Gadabout's Corner

Bird of passage

Category: Islands (Page 1 of 2)

KOH PHANGAN: An Island in the Gulf of Thailand

Koh Phangan is one of the most popular islands in Thailand. Not only because it houses the world’s famous party but also because of what it has to offer naturally. It’s a place for all preferences. There’s something for everyone.

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It’s very close to Koh Samui and they share similar features, especially the weather and transportation.

You could check out my previous post about Koh Samui here.

Top Beaches in Koh Phangan
  • Mae Haad Beach
  • Koh Ma
  • Chaloklum Bay
  • Thong Nai Pan
  • Haad Thong Reng
  • Haad Nam Tok
  • Haad Rin
  • Baan Tai

The sand bar of Mae Haad Beach links the main island with Ma Island.

 

The clear water in the area of Koh Ma.

 

The beach by the main pier at Thong Sala in Koh Phangan is a great place to relax after the journey or before saying goodbye to this island.

 

Baan Tai Beach taken with an analog camera; Minolta A3

 

 The finest sand of Baan Tai Beach

This amazing sunset was shot at Baan Tai Beach area in front of our resort.

Top Waterfalls in Phangan
  • Paradise Waterfall
  • Thaan Prawet Waterfall
  • Thaan Sadet Waterfall
  • Thaan Praphad Waterfall
  • Phaeng Waterfall

Phaeng Waterfall

Activities that You Should Try While in Phangan
  • Full Moon Party at Haad Rin
  • Wakeboarding at Wake Up! Wakeboarding
  • Wipeout at the Challenge Koh Phangan
  • Daytime party at Slip N Fly
  • Kiteboarding with Breeze Kiteboarding

 

 

These things make Koh Phangan so special and I can confidently say that you’ll never get enough of this island.

Please click here to read the full article.

 

 

 

 

 

KOH SAMUI: An Island in the Gulf of Thailand

Koh Samui is one of the very famous islands, mainly because there is everything for everyone. Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and it houses all the good things, from lit parties to buddhist temples and fishing village. It can be a bit confusing, so let us help you through it.

 

When to go?

Samui features a tropical climate so it’s pretty humid and warm all year round with the average temperature of 28 degree Celsius. The driest months with least rainfall would be February to April, whereas months with heaviest rainfall are September to November. Though, the rest of the year, some rain is expected.

 

How to get there?

1. Plane

There is an airport in Koh Samui (USM) in which you could fly directly from Bangkok, other domestic cities and from few other countries as well. There are also few airports nearby, like the ones in Chumpon and Surat Thani.

2. Ferries

  • Seatran Ferry
    • Donsak – Nathon
  • Raja Ferry
    • Donsak – Lipa Noi

There are 2 ferry services from Surat Thani to Koh Samui, which both of them operate hourly from 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. and journeys are about 1 hour 30 minutes. Ferry is good for those who are connecting from closer towns or for those with vehicles.

Seatran Ferry takes you between Donsak pier in Surat Thani and Nathon pier in Koh Samui. Meanwhile, Raja Ferry Port takes you between Donsak pier and Lipa Noi pier in Koh Samui.

3. High Speed Catamaran

                                                        Lomprayah’s High Speed Catamaran

Lomprayah is a company that operates High Speed Catamaran between many tourist destinations, including Samui Island. The service of Lomprayah includes all transits like airport transfer, buses, trains and piers. They offer many routes and tours to choose from as well.

Lomprayah also offers free transfers and pick-ups between your hotels and the piers for those who book the ticket through their official website; www.lomprayah.com. This kind service is only for those in Koh Samui.

 

How to get around?

1. Airport Transfer

There are several van services that take you and other passengers to hotels and they are always there for all flights.

2. Public Buses

Buses in Koh Samui are red pick-ups with specific route labeled. These local buses costs around 20 baht to 100 baht, depending on the distance. However, they do charge a bit more during the night hours. Remember to check the price with the driver before you hop on.

