As I mentioned previously, I wanted to write a post about the glorious two weeks that I spent in Thailand. I’ll be honest, aside from about 75% of our accommodations, I didn’t plan all that much prior to leaving. Everything just fell into place, really well. Given that it’s a popular place to visit (think: cheap, beautiful, delicious), I’m following through with my plan to share what I believe to be an ideal two week itinerary.
The first day was a travel day. Even though Fede and I were only flying from Indonesia, with a layover in Malaysia and a slight delay, it took awhile. So, we flew from Jakarta, but you can fly from anywhere! Our starting point was Krabi, a city in the south of Thailand. We chose here for a number of reasons: not quite as touristy as Phuket, a handful of more off the beaten path gems (granted, I have never been to Phuket), and the bungalows that we found on Airbnb. Our journey was smooth, and Oli at Bananas Bungalows arranged for a car to meet us at the airport. Once we arrived, for a small price we indulged in the communal dinner under the stars (dreamy) offered daily.
Bananas Bungalows. Look them up. This place exceeded our expectations. They’re located in Ao Tha Lane, about 40 minutes outside of Krabi Town, outside of the hub of foreign beachgoers. With no shortage of awesome recommendations, amazing food, precious animals, friendly people, and a private dock, I could’ve stayed here for ages.
While breakfast was not included in the price at Bananas, for a bargain you can order from their mouth-watering menu. Anything from banana pancakes drizzled with honey, to vegetable omelettes, to fresh fruit with yogurt were offered in the morning. After trying a few options, I selected the muesli with fresh fruit and yogurt nearly everyday. Not only was it delicious, but it reminded me of my mom.
Near Bananas Bungalows are two very quaint beaches. Both within walking distance, we first stopped at Coconut Beach, a strip of shore located at the end of a resort. We weren’t here for long, but long enough for sufficient shell searching. We soon made the trek to Secret Beach. The name does not lie. We thought we were going the wrong way 99% of the time. After navigating several rubber plantations (which I learned are very popular in Thailand), narrow pathways (don’t forget your mosquito repellent), and scaling down a “natural staircase,” we eventually made it. With the exception of rocks and sand and trees, it was deserted. I truly don’t think anyone goes there besides those of us that hear about it from Bananas. The questionable adventure to get there made the experience that much sweeter.
On the third day we opted for an island-hopping trip on an long tail boat arranged by Bananas. Another bargain, and super easy. A small group of us visited three islands: Koh Hong, Koh Hoding, and Koh Pak Bia. Pictures will be able to say more than I can, but we enjoyed a full day of swimming, snorkeling, and shell searching. I also spotted the largest sand dollar known to man (this is an opinion).
Later that night we went into Ao Nang to a bar with a few others staying at Bananas. While I don’t regret getting a taste of the nightlife, I was very happy to be based outside of this tourist hub.
Alas, probably Fede’s favorite day because we finally rented a motorbike that we kept for the rest of our week at Bananas. After sleeping in, and picking up are little whip, we cruised north to Tha Pom Klong Song Nam, a cool park with stilted bridges that wind through the mangroves. Eventually, we made our way back south to Shell Fossil Beach and Krabi Town for dinner at one of the many evening markets. Here is where we found the best pad thai and curry and coconut milk ice cream. Happy stomachs mean happy Fede and Sav.
Another early morning to set out on a kayaking trip through the nearby mangroves arranged by Bananas. It was a cloudy morning, but still proved to be a unique experience. In the afternoon, we rented the recently repaired kayak from Bananas and went to Monkey Island (about a 40 minute trip from the pier at the bungalows). An overall successful, aside from the ravenous monkey that stole our belongings and nearly attacked Fede. Be wary of these freaky human-like creatures. We were lucky to get our things back.
On Christmas Eve we took the motorbike north to Thanbok Koranee National Park. The park is full of waterfalls and little shrines, but perhaps my favorite part was the drive back south where we purposely took some wrong turns to find endless green and artificial-looking mountains.
The freedom of the motorbike is addicting, especially with gas prices so low, so we went back to Krabi Town for yet another market dinner. On our way back to Bananas, we detoured through Ao Nang and Nopparat Thara Beach.
Christmas Day. We took a ferry from Tha Lane Pier (about a 5 minute motorbike drive from Bananas) to the smaller island of Kho Yao Noi, located midway between Krabi and Phuket. We rented a motorbike upon arriving and explored every little nook of the island. A holiday well spent with a nice lunch over the crystal water, multiple beaches to ourselves, and beers.
