We made an unexpected trip to Thailand and if you had read in my last travel post, you would know that we gave in to the relentless monsoon in Malaysia (but also unfortunately Malaysia hadn’t lived up to our expectations). Having both been to Thailand previously, we knew what to expect and to be honest all we wanted at that moment in time was sunshine and good food. Within a matter of minutes (thanks to the good old thing we call the internet) we had booked our tickets and were checking out a day early than scheduled.
Maenam, Koh Samui
We had decided to split up our two week stay; a few days in a quiet location up in the hills of Maenam, which was a 30 minute drive from the town Chaweng; a few days in Chaweng amongst the hustle and bustle of the main town and then a few days in Ko Lanta, Krabi where neither of us had been to. Of course nothing ever goes according to plan and I guess that’s what keep things interesting =)
We stayed in a resort called Code nestled in the hills of Maenam. If you’re after peace and quiet in a somewhat secluded location then this place is for you. The walk down the hill (although the hotel runs a shuttle bus service at certain times throughout the day, up and down the hill) and to the main street around 15 minutes. Going down is ok but you’d be crazy to attempt the walk up which is why we always got the shuttle back. Once you get to the main road, there are a handful of establishments; a of couple restaurants (although we weren’t sure if they were ever open), a cafe, a 7 Eleven (of course) and a pharmacy (which I made a couple trips to but I won’t delve into too much detail).
If you want more choice and variety, then you can grab a cab into the main town of Chaweng but as mentioned, it is a 30 minute or so journey. Needless to say, we didn’t as we were planning on staying in the town during the next part of our stay any so we made the most of our seclusion. We happily dined at the restaurant in our hotel because the food was very good although on the pricier side but during the afternoons, we would wonder down to the main road and to a coffee shop called Four Monkeys (which also did juices and smoothies and one or two cakes that I spotted in the firdge…the beverage menu was rather extensive and also inexpensive) and enjoy our beverage with a great, quiet view of the Maenam beach.
Chaweng, Koh Samui
After a few secluded days in Maenam, we were ready to embrace the hustle and bustle of Chaweng. We booked to stay in the BaanTalay Resort (on Chaweng road albeit the quieter end) and almost immediately regretted it. Ok, so it wasn’t terrible (although the breakfast definitely was) but it sure was a far cry from where we had stayed previously. It didn’t help that the staff weren’t up to scratch in terms of hospitality skills either ( it doesn’t hurt or cost much to smile does it?). I struggled to get comfortable in the room which was cold and rather soul-less. The wifi was appalling much to my boyfriend’s frustration. The only consolation was the pool and it being a nice area to relax during the day although it did get very hot at times *cue black plastic umbrella* (yep! we were baffled too).
Being creatures of habit, we started each day with a trip to Tanya’s Cafe, which was literally a few doors down, and where we would stop for breakfast. This cafe is run by the sweetest, friendliest Thai lady, who I can only assume was Tanya herself. If you’re after a decent coffee (and it was seriously lacking where we were) then you really need to pay this place a visit (note that this place opens at 9am so don’t be as keen as we were and arrive at 8.30am). She owns the smallest barista we’ve ever seen but it sure does know how to make a darn, good coffee. For breakfast we would order fresh fruit (which included the sweetest mangos ever), topped with home-made muesli and yogurt. To wash that all down, we would have the ‘Pick Me Up’ juice which consisted of carrot and apple, with a good measure of ginger.
During the day, we lounged around the pool area and when the sun began to set, we ventured out for dinner (which is one of the perks of staying in a busy town- you have options!). There were a few hit and miss places in terms of good food but two notable places that we came across were the Stacked and Phensiri Thai Bistro.
Stacked burger joint about a 15-20 minutes walk from our hotel. The burger and fries were delicious and the service was faultless, if not set in a slightly unnecessarily, pretentious setting (although frustratingly the first night we arrived here, it was closed for a private function so we had to come back the following night).
Phensiri Thai Bistro was the other place we stumbled across when we decided to explore the quiet road heading the opposite direction to the road we normally went down was. This place was ranked no.1 place to eat in the area on Trip Advisor, but the pictures on the site as well as the venue itself does not do the food justice (and we should have known better than to judge a book by it’s cover). It’s such a tiny little place just off of the corner of the road and at the end of a row of similar looking restaurants. We were dubious but thought we’d give it a go as it can’t be too bad especially with so many excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. I am glad that we did because we were both blown away by the food. So much so that we came back the following night which happened to be our last night in Koh Samui. I’d recommend the Pad Thai here (yes unadventurous I know but why fix it if it ain’t broke?) and I think I can confidantly say that it’s the best Pad Thai Ive had in Thailand (and I’ve sampled many!). My boyfriend had one of the curries on the menu and thoroughly enjoyed it too. This place is also a prime example of good food doesn’t always mean expensive food. This place was cheap as chips as they say.
After checking out of Chaweng, we took a flight to Krabi, which is where we’ve heard rumours of beautiful, pristine beaches. We checked into the Crown Lanta Resort and Spa. Unfortunately it was the classic case of being mis-sold. The place was deserted and although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for us, we were placed in an area of the resort that was somewhat derelict. Everything was dusty, dirty and covered in cobwebs. After a night in an upgraded room as compensation, we decided that we were better off elsewhere and that elsewhere was to be Railay. I’d not been to Railay but my boyfriend had a very brief stay there years back when he was travelling around Thailand with friends and he remembered it being a beautiful island with beautiful beaches.
When we arrived in Railay, I felt that it had the same vibe to other Thai islands I’ve stayed in previously (chilled, relaxed with young tourists in their 20s-30s) but a bit more quiet which was perfect for us. The beach was beautiful as we had both hoped, not massive but not crowded either. We stayed at the Railay Village Resort which was right on the beach. One thing we did notice pretty quickly during our stay was the lack of choice in food and the poor quality of the food. Not just at our hotel but other places along the beach and funnily enough, my boyfriend stumbled across a blog post, The Horrible, No Good Very Bad Food on Krabi’s Railay West, which confirmed our fears.
The only place that did good food (and where you had to pay good money for it) was at the Rayavadee Hotel (which was the most expensive hotel on the resort). We enjoyed the food at The Grotto, one of the hotel’s four restaurants, so much that we came back the following night and celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday there. Not only was the food great, the view of the Phranang beach and of the wide open sea was second to none. Watching the sunset was absolutely magical. We also dined at one of their other restaurants, Raitalay Terrace, which has a view of Railay Beach and the food was equally good. So if you have the cash to splash, then I’d suggest looking at staying at the Ravadee but if you’d rather save your pennies, then stay at one of the other resorts in Railay and treat yourself to dinner or lunch at the Rayavadee, where you’ll get to experience an almost deserted Phranang beach, whereby the sand is so fine that your feet will feel seriously spoilt.
After two weeks in Thailand, we headed back to Malaysia and to Kuala Lumpur where the next part of our journey would begin, the Philippines. Stay tuned for more posts of my travels to Asia.