3. Songthaews (Taxis)

These Taxis look pretty much the same as local buses but they have no sign of their specific routes. These Songthaews have no fixed price and they don’t work with metres, so you’ll have to negotiate with the driver before you hop on. This could be a cheaper alternative if you have a lot of companies.

5. NaviGo Samui

This is a mobile Taxi application, just like Uber. It’s a cheaper alternative as fares are metered. It’s a very convenience option for those with Internet data.

6. Motorbikes

You can rent motorbikes with many rental providers and it shouldn’t cost you more than 200 baht for a day. To rent one, the provider will usually take your passport as the deposit. There are many gas stations and shops that sell gasoline by bottles around the island.

7. Bicycles

They are few bicycle rental places in Samui and there are even areas where there is proper bicycle lane.

8. Cars

If you are traveling in a big group or with family and you plan to go around the island a lot, then you might want to consider car rental. They are many providers, including Avis. Fares should be around 1,300 baht to 1,500 for a day. Again, they might take your passport as the deposit.

 

Where to go?

  • Chaweng Beach
    • Green Mango Street
    • Paris Follies Cabaret
    • Ark Bar Beach Resort
    • Football Golf Club
    • Aquapark
    • Wat Khao Hua Jook Temple
    • Central Festival
    • Chaweng Night Market
  • Lamai Beach
    • Grandmother and Grandfather Rock (Hin Ta and Hin Yai)
    • Thong Takian Beach (Silver Beach)
      • Snorkeling
  • Mae Nam Beach
    • Pink Elephant Samui Water Park
  • Bo Phut Beach
    • Wat Phra Yai Temple (Big Buddha Temple)
    • Lad Koh Viewpoint
    • Fisherman’s Village Walking Street
    • Coco Tams
  • Laem Set Beach
  • Taling Ngam Beach
  • Hin Lad Waterfall
  • Na Muang Waterfalls

The most popular beach of Samui is definitely Chaweng Beach. Apart from great sand range, it’s also the house of all big parties and nightclubs, especially at Green Mango Street. You might also want to check out Paris Follies Cabaret.

The most famous bar is also here; the Ark Bar Beach Resort. You don’t have to stay here to enjoy the best party on the island. This is the place if you want to chill and drink around pool table with your mates. You can even arrange your own tournament. But when you are ready, the beach dance floor is all yours. They even have the fire dance show!

 

If you are up for some fun, you might want to spend your time at Football Golf Club. Here, you don’t use club to hit the ball, you just kick it. It’s really simple and good for everyone. But, if you want to stay on the beach and surrounded by warm water then you might like Aquapark. There are massive inflatables, which are not only great for kids.

However, if you want a little bit of culture, you might want to visit Wat Khao Hua Jook Temple. The pagoda stands tall and elegant. This place also offers a great view of the beach.

But if the heat becomes too much and you want to be inside an air-conditioned shopping complex, then you could spend few hours shopping or eating at Central Festival Koh Samui. However, if you are looking for cheaper and great food then Chaweng Night Market is a place for you. There are street foods, drinks and souvenirs.

At Lamai Beach, there are also many bars and nightclubs but what makes Lamai famous are two genital-shaped rocks; Hin Ta and Hin Yai. These rocks form a small and transparent pool in the middle.

Within the area of Lamai, there is a small beach; Thong Takian Beach. It’s not very known, so there is not many people here. This is a golden secret location as you can bring your own snorkeling equipments and explore! There are also few scuba diving centres.

Mae Nam Beach is the quieter beach in Samui, so a walk along the beach is just amazing. Personally, I think this is the cleanest beach in Samui. In the area, there is Pink Elephant Samui Water Park. Again, it’s great for kids and for those who just want to drink beers and relax in an adult-only Jacuzzi area.

At Bo Phut Beach, there is Wat Phra Yai Temple, which is a place you shouldn’t miss. There is a massive buddha that can be seen from many viewpoints, but at this temple, by the Buddha, you can witness some great view as well.

