All of the Thailand pages were written during our two year stay there between 2005 and 2007.
After two great years in Bangkok and Thailand, our time had come. We had some great holidays, as you can see from these pages, and it's very difficult to choose the best. We loved our trips to Ko Samet, some of the many National Parks and also especially the Khmer ruins along the Cambodian border. But also we loved our appartment - our oasis in the city.
Wandering around some of the less touristed spots in Bangkok is an absolute joy. Here is a little guide to a few of these hidden jems
I've separated Chatuchak, Ko Kred and Thonburi from the Bangkok wanderings page simply because they are a bit further out from downtown. All well worth a wander mind you.
Explorations of cowboy country in the Golden Triangle!
It is said that in the 1970’s a few hippies stumbled across Ko Samui and found paradise, with powder-white sands, clear turquoise water and gently swaying palms. Over the next 30 years this paradise was swamped with ever encroaching development. Now, there seems to be more concrete than sand. However, perhaps not surprisingly, just across the water from Samui there are beaches near the fishing village of Khanom, which are still in pristine condition. But for how long? We went to find out during the Songkran holiday in April 2007.
Khao Yai is Thailand's oldest and also one of its biggest National Parks. At an average of 700m above sea level, its climate is reasonable pleasant all year round and as it is only 2.5 hours outside Bangkok it is also one of the most popular parks. We went up for a long weekend in February 2007 and were rewarded with beautiful countryside and loads of animals including monkeys, deer, a giant red flying squirrel, porcupines indian civets and many birds including two pied hornbills. We even managed to photograph a few...
To many visitors to Thailand, their fondest memories come from Isaan, the North Eastern ‘bulge’ of Thailand. However, it doesn’t rate much of a mention in many guidebooks because of the relative paucity of grand Thai monuments – either man made or natural. Its charm lies in the friendly people and the more relaxed, traditional pace and style of life. That was exactly what me and Jackie were after when we went for a week’s exploring around the area of Nong Khai and a bend in the Mekong River over new year 2007.
I was told Ko Chang was the new Ko Samui. Presumably this meant it was a once pristine island on the downhill slope to environmental degradation caused by uncontrolled tourist development. Perhaps they meant it in a more positive light. I wasn’t sure. I went there Christmas 2006 to find out
Loi Krathong is one of my favourite festivals in Thailand. On the full moon in November, small floats made from flowers and set on a slice of banana tree appear everwhere near the river. You buy one with your loved one, light a candle or two on board and then launch it on the river. The longer your candles stay lit, the better next year will be and the more chance your wishes will come true. It also represents floating your sins away for the year so you can start sinning again with a clean slate. In addition to the floats, people also feed the fish by throwing bread in the water and realease turtles for merit making. If you thought the Chao Praya river flowing through Bangkok was polluted, you'd be very surprised at the huge numbers of catfish that appear for a free feed. While all this is going on there are huge floats going up and down the river bedecked with flashing lights, setting off fireworks and generally being very attractive.
Our favourite destination for a weekend getaway from Bangkok is Ko Samet. Three hours door to powder white sand and crystal clear water. Although it has been on the tourist radar for years, our favourite two beaches are too small for over development (so far) and so remain charming and idylic. Even at the weekend when you would expect crowds from Bangkok, you can often be the only person in the sea. Experience it for yourself on the Ko Samet page...
In the 1970's Ko Samui was discovered by the hippies, in the 1980's by the backpackers, in the 1990s by package tourists, in the 21st century the developers. But unfortunately they have managed to destroy much of what everyone came here for. The beaches are still powder white, but the backdrop of gently swaying palms has become construction sites and the lush green hillsides become bare red scars soon be covered with tourist developments. Paradise island no longer.
For centuries, little known Nan was an isolated kingdom with few ties to the outside world. In more recent times a hideaway for bandits and communist insurgents. Now with improved road links and hotels it is set to benefit(?) from Thailand's tourist surge. At the moment however, it is still an untouristed and wonderfully picturesque and quiet corner of Thailand. There are plenty of sights, both natural (majestic mountains and rural scenery) and man-made (some beautiful and unique wats) and so perfect for a week's getaway. And that is exactly what we did.
Famous as the setting of the original Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi has so much more to offer if you explore the surrounding countryside. There are ancient Khmer ruins, magnificant National parks, the opportunity to stay on a raft deep in the thai jungle and perhaps the chance to stumble across a traditional Thai wedding procession. We discovered all of this on a trip in May 2006.
Far away from the tourist hordes in a quiet corner of Thailand near the Cambodian border lie some magnificent Khmer ruins. The most famous, Phimai, is not necessarily the best. I found the hilltop palace of Phanom Rung to be far more impressive, followed closely by the less visited Prasat Meuang Tam. Both over 1000 years old and only recently restored to their former glory. We found an attractive guesthouse, hired a motorbike and went off to explore.
The Similan and Surin Islands in the Andaman sea are rightly known as home to some of the top divespots in Asia. Crystal clear waters and the chance of seeing whale sharks, manta rays, schools of barracuda and a myriad of reef fish was too much to miss.
Seadragon Dive Center in Khao Lac offer excellent liveaboard trips there and these pages show some great photos from above and below the waves of a very memorable holiday in April 2006
An hour but also a thousand years away from the bustle and grime of Bangkok, can be found this marvelous world heritage site. Although possible to explore them in a daytrip from Bangkok, it's much better to stay overnight, to soak up the atmosphere, not just of the ruins but also perhaps to have a quiet evening dinner on the banks of the Chao Phraya river which surrounds them. The ruins themselves are a little spread apart, but are all set in tranquil gardens just far enough away from the modern town which has built up to one side of them. Of course if you can't go yourself, just follow the links here for an armchair journey.
- Thai videos
We made quite a few videos in our two years in Thailand. Most are featured in the individual pages, but on this page I've also added a few extras which aren't featured anywhere else on the site. I hope you enjoy them.