Is Your Traveller’s Heart Taking You To South-East Asia?

Is Your Traveller’s Heart Taking You To South-East Asia?

Contributed to Fair Dinkum Traveller

When it comes to planning a weekend break, a lot of people don’t need to invest more than a few hours to research the perfect location and the ideal flight to get there. It’s easy to understand why. Between last minute deals and a getaway that doesn’t require a lot of planning, the click and buy generation is taking over the short holiday market.

There’s no shame about it. After all, sometimes all you need is a quick escape out of everyday routine to recharge your batteries. It doesn’t really matter where you’re going if you’re only going to spend a couple of days there. It’s all about not being at home – or at work for that matter – and instead enjoying the taste of life elsewhere, far away from your daily worries. It’s the quick beach break, the cultural city getaway, or the outlandish countryside weekend.

However, there comes a time when you want something else from your holiday, when it needs to be more than a quick bubble of peace. You know the feeling: You’re drained and you want to rethink your life priorities and set things in the right order for you. That’s the kind of life crisis that calls for a long holiday where you can immerse yourself in a new culture, mindset and landscape. You can’t just click and book a long holiday without considering the destination carefully. If you want to come back feeling refreshed and enlightened, you need to aim for south-east Asia. The Far East, as it used to be called, is rich in history, adventures and flavours. More importantly, it offers the perfect spiritual platform to question your motives and redefine your life.

 

Time in Laos

Enjoy South-East Asia at its finest like at Patuxai War Monument in Vientiane, Laos.

 

The countries of south-east Asia

If you haven’t got a map of the world at hand, south-east Asia is a subregion of Asia that refers to all countries that are situated in a region south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. For simplicity, it’s said to consists of what used to be Indochina, and the historical East Indies and Malay Archipelago. Geographically, it’s the equivalent of about 8.5% of the world’s population, which makes it the third most populous region in the world – the two others being south Asia and east Asia. In other words, if you’re going to south-east Asia for a taste of isolation, you might have picked the wrong part of the world for that. But the region has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, history and even business if you’re looking to start a new life elsewhere.

 

South-East Asia travellers heart

Lara Croft’s temple in Cambodia

 

INDOCHINA

The French influence in Vietnam

Vietnam was one of France’s most profitable colonial possessions after the country gain control over the North of Vietnam as a result of a victory in the Sino-French War of 1883-1884. As with any colony around the world; the themes of exploitation of raw materials, workforce and other natural resources are to be expected. But the French rule has left in Vietnam a variety of historical architecture and customs that give the country its particular attitude. In fact, French architecture is so dominant that the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An and Hanoi. More interestingly, this isn’t the only vestige of a colonialist past in Vietnam. Indeed, according to https://theculturetrip.com, you can find a culinary influence from patisseries to restaurants in most of the country. In fact, if you’re looking to start your career in the gastronomy industry and learn from the best chefs, Vietnam is definitely the place to be.

 

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam.

 

Thailand, a beautiful country that is shut to foreign opportunities

If you want to enjoy more beaches and less colonialist guilt, take a trip to wild Thailand, and especially Khao Lak. Why there? Because it’s a little less than two hours’ drive from the Island of Phuket, but it benefits from a peaceful and relaxing environment. You won’t find the crowd of tourists you expect so that you can have the sunset, the sandy beaches and the resorts almost to yourself. It’s a little bubble of paradise that awaits you every year between November and May in this area of Thailand. However, you may find it difficult to make a living in Thailand, even if you fall in love with the country and decide to stay. There are very little business opportunities for non-native citizens as a Thai-born person has to own the majority of a company. Only US citizens can own up to 100% of a company in Thailand, but they still need a minimum capital first.

 

Koh Samui

Koh Samui – Thailand.

 

A taste of Lara Croft in Cambodia

If you still remember Angelina Jolie exploring the ruins of a temple in Tomb Raider, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can find these temples in Cambodia. Admittedly; since Angelina went running there in her tiny shorts, the place is crawling with tourists. But with a good guide, you can still see everything and revive your old Lara Croft’s memories. If you’re ready to get up early, you can visit the magnificent Sunrise at Angkor Wat – although be ready to be there before 5:30 am. You can find the famous Tomb Raider’s temple, Ta Prohm, with its intertwined tree roots too. You won’t have much difficulty to imagine life in Cambodia if you’re not afraid to downsize a bit. In fact, a couple of American tourists have made Cambodia their home since 2015 and despite low earnings – less than $35,000 a year – they have all they need. They’re the happiest they’ve ever been in Phnom Penh.

