Category: Thailand (Page 1 of 2)

Koh Lanta

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Koh Lanta – an island many backpackers miss out on their travels around Thailand. It’s an island more renowned for its quiet beaches and gorgeous beaches than a wild party scene.

Koh Lanta

I arrived there in low season – August. I caught a bus from Krabi for 300 baht, which includes the short ferry ride to Koh Lanta.

koh lanta long beach

The hostel I’d booked was almost empty. A far cry from the full dorm rooms of Krabi – backpackers who were going to or had just been to Koh Phi Phi. My hostel was a 10-minute walk from Long Beach so on my first full day, I headed straight there. The beach was wonderfully quiet. Disappointingly, I found there was quite a lot of litter on the beach. Mostly plastic water bottles. Perhaps they’d been brought to the beach by the rough seas?

koh lanta long beach

Lanta Animal Rescue

In the afternoon, I visited Lanta Animal Rescue, an organisation dedicated to helping the animals on Koh Lanta. There were kittens and puppies available to pet as soon as I arrived, including 3 very cute kittens called Ice, Gin and Tonic.

lanta animal rescue

Every couple of hours, a member of staff gives a guided tour to any tourists who are interested. I went on the tour and learned a  lot about why there are (or were) so many stray dogs in Koh Lanta (and by extension, other touristy areas). This is a great organisation and I absolutely loved spending the afternoon here. There’s also the option of dog walking, either before 11am or after 3pm, when the weather is slightly cooler.

lanta animal rescue

The following day, the weather was stormy almost all day. Not wanting to spend a week on an island where there’s very little to do when the weather is bad, I decided to go to Langkawi. This took all day and involved getting a bus to Trang, then a bus to Satun, then a boat from Satun to Langkawi. It was much easier than I expected, considering I could only book the bus from Koh Lanta to Trang, and I had to book the rest of the transport on arrival at each destination.

I liked Koh Lanta, but unfortunately didn’t experience everything the island has to offer because of the bad weather. Perhaps I was unlucky. Perhaps I wasn’t expecting it to rain quite so much.

 

 

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2 Days In Krabi

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After leaving Myanmar earlier than originally planned, I decided to go the south of Thailand for some beach time.

Previously I’d visited a few Thai islands, namely Phuket, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, all known for partying, but this time, I was searching for quieter beaches.

I arrived in Krabi at 9am, fresh off a night bus from Bangkok. My plan was to nap then head to Ao Nang to watch the sunset. Weird how plans don’t quite seem to work out in the south of Thailand.

First, I somehow managed to get roped into having breakfast cocktails with a guy who was waiting for a bus to Koh Samui. Luckily (for me anyway) he left at midday so it couldn’t turn into a day drinking session.

Next, I headed back to the hostel. Still unable to check in, I charged my phone in the lobby. I started talking to a guy who’d planned to go to the Tiger Cave Temple and managed to be talked into going there. Probably not the best idea considering how shattered I was from the night bus.

The Tiger Cave Temple

There’s a few monkeys hanging around the bottom of the steps. They may climb on you. Especially if you’re carrying a water bottle or any kind of snacks.

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Don’t be deceived by those cute faces

There’s over 1,200 steps to the top of the Tiger Cave Temple. If you’re in any doubt as to how many this is, it’s a lot. Many TripAdvisor reviewers didn’t complete the ascent. Think over 30 minutes of constant uphill.

tiger cave temple krabi

Just a short climb…

Undeterred, we began the climb. By 300, I was more sweat than human. It was pretty gross. I genuinely didn’t think I’d make it. At 1,000, I regretted not bringing a snack with me.

tiger cave temple selfie krabi

I’ve made a huge mistake

The views from the top were incredible. Even though it was a cloudy day, we could see for miles.

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Railey Beach… or not

The next day I’d planned to visit Railey Beach. I went to get some breakfast and whilst eating, a torrential downpour started. I hoped that it would stop pretty quickly, but 2 hours later I was still sitting in the same cafe, hoping the rain would stop. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to Railey Beach. The rain continued to pour or threaten to pour for the rest of the day.

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Instead. I checked out some of the many sculptures along the main road in Krabi.

crab statue krabi

Crabs in Krabi. Original, I know.

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The two nights I spent in Krabi, I ate at the night market, where the food is cheap (around 50 baht for a meal).

