The Pattaya area

When I visited Pattaya 11 years ago, I was quite certain I would never go back. However, it just so happened that a good friend of mine moved to Thailand to work there, so I of course had to visit.

When thinking of Pattaya, I believe many people (including me) first associate with the sex industry. Obviously for a reason.

Luckily there is more to it. My friend’s apartment is in the Naklua area in the north of Pattaya, a nice and quiet area, not at all as the city center.

As I really love Thai food, on the first night we went to a nice local restaurant, I.M.F in Naklua Road. It look more or less like a large garage, with simple tables and plastic chairs scattered around. It is a part of the charm, and the food was delicious! Having a hard time choosing what to have, we ordered quite a few dishes to share. God have I missed the Morning Glory!

Enjoying a tasty meal at I.M.F restaurant

Enjoying a tasty meal at I.M.F restaurant.

Another nice place is the cafe The Hopper, situated in a garden between the high-raised apartment buildings. A nice oasis to sit and relax with an iced drink or an amazing smoothie.

The nice garden cafe The Hopper

The nice garden cafe The Hopper.

For a different food experience, go to the Naklua fish market, buy whatever tempts you, and have one of the grilling stations prepare the food for you. Picnic in the park right beside, or as we did, by the seafront. A good way to enjoy the sunset. Just remember that the food market close as the sun sets, so be there a bit earlier. And; bring wet wipes to clean your fingers after the meal!

Buying dinner at Naklua fish market

Buying dinner at Naklua fish market.

Food in progress Spice you own tastGetting around Pattaya:
Songtaew run back and forth all the time, and charge 10 Baht per person. You simply just wave your hand as they drive by, and jump on. However, know that the each street have different routes, so make sure to get on at the right one.
It is also possible to hail your own as a taxi, just remember to agree on the price before you get going.
Another alternative is of course also the motor bike taxi.

Koh Larn:
Right of the cost of Pattaya, you find the island Koh Larn. As the beaches in Pattaya are not the cleanest, we had already decided to go there. The boats leave Bali Hai Pier, crossing to the island in about 30 minutes. The ticket is 30 Baht one way, and can be bought either in the ticket booth or directly as you board the boat. There is one approximately every hour (on the hour), but to be honest I am not sure if the one we took was the very late 11 o’clock, or the one at 12 leaving early. What is certain was that it either way did not leave on time. So, you should arrive a little bit early to be sure. And the same goes on the way back; do not plan for the boat to leave when it is scheduled, in case you depend on being back at shore at a certain time.

Koh Larn is a relatively small island, but there are several beaches to choose. A Thai friend of mine had recommended us to go to Tien, and so we did. Jumping on to a motorbike taxi, driving us over the hill to the other side of the island, we paid 50 Baht each. Prices vary depending where you are going.

The water was crystal clear, and we just could not wait to get in! There were several restaurants along the beach, but all of them were in the back, mostly hidden behind shade-giving trees, so you actually can forget they are there. Out of sight, out of mind. Until you need a cold drink or some food. As many beach bars, the food was nothing special, but it gets you through the day.

Tien Beach at Koh Larn

Tien Beach at Koh Larn

Tien Beach at Koh Larn

Another alternative to the dirty Pattaya beach, is Sai Kaew Beach, about 30 min drive south. It is situated in a military area, so in order to drive through, the driver has to hand in an ID. From the parking lot, there is a shuttle driving continously to the beach. The beach is clean, the water clear and cooling. There is a 100 Baht fee per person (50 for children) to enter, and deck chairs can be rented for 30 Baht. Toilets and showers are available, as well as a few restaurants. Or if you prefer to bring your own food, there are picknic tables scattered around. Or do as most of the locals; relax under the shade of the trees.

Sai Kaew Beach outside Pattaya, Thailand

Sai Kaew Beach outside Pattaya.

Experienced in April 2015. 

One night in Bangkok

Oh, I had been longing for you! It had been 10 years. 11 years since we were going steady. It was about time to have one night in Bangkok….

