A Travel Guide to Two Weeks in Thailand’s Islands
Thailand. This well-travelled Asian country is one of the epicentres of backpacking. Many people, including myself, have the honour to call this country the place where they began their travels, and still hold fond memories of their first visit. I remember landing in Bangkok and feeling completely engulfed by this new world, a feeling I now cherish.
So, when a friend asked me where he should go on a spontaneous two week getaway to Thailand I decided to make him this guide, so I could relive my time here and share my favourite places. This two week Thailand itinerary mainly focuses on the truly spectacular islands, which, if you can fit them all in, are exceptionally fun places to travel as a newbie to the country.
For maximum use of your time, fly direct to Phuket. You can just as easily stay fly to Bangkok, but if you only have a short time it saves on the train or bus time getting down to the south. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is a cracking place to begin your holiday. There are plenty of things to do in Phuket, from exploring Old Phuket Town, seeing the beauty of Phang Nga Bay or experiencing the infamous nightlife of Bangla Road.
Koh Phi Phi Don
Catch one of the regular ferries from Phuket direct to Phi Phi, they usually leave in the morning so try not to party too hard the night before. Koh Phi Phi is well-known around the world as the setting of Blockbuster The Beach. Steer clear of accommodation too close to Ton Sai Bay as the music can get pretty loud here. On the island expect plenty of beach side bars, party boats, pub crawls and daily boat tours leaving to Maya Bay (where The Beach was filmed). During the day chill on the shallow water beach and by the reggae bar – pure bliss.
If you are seeking somewhere quieter, head to Koh Lanta. A short ferry ride away, 1.5 hours, the boat is never very busy. If you are looking to explore somewhere in your own time, Koh Lanta is ideal. Hire a motorbike or scooter and head to Koh Lanta Old Town, the national park or try and find the Robinson Crusoe shack that I stumbled across. My top tip here? Eat every meal at Lym’s Rice Bowl. A gorgeous seaside restaurant with authentic Thai dishes, followed by a chilled evening in the reggae bar.
If you are short for time at this point, you can catch an internal flight from Krabi to Koh Samui. Once you arrive in this busy island you can enjoy a myriad of activities, from jungle treks, mummified monks and hidden waterfalls. Also, make sure you check out the rather suggestively shaped rocks, always worth a giggle. The Big Buddha is also worth a peek, if you enjoy that sort of thing.
A short ferry ride away (again book in advance for this one) is one of the most renowned party islands in the world. If you happen to arrive in Koh Phangan on one of the full moon, half moon or blackmoon parties then you are in for a once in a lifetime experience. Over 30,000 revellers (mostly westerners) have been known to flood the shores of Haad Rin. Expect psychedelic paint, a distinct lack of inhibitions and plenty of buckets of booze to accompany the pounding music. Staying anywhere near the party is not personally advised, while you can easily get stranded if staying on the other side of the island and you miss your boat (yes I did do that). Personally, I loved being on the quieter side amid the jungle, enjoying a clean beach, good food and a place to actually sleep.
If you have a few days left, pop on a ferry to Koh Tao. This charming island is the dive capital of Thailand, as its PADI approved courses are some of the cheapest in the world. Embrace the more sedate lifestyle here with some beachside massages, scuba diving trips and snorkelling in the crystal blue waters. The party scene can be pretty fun here too, but fyi do not rent a motorbike here, the island is far too hilly and the rental guys will rip you off.
So there you have it. Two weeks, six islands and one hell of a holiday. If you have a little longer than two weeks in Thailand, linger in Krabi and seek out Railay – which offers one of the finest beaches in Thailand – or Phuket, both have a lot to offer. Keep your stay cheap with hotels, book your ferry in advance and you are certain to have a killer time!
Finally, check back soon for my two weeks in north Thailand itinerary and take the advice of the locals, as per below, they know what they are talking about. Happy travels!