 

Start your spiritual journey in Laos

What if you just want a spiritual awakening for your holiday? Laos is often described as a mystical country by those who have visited it. The most important thing that tourists will tell you about the country is that it remains completely outside the spotlight. There’s barely any tourists in Laos, which means that you can take a good look at ancient Buddhist temples without getting up at dawn to avoid the crowd. Consequently, it’s a great place to find out more about Buddhism and exploring your spiritual side at your own pace. Make sure to attend the Luang Prabang ceremony in northern Laos before you leave. Every morning the monks walk in town to collect the food offerings. You can ask the locals how to participate.

 

South-East Asia - Laos

Temple in Laos

 

The city of the many pagodas and temples in Myanmar

Another great place to explore your spiritual side is Myanmar, and especially Yangon, the city that has some of the oldest pagodas and temples in the country. Some are even believed to date back to the lifetime of Gautama Buddha over 2500 years ago. The oldest pagoda in Burma, the Shwedagon is a 99 metre-high stupa that is entirely covered in gold. It’s a place of pilgrimage for many Buddhists as it enshrines a hair relic of Siddhartha Gautama. You can see it from anywhere in town, and it’s impossible not to feel its aura. If you find your calling in Myanmar and are wondering about staying and embracing a new lifestyle, you might be interested in reading this interview http://www.goaway.sg/life-in-myanmar that explains how the expat life feels like in Yangon. As a general rule, locals are friendly and will go out of their way to help you. Besides, you can experience a frontier market in a Buddhist culture, which makes it both challenging and peaceful at the same time.

 

EAST INDIES & MALAY ARCHIPELAGO

Indonesia, the melting pot of cuisines and cultures

There is no bigger melting pot in south-east Asian than in Indonesia. Jakarta, home to 10 million people, offers a tour of colonial architectures, live music venues and fine dining restaurants, all within a few yards from each other. Needless to say that there’s a lot to see and experience in Indonesia, from a metropole culture in Jakarta to UNESCO-listed national parks and volcanoes to hike up on Java. If you love the creative juxtaposition of cultures, wildlife, and without mentioning the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, you’ll be happy to know that the house prices are low: https://rumahdijual.com/. In fact, you can buy a manor house with garden for the price of a small family home in the UK.

 

South-East Asia - Java

Buddhist temple on Java

 

The country of the thousands of islands

With over 7,000 islands to choose from, you know that visiting the Philippines will be an adventurous experience. In fact, for most people, it can be difficult to know where to start, but here’s a little overview of the best sites to see. El Nido, for Pinoy travellers, offers one of the world’s most picture-perfect seascapes, without mentioning its fantastic limestone cliffs. If you’re wondering what Heaven looks like, El Nido might be the closest thing you’ll find to it. If you want a feel for the old history of the place, spend some time in the UNESCO-listed town, Vigan where the Spanish architecture continues to tell the tales of the past. However, you can forget any dream of making your life in the Philippines: Foreigners are not allowed to own property.

Whether you want to reboot your life or just to clear your mind, south-east Asia offers a multitude of landscapes, spiritual encounters, fascinating cultural backgrounds and exciting business opportunities to help you on the way. All you need is to pack your luggage and start your self-discovery tour.

 

Bang Nieng Khoa Lak

Enjoy South-East Asia at its best like at this Khao Lak Markets.

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...
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A Longboat into Phang Nga Bay – Thailand

A Longboat into Phang Nga Bay – Thailand

Entering Phang Nga Bay is a day trip you must experience whenever taking a holiday in the southern Thailand area of Phuket and the Phang Nga Province.

An affordable day out that is great for families and special for lovers, who are keen to see a special part of the world that has an abundance of surrounding natural beauty.

An overcast day or blissful sunshine, it doesn’t matter, because nothing will take away the magical moment that you will experience, bypassing the 42 Islands of The Bay, with the wind gushing through your hair, and enjoying one of your favourite days of your vacation.

For now, let me take you on my very own longboat Journey into Phang Nga Bay, Thailand.

Heading to Phang Nga Province in Thailand? Check out hotels on TripAdvisor.

 

Phang Nga Bay

Take the Longboat out to Phang Nga Bay.

