Backpackerbird

An insight into the world of travel

Thailand on a Shoestring. February 14, 2010

Filed under: Thailand,Travel — backpackerbird @ 3:53 pm
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For any of you planning to travel to Thailand here is a running tally of where I have been, what I have seen, accommodation I have stayed in and the travel I have done. Use this as a tool, a benchmark to compare, if nothing else prices to.

Note I travel in high season so some prices may vary. High season in Asia is generally November – March this is when the weather is more bearable, not as hot or humid. So if you travel at other times of the year you my find the prices I  quote to be cheaper.

£1 = 50B

Bangkok:

Accomm: Sawasdee Bunglamphu Guesthouse, Khao San Road, 650B per night for a twin. Quite pricey but staying on Khao San is. This guesthouse is clean and well looked after. In each room there is a TV, hairdryer, bathroom with complimentary shampoo and body wash and aircon. The staff are friendly and breakfast is included. The location is perfect, right in the middle of the busiest backpacker road in Bangkok.
D and D’s Khao San Road. I’m not going to review this guesthouse apart from to say don’t stay here. Too expensive for what you get and the staff aren’t friendly.
Green House, Bunglamphu, 590B for a twin. Basic but clean with private bathroom. Free wi-fi.

Experience: Trip to Kanchanaburi to see the bridge over River Kwai Noi, the tiger temples and an elephant trek, 750B.

Nightlife: Whilst Khao San Road offers all you could ever ask for, inc bars, food carts and markets, just around the corner is the more chilled Soi Rambuttri. The street is lined with lanterns and the bars more sedate, you can smoke shish in the street and drink till the sun comes up.

Eating: Try the street food. Its cheap and very tasty. 30B will buy you Pad Thai, a fried noodle dish with stir fried veg. Add a spring roll for 20B. Green guesthouse on Bunglamphu Road offers a wide range inc falafel if you fancy a bit of western food. Not expensive. A lot of the restaurants have the same menu and offer the same prices. This is prob due to competition. I didn’t have a bad meal in Bangkok.

Travel: Bus and Boat to Koh Tao, 500B. The 12 hour over night bus ride wasn’t at all unbearable. The bus was a VIP and air conditioned, blankets were provided. We arrived at Chumphon at 5am and waited for our boat which left at 8am. The boat was basic but the 3 hour ride was made easier by sunbathing on the roof.

Koh Tao:

Accomm: SB Cabana, 500B per night for a twin. Basic beach bungalows set just off the beach set amongst colourful flowerbeds. Extremely well kept gardens. Only 20metres from Sairee Beach. Fan and private bathroom.

Experience: Koh Tao is renound for its deep sea diving. A day diving will only set you back £30.Hire out mopeds for 200B a day. Explore the island. Head for the hills to take in the breathtaking views and discover all the beautiful secluded beaches which are sheltered by huge boulders. be careful of the rugged turane there is only one road through the middle of the island so dirt tracks are the only option. Head home before sunset as there are no street lights!

Nightlife: Kho Tao doesn’t offer too much but what it has got is excellent. Head to the beach bars Fizz or Lotus for the sunset (5pm) after a day on the beach, before heading back to your guesthouse for a spruce up. The party doesn’t get going until happy hour at Lotus bar at 9.30pm, buy one get one free buckets at 200B. The bar has rugs and Thai cushions on the beach with fire dancers to get the night rolling. By the end of the night everyone is dancing on the beach or in the sea!

Eating: Along the beach front there are many restaurants offering fresh fish, some with lobsters in tanks still alive waiting for you to pick them. Sairee cottages is good for breakfast., cereal, yogurt and fruit,60B or a fry up for 150B. Seashell offers similar, for lunch or tea choose from traditional Thai curries and soups or opt for western dishes, it up to you. A Thai dish will cost you 100B and a western dish perhaps double.