I stayed at Pak-Up Hostel which was in a good location. Other backpackers said good things about Hogwarts, and as a Harry Potter fan, I’m not sure why I didn’t choose that one.

Overall, I enjoyed my short time in Krabi. It does feel like a stop over town, and you rarely meet people staying for over 2 nights. However, there’s plenty to do and see (providing the weather isn’t terrible the whole time you’re there).

 

 

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Sukhothai – Thailand’s Old Cities Pt 3

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My last stop on my tour of the old capitals of Thailand was Sukhothai. Ayutthaya was my current favourite, so let’s find out which city was my favourite.

sukhothai thailand AlexExplorestheWorld

Getting There

Sukhothai was easy to get to. A direct bus leaves from Ayutthaya. Alternatively, it’s possible to get a train to Phitsanulok then a bus to Sukhothai.

sukhothail thailand AlexExplorestheWorld

Where to Stay

Most accommodation options are in New Sukhothai. I stayed in Garden House which was 200 baht per night for a single room. The room was basic and didn’t have a/c but the temperature was just about cool enough to sleep. The night market was a 5 minute walk away and had plenty of food options (although no mango sticky rice!) There were also a few bars close to my hostel but they all seemed pretty relaxed.

sukhothai thailand AlexExplorestheWorld

Old Sukhothai

All of the ruins are in Old Sukhothai. A bus service runs between New and Old Sukhothai’s around every 30 minutes or for the reasonable price of 30 baht. The bus stops right outside the historical park. From there, it’s possible to hire a bike to cycle around the ruins. Entrance to the historical park is 100 baht. I decided to walk around which was a terrible idea because the temples are so far apart! I definitely recommend hiring a bike.

sukhothai thailand AlexExplorestheWorld

Sukhothai Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an important part of Thai history.

sukhothai thailand AlexExplorestheWorld

Leaving

Leaving is reasonably easy as there’s a number of buses leaving daily from the bus terminal. I intended to get the 2.30pm bus to Chiang Mai. There was another bus going to Chiang Mai at 3pm so I figured if I missed the earlier one I wouldn’t have long to wait. Annoyingly both buses were cancelled so I had to wait until 6pm for the next one, along with 8 other people.

sukhothai thailand AlexExplorestheWorld

How does Sukhothai compare to Ayutthaya and Lopburi?

I already talked a bit about Lopburi in my last post, and how it compared to Ayutthaya. Overall, I’d have to say Ayutthaya was my favourite of the 3 cities for a few simple reasons:

  • In Ayutthaya, the old temples are all around the city, making them very easy to see by bicycle.
  • Ayutthaya has a boat cruise
  • It’s very cheap to get to Ayutthaya on the train. Sukhothai doesn’t have a train station.

So there you have it! I visited 3 of Thailand’s oldest cities and Ayutthaya came out on top.

Do you agree? Did you have different experiences of Thailand’s old cities? Let me know in the comments!

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Lopburi – Ancient Temples And Monkeys

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The second stop of my tour of the ancient cities of Thailand was Lopburi. Lopburi is well known for its population of crab-eating macaques, as well as having ruins of ancient temples.

How to Get There

I was already in Ayutthaya, so I took a day trip to Lopburi on the train. The train ticket was super cheap, as usual on Thai trains. It cost 13 baht one way, then 20 baht to return to Ayutthaya (I guess different train companies charge different prices).  Trains leave Ayutthaya fairly regularly (once every 1-2 hours). The train took over an hour from Ayutthaya to Lopburi.

What to See

Once in Lopburi, the train station is close to many of the ruins, and many can be seen as soon as you step out of the station. Prang Sam Yot is the most popular temple and has a huge population of monkeys. Prang Sam Yot is a Khmer temple, and was originally a Hindu temple but was later converted into a Buddhist temple.

prang sam yot lopburi AlexExplorestheWorld
Prang sam yot lopburi AlexEXplorestheWorld
prang sam yot lopburi AlexEXplorestheWorld
prang sam yot lopburi AlexExplorestheWorld

Entrance to Prang Sam Yot is 50 baht. I was the only visitor and a local lady walked around with me. It soon became apparent that this was to stop the monkeys climbing on me and taking things out of my bag. There were so many monkeys hanging around the temple. A couple managed to climb up my leg but were quickly shooed away.