The night starts by sunset. In our case, it was enjoyed at Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar at the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit. When two of my favorite things are sunsets and views, it could not fail! From the 49th floor, we could spot the tall (and the small) buildings spread out as far as the eye could see, until the soft pink-orange light dimmed it all out.
Sunset in Bangkok seen from Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar at the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit Bangkok by night seen from Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar at the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit
After dark, it was time for some food. Real street food! Just across the street, we found Sukhumvit Soi 38. Walking among the stalls with the smell of the food being prepared in the air, getting tempted by the different dishes and finally deciding which one of the small plastic stools to sit down on. I love it!
Street food in progresss A street with street food in Bangkok
Next stop; Sukhumvit Soi 11. Starting off, sitting under the trees outside the relaxed Suk11 Hostel, trying to cool down sipping a cold beer, fighting to sit closest to the fan. A Thai friend of mine was in the neighborhood, and invited us to meet her at Oskar Bistro. Arriving the stylish air-conditioned bar felt like a completely different world. And, they had good wine! Even though I really love cold beer, I must admit I had reached a point when I really wanted something else to drink. The others felt the exact same way, so now we were in heaven! Throughout the night, people came and went, a good mix of locals, expats and travelers.

Let me remind you: I was partly on a trip down memory lane, so our last stop was the backpacker street Khao San Road. I was honestly shocked how much it has changed. Definitely not for the better. The street was completely overcrowded, packed with stalls selling cheesy t-shirts or fried bugs (ok, I must admit I have tried those before…). And drunk people. To be fair, I was 10-11 years younger last time I was there, but I really do not think I would have liked it now at that age either. We almost left instantly, but since we were there, we sat down for one beer, embracing ourselves for the hassle agreeing on a price for the taxi. The taxi drivers are so aware that many of the people staying in Khao San Road has no idea of the taxi prices, so they are refusing to use the meter in order to be able to charge far more. Eventually we ended up in a tuktuk. Still overpriced, though…
Crowded street in Khao San Road

Where to stay:
The Atlanta Hotel is a hidden gem at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 2. If you are looking for a fancy hotel, keep looking. However, if you are looking for a place with character and charm, where time has stood still since the 50’s, look no further. The rooms are very basic, but then again, you will not spend much time there anyway.
The lobby at The Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok The hall at The Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok The swimming pool at The Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok The room at The Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok

Experienced in April 2015. 

The good memories of Koh Samet

Koh Samet. I had been longing to get back since I last stepped foot on this, for me, paradise island. It has been 11 years. Time goes by quickly, and so does development. I was actually not sure now if I wanted to come back or not. Torn between the feeling of keeping all these fantastic memories, fearing it had changed too much, and the lust to see for myself how it was like now.

When you wish upon a star...

When you wish upon a star…

Decision was made while drinking an ice-cold beer while the sun was setting at Koh Chang. I wanted to do the same at Koh Samet, maybe one last time. That is a thing about travelling. You quite often never know if you will arrive back to the same place ever again. Sometimes that is ok. Other times, you just know that you absolutely have to return. And actually do just that.

We swam the sea, dozed at the beach, getting the tiny chalk white sand everywhere. Ran after the frisbee getting caught by the wind, and played cards in the shade. We shared our first “bucket of fun” sitting on mats at the beach. Partied until late night, sang karaoke with the locals (or tried to, but they wanted to sing themselves all the time). Feeling seasick on a boat trip (or, the heavy night before was probably to blame…), while only one of us was very eager to fish. Sitting at the beach studying for our exams, before rewarding ourselves with an ice cold Singha as the sun was setting. And last, but certainly not least, enjoying the beyond words fantastic bbq at Jep’s. This was actually the last detail that made me decide I could not just pass on the opportunity to get back. I booked the last bungalow available at Jep’s Bungalow. No turning back then!

Things certainly has changed. The pier at the mainland was much more developed, with a designated desk for booking accommodation if you have not arranged that already. Boats are more frequent and even speedboats are available. We wanted to get the most of our stay as we only had one night, so the latter option was our choice. The price was 200 Baht per person, and we were even dropped right at the beach in front of Jep’s.  Several of the resorts I spotted on our 15 minute journey did not exist the last time I was here, and the beach was certainly more crowded. However, Jep’s Restaurant still looked the same, with the colorful stars hanging from the trees, the relaxing ambiance and old hits (mainly love songs) playing continuously.