Taking the longboat

 You can enter Phang Nga Bay by either speed boat, private charter or the old longboat.

During my own family outing at The Bay, we took the longboat option, and first impressions the old wooden boat may not have been overly comforting on first sight, it did have the appearance that it had seen better days. Don’t judge anything on looks, because these longboats are built to last and can handle the rigours of the water.

From entering the longboat, it was all about taking in the surrounds, as the boat moved smoothly and at a steady pace by the local village, out past the mangroves and into Phang Nga Bay where several islands and islets were waiting spectacularly to be seen.

Check out Khao Lak Diaries for further experiences in The Bay.

 

Phang Nga Bay Thailand

All aboard the longboat.

Canoeing amongst the Mangroves

 What an experience to canoe amongst the mangroves as you take the day trip to another level, to think the day has only just began.

It’s time to relax once more as the locals take charge of the situation with an oar in hand and give their guest a serene moment amongst the mangroves and the limestone cave. It’s natural beauty at its very best.

Just chill, take photos and give the local guide a rest at times by taking the oars away and having a go at paddling in the calm waters yourself. The guide may even be kind enough to make a little hand-made flower for their female guest, quite the little charmers.

Once the 60-minute canoe trip is up and you have finished marvelling once more at what is around you, pay a little tip for the friendly guide and then it’s off to the next location in The Bay.

Check out another great day out in Thailand – White-water rafting.

 

Phang Nga Bay Thailand

Canoeing amongst the mangroves.

Entering the Islands of Phang Nga Bay

 Once you are done canoeing the mangroves, it’s back on the old longboat, where it’s time to head deeper into Phang Nga Bay and gaze at the surrounding islands, as you set-sail to the next port of call.

Many boats of all shapes and sizes will go by and even at times you will wish you were on the luxury cruise-lines that in close distance. It won’t bother you much, because for a cheaper rate, you are still out in paradise enjoying another precious day in Southeast Asia.

Phang Nga Bay Thailand

Heading out to Phang Nga Bay.

James Bond Island

 You may have seen the 1974 James Bond Film “The Man with the Golden Gun” now you can visit a part of movie history by visiting the delightful James Bond Island, properly known as Khao Phing Kan.

A tourist phenomenon, a visit to James Bond Island is quite short, too short, but there is time enough to make the most of the opportunity by taking a dip in the bay, amongst a few other activities.

You can explore the boutique market places and perhaps buy an expensive cool drink or ice-cream. Then it’s time to capture a few memorable moments by getting the camera out and clicking pictures of the island, especially the famous islet out in the middle (Ko Tapu).

Read more of James Bond Island on this feature article.

 

James Bond Island

James Bond Island.

Panyee Island – Floating Village

 

It is quite amazing to be cruising along the waters of The Bay and stumble upon a floating village, that appears out of nowhere. That’s right, a village built off a small island (Panyee Island), where locals actually eat, sleep, work, and the kids get educated.

For the locals it’s an everyday life, for me and you the tourist it is an eye opener. You can spend a fair amount of time exploring the floating village and its stacked with marketplaces, restaurants, a mosque (it is a village for the Thai Muslims) and even a primary school that has a concrete soccer field. Hey, to me, it’s the prettiest location to have a soccer match.

It capped off the time in Phang Nga Bay perfectly, to see a location that is quite unique. Sure, today Panyee Island is a tourist hotspot and the locals dress it up that way. Even then, it doesn’t take the experience of visiting such a different attraction.

 

Heading to Phuket? Make sure you check out Phang Nga Bay and its wonderful attractions, it promises to be a busy day out.

Panyee Island

Panyee Island – Floating Village.

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...
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It’s Mai Khao Lak, It’s Mai Kind of Resort – Thailand

It’s Mai Khao Lak, It’s Mai Kind of Resort – Thailand

Paradise in Thailand hits you form the time you arrive at the lobby entrance of the delightful Mai Khao Beach Resort and Spa. In that moment, you realise that you are in true luxury as the smiling reception staff hand over a pretty flower lei and a large coconut drink to officially welcome you to Khao Lak.

It’s a sure tale sign that your holiday in paradise has well and truly begun.

Exploring the grounds of the Mai Khao Lak Resort will be the first on the list of things to do. The size is overwhelming, but at Mai Khao Lak, time is of little issue, with plenty of time to stroll the resort and discover every restaurant, bar and hidden attraction that is on offer inside the resort grounds.

