Table of Contents
Firstly, thank you for watching our video about this trip, you wouldn’t believe the amount of work that was involved in pulling that together. The edit alone took more than 50 hours and we were over the moon when it was finally completed and we were pretty happy with the outcome!
As we stated in the video this trip was taken over a 15 day period over July and August 2022 and included stops in Ao Nang Beach, the island of Koh Phi Phi Don ending on Phuket with us staying in a total of four accommodations.
We’ll share details of the trip here, then if you look below you will see that we have a FREE download of our spending that might help fuel your imagination for your own, D.I.Y. trip to somewhere in the world.
Ao Nang Beach
The flight was painless but we were surprised at how few people there were at Chiang Mai Airport, when looking at the departure board it showed that 80% of flights appeared to be cancelled. A sign of the times, but the world is slowly getting back up to speed with travel with the biggest issue appearing to be employed resource to actually enable people to get moving again.
Staying at the IBIS Styles Hotel in Ao Nang was a really interesting experience, we have stayed in IBIS hotels in the UK, and one of the USPs seems to be that they will be located in highly sought-after locations but by providing a ‘no frills but clean’ approach they are able to keep prices low. For example, whenever we visited Wembley Stadium when we were in the UK, we would book the IBIS, literally, a 5-minute walk from the Stadium but the rooms were basic. This hotel was the polar opposite experience, it was a beautiful looking property with a jaw-dropping view of the mountains and it even had a Cocktail Bar!
The rooms in the hotel was really good, with a fridge and balcony. The only negative for us was that there was no desk & chair that I could use to arrange all the footage for our videos but well… that just meant we had to go out and enjoy Ao Nang!
Taking the boat trip from Ao Nang to Railay Beach was an experience, we saw many outlets selling tickets but where possible we like to go directly to service providers as it gives two main benefits, there is no middle man taking a commission and you also have the assurance that you will get the service that you had booked. Turns out that the boats were leaving from a beach area away from the main Ao Nang centre so this was the first challenge for us both just finding it, but once we did; we paid the fee and were on our way. Sarah really did not enjoy that trip on the boat but I loved it! It felt like a watery rollercoaster! Although the area of Railay is rather small, there was plenty to see and do and as we touched on in the video, there were a number of high-quality resort-style hotels so if you wanted to spend more than the day trip we had chosen, booking in for a night there would be a fabulous thing to do.
There was an excerpt from the video that would have been real comedy but when editing, we decided to remove it as well, it would have offended as many people as would have enjoyed it. Ah well, that was disappointing but it related to a cave at Railay that is jam-packed with statues of penises. I spent a good amount of time working out how I could have some fun with that in the video and although the sequence looked great and funny, on further inspection online I found that this cave is actually a sacred location.
Koh Phi Phi Don
Having taken the ferry to the Island we really were taken aback, the island is more beautiful than any photograph could do justice to, we would say that you just have to go and visit and see for yourself. Something we loved was Koh Phi Phi Don is jam packed with cats and the hotel that we stayed in had it’s own resident cat that we spent a lot of time talking to. We christened this cat “DE”, short for Draft Excluder, basically when sleeping she would always be laying against something, be it along a wall or even sleeping along a gutter!
It must get frustrating watching us always talking to or playing with cats and we understand, we really do. Thing is, cats have been a bit part of our life together. When Sarah and I met, she had a family cat that the entire family were terrified of. He was HUGE and basically ran the house, when I came into the wider family of Sarah I made it my mission to get to know this terrifying animal and although for the first few months I had more than my fair share of wounds I slowly won him over until whenever Sarah and I went over to see her parents, this cat was there to greet me!
Soon after, Sarah and I got two kittens from a rescue centre and basically they were our world for almost 20 years and we miss them so much… how ever daft that sounds, they were as much part of our relationship as Sarah and I because they were always there. So now when we travel and we meet a cat, it is an honour for us to spend time with them. So although I am sure our videos would get better retention if we cut the cats out of them, that is not a compromise we are willing to make. Silly eh. Anyway, I digress!
Hiking to the viewpoints on Koh Phi Phi Don was trickier than we thought it would be, although there were steps going up the whole way, the steepness of the climb together with the humidity made it very gruelling. Can you imagine arriving at the viewpoint and thinking it wasn’t all that impressive? Well fortunately it was stunning, we were the eldest up there by quite a margin… most appeared to be below the age of 25 and as the sun set, most of them appeared to have their faces glued to their phones or watching the sunset through the phone screen. We have that as one of our rules now that as we travel and explore, we remain present. For the shots you see in the video, we setup a time-lapse camera, hit record and just took in and enjoyed the sunset.
Watching the video back it appears that we were gushing about Nai Harn beach, it appeared that we loved it. But the truth? Is there a word that expresses things even better than LOVE? It was truly the best place we visited on this trip and we felt right at home! In this 10 years of travel, we have no expectation of returning to places frequently as there is a whole world to see but we are going to make an exception for Nai Harn Beach.
I’ve boxed myself into a corner here as you are now thinking “Wow, so what was so amazing about this place???”, firstly I want to thank you for using the word amazing, I couldn’t think of anything more exciting to describe Nai Harn other than ‘Love’ but yes, you hit the nail on the head, it was amazing!
Let me start by contrasting it with everywhere else we visited on this trip. By the sea and beach there were no tourist shops whatsoever and apart from the hotel bar/restaurant from which this photo was taken, there were no formal restaurants or bars in buildings, rather, there were what could be described as cabins behind the beach that housed more relaxed bars and restaurants.
There was no music being played anywhere down here, it was a place to come and relax and swim. The beach changed as the evening came with many local Thai families arriving and having fun. Very wholesome and it felt great to feel a part of this lifestyle for a few days.
Then the lovely lake behind the beach area just felt like a bonus area, young couples taking romantic early evening walks alongside others that had fitness goals that they were attaining. In this lake was a small island that we made it to one day, it felt more like a pine forest on that island with people sitting below trees with picnics. Oh man, thinking about it now… I want to be back in Nai Harn!
Staying at the Nai Harn Beach Resort here felt like the ultimate travel hack, all of the staff were generous of spirit, working hard and the location couldn’t be beat. If you want to know why it felt like a hack, then you need to see our costs!
We concluded our stay at Patong Beach. This was a washout totally as the rain didn’t relent in all the time we were there. The good thing was that it led us to try a bar that wasn’t far from our hotel called Nikki’s Handlebars which turned out to be our favourite experience at Patong. Sheltering from the rain we got talking to one of the co-owners and many of the locals that were in there. Little did we know that they had a fantastic Hotel at the back behind the bar which was something that you have to see with your own eyes to believe! I will say no more… but I so wish we had booked to stay there rather than our rather corporate hotel that we ended up booking.
There you have it, the end of our little trip!
- Cost effective travel
- Seeing the country, not stuck in a hotel resort
- Exciting, we felt like young Backpackers
- Managing the logistics
- Moving regularly
Food & Drink