Lately, I have been spending a lot more time on Skyscanner rather than Facebook which quite explains how I ended up in Thailand without stressing about burning a hole in my pockets. In my travel plans, Southeast Asian countries remain the first destinations that I intend to explore, the two main reasons being their nearness and the fact that in some of these countries the Indian currency is on the upper hand; this gives me the leverage to plan a lavish vacation. However, this wasn't the case with Thailand. 1Thai Baht is equivalent to 2 INR. Still, it works for me! Right from skyscrapers to countryside floating markets, from the train market to the jaw-dropping jungle-topped islands anchored in azure waters, Thailand has plenty to offer.
Thailand is a tropical gateway for the hedonistic wanderer. Pattaya is even called the mini-Amsterdam of Southeast Asia. However, I didn't go for Pattaya but I sure as hell have heard a lot about their walking streets. Being in Patong at Phuket, I have had the chance to see how it feels to be strolling down a walking street. Wait for it, don't just scroll down yet. I will share my experience in a discrete way. Let's begin!
First things first, let's get straightaway to Visa on arrival. It felt like ordering a coffee in Starbucks. All you need is a recent passport-sized photograph, onward and return ticket, accommodation documents and 2000 Baht in hand. To avail, the express VOA facility pays an extra 200 BHT. (I didn't have to stand in the queue for two hours. Phew!). That's all. In the next few minutes, you will be through their immigration counter. Thailand vibes will welcome you with a mindfreaking experience which you cannot possibly imagine.
Tip #1: Get yourself a local tourist SIM card from the airport just for 250 BHT. This will make tracking down locations on google map as well as staying in touch with your folks a lot easier.
Now, my dear readers, I think it's safe to assume that Y'all know how I can't resist signing up for things that I haven't tried before. The offbeat ways please me the most. I didn't hire a cab. Instead, I took the airport bus and skyline BTS metro to reach my hostel. With the help of a few friendly locals and the map, I managed to reach my destination in merely 74 BHT which otherwise would have cost me 500 BHT.
My Hostel, Slumber Bodega boasts of crazy social gatherings and lots of booze. They offer well-curated walk tours and bicycling tours in the morning for local sightseeing of the famous temples and the fancy street markets. At night, it absolutely gets crazy over here. Heard of pub crawling? This is what happens here every midnight.
Day1. After having gulped down a gallon of Local Thai beer (Leo), I got along with a travel companion who suggested that we go explore the famous Khao San road. If you're in Bangkok, it is a shame if you skip coming to this street.
Before we walked off to our destination, we explored the Soi Cow Boy walking street. This street is all about flashing neon signs, a colorful streetscape and go-go bars that line its sides. It's a sight to behold and unlike anywhere else in the world.
I had planned on shopping and that's the reason I was carrying a light backpack. We entered into the biggest BKC mall. This is one of the malls where you need to walk and explore till the extreme. You will certainly end up doing dirt shopping till your feet hurts.
Tip #2: When you're in Bangkok if you're interested in visiting the floating markets, it's better if you do it on a weekend when all the major floating markets are open.
For us, it was a weekday. Sadly, we didn't have the privilege to enjoy them.
Once we were done shopping, we went to Khao San road. Popular among the locals, especially young hipsters, and art students, this crazy lit street is lined with pubs with live music, karaoke and what not. It has an almost contagious atmosphere.
The following day, we ended up at Sawasdee longboat Stop where we rented a boat and enjoyed a full tour of the city. We crossed two canals. If you take this boat tour in the evening, it feels even more magical (and Instagram worthy!) with the skyscrapers all lit up. We were taken to Wat Arun. The sunset at this Buddhist shrine is as beautiful as it gets. After this short stint, we thought of going to Asia Skynet mall. It was time for us to pacify our hunger pangs. I had THE best shrimps, followed by cocktail pizza toppings of Chicken, prawns, hams.
Tip #3: If you're a non-vegetarian, Thailand is a paradise for you. But if you're a vegan, you will face limited options like subways and Pizza.
The day ended with a visit to Jim Thompson House and eventually sipping countless numbers of Singha beers and indulging in Latin American crazy stories with the hostellers who chose to lurk around instead of going for the pub crawl.
The time had come to pack our bags and fly to Phuket. I'm sure everyone has heard about the incredulous splendor of the Phi Phi islands and the Krabi islands. Without any further ado, I will lay out the details for you regarding how exactly you should go about making a reservation in Phuket and explore these islands.
It was my friend's idea to check into the Hyatt Residence at Patong. Being a budget backpacker I always prefer the hostels. However, she convinced me into this and I can't help but admit that I loved every bit of it. You can book your stay in any one of the hostels or even the premium 3-star to 5-star suite hotels that are all lined up in Patong. Patong is itself famous for its beaches.
We hadn't had much time to book a cruise that day. Usually, all the cruises for the islands depart in the morning and take 1-2 hours depending on the kind of boat. One is supposed to reach the Rassada Pier, the major known port here. The cruises start at 8:30 in the morning and then every 2 hours. You can either choose to stay in Phuket or make your reservations in luxury resorts at Phi Phi islands, provided you have ample days in hand.
The very same day, after strolling in and around the beach, we decided to explore the nightlife of Patong. This is when we came to know about the 'Bangla walking street' which is the notorious heart of all Phuket nightlife. The battle for night supremacy rages between Beer Bars, Live Music, Nightclubs and, of course, the Go-Go bars. In my eyes, it was the Pattaya per se Amsterdam of Southeast Asia.
There are few things in this world to prepare you for an after-dark stroll down Bangla Walking Street. However, a sense of humor and an open mind are prerequisites if you're looking to have some nocturnal fun in Phuket; it is pretty much an all-out assault on the senses. In spite of this, it is an experience worth having even if it's just for the sake of saying that you have experienced it really. Phi Phi Islands
The next day we had to reach Rassada Pier at around 8:30 in the morning. A huge cruise boat sails off the coast to Phi Phi Islands which charges you about 1000 BHT for a round trip for 2 hours. There are plenty of islands in and around Phi Phi. The islands are so beautiful that I immediately regretted not having kept an entire week just for Krabi and Phi Phi. I am a go-getter when it comes to trying out any adventure activities. Snorkeling being the most sought activity here, that's what I went for. Upon reaching this island, one needs to rent a long tail jet boat which will take you to the surrounding mini coral islands. After much negotiation, we eventually paid 1200BHT. Snorkeling is so refreshing; it absolutely takes off the weight of your shoulder or seasickness if you have any! Kayaking is also quite popular here and if you're a good swimmer I would recommend you to definitely go for this! Imagine the sunset on these islands! Whatever you may have imagined, it's way more picturesque than that! Thailand is one place that has it all.