Sit down and settle back, it’s time to introduce you to this fine Mai Khao Lak resort, that is designed around a family life vacation. By the end, you’ll want to pack your bags, your swimming togs, and book a flight to Thailand, where your final destination will be waiting for your grand entrance.

It’s Mai Khao Lak, it’s Mai Kind of Resort.

Want to have a vacation at Mai Khao Lak? Check out the Resort on Trip Advisor.

Mai Khao Lak

It’s Mai Khao Lak, it’s Mai kind of Resort.

 

Where is Mai Khao Lak Beach Resort and Spa

 Landing at Phuket International Airport in Thailand, the best way to get to Mai Khao Lak Resort is to organise a driver through the resort or by your own means. From the airport, it’s an easy one-hour drive along the western coast of mainland Thailand, with traffic of little issue, as you reach the town of Khao Lak and onwards to the Resort.

The Resort itself is situated twenty-minutes’ drive from the main town centre, not to threat however, Mai Khao Lak provide a free shuttle bus service to and from the resort throughout the day, for when you want to get out and about and see the laid-back town of Khao Lak.

 

Mai Khao Lak

Mai Khao Lak Resort.

Large and spacious rooms

 There are a few options when it comes to rooms at Mai Khao Lak, but they all share a common theme, each individual room is large and spacious, big enough to fit a family of five.

Let’s start with the Beach Bungalows. They look magnificent from inside out, with the interior and exterior design simply amazing. There is plenty of room to move about inside the bungalow, especially in the large bathroom area and the main common room, where there are two large beds situated. In the cool evening time, sit out on the deck and enjoy Chang Beer or two and take in the refreshing weather change in temperature.

Or stay in the main resort area, with each individual room coming with two separate bedrooms, leaving in mind one bed is a King-size sofa bed, but plenty comfortable for the kids. In the adult’s room, is a another King-size bed, very comfortable indeed, with each room containing a television and entrance to the balcony, where you can admire the resort a little more.

 

Mai Khao Lak Rooms

Admire the views from your very own balcony.

Plenty of Dining options to feast upon

 The hardest decision you’ll have to make during a single day at the resort will come in the evening time, where to go for dinner? It becomes a difficult choice when you notice that there are seven top-notch restaurants to choose from.

If a scrumptious all you can eat buffet is to your liking, then you will want to hit The Buffet Restaurant. A dining experience where you will literally eat till you drop, with plenty of choices on offer at the buffet table that has a tasty mixture of Thai/Western Cuisines, pasta, salads and a large selection of desserts that are simply delicious.

Perhaps all you want to eat is a little Thai food, after all you are in Thailand. The Talay Thai Restaurant will get those South East Asian taste buds rolling with a select range of local dishes from the popular red curry dishes, a selection of soups, and fresh Papaya Salad to name only a few of the Thai cuisines to select form on the menu.     

The Green and Grilled Restaurant is situated by the beach and has a selection of Western food that is served A-la-carte style. Dine in style and listen to the sounds of the waves breaking nearby, it is the perfect set-up for a romantic evening.

It is a selection of foods that will get your taste sensations rolling and not to mention the Breakfast Buffet that is on offer each morning, and provides all you need to get the day off to a flyer in Thailand.

Mai Khao Lak Buffet

Great desserts at the resort buffet.

Lots of fun for the kids

 It’s a family resort and kids are simply spoilt for options.

On offer is a range of fun activities that will get the children sleeping well at night because of the busy day they’ve just endured. For instance, they can participate in a number of sports activities that takes place on the beach, or dress up as little chefs and try their hand in pizza making, even lend a hand in their bartending skills during the mocktail making class that takes place at the Music & Wine bar.

The fun will really heat up when it’s time to hit the swimming pools, the kids will have a splashing good time in the resort’s many pools that feature amusements within the pool area and will provide the children hours of entertainment in the great outdoors.

They may even fancy the idea of taking a break from the adults, and vice versa, with a few sessions in the Mai Khao Lak kids club that’ll give the children even more adventure, activities and smiles, as they are cared for by the friendly staff. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

 

Khao Lak night markets

Let the kids be entertained at Mai Khao Lak.

And the Adults are covered too

 If you thought the kids were spoilt, just wait till you see the options for the adults.

Let’s start with the adults only swimming pool area where you can have a relaxing swim or sleep on the deckchairs, while also enjoying a guilt free cocktail by the pool bar or up top in the resort’s very own rooftop bar, the Sky Bar (more on that later).

