Thailand Part 3: Koh Tao + Full Thailand Recommendations | Pink Wings
Got back from Thailand yesterday. It was such a long trip; I've definitely filled any wanderlust for the next while.

We spent the last part of our trip on Koh Tao, a very small island in the Gulf of Thailand. Although we were there longer than any other place in Thailand, we have the least amount of photos to show for it. That's how it always goes for us: by the end of the trip we're too tired to take pictures and just want to enjoy the experience. But here are the few that I snapped, as well as links to Thailand Parts 1 and 2:

Thailand Part 1: Bangkok + Chiang Mai
Thailand Part 2: Chiang Mai + Phuket

If you're planning a Thailand trip in the future, I made a list of full recommendations below.


Our villa overlooking the island

Loved our peaceful little space

Nangyuan Island, just a quick longboat ride away from Koh Tao

Nangyuan Island again


Here is a basic rundown of our trip, at least what I can remember off the top of my head. We did 15 days altogether, visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Tao:

Bangkok
We were only here for a couple of days and I didn't regret not staying longer.

Stayed at: Chern Hostel. We booked a private room and it was as nice as many hotels I've stayed in, definitely recommend.

Activities:

  • Damnoen Saduak floating market tour. This was lovely: we rode in a boat, ate lots of delicious street food and exotic fruits, and did a bit of shopping. I definitely recommend booking a tour that takes care of all the transpo and everything, you will get a much better deal than making your own way.
  • Wat Pho Reclining Buddha temple. You should visit at least one temple.
  • Shopping: we went to the MBK Center a couple of times to escape the heat, as well as a nearby street market. I actually bought a good amount of things at the street market and only got eyelash extensions at the shopping mall, which I recommend because the heat & humidity doesn't allow for makeup!
Chiang Mai
This may have actually been my favorite portion of the trip. Chiang Mai was just touristy enough but not too much. In other words, it had plenty of fun touristy things to do and many English-speakers who understand the needs of foreigners, but it was not overcrowded and I never felt grossly overcharged or taken advantage of just for being a foreigner.

Stayed at: Hug Hostel. The service is great here. We ended up booking all of our activities through the hostel and loved everything we did. That being said, our private room was small and dirty, and the shared showers weren't much better. Really, it was probably just a typical hostel but I have been spoiled by especially nice ones over our last couple of trips.

Activities:

  • Thai cooking class with Thai Farm Cooking School. Loved this, and give it a huge recommend. They take you to the market, then their school which is located in a beautiful jungle oasis, and give you a tour of their personal gardens (where all of their ingredients come from!) before starting class. You make about five delicious and surprisingly simple dishes and then take home a recipe book at the end. Really, really fun stuff. 
  • Elephant riding with Ran-Tong Elephant Training. Also amazing experience. You feed your own elephant a few times to get friendly with them, do an introductory ride to get used to it, eat a delicious Thai lunch, then do a longer ride that ends with bathing in the pond with the elephants! Really, really cool stuff, and the elephants seemed to be treated well. Everyone rides bareback (no seats that hurt the elephants' spines) and the trainers used nothing other than words to prod them on. Here the elephants were rescues that had been raised in cages (as opposed to taken from the wild) and now live in a protected area rather than a cage or similar. I am no elephant expert, but I saw no difference between them and my own spoiled fur babies, which is another reason I loved it so much.
  • Sunday night street market. Such great shopping at this market: there is entertainment, deeelish street food, and I bought so many awesome things for so cheap. Also, a $5 foot massage. 
Phuket
Phuket was my least favorite and I honestly wouldn't even recommend anyone to go there. Everything was way over-crowded and way overpriced. It really is the epitome of a tourist town and nothing else. I would instead check out Koh Samui and Koh Tao for islands. But the boys had their favorite diving experience here so that is the one thing I can recommend.

Stayed at: Kamala Resort and Spa. Beautiful room, terrible service.

Activities:

  • Boat tour that we booked through Phuket Tours Direct. 
  • Tiger Kingdom. I pet the baby tigers here, which itself was a cool experience, but everything surrounding it not so much.
  • The boys did scuba through Merlin Divers and raved about it.
Koh Tao
It's a very small island with many beautiful beaches. We wanted to relax here on the last leg of our trip, and it was perfect for that.

Stayed at: Koh Tao Heights Pool Villas. You basically have your own private villa overlooking the island and it's awesome. Best room I've ever stayed in (including our Cancun honeymoon room) and it's the best room on the island for sure. Plus awesome service.