However, for me the best viewpoint in Samui is the Lad Koh Viewpoint. This is because there are short trekking routes taking you from the road to the rocky curves and formations that you could carefully explore. It looks really good!

If you’re up for a more relaxed night out, Bo Phut is the place as there is the Fisherman’s Village. Here, you could spend your night walking around, getting some drinks and absorb evidences of fishermen’s life. The most amazing beach bar right by the village is the Coco Tams. It’s an easy-going place with tents, pillows, swings and beanbags for you to sit and relax. They also have shisha.

Leam Set Beach is one of the smaller beaches with little people. It has white sand area, but the water can be a bit tricky to swim as only 100 metres out in the water, there is a shallow coral reef. So, if you are not an expert or if you are with small kids, I’d suggest some sort of feet protection so you don’t cut yourself while swimming or snorkeling.

Taling Ngam Beach is another option for those who really want to relax. It’s about an hour by car away from other main beaches like Chaweng. Here, you can see more traditional houses and less luxurious resorts.

If you feel like switching into soaking up the fresh water, then there are 2 waterfalls in Samui for you. Firstly, Hin Lad Waterfall offers a small jungle trail and refreshing pool to sink in. It’s so much fun to explore the area and visit the Hin Lad Temple. Along the way, there are pretty walking paths.

The other bigger waterfall is Na Muang Falls. It’s massive! You’ll enjoy swimming, hiking, picnicking and seeing some animals as well.

 

 

 

 

 

MALDIVES on a Budget: Malé City and Non-resort Islands

Maldives is one of the luxurious destinations for holiday. I’m lucky to be able to say that there’s one big tick off my bucket list. However, I guess many of us could agree that one of the factor holding us against this dreamy place are those bills. It’s expensive!

BUT it is possible to stay in Maldives on a budget, which is a better way to explore the Maldivian culture together with its great scenarios. You can do this by living with locals and explore places where Maldivians go.

Malé City

Apart from being the capital city of Maldives with probably more Maldivians than anywhere else, it is also the easiest place to go after arriving at the Hulhulé Airport. The most convenience way to go to Malé from the Airport is by Airport ferry service. To travel to other islands, it is fairly cheap and easy to use local’s Dhonis that departs from various jetties, depending on your destinations.

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The city itself is not very big. It is possible to slowly explore the whole city by walking. I’m not the best walker and I spent about 3 hours walking around the whole town, stopping at small groceries for some drinks and at some souvenir shops for small shopping sessions. Apart from saving some money, it’s also a good way to see around. It is possible to get a taxi, which is not too expensive. It shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to get anywhere within the city despite the traffic. The maximum price for each journey is about 4 US dollars if you need bigger car for your luggages.

Places to visit in Malé City
  • Islamic Centre and The Grand Friday Mosque
    • Free entry
    • Open 24 hours, except prayer times
  • Hukuru Miskiiy (The Old Friday Mosque)
    • Free entry
    • Open 24 hours, except prayer times
  • Medhu Ziyaaraiy Shrine
    • Free entry
    • Open 24 hours
  • Maldivian Royal Palace, Sultan Park and National Museum
    • Entry: 100 RF
    • Sunday – Thursday
      • 10 am – 5 pm
  • Parliament
  • Local market
  • Fish market
  • Souvenir shops
  • Artificial beach

Islamic Centre is probably the first attraction you’ll see because it’s right by the main jetty and you can’t really miss the golden domes standing out among other buildings. Inside this beautiful architecture, you’ll be amazed by the ancient vibe from old calligraphy. It’s a house of the Grand Friday Mosque, which is one of the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia. It also houses conference hall and Islamic library.

Hukuru Miskiiy or the Old Friday Mosque is one of the oldest mosque, made of wood and coral stone. It’s filled with ancient tombstones of nation’s heroes like sultans and nobles.

