Thailand

If you could list all the elements of your perfect holiday destination, they would probably include idyllic, unspoilt beaches, turquoise seas and pure, white sands. Perhaps it would also mention the odd bustling city with exotic markets and a vibrant, colourful nightlife. Well, that just about sums up Thailand and would account for why it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations for the adventurous and young at heart.

Thailand appeals to a wide variety of travellers, from those looking for pure luxury to back packers. Its vast array of islands such as Phi Phi, Phuket and the ‘coconut island’ of Ko Samui and resorts offer something for everyone whatever their budget.

Famed for its outstanding beaches and resorts from Hua Hin and Pattaya to the secluded sands of Koh Chang near Cambodia and the famous full-moon parties of Koh Phang-Nga, Thailand offers its visitors relaxation and lasting memories.

But its not just sun and sand, there is the wonderfully rich and accessible culture to explore, from the temples of Bangkok to the hill tribes of Chiang Mai.  
Add to all this delicious food and a perfect climate and you too will fall in love with this exciting and hospitable country.

The December 2004 tsunami greatly damaged some towns and resorts on the west coast of Thailand, with the loss of hundreds of lives. Most of the affected areas have recovered (on the surface anyway) remarkably quickly. Many resorts, like Phuket, are pretty much back to normal while the coast of Khao Lak and Phi Phi are welcoming visitors but still have a fair amount of visible damage.  

The currency in Thailand is the Bhat (THB). Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks (which give the best rates), hotels (charge high commissions) and bureau de changes which are found in the larger towns. Notes higher than 500 Bhat may be difficult to change so make sure you always carry small change.

American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are all widely accepted and ATMs are available in the major cities and most provincial banks. Traveller’s cheques are accepted in all banks, large hotels and shops. To avoid additional exchange rate charges always carry either sterling, US dollar or euro traveller’s cheques.

 

Bangkok

Introduction

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is very much a marmite city – you either love it or you hate it. Divided by the Chao Phraya River it is nestled in one of the world's most fertile rice-producing deltas.

Bangkok is criss-crossed by a series of canals carrying passengers and cargo and its roads clotted with endless traffic jams. The new Skytrain speeds above the city, providing visitors with a relaxed way to observe the hustle and bustle below.

It is polluted, overcrowded and noisy but most definitely one of Asia’s most exciting and vibrant cities. On the banks of the Chao Phraya visitors will find the Grand Palace as well as Wat Phra Kaew, the palace temple housing the Emerald Buddha, built entirely from translucent green jade.

The city offers its brave visitors many wondrous sights including the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the famous Floating Market. At night music and dazzling neon advertise a mix of trendy bars and nightclubs, as well as the notorious 'girlie joints' that have secured the Patpong district its reputation for hedonism.

Whatever your feelings towards it, Bangkok is a city that is larger than life. For some it’s frenetic pace, heat, traffic and overcrowding proves too much to bear whereas others find it intoxicating. There is no where else on earth where you’ll find ramshackle buildings next to exotic temples and delightful gardens which are overlooked by modern hotels and offices.

But amongst the hustle and bustle the traditional Thai life emerges when you spot a saffron-robed monk collecting alms, or whole communities living in stilt houses by the river. 

See & Do

Religion and royalty are very important to the people of Thailand and any ill judged humour or disrespect will be unwelcome. Also remember that when you are visiting temples to dress conservatively and use cameras with discretion.

Bangkok has numerous sights and attractions to keep visitors enthralled. It is impossible to name them all here, but below is a selection of a few to whet your appetite.


  • The Grand Palace
  • Wat Phra Kaeo & the Emerald Buddha
  • Wat Pho & the Reclining Buddha
  • Wat Trai Mit & the Golden Buddha
  • Thai Massage
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market
  • Khao San Road (Banglamphu)
  • Vimanmek Palace
  • The National Museum
  • Chao Phraya River
  • Thai Boxing
  • Chinatown
  • Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic)
  • Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
  • Jim Thompson Thai House
  • Royal Barge Museum
  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
  • Wat Suthat & the Giant Swing
  • Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
  • Children’s Discovery Museum
  • Dusit Zoo
  • Dusit Palace Park
  • Safari World

 

Shopping

Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise. You can shop ‘til you drop and it will also be fairly cheap (depending on where you go). Markets line almost every street selling anything and everything – and if you want a bargain, haggle.

Khao San Road is brimming with stalls selling a multitude of counterfeit goods while Woeng Nakhon Kasem (‘Thieves Market’) is great for antique porcelain, copperware and furniture. There are several night markets such as the one in Patpong – this is great fun but be warned, it is in the red light district so don’t be surprised to see touts and half naked women standing outside bars.

Chatuchak Market is the world’s biggest weekend market with over 9000 stalls selling a bewildering array of goods. If all this shopping is making you peckish, there are also numerous street food stalls but beware as some of the local delicacies may not be to your taste, such as deep fried locusts.

As you would expect with such a diverse city, along side the markets are also modern, glamorous shopping malls. One of the largest is Central World Plaza, others include MBK Shopping Centre, River City Shopping Complex and in Ploenchit and Rama I roads you will find very glitzy malls crammed with designer names, restaurants and cinemas.

