This trip was originally published on travelfreak
Never heard the term, 'paradise on earth' being used for Thailand, but I think this place deserves the title! Maybe because Thailand is famous for things other than its exoticness, or then maybe not..
An island (or a place as cut-off as an island), which is a must-go for any itinerary in Thailand is Railay, near Krabi. This island resort is a part of the mainland itself, but is divided by cliffs from the mainland, because of which the only way to reach this place from Krabi is via water, by the famous tail-boats that is. Railay is heaven, literally, away from the world, an amazing place for an adventure weekend, or even a honeymoon getaway....
The way to reachRailay is via Krabi, which has an international airport, and then the tailboatfrom there. When you approach Railay,you just see this small clearing in the midst of the cliffs, where there is a private beach, and a couple of resorts. Thats all there is, and then much more.
The resorts at Railay are expensive by Thailand standards, but compared to most other countries, still cheap. Where else would you get resorts with rooms literally on the beach, for 1200THB per person per night. The resorts seem lively, and the island heaven! The place is so removed from everything, you can easily spend a long time there, just enjoying the serene and calm, and the beauty of the place.!!
There are lot of activities to do here, water sports, kayaking,snorkeling, rock climbing etc. You can just kayak to the neighbouring stone-islands, or swim across to the opposite beaches. Most of the sea there is shallow, and you can even have beer, sitting on the rocks 500m away from land. Believe me, its an experience(or even smoking 500m into the sea, sitting on a rock for that matter!!) Snorkeling in the nearby seas is good fun, you can see the fishes even without thesnorkelinggear.
Rock climbing is what it is famous for though, the cliffs offer something to everyone, the beginners, and the experts. Its a delight to even watch the experts manoeuvrethemselves to climb rocks which seem unconquerable too. Would be a good place to spend 2-3 days just practising climbing and learning on the way.
One place to definitely go is the trek up to the viewpoint. Interesting though not a verystrenuoustrek, and a view worth the effort. The same path also leads to the lagoon, though the trek to the lagoon is tougher.At night, just sit at the beaches, with not many people around, play in the water, with the cliffs on both sides overlooking the beach, and with lighted lamps lighting up the sky (seems to be a national hobby!).
There are a couple of good places on the beach itself to sit and eat, with music playing in the background. The effect of the place is so calming, its very difficult to imagine or believe. Just remembering it all takes me there and makes me nostalgic!
Couple of good places to visit nearby would be the Maya beach, which has been voted among the best beaches in the worldor the Vikings cave. You can take a boat to these places, lot of exotic islands on the way. Maya beach, you need to pay something to get onto the beach, but you can just snorkel there given the abundance of fishes. Vikings cave has a 'jhoola' in case you want to try:)
Phi-Phi island is appealing too, especially the view point giving a complete view of both sides of the beaches.
Phuket, our next halt was the complete anti climax to the previous experience. A commercial place, where everyone lands up and which has nothing to offer (well I have a negative view because of the stay at Railay maybe).
Please don't stay in Patong, and please don't go to Bangla street! Otherwise the nearby beaches should be a good place to chill. Nice restaurants, all the luxuries of a commercial beach resort town. Nothing much to point out about the place, other than the resort though that we stayed in, Deevana Patong. A good find, a luxury hotel, again available very cheap, and close to the Patongbeach. One good place to visit would be the Phuketzoo, you can get yourself photographed with a tiger and a tiger cub (and a python too). Seems expensive, but is an experience in case it interests you. The tuk-tuk guys will take you there free, since they get a commision from the zoo. In fact you can ask them to pay you to take you there!
Bangkok was again an experience, such a lively city. The city was much more developed than I had anticipated, high rise buildings, but still retaining the Asian touch. Din get to spend much time there though, is definitely a place will go to again.The night market is fun, lots to bargain. Sometimes the price you can get actually shocks even you. A good strategy would be to start with 30% of the quoted price, and end there! The river front in Bangkok is supposed to be fun, we tried looking for it for an hour, but it got lost! The city was still alive though even at 2am! People selling all kinds of things imaginable on the streets, even at that hour. The place to stay in Bangkok is a street called Khaosan Road. Its out of this world! Such a vibrant street, with people on the road even late at night, buying and selling anything and everything under the world, cockroaches, insects, food stuff, bags, shoes, clothes..whatever you want! We also spotted an elephant on the road!!
People in Thailand are friendly, though most don't know English at all. They do try to help though, for sure its a tourist friendly place. One of the best guides we had, was a person whose English wasn't as great, but who made up for it by his humour! It was on an elephant safari and river rafting trip, and his best joke was, '..the last and most important activity of the day would be.... lunching..' (it doesn'tsound as funny now, but that time it did:)). Bargaining is rampant, anywhere and everywhere. Helps if you are skilled in that area. Food is good too, and even for vegetarians. Place is warm even in April, and humid too, but rains almost every afternoon. A must-do for the trip is the Thai massage. Just breaks your bones, which you din even know existed!!