Participate in a Thai Cooking Class and learn a few local Thai cuisines, but be mindful of those chilli’s, they’ll burn you. Once you have been on your feet all day, spoil yourself with a pampering at the Mind Spa and enjoy a delicious tea once your relaxation therapy has concluded.

At dinner time, let the kids chill out in the kids’ club or hire a babysitter for a couple of hours, and dine in style at one of those fabulous restaurants on hand at the resort. The choice is all yours, you’re on vacation, so spoil yourself.

 

rooftop bar Khao Lak

Enjoy a little quiet time.

The Mind Spa

A stay in Paradise requires a little time in the Resort’s Mind Spa as you calm the mind and body in peace. The professional staff and their experienced healing techniques and ointments, will provide each individual guest with a relaxation therapy and pampering to the highest of standards.

A holiday in any resort world-wide isn’t complete without a relaxing massage and The Mind Spa experience is no different.

Enjoy a little tea at the Mind Spa.

 

The Mai Khao Lak Theme Park

 It’s not what you would call a world major theme park, but for a resort in Khao Lak, this little boutique theme park will more than suffice.

It’s the main entertainment hub of the resort, that comes with a large swimming pool area and features a couple of water slides that will send the kids into a spin, a cool in-water playground and even a large pirate ship for those who inspire to be the next Captain Jack Sparrow.

Meanwhile, the adults can rest back on the deck chairs and watch the kids make some noise and have a few giggles. No doubt, when the adventure is finished in the water, the next stop will be at Thea’s coffee shop, that offers a selection of ice-creams, smoothies, coffee and a refreshing frappe.

Mai Khao Lak theme park

Enjoy the day at Mai Khao Lak’s theme park.

 

Large Spacious Swimming Pools

 The Mai Khao Lak Resort has one of the longest swimming pools in Southeast Asia, that stretches down the middle of the Main Resort and provides great views from the balcony of your very own room.

Space is not an issue in the swimming pools, with plenty of room for everyone to swim laps or to splash about with the kids.

There are several other swimming options when it comes to the resort pools, such as the previously mentioned theme park and their crazy water slides and playground, and not to forget, the adults only swimming pool that also comes with a swim-up pool bar, where a cocktail or two will surely come in handy.

Mai Khao Lak

The Adults only pool of Mai Khao Lak.

The Sky Bar

The only rooftop bar in Khao Lak and it is situated right here at the resort. The Sky Bar is simply stunning from the moment you get off the elevator on the 6th and marvel in the surrounding resort and Khao Lak itself.

It is the perfect place to gather with your loved one and spend a special evening sipping your favourite alcohol drink, while watching the gorgeous sunset over the Andaman Sea, to end another wonderful day at Mai Khao Lak.

Click Here to see more of The Sky Bar.

The Sky Bar

The Sky Bar

 

Fair Dinkum Traveller Verdict

 It is a resort that lives up to its high standards and delivers on all levels to maintain a family friendly environment. At all times in this fabulous resort there is something going on, whether it is yoga on beach, or a Thai Cooking Class. One guarantee is that both kids and parents will leave this resort with a beaming smile on their face.

If it is a luxury escape you are craving for, then you don’t need to look any further than at the Mai Khao Lak Resort for a paradise hit.

Mai Khao Lak

Mai Khao Lak Resort.

 

Just to let you all know, this article is not a sponsored post. I stayed at the brilliant Mai Khao Lak Resort using my own money, loved the experience and thought I would share it with you. Thank you and happy travels.
Mai Khao Lak

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About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...
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A Family Experience – White-water rafting in Phang Nga – Thailand

A Family Experience – White-water rafting in Phang Nga – Thailand

 A family rush doesn’t get much better than the thrills of a white-water rafting adventure along the Song Praek in the Phang Nga Province of Thailand. It is a thrilling experience as you buckle up for the ride and let the experienced guides take charge at taming the shallow river.

It is a mixture of placid waters and terrifying rapids as you crash against the rocks, enjoy the thrills and bumps of rising over the rapids and when the moment is right, take in the glorious views that surround the river as you opt for either the five or 7km trek downstream.

Heading to Phang Nga or Phuket? Check out TripAdvisor for hotels.

white-water rafting Enjoying the raft.    

