Thailand 2014 Asian Backpacking adventure

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Asian Adventure

Our month long trip in January 2014 consisted of 2 weeks backpacking around Thailand, then another 2 weeks in the Philippines.

This video review will focus on just the Thailand adventure, although you can also see the Philippines photos in the gallery above.

We were always on the go, so didn't take any suitcases, travelling light with just 1 small rucksack each. 

Special thanks to TravelGayAsia.com. Its this web site alone where we obtained most of our Thailand research and travel tips.

Backpacking around Thailand

Two weeks backpacking around Thailand, it wasn’t nearly enough time. We fell in love with the country, its people, interesting culture, beautiful beaches and hot weather. Thailand is a great place to explore and experience a completely different way of life. Located in southeast Asia, its roughly twice the size of the UK, but has a similar sized population.

The cost of living is less than a 5th to that of the UK, its easy to see why Thailand is such a popular holiday destination. Although the flight to get there will be expensive to that of a european destination, the savings that you make in Thailand during a 2 week stay will more than subsidize it.

We wanted to show you as much as we could, our itinerary involved:

  • 2 nights Bangkok - visiting the main temples and shopping areas.
  • 3 nights Chiang Rai - mountain bike tour around the countryside and golden triangle and northern Thailand region.
  • 3 nights Phuket - beach hopping and nightlife.
  • 1 night Phi Phi islands - amazing vistas.
  • 2 nights Krabi - rock climbing and hot springs.
  • 2 nights Bangkok - more temples, architecture, shopping and nightlife.

Bangkok

When comparing its capital city Bangkok with London it’s much the same size and population, although they seem on different ends of the scale in culture, poverty, friendliness and law.

Looking at a map of Bangkok for the first time is quite daunting. To make it simpler just look for the river in the shape of some testicals. Look for Ratchadamri Road, it connects the main shopping district on its north end, to the gay area on its south end. Finding a hotel around this area makes good sense.  

Bangkok’s International airport “Suvarnabhumi” was said to be the most geotagged location on Instagram last year and that confirms rumors that Bangkok is the most visited city in the world.

From the airport, getting to your hotel is best done by taxi, they are unbelievably cheap, I cost about 150bat (£3GBP / $5USD) to make the 20 minute journey to our hotel. Once in the city getting about Bangkok is best done via the skytrain. Its like London’s underground but in the sky instead. Trains run on big ugly concrete flyovers above the traffic, however they do their job well because the traffic congestion is known for being anything from bad to very bad!

We decided to stay at the Baiyoke Tower Hotel, famous for being Thailand’s tallest building, the view from the top was amazing with very different views in the day and night from the revolving viewpoint. Plus the hotel was great to find if you got lost in the mad city, you simply had to look up and there it was. Located in the downtown shopping area. Our 2 night stay here was more than enough, the accommodation quality for its price wasn’t really justified. It felt like a tourist trap, with very high prices for wifi and food. But was a good starting point for our Thailand adventure.

When we returned to Bangkok for a couple of days at the end of our vacation we stayed at the Ascott Sathorn serviced apartments. It did cost a little bit more but wow it was worth every penny. Probably the best hotel accommodation for the price we’d ever had the pleasure of using. I’m not kidding you the gym and pool were totally amazing. Its located near the gay area and has great access to the skytrain, so fully recommend staying there. Tarntawan Place also comes recommended if you want to stay near the gay nightlife. The sauna complex Babylon has some amazing accommodation to choose from. Especially if you like to mingle and socialize with the other gay holiday folk.

Your length of stay in Bangkok will depend on what you're looking for. Personally a couple of days was enough for us. 1 day shopping and another day doing the main temples and tourist sightseeing. Of course the nightlife, sauna and red light district are also very popular attractions of the city, centred around the Silom/Suriwong/Patpong areas. Here you can not only browse the night market, but the sexy boys in the gogo bars. Tawan Muscle Bar is one of the best, as well as the production numbers of Dreamboy. While money can't buy you love, it can buy you a fun time - if that is what you are looking for! A good tip for the go-go bars... there are usually 2 shows per night: 10:30pm and midnight. There are less guys in the midnight show because the good ones would have already been taken!

Our friend told us a typical weekend for a gay in Bangkok is usually to go to a sauna/bathhouse in the afternoon. Babylon is the best in Asia, if not the world. If you want more locals go to Chakran, or sunday nude night in Sauna Mania. If you want massage parlors, there are a lot, but a popular recommended one is Albury’s in Sukhumvit. Then in the evening have dinner and/or drinks in the alley where Telephone Pub is, then go clubbing at DJ Station, and move to the later club G.O.D.

If you want a decent Thai massage, then you must go to the massage school in Wat Po, but you have to book well in advance as the waiting list is long.

For restaurants, our favourite was Mango Tree near Tawan Muscle Bar. Also Just Once near Babylon, and Savooey for seafood.

For more ideas of things to do in Bangkok visit: www.travelgayasia.com/destination/gay-thailand/gay-bangkok/

Chiang Rai

This was the highlight of our trip, escaping to the countryside. We booked a 3 day mountain bike tour around the region with www.ChiangRaiBicycleTour.com visiting the famous golden triangle region (border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos) and the northen most tip of Thailand.