Travel: Boat and bus to Krabi 750B, boat to Railay 200B. The over night boat from Koh Tao to Surat Thai was probably the roughest I have been on. The boat was a sleeper so very comfortable. A group of us had to stop our game of poker to lay down and try not to feel sea sick. The boat rocked vigorously. The bus to Krabi as VIP and air conditioned but we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere forced to buy an onward ticket. This is the typical Thai con. Once you arrive in Railay you need to head for Ton Sai, the next beach on. Railay is now full of resorts and families on holiday. Ton Sai is totally travellers and a haven for climbers. The only way to get there is to climber over the mountain or wait for the tide to go out (3pm) and walk around the huge rocks separating the beaches.

Ton Sai, Railay.:

Accomm: Mambo Guesthouse, 500B for a double. Very basic bamboo hut set in the woods with private bathroom but out side. Cold shower. Electricity from 5pm till 7am. (this is true for the whole of Ton Sai) The staff are very friendly.

Experience: Climbing is the only thing you can do really. This will set you back quite a lot of money especially if you need to hire equipment and a guide to show you where to climb. Around 5000B for the day. This does include kayaks and lunch too.

Nightlife: Limited… Ton Sai is very laid back. Climbers are tired after a whole day on the rocks. Head away from the beach to find the livelier bars. Reggae bar is set on quite a large piece of land. Loads of hammocks and cushions to sit on. fire dancers walk the slack line whilst showing off their skills. Space cakes are available at the bar.

Eating: Any of the bars and restaurants serve a standard menu but try the traditional Thai BBQ’s if you are into your meet. You can pick your fish or meet from a wide selection and pay by the lb. I haven’t heard a bad thing said about this food.

Travel: Boat to Koh Phi Phi, 350B. A long tail boat will take you to the main boat anchored out at sea then a 3 hour sail.

TBC…

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Reviews Bangkok January 19, 2010

Filed under: Thailand,Travel — backpackerbird @ 2:52 am
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I thought I would compile a review of where I have stayed and the transport I have taken on my travels so far. Just a little guide for any of you planning to travel.

Note: £1 = 50 Thai Bart

Room prices are for doubles or twins so split price between 2.Bangkok:

On arrival its best to get on a mini bus to the centre for a few reasons… you share the cost of the ride with others on the bus. You get to meet people straight away, you might even decide to stick together and stay in the some guest house or at least meet them later for a drink. And it is safer if you travel alone. Another option is to take a taxi which suits some, if you a travelling in a group or if money is no object. If you do take a taxi ask to be on the meter if its not rush hour but if the traffic is bad ask for the flat rate. This rate is usually about 400B to Khao San Road (the main backpacker hub).

Depending on whether you are up for a mad night in Bangkok or a more mellow night will determine where you stay. I will always advise you to stay in the Khao San area but there are 2 main roads you can stay on. Khao San road is the obvious option. Its is a fun packed, mental never sleeping road full of bars and street vendors selling clothes and food. Stay in Sawasdee Bunglampoo or Sawasdee Bangkok Inn both offer a clean spacious room with air con, and even have a fridge and a hairdryer at your disposal. They also concentrate on the finer details like mini shampoo an conditioner. Perfect after a long journey. This all comes at the price of 650B which isn’t too cheap for Bangkok but is by far the best place I have stayed in the big city. Don’t stay in D & D’s, also on Khao San Road. It likes to attract you with is rooftop pool and its hotel looking exterior. For 750B you get a sweaty windowless box of a room with inadequate air con. I didn’t even get to use the pool, there was an electrical storm, I wasn’t about to dive in the water to get electrocuted! Waste of money, don’t be fooled.

If you fancy a more chilled atmosphere or have had enough of the crazy Khao San opt for Soi Chana Songkhram, a road just round the corner from Khao San. Personally my favourite place in Bangkok. The street is lined with pretty multicoloured lanterns and is full of chilled out bars and restaurants. There are no Tuk Tuk men hassling you to go see a ping pong show and no lady boys luring you into their cabaret shows like on Khao San. For basic accommodation stay in My House. Its clean and well presented. They play films every night at 8pm and is a great place to meet people. Prices start at 500B. Or if you fancy a pool go for Rambuttei Guest House, a large and hotel like. Prices start at 750B.

