Sawadee Ka and greetings from tropical Thailand! 🍹 ☀️
After over three months of lock down in Bangkok, the government has finally eased up on travel restrictions. That being said, with mask wearing still compulsory in most places, and everyone very paranoid of catching the virus, I’ll admit that Bangkok has become a very strange place. 😷
I mean, you can find masks in vending machines, clothing stores advertise masks as a sexy fashion accessory and tuk tuk drivers are even using masks to cover their eyes during their mid-day nap. 😂
Before I used to cover a fart with a cough. Now I cover up a cough with a fart. 😂
On the bright side, with social distancing, it isn’t rude now to ask people for personal space. Heck, I even found a bubble helmet as an alternative shield from people. 😂
That being said, compared to the conditions in my home country right now, regarding police violence and rising infection rates, I do feel very grateful to be in Thailand. 😢
Whether its their culture, genetics or climate, according to a recent article by the NY Times, Thailand has come out of this pandemic relatively unscathed. The country still has serious quarantine and health requirements for incoming travelers, but there is little concern that people within the country are infected. 🙏
That being said, with tourism at an all-time low, many locals are suffering serious financial losses.
As such, the PM is encouraging domestic tourism in the hopes that residents will spend more money within the country. They’ve also partnered with airlines and hotels to offer huge discounts as an incentive. Personally, I know that a second wave is always a possibility, so I am going to travel while I can. Let’s hit the beach, baby! I’m ready! ✈️ 👙 😂
Now this month marks the start of the rainy season in Thailand. From my personal experience living in Bangkok, I have found the rainfall here to be quite heavy and brief, which is favorable to all-day showers. 🌧️
Some of the best places to travel now are along the Gulf of Thailand, in the Samui Archipelago and the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Here’s a visual I made of where to go for sunny skies, circled in pink with a sun. Avoid the places with rain clouds. The north of Thailand is not pictured. It can also be quite wet and rainy this time of year, but this also means it’s more lush and green, so it might still be enjoyable. 🌲🌲
My first short trip was to Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, just south of Hua Hin.
I stayed at Baan Duangkaew Resort, which has beautiful jungle cabanas surrounded by trees and greenery, but is also only a 5-minute walk to the beach.
The beach was smooth and hard, which made it great for sunbathing and biking. The water was hot, but clean for swimming. There were a few macaque monkeys in the area, but they usually steered clear of us, since we were on bikes. 🚴♂️
I liked this beach escape, since it was only 2-3 hours from Bangkok, and the atmosphere was very family friendly, with lots of cafes and restaurants surrounding the area as well.
I even set an alarm for 5:40 AM, so we could sit on the beach at sunrise. So gorgeous! 🧡
The standout restaurant during our stay was Let’s Sea. Their food and service was excellent, and they had a nice ambiance with indoor and outdoor seating options right along the beach.
Just be careful with how many cocktails you have while dining, as their bathroom is actually a chic water feature, which could be quite dangerous when tipsy. Man overboard! 😂
When we returned from that trip, I wrapped up one of the most memorable school years of my career. Sixty eight days of online learning. I can’t believe I survived! 🎉😂
I honestly could not have done it without such an incredible group of students. They grew up so much in one year, and really improved in their online communication using Google hangouts. By the end of it, the girls were sending me pictures of their new puppies and their manicures. So sweet!
In addition to English and maths, we rounded out the year with two main topics: famous inventors and Ancient Greece. They first learned about famous inventors, then designed their own robots and created recycled inventions. 💕
To celebrate the end of the school year, I attended many social events, like birthdays and farewell parties. I’m really grateful to have made such a close network of friends in only one year. 🥳🎂
I also found lots of new dining and nightlife venues around Bangkok, which I’m excited to share with all of you!
Scarlett is a beautiful wine bar in Sathorn with skyline views and happy hour every day from 5-8 pm. Cocktails, wine and beer for only 3 USD!
