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Highlights of Southern Thailand: Part 1

As I started writing this I realized I have a ton of information to share about accommodations and activities for the places I visited with my Beach Travellers group in Southern Thailand. So rather than skimping on details and writing an overly long post, I'll split the locations into two posts. Part 1: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, and Koh Phi Phi.

Location: Bangkok

Accommodation: 1) During my first few days before my tour I stayed at NapPark Hostel, which is two streets over from Khao San road. Walking distance to the party, but without all the noise. Being that Bangkok is such an international hub it's extremely easy to meet people here, and the huge bed in the air conditioned common area made it even easier! They were full almost every night, so make sure to book ahead of time! Price: ~$15CAD/night.

2) During my stay in Bangkok with Beach Travellers, we stayed at O'Bangkok. Also about a 5 minute walk to the craziness of Khao San, with lots of restaurants and shops on its street. It wasn't the fanciest place, but it was clean and had air conditioning, which in Bangkok is about all you can hope for! Price: ~$13CAD/night.

Activities: 1) Wat Pho Temple: one of the most famous and largest temples in Bangkok. Here you can find the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand and beautifully constructed buildings throughout the temple. You are required to have a guide as you make your way through the temple, but one will be appointed to you once you purchase your ticket. Price: ~$4CAD.

2) Thai Massage: This is NOT your traditional massage. Your masseuse/masseur will bend, crack, and almost break you into the strangest positions. The combination of stretching and massaging brings a whole new meaning to the word release. Once you have one, you won't believe you've ever been massaged any other way. Price: ~$4-6CAD.

3) EAT: From street food, to back alley restaurants, to rooftop patios, Bangkok has everything to offer when it comes to food. Whether you're in the mood for traditional pad thai, fried chicken feet, or something familiar from home, it won't be difficult to find. My personal favourite place to eat in Bangkok is Bombay Blues, located right around the corner from O'Bangkok. Amazing Indian/vegetarian food, cheap drinks, syringe jello shots, and the music is always a little too loud. It's an awesome atmosphere and especially fun for large groups. It's the perfect place to get some food in your belly and start your pregame before a night out on Khao San Road.

4) Khao San Road: During the day the street is flooded with shops, restaurants, and people trying to sell you things you definitely don't need. And at night this is only magnified. Restaurants turn into bars that all try to play their music over each other, and street food carts begin selling buckets of alcohol. People flood the streets while music and sweat fill the humid air. The best way I can describe is as a mini Las Vegas strip. Anything goes. If you've ever been, you know the famous sign: 

Location: Kanchanaburi

Accommodation: Tamarind Guesthouse. Located right on the lake, this is a serene place to enjoy the sunset/rise, and the large common area was a great place to hangout and enjoy some beers from the nearby 7/11. Unfortunately, my roommate and I had a slight cockroach problem in our room, but that's to be expected in a room right on the water. Price: ~9CAD/night.

Activities: 1) War Cemetery/Death Bridge: A humbling experience and beautiful glimpse into Thailand's history. Price: $0CAD.

2) Night Market: Clothes, shoes, drinks, art, electronics, and practically any food you can think of. Kanchanaburi is not a high traffic zone for tourists, which made for authentic food and products that were geared towards locals, rather than us tourists. The majority of people at the market were locals from the town and it was an extremely refreshing experience. With rows upon rows of delicious treats and local art, it was easy to spend hours walking around the Kanchan night market. Price: It's always smart to bring ~$20-25CAD with you. More if you know you want to get some shopping done!

3) Elephants World: No riding, no abuse, just love. Elephants World is a sanctuary in Kanchanaburi for rescued elephants to roam free and live a life that is free from work. Visitors get the opportunity to feed, bath, and hang out with the beautiful animals. My only complaint about this place was that the mahouts still used bull hooks to control the animals. I wouldn't say it was necessarily in an abusive manner, but the fact that it was still used at all didn't set well with me. In my opinion, there are better sanctuaries to visit if you have the opportunity to head to northern Thailand (which I rave about in my post Ride Bikes, Not Elephants, and will definitely mention in Part 2 of my highlights post). However, if you don't have the opportunity to visit the north, Elephants World still gives you the opportunity to experience an elephants company in an ethical way. Price: ~95CAD for a full day program.

4) Erawan National Park/ Erawan Falls: Embark on the famous 7 layer waterfall hike up the falls, where each layer brings something different. Unfortunately rainy season was only beginning during my time there (June), so there was only enough water to swim in the bottom 4 layers. Regardless, these waterfalls are beautiful, and a great way to beat the hot Thai heat. Price: ~$12CAD.

Location: Koh Phi Phi

Accomodation: Kinaree Guesthouse: Koh Phi Phi is an extremely small island. You can get from one side to the other in less than 15 minutes walking. Kinaree is about a 2 minute walk from the nearest beach, and right around the corner from restaurants, bars, and even a GoPro shop. Comfortable beds, friendly staff, and even laundry service! No complaints about this place. I would definitely stay here again! Price:~$35CAD/night. Usually 2-4 to a room.

Activities: 1) Viewpoint Hike: embark on a short, but very steep, hike up to Koh Phi Phi's most popular viewpoint. The best place to enjoy a beautiful Thai sunset!

2) Take a longtail boat to Long Beach: If you want to escape the main beaches of Koh Phi Phi, head down to the pier and tell any longboat driver to take you to Long Beach. After about a ten minute ride, you'll find yourself on the other side of the island on a more secluded beach. A great place to enjoy a rum coconut or a Chang! Price: ~4CAD for the boat ride. Alcohol price varies on the durability of your liver.

3) Take a snorkelling trip/ visit Maya Bay: Gather a group, rent a boat (and driver), and spend the day out at sea. Visit the beautiful Phi Phi lagoon for some snorkelling and floating, and visit Maya Bay where "The Beach" was filmed! While this beach is generally pretty crowded, it is absolutely stunning. If you're willing to put up with people, I'd say it's definitely worth the visit.

4) Drink: Koh Phi Phi is notorious for being a party island. Not only do the bars seem to never close, there are also parties on the beach every night. Dance in the water while you enjoy a bucket or 4 with your new found travel friends. My favourite place we ventured to is called Banana Bar. Downstairs you can enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine and cheap buckets, while upstairs you'll find loud music, a dance floor, beer pong, and even a little "magic grass" as they call it, if you should desire. There is also another level of the rooftop patio where you can enjoy a movie in the early evening before you start your night off.

5) Shop/Get a Massage: Along with bars and tattoo parlors, Koh Phi Phi is also filled with plenty of little shops and massage parlors on every corner. From jewelry, to clothes and swim suits, to dive shops, this little island has everything you could ever need. If you left home on a whim and packed nothing, this would be the place to go!

If you have any questions or want more information about any of these places, please feel free to send me a line! Part 2: Railay, Khao Sok National Park and Koh Phangan will be up next week! Happy travels friends.

Caylie Smith

Not Your Average

"Whatever is good for your soul, do that"

Next Post: Highlights of Southern Thailand: Part 2

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