One of the most popular areas for shopping is Siam Square – definitely aimed at the up-market, more affluent foreign visitor.

A Bangkok speciality is the inexpensive tailored clothing that is made to order within a few days. The best selection of tailors can be found in Sukhumvit and Khao San Roads.

Popular purchases are silk, silver and gold, gems, pearls, painted umbrellas and fans, ceramics, wicker work, wood carvings and leather goods.

 

Food & Drink

When it comes to eating, there is a wide variety and the restaurants are good value for money. There are numerous cuisines available so you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes – even the obligatory fast food outlets!

There are too many restaurants in the city to name them all here, so below are just a few of the best you might like to try.

  • Baan Khanitha, Sathorn
  • Thip Samai, Pranakorn
  • Chote Chitre, Tanao Road
  • Cabbages & Condoms, Soi
  • Silver Palace, Silom Road
  • Somboon, Suriwongse Road
  • Aoi, Silom Soi
  • Shin Daikoku, Sukhumvit Soi
  • Planet Bollywood, South Sathorn Road
  • Le Dalat Indochine, Sukhumvit Soi
  • Bali Restaurant, Sukhumvit
  • Ma Be Bam Soi Lang Suan
  • Breeze, Silom Road
  • Le Normandi, Oriental Avenue
  • Nippon-Tei, Ratchadanri Road
  • Phranakorn Bar & Gallery, Soi Damnoenklang Tai
  • The Mango Tree, Soi Tantawan

 

Entertainment

Bangkok has just about every type of evening entertainment you can think of; from bars and clubs, cultural dancing and theatre to the salaciousness of the Patpong (the red light district).

The biggest live music venue in the city is the IMPACT Arena. If you enjoy cultural performances and theatre, your best bet is to visit the National Theatre, Siam Niramit, Charoen Krung Royal Theatre or the Bangkok Playhouse.

There are many bars and clubs in Bangkok, many are quite westernised. Below are a few names you could look out for:

  • The Bull’s Head, Sukhumvit Soi
  • The Barbican, Silom
  • Irish X Change, Silom
  • The Dubliner, Sukhumvit Road
  • Tawan Daeng German Brewery, Rama III Road
  • Mingles, New Petchburi Road
  • Lumphini Night Bazaar (for outdoor beer gardens), Rama IV & Witthayu Roads
  • Narcissus, Surkhumvit Soi
  • Bedsupper Club, Sukhumvit Road
  • Concept CM2, Siam Square Soi
  • Lucifer, Patpong Soi
  • Bamboo Bar, Oriental Avenue
  • Saxophone Pub & Restaurant, Phyathai Road

For something completely different why not try and catch a bout of kick boxing (muay thai) at either the Lumpini or Ratchadamnoen stadiums.

There are also several events that happen throughout the year:

  • April – Songkan (Thai New Year)
  • May – The Royal Ploughing Ceremony
  • August – Queen Sirikit’s Birthday
  • October/December – Thai Beer Festival

 

Excursions

Bangkok is ideally placed to explore more of what this fascinating country has to offer. Your hotel will be able to tell you about possible excursions, but below are just a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Ayuthaya
  • Pattaya (Thailand’s most popular beach resort)
  • Nakon Pathon & authentic floating flea market
  • Kanchanaburi (location of the famous bridge over the River Kwai)
  • Damnoen Saduak & floating market
  • Rose Garden
  • Tiger Temple
  • Money Temple, Lopburi

 

Health & Safety

Do not drink the tap water in Bangkok as it can cause stomach upsets. Only use bottled water (even for teeth cleaning) which is inexpensive and widely available. Don’t have ice in your drinks and avoid eating fruit and vegetables that are unwashed or sold unpeeled. Also unpasteurised milk should be boiled before drinking and avoid any dairy product that contains unpasteurised milk.

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. The medical facilities in Bangkok are good but you are strongly advised to take out comprehensive medical insurance before travelling. You should also check with your GP before travelling for up to date immunisation information.

The city is very crowded so you should take care of your valuables and beware of pick pockets. Also never accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.

Drug offences are taken very seriously in Thailand. Possession or smuggling drugs carry heavy custodial sentences or even the death penalty. Therefore always pack your own bag and never agree to carry someone else’s bags for them.

 

 

Hua Hin

Introduction

Hua Hin lies on the east coast of Thailand in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province just to the south of the Thai capital, Bangkok.  

Hua Hin has already been the favourite Thai resort for over 70 years. It was discovered in the early 1920s by King Rama VII as an ideal getaway from stifling Bangkok. His Klai Kangwon (Far From Worries) Palace still remains as an official royal residence. It is still frequently used by members of the royal family and is open to the public for visits.  

In more recent years the number of international hotels has increased as Hua Hin has emerged as one of Thailand's most popular destinations amongst domestic and international visitors. You will be spoiled with slick hotels, top seafood restaurants and, of course, the knowledge that you are sharing a truly royal resort with the country's royal family.