The bungalows on the other hand were not at all the same. The old wooden ones we stayed in has been replaced with newer ones in brick, and it seems they are doing quite some renovating at the premises. The beach was luring, so we threw ourselves in the water, happy to learn it was not as shallow as the three other islands. Perfect!
Enjoying at Jep's beach on Koh Samet

Enjoying the great atmosphere at Jep's on Koh Samet

Enjoying the great atmosphere at Jep’s Restaurant on Koh Samet.

The beach in front of Jep's on Koh Samet

The beach in front of Jep’s.

Calm atmosphere on Koh Samet

Beach activities on Koh Samet

Beach activities on Koh Samet.

So, here I am again, sitting at the beach, on a trip down memory lane. The sun is about to set, and I am sipping a nice and cold Singha. Life is good!

Dog and Singha at the beach by Jep's on Koh Samet

Let’s just hope the bbq is as good as I remember as well….

Want an update? Well. Dinner was not as good as I remembered. First, the food on display did not look tempting at all, but then again it is good that it is not put out in the heat. Ordering grilled kebab with baked potato and grilled corn. It looked quite good, but sadly the taste did not live up to the expectations. However, we went for a walk before dinner, and saw several other alternative places to eat. And, cozy places to drink. All in all I am glad I went back, and would recommend to go for a few days. Just plan ahead and avoid the crowded beaches…

Kebab at Jep's on Koh Samet

The Kebab at Jep’sRestaurant on Koh Samet. That was not as tasty as I remembered…

Lights at Jep's on Koh Samet

The beach bar on Koh Samet I think I shared my first bucket of fun

The beach bar on Koh Samet I think I shared my first bucket of fun.

Beach bar at Koh Samet

If you wish to party on Koh Samet

If you wish to party.

If you wish to party even more on Koh Samet

If you wish to party even more…

How to get to Koh Samet:
From Ban Phe/Nuanthip pier you can either take the “big boat”, a public speed boat, or a private boat. The “big boat” run every hour on the hour from 08.00. It takes 45 minutes to Nadan pier and cost 50 Baht per person. The public speedboat has three departures daily. It cost 200 Baht per person. The speedboats let you of at the beach directly in front of your accommodation. Bear in mind you have to wade from the boat to the beach. For us it took 15 minutes to Ao Tubtim beach.
Buses from and to Bangkok (Ekkamai bus station) run almost every hour. Mini buses are also available.
Arriving from Koh Chang, there are a few buses daily.

Arriving directly at the beach by Jep's on Koh Samet

Arriving directly at the beach by Jep’s.

The main pier on Koh Samet

The main pier on Koh Samet.


And a pink boat from Koh Samet

Fishing boats

Fishing boats by the mainland.

Experienced in April 2015. 

Koh Chang

Beach at Siam Bay Resort, Koh Chang
I was a bit curious to see how much Koh Chang had changed since I visited 11 years ago. Back than it was not very developed, but the plans were certainly already made. Quite a lot was of course different, with many new hotels and places to stay, and the roads were absolutely better. Still I did not feel it was over crowded. At least not where we were staying.

At Koh Wai we met a woman just coming from Koh Chang, giving us a few tips where to stay. So getting on shore, we had already made up our mind where to tell the driver to take us. Again, the transfer was included in the boat ticket. Very practical.

Lonely Beach is everything but lonely, and is the main destination for backpackers. As we did not want to live in the party area, we had decided to stay at Siam Bay Resort, a little bit in the outskirts. On the map, it looked like it was situated just between Lonely Beach and Kai Bae Beach. To be honest I thought it was possible to walk along the beach from our place to Lonely Beach, but that was wrong. Not that it was a big problem; we just had to take a taxi to get around.

There are many things to do at Koh Chang, but to sum up out two days; beach, swim, book, good food, beer and beach strolling…

See what other activities you can do at Koh Chang.

Have you been to Koh Chang? How was your experience?

Beach view at Siam Bay Resort, Koh Chang Reading in the shade

This little fellow crawled on to my leg...

This little fellow crawled on to my leg…

The hard Singha life...