Activities:

  • Rented scooters from our hotel to explore various different beaches and lookout points. I would never recommend a foreigner to rent a scooter anywhere other than a small island like this because Thai traffic is unpredictable. Also, I've heard many horror stories about renting from a random shop off the street (eg charging up to 10,000 baht for a small scratch that may or may not have been there before renting) so that's why we rented from our hotel, they didn't give us any trouble at all.
  • The boys were able to get their advanced scuba certification while here through Roctopus Dive which they loved. 
  • Cheap Thai massages and mani/pedis. As in $10 for a mani/pedi and the same for a one-hour Thai massage. 


Linking with Spring Fling

36 comments

  1. What an amazing trip!! That island looks GORGEOUS. And I'm right there with you on the pictures thing. Sometimes I'm just too tired to take pictures, but then I usually regret it. Now I try to balance it and take a few pictures and then put the camera away! :) Oh and $10 mani/pedi?! Awesome!

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    1. It really was beautiful, and you're so right I totally have regrets about certain pictures I didn't take esp on those gorgeous beaches >.<

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  2. Ko Tao looks so awesome and I think it would probably end up being my favorite. The beach looks amazing, and who doesn't love $10 massages and pedicures!?!?! If only it was that inexpensive here!

    Love all of your pictures and thanks for all the tips, they'll come in super handy because I definitely want to plan a trip to Thailand in the next couple of years.

    xo, simplydavelyn.com

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    1. Cool, you should definitely do it! <3

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  3. wow I wish I was there right now
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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    1. Lol I'm guessing it's winter where you are ^^

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  4. Looks amazing! I love all of your pictures!! Chiang Mai was also my favorite!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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    1. Thanks Melanie! I'm glad you agree!

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  5. These photos are absolutely stunning. You look like you had an unbelievable time! Great recommendations, especially the Thai cooking class. That sounds like a blast!

    https://forsevenseasons.wordpress.com

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  6. What gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing :)

    xo, tasha
    twenty-something blog

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  7. All of the recommendations sound great. I will definitely have to bookmark this post. As for your honeymoon in cancun, did you stay at an all inclusive resort? I think that is next on my vacation list.

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    1. Yes we did an all-inclusive resort and honestly it was so amazing that we only left the resort once lol. My hubby booked through Cheap Caribbean and got a great deal <3 <3

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  8. Love this post!!! *o* Pretty pics ;)
    ♥Kristina
    Last post :
    ~ Spring 2015 Fashion trends~
    http://vrgov.blogspot.com

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  9. Great photos! That island looks like a heavenly spot :)

    Erika
    http://whaterikawears.com/

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  10. Amazing pictures. Overall, it sounds like you had a nice trip. I'll have to keep all your recos in my back pocket in the event I visit this part of the world in my near future (still trying to get Africa out of my system and am currently in Marrakech). Love that the take good care of the rescued elephants.

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    1. Cool! My friend just had an amazing wedding in Kenya that I missed while I was on this trip, and I would love to visit someday~

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  11. What a paradaise! Amazing dear !
    Petons

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  12. Thanks so much for joining the Spring Fling Link Up! I loved this post and the beautiful photos :)

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

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  13. I didn't like Phuket either my first time, but Phuket is such a big island, there are loads of different areas that are absolutely gorgeous and serene... Don't completely write it off! :)

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    1. I think you're right. My friend said that it was not at all crowded when she went, and my hubs says that he would love to go back because the diving is amazing.

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  14. What a beautiful vacation, I am so jealous!! I've only been to Bangkok before, but none of Thailand's beaches. I've always wanted to go to Phuket just because it's so famous, but after hearing your thoughts I will look into some of the other islands instead!


    xx freshfizzle

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    1. Well, take my opinions with a grain of salt. I've had friends who loved Phuket, and even my husband said he would want to go back because it has the best scuba he's ever done. So I think it is a good place if you want to scuba dive or party.

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  15. Catching up on all of my blog reading! Wow this is all incredible!!! I am pinning these, and hope that I get to use them someday soon. I've loved keeping up with this through IG though! :) Wow, so so beautiful, and it seems like you did a diverse bunch of things while you were there! So awesome! XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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    1. Thanks Alexandra, it was a really cool once in lifetime experience. One of those things you don't fully appreciate in the moment and looking back it was an amazing time <3

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  16. Wish I would have read this before we got to Thailand! I have mixed feelings about Phuket. After a tough few days of transition in Bangkok, we made a snap decision to go to Phuket early, and by early I mean we had 7 days free before my parents were supposed to meet us in Phuket. We spent 3 days there without them and then 3 days there with them and really enjoyed it the second time...hence the mixed feelings :) Also doing the elephant reserve and cooking class in Chiang Mai!

    Chelsea

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    1. Yeah I think I would go back, so many people have very different experiences there, I'm sure mine was an anomaly~

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  17. It looks like a paradise, I love it!:)
    Wish you lot's wonderful journeys, and inspiration!:)
    travel amsterdam

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