Getting to the white-water rafting

  A white-water rafting experience in Phang Nga is as easy as a day trip in the Southern Thai Province, with added benefits bound to be thrown in such as a terrifying zip-lining course, a buffet lunch which is usually at the rafting, and a visit to one of the many waterfalls in the area, you’re bound to have a full-on day. Day trips to the rafting can be found at all tour agencies on the streets at most tourist towns in Phang Nga, such as Khao Lak and of course the island of Phuket, which is only a short bus drive away. All tour companies in the area will pick you up from the hotel.  Check out a few day tours for a rafting experience.

rafting family experience

Be prepared to get wet.

   

Is it really safe for kids

I would recommend the kids be around the age of eight and over to participate in the trek downstream, while the rafting organisations in Thailand don’t have specific guidelines on age limits, you would still like your kids to have a basic understanding of the rules while participating in the raft.

It is natural to have doubts when planning a white-water rafting trip for the family, and while there will be a few thrills during the raft, it is relatively tame, and the kids of the appropriate age will get plenty of joy out of the adventure. Keep in mind, that there are rafting groups available where the guides do all the work and they know the course like the back of their hand. So, don’t forget a little tipping money of around 50-100 baht for their services.  

white-water rafting

Kids of the appropriate age will have a ball.

 

What to bring

  Here is a list of things to bring with you on your rafting experience. Please note: most places have lockers for any valuables that need to be secured safely.

–  Wet weather gear

–   GoPro

– Waterproof camera

– Sunscreen

– Water shoes.

 

 

rafting family experience

Bring only the essentials on your trip.

   

A gallery of our adventure

  Below you will see a gallery and a short YouTube clip of our adventure down the river. All pictures and videos were taken with a GoPro Hero, because you don’t want to be taking any device out there that is not 100% waterproof.

Before you go, check out another day tour to James Bond Island.

 

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...
Booking.com
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Some links in this article may contain affiliate links, therefore if you click on it and make a purchase, I could receive a little income. Don’t worry though, it will not come at further expense for the customer. Happy travels. 

First Day in Bangkok: Grand Palace, Tuk Tuks, & Go Gos

First Day in Bangkok: Grand Palace, Tuk Tuks, & Go Gos

Guest Post by Austin Rose at PeaceJoyAustin travel blog.

 

I Made It

After 20 hours of travel from Denver through San Francisco & Beijing, I landed at Thailand’s Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport late on a Saturday evening, converted 20 USD into Thai baht (the airport exchange rate isn’t the best so I didn’t convert much yet), and took a $6 cab ride to my Couchsurfing host’s apartment 30 minutes away. My host was out partying, but another guest who was staying there let me in and showed me the bed in which I was to sleep. I woke up in the next morning with a stranger (my host I hadn’t met yet) in my bed.

Water Taxi, Khao San Road, & Mysterious Lines

In the morning, I went out to explore with two fellow guests, a couple from Israel who had just finished their military service and were on a celebratory trip through South and Southeast Asia. We hopped on the SkyTrain (Bangkok’s light rail) and took it to the Saphan Taksin stationon the Chao Phraya River. From there, we hopped on the cheapest river taxi option (orange flag, 14 baht) and took a ride North to the Tha Chang stop by the Grand Palace. The boat ride was beautiful – there were lots of pretty hotels and office buildings on each side of the river and tons of interesting barges – some of which interestingly had large tires all over their edges.

We stopped for lunch at one of the many restaurants along Na Phra Lan Road and I had a delicious pork dish. After that, we separated so I could go exchange money. I wandered into a hotel I passed and pretended to be waiting for a friend as I sat in the lobby, used their wifi, and charged my phone  Then I walked over to Khao San Road, a long and colorful block of hostels, restaurants, and bars. I found a great exchange rate at a green Kasikorn Bank currency exchange booth – this brand is known as having one of the best rates (after Superrich which are harder to find) but each booth can vary significantly.

Next, I began to walk through the Royal Field to get to the Grand Palace when I found myself stuck between incredibly long lines of people wearing all black. I found my way out of the crowd after several minutes and eventually found a way to exit the field, ultimately feeling completely clueless about what was happening. I later found out that these were Thai people waiting in line to go to a special area in the Grand Palace to mourn the king who had passed away that year. Thai people mourn the death of their kings for a period of one year and this king was especially beloved so throughout my time in the country I passed many people robed in black or wearing black ribbons in honor of him.

Bangkok

Streets of Bangkok.

