Beaches, Buckets and Becoming a Qualified Diver – A Summary of South Thailand
May 16, 2015|Posted in: Thailand
I was glad to leave Vietnam at the end of April. I’d had enough of the air pollution, the horn honking and the rice wine. And I was ready to come back to Thailand, where I could once again eat my weight in curries and mango sticky rice. But as I landed in Krabi a few weeks ago, I realised, how flipping expensive south Thailand is! No more 15p beers. No more £1 meals. Instead, I was now paying £6-8 a night for a dorm and at least £2 just for my breakfast! Ridiculous. But, there is something about Thailand I love, and I was glad to be back.
So after flying from Hanoi to Krabi, I checked into a really great hostel called Pak-Up located in Krabi Town (the beds are soooo comfy!) grabbed some massuman curry and went to bed to wake up fresh in the morning. I did wake up fresh, but the weather also decided to cloud over, and the heavens opened up. Great. Fortunately, a girl I met in my dorm and I decided to risk the weather and visit the Tiger Cave Temple, nicely located at the top of 1,230 steps. At about 900, I wanted to die, but we eventually made it and the views of Krabi (even in the storm) were spectacular!
Koh Phi Phi
After spending a few days just wandering around avoiding the storm and taking a trip out to see a few of the islands, I booked my ferry for Phi-Phi Island. The ferry takes just over 2 hours to reach the island, and when you land in the port you have to pay 20 baht for the ‘upkeep’ of the island. So I headed towards my hostel… or at least I thought I was, until I realised I’d walked the whole way round the island! After finding my hostel, a dorm in one of the beach bars (something I would later regret…) I settled down with a Chang and a book.
I met a girl in my dorm who I went with to grab some food, and then proceeded to have a few more Changs, vodkas aaaaand maybe some buckets? I say that as I can’t remember much after playing ‘sexy jenga’… But I do know I woke up with one hell of a hangover, no money left on me that I took out and a couple of random bruises. I knew I couldn’t do another night in the bar dorm, so Kim and I paid for a private room for the night and I moved hostels the next day.
We did the obligatory trip to Maya Bay – the beach used in the cult movie ‘The Beach’, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a backpacker who finds a deserted island with only a few other inhabitants that want to keep their paradise secret. It obviously didn’t work out as the beach is full of long boats from tour groups and the water isn’t the clearest I’ve ever seen. But hey, I stood on the same beach Leo did, so I’m happy! I was expecting a lot more from Phi-Phi. In my head I had a vision of crystal clear beaches, chilled out bars and yet the beaches were average and the nightlife is actually insane! One night is all you need, and I definitely did not need 4!
Even though Phi Phi itself was a let down, I spent the days with some great girls, so I decided to change my itinerary and head over to Koh Phangan with them for the 2nd May Full Moon Party. I’d already been to one back in 2013, but we were basically on the island for 12 hours so didn’t get the full idea of how mental this island is. We arrived 2 days before the party, and to be honest these nights were a LOT better than the actual Full Moon night. Less crowded, and easier to find people if you lose them.
Whatever the case, it was a mental 5 days and I took 2 nights recovery time in a little bungalow. This place is crazy expensive, with hostels charging up to 500 baht for a night in a 36 bed dorm over full moon… no kidding. And food is mostly catering for foreigners, although there are little charms, such as a cute little restaurant called ‘No Name’ which is cheap(er) and the lady that runs it is so friendly, and she cooks everything herself!
I love Koh Tao. When I came here back in 2013 it was my favourite place, and was the island that made me want to stay in Thailand forever. And coming back nearly 2 years later, nothing has changed. The people are amazing, the food is brilliant and the diving is first class. A must on all travellers list of things to do. The island itself is pretty small and not much to do if you don’t want to dive. The sun is hot, and the sea offers no relief to cool off as it’s shallow and seems to heat up to the same temperature as the sun!
There are a couple if viewpoints, one being on the private island of Koh Nang Yuan – but the entry fee to the island is 100 baht and you have to catch a taxi boat over which costs 200 baht each way.
I signed up for my open water diving with a company called Big Blue Diving after a few recommendations from friends along the road. They offer the Open Water course for 9000 baht, which includes discounted dorm rates on dive days. We started our academics on the 8th in the evening and by the 11th we had passed our exam, and completed our 1st 4 ever dives, with one reaching to 17.4m underwater! I of course managed to experience my 1st ever nose bleed at 17m, but it was only because I had a little trouble equalising my ears.
The dives were so addictive that I’ve then signed up to complete my advance course, which included a night dive, a deep dive (down to 30m!) and a wreck dive of the HTMS Sattakut – a sunken WWII war ship, donated to Koh Tao in 2011.
So now I’ve finished my diving in Koh Tao (for now), it’s time to move on from Thailand once again and I’ll be heading to Malaysia next!
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!