I’m pretty sure you could put me on any beach in the world (albeit that it is hot) and I will think that I am in paradise. Put a cold Mojito in my hand and I just may never want to leave. However, there was something different about the Thai islands than other beach areas I had been to.
Was it the fact that I was in such a new, exotic place compared to my other island adventures of the past? Was it that the Thai people seemed to just be so peaceful, warm, welcoming and kind? Or, was it simply that I was on an island, getting SCUBA certified and that food was dirt cheap? Regardless, I was in heaven.
Koh Tao, is this tiny, remote island with a limited fresh water supply and a young crowd ready to swim next to whale sharks and sea turtles. The young vibe of the island made it a lively place to be both during the day and at night. However, after a day of swimming out in the blazing sun, we were always ready to hit the bungalow early (ok, so we use the heat as an excuse, but let’s not lie….we are pretty lame and always go to bed early!).
With crystal clear waters, warm weather and an abundance of marine life, it is easy to see why Koh Tao is supposedly one of the best places in the world to go snorkeling and SCUBA diving. Spending four days under the sea, spotting blue spotted rays, blowfish and Nemo’s cousin is a pretty good way to spend your time.
I’m sure there were lovely accommodations, but we stayed in a lowly bungalow at only $20 (and that included the upgrade for a water heater!!!) that housed a friendly gecko in our bathroom and only had a fan for our 100 degree days. However, don’t get me wrong…it was perfect! It was kind of like luxury camping, after all, there was a roof and MOST mosquitos couldn’t come in.
We decided to contrast the “roughing it” (ok, really…we were on a beach, how ROUGH can that be!?) with our next island of Ko Samui, in which we stayed at a beautifully ritzy hotel right on the ocean. This island had an “older” crowd, more keen to the likings of lounging on a beach and relaxing for a few days as opposed to looking for adventure under the water. There was no skimping on pampering there. The (outdoor) bathroom came equipped with a beautiful, giant tub, outdoor shower and jasmine incense to keep the bugs away. The bedroom had a personal balcony where we could eat our complimentary dragon fruit. If you got tired of the pool, you could walk a few steps and be on the beach. Want to do yoga? Join us for class on the lawn every morning! Want to “release your worries?” Attend the “Celebration of the Day” where you can release your own sky lanterns into the night sky.
(Yes, this is clearly one of our “travel hacking” hotels. There is no way we could afford a hotel like this….luckily using points got us a few nights of luxury though!)
While Koh Tao and Ko Samui are amazing, they are just the tip of the ice berg. We’ve also LOVED the islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, and while it’s not an island, we adored the beach town of Krabi. And we’ve actually already booked our next trip back to Thailand where we’ll stay on Koh Lanta.
Heading to Phuket? Here are some great family resorts to consider.
Another island that I’ve been eyeing the quieter side of Koh Pangan
Yeah…..you just can’t go wrong with any Thai island!!
When it came time to pack our bags and journey back to Bangkok to catch the plane back home, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave. There are so many places to visit in Thailand and I wanted to see them all! I was convinced that I could drink Thai iced teas, eat chicken satay and sit on the beach every single day for the rest of my life. However, to my stubborn dismay, we all have to return to reality eventually.
We haven’t been to Chang Mai yet, but when we do go, here are 10 Things to Do that I’ll be putting on my list from fellow blogger, Dorata! I can’t wait!!!
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