Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Phuket (Patong Beach)
The start of our tour of South East Asia began in Thailand, Phuket, on Patong Beach.
Amazingly this was the first time we had been above the equator in over 4 months. Our curiosity more than anything took us to Patong. After speaking to many friends and reading blogs, some recommended it and others were less generous in their praise.
We decided to give it a go and see what all the contradicting views were about.
I would describe it as Thailand's 'Sin City' and a short walk down Bangla Road (aka Walking Street) will show you why. However, if you take it for what it is, it is actually a lot of fun. With each bar trying to out do the other with either loud music, lights, dancing girls, drinks offers, street performers and more... it makes it a very exciting walk.
You can sit and watch it all go by, which is very entertaining but we decided to go all in, visiting the live music bars, Go Go Girl bars and clubs. For 1 night, it was great fun but I wouldn't recommend anything more. While Bangla Road is the hub at night, Patong's beach takes the baton in the day. With a hive of watersports, beach bars, food and drink vendors it is ideal to sit back and people watch. Be warned through, it is not a relaxing beach but much like the street, it is entertaining.
We spent both days on the soft white sand and probably in the warmest sea water we have experienced to date. Our favourite thing about Patong Beach however has to be the Otop Food Market. It was our first introduction into Asian street food and with over twenty stalls and outside communal seating, it has so much to offer. Paying no more than £2.50 a dish, you can keep going back for more. Great atmosphere and great food.
I am sure Thailand and the rest of South East Asia will have a lot of this to offer but you always remember your first time! In total we spent 2 nights in Patong Beach at the Poshtel Patong, a safe, clean and quiet haven, away from the humdrum of the streets. I think this is enough unless this is your calling, then I could seeing you getting lost in Patong! We booked our 2 hour transfer (Bus and Ferry) to Koh Phi Phi Island for £10 each, using a local tour operator - cheapest we could find!
Koh Phi Phi
We continued our nightlife adventure on the party island of Koh Phi Phi. An hour bus, a 2 hour ferry and £10 each brought us to the shores of this idyllic paradise island set in the Andaman Sea. We stayed for 4 nights at the Voyagers Hostel. We can definitely recommend this. Clean, quiet and has quick WiFi. The highlight is the friendly host, she is very helpful and you get clean towels and sheets everyday. It's also just off the popular Loh Dalum Bay.
As we did in Patong we immersed ourselves in the nightlife soaking up the fire shows along the same beach at Slinky's, Stoned and Apache. Great entertainment and mixed with neon lights, UV paint and buckets of cocktails, it's an awesome beach party.
We also checked out the pool party at Ibiza House and the DIY Thai Kickboxing at Reggae Bar... when in Rome.
As well as Loh Dalum Bay, we also took a 30 minute walk across Viking Beach to Long Beach. We definitely recommend this, much quieter and the walk through the flora is beautiful.
Another beautiful walk is to the viewpoint at sunset, to give you panoramic views across the island. There is charge of 30Baht (0.75p) so take cash.
Thailand is proving to be our favourite destination for food, with Pad Thai, Green Curry and Tom Yum soups, there is so much to choose from and at only £2 for a main dish, you can have it all!! Garlic 1992 was our favourite restaurant, the Penang Curry, although small, was delicious.
For excursions, we took the popular half-day tour from Phi Phi, taking you too Monkey Island, Viking Cave, a lagoon, the reef for some awesome snorkelling and Malay Bay (the beach in 'The Beach') which was closed at the time we went. We also watched the sunset before snorkelling at night with bio luminescent plankton, which was awesome. All this and getting fed with fruit and rice for £10 each.
When we weren't doing this, we were sat on the beach and relaxing, taking in this wonderful opportunity we have. We decided to continue our trek into paradise, booking a ferry for £8 each to the little known island Koh Lanta.
Our 5 days in Patong and Phi Phi, came to £320 (£64 a day) but this did include 2 splurges in Patong and again in Phi Phi.
Rather than the usual trip to Krabi from Koh Phi Phi and then onto Koh Samui, Tao and Phangnan, we decided to go take a trek to the lesser known Koh Lanta for a slightly quieter beach life.
The journey from Koh Phi Phi took 2 and half hours and cost us 350 Baht each (£9).
Staying at Hub of Joys hostel on Long beach, gave us the perfection location and it was probably the best hostel we have stayed at so far in S. E. Asia, with comfy beds, great social area, friendly staff and free food!!
On our first day we literally lapped up the much quieter Long Beach, sleeping, reading, bathing and when it got too hot... swimming. We even ate along there, enjoying a £2.50 Pad Thai whilst watching the sunset!
The next day did see us abit more lively. We booked the 4 Islands tour, which takes you out to the beautiful Koh Ngai and the surrounding 3 islands. On route we stopped for snorkelling, and a visit into the Emerald Cove. Although the snorkelling was not as clear as Koh Phi Phi, the beaches and cove made up for it. The all day trip cost 600 baht (£15 each) including a delightful lunch.
Our 3rd day on the island was probably our best. For the first time the Johncocks took to motorised 2 wheels in the form of a scooter. A little nervy at first, Stu soon got the hang of it and before we knew we were zooming all about the island.
If you have never tried it, you should and Koh Lanta is probably the safest place to practice and giving stunning rewards in the form Bamboo Beach and the sunset of Relax Beach. It only cost 300 baht for the day, including fuel (£7.50) and gives you incredible freedom to explore.
On our last half day we decided to follow the usual tourist route and get a £5 Thai Massage on the beach. It started off very idyllic, as we had it in the morning, we had a beautiful, undisturbed, view of the ocean as we settled down into the massage. I would definitely describe this as an immersive experience. Not knowing what to expect, looking back I can only describe it as a WWF wrestling match. In fact one of the 'moves' resembled one of my favourite wrestlers as a youth Chris Jericho's 'Walls of Jericho', depicted here for any who are not sure what I mean. Anyway it was an experience and the cheers of jubilation when she said she had finished tells me that is the first and last massage I will have of it's kind :)
We hadn't decided a route around S.E. Asia yet but we knew we wanted to try something different to the beach. So we decided to take a 19 hour bus, 12 hour layover and 1 hour flight to the opposite end of the region, Hanoi, Vietnam.
3 days in Koh Lanta (and a broken body) = £150
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