Best Private Island Getaways (II)

Tag: Thailand

Best Private Island Getaways (II)

For many travelers, their idea of a perfect vacation is a secluded spot away from the rest of the world. These vacationers prefer to be close to nature, isolation and utter relaxation. If this kind of destination appeals to you, we've picked out the best private island gateways. The following islands all have one thing in common: peace and quiet.


3. Best Private Island Gateways: Heron Island —Australia

Heron Island is just one gem between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef — one of The 7 Wonders Of The World. But Heron Island is actually right on top of the reef. So, where a trip to the reef from some islands means a long boat ride, on Heron, the coral is right at your front door. Heron is not a large island, but it is a protected sanctuary for both sea turtles and birds: watching turtle hatchlings make their perilous journey to the sea is a prime activity around the holiday season. Diving is the main attraction, centered on corals and fish (lionfish, butterfly fish, sharks, manta rays, and a cast of thousands). Blue Pools is a little bay that is sheltered by the edge of the Heron reef. Essentially current free, it allows snorkelers to enjoy watching the local fish clans cruise the corals. It is estimated that more than half of the 1,500 fish species on the Great Barrier Reef can be seen here.


4. Best Private Island Gateways: Koh Yao Yai — Thailand

Thailand has long been known for its beautiful beaches. Because of this fame, there has been a lot of development on the beaches of Thailand and people are starting to avoid them as its simply too crowded. What people don't realize, is there are hide-aways in Thailand that are not yet developed, offering the beautiful white sand beaches and lush jungle landscape —without the crowds. Koh Yao Yai, a small island just 30 minutes from Phuket or Krabi by boat, is that special undiscovered island. With few hotels on the island, there are no crowds. Koh Yao Yai Village resort is a small hotel located on the sleepy little island — perfect for someone looking to get away from the crowds and have an old-world Thai island experience. Note that the islanders are keen to preserve their traditional ways, so it's important to respect the local culture by dressing modestly and refraining from drinking alcohol outside of the restaurants/resorts catering to visitors.

Tourist Attractions in Bangkok, Thailand (II)

With over seven million inhabitants, Bangkok is one of the largest cities in the world. Bangkok is loud, hot, chaotic, full of people and noise. At the same time it is a city of temples, friendly people and exotic smells, a melting pot of cultures. Precisely these contrasts represent the diversity and fascination with this beautiful city. Keep reading to discover the most important tourist attractions in Bangkok, Thailand:


5. Lumphini Park (Tourist Attractions in Bangkok, Thailand – Park)

Lumphini Park is also fondly referred to as the “green lung” of Bangkok. The largest park in Bangkok is located directly in the town center. You will be able to take a step back here from the hectic and the traffic. Visitors can ride rowing boats and pedal boats on the artificial lake. Public concerts are held in the palm garden of the park in winter.


6. Wat Phra Kaeo (Tourist Attractions in Bangkok, Thailand – Park)

Wat Phra Kaeo, the most sacred of all Thai temples, is located in the grounds of the royal palace. Its treasures include the sacred Emerald Buddha, which is the most revered Buddha statue in Thailand. The statue, however, is not made of emeralds, as the name suggest, but green jade.


7. Wat Arun (Tourist Attractions in Bangkok, Thailand – Temple)

Without a doubt, the “Temple of the Dawn” is one of the most well known landmarks of Bangkok. It is located directly on the Thonburi bank of the Chao Phraya River. You can enjoy the glorious view of the town in the tower, which is 70 meters high. The temple was developed around 1780. The entire complex is coated with porcelain and seashells. You can take the ferryboat to the temple for Tha Tien Pier. The crossing costs approx. 5 Bahts.


8. Vimanmek Palace (Tourist Attractions in Bangkok, Thailand – Castle)

The Vimanmek Mansion is the world’s largest teak wood villa. Formerly, the 81 rooms were used as the imperial palace, but today a museum is housed here. The ground floor basically comprises brick and cement; King Rama V had the upper floors made of golden teak wood. The museum is home to many art treasures, personal items of the royal family and beautiful historical photographs. Only those wearing the right attire may enter the premises.