Things to do whilst in Bangkok:

Take a boat ride up and down the river. Khoa San is near pier 13. There are 30 piers so plenty of river to cover. it’s a bargain at 13b a ride. If you fancy, visit the Golden Palace or the reclining Buda easily reached on the river, only a few stops down. Go to the Prison at stop 30, but pre book your visit. You can obtain the name of an in mate through the British embassy and visit them for free to chat about their experiences behind the Bangkok bars. Just take along a few treats like cigarettes and food. Take a day trip to Kanchanaburi, prices start at 750B pp for a full day tour depending on what you want to see. Options include The bridge over The River Kwai, Floating markets, The Tiger Temple, Elephant Treking, and Bamboo Rafting. All in all a brilliant day out.

 

Straight in. Get on it. January 4, 2010

Filed under: Thailand,Travel — backpackerbird @ 5:05 pm
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I was the first to sit on my row on the plane. Would I be in luck? would I have all three to myself? No chance, the plane was packed out. I was joined by Chris and Nadia, like minded seasonal travellers. We chatted about where we had been and where we were heading. We gassed until dinner arrive. Great, I had forgotten to order a veggie meal. I had to settle for two starters from the meat dish which luckily didn’t contain meet.

After watching (500) days of Sumer, which made me laugh uncontrollably and embarrassingly, I fell asleep until breakfast was served, I opted for the healthy choise: cereal, gotta keep my figure this time.

I didn’t recognise the airport at all to say I had flown into Bangkok 3 times now. It wasnt until I realised it was only build 3 years ago that i knew why. I walked through arrivals with my bags weighing me down like a pack horse and was supposed to be meeting a transfer man, you know the type, waving a card with my name on it. He was nowhere to be seen. A slight sence of panic set in. A realisation that I was truly on my own in Asia. After waiting by a taxi rank which clearly wasnt the correct place I wandered back inside the airport only to be greeted by a women holding my name up. Phew.

I met Paul and Kate on the mini bus. They were staying near me. Perfect. We arrived on Khoa San Road at 6.30pm local time and agreed to meet in half an hour outside the hostel. A quick turn around, just enough time for me to freshen up. but we just had to get on it.

Khoa San Road was starting to get busy. All the market stalls were selling Thai pants and knock off watches. Street food made the smells I remember from before so tempting. Walking whilst eating we saw a fish massage bar and had to give it a whirl. 290 Bart bought me a beer and unlimited time in the pool. Dipping our feet in the water the fish instantly nibbled my toes. Expensive but worth it. The next bar was advertised with a sign saying ‘ Very Strong, We Dont Check ID’!!!  to be continued…….

 

Termination of contract. November 26, 2009

Filed under: Travel — backpackerbird @ 6:36 pm
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I’ve done it, I’ve written my notice… They know it’s comming but it doesnt make it any less eventful. Some would say 3 years isnt that long, I tell you its long enough. Time to get back to the world I know and love. Get me back to the streets of Bangkok with a Mai Tai in one hand and a woo woo in the other, back to the pure white beaches of the Whitsunday’s with my fins and snorkel at the ready and the beauty of Queenstown at the foot of the Remarkables.

I’m kinda nervous, this is ‘closeur’ as Katie Price would say. Have I really just quoted that daft,attention seeking, press manipulating woman? Guess so. It feels like the beginning of a new chapter. As of tomorrow (27th november 2009) I will be working my notice, counting down the days till I set off on the trip of a lifetime. I will just add that I have actually been counting down the days since June, nothing like getting excited early! But, now there are only 5 weeks left everything is definitely starting to become much more real. No longer are my plans for the future, they are for now. I need to get visas sorted out now. I need to sort out the insurance. I must plan what I am taking now. Time is running away from me, soon it will have run out on me, gone, and all that will be left to do is step onto that Boeing 747 bound for Bangkok. From here on in all I am interested in is travel plans and spending as much time with friends and family. There are just not enough weekends left to see everyone. I’m going to have to squeeze people in. I simply must see everybody before I go. Who knows when I’ll be back……

So I wonder how I will feel tomorrow after I have done it, after I have passed that little envelope across to my manager…FREE. bring it on.