 

Grand Palace & Wat Pho

 

I finally made it to the Grand Palace, where I paid my 500 baht (14 USD) admission, the single most expensive thing I bought on my entire trip. Worth it? Absolutely! The palace is easily the most beautiful human-made place I have ever visited. Wandering among dozens of ornate buildings, statues, and temples was a very magical time. While the main Grand Palace building is seemingly reserved for VIPs, Thai people, special events, etc., you are allowed to walk by and take a peek at this huge building as you exit the palace grounds. Note: this is the most touristy place in Thailand, which is arguably the most touristy country in Asia. SO MANY TOURISTS. So thankful the rest of my trip wasn’t like this.

I walked a few blocks south to Wat Pho, one of Bangkok’s other famous temples – passing a few monks along the way (not an uncommon sight in Thailand). A reasonable 100 baht entry fee got me entrance to this large complex of temples, gardens, and the famous Reclining Buddha who is gigantic, super chill, and totally my spirit Buddha. After some wonderful wandering, I exited and negotiated a tuk tuk driver down from 400 baht to 150 baht. Then ensued a thrilling ride through rush hour traffic – there was lots of weaving around stalled regular-size cars and maybe even a few squeals escaping my mouth. This 20 minute ride was one of the most fun things I experienced in Thailand and you can’t leave Thailand without taking one of your own! A tuk tuk is probably going to set you back more than a taxi, but as I did you should negotiate the price before getting in. My driver ended up giving himself a non-negotiable 50 baht tip for his (admittably impressive) driving skills which apparently can happen.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho.

 

Emquartier Mall & Benjasiri Park

From there, I hopped on the SkyTrain and went back to the On Nut station where I had

began my day to meet a Couchsurfing acquaintance. We took the SkyTrain to the new Emquartier mall where we went directly to the food court. (Side note: malls are very exquisite and popular in Thailand and they are known to have pretty decent food.) This food court requires you to put money on a card which you then use to purchase from the various vendors. If you end up with excess money on the card, you can get it refunded after your meal. I had hainan chicken and mango & sticky rice, a popular dessert consisting of slices of mango paired with a very sweet rice.

Bangkok

Thai Food.

After strolling through the mall’s beautiful rooftop garden and taking in the view, we walked South to Benjasiri Park, which was bustling with locals running, doing fencing, getting in some pull-ups, or simply sitting on benches people-watching. The park surrounds a large lake and there’s great views of skyscrapers in every direction.

I met up with another local friend and we took motorbike taxis (basically getting on the back of someone’s motorcycle and holding on) to the rail station to which we needed to go. It was my second time ever riding a motorcycle so a bit scary at fast but quite fun. We headed to the Silom area, a hot-spot of sinful and fun activity and home to Bangkok’s largest gay scene. We walked into a back alley gay red light district known as Duangthawee Plaza off Surawongse Road and found ourselves surrounded by men inviting us to come inside their businesses for massages, shows, and who knows what else. Research where you’d like to go ahead of time as I’ve heard some of the less-known places will misrepresent their prices and not allow you to leave until you pay an exorbitant fee.

 

Silom – Go-Go Show & Karaoke

 

We went to Classic Boys Club to see a go-go boy show – 300 baht admission got us into a wild and unforgettable 40 minute performance which included ladyboys expertly performing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” an underwater show (a man doing somersaults in a giant water tank), an obligatory ode to Ginuwine’s “Pony,” and dancing men in trench coats who finished wearing a lot less than when they started.

We walked a block over to the main gay strip (Silom 4) and went to Telephone Bar, one of the most popular gay bars in the city. We went to the upper level to do some karaoke– for a one-drink minimum, you get free, unlimited karaoke shared with the other tables on the level. Basically you request the songs you’d like, the karaoke coordinator (what a job!) takes turns granting each table’s request, and when your song comes up you take the mics and perform for the small room (either standing or sitting at your table – it’s casual). Since I think alcohol is poison and only drink on the most special of special occasions, I had a banana shake. Yum!

Bangkok

Night clubs of Bangkok.

From there, my friend and I took local buses to his place and called it a night. I was fascinated by his small bathroom which he described as being an old-fashioned Southeast Asian style – there was no separate stall for the shower. When you shower, the bathroom floor, toilet, sink, etc. get soaking wet! So definitely not my fave but it was a cool cultural difference to experience.

