Everyone has that go to place they travel to a lot. It might not be your favorite, but it’s so easy. You don’t have to plan much, it’s cheap, and you know your way around or feel comfortable. So you end up going, over and over again. Maybe it’s Vegas, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Miami or New York. I’ve seen my share of those places, but since moving to Asia it’s been Thailand. I’ve been there at least 6 times and it’s a great, quick getaway; but is it keeping me from exploring other places? So in honor of the New Year and my goal of seeing the world, I’d like to highlight the beauty of Thailand and pledge to leave it alone for a while and see something new this year.
I first visited Thailand my very first year living in the Philippines. I went to Bangkok, mostly for work, but came back to visit Bangkok again maybe 6 months later. During this visit I got to really taste some authentic Thai cuisine and wander around the city taking in the temples. I would say if you haven’t been to Bangkok before it’s definitely something to see. The sheer size of the city and its population are something to marvel at, and it has great markets and of course the nightlife. But I’m not a huge fan of big overcrowded cities in Asia, so I was immediately more impressed once I drove through the country, heading towards Cambodia. Once outside of the traffic filled city I could just take in the beauty of everyday life.
On the other trips I’ve taken to Thailand I’ve visited the southern beaches of Railay, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. Both Railay and Phuket are just a one and a half hour flight from Singapore. With tons of budget airlines serving the area it can make for an extremely cheap trip. There are miles and miles of beaches in both places and with lively cities just in the center of the beach communities. You can easily grab a tuk tuk (a three-wheel motorized rickshaw) from your hotel to the center of town for dinner and people watching. As the song goes, the freaks come out at night, and the sleepy towns turn into seedy little places, with ping-pong shows and lady boys everywhere. The music is usually blaring and it really is unlike any place else. While everyone should check it out once, I personally enjoy the dirt-cheap massages and pedicures found right in the same area way more. There is also shopping often side by side the clubs. It’s even a great place for day trips. From Phuket and Railay I’ve gone island hopping, tiger petting, kayaking and zip lining.
Ko Phi Phi’s nightlife has a different feel as you can party all night and when the sun comes up you are just feet away from the beach. No shoes or shirt, no problem. There are fire dancers and muy Thai fights all around keeping everyone’s energy up. I’m not much of a partier, but what I do love about the nightlife is that when you look up from the partying you see just how diverse everyone is, with accents and languages from all over.
My favorite part of Thailand is by far the beaches. On Karon Beach, a few minutes outside of Phuket, I found a peaceful beach with stunning water walking distance from my Air BnB (Watch out for the sea lice though. They make for an irritating experience). Ko Phi Phi is a 45-minute speedboat ride from Phuket and is arguably even more beautiful. The island itself was a bit too busy for me, with lots of construction going on, but the island hopping from there was among some of the best I’ve ever done. My little brother was so blown away by one of the smaller islands that he jumped off the boat and into the water without remembering to take his iPhone out of his pocket. The white sand and blue water with the backdrop of the lush green jungle was apparently mesmerizing.
As you can see Thailand is totally worth a visit, but I think for me it is time to give it a rest. I of course still have places in Thailand I really want to see, such as Chiang Mai, but I think for now it’s time to venture out to see countries I haven’t seen.
So what’s your Thailand? Are you in a travel rut? Comment below.