Beach Bumming Thailand

Beach Bumming Thailand

Let’s face it, though there is much to do in Thailand, most visitors come for the beaches.  World famous for their warm waters, idyllic lagoons, white sands and high quality resorts, Thailand is “The Beach” even after Leonardo DiCaprio went home.  As if the beaches weren’t enough, world class diving awaits those seeking underwater adventure, while the land lovers hit the links.  The Full Moon Party is legendary for those that love to party all night long, though any day, of any month, in the South of Thailand will offer that.  There are resorts that cater to families, those for the rich, and those for everyone else.  With cash in hand nothing is impossible, and I mean nothing.  The beaches in the South of Thailand have something for everyone.

Knowing that no trip to Thailand would be complete without going south, the LOCAVORista and I headed south.  Expecting travel in Myanmar to be difficult, we planned a two-week “vacation” prior to leaving for beach bumming.  I know what you’re thinking, how can you take a vacation, when you’re on an endless vacation?  To that I say, come with us for a week, stay where we stay, eat what we eat, do what we do and let’s see if you consider it a vacation.  The time we spent on Thai beaches though, that’s a vacation no matter what you’ve been doing.

Here is an overview of our attempt at becoming beach bums:

Krabi

Krabi was meant to be a stopover, we planned to stay there for a night or two, then head to Koh Phi Phi, made famous in the movie, “The Beach.”  That was what we planned, in actuality we spent five nights there, arguably the most fun we had down south.  The good times in Krabi are owed to Krabi Good Dream Guesthouse.  Between LOCAVORista and I we have spent several years worth of nights in hostels, guesthouses and hotels on five continents, and rarely stay in a city longer than expected due to the guesthouse.  This was one of those rare times.

The printed materials in the hotel make bold claims like offering the best tours, best prices and best hamburgers.  As the skeptic, I was worried by this because when people in Asia say this they are generally gouging you.  We shopped around and found they do have the best prices on tours and transportation.  I doubt any hamburger in Krabi bests theirs.  Not to mention the balcony rooms were a steal, staff helpful and the internet connection was the best we found anywhere in Thailand.  Lastly, the owner Bryan is a blast.  We hit the town with him and found someone truly “living their ifs,”  originally from middle America, he found a place he loved and started creating this oasis.  While all travelers can appreciate what he’s done, he assured us there are people in his family that think he’s crazy and/or don’t know where in the world he is.

Krabi also delighted for it’s food.  As a crossroads between Buddhist and Muslim SE Asia, there was a great mix of foods we didn’t find elsewhere in Thailand.  There were delicious Malay coconut curries that kept us coming back, along with scrumptious duck noodles at the night market.

With great food and a place to stay, Krabi makes an economical and wonderful place to stay to visit the nearby beaches.  A great choice for beach-goers, but not beach-lovers like ourselves.

One of several unspoiled beaches we visited on the 4 Island Tour, arranged through Good Dream.

Jumping into the clear waters off of the 4 Island Tour boat.

Koh Phi Phi

From Krabi we took the ferry over to Koh Phi Phi, made famous by the movie, “The Beach.”  Koh Phi Phi can be summed up in a few words: unbelievable, gorgeous and fun.  It was even more fun because we somehow ended up on the ferry with our friends Lenny and Jenny, a Welsh couple that we were pretty sure had died in Cambodia after a hard night out.  We won’t get into specifics, but we’re glad they made it out of Cambodia and found us in Thailand.

“The Beach” as beautiful as the movie made it out to be.

Nightlife on Phi Phi starts with fireshows and ends when the sun comes up…or maybe it never ends…

We were treated to a lightning show.  Bright as day at 11:23PM.

Phuket

Working our way back to Bangkok we made a stopover in Phuket.  A large island with an international airport, this is as touristy as it gets.  With an array of accommodations from $10-1000+ a night, Phuket is a place that everyone can get what they want.  There is shopping with price points to match the lodging choices, from spectacular boutiques to outlet malls.  Seriously, there is a Premium Outlet Mall in Phuket, similar to what you will find outside cities across America.  For those looking for something a little more risque, a very seedy side of Phuket services customers from across the world.  The best part of Phuket is the size, because it’s large, visitors can be surrounded by only what they want and avoid what they do not.

An ice-cream store that appeals to a specific type of Phuket tourist.

Koh Samui

Completing our tour of the beaches of Thailand, we knew we needed to see an island on the other (east) side of the Thai isthmus.  Deciding which island wasn’t easy as all the islands came highly recommended, so we chose the most touristed, Koh Samui.  From a tourist perspective, Koh Samui matches the range and quality of offerings of Phuket, without the visible seedy side.  Unlike the beaches on the Anadaman Sea, those of Koh Samui were comfortably cool and deep.  The waters were a much better respite from the summer sun than those of the bathwater warm west coast.

The downside of Koh Samui is that the primary beaches for foreign tourists cater to vacationers with high prices.  The food here was more expensive than anywhere else we visited in Thailand, yet the flavors and quality was significantly reduced for the vacationer’s palate.  While Koh Samui offers great choices for people on a vacation, Thailand offers better islands and beaches.

IF YOU GO:

  1. By land from Bangkok, buy a package. You can use most ferry “vouchers” whenever you want.  If you want to see a costal city, then head to an island, the best deal is through the packages of land and ferry transport.  Hang out on the coast, then ferry yourself to the island when you want.
  2. Be prepared for a price hike from the rest of Thailand. Food, lodging and everything else varies from somewhat to substantially more expensive at the beach destinations.  What you get doesn’t necessarily increase with price.
  3. Great place for rest and relaxation. The beaches are world-class, but not for busy bodies like ourselves.  If you want to relax, shop, golf or party, though, you’ll find heaven on earth.
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Comments

» bka :
Jun 28, 2011

The line or sentence that stuck out for me in this one was your comments regarding if you think we are on the never ending vacation, “basically, follow us around and eat what we eat and travel as you have done”…….i get it, i have been a faithful reader and much of what you have expereinced has not been a vacation in my mind…….i have never had the desire to the extent you guys do, to travel the world, but i also know if I did , i am 30 years too late……great stuff Matt……your travels and support of LOCAVORista are indeed impressive…..your the man!!….be safe……peace…..bka

» Lawrence Michaels :
Jul 5, 2012

Seems like you really got around during your trip here. I’m not too familiar with most of the places, but I’ve spent some time in Phi Phi and I live in Phuket. You’re right, some of the places on Phi Phi Island are pretty amazing. Phuket is great because it is an island, but a pretty big island, so there is always more to explore.
Read Lawrence Michaels’s awesome post Top Ten Phuket Beaches

LOCAVORista Reply:

Lawrence, We spent two months in Thailand and loved exploring the Thai Islands. Enjoy the beach lifestyle!

» Carrie :
Sep 18, 2012

So great! I just booked a night at the Good Dream Guesthouse last week. Bryan has been great over e-mail already. But reading this already makes me sad we aren’t staying longer. :)

LOCAVORista Reply:

Carrie, Enjoy Thailand and Good Dream- Bryan is an excellent host and happy to share insights on the expat life. Definitely plan on sitting down and having a beer with him. Oh, and the food at the markets in Krabi are amazing. Happy travels!

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thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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