Chiang Rai and its surrounding province is a great “off the beaten track” destination for travellers who want to explore the beautiful mountainous north of Thailand and its many attractions including the ruins of ancient Lanna Kingdom, Buddhist shrines and experience the unique local culture.

Our tour guide Mr Bee was so personable and taught us a lot about Thai culture, local plants, animals and farming techniques. Cycling through small villages, seeing fresh lemon grass and bananas growing as weeds on the side of the road, tasting real Thai cuisine, miniature pineapples, snakes, water buffalos and riding elephants were all experiences we will not forget.

For more ideas of things to do in Chiang Rai visit: www.travelgayasia.com/chiang-rai/

Phuket

Its the largest island, although its so big it doesn't feel like an island. It has its own airport that’s just 45 minutes drive from the city of Patong. Patong is the place you’d want to stay if you want to be in the middle of all the action. Patong’s wild nightlife is centred around the road called Bangla. The gay area is just a few blocks away centred around the Paradise Complex.

Most tourists visiting Thailand would stay in Phuket for the entire holiday. We were busy backpackers and only stayed for 3 nights. The first day was spent on the Patongs gay beach (in front of La Flora hotel), although it was a bit too touristy for our liking. The second day we hired a motor bike (the best way to get around) and went beach hopping. This was great fun, we didn’t stop for long at each beach as we wanted to see as many as possible.  

The west coast has all Phuket's best beaches. It seemed like the further south on the island you went the better the beaches got. Ya Nui beach was definitely the best, pure paradise and easily wins the best beach prize from us. Near by are a couple of spectacular viewpoints: Phromthep Cape and Promthep wind turbine (a must do at sunset).

For more ideas of things to do in Phuket visit: www.travelgayasia.com/destination/gay-thailand/gay-phuket/

Phi Phi islands

This was the most spectacular destination of our trip, the 6 islands are ranked as some of the most naturally beautiful in the world. Its about 1½ hours from Phuket by ferry. Phi Phi Don is the largest and and only inhabitable island. No cars are allowed, so as you can imagine the place is magical and special.  

There are plenty of longtail/speed boats for hire to explore the archipelago. The sandy beaches, fish snorkeling, wild monkeys, caves and tropical forest covered limestone mountains are wonderful sights.

Two things you must do are:
Phi Phi Don viewpoint (truly amazing vistas),
Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh, the location for the Hollywood film "The Beach" with Leonardo Dicaprio.

We stayed in the Cabana Hotel, which was in a great location right next to Ton Sai Bay pier, plus you get to have a lot of fun in the hotels big pool.

For more ideas of things to do in Phi Phi visit: www.travelgayasia.com/phi-phi-islands/

Krabi

The province of Krabi is well known for its stunning coastlines with beautiful beaches, limestone peaks, crystal clear seas, spectacular tropical islands and fascinating history. There are many cliffs and caves where ancient colour paintings, stone tools, beads, pottery and skeletal remains have been found. It is believed that Krabi has been home to homosapiens since the period 25,000- 35,000 B.C.

As you approach Krabi from the phi phi islands on the ferry the spectacular limestone cliffs appear on the horizon. The journey takes 90 minutes and and then there’s a songthaew (local bus) journey to our destination Ao Nang. We stayed in the Ao Nang Princeville Resort and Spa, which was in a great location and has great facilities, with much fun had in the pool.
Our first day was split into 3 parts, Rock climbing in Railay, exploring Ao Nang beaches and monkey trail, and finally in the evening having a nice meal on the seafront promenade while watching some Thai boxing & fire acts.

The following day we booked a trip to the the Hot Spring Waterfall. The water here comes from thermal springs, originating deep underground in volcanic chambers. Located in the jungle, this site features naturally hollowed-out ‘bathtubs’ in the smooth stone, filled to the brim with fresh running spring water at a pleasant 35-42 degrees C. After a soak, take a refreshing dip in the cool river below.
A visit to the Hot Springs would not be complete without a trip to the nearby ‘Crystal Pool’ in Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve. Also known as Emerald Pool, this is an astonishingly large natural pool filled with pure spring water – although at ambient temperature. Having a swim is a must do.

The pool is reached via a network of trails through the Khao Nor Chu Chi forest (the longest of which is 1.2km), which offer a glimpse into a unique aquatic ecosystem, fed by the area’s abundant spring water. You’ll pass by a series of clear mini-pools, waterfalls and streams, plus hundreds of species of tropical trees and plants.

The other “must-see” site in the reserve is the brightly coloured ‘Blue Pool’, located some 600m further upstream from the Emerald Pool. The water looks magical and inviting, it is hot and surrounded by quicksand, so no bathing is allowed.
The area is also popular with birders as the forest is home to many rare species, including the endangered Gurney’s Pitta.
For more ideas of things to do in Krabi visit: www.travelgayasia.com/destination/gay-thailand/gay-krabi/

Summery

The 2 weeks we travelled around Thailand wasn’t nearly enough. It was a fantastic adventure, an unforgettable experience and we'll definitely be back.

Its easy to see why Thailand is one the world's most popular travel destinations. The friendly Thai people, Buddhist culture, cheap prices, golden beaches, beautiful vistas and plenty of hot sunny weather.

The best web site for further travel tips is: www.TravelGayAsia.com

Thailand Video Stills

Thailand Photos

 

ChrisGeary.com