Gigi is a trendy bar and Italian eatery in Thong Lor, which also has a ladies’ night on Tuesday.🍸
Mrs. Maria and Mr. Singh is an Indian/Mexican fusion restaurant opened by Gaggan only a few months ago. Every bite was delectable, with an explosion of distinct flavors that melded together just perfectly. The menu actually retells the love story of this Mexican woman and Indian man. The sexual innuendo in the menu is just as spicy as their food, so it suits. 😏 We ordered lamb curry quesadillas with mozzarella, eggplant avocado tacos with mustard oil, and chicken vindaloo curry with pineapple salsa, grilled cabbage leaves and pork rinds. It also came with platter of free condiments, like mango chutney, salsa verde and pickled onions. 😋
Sarnies is a hipster brunch spot in Bang Rak inside a centuries-old shop house. We ordered Tom Yum style eggs benedict, which had a sour shrimp flavor, and an omelet with Thai sausage, spiced with galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and corriander. 🍳
Chu is a restaurant I’ve been to before for dinner, but this time I went for brunch and enjoyed their ham, egg and cheese panini. For Mexican, we checked out The Missing Burro, where we tried lamb barbacoa and pork belly tacos with mezcal. Olé! 🌮
BKK Bagel near Ploen Chit looks like a total hole in the wall, but their food was quite fresh and flavorful. I had a sesame bagel with salmon, capers, dill, red onion and cream cheese! Yum! Brekkie Organic Cafe and Juice Bar on the other hand is incredibly quaint and charming, with swings inside the restaurant and refurbished farm wheels for decor. I ordered a grilled chicken with fried quinoa and holy basil topped with an onsen egg. This egg water bath makes for a creamy white and a firm yolk. We also ordered baked eggs with chorizo and chickpeas along with one of their homemade raw juices, beta bomb: cantaloupe, carrot, apple and turmeric root. 🥕🍎
The Coffee Academics and Maison Eric Kayser in Gaysorn Village are perfect neighbors. You can first pick up French artisan baked goods, like this olive bread, and then pair it with a specialty coffee next door. 🥖☕
Funky Lam near Thong Lor is a Laotian restaurant with a small, finely selected menu. We ordered baby chicken with chili and smashed avocado, deep fried pork belly with chili and pickles, sticky purple rice, and beef with fresh herbs and chilies. 🌶️
Bacchus and Co. is a casual French bistro, where I enjoyed baked goat cheese with drizzled honey on a fresh salad, and chicken liver pate with cognac. D’ark has many locations around Bangkok and offers specialty coffee and quality food items, like this açaí smoothie bowl topped with goji berries, granola and fresh fruit. The Commons Thong Lor is a gourmet eatery with outdoor stadium seating and food court style ordering. I tried minced pork omelet over rice from Egg My God and an iced coffee from Roast.
Roots near K Village is a casual eatery with outdoor pet-friendly dining, live music, and Western items, like this glorious gooey cheeseburger with seasoned fries. Drool! 🍔
Of course, I also had to highlight some food oddities like these cat shaped Popsicles at Icedea and some snack items that might be unique to Thailand. 🐈
I say it in almost every post, but I love this city and feel so blessed to be living here! 💕
The Bangkok Art and Culture Center recently showcased a new exhibition by local Thai artists entitled “The Land of Smiles”, which cemented why I enjoy living here so much. The artworks showcased how the Thai’s positivity, tranquility and good spirit shine through their beaming smiles. 😄
Outside of the art center, local street art in Bangkok, with its bold use of color lined with traces of rebellion, also always leaves me in awe. 💕
Now as soon as clothing stores re-opened in Bangkok, I also decided to spruce up my wardrobe as a little treat to myself for surviving quarantine. 👜
That being said, when I finally emerged in my heels, it was obvious that I’d only been wearing flip flops for the past three months. Oh boy! Look at those lines! 😂👠
Now, following the advice of my half Mexican friend who said, “El que compra barato comprará a cada rato,” I decided to class it up and shop at the fancier department stores over the local market. Basically, she said that if someone buys cheap clothes, they’ll have to replace them more often. Choose quality over quantity. That being said, when I stepped inside the “fancy” mall, I saw this glorified potato sack covered in jungle prints on display for hundreds of dollars. Is that quality? 🤔 Pretty sure I could DIY that dress on a dime, and use the potatoes from the sack to make a nice soup! Two for one deal and zero waste! 😂
Now I did enjoy many of the stores, like Zara, Muji, Oysho and Uniqlo, but this was the first time I had also been asked to put a bag over my head to change shirts. Apparently it stops make-up from rubbing on the garment. Strange, but smart! 👍
While at ICONSIAM mall, I also saw socially distanced palm readings between plastic screens. 🔮 Honestly, after the year we’ve had so far, do you REALLY want to know what’s in store for 2021?! I think I’ll remain ignorant, buy nice things while I can, and squeeze my butt into this battery operated Porsche and ride off into the sunset. YOLO! 😂
This month I also debated switching flats, since my lease is almost finished, but after viewing 5-10 other buildings, I decided that keeping my flat and sprucing up the interior would be just as exciting. I chose many decorations from this Scandinavian shop called JYSK.