But despite this modernisation Hua Hin still clings to the beachside atmosphere that first attracted royalty back in the ‘20s. In comparison to Pattaya, the other main beach destination near Bangkok, Hua Hin is quite tranquil, and is a favourite with families and older travellers.

There are no party-hard places here. Instead you can fill your days enjoying golf, horse riding, water sports and of course the stunning beach. When the sun goes down there’s an international restaurant scene to explore, rustic seafood restaurants on the pier to visit, or the simple culinary charms of one of Thailand’s best night markets to sample.

The city’s 5km of beaches are very clean, swimming is safe, and Hua Hin continues to enjoy some of the peninsula’s driest weather.  

 

See & Do

Hua Hin is mainly about the beach and the sea which is where most visitors spend their holiday. There are several beaches in the area, some closer than others. They all have restaurants so make a wonderful day out. They include:


  • Hua Hin beach
  • Cha-am beach (26km away)
  • Khao Takiab (7km away)
  • Suan Son (15 km away)
  • Khao Tao (secluded bay 20km away)
  • Phu Noi (45 minutes away)
  • Ao Manao (1 hour away)
  • Ban Krut (45 minutes away)

All of these offer a range of beach and water sports from volley ball to jet skiing, and pony rides to wind surfing. Other attractions include:

  • Koh Talu (an island ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling)
  • Karting
  • Fishing
  • Waghor Aquarium
  • Elephant Village
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Animal Park
  • Bowling alley
  • Cinema
  • Wat Hua Hin (temple)
  • Wat Bor Tai
  • Hua Hin night market
  • Chat Chai day market


 

Shopping

If you love to browse and haggle you’ll be in your element here. There are a number of informal stalls in and around the beaches. If you are after something a bit special head for the Naresdamri area for fine bespoke tailoring – but shop around, prices can vary considerably.

The night market in the centre of the town is a must. It runs daily from 6pm and is great for hawker food, clothing, wooden elephants and trinkets. However it is quite touristy so prices may be higher here than in other markets.

On the same site is the Chat Chai day market which sells fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. The weekend market at the Grand Hotel is always worth a browse (Thursday to Sunday from 5pm) for clothing, plants, pets, books, toys and tropical fish.

Finally there is the Pae Mai Tuesday market (near the railway) where you can pick up fresh produce, clothing, electrical goods, tools and household items.

Hua Hin Market Village is the town’s first major shopping mall. Situated 2km south of the centre of town it houses fashion outlets, a food court and local shops and stalls. There are recognisable names such as Tesco Lotus, Boots, KFC and Starbucks plus bowling alleys and a cinema.

 

Food & Drink

 

Most of the better hotels offer their own restaurants which serve international dishes. However many visitors like to enjoy a real taste of Thai from the various street food stalls that are dotted around the main beach area.

There are many other good restaurants dotted around the resort such as:

  • Baan Itsara
  • Brasserie de Paris
  • Choa Lay
  • Chat Chai Market
  • Hua Hin Thai Show
  • Maha Raja
  • Monsoon
  • Sasi
  • World News Coffee
  • Stefano’s Pizza
  • Ye Old Buffalo Tavern
  • O’Neills
  • Kim’s Kitchen
  • Coco 15
  • Pasta Factory

 

Entertainment

 

The nightlife in Hua Hin isn’t exactly rocking. There are no really major clubs to speak of but there is quite a good selection of bars, cafés and a few girlie bars. Here are a few names of bars and clubs you might like to check out during your stay:

  • Bernie’s
  • Crawford’s
  • Hua Hin Brewing Company
  • Hua Hin Meeting Point
  • Muay Thai
  • Romantic Bar
  • Nat Bar
  • Celtic Bar
  • Octopussy Bar
  • Johnny Walker’s Bar
  • The Ship Bar
  • Coconuts
  • Stepz
  • Star Planet
  • JJ’s Bar
  • Sunset Boulevard

If none of these appeal you can always try a cabaret night at the Blue Angel or a spot of karaoke.

There are also various events that take place in Hua Hin throughout the year. Here are just a few of them:

  • March – Hua Hin International Kite Festival (biannual)
  • June – Hua Hin Jazz Festival
  • August – Hua Hin Golf Festival
  • November – Food Festival
  • December – Hua Hin Vintage Car Rally

 

Excursions

 

As mentioned in the see and do section, there are numerous fabulous beaches near Hua Hin which are well worth a day trip. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of excursions that you can take; however below are just a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Pala-U Waterfall
  • Hin Lek Fai
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park

 

Health & Safety

Do not drink the tap water in Hua Hin or wash food in it, or clean your teeth. Only use bottled water which is inexpensive and widely available. Don’t have ice in your drinks and avoid eating fruit and vegetables that are unwashed or sold unpeeled. 

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. The medical facilities are good but you are strongly advised to take out comprehensive medical insurance before travelling. You should also check with your GP before travelling for up to date immunisation information.

You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially in crowded areas and never leave your belongings unattended on the beach.

