We took the jungle route, it is safe, it has a proper path, but there are lots of stairs.
This is all about the view. To really appreciate the beauty of this spot, you are going to have to walk a bit, living in the UK has helped me with that. If you walk to the end of the point you can get close to the water, one guy was fishing when we were there. The view is amazing with islands all around you. It’s beautiful, you just need to see it. This was another great spot suggested by our driver.
Stand Up Paddling (SUP)
I have wanted to do this since I’ve lived in Cape Town. We rented boards from a local guy at Kata beach. Knowing that this may be hard especially since it was our first time, we made sure to check the wind on Wind Guru so that we won’t have the wind pushing us around while trying to balance on the board. If you want to try this and you don’t have an instructor there is a fantastic video by Blue Planet Surf on Youtube. Although you are encouraged not to look down (to maintain better balance on the board), I did because the water was so clear you could see fish and I saw quite a few jellyfish which made me not want to fall into the water. I know not all jellyfish are deadly, but some still cause painful stings and I was not going to find out which group those buddies fall into. SUP was a lot of fun and if it’s something you interested in, give it a try I am sure you will love it.
I have heard that they say Bangkok has got the best places to shop in Thailand, I can not comment on that as I have never been there. I can tell you about a great market we visited in 2014 & 2015 that had everything. Electronics, Designer labels (which is obviously fake), hair pieces, random stuff, food and great souvenirs. This market has got a Thai name, but you can find it on google as Phuket Weekend Night Market, its only open on a Saturday and Sunday 4pm till 11pm. If you into shopping, you will probably find what you looking for there. It is a very big market and what most people don’t know is that the stall holders say a certain price and they want you to bargain with them. They give you a calculator and want you to name your price, if you say something ridiculous of course they not going to give it to you for that price, but they seem to like this bargaining game. The hotel used to have a shuttle to this market, they have however changed it to another market which is much smaller and has a completely different vibe.
The new market we went to this time was called the Sunday Walking Street Market. This market was more food orientated. There are a few stalls and shops that sell clothes and things other than food. This market would be nice if you just want to take it easy, eat and look around for some souvenirs.
What did we eat?
We ate Mango Sticky Rice, which is a traditional Thai dessert. I would highly recommend this; we did not order it at a restaurant but bought it from one of the ladies who had a mango sticky rice stall. We always have pancakes which is more like giant crepes from this local guy who has a little motorbike stall. I have no idea what his name is but he is normally at the Temple Market in Karon beach or just outside the temple. We always take a pancake filled with banana and Nutella and then he puts condense milk over it as well. We had some traditional Thai soup, curries, sushi and steak from the Buffalo Steak House. We loved the array of food available.
I have heard of a lot of people including my friends who have been to Thailand end up getting food poisoning. Something that someone told us on our first trip to Thailand was to look how busy the restaurant is, if its empty don’t go, if there are lots of people it’s a safer bet. This is not to say all quiet restaurants are bad, we went to a fantastic sushi place and it was quiet, but in most cases, we follow that rule. Trust your gut, if something smells weird or tastes off don’t eat it.
While the holiday on a British Pound would be very affordable, it has become much more expensive on the South African Rand. Thailand is not the same as it was 5 years ago, but it is still a beautiful place to visit. Feel free to share what you have loved about Thailand or if there are any great holiday destinations you can recommend.
Until next month xxx