Travellers’ guide to Thailand – Phuket and Krabi

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If you are looking to travel to Thailand for your honeymoon / just a vacation, you must definitely read this. I had recently visited Krabi, Phuket for my honeymoon and here goes some useful information that will save you some money and time and make things better.

Before the Trip :

If you are traveling from India or the list of countries mentioned here, you can get your visa on arrival. So just carry your passport and tickets to the airport.

The currency in Thailand is Baht and the visa charges are 1000 baht per person. Make sure you take recently taken passport size photos of the size 4 cm vs 6 cm.

Plan your trip months in advance and you do not need a travel agent to book your tickets. You can save a lot by doing it yourself here (Personal favorite).

My tickets were booked with Air Asia. Though it was a highly economical carrier, my friends who had flown through Thai Airways had great things to say about the hospitality and the food offered on-board.

Tourists’ Paradise :

An entire country that thrives on Tourism.  Almost every person whom you meet has something to do with the Tourists. They are super courteous, very helpful and they understand and speak English to an extent.

The hotels that we stayed at had a fully functional tour desk. Not just the pamphlets / leaflets and a person who distributes it and tries to sell you packages that you might not need, but they have a person who is friendly and asks what you want and plans things for you perfectly.

Don’t be surprised if the same person who booked your tour becomes your chauffeur and takes you to the tour himself.

So I would recommend not to book through a travel agent and trust on the hotels that you stay in. If the hotel that you stay does not have a tour desk, worry not as you can find a lot of travel agents outside the hotel walking around trying to sign you up for tours.

The hotels that we stayed at offered early check-ins once the rooms were ready. The standard check in time is 2 p.m but I remember checking in even at 10.30 a.m. They did not charge anything extra, though.

Few hotels may request you to deposit 1000 or 2000 baht as a caution deposit that’s refundable. If you are running low on cash, give your credit card number and they will swipe it only if it’s necessary. This will definitely help you if you are running low on baht.

Phuket : 

Phuket is a beautiful rainforested island of Thailand. Patong beach in the town of Patong is one of the most happening beaches in Thailand.  It has restaurants and eateries dotted alongside the roads throughout the place.

There are nice shopping places just opposite to the beach and there are dozens of resorts close to the beach that gives you stunning views to wake up to.

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These sticks aren’t spicy as it looks but tasty and it’s piping hot and it’s very cheap too. Buy a few sticks and keep munching when you walk.

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

 

These pancakes freshly prepared has banana inside and honey and milkmaid over it. One of our best finds on this trip and the best part was you can get this everywhere in Thailand.

There are at least a dozen combinations with Bananas, Mangoes, and  many other tropical fruits. Tourists’ love it and you can find one every 200 meters or less.

Don’t be surprised if people start yelling namaste while you walk. I guess there must be a lot of people traveling from India to Thailand that most of the restaurants have discounts for Indian foods and it’s written on the boards outside. Indians and discounts go together and they know it.

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We had been to Trick Eye Museum in Phuket and for people who are great in photography, you can capture amazing pictures here with 3D paintings. Ask for the city map at the hotel that you are staying and they will hand it to you after marking the hotel in the map so that even if you get lost, if you hand this map to the tuk-tuk /  taxi they will bring you back safely.

This map mostly contains ads from the places and the famous food joints nearby. That’s where I found the Trick Eye museum.

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Probably the only place I could beat the shit out of Hulk. The entry is 500 baht per person and if you are going as a group, you can make use of many group scenarios in these paintings and it will definitely be something that you will be laughing about even after years.

There is a beautiful street called Soi Romanee that is close by to the Museum. You can get down from your cab and take a walk in this street which is such a lovely place to be if it’s raining. And yes when we were there, it was raining. That explains the umbrella.

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There are shops that sell souvenirs of Phuket and Thailand in this street and once you come out of this street, you can find a beautiful Buddhist temple

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One of the must visit tours from Phuket is the James Bond Island tour.  Depending on the fee you pay, you can either take a long tailed boat or a speed boat that will take you to these islands.

The tour had two parts – We had a stop over at Talu Islands where we placed our belongings in a cruise guarded by the tour guys and we can take canoeing trips into the limestone caves.  Once you are settled in the canoe, there will be a guy from the cruise asking you to smile and he will click a picture of you guys using his SLR.

Our Long tailed boat

Our Long tailed boat

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If you would like to see more pictures of Canoe tours here in Talu Island click here.

The guy who canoes you will quickly identify your nationality and speak something that you can relate to. When you are an Indian, he starts with Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Dharmendra, Hrithik Roshan and you smile. I wasn’t going to tip him unless he says Rajnikanth which he didn’t mention by the way.

Then he guessed that we were on our honeymoon which was a no-brainer. And quickly he pulled a leaf from his pocket that had a heart cut out of it. He asked for my phone and took pictures in this way.

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Just when I was thinking that this guy was scoring high on customer experience, I saw almost half a dozen other canoe guys pull out the same kind of leaf and taking pictures of the couples who were on their canoe. It was an organized surprise for all of us. When he dropped us at our canoe, he asked for 150 baht for the highly darkened, low light picture of us inside the carefully cut leaf frame. I gave 20 baht to him for safely bringing us back to the cruise and he got it happily. I got reminded of this negotiation scene from Horrible bosses 2.