Stairs up to our room at Siam Bay Resort, Koh Chang

Stairs up to our room at Siam Bay Resort.

View from our room at Siam Bay Resort, Koh Chang

View from our room.

Nice Thai food

Too many bookings. Taking a nap!

Too many bookings. Taking a nap!

Experienced in April 2015. 

Koh Wai: the beautiful and relaxing paradise. But hot as hell!

Taking a speedboat directly from the pier at Dusita in Koh Kood strait to the pier by Good Feeling in Koh Wai, was nice and smooth.

The bungalows are about 5 min walk from the reception at the pier, at the end of a narrow rocky path. The small huts are located at a beautiful and calm beach, away from the hordes of day-trippers that come for snorkeling. In that sense, the location is just perfect. The only downside is that they are very basic with no fans, so the room gets crazy hot during the night. They do have private bathroom and shower, though the water pressure was basically non-existing. However, you will survive for a few days cleaning off in the crystal clear sea right at your doorstep. It’s not like you have to get all dressed up and nice here anyway!
The bungalow bay at Good Feeling at Koh Wai, Thailand Our bungalow at Good Feeling at Koh Wai, Thailand The beach at Good Feeling before the day-trippers arive at Koh Wai, Thailand Daytrippers on Koh Wai, ThailandCooling down with a night swim before getting to bed was a great idea, and lying down I actually thought it would not be too bad after all. Listening to the waves hitting the beach in a calming constant rhythm made me doze off. Sadly, I woke up again after a short while, nice and sweaty.

Yes, it really is a good feeling sitting in the shade at the porch of your bungalow. Watching the different shades of colors in the calm sea. Listening to the water against the white, sandy beach. And every now and then, getting up, walking the few steps over the heated sand until your toes are surrounded by water. Wading in the shallow sea for a while before it is deep enough to lie down, letting the cooling (ok, maybe not really very cooling….) water embrace your body. The almost shivering feeling when a cold stream finds its way passed you, but only for a blink of an eye, as it disappears just as fast. Forgetting everything else than what is here and now.

So I do agree. The place really lives up to its name. At least during daytime.
Nice view from our bungalow at Good Feeling at Koh Wai, Thailand Peaceful outside our bungalow at Good Feeling at Koh Wai, Thailand Afternoon view from our bungalow at Good Feeling at Koh Wai, Thailand

 

Experienced in April 2015. 

The easy life at Koh Kood

Koh Kood, or Koh Kut, was for me an unknown island, and I was excited to experience it. The island is fairly large, actually the 4th largest in Thailand, and is situated in the eastern part, just a short boat ride from Trat.

Boonsiri Catamaran left from Leam Sok pier outside Trat at 10.45 for the 90 minutes crossing. Upon arrival at Koh Kood, we were guided to a car taking us to Dusita Resort. This service was included in the boat ticket.

Sitting on the songthaew, driving fast through the hilly landscape, at some points giving the feeling of being on a roller coaster, gave at least a small impression of the island. Stopping along the way to let off other passengers, we got further insight for just a few minutes. Stopping at one of the places (that we later learned was Tinkerbell) we turned to each other and there was a mutual understanding that we wanted to go there during our stay. Luckily, it turned out our beach was not too far away.

Dusita Resort is situated around a huge lawn, with bungalows along the backside overlooking the green field with occasional coconut trees, and the long-stretched white beach between that and the clear blue sea. Framed by the rocky bay on one side, and the curved beach with palm trees stretching over the water on the other, made it picture perfect! And with the sun setting directly in the ocean horizon, nothing could spoil that moment. Except the mosquito. But, I did not notice their presence before after. Those sneaky bastards!
If I could offer you only one tip for the trip; mosquito repellent would be it!
Bungalow at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood Bedroom at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood Bathroom at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood Common area at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood The beach at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood View of the beach at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood A nice spot at the beach at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood Sunset swim at Koh Kood
We sneaked back to the bungalow for a quick shower in the cozy half-outdoor bathroom, before enjoying genuine and tasty Thai food for dinner. Actually we ended up having most of our meals here. Partly because it was convenient, and partly because they had so much to choose from, and we felt we scored each time. However, I always feel I have to try different places, so one evening we walked to the nearby village, and another to Horizon resort next door. They also have a nice bar overlooking the sunset. We, on the other hand, enjoyed all the sunsets partly sitting in the sand at the beach, or floating or sitting covered in the water.

