Best of Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is a backpacker haven. I typically describe Thailand as the Mexico of that side of the world due to its young tourist vibe. Koh Phangan is the Cancun of Thailand. Good People and good parties make this island stand out among the rest. You will most likely arrive in Thong Sala Port. Where you go from here relies heavily on what you are looking for. The North part of the island is home to seclusion and serenity. Places such as Bottle Beach are only accessible via long boat. Wish I would have known that before I took my motorbike through a very precarious dirt road… rain didn’t help.

Koh-Phangan-Map

 

Haad Rin Nok

Sunrise Side

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Haad Rin beach

My kind of place… This is technically what is referred to as the “Sunrise Side” of Haad Rin. You can stay at a place along this beach. They will most likely run at a premium. I stayed on the “Sunset side” of Haad Rin which offers a rocky beach not really worth swimming in but the prices are much better and within a couple minute motorbike trip.

Sunset Side

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Marley Bar (next door to Coral Bungalows – Sunset Side, Haad Rin)

Where to Stay?

I stayed at Coral Bungalows, which I highly… highly recommend. Cheap Bungalows w/ or w/o air conditioning. Dorms as well. But the BEST PART ABOUT CORAL is the Cheap Motorbikes, Excellent food, and Awesome Pool Parties.

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They are known for their pool parties and throw them frequently. By staying there, the party comes to you. I cant say enough good things about this place. Please make sure to read my blog post about how to Avoid Motorbike Rental Scams. You can here about the story of the guy below in that article.  I rented them for $1 a day at Coral bungalows. Be Careful not to crash them….

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Motorbike Wounds

They also offer cheap massages around 300 Baht ($9) area for an hour.

Parties.. since you asked.

Half Moon Party – “Middle of Jungle Party”

Imagine partying in the middle of a Lush and Vibrant Jungle at Night with nothing other than colored strobe lights offering light during the graces of a kick drum hit. Wolfpack played during the party I went to. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

Full Moon Party – “Massive International Beach Party”

Where do I begin.. You can watch videos of the Full Moon Party on youtube that will explain in seconds what I couldn’t manage in minutes. Enjoy a whippet just before drinking alcohol out of a children’s sand bucket and enjoy the craziest party with people and stories from all around the world.

TY’s PRO TIP: Wear Shoes and DO NOT remove them. People drop glass containers which can break and turn into dangerously hidden foot slicers.

You do not want to get a open sore in Thailand. It is highly likely you will get an infection due to the warm and often wet climate that makes scabs difficult to form so wounds may heal properly and quickly.

 

Koh Ma

‘Koh’ means Island, however technically not an island, Koh Phangan’s narrow sand strip that stretches out into the sea forms a natural bridge to the Koh Ma ‘island’.

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Bottle Beach

 

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Very Secluded and quiet, you’ll usually find families retreating from alcohol-bucket induced backpacker-raging here. As I mentioned above, Bottle Beach is only accessible via long tail boat. You can trek into it… I actually took a motorbike through, thinking this was a thing people do… which is highly UNADVISABLE I have a couple of years of dirt biking experience and definitely needed it to get through. The trip there wasn’t bad but during my time there it had rained and the trip back was mostly uphill. Luckily it stopped long enough for me to head out after lunch and swim. I was almost sure I beat up my motorbike (luckily not noticeably enough to pay out).

 

 

 

 

Where to go in Thailand

Typically you will want to hit the big 4.

Chang Mai – North Thailand, featuring beautiful, lush manicured rice patties field on topographic landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Bangkok – Needs no introduction, I dive deeper below

SouthEast Coast – Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Sumai

SouthWest Coast – Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi

Mainland

Bangkok

Hard to choose right? Well, it comes down to what you are looking for. If you want to live a “Hangover 2” fantasy and sip vodka at the Ice Bar. Buy extremely affordable knock off beats headphones at Khao Son road and have your mind blown regarding the extended abilities of the female body at something called a “Ping Pong show” then Bangkok is the place for you.

All kidding aside Bangkok is a stark contrast from most of SouthEast Asia with its SkyScraper Buildings and sophistication compared to the rest of country. It really is the New York of SouthEast Asia. Littered with Tuk-Tuk in lieu of Taxis. Flashbacks of drivers always shouting “TUK TUK” rings in my ears. Like New York, Bangkok doesn’t seem to sleep and is what many would consider a “BeeHive” of activity and entertainment.

What you’ll find:

Tourists, Night Life, Cheap food, Great Hostels, Amazing Bars, Luxury, Excitement, Oddities, Pingpong Show, Ice Bar, Cosawn Road, Old crumbling Temples in the middle of the city.

Chang Mai

Chiang

I can’t speak at great length about Chang Mai since I have not personally been there, the matter has always left a hole in my heart. People typically make an effort to travel Chang Mai to embrace the serenity and seclusion. If you are looking for a getaway… the other side of the coin from a place like Bangkok, then this is your refuge.