Click here to go on to = Bangkok Day 2 Blog as I head to the historic city of Ayutthaya and the tallest rooftop bar in the world.

Click here for a travel guide to Bangkok outlining cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to see, eat, and drink.

 

*This article comes courtesy of Austin Rose at PeaceJoyAustin travel Blog.

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...

Ditch Phuket!!! And Head North to Khao Lak instead

Ditch Phuket!!! And Head North to Khao Lak instead

Ditch Phuket!!! I hear what you’re thinking, Is this guy serious?

Perhaps I am being a little harsh, because Phuketis great, yes great!!! And if that is your preferred holiday destination, I’ll be the first to say there is nothing wrong with that. Especially if you love the busy atmosphere that comes with the popular tourist island of Thailand.

What if I could tell you that there is another option just as appetising for travellers, that is situated along the West Coast of Thailand that overlooks the Andaman Sea, and better yet, it’s only a short 60-minute drive from the Phuket International Airport.

Sounds Great!!! Well let me introduce you to Khao Lak.

The chances are you have probably heard of it, some of you have probably paid a visit, but if you haven’t stumbled across Khao Lak during your time in Thailand or if you are just plain unfamiliar with coastal town, I am going to give you a few reasons why you should head North to Khao Lak and ditch Phuket in the process.

Ditch Phuket

Jump for joy, it’s Khao Lak.

 

 

Less hustle and bustle

 

Less, crowds, less tourist, less worries. Walking around the town centre and the major markets of Khao Lak are a breeze, especially when there is less chance of colliding with people on the streets and watching your step at every turn. Another bonus is the amount of traffic on the streets, it is considerably less, which also means less motor bikes to doge.

In the quieter streets of Khao Lak you have the luxury to shop with freedom and without getting hassled constantly by a shop owner, at least until you are ready to buy because that’s when the bartering begins. The same can be said with laidback nature of Khao Lak’s bars and restaurants, wander in grab a seat and enjoy a relaxing Chang beer, while mingling with those around you, and at the end of night, either stroll back to your hotel or catch an affordable taxi that are readily available.

 

Khao Lak Markets

Get out and about in the markets of Khao Lak.

 

Pristine beaches

 

From the time you enter Khao Lak and take your first glimpse of the coast line over the Andaman Sea, you will be mesmerised at how beautiful the beaches look from afar. Very white and pristine. The first thought will be take camera out and take some amazing photos.  

Once at the beach itself, there is plenty of room to move about, with crowds simply not an issue and the seas quite calm in most areas. Best of all you will find the beaches are kept relatively clean, so take of your thongs and enjoy the soft sand underneath your feet and enjoy a stroll by ocean.

Khao lak beaches

Ditch Phuket for these beautiful Khao Lak beaches.

 

Delightful beachside resorts

 

When a town is situated on the beach, there are bound to be some fine beachside resorts and Khao Lak doesn’t disappoint with many fine resorts spread out through the town. You will find a number resorts either within walking distance of the town or some a little further out.

Some great resorts of note in Khao Lak is the Mai Khao Lak Resort, Laguna Resort, Beyond Resort and the delightful Anda Mani Resort. Be sure you that you will find plenty of accommodations in the area to suit most budgets.

Heading to Khao Lak? Check out hotel prices at TripAdvisor.

 

Mai Khao Lak

Mai Khao Lak Resort.

 

 

Khao Lak has everything you need for a perfect holiday

 

Whatever it is you desire for a luxury holiday, khao Lak will not let you down. Shopping, beaches, waterfalls, restaurants and bars and many attractions within close proximity to town. Khao Lak has all what Phuket has to offer, just with less crowds.

You want a day trip out to James Bond Island or Phi Phi islands, Khao Lak and their popular tours will deliver. You want a trip over to Phuket, it’s only a short drive away and you can be back in time to watch a gorgeous Thai sunset to end the perfect day.

If you didn’t know much about Khao Lak, well now you know a little more, but nothing can beat seeing this fabulous town for yourself and witnessing true luxury. It may persuade you to ditch Phuket for your next holiday and explore a different of Thailand.

 

Khao Lak Beach

Overlooking a beach in Khao Lak.

About Your fair Dinkum Traveller

Anthony Jury

Anthony Jury

Your Aussie - Asia Adventure
G'day mate, it's your Fair Dinkum traveller who ventures into Asia and around Australia. Stay tuned for epic destinations, great tips and awesome travel stories.Read more...