After spending about two weeks in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, described in last post, me & Louise finished our vacation with 5 full days in Bangkok. We had picked a nice hotel in the area Sukhumvit. We felt like spoiling ourself with a good hotel and doing so in Bangkok is really affordable. The side streets (Sois) in Sukhumvit were rather narrow, green and cozy, like above 🙂 In Sukhumvit there are plenty of eateries & entertainment but most of the sights are in other parts of the city. Luckily the Skytrain was never far away.
We did visit the “must see” temples to see some gold & Buddhas. But what I enjoyed the most was the open air markets and the roof top bars. Thank´s to blogger Mitziemee we got some advice that helped us along the way 🙂
We did visit the popular Chat tu Chat market one day but the most interesting market for us was the night market Rot Fai. It was a bit out of the center but once there we were really rewarded. I think we only saw 15-20 other tourist in the whole evening. Rot Fai is a very local happening and the majority of the crowd are young and hip. Rot Fai is as much about eating and the pub scene as for shopping. The area is enormous and one section was entirely focused on vintages stores, mostly American themes. However that specific area was empty and a bit spooky when we were there.
There is a part in Bangkok which used to be called the “Venice of Asia”. It is possible to take a boat ride on the so called Khlongs (canals) and watch how people are living on the water. Most houses looked like they would fall apart anytime but there were some better areas too. It was an interesting thing to do but nothing I would prioritize if short of time.
We spent one entire day to visit both the Grand Palace area and also the close by Wat Pho. Grand Palace was extremely busy and a bit stressful. If I knew what I know now I would have skipped it and only done the Wat Pho. The first four pictures below are from Grand Palace and the other once from the Wat Pho. With other words, you see gold and Buddha in both places but wat Pho is so much more relaxed. And it is also famous for the “must see” Reclining Buddha, the huge one that is lying down. He was so big that I could not get all toes in one picture 😉
When I was younger I always stayed in the notorious area Khao San Road. Since I was very curious of the development there, we ended up going one evening. What I noticed was how the whole area had expanded. It is not only about Khao San Road anymore but the whole district is very tourist focused. There are many streets with bars and restaurants and a massage is never far away, whether you prefer to have a foot massage just beside the bar or in a more sophisticated clinic. We did not stay late enough for the party to start but what we did notice was how all places wanted to outdo each other when it came to playing as loud music as possible. Finally I would like to say that the area is very cozy and it is nice to stroll around and have something to eat and drink in this part of the city.
Even though we were not particular into shopping in Bangkok we decided to visit some malls around Siam Square one day. The most famous one for tourists is the MBK. We really did not like it and tried to get out as quick as possible after looking around for a little while. A lot what is sold are the same things that tourists will come across anywhere in Thailand. And the ambience was not very friendly.
We liked the food section in Paragon the most. I think we spent two hours there 😉 They had an enormous cake section and it all looked delicious. I found my favorite pastries from Portugal called Pastel de Natas. They had everything for sale including a huge section of strawberry cakes 😛 For lunch we had hamburger. And later the same day we had sushi in another food court.
Finally I want to cover my favorite section which was the Sky bars! On advice from Sanne, alias Mitziemee, we took a drink at Red Sky during their happy hours (two for one). Red Sky is close to Siam Square and good to combine with shopping. The views were not the most fantastic even though situated on the 55th floor but the design of the restaurant and the color changing arch is impressive.
Another advice from Sanne was to visit Above Eleven, situated in Sukhumvit where we were staying. The place was trendy and partyish and situated in a nice area on the 32nd floor. Being on that level gives another feel since one is closer to the buildings surrounding. The night when we went it was Latino night so I even ended up dancing some Salsa 😀 We enjoyed the vibe and the views a lot and their Peruvian/Japanese fusion menu was very tasty.
If I only could have visited one sky bar out of the three we went to, it would for sure have been Moon Bar. Moon Bar, and adjacent restaurant Vertigo, are situated on the 61th floor. But it is more than the hight, the views were absolutely amazing from Moon Bar and the bar is as “al fresco” as it can be with views in any direction. One thing which is worth mentioning is that it is bloody expensive to have a drink at a roof top bar in Bangkok. But we saw it as a kind of “entrance” to the views. Moon bar took the price but seeing below views made it all worth 😉
We had some nice days in Bangkok but I am far away from “In Love” and not so eager to return. I enjoyed to get a glimpse of the versatility of the city. From the Khlongs to the touristy Khao San road. And glittery Grand Palace and Wat Pho to the local young and hip Rot Fai. And also to see the upscale parts of Bangkok in Paragon food court and at the Sky bars. But the city did not stole my heart.
During Christmas & New Year 2016/2017 me & my travel friend went three weeks so Thailand. Louise had never been to Thailand and I was curious to see what had happened since last. I went to Thailand for the first time around 20 years ago and then again around 15 years ago. I also had a short stop in Bangkok 10 years ago.
We had chosen to visit the South East islands Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Since we had heard Chaweng Beach, which was our first stop in Koh Samui, was a very commercial place we had picked a hotel a bit away from the center up on a hill. It was a very nice little retreat to acclimatize and with the sun shining almost the whole first day our hopes for the vacation were high!!
Koh Samui | Chaweng Beach
First I like to say that even though most of my pictures will look sunny we only saw the sun about 4-5 half days! And naturally that is when I had my camera out. I guess it will sound unbelievable to be three weeks in Thailand during December/January and hardly see sun but that is what happened to us. It started of reasonable in Koh Samui and our first day in Koh Phangan but then a delayed monsoon rain hit…
We only stayed three nights in Chaweng beach and that was enough. It is very commercial and busy. There is hardly any space on the beach as you can see on below picture.
