17 days in Thailand – hand-luggage only

Our main holiday in 2016, finally after many years of saying “oh we really ought to go…” was: Thailand!

And we did it with hand luggage only. Why, you ask? Well, first of all this year in March American Airlines lost my bag when we went to Las Vegas for Andrew’s 40th (only ever so slightly ruining the trip…); I did get it back, but only because me being the persistent me I am and after a wild goose chase through Heathrow’s terminal 3 and 5 after a ten hour flight – but I digress.

Also we always liked the idea of really cutting down on luggage and only taking what is absolutely necessary. This also means you have less packing and unpacking to do, less stuff to wash when you come back – and it is so much quicker when you don’t have to wait for your luggage after an 11 hour flight. So in the end we had two rucksacks (6kg and 7kg) plus one cotton bag and the camera bag.

Both our luggage, just before we left to the airport:

bags

His Luggage (6kg):

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Her Luggage (7kg):

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And guess what: it worked a treat! We did not miss a single thing and we wore / used every little thing we brought. Nothing in our bag was just transported there and back just to be washed anyway once back home – come on, how great is that? We could have even done without a few things, like the universal adapter (German plugs work in Thailand), the snorkeling equipment (we only really needed it twice and could have rented it then) and the head torches (never did this mid-night jungle trek…)

If you want to know what we packed, here is our packing list: thailand-packing-list

Itinerary

Well, we didn’t really have an itinerary. Given 2017 was crazy for both of us at work, there really wasn’t much time (or rather energy) to meticulously plan the trip. So the only two things we had booked were the first three nights near Krabi and the last two nights in Bangkok. The rest was up for grabs – we basically had to decide whether to go North toward Khao Son National Park and Khao Lak or go South towards Railay Beach, Koh Lanta and the Trang Islands. We decided for the latter – and never looked back. Island hopping in Thailand is the best thing ever! Even with a red-head husband who instantly burns up if not covered in 50LSF from tip to toe. So really: highly-recommended.

So here is what we did:

1. Tubkaak Beach

How long we stayed: 3 nights
How long we wished we stayed: 3 nights
Where we stayed: Tubkaak Crab Boutique Hotel (luxurious – great food – expensive)

The first three nights we really treated ourselves to a nice and luxurious resort – which even for Western Standards was expensive: Tubkaak Beach Resort. For us, it was absolutely worth it. Just chilling out and not having to worry about a single thing was just what we needed after this crazy year.

We relaxed at the secluded beach with views of lime stones,

one day rented a kayak,

did a day trip to Koh Hong, where we left bright and early at 8am and thus skipped the hordes of Asian tourists flocking this amazing beach one hour later:

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… and of course enjoyed the awesome sun-sets, sometimes intermittent with a monsoon storm.

2. One night in Krabi…

How long we stayed: 1 night
How long we wished we stayed: 1 night
Where we stayed: Chan Cha Lay Hostel (cute – basic – cheap)

After three relaxing, not-doing-very-much-at-all days, we thought: how about getting a night in a “real” place in? So we decided to spend one night in Krabi and the Chan Cha Lay Hostel for about 1/10 of the price – very recommended little hostel.

While in Krabi, you should really hike up the 1,237 steps to the Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea). It will get you sweating, your heart pumping and your legs screaming (at sometimes 40cms high steps) – but it is absolutely worth it. We just hired a taxi (500baht there and back) from the Main Street in Krabi as it was a Sunday, but during the week there is a Songtaew every 20 or 30mins.

Krabi itself is a nice little quirky town with night food markets, a little river promenade and a bit of a backpacker scene. Given a stomach bug knocked us out while in Bangkok making us miss the street food there, we were very happy to have had a great yummy dinner in at Poo Dum Restaurant in Krabi.

 

3. Railay Beach

How long we stayed: 2 nights
How long we wished we stayed: 3 or even 4 nights
Where we stayed: Sunrise Tropical Resort (good location – ok value-for-money – breakfast so-so)

The next day we went down to the pier for our long tail boat trip to Railay Beach. We bought the tickets (150baht/each) the night before but could have just gone down there in the morning, there was no shortage of seats. The trip is about an hour and goes to Railay East. This is the side where most people stay as the hotels are much cheaper than on the West side and the walk between East and West is 5mins – if you walk V E R Y slowly. So really, it doesn’t matter. We stayed at Sunrise Tropical Resort, a nice enough resort.

There are three best things about Railay Beach: kayaking, the lime stones and cocktails right at the beach.

1. Kayaking:

2. Lime stones:

3. Cocktails on the beach

Another recommended thing to do if you are not afraid of getting muddy: hike up to the view point over Railay Beach. A little exercise now and again can’t harm with all the yummy food.

4. Koh Lanta

How long we stayed: 2 nights
How long we wished we stayed: 2 nights (if you rented a scooter and went around, maybe 3 nights)
Where we stayed: Relax Bay Resort (nice beach with cool bars – basic huts – cheap-ish)

The favorite islands of all Swedes, we only spent two days there as a stop over before Koh Ngai. What we did? A cooking course at Lanta Thai and relaxing, at Relax Bay.

5. Koh Ngai

How long we stayed: 2 nights
How long we wished we stayed: 3 nights
Where we stayed: Thanya Beach Resort (awesome view from the upper cabins – nice pool – ok value-for-money)

The boat trip was brilliant: sitting up on deck in beautiful sunshine, drifting by all those little and bigger islands… and then ours comes into view. And all the other passengers were jealous as we were the only ones getting of:

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We stayed at Thanya Beach Resort, up on the hill with an  i n c r e d i b l e  view:

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And a great little infinity pool directly by the ocean:

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Of all the great islands, this was definitely the best – minus sun sets, but plus sunrises. It was so worth getting up at 6-ish for this:img_0954-3-x2

A hike over to paradise beach is a nice little trip to a great little beach. One warning at this point: be aware of the sea urches that lurch around on that side of the islands. Nicole can tell you: stepping into one is definitely no fun. Thanks to a local we found out they “melt” by applying lemon juice. So just in case…

Also, they were just finishing a nice-looking resort there, so maybe that is worthwhile checking out.

And for the rest: just let the photos speak for themselves:

 

5. Koh Kradan

How long we stayed: 4 nights
How long we wished we stayed: 2 nights
Where we stayed: The Seven Seas Resort (should have stayed in Reef Resort just next door: nicer feel, cooler bar, better food)

The final stop on our island hopping list was Koh Kradan. We joined a very bumpy boat trip to Koh Ron with quite nice snorkeling (and many loud & big Indonesian families):

Otherwise, there was more chilling and reading – and watching some hotel employees play football in low tide, with some brave tourists.img_1185-3-x2

… and off we went to Bangkok, just before the weather turned. And we brought a little souvenir with us: an upset stomach each. This is especially fun during a full day of travel, including a ferry, a bus, a flight and a taxi drive with a driver that takes the scenic route…

6. Bangkok

How long we stayed: 2 nights
How long we wished we stayed: 3-4 nights
Where we stayed: The Millennium Hilton (great location by the river with “own” hotel boat – expensive – typical “Hilton”)

The final stop on our trip: crazy, beautiful Bangkok. We just wished we could have enjoyed the street food, instead of suffering from a stomach bug! But even with the bug, we  l o v e d  the vibe, the sights, the smells and the hustle-and-bustle of it all.

The highlights, which you will find in any travel guide, so here just a few photos:

Wat Pho with the Sitting Buddha:

The Grand Palace (quite busy as the King just died a few weeks before we went there):

 

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