 

 

Ko Samui

Introduction

Ko Samui is Thailand’s third largest island. It lies in the southeast of Thailand in Surat Thani Province to the south of the Thai capital, Bangkok. All of the resorts are coastal, and most are on the eastern beaches with resorts such as Chaweng and Lamai.

Known as the ‘Coconut Island’, it became a major tourist destination in the 1990s. It’s white sand beaches and turquoise waters welcome visitors to its shores. The onslaught of tourism thankfully hasn’t diminished the island’s beauty. Rather than erecting ugly high rise hotels, visitors can stay in attractive wooden bungalows and Thai-style accommodation.

Ko Samui’s main draw is its beaches however should you ever tire of lazing around in the sun, the island does have a few other distractions for you. There are plenty of opportunities for snorkelling and diving, especially among the coral reefs off the coast of Ko Samui and in the waters around the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Tan.

Away from the coast, much of the interior of the island is covered with rainforest and rubber plantations. There are also a number of stunning waterfalls which are definitely worth seeking out.

Today the island is a fully equipped resort destination. Its original charms (swaying palms, white beaches and balmy waters) are still very much intact. You can enjoy anything from buzzing party beaches to quiet sheltered coves, as well as numerous water sports, adventure tourism and family attractions.

 

See & Do

With little history to speak of and an economy that is based on tourism, Ko Samui doesn’t offer a vast amount away from the beaches and water sports facilities.

The main beaches of Chaweng and Lamai (on the east coast) are the most developed and offer water sports especially snorkelling and diving. Koh Tao (“Turtle Island”) and Koh Tan are also excellent for diving. Other beaches include Mae Nam, Bophut, Bangrak and Choeng Mon which are on t he north coast and tend to be quieter.

Other attractions and places of interest are:

  • Big Buddah Temple, Bangrak
  • Angthong National Marine Park
  • Hin Ta & Hin Yai rock formations (Lamai beach)
  • Na Muang Falls and Hin Lat Falls
  • “Real” Samui around the Thong Krut District
  • Lame Sor Pagoda
  • Wat Phrai Yai (temple)
  • Wat Samret
  • Wat Maem Saw
  • Namuang Safari Park
  • The Samui Aquarium & Tiger Zoo
  • Crocodile Farm
  • Elephant trekking
  • Yoga
  • Spa treatments
  • Butterfly Garden


 

Shopping

Most of the shopping on Ko Samui is directed at the tourist. All the well developed beaches on the east coast have shops and stalls. The main shopping areas are Na Thon, Chaweng and Lamai (the latter especially for tailored clothing) but all towns have markets that are generally worth a browse.

Most of the large luxury hotels have their own boutique shops. If you want to mingle and shop with the locals head for Na Thon as this is where most of the islands inhabitants shop.

Popular items are coconut-wood products and Thai handicrafts such as hand woven silk, benjarong (enamelled ceramics), black lacquer and carved wood products.

 

Food & Drink

Restaurants tend to come and go quickly on Ko Samui but do have an excellent reputation for their food. Many of the hotels have their own restaurants serving international dishes but if you want to sample some of the local cuisine here are a few (current) recommendations:

  • Chaweng Noi Beach Huts, Chaweng Noi Beach
  • Mr Samui Gallery, Lamai
  • Black Canyon, Chaweng Noi Beach
  • Poppies, Chaweng Beach Road
  • Eat Sense, Chaweng Beach
  • Sunset House, Nat Thon Town
  • Munchies, Chaweng
  • Pisces 99, Chaweng Beach Road
  • Il Tempio, Lamai Beach
  • Zico’s, Central Samui Beach Resort
  • Gringo’s Cantina, Off Chaweng Beach Road

 

Entertainment

Although you shouldn’t expect to find big resort nightlife on Ko Samui, it doesn’t do too badly. Most of the hot spots are in Chaweng which is home to numerous bars and clubs. The bars tend to fall into two categories – open air beer bars (where the hostesses tend to out number the patrons) and western style pubs where anyone, including families can enjoy a drink. A few suggestions are:

 

Bars

  • Tropical Murphy’s, Chaweng Beach Road
  • Frog & Gecko, Bophut Beach
  • The Three Monkeys, Chaweng Centre
  • Black Jack, Chaweng Centre
  • The Pub, Bophut

 

Clubs

  • Green Mango, Chaweng
  • The Reggae Club, Chaweng
  • Remix, Lamai
  • Sub, lamai

You can also catch a bout of Thai kickboxing (Muay Thai) at the Chaweng Stadium or Samui Bullfighting (which is actually 2 buffaloes pitted against each other) although that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

There are also a few events that happen throughout the year:

  • January – Western New Year Celebrations
  • April – Songkran (Thai New Year)
  • May – Ko Samui Regatta
  • November – Loi Krathong Festival

 

 

Excursions

Many of the best excursions are boat trips for the excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities that are available. Further information about these and other excursions can be found in the see and do section.

 

Health & Safety

The most common illnesses are diarrhoea, sun stroke and dehydration. The tap water is unsafe so you should always buy bottled water and drink plenty to avoid dehydration.