On Christmas Eve, which is when Swedes celebrate the most, we had decided to meet up with a girl I got to know in Panama some years ago, in a beach close by. The taxi ride there was a rip of and we never managed to catch up since we had different understandings of which day we actually should meet. The area was closing down extremely early and we were happy to find somewhere to grab a Pad Thai before heading back to Chaweng again. We made up for the poor Christmas Eve experience the next day with a great seafood plate by the seafront. Those are things that are very affordable to do in Thailand. Another thing that is very cheap is to have massage. I think I had at least 10 foot massages during our trip. On one of below images Louise played around with the camera, can you see her? 😉
Koh Phangan | Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach
It was interesting to spend a few days in Chaweng to understand how the development has transformed what was once a tranquil place. But we hoped to find more peace in Koh Phangan. Yes, it is true that Koh Phangan is known for its huge full moon parties once a month. But it is a big island and I had read that there are amazing places to find on the island. We had decided to see two sides of the island. Our first stop was Thong Nai Pan Yai where we had splurged our selves with a better bungalow that appeared to even more luxury than we had prepared ourselves for. We had a little patio with own pool and chill area. The sun shined as we arrived after a short boat ride. And our hope for a relaxing vacation on the beach was higher than ever 😉
We stayed in Thong Nai Pan Yai for four nights. It was a very sleepy little place with beautiful green surroundings. Our fist day was very beautiful with calm turquoise water. But the day after that it started. It had become very windy and during the night lots of garbage had blown up on the beach. People spend a full day cleaning it away. But we still could enjoy two hours of sun in the afternoon. All in all our days on this side of Koh Phangan were very relaxing.
Koh Phangan | Haad Yao Beach
After four nights on the east side of Koh Phangan we moved to the west side to Haad Yao. Yet an extraordinary beautiful beach! Our bungalow was simple and a bit up on a hill. Just a short walk away there was a beach which they say are usually as wide as a football field. But unfortunately there was a very hide tide when we were there so even if we could have sunbathed it was more or less impossible since there was no beach to lie on. Since we only had half a sunny day during our four nights in Haad Yao it did not matter that much to us. We focused on eating nice and shilling bye the water listening to the waves and hoping the sun would come out. In the late afternoons the tie went down a bit and the restaurants could put out their tables in the sand.
Koh Phangan Count Down Party
On the 31th of December we took a cab to Haad Rin beach to attend the 2016 Count Down Party. The organizer was the same as the famous full moon party, which usually draw between 20 000 to 30 000 party goers.
We did like everyone else and bought a bucket with some “hard stuff” to keep us awake all night. We had heard that people would be colorfully dressed so we did our best to melt in 🙂
Nothing could have prepared us for the size if this party. What you see below is just a fraction. A whole long beach was filled of people dancing. There was about 10 different venues having DJ´s playing all sorts of music. The crowed was mostly young and painted in fluorscent colors. We actually spent more time walking than dancing. It was a very interesting night. I guess for some even more interesting than for us since we discovered that the grayish milkshake many people bought in one specific club was a magic mushroom drink that was supposed to enhance your evening. We had a great night people watching but both felt that “seen that done that”.
Koh Tao | Sairee Beach
After Koh Phangan it was time to hit our last island for this trip, Koh Tao. So far we had seen the sun about 3 half and 1 full day and were very eager to relax on the beach. I had seen images of Koh Tao and knew it was a beautiful island. And as a small note I also like to say that you might have to be Swede (or Nordic) to understand this obsession with sun 😉
We stayed four nights. On the first day we had 4 hours without rain. Then we took a walk to a beautiful beach called Sai Nuan. On the way back it started to rain heavy and we had to stop to have cake and coffee in one of the many cafés that you nowadays find everywhere in Thailand.
Unfortunately the rain never stopped after that and the next two days we were more or less stuck in our hotel room since the non stop monsoon rain that arrived cause floodings. We lived a bit up on a hill and were lucky to have a dry room with functioning toilet and shower. We also had a great restaurant and a bar just opposite our street so twice a day we managed to cross the road to get something to eat and drink. The picture below shows how our street looked like. We heard further down there were places were cars could not even drive anymore and where the water was up to the waist if trying to walk. Tourists did not manage to catch their boat and we were starting to get really worried as we listened to the heavy rain poring down with out a pause.
We were lucky and made it to the harbor after there had been some effort to get water away enough to bring people to the boats.
Summarizing the two weeks on those three islands I must say that even though we felt the vacation was partially destroyed by the weather I don´t think I would have felt “wow” even with sun. The nature was fantastic but the authentic feeling was missing, the locals had stopped smiling and it was very difficult to walk around since the streets were overloaded by youngsters trying to ride a motorbike. About 1/4 of all young back packers we saw on the streets wore bandages from injuries. It was really much worse than it sounds, it was not relaxing at all to stroll around. And many bring their own sound speakers with them everywhere they go, so just listening to the nature was impossible since you must live with other peoples individual and selfish manners everywhere you go. I loved Thailand in my twenties but I will not go back anymore. There are so many other beautiful places in the world to be discovered and I have seen so much authentic beauty lately that I noticed my expectations have raised. One final reflection is that my discovery of Afro and Latin dances has also brought an insight that destinations where this kind of music is played and where people smile and dance a lot are the places that appeals to me right now. Every thing has its time. And everyday I learn about myself.