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Once just a popular backpacker destination, Ko..
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Ko Phangan is the name of the biggest city for..
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Ko Tao attracts its fair share of travelers,..
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Hua Hin is a modestly visited destination..
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Ban Ko Tao isn't a particularly popular..
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Ko Samet isn't a popular stop for travelers..
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Travel Tips from people who've been to Thailand Gulf
Go for Pala-U waterfalls with taxi. Make a deal with taxi for a trip to Pala-u (a part of Kaneng Krachan National park). It´s cheap and the place is great rainforest river. There´s is a good restaurant nearby before maybe 5km before entrance. If You´ve rent car You may want to visit Kaeng Krachan National park. It´s biggest National park of Thailand (about 3000 square kilometers). Entrance fee is about 10 dollars / person. We managed to get a guide inside from the camp of forestguardians. Didn´t speak english but guided us few hours in the forest for a money (not much).
At 6.30 this morning to the second, my so-called luxury breakfast of steaming hot bacon and eggs, toast covered in 100% pure Australian Honey, tea and pineapple slices arrived and was set down for me on the balcony by another student of the school of bowing. I sat outside the French doors at dawn, sipping tea and watching the ships float past as the rest of Pattaya was rolling over in bed and pushing the snooze button - and if you can think of a more British thing to do, I'd like to hear it. I should point out here, in case you think I've gone totally mad and am spending the budget of a small South American country, that the cost of living in general throughout Thailand is next to nothing. Things specifically aimed at tourists don't count, of course. My table mate at dinner in a local restaurant last night almost choked on his meaty chunks when I mentioned in passing that I was paying 3050 Baht a night for the pleasure of staying at the Dusit Thani. He was only paying 2000 a month to rent his house. At just before 7.30, I slapped on heaps of sun lotion, wiped it all off again with the Mosquito Repellent, and headed for the bus. To reach Koh Samet, or Ko Samet, or Samet Island (it seems to be pretty much an either/or situation on the spelling) required a bus journey of one and a half hours to Ban Phe from where the ferry departs. I then had to take a short trip across the water to the island itself, arriving at the most heavily populated and touristy beach on Koh Samet: Ao Wong Duan.
Koh Samet is four miles long and two miles wide, and is blessed with crystal clear waters and pure white crystalline sand. Its numerous long beaches are a haven for both visitors and Thais alike, and some of the more popular spots are full of beach bars and restaurants - mainly simple huts run by residents whose bungalows are scattered along the beach. Tourism, as on most of the islands out here, is probably the only reliable source of income. Boats cannot go right into the beach, so day-trippers are off-loaded onto rafts half a mile out and taken ashore that way. Despite the ever present hoards of visitors, peace still very much remains the order of the day as the island is basically no more than a massive sandbank with a forest in the middle and people generally head off in different directions as soon as they leave the boat to look for their own private piece of paradise. There really wasn't much to do except relax and have fun, as if I would've wanted to do anything else anyway - the options presented to me upon arrival included lounging in a deckchair all day, snorkelling or swimming, hiring a Jet-Ski or eating until I burst. Occasionally throughout the day, wherever I was, a salesman would stroll past with a bucket of fruit and wave it under my nose, but that was about the only distraction. I kicked off my shoes and shirt and headed off along the beach. It came as no great surprise to come across nothing more exciting during my explorations than the occasional sign stuck on a palm tree which read "Next Beach - This way". After a while, I began to realise that everybody else had the right idea and started to look for my own personal spot to spend the rest of the day starting off my tan. And then a very strange thing happened. I turned around and retraced my steps along what I thought was the same path I had just come along, and emerged from the trees onto a totally unfamiliar beach - something which was particularly strange as I had been walking inland for some time. Lying under a tree with its tongue hanging out, the local dog managed to muster up just enough energy to turn its head toward me before concluding that I wasn't nearly interesting enough to justify any further effort. I was lost. Picking what I thought seemed like the most likely path back towards the distant sounds of people playing beach volleyball, it wasn't long before I realised that the sounds actually seemed to be getting further away. Suddenly, I was walking along a dirt-track up a very steep hill, without any shade from the burning sun. A little voice inside me told me that, if I could just reach the brow of the hill, I would suddenly be on the top of the world and be able to see exactly where I was... so on I trudged, puffing and panting like an old-timer. I reached the top of the hill, and the track just kept on going. In the distance in front of me, I could see the brow of the next hill, followed