Just as the 3rd wave of COVID came crumbling down around us, I was super glad that I was able to take and finish one of the best road trips I have been on. The plan was to drive down south to Phuket for my birthday while staying at some new destinations I haven't been to yet.
Before we begin, here is a little overview of my trip:
- 2000+ km driven
- 3 weeks
- 4 provinces
- 4 gorgeous islands
- a couple of national parks
- countless beaches
- unforgettable memories
- about $1000+ spent
and the itinerary of the trip:
Bangkok - Ranong (2N) - Koh Phayam (2N) - Khao Sok (1N) - Phuket (3N) - Phi Phi (2N) - Phuket (6N) - Chumphon (1N) - Bangkok
Now since this is such a huge trip, I won't be writing about it. Instead, I will leave you with tons of pictures. After all, a picture is worth over 1000 words, so I will let them tell the story.
Don't worry, every now and then, I'll share some stories and experiences.
Have you ever been to Ranong? If not, you have to. It is clearly one of Thailand's hidden gems with so much beauty and charm.
It's got amazing food, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, national parks, beaches, and even islands. It's the perfect destination.
Here are the top four photos from my adventures in Ranong.
1. Helipad/viewpoint at Namtok Ngao National Park
2. Phu Khao Ya
3. Hat Som Paen reservoir
4. (Dried up) Waterfall at Namtok Ngao National Park
I also loved the city life in Ranong, filled with charming old-style buildings. So beautiful and peaceful.
Just about 30 minutes by speedboat from Ranong pier is a quaint little island called Koh Phayam.
It is really one of those islands that is barely developed, where you feel transported back in time.
Surprisingly, I quite liked Koh Phayam. Wonderful locals and easy to get around if you rent a bike. I normally don't ride motorbikes but here I managed to quite easily. It's a great way to explore the island.
Oh man, thinking back, I really miss it! It was so much fun riding the bike around. Sadly, I did not explore every corner of Koh Phayam but given another day or two, I could have. It's quite a tiny island.
Khao Sok (Surat Thani)
Can you believe that after living here for 26 years, I had never been to Khao Sok National Park?
Well, better late than never because I finally got to visit this magical place. There is no other place like it, especially if you take the boat trip on the Chiew Larn Lake (aka Ratchaprapha Dam).
The towering limestone karst formations coming out of the lake are truly a sight to behold. It almost feels like you're in a set of Jurassic Park or transported back in time. Way back in time.
Tip: the boat costs around 2000 Baht for a two trip. If you can share it with other people, I recommend doing that. You can also choose to stay overnight at the national park. There is a range of accommodations available here - from simple cottages to luxury resorts. My friend Chris Lau says that this is a must, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We stayed in Phuket for 3 nights as a way to slow down our travel and take a break from all the adventures. Apart from eating a lot, exploring some beaches and driving around, we did not do much.
I got some work done and exercised a bit as well. It was a well-deserved rest before we continued on to Phi Phi.
Phi Phi Islands
Another amazing destination that I never visited before. I am so glad I waited though, as I had heard this place had become very crowded and over visited.
Right now was the best time to visit as there were way fewer people and cleaner beaches/water.
I loved everything about Phi Phi islands and would definitely visit again.
If you want to read more about my Phi Phi Islands tour and overnight experience, check out my Phi Phi blog post.
I was finally back in Phuket after an amazing 2 days in Phi Phi Don. I was quite looking forward to my stay here because
1. it was for almost a week, so I could slow down a bit
2. Explore and discover new places
3. Meet some friends
4. Celebrate my birthday
Since I had a few days before my birthday, I decided to check out some of Phuket's hidden beaches. I never knew there were this many and so beautiful too.
I also visited a couple of viewpoints (but also missed a few good ones - hopefully, next time).
After this trip, I really believe I left my heart in Phuket. I absolutely need to go back. In fact, I decided I have to move there someday, somehow.
Naturally, with over a 12-hour drive from Phuket to Bangkok, I did not want to make the full journey. I decided to cut it in half and Chumphon made the most sense. I did not do anything in this province because I just needed to get some sleep and relax. So, I found the cheapest hotel in town, ate dinner, and rested.
Looking back, I feel so blessed to have taken this trip. It was such a learning experience that made me face some of my fears and anxieties. It also reaffirmed my love for travel and adventure. Lastly, I realized, how amazing Thailand really is, once you get out of Bangkok.
What do you think?