If you follow me on Instagram you will probably know I went to Thailand. Soz (not sorry) for punishing you with holiday spam but it was honestly one of the best times of my life. My boss and workmates joked before I went away that it was my 'Eat Pray Love' trip. Direct quote from my boss "I wonder how many boyfriends you're going to come back with.'' My response after a significant eye roll "None, it's not that kind of trip." He wasn't wrong through, I met the best guy I've probably ever met in my life (I'm trying to be causal here HE IS INCREDIBLE OK).
I planned to go away somewhere warm during winter. Originally a couples holiday but with a change of plans due to a long distance relationship and circumstances changing, I did the classic 'book a holiday after a break-up so you have something to look forward to' and I'm SO pleased I did.
I could only take two weeks off work so it needed to be somewhere too far away so I could make the most of the time.
I visualised a villa right by the beach, swimming in the clearest, sparkly blue water that was as warm as a bath, lying on the white sand reading, resting and doing yoga in the sunshine.
I looked into the Pacific Islands, I've already been to Bali and wanted to go somewhere new. I came across photos of Thailand, in particular Koh Phi Phi in the Southern Krabi province and fell in love. I knew I had to go there. I started investigating and contacted Amber at House of Travel Milford, Auckland. Amber asked if I would consider doing a tour. I was open to it, so we looked at different tours, with a solo stay in Phi Phi at the end.
I listen to my intuition a lot, when I'm sure of something I'm very sure and I knew I had to go there.
It took me a while to work out which tour I wanted to do, they all sounded so good. I ended up choosing the Topdeck 'Thai Islands Samui Sunsets' seven day tour, where you get to island hop around three main islands and lots of places in between. It was THE BEST week of my life, I met so many super cool people and got to experience the most incredible adventures.
Day 1-3: I flew to Koh Samui. We stayed in Chaweng Beach for two nights at First Bungalow Beach Resort. They have a great hotel pool (I fell into one on day one and I'd only had a beer, just clumsy), it's right on the beach, really good food and bar spots. I wasn't mad about getting a 350 baht ($15 NZD) daily massage, even though they massage your boobs (extra bonus I guess) and I'm pretty sure a flap was touched on more than one occasion.
On day two of our tour we had the option of doing half a day of snorkelling or a full day trip to Angthong National Marine Park, which included snorkelling at Koh Wao. kayaking at Song Pee Nong Beach, stop offs at multiple islands, a delicious lunch on what felt like a private island, Koh Paluay, and a hike up Koh Mae Koh to the Emerald Green Lake. I recommend doing this tour while you're in Koh Samui, we got to see and do so much in one day. We went with Insea Speedboat company. It was 2,200 baht ($97 NZD)
KOH PHA NGAN
Day 3-5: We travelled by ferry to the second island spot of the trip. Our accommodation at Phangan Bayshore Resort was right on the main beach where the famous Full Moon Party takes place. We had some rest days which was amazing. The beach is so beautiful, one day we spent over four hours in the water, Lots of spots to wander, make sure you go to the view point at the end of the beach for a great pano view.
FULL MOON PARTY
Before I went away everyone was like "Make sure you go to the Full Moon Party." I'm not a huge party gal anymore and don't drink a lot either so I wasn't phased, plus I realise I'm about ten years too old. We all got matching #squad outfits, covered ourselves in and body paint and went to a bar at the the end of the beach. I was most stoked about the outdoor garden area, it looked like a fairy garden and the toilets were in a cave. We spent most of the night dancing, I recommend staying in a bar for most of the party. Once we went onto the beach the vibe was super violent, I had a bucket thrown at my face which gave me a slight black eye, a number of people in our group got punched. I remembered that I hate crowds and had a slight melt down/ panic attack and ran through the water crying trying to get back to our hotel. The shitty energy rattled me.
Day 5-7: After a grand total of three hours sleep post Full Moon Party (even though we left early compared to the #dontendthebendcrew some are still in another world up on Magic Mushroom Mountain I swear) we got up really early to get a ferry to our third island Koh Tao.
We stayed at the cutest little bungalow villas on a hillside at Koh Tao Hills Resort. This place was dreamy (even if in the dark it took me ten years to find my room). There's a big pool on the edge of the ocean at the bottom of the hill. We hung out in the pool for the day recovering and playing a sweet game of Marco Polo.
That night we went to a fire throwing show and a lady boy show after dinner.
On our second day in Koh Tao we had another optional activity day. Most of our group went on the full day boat trip and snorkelling at Koh Nangyuan. This was one of the highlights of the trip. We walked around and went for a hike up Kow Nangyuan.
We snorkelled in four of the top snorkelling spots in Thailand. We swam with so many fish every colour of the rainbow, with small sharks and massive turtles. Turtles are the coolest and have the most calming, chilled out energy. I swam right above them, Bucket list stuff! We did the Coral Grand Hotel snorkelling trip and it cost 1,300 baht ($57 NZD). Here are some photos of our snorkelling trip. Go-Pro video footage is in the 'Thailand' highlights on my @belcrawford Instagram.
DINNER AND NIGHTS OUT
We went out for dinner and drinks most nights on the tour, some nights were bigger than others, but the cool thing was everyone looked after each other and we had a lot of fun and LOLs. On our last night in Koh Tao my room mate Lauren and I went to get traditional bamboo tattoos at Bamboo Tattoo Studio Sairee Beach.