Don’t eat any raw vegetables and fruit as they may have been washed in tap water. The food in most of the restaurants is unlikely to cause stomach upsets but the same can’t be said for the many street stalls. If in doubt avoid the meat and seafood and stick to the cooked vegetable dishes.

Always ensure you use plenty of high factor sun cream and stay out of the midday sun to avoid sun stroke and burning.

Ko Samui is a safe place however you should always take the usual precautions with your valuables, watch out for pick pockets in busy areas and never leave your belongings unattended on the beach.

Drug offences are taken very seriously in Thailand. Possession or smuggling drugs carry heavy custodial sentences or even the death penalty. Therefore always pack your own bag and never agree to carry someone else’s bags for them.

 

 

 

 

Pattaya

Introduction

The resort of Pattaya lays to the east of Thailand in Chonburi Province, just to the south of the Thai capital, Bangkok.  Original discovered by American GIs on leave, Pattaya has grown into Thailand’s most developed resort town.   

In the early 90s Pattaya was infamous for its littered beaches and lurid sex scene. However today Pattaya has cleaned up its act and emphasises its family-friendly attractions. As a resort it is renowned for having the best selection of water sports, dive schools and golf courses in Thailand. Topped with an excellent nightlife and fantastic family pursuits - you have a holiday heaven.

The main beach of Hat Pattaya forms the gorgeous half-moon of Pattaya Bay. It is lined with numerous things for holidaymakers to see and do with food stands, souvenir stalls, bars and a wide range of water sports. Hat Jomtien just to the south is a relatively quieter option, while Hat Naklua to the north is the most family-friendly beach.

The resort of Pattaya is all about having a great time. This purpose-built resort town is superb at creating holiday memories that you’ll treasure forever.

 
See & Do

 

There are numerous activities and sights in Pattaya to keep you occupied. Below is just a selection of what the resort has to offer:

 


  • Pattaya Beach
  • Outlying Islands (e.g. Koh Lan)
  • Scuba Diving
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Water Skiing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Parasailing
  • Paragliding
  • Mini Siam & Mini Europe
  • Pattaya Elephant Village
  • Million Years Stone Park & Crocodile Farm
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Golf
  • Pattaya Kart Speedway
  • Indoor Bowling Alleys
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Thai Boxing
  • Spa Treatments
  • Hat Jomtien
  • Hat Naklua
  • Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
  • Pattay Park’s Funnyland Amusement Park
  • Sanctuary of Truth
  • Underwater World
  • Siriporn Orchid Farm
  • Bhira International Circuit Race Course
  • Lakeland Water Cable Ski
  • Wong Phrachan Beach

 

Weather

 

Pattaya experiences a tropical climate, with the temperature rarely dropping below 27°C year round. There are two main seasons; high season from November to April which is hot and dry and low season from May to October when it is cool and wet.

 

The average monthly temperatures are:

 

°C

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Day

31

31

32

33

32

32

31

31

31

31

31

30

Night

22

24

26

27

26

27

26

26

25

24

23

22

 

Shopping

 

There are plenty of shopping opportunities to be had in Pattaya. To help guide you to the best places, the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) produce a bi-monthly complimentary shopping guide which includes maps of the main shopping areas and shopping tips.

 

There are numerous shopping malls in Pattaya the biggest two being Mike’s Shopping Centre and The Royal Garden Plaza. Others include Big C, Carrefour and The Avenue. Here you will find a mix of international merchandise and western clothing.

 

If you prefer to browse for something a bit more unusual, there are plenty of markets dotted around the resort. Here you can pick up Thai handicrafts, silk products and items incorporating semi-precious stones as well as the obligatory Buddha figures.

 

Food & Drink

 

All hotels have their own restaurants offering good food although they can be expensive. Street stalls offer cheap, good food such as noodles, Pad Thai, fruits and skewered seafood.

 

Thai dishes can be hot. If this isn’t to your taste remember to qualify your food order with “Mai Phet” (not hot). Many Thai dishes are flavoured with coriander, garlic, turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, cardamom and basil. Another favourite ingredient is nam pla (fish sauce) which is also offered as a condiment.

 

Throughout the resort you will find restaurants offering a vast range of international dishes. Below is a selection of some of the best restaurants that you might like to try:

 


  • Bruno’s
  • Cabbages & Condoms
  • Café New Orleans
  • Café Sunshine
  • Carrefour Food Court
  • Casa Pascal
  • Food Wave
  • King Seafood
  • Mantra
  • Mata Hari
  • Meng Kee Noodle Shop
  • Mooma-Roi
  • Pic Kitchen
  • Pree-cah Seafood
  • Surf Kitchen
  • Tequila Reef
  • Thep-Pra-Sit Night Market

 

Entertainment

 

South Pattaya is where you’ll find “The Strip” an area packed with restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Of course the seedier side of Thai nightlife is still present in Pattaya although now moved to slightly less conspicuous areas so if you still fancy trying a go-go bar, you can.

 

Not to be missed are the varied, extravagant and colourful cabaret and drag shows. Try Alcazar or Tiffany’s for its famed transvestite cabaret. Also Alangkarn theatre is famed for its extravaganzas.

