Our Guide: Phuket

Where We Stayed:

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PapaCrab Boutique Guesthouse. It’s a tiny (1o room) hotel run by a German guy and his Thai wife and it’s perfect. It’s a 2 minute walk from the beach, right around the corner from some quality restaurants and about 5 minutes away from a bakery.  It’s clean, simple and comfortable – exactly what you need for spending maximum time at the beach. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a little general store in between the hotel and the beach which makes beverage runs quite nice 🙂

What We Ate:

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We ate at Kokosnuss German Bakery for breakfast, had some street food from the beach for lunch, and Skyla’s and Carbonara’s for dinner. I’d recommend them all to anyone. Breakfast was ham, cheese and homemade bread, costing us somewhere around $5 per day (total) for 3 people. Lunch was usually 3 servings of typical Thai food; Pad Thai, Noodle Soup with Prawns, etc. Each dish cost about 80 thb and whoever went and ordered got to have a beer while they waited. Total for lunch was usually ~300 thb or $10 total for 3 people. Dinner was slightly more expensive but the atmosphere at both places was worth it. At Skyla’s we had Pad Thai, Lettuce Wraps and Spicy Papaya Salad. At Carbonara’s we had pizza. I don’t remember the totals for each place, but they were slightly more expensive (120 thb – 150 thb) per dish.

What We Did:

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Mostly stayed at the beach on Kamala. One day we rented a car (~900 thb) and drove up to Banana Beach, which is quiet, secluded and difficult to access. We snorkled, swam, ate food at a tiny “restaurant” on the beach and had a good time. We also went to the Farmer’s Market that happens on Wednesday. It’s a fantastic place to get food of all sorts 🙂

Pro-Tips:

* We didn’t find a single place that accepted credit/debit cards, so carry cash. Not a single bank in Kamala accepted our Kuwait cards, so we had to go to SCB on the main strip to have them charge our American Credit cards. Again – take out LOTS of cash, because plastic won’t work!

* Once you’re in Kamala, plan to stay there. Taxis, Tuk-tuk’s, busses and rental cars are pricey. Scooters are cheap and we thought about renting them but decided against it (and were thankful we did, as it poured that day!) and ended up grabbing a car for the day.

* Buy towels there, and make sure you bargain. I’m a big fan of traveling light, so packing a towel wasn’t going to be something I did. The towels are cheap quality, so don’t pay full price.

* Rent a chair and umbrella every day. They cost about 100 thb per person per day, but they are absolute MUSTS. You have to have a place to escape the sun or you’ll fry. Chairs and umbrellas are plentiful, so don’t pay more than 100 thb per.

* Beer is cheap in Thailand and they’ll open it for you at the store so you can drink it walking out the door. Take advantage of this, as drinks on the beach get pricey fast.

Our Guide: Bangkok

Trying out a new type of post here, outlining the specifics of our trip for those interested in repeating parts or all of it. I spent a bunch of time taking pieces from other guides like these to formulate our vacation, so I know how useful they can be to anyone that happens to run across them on Google. On to the guiding…

Where we stayed:

Lub D, Silom. It’s a hostel, but we rented a private room on the top floor. It was perfection. It’s clean, has it’s own bathroom (toilet + shower) and is in a great location. We needed a place to stash our stuff, clean up and crash at the end of the day. This was that place. It’s got a safe inside the room for your valuables and a small bar in the lobby. There are several 7-11’s nearby and street food vendors all over the place. What else do you need? If you’re looking for luxury this probably isn’t for you.

What we ate:

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Street food. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to buy a single dish from a legitimate restaurant or grocery store. The street vendors in Bangkok (and Thailand in general) are phenomenal. Walk around in just about any direction for 5 minutes and you’ll run across some. They won’t speak English and they’ll only take cash, but when you’re paying 30 thb for a pile of pad thai, who cares? Be prepared to use some nonverbal communicative skills and lower your expectations on cleanliness. We never got sick from food, but they definitely aren’t held to the same level of cleanliness you’re used to. You’ve been warned.

What we did:

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Lots.

We visited Lumphini Park, which is akin to Central Park in NYC. It’s a massive green space in the middle of the city, complete with monitor lizards of up to 4 ft. Walking it is a great afternoon (or morning?) activity if you pair it with eating from all the vendors surrounding it. It’s free but the tricky part is finding a gate that’s open. This doesn’t always seem to follow logical rules, so you may end up walking a fair amount around it before being able to enter. If you’re staying at Lub D, it’s a 10 minute walk down the road.

We got several massages from Suanploo Thai Massage. We have nothing to compare Suanploo with because we were so happy with them we never went anywhere else. From our viewpoint, they have fantastic value as their hour long thai massages are around 280 thb. The people that work there are professional, the space is clean and the atmosphere is relaxing. We didn’t even try to beat it for our money. Again, if you’re staying at Lub D it’s about a 10 minute walk down the street in the other direction 🙂

We took a river taxi and visited Wat Arun. You can do these two independently or together, just make sure you do them.

We went to the weekend market, which is basically a gigantic mess of people selling anything and everything. It’s hot, sticky and densely packed with buyers and sellers. It’s a great place to people watch and fantastic place to go if you want to buy knockoff stuff. We ended up walking around a bit, eating some food and taking a stroll in a nearby park. To get there, just hop on the BTS and take it to Mo Chit. Get off and follow the throngs of people.

Pro-Tips:

* In general, you’ll need to carry cash with you at all times. Very few places accept cards and all of the places we ate ONLY accepted cash. With that in mind, try and have small bills/change available for purchasing food. Nobody wants to break a 1000 thb for a 60thb meal.

* It’s insanely hot and humid, so dress appropriately and always carry a bottle of water with you. We were told to avoid the tap water.

* Bargain any time you buy something other than food and massages. This includes taxi, tuk-tuk and goods.