BACK TO KOH SAMUI
Day 7: We set off on a two hour ferry back to Koh Samui. I cried approx three ok maybe four times. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone. As you'll know if you've travelled, you become so close to people and form connections you wouldn't in every day life. We all said our (teary) goodbyes (I CAN'T HELP IT OK I'M AN EMOTIONAL BEING) and I flew to Phuket for the night before travelling further south to Koh Phi Phi Island.
I stayed at the Centara Grand Resort at Karon Beach and arrived still crying (I was mostly just so overtired I get emotional as in that state) and Doris on reception was so sweet. She took me up to my room and said "You're sad, don't worry I will look after you. Be happy, you are beautiful. I will hug you better." I met the sweetest souls on my trip.
KOH PHI PHI ISLANDS
The reason I came to Thailand, beautiful, quiet Koh Phi Phi. You travel there on a two hour ferry, either from Phuket or Krabi. I travelled first class for the first and probably only time in my life, but I just wanted to be outside soaking up the sunshine, the sea air and views. I then travelled by a traditional boat to my accommodation at Phi Phi Island Village Resort. I stayed in my own villa, surrounded by plants I wish were in my garden. Big fan of your jungle esq flora and fauna Thailand, 10 points (for Gryffindor).
EAT PRAY LOVE
This was very much the 'pray' part of my trip. It was a time to rest, meditate, do yoga, swim, lie in the sunshine, read and write. I needed a lot of rest as our tour was very busy, activities all day, dinner and often drinks at night before an early wake up to catch a ferry to the next island. Plus I get terrible FOMO and wanted to make the most of every moment so I didn't nap on our tour (apart from the last night before we went out and I was woken up wearing a hoodie and I had turned the air con off because I wanted to be 'snuggly'. What the actual f Bel).
PHI PHI BOAT TRIP
The first thing I did after I arrived at my villa (and meditated and napped) was book a boat trip around the islands. Don't do their resort tours, they're really expensive. I recommend you book at tour with the locals so you can support their businesses.
I walked to the village and there were a lot of boat tour companies to choose from. I decided to go with some guys who also own a restaurant and were listening to Tupac, Snoop and Dre (so bascially the Phi Phi Friday Jams crew). At first I was apprehensive about doing a boat trip on my own with men I didn't know, but they were so kind and I felt completely safe. The Captain even took me snorkelling and pointed out baby Nemo fish and baby sharks.
We did a four hour boat trip around Phi Phi Island and Phi Phi Leh Island, stopping at a number of spots including The Lagoon, Monkey Beach, Maya Bay (where the Leo Di Caprio movie 'The Beach' was filmed).
I have recommended their boat trip to other tourists and the owner was stoked with the extra bookings. Go see the guys at the Pirates Bar and Restaurant in the village behind Phi Phi Island Village Resort. I paid 1,800 baht ($79 NZD).
MY THAILAND TIPS
- Don't get a spray tan before you go away, you will sweat it off and it'll be a patchy mess
- Only drink and brush your teeth with bottled water (and close 'yo smart mouth in the shower)
- Get cash out from an ATM when you arrive and when you need during your trip. The ATM charge is minimal, Make sure you let your bank know you're away so they don't block your account
- You don't need to get injections before going to Thailand. Just don't pat dogs, cats or monkeys (some have rabies)
- If you're staying at a resort go to the villages to eat, the food is SO much better and cheaper
- I didn't eat any meat apart from seafood- be careful with what you eat (this one night mine and my room mates tummies were making some questionable sounds, let's just say never trust a fart in these situations)
- Be safe and stay hydrated
SUPPLIES YOU NEED
- It's very humid so make sure you take light, comfy clothes. You will sweat A LOT and need multiple cold showers each day
- Sunblock. Lotion is best because you sweat it all off and I found the spray didn't give good coverage. Put it on HEAPS
- Aloe vera or any sunburn soothing alternatives. I'm allergic to aloe so use calamine lotion. A number of people on our tour got super burnt so I was covering their backs with creams and cold towels
- Insect repellent you will need this a lot, especially on any nature walks
- Anti-septic cream
- Ginger tablets. We all felt sick at some point, I often feel nauseas so the ginger tablets I took were a lifesaver. Ginger tea helps too
- Anti-shit-your-pants pills
- A mini hand sanitiser to put in your handbag (use before you eat and sometimes bathrooms don't have hot water and soap)
- Walking shoes, you don't want to hike or walk on rocks in jandals
- Backpack for all of the Dora exploring
- A European travel adaptor
All the videos from my trip are in the 'Thailand' highlights on my @belcrawford Instagram..
BOOK THE TRIP, LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE
My late teens and twenties have been all about career hustling and a few years back buying a house and 'settling down' like we're apparently supposed to, so travel was never a huge part of my life, I was put on a breakfast radio show at 19 so it was all go from there and I wasn't able to get the time off to do it.
I've worked my way into my dream job where I'm lucky enough to be able to take holidays.
Now just like my career, travel is also a priority. This trip has given me so much, I'm not even sure if I can put it into words.
Travel gives you a fresh perspective, you get to see how people in other parts of the world live and a lot of the time it's makes you realise just how lucky you are. Stop sweating the small stuff. From what I witnessed, some people live in shacks and are so poor yet their eyes sparkle and they are so happy. It's quite a humbling thought to know that we are just a tiny part of a massive world with so many beautiful places to explore.
Kob khun kha for having me Thailand. You gave me more than I ever dreamed of. The best new friends, new 😍❤️, so many incredible adventures and a lot of happy memories and lols with the kindest people. My heart is full, I am so grateful. Already planning and saving for my next trips.