Once you are done with the trip and get back to the cruise, there will be a big table with a framed picture of you when you got on the canoe –  yes the one that they took before you started your trip. They sell this picture for 150 Baht which you can say no thank you if you had taken a camera along for the trip which we did. They give you plastic covers inside which you can keep your phones and wallet and take it along with you for the canoe trip.

Then the James bond Island, famously called so after the movie ‘Goldfinger’ that was shot here.

James Bond Island

James Bond Island

 

This iconic scene

This iconic scene was shot here

 

Krabi 

We took a ferry ride from Phuket to Krabi that was totally worth it. There were many westerners  who took sun-bath on the deck of the ferry. It was a 2 hour journey and we reached this beautiful place – Krabi.

Krabi is nested on Ao Nang beach and it has so many resorts closeby.  We stayed in Krabi resort and we absolutely loved it there.

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Just opposite to the beach is the night market as seen above. There are a good 400 stores selling souvenirs, clothing, accessories and more.

There are a lot of Indian restaurants as well.  A dinner for two comes to around 300 baht after discounts. Almost all the restaurants had discounts on Indian food and Pizzas / Pastas.

In Krabi, our travel agent had signed us up for Four Island Tour. But we decided to explore the other places nearby. We spoke to the Tour desk and found Emerald Pool and Hot water stream were must visit attractions.

After a 1 km walk through a pathway bridge laid carefully through a dense vegetation, we reached the pool. Naturally created pool amidst thick trees. The water is around 4ft deep at some places and 5ft at others. The main challenge is to get into the water unhurt as the space surrounding the pool is super slippery. There are stones laid to aid you but the stones are feeble and can get you hurt. There are no safety lockers inside and so you need to put your stuff in your bag and leave it on the trees or below.

Once you find a way to get into the lake, then its wonderful to swim and have fun with family and friends. Beware of the rocks and stones on the bed which might hurt your legs when they catch you offguard.

Emerald Pool

You can find more pictures of Emerald Pool here.

Next on our list was Hot water stream. It did not involve a long walk like Emerald Pool but it was again nested deep inside. Maybe these paths were in place to build up the suspense and when you find the attraction, you go wow.

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The sign said not to sit down, so I lied down.

The sign said not to sit down, so I lied down.

Hot streams have a relaxing effect attached to it and it was definitely one of the best moments that day. Surrounded by dense vegetation and around just a dozen more people nested in their respective spots, this was an awesome experience.

Tips : Be quick to fill in a spot as soon as its empty and there are limited spots with good leg room.

Four Island Tour :

There were two famous tours listed everywhere in Krabi. One was the 4 Island tour and the other was Hong Island tour. We chose Four Island tour because it was 4 ( instead of 1 – simple math)

Our first stop was near Chicken Island.

That's the Chicken Island

That’s the Chicken Island

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A life Jacket, a tube to breathe into using the mouth and glasses – that’s all it needs

 

We had no clue the trip included a short snorkeling experience. For starters, you do not need to know swimming or be a part of a long training program for snorkeling. It was super exciting to drop down from the boat into the waters. The waves were slow yet powerful enough to take me around and away from the boat. The moment I took a sneek peek inside the waters, I could find thousands of small fishes in varied colors going around inside minding their business like nothing’s new.

Snorkeling near Chicken Island

Snorkeling near Chicken Island

 

Our next stop was Tub Island. It was a very small island with a short stop over time. Families that had come with kids had a great time chasing the waves. The high light is the island on the other side connected to this and during low tides, one can cross and go to the other island.

Our next stop was Poda Island. This is a considerably bigger one and we had our packed lunches there served by our tour guide. We were given an hour’s time to relax and it was a scenic beach and you can recollect a lot of duet songs shot here. The island has a lot of casuarina trees that offered shade.

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Our last stop was Phranang Beach. Suitable spot for hill climbing enthusiasts. The waves were fun and unpredictable. Set aside a big mountain that had a small cave temple for the local princess was the major attraction.  And then I saw the sign board that defined the word Phranang for me – it meant Princess.

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Tips to Remember :

  1. Pack as many packs of Lays or chips that you like from India. You will do a lot of walking around and if you are planning to buy Lays there, you will find flavors like sea weed that can put you off.
  2. If you forget the point no : 1 and if you are already there in Thailand, look for super markets like 7 / 11 that have a lot of variety and the costs are also cheaper when compared to what you get in tourist spots.
  3. All the super markets have ovens and packed food. You can find pastries, burgers, chicken rice, sandwiches all stacked fresh in the super market. And they heat the same and give you if you ask them. This will come in handy if you are running low on cash / or planning to save some baht for shopping during the last few days of the trip.
  4. Most of the street thai food had fish sauce added and it might make it taste weird at first.  But its pretty easy to stay away from owing to the smell coming from the stalls.
  5. If you are planning to get souvenirs from Thailand, the best place to get them would be Bangkok. I would shortly share one blog post about the places we visited in Bangkok and the shopping experiences.

This post has gone longer than I expected and thanks for reading. You can reach out to me through comments if you need more information.

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