By Ananya Majumdar (L&T MHPS)
If you want to travel to Thailand like most Indians want, why not do it differently? Here is a brief guide on how to make the most of the beautiful country.
Day-1: New Delhi-Bangkok-Phuket
The journey started in the spice jet flight from New Delhi to Bangkok . Thailand offers Visa on Arrival , and during the period we visited the city, the visa fee was waived off for Indians (Lucky us!)
After collecting our Visas, we proceeded to the immigration desk. Subsequent to the clearance from the desk, we collected our luggage and went to the check-in counters to complete the formalities for our flight to Phuket. We travelled to Phuket via the Viet Jet Air.
Advice: To save yourself of all the lenghty procedure, take a direct flight from New Delhi to Phuket. Direct flights were not available when I planned my air travel.
Upon arrival in Phuket, you will find small plastic bags hanging on stands, close to the conveyor belt carrying luggage. Make sure you pick these to get tourist guide map and the tours you can undertake. This will help you plan your stay better unless you have already planned everything in advance. We had only booked the air travel and hotels through makemytrip. All other tours were arranged after arrival in Thailand.
We hired a pre-paid taxi from the airport to take us to our hotel –Patong Resort– which was located close to Patong Beach. The hotel offered great rooms. It was close to the beach and very close to the Bangla road – where the nightlife of Phuket exists.
After an expensive lunch at the hotel (currency conversion running in our minds, 1 Thai Bhat = 2.18 INR), we rested for a while and then left for the beach in the evening. Along the beach there are many travel agents who offer island tours around Phuket. After a lot of bargaining, we confirmed for the famous “James Bond Island” tour for the next day. We then explored the exicting night life in Bangla Road and enjoyed some delicious street food.
Day 2: James Bond Island Tour
Apart from the scenic beauty, the best part about these island tours is:
- Round transfer from hotel by A/C mini bus.
- Free breakfast in the jetty (Bread, butter, jam, juice, tea, coffee)
- Free lunch (Pad thai noodles, fried rice, Chicken, Shrimp, etc. They also offer veg food and halal meat.)
- Free drinking water on board.
- Cold drinks
- Fresh cut fruits – Water melon & Pine apples (Pine apples in Thailand are delicious and so are Mangoes)
- Insurance, Life Jacket, Mask and Snorkel.
We had opted for Speed boat travel to save time. After our on-time pickup at the hotel in a 13 seater vehicle, we were taken to the jetty. We were briefed about the the itinerary for the day by our tour guide after which we proceeded to take our seats in the boat.
Our first stop was at a magnificent limestone cave.
Next we proceeded to the famous James Bond Island and as expected, every tourist was posing for photo in the James Bond style. The island is provided with toilets, refreshment area and souvenir shops.
Next we visited a cave, where paintings of pre historic times were displayed.
We proceeded to Panyee Island which is a floating village for lunch. Their houses, playground, schools – everything was on water. During low tide, the piers supporting the buildings are visible. In high tide, everything seems to be simply floating ion water.
After the wonderful lunch, it was time to go canoeing in Phang Na which offered mesmerizing view of the rocky mountains in midst of the sea. The 15 mins canoeing experience will leave you spell bound. You don’t have to canoe on your own. There will be a person to do that. And if you like the experience, you can offer a small tip, which is not mandatory.
Last stop was at Naka island, where we could relax on the beach and enjoy swimming.
Around 5pm, we were taken back to the jetty, where we left for our hotel.
The evenings were spent at leisure exploring more street food at Bangla Road and finalising the island tour for the next day.
Day 3: Phi Phi Island Tour
The tour began in a similar way as elaborated in Day 2.
The first stop was in middle of deep sea, where people who know swimming and wanted to do snorkelling could go for it. Well, in the process what happened was that, people who stayed back in the boat started experiencing sea sickness. So, if you have any tendency to get sea sick please carry suitable medicines in advance.
Next stop was supposed to be Monkey Beach. It is called so as there many monkeys on that beach. However, we could not visit the area as the beach was totally under water due to high tide. Hence, we came back to that place post lunch.
Lunch was at Phi Phi Don Island. The white sand beach and the clear water welcomed us.
We viewed the Viking caves from the boat which slowed down close to the cave. A local legend says that long time ago, sailors lost their boat during a storm and got stuck without food on one of the limestone islands lying in the mouth of the Phang Nga Bay.