 

There are also numerous Irish pubs such as Shenanigan’s or Kilkenny. Other pubs also double up as clubs and pool halls such as Tony’s and Green Bottles and the Hard Rock Café.

 

For live music try the Blues Factory or if you’re a jazz fan, Hopf Brewery on Beach Road is the place to go.

 

Excursions

 

Pattaya is ideally placed for several excursions. Many holidaymakers enjoy these to get away from the hustle and bustle of Pattaya and to enjoy the peace and beauty of the surrounding area. Once refreshed they are ready to throw themselves back into Pattaya life once more.

 

Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of possible excursions. Below are a few to get you started.

 


  • Chantathan Waterfall
  • Khao Kheow Open Zoo
  • Koh Samet Island
  • Marine Science Aquarium & Museum
  • Saithip Butterfly Gardens
  • Sanctuary of truth
  • SriRacha Tiger Zoo
  • Wat Yansangwararam
  • Islands of Ko Larn, Ko Krok and Ko Sak

 

Health & Safety

 

The tap was is unsafe so you should always buy bottled water and drink plenty to avoid dehydration. Don’t eat any raw vegetables and fruit as they may have been washed in tap water. The food in most of the restaurants is unlikely to cause stomach upsets but the same can’t be said for the many street stalls. If in doubt avoid the meat and seafood and stick to the cooked vegetable dishes.

 

Always ensure you use plenty of high factor sun cream and stay out of the midday sun to avoid sun stroke and burning.

 

Pattaya is a safe place however you should always take the usual precautions with your valuables, watch out for pick pockets in busy areas and never leave your belongings unattended on the beach.

 

Drug offences are taken very seriously in Thailand. Possession or smuggling drugs carry heavy custodial sentences or even the death penalty. Therefore always pack your own bag and never agree to carry someone else’s bags for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phi Phi

Introduction

 

Picture your dream tropical getaway – white sand beaches, turquoise waters lapping the shore, verdant palms swaying gently in the breeze as the sun beats down. Am I close?

 

If that is your idea of heaven, then you’ve just found it. The twin islands of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh form one of the most dramatic resort getaways in the world. Phi Phi Don lies to the southwest of Thailand in Krabi province south of Bankok and Phi Phi Leh is to the south of the larger island.

 

The islands were badly hit by the 2004 tsunami. However the resort has been quick to mend itself but this time it has been developed in a slightly lower key manner. One difference you will find is that prices are somewhat higher here now. You will find that accommodation here is more expensive than in Phuket – however it is very difficult to put a price limit on paradise.

 

All the hotels are on Phi Phi Don as Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited national park. However it is usually teeming with tourists as its best beach, Maya Bay, was used as the setting for the Hollywood movie “The Beach” in 1999.

 

The main resort area on Phi Phi Don is Tonsai Village. There are no cars or roads, only footpaths. It's located on Phi Phi’s famous isthmus with Tonsai Bay on the south side and Loh Dalum on the north.

 

See & Do

 

Most visitors to Phi Phi merely want to relax and chill out on the beach. There is not a huge amount to see other than the incredible scenery, white sand beaches and deliciously cool turquoise waters. But, if that’s not enough for you, here are a few suggested activities.

 


  • Snorkelling
  • Scuba diving
  • Sea kayaking
  • Walking
  • Phi Phi Leh
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Rock climbing
  • Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo island)
  • Ton Sai Tower
  • Cliff jumping

 

Weather

 

With its tropical climate, Phi Phi’s average daily temperature is fairly consistent throughout the year at around 30°C. The rainy season is from November to January when the nights are comfortably cool. The hottest times of year are between April and May and then September to October with temperatures reaching 34°C. 

 

The average monthly temperatures are:

 

°C

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Day

31

33

33

33

32

31

31

31

31

31

30

31

Night

22

22

23

24

24

24

24

24

24

23

23

23

 

 

Shopping

 

Although Phi Phi isn’t exactly a shopper’s paradise it does have a number of shops and stalls for you to browse through. In Ton Sai you can pick up beachwear and clothing, souvenirs, handicrafts, handmade jewellery, sports equipment, snorkels, flippers etc. There are also a couple of mini marts and a supermarket.

 

Food & Drink

 

Most of the hotels have their own restaurants offering international dishes. Many people like to try the more traditional fare of the street food stalls. Ton Sai provides a number of these and a growing number of restaurants. Here are a few names you might like to look out for.

 


  • Panda Restaurant
  • Sakana Japanese Restaurant
  • Pee Pee Bakery
  • Ton Sai Seafood Restaurant
  • Cosmic Pizza House
  • Pum Restaurant
  • Oasis Restaurant
  • Dang Dang Tai Restaurant
  • Mama’s Restaurant
  • H C Anderson’s
  • Phi Phi Don Chukit Restaurant
  • Ciao Bella

 

 

 

 

Entertainment

 

Some believe that the nightlife on Phi Phi hasn’t quite reached the level it was at before the tsunami, but nonetheless, it can still provide you with a hangover in the morning. Most of the bars and clubs are situated in Tonsai. The beach is often the venue for cabaret and fire dancing displays.