The Islands – MY FAVORITE

SouthEast Coast of Thailand (Thailand Gulf)

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Koh Phangan – The party island

Howl at the Full Moon Party. This island is the mecca of all sorts of insanity and mischieve. Made popular in a movie called “The Beach” featuring Leonardo DiCaprio in the early 90’s. Where a group of teens finds a map to a hidden island in Koh Phangan.

What makes Koh Phangan so fun is the people it attracts. I describe it as the “The Cancun of that side of the planet”. Between the recent “Uni” graduates and traditional vacation time of certain countries, you will find plenty of English speaking people to talk to.

Koh Tao

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Said to be the “The Most affordable place to become a certified diver in ideal Paradise”.

Trip Advisor: Bans Koh Tao

I paid roughly $680 I believe (in 2015) That included a free stay for 4 nights and my open water training and Certification. Below is a video of my Dive and the experience you can expect diving in Koh Tao.

 

Koh Phi Phi

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Koh Phi Phi Island Tour

I spent almost 2 weeks in Koh Phi Phi. I look back on it as the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. The place is my idea of paradise. A roll-a-dex of pleasant memories come flashing to my head. This island is SO SMALL that you won’t find a motorbike on it. The accommodations are surprising, there is a variety of food from all cultures. As a picky eater, I never had a hard time finding a great meal here, pasta, American breakfast (or English), and tacos were easy enough to find.

In Conclusion

If it were up to me, I say don’t dare leave Thailand without checking out the beautiful islands. Bangkok is great for 3-7 days. Chang Mai is good for a little longer. The islands will make you consider never leaving. Every year that goes by Thailand will become more industrialized and inflate in price. Right now I would have to say it’s still a hidden Gem.

I intend on adding an in-depth blog post regarding places I stayed, restaurants I enjoyed and the things I enjoyed the most about each of the islands in future posts. Please let me know what you would like to know more below.

 

 

 

 

Thailand: Easy Currency Conversion

So I’ll make this quick, “rule of thumb” conversion is below. It worked well during my stay in 2015 (spoiler: still holds up).

So all you do is:

  1. Multiply the THAI BAHT Price by 3

         2.  Move Decimal point to the left, twice

for example

300 THB = 9 USD

Because 300 * 3 = 900 == $9.00

Now let me see how this aged with google conversion,

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as of September 2017, 300 Thai baht converts into $9.05 it appears the rule of thumb holds true!

Hope this helps.

In Summary

 

SE Asia MotorBikes – Blessing or a Curse?

How to avoid the motorbike rental scam.

Motorbike rentals mean you use your passport as Collateral until you return the bike “unharmed”. Read my tip at the end for a clever trick around this.

Why it’s a blessing

 

Would you believe me if I told you that I rented a Motorbike for a $1 a day?

That’s right! cheaper than calling collect…  However, there is a hidden scam within the motorbike rentals that a few simple steps (and general common sense) can prevent.

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My Experience: Koh Phangan

There is a place on the island of Koh Phangan (located off the coast of southeast Thailand) called Coral Bungalows. Coral offers $1 daily motorbikes rentals as long as you stay at their hotel.

The bikes are not run down either, below is a picture of my stallion. It handled well and thankfully had enough power to carry me through an inclined dirt trail on my way to bottle beach.

Why it’s a curse

Don’t be like this guy.

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Scammers are praying that you will leave a dent or mark, even if you don’t they will point out something that was there already and claims you did it. Let me preface this by saying this not what I would consider the “norm” however it has happened to people I know.

If you do damage the bike… like this.

…You can expect is a bill like this

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How to prevent the Motorbike scam from happening to you?

STEP 1 – Take PICTURES… a lot of them

Have your friend use their phone to get additional light. Make a Sports Illustrated production out of it.

STEP 2 – Make sure they Notice you are taking many pictures

It shows 3 things

  1. You are thorough
  2. You have proof to counter claims
  3. You are cautious and perhaps aware of this type of misconduct

I can’t tell you which one really works but this is what I do and I never have an argument. I also didn’t damage my ride so I had nothing to hide. The pictures you take can’t be used against in theory if they remain on your phone though 😉

BONUS POINTS – Get picture with person at front desk

You’ll want this as a back up if you are working with someone else who wasn’t there when you initially rented your bike.

Ty’s TIP- After you rent DONT LEAVE JUST YET

Grab the business card of whatever place you are rented from. This will be worth its weight in gold if you get lost or get separated from your group and need a “point of reference” for directions from people nearby. At the very least it can serve as a rendezvous point.

Ty’s Trick- Bring an expired drivers license with you to use in lieu of your passport. This won’t always works but it’s worth asking if they will take it. I like to prevent handing out my passport as much as possible.

Continue reading “SE Asia MotorBikes – Blessing or a Curse?”