by the brow of the hill beyond it, and on the horizon I was sure I could just make out an aircraft carrier sized vat of water shrouded in the heat haze. In hindsight, though, I feel that this may have been a particularly mean mirage. Then, almost as quickly as my ill-advised excursion had begun, it was over. Through the trees to my left, two girls appeared carrying a volley ball and being chased by a guy with his trousers around his ankles. In any other situation I may have had something hugely funny to say about this, but frankly I was far too happy to have discovered any signs of civilisation to care. So I chased after them - or perhaps "clawed my way across the scorching sand" would be more accurate - and found myself mysteriously back where I had started on the beach at Ao Wong Duan. And there, on the sand next to me, was a flimsy wooden sign pointing back up the hill:
Paradise Beach, it said, mockingly. So, for all I know, over that next hill was the Nirvana of Nirvanas, the Shangri-La of all tourist resorts. But now I shall never know. Instead, I staggered over to the beach restaurant and ordered an aircraft carrier sized vat of water. At 12.30, we honoured guests of the Koh Samet Tourism Company Ltd were invited into the beach restaurant for a meal. Actually, we had ordered immediately after arriving on the island, but the waiter seemed to possess total recall and was able to pass all our meals out to us from a gigantic platter without making a single mistake. I had a steaming bowl of onion soup which, to be honest, could've been a bowl of hot water with an onion dipped in it for all the colour it had. Nevertheless it was delicious, and was followed by a chicken steak with pasta which was gulped down equally eagerly. After lunch, as luck would have it, I found a tiny tidal pool which nobody else seemed to know anything about, so I spent a couple of contented hours with my own spa bath created by the waves crashing in from all directions.
Unfortunately, I am now going a nice shade of red. I've still got quite a way to go before I run out of beaches to sunbathe on yet, though - so I fully expect to look like a lobster before the week is out…My full travel journals can be found at www.offexploring.com/globalwanderer
Travelling to Narathiwat in year 2000 with my partner was one of our adventurous trip as backpackers from Kuala Lumpur heading North in Kelantan. Access from Malaysia is convenient via a ninety-minute bus trip and two immigration points where travelers can cross into Thailand and vice versa. With Amphoe Su-ngai Kolok serving as an economic and border tourism center, the province welcomes an increasing numbers of Malaysians and Singaporeans on short holidays or shopping sprees. Sungai Kolok has more than its fair share of hotels, many of them short-time joints catering mainly to Malaysian men who skip over the border or a bit of action in the town's many karaoke bars and coffee houses. The restaurant scene is also pretty basic (though tasty) with noodle shops, roti stalls and typical shopfronts the staple. If you're crossing the border here, coming from Malaysia, after clearing immigration either take a motorbike taxi or just follow the main road into town -- it's about a ten minute walk to the start of town and the train station. Sungai Kolok has suffered a series of bombings, arson attacks and killings as a result of the ongoing trouble in Thailand's far south and while none of these attacks have specifically targeted westerners, you should exercise care, particularly in the outlying districts. Expect to see a heightened military presence with humvees and soldiers fully kitted out both in town and in the surrounding area. Amidst the tight security & all, that did not stop us from travelling to Narathiwat. Capital of the same-named province, Narathiwat sits on the bank of the Bang Nara River, south of Bangkok by road. A particularly friendly spot & roughly 66 km from Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat has the rustic charm that has disappeared from so many of the other far southern Thai provincial capitals. Although the bulk of the town is now comprised of the typical concrete egg-carton style buildings, it still has a generous helping of old wooden buildings and a few sino-portuguese shopfronts by the riverfront. Most travellers treat Narathiwat as an overnight stop (if that) as many choose to head north to the larger centres such as Hat Yai, while others bypass it completely, in part no doubt due to the ongoing difficulties that blight this portion of Thailand. Narathiwat appears to be very popular with cyclists who use it as a breather before pushing on north or south. We took great opportunities to spend days at the beach and in the forests and take excursion trips to some of the magnificent temples! For those who choose to stay though, expect to be rewarded with some excellent southern Thai hospitality and enough Muslim eateries and curries to last a lifetime. Those who do choose to stay here often find themselves marking Narathiwat as a place to return to, well, which me & my partner did! As far as security is concerned, the bulk of security incidents have taken place outside the provincial capital, mostly in rural districts that most travellers would be unlikely to find themselves. Nevertheless, care should be exercised and the early evening curfew instituted by some hotels, is best adhered to. Is it safe to travel to Narathiwat? Well, i shall leave it to you to decide. And oh, My honest opinion, Narathiwat is an amazing and unique area with a constant flow of culture and trade between Thais and Malaysians.
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