Medhu Ziyaaraiy Shrine is a small white and blue tomb of Abdul Barakat Yoosuf Al Barbary, who brought Islam to the country.

National Museum is a very interesting place. This museum carries many objects that I’ve never seen before and many of them I don’t even know what they are for. I believe it’s because I don’t get a chance to learn or see much about things related to Sultans and I do believe it’s not a common thing for many other tourists as well. The museum is located inside the Sultan Park, which also houses Maldivian Royal Palace. The palace was an official residence of the President of the Maldives.

Meanwhile wandering along the waterfront, keep an eye out for the Parliament. It’s an elegant architecture that faces the shore, directly to the crystal clear water of the Indian Ocean.

Local Market is probably the best place to visit in the morning maybe before your journey to other islands as it’s only few minutes away from Ferry jetty and maybe you want to get yourself some snacks for the trip. There are various fruits and veggies I’ve never seen before and there are some good jams, nuts and dried meats to try. It’s a good place to localize yourself with local products and people’s routines.

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Right in front of the Local Market is the Fish Market, where it’s a lot more energetic. There are people constantly carrying big tunas or basket filled with fish walking around, telling you to mind their way or trying to do some business with you. It’s obviously not as quiet as the Local Market. Also, just across the street, there are local Dhonis parked and awaited. It’s a beautiful spot to take some photos of the colorful boats with blue background.

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If you want to get some gifts or buy some local arts and crafts, I would recommend going to Majeedhee Magu or Chaandhanee Magu. These are streets where there are lots of souvenir shops to buy yourself some cute little dhonis or coconut chocolate.

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Lastly, I don’t think you can miss the Artificial Beach, as it’s the place where you’ll find locals hanging around, eating, skating or exercising. In some mornings, there would be a group of ladies doing the water aerobics. Also, there is a place for you to shower, which can be really convenience if you already checked out of your accommodation and you just want to freshen up a tad.

However, it’s is really important to respect these places and their people. Remember to dress conservatively while exploring the city.

Local Islands
  • Himmafushi
  • Dhigurah
  • Maafushi
  • Mahibaadhoo
  • Dhiffushi
  • Villingili
  • Thilafushi

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These are some of the islands where local people go to enjoy the breeze and water. They are reachable by ferries or speedboat services. It’s important to check the service’s schedule. However, some of the islands are for living, while some of them are specifically for holidays.

Villingili is one of the later type of islands. It’s probably the easiest one to go from the city. You can easily go there by local ferry service and it runs frequently. It’s where you can be relaxing or be more excited with some water sports and activities. You could enjoy jet skiing, paddle boarding, banana-boating, windsurfing or even flyboarding and many more. The one I went to is at the One Love Beach and the people there are really nice. They even teach you if you are not familiar with these activities.

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Thilafushi is a very interesting one. It’s an artificial island to serve as the country’s landfill. It’s Maldives’ bin. If you decide to go there, make sure you have a scarf or something that would protect you from directly breathing in the strong smell.

Homestay with Airbnb

One of the best way to get a place to sleep, eat local food and enjoy fun activities within a budget is homestay. There are many options available on Airbnb. There are chances you might be able to participate in their activities like cooking or even fishing.

Sleeping at the Airport

If you are going sleep at the Airport, maybe because you just want to save some money for a night or because you landed late, here are what you will need to know:

  • no bed
  • no air-conditioning
  • no shower
  • mosquitoes
  • shops for food and drink do not open 24 hours
  • luggage storage
  • spa

I spent a night sleeping at the Airport and it wasn’t bad. There are 24 hours security and there is a place where you can pay to store each of your luggages. If you fancy a shower, you will have to pay the spa shop. If you want to grab some food but the shops are closed then you might want to take a ferry to the city and grab something from there. Lastly, use insect repellent as there are flies and mosquitoes.

Now that you know the cheaper way to do it, I hope that you are motivated to go there, otherwise go on Instagram and search for pictures of cute couple showing off their tan that pop against the white sand beach.

 

 

 

 

 

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