This was sadly our last night at Bananas, so we enjoyed a final communal dinner to soak in the environment.
On our last full day in the south we moved from Bananas to Pak-Up Hostel in Krabi Town. Our flight the following morning was early, so this way we were located less than 30 minutes away from the airport. We rented a motorbike (shocker) from the hostel and took it to Ao Nang where we managed to find cheap, tasty pad thai and visited Ao Nang Beach. The beach was crowded as expected, so we walked through the monkey conservation park to Pai Plong Beach which was essentially empty. To view the neon sunset, we waded through the shallow water and around the rocks back to Ao Nang Beach. As it was Sunday, the infamous weekend night market in Krabi Town was on our radar (and should be on yours) for dinner. I will say this was also packed, but well worth it.
Today we said our goodbyes to the south and boarded a plane to Bangkok for a 9 hour layover. This was a perfect amount of time to tire ourselves out at Chatuchak Market. Eventually we returned to the airport to catch our flight to Chiang Mai. We arrived at Tipsy Manor Hostel late, but not too late to miss out on dinner at the Thapae Gate night market.
Tipsy Manor was a great pick for Fede and I. Despite being fairly quiet, it was in a central location and we had an entire floor to ourselves with a little balcony off of our room. I described to a friend that this is an ideal selection for a couple traveling. With friends, I’d opt for the hostel where we stayed our final night.
Our first full day in Chiang Mai we walked down the street from out hostel to rent a motorbike. We spent the day exploring Chiang Mai. Our first stop was at an awesome cafe for breakfast. It was so good we went back again the following morning. We also stumbled upon what I’ll consider the best little coffee shop where you can get big iced coffees for a better price than every where else. There are also an endless number of temples and some parks to check out within this culturally rich, colorful city.
As I mentioned, we dined at the same cafe as the day before. Unfortunately, despite our hour-long attempt to find the same coffee shop, we were unsuccessful. Once we gave up on our search, we took the motorbike north to Sticky Waterfall. A friend living in Chiang Mai recommended this, and I would do the same. It wasn’t crowded, and is also a place that locals go to for a dip. You can actually climb the waterfall because the limestone rocks makes them grippy (hence “Sticky” Waterfall).
On the way back we went to Doi Suthep. The drive up is windy and beautiful (be sure to have gas… we had a bit of a scare). We were lucky enough to go around the time the sun was setting, so the view was unreal. We drove back to our hostel through a newer part of Chiang Mai that’s also worth seeing. This is where you can find bottles of wine and IPAs (big news).
This day was Fede’s Christmas gift to me, a trip to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. I highly recommend this. I did a ton of research before selecting an elephant park to visit, and I would suggest that everyone do the same. Please be mindful. The sanctuary we ended up choosing was fantastic. This was one of my favorite days. I love elephants.
Once we arrived back in the city, we showered before locating a bar to sip on some wine and meet my friend in the newer part of Chiang Mai.
The day prior we made a rather impromptu decision with my friend to head north to Pai for New Years Eve. This was one of the best decisions we made during the trip. Pai, a tiny hippie city, is a few hour bus ride north from Chiang Mai. The dreaminess of this place came even more alive for the holiday. We stayed at Darling Viewpoint Bungalows, and their large deck overlooking the city and Thailand’s countryside proved to be the most spectacular location to watch thousands of lanterns being released into the sky and firework displays across the horizon. I think I can speak for the group that it was far beyond anything we had anticipated.
Sadly out last full day in Thailand. We spent the day wandering around Pai, exploring every ounce of its special character and quirkiness. We also ate an incredible breakfast. In the evening we bussed back to Chiang Mai for our last night at Thailand Wow 2. As I mentioned earlier, I would recommend this hostel over Tipsy Manor if you’re traveling with friends. It’s a bit less private, there is a bar with a communal space that, in my opinion, is more welcoming than that of Tipsy Manor. You can also get a glass of wine there (nothing fancy, but in Southeast Asia you take what you can get). The location is just as good as Tipsy, but on the opposite side of Thapae Gate.
This was a sad day. We said farewell to Thailand, two glorious weeks, and boarded our plane back to Indonesia.
Hopefully this will come in handy for those looking for a solid two weeks holiday. Fede and I were traveling during peak season, and we still managed to have islands, beaches, temples, and roads to ourselves.