We also saw the Maya Bay of the Hollywood movie “The Beach” fame. But, the view was from a distance as the place has been shut down to preserve the natural beauty of the bay.
Next stop was at Pileh Cove where the emerald water was relatively shallow but offered good snorkeling experience. This area was targeted for non-swimmers to enjoy the beauty of what’s in the sea.
Finally it was time to swim and relax at Phi Phi Don Island.
Day 4: Emerald Pool, Krabi
We hired a cab which took us from Phuket to Emerald Pool in Krabi. Emerald Pool in the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, an unusual lowland forest rich in bio-diversity, complete with a nature trail and a crystal pond. The natural swimming pool amidst nature is a tourist attraction. A walk of 700m from the Emerald pool will take you to the Blue Lagoon. But, if you are tired and don’t want to walk, it’s better to skip it.
After exploring the pool, we left for our hotel – Klong Muang Beach Resort, Krabi. If you want to spend some quiet time Klong Muang beach is a great place to stay. However, to make the most of Krabi town, staying at Ao Nang would be the best option. In Krabi, bikes are available for rent and fuel can be filled in self operated petrol vending machines. Exploring Krabi in a bike is a cheap option.
Day 5: The Four Island Tour, Krabi
For this tour we were a little experimental and opted for a long tail boat instead of a speed boat and we really enjoyed this ride . The four island tour covers as the name suggests four islands – 1. Phra Nang Island 2. Tup Island 3. Chicken Island 4. Poda Island.
The Phra Nang Island has a cave where, as per local beliefs , couples visit to pray for a baby. The cave is covered in many “linga”, or phallic-shaped statues meant to represent the Hindu god Shiva.
Tup Island was the best place that I visited in the entire Thailand tour. During low tide, the two islands get connected by a sand bank and people can walk from one island to another. Walking on the sand bank you realise that the sea waves are coming to you from both direction.
Chicken Island visit was on the boat where we clicked photos, but did not stop over at the Island.
Final stop was at Poda Island, where we had packed lunch and enjoyed the sea and the beach.
The evening was spent exploring the Night market at Ao Nang.
Day 6: Bangkok
In the morning we took a flight from Krabi to Bangkok and then a prepaid taxi from the airport. The taxi fare was about 4 times more expensive than normal cab service available in Bangkok. For local travel it is best to use the GRAB Taxi App. It works just like the OLA/UBER and is a much cheaper means of travel. Be prepared to be annoyed by Bangkok traffic however.
Visiting the famous floating market located 75km away from the city was a bad decison. I would advice anybody visiting Bangkok to not fall into the trap of visiting the market for the following reasons
- Too expensive entry ticket
- No scenic beauty – it’s a narrow dirty canal made for boats to pass.
- Most shops would be closed or trying to sell you cheap stuff at high prices
After wasting hours in travel, we arrived back in town to visit Wat Pho. It has a Buddhist temple. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 m long reclining Buddha. The campus is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
Next we went to China Town to explore the area and the food. If you are in Bangkok, visit to China Town is a must.
Day 7: Safari World, Bangkok
We decided to spend the day in the famous Safari World. So, we took a Grab Taxi. We purchased the tickets at the counter and proceeded to explore the animals and the wonderful shows arranged by them. About entry tickets, please ensure that you book the tickets online at least two days in advance to avail good discounts. Safari World offers shows such as – Dolphin Show, Seal Lion show, Bird show, etc. The park has the largest number of Giraffes in the world and you can even feed the giraffes. A coach ride will take you around the park, where you can see animals like Lions, Tigers, etc. just lying beside the road. If one visits Bangkok and doesn’t visit the Safari World, then he/she has certainly missed a lot.
Finally, after a little souvenir shopping at a night market, our tour was over and we took a late night flight back to Delhi.
Cost per head for the various tours taken to help you bargain:
- James Bond Island Tour – 1200 THB
- Phi Phi Island Tour – 950 THB
- Four Island Tour – 1000 THB ( 600 for Tour + 400 national park entry fee)
- Emerald Pool – 200 THB
- Floating market – 4000 THB for a boat
- Wat Pho – 200 THB
- Safari World – 1545 THB
If you are planning a trip to Thailand,please feel free to ask for further details by mailing to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org