Thailand: A Land with Something for Everyone
What comes to mind when you think of Thailand? If you’re like us, postcard images of pristine white sand beaches and quaint longtail boats bobbing in crystal clear waters come to mind. The islands of Thailand are some of the most famous in the world, so they’re naturally going to be a bit touristy and crowded. Fortunately, the rare mix of authenticity and tourist attraction that we experienced in the North persisted as we travelled South – no small feat if you consider how well-developed tourism is for Thailand’s beaches.
A travel philosophy has emerged along the way on this trip, and it has to do with balance. We try to balance splurges on a nice restaurant, accommodation or activity once in a while with getting a cheap hostel bed or $1 meal when we can. In a broader sense, we have found that this trip is a balancing act of exploring the popular tourist attractions, while at the same time chasing the unknown.
Having visited the movie’s filming location in Ko Phi Phi, it seems fitting to reference The Beach, in which the main character scoffs at tourists who travel thousands of miles just to check into an air-conditioned hotel and watch TV. We’ve learned the hard way that it can be a lot more difficult than it seems to experience a country authentically – and that sometimes, we may even want to fall in line with the traditional tourist and get back on the beaten trail. After all, if it attracts people from the world over, there’s probably a good reason for it.
Our time in the South was a perfect example of our balancing act. On the one hand, we spent most of our time on the relatively less-frequented island of Ko Lanta, enjoying a quiet beach and exploring the countryside and village life by motorbike. On the other hand, we made a day trip to the famous islands of Ko Phi Phi with boatloads of other foreigners, and spent a couple of nights in tourist-packed Phuket.
So, while we indulge in comfortable accommodation with good reviews and we hit the major tourist spots when they interest us, we try to find ways to keep the spirit of adventure in our travel style. Thailand was a perfect fit for our philosophy, despite it being such a tourist mecca. Having struggled to find that balance in the past, we knew not to take it for granted and were able to really appreciate Thailand for the traveller’s dream that it is.
Lanta Pavilion, Ko Lanta (Khlong Khong beach), $18-$45 per night (low/high season) for a double room – Recommended
Priew Wan Guesthouse, Phuket, $18 per night for a double room with balcony – Recommended
Stephie – Papaya salad with fried chicken (som tam), $5, Khlong Khong Restaurant (Ko Lanta)
Eric – Panang curry, $5, Beach House Restaurant (Ko Lanta)