Anyway, after all the celebrations and shopping sprees, I left with my boyfriend on an incredible holiday escape to the Samui Archipelago. ⛱️
Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are the three most popular islands of this archipelago. They also offer the most options for dining and accommodation. You can fly directly to Samui with Bangkok Airways and from there you can take a ferry to the two neighboring islands. ⛵
We began our journey with a 1.5 hour flight to Koh Samui from Bangkok.
Side note: Since mask wearing is compulsory, I highly recommend the Japanese mask brand, PITTA. These masks are light weight and breathable. Also, despite what the image illustrates, the mask SHOULD cover your nose. 😂
While on Samui, we stayed in Bophut, a small fishing village in the north of the island, only 15 minutes from the airport. I really liked the vibe of this village compared to neighboring Chaweng and Lamai.
Overall, as a travel challenge post-pandemic, many resorts and restaurants on both islands were still closed, which meant it was less lively, but as a bonus, this also meant that the beaches were pretty much deserted. Heaven!😍
Furthermore, this meant that most expats and Thais all socialized in the same spots. One of those spots was most definitely Coco Tam’s in Bophut. We ended up there every night of the week for dinner or at least drinks. They serve high quality Italian food by Peppina in an open-aired beachfront chalet with stylish decor and fire shows in the evening. 🍕🔥
Our hotel, Anantara Bophut Resort, was also quite lush. 😍
They offered complimentary Pilates or yoga each morning, an international breakfast buffet, and they also included a Thai curry dinner in our package. 🧘
They also had many seafood options nearby and at their on-site restaurant.
To work off the meals, they had complimentary kayaks and SUPs for guests to use in the bay surrounding the hotel.
The only thing that made us chuckle was the design of our room. There was a sliding screen on the bathroom, so you could either close the toilet or shower, but not both at the same time. Definitely not the type of room to stay in if you want some privacy. I guess it could always be worse. 😂
While on Samui, we also rented a scooter to visit some nearby waterfalls and beaches. Hin Ta and Hin Yai are some phallic and yonic rocks near Lamai Beach. Despite the giggles, the landscape looked quite stunning! 🍆🙈
We also visited Na Mueang Waterfalls.
We were a bit bummed to find out that one of the waterfalls was still closed only AFTER we had already hiked up the hill in the heat. 😭
The despair was salvaged though by ending our day at this fantastic viewpoint bar called The Jungle Club. Wow! What a view! 😍
While on Samui, we also booked four scuba sessions with Discovery Divers. Two dives were at Sail Rock and two were near Chumphon Pinnacle. Both dive sites are near Koh Tao, so we had to take a 1.5 hour boat ride there each way. I took some Dramamine before we left, which was offered by the company.
As a review, I felt the whole team was very responsive and professional. The dive masters gave thorough safety briefings, their rental equipment was well-kept, and they also picked us up at our hotel and dropped us off on Koh Phangan after our last two dives. In between dives, they also provided water, sodas, and a hearty curry lunch set. During our dives, we were able to see Bat fish, Butterfly fish, Parrot fish, schools of jacks, barracuda, vibrant sea anemones, Trigger fish, colorful nudi branches, fusiliers, and a giant Napolean wrasse. 🐠
The maximum depth was 30 meters for all the dives. Based on visibility and the variety of marine life, I preferred the Sail Rock site. We actually got lost at Chumphon Pinnacle, because it was so cloudy underwater, and had to resurface after a minute of searching to reunite with our group. On the plus side, we got to do some cool swim throughs at the site, where you weave through tunnels in the coral. Pretty cool! 🤿
Price: about 100 USD for a two-tank dive, including rental equipment, transport, and lunch.