 

Below are a few names you might like to look out for:

 


  • The Reggae Bar
  • Carlito’s
  • Tiger Bar
  • Hippie Bar
  • Apache Bar
  • Sunset Bar
  • Viewpoint Bar
  • Rolling Stoned

 

Excursions

 

By far the most popular trip is to Phi Phi Leh. It is an idyllic national park where you are even prohibited to camp. Your only choice is whether you go on an organised tour or just hire a long tailed boat.

 

Health & Safety

 

There are no hospitals on Phi Phi so any serious illness should be treated in Phuket. However there is a local health centre on Phi Phi Island in Tonsai Bay.

 

You are strongly advised to make sure you have full medical insurance in place before travelling.

 

Sunburn and sunstroke are the most common health problems so take the usual precautions - strong sun block, wear a hat and drink plenty of fluids. The tap water is unsafe so always stick to bottle water.

 

Crime levels are low but you should still exercise the usual precautions with your valuables and never leave your belongings unattended on the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phuket

Introduction

 

The island of Phuket is in the southwest of Thailand in Phuket Province to the south of Bangkok and has its own airport, Phuket Airport (HKT).  All the resorts are coastal and are mainly in the west with Patong, Karon and Kata amongst the most popular.

 

Dubbed the ‘Pearl of the South', Phuket is the largest, most celebrated and most popular of Thailand's resort islands. It is easily accessible from the mainland via the Sarasin Bridge and with its year round warm weather, choice of resorts, diverse landscape and stunning beaches lapped by the warm Andaman Sea, Phuket attracts all types of holidaymaker.  

The island is 48 km (34 miles) by 21 km (16 miles). It is home to a chain of mountains and valleys mainly from a north-south range running down the west coast. The tallest peak, Mai Tao Sip Song (12 Cane Peak) is 529m high. The rest of the island is flat. This provides a stunning contrast of rocky headlands, long broad sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, forested hills, small estuaries, lagoons, and tropical vegetation of all kinds.  

You can enjoy stunning beaches such as Kata Beach with its spectacular tropical scenery, Nai Yang Beach edged by the stately cassurina trees, the triple canopy rainforest of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park or the mud flats and mangrove swamps of Koh Siray. Phuket is truly a tropical wonderland and offers something for just about everyone.

But there is also beauty below the sea with some stunning coral reefs that mustn’t be missed. This provides an excellent snorkelling and diving opportunity to watch the beautiful tropical fish in their own environment.

Phuket has plenty of great beaches; the busiest is in the main resort town of Patong. Hat Patong has everything you need for a beach break - sun loungers, sun umbrellas, water sports, beach bars and restaurants. If you want a quieter spot try the beaches at Kata and Karon but when the surf is good they are very popular with windsurfers and surfers. However if you are prepared to drive, you will find some superb remote beaches perfect for a spot of R and R.

But Phuket isn’t all about sun, sea and sand. It also has some fascinating temples and attractive Chinese colonial buildings, lively markets and interesting shops. Plus there is the amazing rainforest in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.  

 

 

 

See & Do

 

There are numerous things to see and do during your stay on Phuket Island. The beaches are the biggest draw, and quite rightly so. The busiest and probably most commercialised is Patong beach however if you are prepared to look you will find quieter areas such as Kamala, Karon, Kata and Nai Han.

 

Below is just a selection of activities and sights you can enjoy during your stay.

 


  • Jet skiing
  • Paragliding
  • Surfing
  • Wind surfing
  • Snorkelling
  • Scuba diving
  • Water skiing
  • Swimming
  • Khao Phra Taeo National Park
  • Speed boat tours
  • Horse riding along the beach
  • Wat Chalong (temple)
  • Wat Phra Thong
  • Phuket Town
  • Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
  • Golf
  • Phuket Fantasea Theme Park
  • Mountain biking
  • Bungee jumping
  • Elephant trekking
  • Phuket Philatelic Museum
  • Khao Rang
  • Phuket Zoo
  • Thai boxing (Muay Thai)
  • Go karting
  • Thai Village
  • Simon Cabaret
  • Phuket Seashell Museum
  • Dino Park
  • Snake Farm

 

Weather

 

Phuket enjoys a tropical climate, with the temperatures rarely dropping below 29°C. There are two main seasons; high season from November to April when the weather is hot and dry, attracting most amount of visitors and low season from May to October when it is cool and wet.

 

The monthly average temperatures are:

°C

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Day

32

33

33

33

32

31

31

31

31

31

31

31

Night

23

23

24

24

24

24

24

24

24

24

24

23

 

 

 

Shopping

 

Although not up to Bangkok’s standards, Phuket still provides plenty of shopping opportunities. The best shopping is in Phuket Town and Patong.

 

Along Patong Beach there are numerous stalls and shops selling items such as wooden handicrafts, leather goods, jewellery, clothing and bootleg CDs. The Old Chinese shops in Phuket Town (around Talang and Ranong Roads) have a great atmosphere and sell wonderful furniture, antiques, art and traditional medicines.

