THE ASIA DIARIES #12 (AND FINAL): KOH PHANGAN
001. After a busy week in Bangkok we flew down to the south of Thailand, landing in Surat Thani. Before talking about the exciting part of our adventures down south I just want to make a point about flying in and out of Surat Thani and how much CHEAPER it is. Basically Surat Thani is this Thai town on the mainland, and a great point to fly into if you are interested in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao. There is an airport on Koh Samui itself but flights are double the price of Surat Thani. It is easy peasy to organise one of the many buses that go directly from the airport or from the main part of town to take you down to the ferry ports, then hop on over to the islands. Plus, even adding on this extra transport it is still cheaper than flying to Koh Samui by far! We flew in and out of Surat Thani and opted to stay overnight each time because of the time our flights left. We stayed at a place called Sabye D Resort, it was so damn cheap and luxurious. Extra bonus points for being right next-door to a 7/11, roadside food stalls and walking distance to a bus centre.
002. Okay moving on to the exciting part now… Koh Phangan! This was our last destination in our 3 month trip around Asia and we were pretty damn excited to soak up the sun, sand and crystal clear water because it had been 2 months since we last stepped foot on a beach. Koh Phangan is famous for its full moon party, however don’t let that steer you away from this beautiful island if the party thing isn’t your scene. The parties are mainly focused around Haad Rin at the south side of the island. We stayed along the north/west coast for the duration of our stay and it had awesome vibes. Loads of hippy, health conscious and well being focused places. Seriously the vegan food on this island was incredible and definitely in abundance. For our first week we stayed in a bungalow on top of a hill at Haad Yao, in a place called JB Hut Bungalows. It was a lovely family run place with basic and affordable bungalows overlooking the ocean. We were there in peak season, so finding a nice place under $25 a night in this very touristy island was a miracle! Had Yao beach was really nice, but had a lot of upmarket accommodation along the shoreline, each with its own shoreline restaurants. We enjoyed our stay for the week there, but opted to explore a bit further north to find somewhere quieter for our second place to stay.
003. We rented out a little motorbike for a few days of our stay. It was really handy to discover and check out some new beaches. In all honesty though, neither Ben or myself were very confident riding it. Even though LOADS of tourists get them, we really weren't interested in riding around all day to find new things. It was our last week in Asia and we were far more excited to get some snorkels, swim out to find some coral, and lay in the sand all day sipping on fruit shakes. So that is exactly what we did! For the second week of our stay we ventured further north to a beach called Mae Haad. It still had a lot of accommodation options but was a lot quieter than Haad Yao. The beach was beautiful and there was a small island just off the shore that you could snorkel to or even walk to if the tide was low. For this week we stayed at a slightly more expensive place (at about $30 a night) because it was our last week of this marathon trip. We had aircon, a really nice bathroom, a mini bar fridge and room service every day at Mae Haad Garden Inn. I would 10/10 recommend this little place and the entire area of Mae Haad. On top of having the beach a short walk from our room, we also had Wangsai Waterfall next door. Whilst it was only small, it was a nice place to go for even more peace and quiet when you got sick of the sand. The restaurant located at the front of the waterfall along the street was our favourite place to eat. Although it was often very quiet, the food was cheap, delicious and made of huge portions. Plus the little lady running the place was so kind! One night she even made Ben and myself a special vegan Thai dessert for free, and gave us free bananas at the end of each meal too! We always walked away with full bellies and big smiles. Just little things like the kindness of these people is what made Asia so special for me.
004. I went backpacking through Asia for three months with my best friend and I can honestly say I have never felt as inexplicably free as I did in those three months. Waking up each day with no plan, no responsibilities, no expectations was the best feeling. Working for months beforehand in soul sucking jobs didn’t even seem to matter anymore. I would do it all over again 100%! We left Australia with a little more than $5,000 in our pockets, no plan, and were rewarded with the most incredible experiences we could have ever imagined. The people of South East Asia are so genuinely warm, welcoming and friendly wherever you go. I really think there is a stigma in Western culture that people are never completely happy and always wanting more, but I came to realise that in the countries we visited the people who had the least were always the kindest and the happiest. Travel is good for the soul and I urge everyone to get out there and see the world. Somewhere, ANYWHERE, it doesn’t matter. Just get out there and do it! Travelling really is the most incredible thing in the world and it makes you appreciate how really magical this earth is.
005. I guess that's it for this Asia series... I hope that you enjoyed reading along with my travels! Time to go on more adventures now hey?