Islands in Thailand can be relatively affordable, if you know where to go…
I travelled to three: Koh Phayam, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. Some were the perfect hidden Paradise – affordable and all. Others were more luxurious and yet, if you know where to look, it is possible to even live cheaply on those.
I compiled a series of Thailand Island Hopping, where I share my expenses and opinions about each Island I travelled to.
In hindsight, I wish we had stayed in Koh Phayam a little bit longer. Why? Because we ended up changing our plans and stayed in Koh Tao for a week – instead of going up north. If we had known this, we would have split equal amounts of time between Koh Phayam and Koh Tao and squeeze in a little hop to Koh Phi Phi in between.
But, staying on Koh Tao for a week was magical. It is truly a magnificent island. Koh Tao is the perfect compromise between Koh Phayam and Koh Phi Phi. You still have the party scene, but on a much more relaxed scale then on Koh Phi Phi. And you can easily find those little secluded beaches (Janae Bay) where you can spend your days lazing around with only a few people around you.
What I liked most about Koh Tao: 1) the restaurant scene. We picked up weight on this island. Everything is just incredibly delicious! My favourite restaurants: Yin & Yan for the best curry of your life, Portobello for incredible Pizzas and Bang Burgers for a real Burger experience. 2) the adventure options: snorkelling, diving, kayaking, biking – you name it. 3) I also found the massage parlours on Koh Tao to be of much higher standard than on Koh Phi Phi. We went for massages almost every day – i also had a mani & pedi.
Koh Tao is famous for diving and the perfect place to do an open water dive certificate. I booked a refresher course with Oceansound Dive & Yoga. They were truly amazing and Mariana helped me to
href=”http://www.alifefullofserendipity.com/overcoming-my-fear-of-diving/” target=”_blank”>overcome my fear of diving. However, if diving is not your thing, you can still see plenty of beautiful fish whilst snorkelling. At some point, at one of the popular snorkelling spots, I felt like I was in a gigantic aquarium!
I had never experienced this before.
Wanna do something awesome? Hire a kayak and paddle over to Nangyuan in the afternoon (takes about 30-40 minutes), ‘park’ it on the beach and go explore and snorkelling. Once you’re back, settle down on a bean bag at one of the many beach cafes, order a cocktail and watch the sun go down. Doesn’t get better than that!
Accommodation: We first stayed a bit outside at the Pinnacle resort – where we used our Christmas money to treat ourselves. It was beautiful and with a scooter you can easily access other parts of the Island. We eventually moved to Sairee Beach as we wanted to be closer to the entertainment. Prik Thai Bungalows were recommended by us and for 9 Pounds (for a couple) we stayed in a beautiful bungalow with private shower and a really comfortable bed. If you are ok with staying just a bit further outside, you can snatch up a room at a private residence for 300 Baht. Make sure to see the rooms before you book though.
Beaches: this is where Koh Tao disappoints a little, in my opinion. The beaches are not as nice as the ones on Koh Phayam and Koh Phi Phi. We arrived in February, which is good for Diving & Snorkelling, but no so good for a paradise beach experience. Don’t get me wrong, the beaches are still beautiful – but not on the same scale as the seemingly untouched Koh Phayam that I fell in love with.
But, as you can see, on a clear day, Koh Tao has got those picture perfect beaches everyone dreams about, nevertheless.
Also keep in mind, Koh Tao’s climate is different to the islands on the Andaman. So, make sure to plan your trip accordingly as you might otherwise have the occasional rainy days on an otherwise perfect island stay. During our time here, it was overcast for two days (with the sea being pretty rough making it too dangerous for snorkelling) and it rained for about half an hour on one of the days.
If you fancy experiencing the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan – simply hop on to the ferry for the night and come back the following morning. We skipped it, as we have had similarly crazy party experiences on Goa and enjoyed how quiet Koh Tao was on the day of Koh Phangan’s most famous party.
In summary, and to conclude my Thailand Island Hopping on a Budget series: if I would have to choose one Island out of the three I visited, I would probably go for Koh Tao.
Simply because I feel I could easily stay here for several weeks without getting bored and yet feel like I can have my days on a secluded beach if I wanted to. As a matter of fact, I could easily live on Koh Tao. It is the perfect compromise between a crazy party island, like Koh Phi Phi, and a secluded Paradise, like Koh Phayam.
However…Koh Phayam, will forever be my go to place, if I feel like I just want to shut off from the rest of the world.
However, these costs do not reflect:
1850 Baht for Massages & ManiPedi;
2500 Baht for Scuba Diving Refresher course;
400 Baht Kayak Rent;
100 Baht Snorkel gear Rent.