Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is Thailand’s western province, bordering Myanmar. This part of the country is far removed from the tourist hub of Phuket or the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. In Kanchanaburi you will find farmland and lush forest landscapes. This part of the country is however home to a number of famous tourist attractions including the infamous Tiger Temple, which I had the common sense to avoid due to its horrific animal cruelty and black market smuggling activities. Aside from that, you will find Erawan Falls, Thailand’s famous floating markets, the bridge over the river Khwae and Death Railway amongst others. If you have a spare few days in Bangkok, I would suggest spending it here instead as it isn’t a far drive and there are plenty of tours available to take you. If you have yet to see monkeys in the wild, this is the place to do it, because they are literally all over the place in this region. Floating hotels built on the rivers are common in this area too if you would like a unique experience.

 

Floating Markets

The floating markets are one of Thailands best known attractions and normally feature on the walls of Thai restaurants in other countries. These markets are an amazing experience, but an enormous tourist trap. I recommend browsing at these markets for fun, but buying elsewhere, as you will find the exact same items for a fraction of the price. If you pay for a markets tour, you will be taken by boat through the floating market place itself and then on a brief tour of the canals in the surrounding area, passing through farms and housing areas. It’s a great experience and definitely worth doing.

http://floatingmarketthailand.com/index.html

 

Erawan Falls

Erawan Falls are part of Erawan National Park and are a protected area with some of the most stunning sites I have ever seen. The waterfalls and pools in this park are cleaner, clearer and bluer than anything I had ever seen before or have seen since that day. You can easily spend hours exploring the park, swimming in the pools and having a free foot massage from the local fish.

https://www.thainationalparks.com/erawan-national-park

 

Bridge on the River Khwae

This bridge is what inspired the famous 1957 film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, which went on to win 7 academy awards. The film focused on the building of the bridge for the Burma Railway, a horrific two year project by the Japanese during WW2 which led to the deaths of 330,000 labourers through forced labour conditions. Of theses deaths, the vast majority were civilians and prisoners of war, all dying  in order to construct a 415-kilometre stretch of railway between Thailand and Burma. The bridge and the railway still stands and operates to this day. The bridge has become a pilgrimage for many who fought in the war or who lost family or friends in the war, as well as for film enthusiasts wanting to see the bridge from the movie. In actuality, the film was shot in Sri Lanka using a similar looking bridge, but the meaning of this bridge remains the same regardless.

http://www.bridgeriverkwai.com/

 

Death Railway

Death railway as discussed above was the forced labour project of Japan during WW2, resulting in the deaths of 330,000 prisoners of war and civilian labourers. The railway still operates and can be ridden in order to experience a portion of what was build at such an immense human cost.

http://www.deathrailwaytours.com.au/

 

Floating Hotel

You will find plenty of floating buildings including hotels built on the Khwae River. If you get a chance, I highly recommend staying in one for a unique experience and the chance to watch the sun rise and set over the river.

 

Monkeys

If you still have yet to see monkeys in the wild in SE Asia, then this region is the place to go, as there are plenty of  them to be found and they are relatively friendly and playful.

Advertisements

Bangkok

Bangkok is amongst the best known cities in the world. This is not only the hub of Thailand, but one of the largest and busiest cities in SE Asia. People from around the world visit Bangkok every year for numerous reasons. The city itself houses 8.8 million people, but including the city’s surrounding area, the total rises to over 14 million. You can feel the hustle and bustle the entire time you are in Bangkok, where the city never really sleeps. Unfortunately for me, my visit coincided with the Occupy Bangkok movement. I got stuck in protests, dropped off in a conflict area and had hand grenades go off two blocks from my hotel killing numerous people, as well as a public assassination of a protest leader. Due to this I had to cut my stay in Bangkok short before the bridges in and out of the city were completely  blocked off. I managed to cram as much as possible into the time I had in the city, but felt that it was unwise to stay any longer. Additionally, I made a bad choice in my accommodations’ location, staying in a rather dodgy area of the city where almost nobody spoke English, so if you visit, just remember that Khao San Road is the place to stay if you want to be in the heart of the city and amongst other tourists. I did actually enjoy staying in a non touristy neighborhood and met a member of the merchant navy who took me out to local food places and bars and translated for me.

 

Canals

Bangkok is built in the Chao Phraya River delta and as such the entire city is traversed by rivers and canals. The Thai people have historically always used these waterways in most aspects of life. The river is used for transportation, as well as a food source. If you manage to have time, make sure to take a river tour and explore the canals to see a whole other side of the city.

http://www.bangkokrivertours.com/

 

Temples

Bangkok is one of the Buddhist capitals of the world, housing a vast array of temples of all shapes and sizes. Sadly due to my time constraints I wasn’t able to explore nearly as many of these as I wanted to.

