By now, you’ve probably seen one too many pictures on Facebook, uploaded by your friends from a foreign country, depicting them lazily enjoying life on the sandy beaches of some warm sea. It’s only natural that you don’t want to miss out on this experience. Instead of Gran Canaria and other nearby destinations, why not go a bit further, and visit Thailand? Here’s a first-hand travelogue of our recent dream-trip to the land of smiles!
Thailand has been a popular wintertime destination for years, favored by backpacker tourists and luxury vacationers alike. The perfect time to visit the country’s most attractive seaside resorts like Phuket and Koh Samui (Thailand’s answer to our Siófok) is between November and March, considering the 30 degrees Celsius daytime average temperature, and the minimal amount of rainfall in the region.
Previously, no one dared to go further on their first trip than the capital city, Bangkok, but now you can easily get to a number of Thai cities by taking just one connecting flight. Surely you’ve heard the most about Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui, as these are the favourite holiday destinations amongst Hungarians, thanks to the excellent marketing activities of tourism agencies. However, if you’re more courageous than that, and would like to discover lesser known gems in the area, with a lot less tourists and a whole lot more hospitality, Krabi is the perfect choice!
We’ve visited the country a number of times before, but our trip to Krabi was more or less the result of a lucky accident. Our bungalow in Koh Phi Phi happened to be situated right above a row of seaside discos, their booming basses rocking our small bamboo-home until 4 in the morning. So the next day, during a walk, we’ve decided to check for other, more suitable accommodations on the island. We have walked by numerous ferry ticket offices when the realization finally hit us: the town of Krabi is easily accessible by a 2-3 hours boat ride! We pulled out our laptop and our eyes were instantly filled with the look of amazement: a room for a night in a 3-star hotel costs between 5,000 and 10,000 HUF, while even 4-star accommodations don’t cost more than 15,000 and 20,000 HUF per night, breakfast included.
Arriving to Krabi
After a few hours at sea, we’ve arrived to Krabi, and fell in love with the place right then and there. The calmness of Krabi, the beauty of its temples and the closeness of nature came as a real refreshment after the tourist-filled, crowded „paradises” from before. Our apartment was only a few minutes’ walk from the Ao Nang Beach, but the around-the-clock Tuktuk service provides an inexpensive means of transportation wherever your accommodation is located. Last but not least, riding a Tuktuk is an essential part of the local lifestyle.
One afternoon, we were laying half-asleep in the sand on the beautiful Ao Nang Beach (one of many similarly gorgeous beaches) , when we noticed that „someone” sneaked up on us and started going through our stuff. As we opened our eyes, a tiny monkey skipped by us with a wide, gleeful smile on his face, in his hands holding the banana which he stole from our bag. At first we laughed, then quickly started chasing the monkey: we followed him to the end of the beach, where, to our great astonishment, a hundred other monkeys were awaiting us, playing in the sand like one big group of schoolchildren.
The other essential local means of transportation is the long tail boat, which is actually just a ramshackle wooden boat with a huge motor in the back, and the so-called long tail, which gives place to the propeller. We wanted to try it, so we’ve booked a day-trip to a nearby Mangrove forest. They picked us up at the hotel, then drove us to the port, where the long tail boats awaited us. They took us to one of the many national parks found nearby, where we swapped our boats for double kayaks, and paddled our way into the alien-looking forest. At the end of the trip, we even had some time to enjoy the sandy shores of the completely uninhabited area!
Food is a huge source of problem for a lot of people visiting Asian countries. If you’re also puzzled as to what will you be nibbling on during your two-weeks long trip to Thailand, let us quell your doubts: the hands of globalization have even reached here, so you’ll be able to walk right into your favourite fast food restaurants or international coffee chains just as easily as back home. However, if you’re not completely shut off from the idea of trying something new, then make sure to eat Pad Thai, a typical local dish made with fried rice noodles and chicken, fish or tofu, completed by roasted peanuts, sprinkled on top. Available everywhere, for a price of just a few hundred HUFs.
Krabi is easily reachable from Budapest with Qatar Airways, by taking just one connecting flight. The airplane’s menu had a mouth-watering range of vegan dishes, while the couple of hours-long waiting period at Doha seemed like minutes, thanks to the gigantic duty free shops of Hamad International Airport.
After this, hopefully you won’t waste too much time thinking on where to spend either one of the two long weekends of March, since you can travel to the other end of the world for the same price as you would have to pay for a beach-side vacation in Europe, finally getting a first-hand experience of why Thailand is the land of smiles.