Aside from seeing the many crab-eating macaques and the old temples, there really isn’s much else to see in Lopburi, which is why I recommend only visiting on a day trip from Ayutthaya.

Around November, the sunflower festival begins, giving tourists something extra to see.

Staying In Lopburi

To be honest, there really wasn’t much happening in Lopburi. It was very quiet, hence why I decided to visit Lopburi as a day trip from Ayutthaya. However, there were hotels on the main street, so if you wanted to stay overnight there are accommodation options.

How did Lopburi compare to Ayutthaya?

Whilst Lopburi is an interesting little town, I don’t think it requires more than a day to explore. Ayutthaya has more to offer in terms of ruins and temples. Lopburi has the novelty of monkeys. Ayutthaya has far more options for food too. Overall, I’d say that Ayutthaya is a more interesting city and defintiely worth a visit.

One more city to go! Stay tuned to see how Sukhothai compared to Ayutthaya and Lopburi.

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Ayutthaya – An Old Capital Of Thailand

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Welcome to my short series about the ancient cities of Thailand! I’m starting with Ayutthaya, and following up with Lopburi and finally Sukhothai.

I returned to Thailand much earlier than expected. I spent far less time in Laos and Cambodia than I expected, so I found myself with almost 3 weeks of extra time in Thailand. After getting my visa sorted for Myanmar, I was keen to either head north or south. July is the rainy season, so I figured that the islands may not be the best option. I decided I would head north, to Chiang Mai, via the old capitals of Thailand, Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Sukhothai.

Getting to Ayutthaya

I had been in Bangkok for a few days and I’d heard from a fellow traveller that the best way to travel to Ayutthaya was by train. I got a taxi to Bangkok central station (Hua Lamphong) for 50 baht. Trains to Ayutthaya are fairly regular so one was leaving 15 minutes after I arrived. I purchased my ticket for 15 baht (whaaaaat?? so cheap!) and got on the train. It takes just under 2 hours to get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

Where To Stay

I stayed at Stockhome Hostel which I highly recommend. The location is good and it’s possible to book tours through them. They also have free breakfast and a TV room.

What to See

I would recommend getting up early to see the temples for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s far too hot to walk around temples in the midday heat.
  2. You’ll beat the coaches of tourists coming to Ayutthaya for a day trip from Bangkok.

The first temple I walked around was Wat Ratchaburana. There was one other person there so I had the place pretty much to myself. Wat Ratchaburana was founded in 1424.

wat ratchaburana ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld

wat ratchaburana ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld wat ratchaburana ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld

One of the most popular temples in Ayutthaya is Wat Mahathat, mainly because the head of a Buddha statue is embedded in the roots of a tree, making for an interesting sight. It reminded me of Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas. The tour groups were just starting to filter in when I arrived around 10am. wat mahathat ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld

wat mahathat ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld

Something that all the old temples have in common, is that many Buddha statues have been decapitated. This is from the 18th century when Burmese forces sacked the city of Ayutthaya.

Sunset Boat Tour

I booked a sunset boat tour through my hostel for 200baht. Pick up was at 4pm and the boat stopped at 3 temples. The boat arrived back at the pier before sunset but at least it was a bit cooler in the day for walking around temples.

The first stop of the tour was Wat Panan Choeng. Our boat driver dropped us off and told us to return in 20 minutes. Entrance to this temple was 20 baht. This temple was very colourful but the main highlight was the enormous statue of Buddha in the middle. The doorway leading to the statue is small so I stumbled upon it very suddenly.

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Stop number 2 was rather disappointing. It was a modern temple with some ruins situated a short walk beyond. The problem was that the ruins section was closed when we arrived!

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The last stop was my favourite; Wat Chaiwatthanaram. The entrance fee was 50 baht. This temple complex is stunning.

wat chaiwatthanaram ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld

wat chaiwatthanaram ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld
wat chaiwatthanaram ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld


wat chaiwatthanaram ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld
wat chaiwatthanaram ayutthaya AlexExplorestheWorld

Where to Eat

Ayutthaya has a number of restaurants dotted around the city which serve both Thai and Western food. In the evening there’s plenty of street food stalls to choose from.

Stay tuned for my next 2 posts about Lopburi and Sukhothai – 2 more ancient cities in Thailand. If you want to read more about visiting ancient sites, check out my Angkor Wat post.

 

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