As my last trips have been more active, I found myself restless. The continuously need for swimming to cool down certainly helped though. But after walking the beach a few times, photographing the palms from all possible angles, time had come to rent kayaks. Our goal; the dream beach just a few bays away.
Palms at the beach at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood Palm at the beach at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood The pier at Dusita Resort, Koh Kood Time for some kayaking at Dusita Resort, Koh KoodPaddling passed the small delta and the resort we renamed the party place the night before, we saw land (ahoy!) and the beach by Tinkerbell. At that stage, our stomach told us it was time to eat. Honestly, the food and prices were much better at Dusita. But the view and ambiance is a different thing though.
Paddling at Koh Kood The beach by Tinkerbell at Koh Kood Lunch view at Tinkerbell at Koh Kood
Hanging around at the beach for a short while after lunch, I decided to explore a bit, paddling along the mangroves. It was a nice (but very hot) trip, so I really wished I had brought some cash with me for a cold drink at one of the places along the way (there you go, tip #2…). As the water here is sheltered from the wind and therefor very calm, it is suitable for both experienced and beginners.
Paddling along the mangroves at Koh Kood Paddling during sunset at Koh Kood
The rest of the way along the beach was a bit more rough, but I arrived back just in time for our last sunset, and the hungry mosquitoes.
Another sunset at Koh Kood
Find out how to get from Trat to Koh Kood.

Experienced in April 2015. 

Trat – the starting point to go to Koh Kut/Koh Kood

For travelers Trat is mainly a stopover on the way to Koh Chang, Koh Kut/Koh Kood and Koh Mak, or to Cambodia.

Arriving in the evening, there was not much going on. Almost everything was closed, but my friend was here last weekend, and knew a nice place in a back alley that was open. Uncle Jong is both a hostel and restaurant with reasonable prices. As we had already checked in at Chivapuri Residence we did not stay there, but it is absolute worth checking out. Especially if you are just passing by and need a place to eat and sleep. Food range from 40-70 Baht, and a double room is 350. The food was tasty and the staff very friendly.

Our room at Chivapuri Residence in Trat

Our room at Chivapuri Residence.

Uncle Jong in Trat

Uncle Jong

To be honest, we assumed that the boat to Koh Kut/Koh Kood would leave in the morning, but sadly, we were wrong. Both Ko Kut Express and Koh Kood Princess depart at 12.30, but luckily we were told about the new company Boonsiri Catamaran leaving earlier. Some said it left at 9.00, others 10.00. Where we bought the ticket they said 10.30, but when we actually got to the meeting point for departure, the sign said 10.45. To be fair, the companies offer pick up in Trat included in the ticket, so they might have given us the pick-up times, but still. Just make sure to double check.

Boonsiri Catamaran leave from Leam Sok, so make sure you get to the right spot. As my friend has her own car, we drove ourselves, and were a bit off course before we found it. We had actually driven passed it, but as the parking was not by the water, we kept looking. Parking is charged 50 Baht per day.

To be absolutely sure to get on the boat, we had bought the tickets from our hotel. However, you can also buy them directly at the ticket office/waiting area where we parked the car. From there we were transported to the pier. Everything worked nice and smooth, after we figured out the departure time, that is. The journey pier to pier from Trat to Koh Kood/Kut took 90 minutes. Arriving on the island, we were transported for free to Dusita Resort, where we had booked our accommodation.

Facts and prices:

Company Departure Price
Boonsiri Catamaran 10.45 & 14.00 500 Baht
Ko Kut Express 12.30 350 Baht
Koh Kood Princess 12.30 350 Baht
Boonsiri Catamaran between Trat and Koh Kood/Koh Kut

Boonsiri Catamaran between Trat and Koh Kood/Koh Kut.

Package tours are also offered directly from Bangkok to Koh Kood/Kut, so the later departures are perfectly timed for that.

Please note that these were the facts in April 2015, so double check the web sites added above for updated details.

Experienced in April 2015.