After diving, and upon arrival in Koh Phangan, we rented a scooter and got settled in our bungalow. 🌴
Side Note: Scooter rental was 5 USD per day, and gas refills were about 2-3 USD. This is much cheaper than the shuttle on the island, so I highly suggest this option. 🛵
Our accommodation, Nibbana Bungalow, was a modern wooden chalet in Hin Kong area right on the waterfront.
It was incredibly eco friendly and beautifully decorated. The bungalow had an attached sundeck with hammock, and the front lawn had a natural palm tree swing. 💮
One of my beloved morning activities was drinking coffee on the terrace and watching the neighbor’s dog play with crabs. 😂🦀
“Koh” means island and “Phangan” means sandbar. As such, many areas on the island, like Hin Kong, are very shallow and not ideal for swimming. That being said, this area was the perfect spot to base ourselves due the plethora of dining options nearby. Our bungalow host, Damien, even gave us advice on the best dining and nightlife.
One of his best tips was this French restaurant nearby called L’Alcove. They have an open-air bistro on the beach with warm fabrics, red lanterns, and tropical plants decorating the premises. They also have live music many nights of the week and a wide selection of wines. 🍷
We ended up there on our second night as well, enjoying wine with some old friends from Wisconsin that had moved to Thailand back in 2017. I think my favorite part was listening to them talk about their trip to Tonga, where they swam with humpback whales. 🐋 They’re a very inspiring and creative couple to follow and it’s always good to surround yourself with positive people. 😊
Since we mainly did a lot of eating, beach hopping and relaxing on the island, here’s a list of the restaurants and cafes we visited during our stay, and a map to give you an idea of where we went.
Side Note: When referring to the map, “Ao” means beach and “Haad” means bay in Thai. “Thong” also means golden and describes the beauty of the beach, so don’t get confused by this before you go. 😂
First up was Vitamin Sea near Hin Kong, which has excellent fresh and grilled seafood options. They also hosted a birthday party for the owner the night that we visited. They gave me sparkly eye make-up to wear for the celebration, and gave us some free coffee and dessert. So sweet! 🍰
The number of breakfast options on Phangan was overwhelming and always went above expectations. At Indigo in Hin Kong, I had a chickpea, red onion, and tomato panini with fries and homemade aioli. Bubba’s Roastery has two locations on the island, so we had to stop at both. 😜 At their Ban Tai location, I tried beetroot hummus on toast with mushrooms, wilted greens and feta, while near Haad Yao, we tried salmon avocado toast and shakshuka. I also stopped at Eat.co for coffee, which has a nice ambiance and a small shop with vegan toiletries, jewelry, and eco-friendly goods.
What’s Cup in Haad Yao had one of the best breakfast views and a lovely breezy dining space.🌴
Apicahda Viewpoint Bar near Ban Tai was great for a mid-day coconut break. The coconut water helps to replenish electrolytes and the flesh is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Delicious and nutritious! 🥥
Bluerama is an adults-only hotel and bar with a luxurious infinity pool and epic view.
Three Sixty Bar near Mae Haad had a nice view and relaxed atmosphere, but it was a little grungy and run down at the entrance. They did have some live music for sunset, which was nice while we drank some beers and played cards.
Koh Raham near Haad Son had an otherworldly atmosphere and dining experience. We walked along a sandy path sheltered by palm trees and swinging lanterns until we came to a wooden bridge which led us to this thatched roof restaurant with hanging coconuts and hammocks overlooking the sea. We dined on seafood and minced pork salad while we watched the sunset. 😍
Fisherman’s Restaurant near Ban Tai serves up a local catch with a twist. It was easily my favorite dinner of the trip. I had their Indian curried white snapper with yogurt sauce. So flavorful and fresh! 🐟
Rasta Home near Haad Yao was a total hot spot on Friday night. Reggae music, lots of pot heads, and a perfectly placed table of desserts at the entrance was the right combination for this venue’s success. 🇯🇲😌
Halfway through our trip, we also moved to Haad Salad and switched to Green Papaya Resort. The rooms were a bit outdated, but the pool was phenomenal and the beach was much nicer for swimming. It was also much quieter and more secluded compared to our last place in Hing Kong.