 

Markets

Bangkok is also well known for its numerous and varied markets. Whatever you are looking for, a market somewhere in Bangkok probably sells it. You will see animals, fruits, plants and other items that you have never seen before. I could  honestly have spent an entire day just visiting market places throughout the city.

Ko Phi Phi Don

Ko Phi Phi Don is the central island in a collection of islands known as the Phi Phis. This island has become a tourist haven in recent years, drawing an astounding number of visitors for its size. While the island is somewhat of a tourist overload, you can put up with it due to the absolutely stunning scenery. Views from this island are almost unreal, with clear blue, bathwater warm water, white sand beaches and palm covered hills. Sadly for me I only had one day on the island and poorly allocated my time, spending almost the entire day getting a tattoo done, traditionally with a stick and poke needle. It was a unique experience that I cherish and would not trade, but it did however prevent my from seeing much of the island. As such, my review of Ko Phi Phi Don is limited to the town center, a tattoo parlor and the central beach. Despite that, the beach on the island alone was worth the trip and I spent several hours there relaxing and swimming. sssss

 

Phuket

Phuket is world famous as a beach and party destination. Being one of the biggest tourist hubs of Southeast Asia it draws extremely large numbers of visitors each year and provides plenty for them to do during their visit. Phuket is divided into two halves by a large hill. The more touristy part is on one side called Patong, with hotels, shopping, beaches and the vast majority of the city’s clubs and bars. The other side of the hill houses Old Phuket, the original heart of the city, which is home to more local residences and businesses but is where you can see Phukets historic side. While the Old Phuket has more historical buildings, Patong houses the Big Buddha and the largest temple complexes in the region. If you are looking for nightlife and partying, Phuket is the place to be and definitely Patong in particular. As far as bars, clubs and evening entertainment goes, the only place I have seen outdo Phuket is Las Vegas, however, you can’t have a massive night out in Vegas for less than $50. The beaches are the perfect place to rest and recover the next day and Phuket has plenty of them. The Phuket Botanical Gardens are also a fantastic place to relax and unwind amidst some beautiful gardens. If you are looking for elephant riding, Phuket has that too at a reasonable cost. You can find far better elephant experiences in other parts of Thailand and even better in Laos, but if you aren’t leaving the tourist haven of Phuket, its still definitely worth doing.

 

Phuket Big Buddha

Phukets Big Buddha has been completed since my time in Thailand and having seen pictures, it looks fantastic. The statue is located on a peak looking down over the city. The sheer size of the statue is impressive and the temple leading up to the statue is beautiful in itself, having incorporated the trees on the temple grounds to hold bells and other religious items. Definitely worth a visit.

http://phuket-big-buddha.com/

 

Wat Chalong Temple

Wat Chalong Temple is not by a longshot the most impressive in Thailand, but is still stunning nonetheless. If your only time in Thailand is going to be spent in Phuket then you have to visit Wat Chalong to get a basic glimpse into Thai religion and culture and to see traditional Thai architecture, which in my opinion is amongst the most stunning in the world.

http://wat-chalong-phuket.com/

 

 

Patong Nightlife

Phuket’s nightlife is absolutely crazy. As I stated, the only place I have been that rivals or beats it is Las Vegas. The difference being that you can leave home with $50, have an entire night out in Phuket and come home with change. Drinks and street food are dirt cheap and can be found literally everywhere in the city. You stay a week in Phuket and not have to drink at the same bar or club twice. Make sure to hit up the Thai street-food market located at the end of  Rat-u-thit Songroipi Rd for some of the cheapest, tastiest and most varied food selections you can find.

 

Elephants

Patong does in fact have elephants despite being more urbanized than a lot of Thailand. The company will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the elephant riding location just outside of the city. As I stated earlier you can find far nicer elephant experiences in other parts of Thailand and even nicer in Laos. If you are only visiting Phuket though, its definitely an amazing experience to have.

http://phuketdir.com/campchangkalim/

 

Phuket Botanical Gardens

Phuket has one of the nicest botanical gardens I have ever visited, being almost on par with that of Singapore. If you need a place to escape the bustle of Patong or to recover from your hangover from the night before then this is a fantastic place to do so. The exhibits and environments created here are almost works of art in some cases. I highly recommend spending some time here, especially if you are on a budget.