In November of 2015, we visited Thailand. Dubbed ‘The Land of Smiles’, we were greeted by warm-hearted people, breathtaking sights and savory cuisines guaranteed to please even the pickiest of travelers!
Our itinerary consisted of 2 days in Bangkok and the rest between Krabi & Railay.
Days 1-2: BANGKOK
Upon our arrival in Bangkok, we checked into our hotel and immediately headed to Khao San Road. This renowned street is known as a haven for backpackers. Khao San Road is lined with street stalls, bars, music, tattoo shops and so much more. We got some street food and the selection available certainly did not disappoint! After we had our food, we were in need of imbibing. We sat down and enjoyed our drinks then hit the bars for some dancing!
Sam wanted to get a tattoo and there are many shops along Khao San Road to get some awesome work done! We found a safe and reputable shop that was able to do a lotus with Thai writing on it for a good price. This type of tattooing is extremely popular in Thailand and it is done by handpoking under the skin with a long stick-needle instead of the traditional tattoo done by a machine. Some words of caution: while tattoo tourism is very popular in Thailand, please do research on your shop of choice and make sure your artist is knowledgeable, the shop is clean and they are following all health protocols. As with tattooing in the States, there’s a risk associated with it, so you want to make sure health procedures are being followed, as health standards in Thailand may not be the same as back home. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are updated on all your shots. There is a temple outside of Bangkok that offers tattooing by monks. Please note: we advise against this! While it may seem like a cool experience, the monks do not use disposable needles. It’s the same needle that gets used from person to person, although it is cleaned and disinfected, so if you’re planning to get a tattoo, we recommend getting it done at a shop. Please also note that any tattooing of images of Buddha is frowned upon by the Thais, so when getting tattooed please be mindful of the local customs.
The next day we woke up bright & early to visit some of the temples around Bangkok. Everything was so beautiful and colorful. Some temples have rules of what you can wear. Generally it is requested that shoulders and knees be covered. We wore t-shirts and jeans and didn’t have any problems. If you are planning to wear a tank top, as it does get hot in Bangkok, when visiting temples, come with a hoodie or shawl to throw over your shoulders. It is also recommended to wear shoes that easily come off, as some temples require you to remove your shoes before entering.
When touring around Bangkok, be vigilant and be careful not to fall victim of scams. Thankfully before we went we researched common scams and successfully avoided falling victim to one! A common scam that the locals will try is to chat up a few tourists, act real friendly, try to gain their trust and then tell them that certain temples are closed, hoping you’ll believe them. Then they will offer to take you to another place in a tuk-tuk that ‘miraculously’ just shows up (someone obviously also in on the scam) and instead takes you to a gem store to coerce you to buy fake & overpriced diamonds that they ensure you’ll get a lot of money for back home!
After our fun, but hot, day templing around Bangkok, we headed over to ‘Boat Noodle Alley’ by Victory Monument for some dinner. ‘Boat Noodle Alley’ is a row of waterside restaurants serving delicious small bowls of Boat Noodles. Boat Noodles is a Thai style noodle dish with a strong flavor. They usually contain beef, pork, soy sauce, pickled bean curd, spices, meatballs, pig liver and some other tasty ingredients. They come in small bowls and you stack them after you’re finished and the waiters will bring you as many as you like! There are many varieties of this delicious dish, each one it seemed, better than the last.
We had some bittersweet feelings as our time in Bangkok came to an end, but we were excited to get to Krabi and Railay!
Days 2-7: KRABI / RAILAY
When traveling from mainland Thailand to Krabi and the islands, there are many low-cost domestic airlines to get you around. We chose AirAsia and had no problems. We recommend this airline for travel within Thailand but there are many others as well. They have frequent flights throughout the day and don’t even need to be booked too far in advance.
We boarded our flight early in the morning and got to Krabi around noon. It was raining and we were a little worried about the rain ‘dampering’ our plans (no pun intended). We checked into our hotel and then decided we were not going to let rain ruin our day so we decided to do our hike as originally planned!
We headed to Tiger Temple. This amazing temple is a atop a staircase of 1,237 steps. It seems like a lot but it actually went pretty quickly and the views from each step were incredible and got even more so the higher we got. When you get to the top there is an amazing giant golden Buddha. It was definitely worth some huffing & puffing (in the rain) to see this beautiful structure.
When we got back down from our climb, we explored more of Tiger Temple and befriended some of the local monkeys. 🙂
The next day we went on a speed boat tour to Maya Bay & Phi Phi Island – and the sun had finally come out!
Our first stop on the tour was Maya Bay. Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful bay that’s sheltered by 100-meter high cliffs on all 3 sides. It’s a pretty popular tourist spot so finding some alone time might be few and far between but we enjoyed our time at the bay. The water is a gorgeous shade of turquoise! Maya Bay was made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach”, which was filmed there in 2000. If you are interested in seeing this amazing landmark (and you should!) there are plenty of tour companies that offer both day and overnight trips to this location.