After a week of exploring together, my boyfriend returned to Bangkok and I did some solo traveling on Koh Phangan.
Side note: I know that quarantine was very challenging for relationships worldwide. I mean, I saw this while connecting to the internet last week and debated whether it was a joke, a spelling error, or a man’s cry for help from marital distress. 😮 💔
Overall, I feel very fortunate that this pandemic brought us closer together instead of tearing us apart.❤️
Here’s a recap of our trip together.
While on my own, I stayed in Sri Thanu, which is an epicenter for holistic health and wellness. 🌴🧘
On the island, they are making this organic lifestyle very trendy, with boutique shops selling bamboo bottles, homemade soaps, and lots of eco-friendly toiletries and decor. 🌿
During my time in Sri Thanu, I attended a chakra workshop, took part in a shaman sound healing session, participated in yoga and meditation classes, and witnessed a naked bonfire at sunset. 🔥
Now I’ll at least be able to answer the age old question:
Other unique courses that I didn’t attend included a Kambo ceremony, where you cleanse your body using Amazonian frog venom, and therapy sessions to heal trauma from a past life. 🐸
Although I didn’t take part in all the activities, learning about other ways of living and thinking is so beautiful to me. It’s one of my favorite parts of travel. 💗
For example, I met this woman named Luka who ran a performing arts center and upcycling artist’s residence called Labracadabra. She seemed like such a BA, and dressed like a character from Waterworld. 🤩
Luka and her crew are literally turning trash into treasure by taking recycled goods and turning them into usable items, like wallets, baskets, jewelry, art pieces, and drink ware. 🗑️ ➡️ 🎨 They also have a performing arts stage, where they teach acrobatics and circus skills, and apartments for artists who want to live with fellow creatives. She said they practice principles of radical inclusion, meaning everyone is welcome as long as you follow the rules. For example, if you bring any types of plastics on the premises, you will be fined 20 Baht.
This experience actually made me look at the way I live my life and inspired me to make some eco-friendly adjustments, like a metal straw and bamboo bottle for water. It’s a small step in the right direction. 🌿
To solidify this need for change, I saw some deceased marine life on the beach, which was really disheartening and shows how people really need to protect this beautiful earth and its oceans.🌍 Seeing something this awful once has more of an impact than hearing about a thousand times. 😢
While in Sri Thanu, I stayed at Seetanu Bungalows, which had its own pool and on-site Belgian beer bistro. My fan bungalow on the beach was very basic, but only cost 10 USD per night. 👌
Motherly Warning: Koh Phangan had heaps of mosquitoes and sandflies during my visit. There was even an outbreak of Dengue. Swimming in the sea was also dangerous due to the jagged rocks and coral at the bottom. By the end of the week, I felt like a walking pharmacy. 😂 On top of the mask and sanitizer in my bag, I now had bug repellent, antihistamine cream to stop from scratching, antiseptic for cuts on my foot from swimming, and suntan lotion.
Additionally, I had a small gecko living in my bungalow, whom helped kill some bugs, and also this watch dog outside my bungalow, which I jokingly said my boyfriend must have sent to protect me from all the naked hippies. Hah! 😂
Anyway, after four days on my own, I took a bus/ferry combo back to Bangkok. I used the company Raja Ferry, which was reliable and affordable at only 30 USD. The next day, after a 12-hour bus ride, I did treat myself to a Thai massage and a treadmill walk to reduce any swelling in my legs, but overall, a very pleasant ride. 😊
Well, I hope you enjoyed this recap of my post-pandemic travels. Maybe it can inspire those within the country to pack their bags and travel domestically, or inspire those abroad to add Thailand to their bucket list. Anyway, up next I’ll be taking one final getaway before beginning the next academic year in Bangkok. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then, take care and stay safe everyone! 😊💗