My long term goal is to eventually have at least one blog post written about every country I have ever been to on this website. Obviously I am a long way off achieving this, I still have a lot of catching up to do, to write about past trips… I hope that explains my writing about a 2015 trip just the six years later in 2021!
This 2015 trip was my second time travelling – the first time was to Thailand for a month in 2013 where I caught the travel bug – and this second time was to South East Asia for three and a half months, starting out with one of my best friends Katie and finishing on my own. We started our journey in Southern Thailand for about two weeks, then travelled through Cambodia and Vietnam together, after which Katie flew home. I then extended my trip, and travelled through Laos, across into northern Thailand and back down the country for a few more weeks before flying home from Bangkok beginning of May. This post will cover the first two weeks of Thailand from that particular trip.
Bangkok > Koh Samui > Koh Tao > Koh Phangnan
Katie and I chose to start our adventure in Bangkok because we had both been to Thailand before, and so knew what to expect on arrival. We stayed for one night in crazy Khao San Road and were both so over-excited to be there! On that first night, I remember vividly eating delicious street food pad thai for dinner, and bar hopped, then trying one of each of the famous Thai beers Chang, Leo, Tiger, Singha… (and then about ten more of each, which is where my memory gets less vivid). We had such a fun night! I have loved Khao San Road every time I have stayed there, which is now about four or five times in total – I love that it is such a melting pot of excitement and activity.
Not wanting to waste time in Bangkok as we had both spent time there on previous trips, we aimed to head south to the islands the following day. We spent the first morning in Bangkok sleeping off the jetlag/ hangover (having requested a late check out), and then that evening we took a night bus down to Surat Thani, where we changed buses to get to the ferry port, and then took a boat across to Koh Samui.
We were both absolutely shattered by the time we reached Koh Samui, from the lethal combination of a night bus, night out and jetlag. On arrival, we took a small taxi to Chaweng Beach, and walked around for a while asking for prices of rooms (weirdly even in 2015 this was before the days of pre-booking on smartphones) and eventually we found the guesthouse I was aiming for, where I had stayed at on my previous trip to Thailand. I had remembered absolutely loving this place, which was essentially some cheap but very cute bamboo huts right on the beach. Excluding the long walk in the heat to find it, it was just as nice as I remembered!
Koh Samui is the biggest island of the three in the Chumphon Archipelago on the western shore of Thailand. We spent a couple of days relaxing on Chaweng Beach, which is the largest touristic area on the island, sunbathing, eating plenty of Thai food, and generally getting into the swing of travelling again. We didn’t want to stay long on Koh Samui, it was more of a stopover because our interests lay in the other two islands, so after a couple of days, we then caught a boat to Koh Tao.
Koh Tao is the smallest island in the Archipelago and its name means Turtle Island which is really cute. Once we had found a cheap room for the night, we then went hunting for a dive school. We both planned to complete our Open Water scuba diving qualification on Koh Tao, with it being one of the best and cheapest places in the world to gain the qualification. The island is FULL of dive schools and as we had done some research beforehand, we popped into our three shortlisted dive schools to gauge the vibes, and decided to go with Big Blue Diving School. Once this was sorted, we spent the rest of the day exploring the island and relaxing on the beach, and moved into the Big Blue dorms the next morning.
We started our Open Water course the following day, and completed it over the next three and a half days. It was such an amazing experience! It involved plenty of theory and technical bits, lots of homework in the evenings, which we actually enjoyed because we had to use our brains. It also included some time in the training pool in the afternoons, where we learnt the ‘practical’ side, how to use the diving equipment and got used to the sensation of breathing underwater. Then lastly, it finished with four dives across two days out in the sea, where they assessed us during the dive by making us complete tasks like kneel on the seabed at 10 metres, and take our mask off underwater etc. We passed the qualification, which meant we became qualified to dive to 12 metres. We both loved it so much, had we had more time we probably would have completed the Advanced Qualification then too, but we wanted to move onto the next island. (I later completed my Advanced Qualification in 2018). On our last night in Koh Tao, we went on the infamous Koh Tao bar crawl with people we had met diving, which was so much fun. Koh Tao quickly cemented its position as one of my favourite places in the whole country.
After a week in Koh Tao, we then took the boat to Koh Phangnan a couple of days before the Full Moon Party. We had pre-booked accommodation there for four nights before we had left England because everything gets so booked up at that time of the month, and we didn’t want to be left with nowhere to stay. The hostel we had booked was nice, just outside of Haad Rin the main party town, and with its own private section of the beach. We met a fun group of girls in our hostel, and two nights before Full Moon, we all went out together to Haad Rin beach. It was so much fun, the beach (and town) is packed with bars, lots of music playing and everyone drinking cocktails from seaside buckets.
We spent the next day relaxing, and the following night we all went to a big Jungle Party. It was good, the setting was very cool in the middle of the jungle, but the music was very techno which isn’t entirely my vibe. The next day (Full Moon Party night), there was a massive ‘All You Can Eat Buffet’ at our hostel, which unfortunately I think gave me food poisoning. So while everyone in the hostel was getting ready for Full Moon, painting each other etc, I was pushing people out the way to throw up in the loo! Luckily I had been to a Full Moon Party when I had last visited Thailand, but I was sad to miss out on a second opportunity to go because I had had the best time first time round! Katie was able to go with the friends we had made so all was not lost.
And on to Cambodia!
After four nights in Koh Phangnan, we had a very long journey, one boat and three buses, which after about 26 hours took us all the way to Siem Reap in Cambodia… which I have written about in a previous post you can find here.