After our amazing morning at Maya Bay, we got back on the boat and headed to Phi Phi Island. After Phi Phi Island, was the final spot ‘Monkey Beach’, where we again befriended some more of the local monkeys. Interacting with the monkeys on this island is encouraged but it is asked that tourists do not feed them.
This tour also included an opportunity for snorkeling in which we were surrounded by an abundance of beautiful yellow & black fish!
That night back in Krabi we browsed around the city for a krathong for the night’s Loy Krathong party. Loy Krathong usually happens in November but the exact dates change each year. We got very lucky to have been in Thailand when the holiday was taking place in 2015. On this day, tradition dictates people buy or make small boats out of flowers and banana leaves, put a candle inside and a strand of hair or a coin and float it down the river. This is supposed to signify a letting go of one’s troubles and in ancient times to pay homage to the water gods. This was an amazing experience! Beautifully decorated krathongs were found all over the city and thousands of people of all ages, both locals and tourists, gathered by the riverside to let go of their krathongs.
After we said goodbye to our krathongs, we checked out the Chao Fah Night Market. This market was true sensory overload! There were millions of stands serving food; selling t-shirts, souvenirs & toys; and there was even a band playing. We browsed up and down the aisles, sampling everything from Pad Thai to Papaya Salad to smoothies to even local delicacies like crickets and grasshoppers! Markets like these are found all throughout Southeast Asia and are a great way to discover the most authentic and delicious cuisines.
Chao Fah Night Market operates daily from 5pm to 12:30am all year, rain or shine! It is located on Chao Fah Pier, Kongka Road, Krabi Town.
!!!! HELLO BEACHES !!!!!
After 2 great days of climbing, boating, krathoning and filling our bellies with the most authentically delicious food, it was time to head out to Railay Beach!
From Krabi, you can get to Railay through Ao Nang. Local tuk-tuks or songthaews can take you to Ao Nang Beach. From Ao Nang, climb aboard the longtail boats which will take you to Railay. Although Railay is actually part of the mainland, it is only accessible by boat due to the high mountains that surround it. The ride to Railay from Ao Nang is approximately 10 minutes and the boat ride is incredibly scenic along the way.
The boats drop you off on Railay West. There are 2 sides to the Railay Peninsula – Railay West and Railay East. The beaches are only found on the western side, though the eastern side is pretty as well.
We spent 3 days on Railay Beach. Our hotel was in Krabi and since the ride is short enough, we rode the longtail boats to Railay for daytrips and then back at night to Krabi to go back to the hotel. One night we decided to spontaneously rent a villa, as the last boats went back to Krabi around 5pm or 6pm and we wanted to be able to stay for the nightlife.
Our 3 days on Railay consisted of laying on the beach, walking around on the ‘Walking Street’, hiking up to the viewpoint and lagoon, getting a Thai massage and watching Muay Thai. There was a longtail boat that came around during lunchtime where you could order many different food, drinks & desserts. The bars also served all day and the alcohol was delicious and consistently flowing!
Some Not To Miss Essentials on Railay:
- Phra Nang Cave – The legend of this cave on the east side of Railay Bay says it was once where fisherman, before going out to sea, would make offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva. The fisherman believed these offerings would bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger – however the large collection of wooden phallic symbols within the cave are actually thought to have helped with fertility.
- Railay Beach Viewpoint & Princess Lagoon – The viewpoint paves the way for the hike to the lagoon. The actual hike to the viewpoint is about 20 minutes and provides a spectacular view of the peninsula – Railay West to the left and Railay East to the right. From there, the climb to the lagoon can be accessed. It is essentially strenuous rock-climbing and it is slippery at certain points, but the lagoon is beautiful. We were not without our fair share of cuts, scrapes and mud, enough to be mistaken for the Loch Ness Monster, but this was by far one of our favorite things we did in Railay! We recommend absolutely doing this but use caution in determining if this climb is for you.
- Thai Massage – These massages are plentiful throughout Railay and all of Thailand. A 60 minute massage will run you about $6 USD!
- Muay Thai – The Muay Thai fights are a staple of Thai life and are not to be missed! We were able to catch a fight at Last Bar on Railay East. These fights are pretty intense and are a form of boxing that encompass stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. They are popular all over Thailand.
Our final day found us back in Krabi celebrating my birthday and partaking in the famous fish pedicures found all over Thailand! This left our feet so silky & smooth and the fish tickled as they nibbled away on our dead skin.
Ban Andaman Bed & Breakfast Hotel – 12 Chamai Anousan Road Tab Prik Muang Chang Wat Krabi 81000, Thailand
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Sunrise Tropical Resort – 39 Moo 2 Ao-Nang, Muang, Krabi Railay, Thailand
Book it here
We had an amazing time in Thailand and a week is only time to just scratch the surface but we hope to return to visit some other islands as well as head up north to Chiang Mai.
Have you been to Thailand and if so, where do you recommend we travel next?