 

To get away from the heat of the day, the night markets are a must. On Patong Beach Road the market gets underway at 6.30pm and haggling is a must. You will find anything from CDs, silk scarves and sarongs to leather goods. The night market in Phuket Town is a wonderful place to sample authentic Thai, Muslim and Chinese food.

 

There are also village markets in Kamala (Wednesday and Saturday afternoons) selling fresh produce and also at Bang Tao Village (Friday and Tuesday afternoons).

 

To get away from the heat of the day you can spend a bit more money in the air-conditioned Ocean Plaza department stores which offer a wide range of shops.

 

Popular items to buy are silk, tailor-made clothing, gems, pearls, gold and jewellery, antiques, leather goods and cashews.

 

Food & Drink

 

There is a huge choice of places to eat on Phuket offering everything from Scandinavian to Mexican as well as traditional Thai. Many restaurants are in the main beach areas and Phuket Town but there is also a high concentration in Patong Beach.

 

Look out for breakfasts of dim sum and “khanom jiin”(noodles with pureed fish curry sauce). Thai-Muslim food can blow your head off so if you want something milder try massaman curry (containing peanuts and potato) or khao mok gai (similar to Chicken Biriani). Just remember that Muslim restaurants do not serve alcohol.

 

Below is a selection of restaurants you might like to try during your stay.

 


  • BaanRim Pa, Kalim Beach
  • The Boat House Wine & Grill, Kata Beach
  • Ruen Thong, Patong
  • Thai Naan, Phuket Town
  • Phuket Orchard garden & Thai Village, Amphue Muang
  • Bang Thao Beach
  • The Royal Kitchen Restaurant, Patong Beach
  • Toto Restaurant & Piano Bar, Talang
  • Viva Mexico, Patong Beach
  • Ka Jok See, Phuket Town
  • Khana Sutra, Phuket Town
  • Mae Porn, Phuket Town
  • Natural Restaurant, Phuket Town
  • Salavatore’s, Phuket Town

 

Entertainment

 

There are numerous bars, pubs, clubs and go-go joints to keep you occupied during your stay. The main street in Phuket Town has a variety of discos, but there are only 3 nightclubs which are in Patong Beach and generally get going after 10pm:

 

  • Banana Discotheque, Patong
  • Safari Disco, Patong
  • Tiger Entertainment, Patong Beach & Kalim

 

For something a bit different there is always Simon Cabaret in Patong which offers a drag queen spectacular. Of course a trip to Thailand wouldn’t be complete without catching a bout of kick boxing (Muay Thai). But if you want something that will appeal to the whole family there is always the Phuket Fantesea night time cultural theme park (Kathu) or Phuket Orchid Garden and Thai Village for displays of Thai dancing and elephant shows.

 

Patong Beach is where probably the highest concentration of bars is. Below are just a few of the names to look out for.

 

  • The Hourglass Bar, Patong
  • Molly Malones, Patong Beach
  • Heroes Sports Bar & Grill, Patong
  • Timber Hut, Phuket Town

 

There are also a number of events that occur throughout the year:

 

  • March – Thao Thep Krasatri-Thao Sri Suntrol Festival
  • April – National Fisherman’s Day
  • May – Chao Le Boat Floating Festival
  • August – Chinese Por Tor Festival
  • October – Phuket Vegetarian Festival
  • November – Tourist Season Opening Festival (Patong Carnival)
  • December – Phuket King’s Cup Regatta

 

Excursions

 

Phuket is ideally located for several excursions, many of which will involve a boat trip which can be quite an adventure on their own. Of course this isn’t so great if you suffer from sea sickness. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of possible excursions along with details of local tour companies.

 

But just to get you started, here are a few suggestions.

 

  • Phang Nga Bay
  • Phi Phi Islands
  • Krabi
  • Ko Hae (‘Coral Island’)
  • Khao Sok National Park

 

Health & Safety

 

Do not drink the local water as it can often cause diarrhoea. To avoid this always drink bottled water which is inexpensive and widely available and make sure you drink plenty to avoid dehydration. You should also avoid having ice in your drinks and always brush your teeth with bottled water.

 

Avoid eating fruit and vegetables that are unwashed or sold unpeeled. Also unpasteurised milk should be boiled before drinking and avoid any dairy product that contains unpasteurised milk.

 

Always check with your GP before travelling to ensure you have any necessary vaccinations before your holiday. You should also ensure you have sufficient medical insurance in place before travelling.

 

When swimming, beware of strong riptides which can be dangerous. If you are taking part in water sports make sure you are with a reputable company and preferably one that is affiliated to an international training company.

 

Take care of your valuables as pick pockets have been known to operate in crowded tourist areas. Avoid taking your valuables to the beach and never them your bags unattended.

Be wary of accepting food or drink from strangers as incidents of crime and robbery involving drugged food and drink are increasingly common. Drug offences are taken very seriously in Thailand. Possession or smuggling drugs carry heavy custodial sentences or even the death penalty. Therefore always pack your own bag and never agree to carry someone else’s bags for them.

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