Best Places to Eat in Thailand (VI)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Sabieng Lae – Seaside seafood


A mid-range seafood restaurant popular with both Thais and tourists, Sabieng Lae has a large menu filled with all kinds of once-swimming food. 


I tried and enjoyed fried soft shell crab, a raw shrimp salad (tossed with garlic, onions, mind and basil) as well as a sour coconut soup with chicken (and turmeric and lime). 


It's just south of Lamai Beach. 



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Sweet Sisters – Organic and fresh on Koh Samui


A newer cafe serving up delicious, creative and healthy Thai food, Sweet Sisters focuses on southern specialties (think fish laap made with a thick mackerel steak) and regional favorites. There's a large board of changing specials (I had the banana blossom flower salad with prawn that day) and a range of desserts. You'll find the food tangy and light. 


A couple of Western favorites take a Thai twist, such as a Thai basil chili pasta with ground cashews and prawn. 


It's some of the best places to eat on the island. 


Corner of routes 4173 and 4170 on the south side of the island.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Boomelicious – Delicious food in Pai


This excellent little cafe is a good value: burgers, which come on pillow-like homemade buns and house made sweet potato chips, are only 96 baht. Large breakfasts are served all day, and there's a big menu of healthy juices and smoothies. They also serve smooth coffee. 


It's right on the corner of the two main backpacker streets in Pai, near soi 1.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Cafe d'tist – Coffee, smoothies and breakfast in Pai


Try the eggs benedict! Just do it. Though the menu says they use Hollandaise sauce, it's actually a mild yellow curry and so delicious. 


The setting is very pleasant, even though it's on the street. A small, treed patio, a few earthen walls, a pavilion and decent people-watching opportunities make it a nice place sit for a while. 


Hotel des Artists has some equally lovely rooms and a riverside area.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand (V)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Pum Patong – Restaurant and cooking school


The younger sister to Ko Phi Phi's Pum, Pum Patong maintains the fun vibe and yummy food, as well as the excellent cooking classes. 


Pum emphasizes simple, whole ingredients, and the result is super-tasty treats.


Dishes have fun names such as "red lipstick" (red curry), and cocktails are creative: try the lemongrass and Mekong whisky, or Thai coffee and Mekong whisky. Sweet and refreshing!


Cooking classes are held several times a day, at 11am, 4pm and 6pm. You can take short classes that focus on a single dish for 399 baht, or three-hour classes for 1200 baht, plus options in-between.


Call ahead to make a reservation or schedule a private cooking class.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Tonsai – Great Thai food on Ko Chang


A large menu of Thai specialties is the reason to visit Tonsai. Besides the usual curry favorites, you can try less mainstream (but still friendly) dishes, such as dried pork with sticky rice and som tam or Thai lettuce hand wraps. The menu is extensive and it's a good place to dine with friends, as you can order many dishes and eat them Thai-style.


It's in a lovely garden setting that offsets the road's proximity. 



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Baan Chivit Mai Bakery – Where to get your jelly rolls


This bakery is popular with newspaper-reading expats and carb-loving travelers. With two small cases filled with items such as brownies, jelly rolls and fresh-baked bread, the Swedish bakery is a great place to stop before a long bus ride. (It's right across the street from the Chiang Rai bus terminal and the Night Bazaar.)


Baan Chivit Mai is part of a larger social enterprise offering local independent relief. The bakery functions as vocational training for prostitutes and drug dealers.


Best Places to Eat in Thailand (IV)


Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Na's Kitchen, Pai – Amazing Thai food in Pai


Na's Kitchen is friendly and delicious. The clientele appears to be mostly foreigners, but the food is good enough to appeal to Thais. Try the Penang curry, and the ramen noodles with pork. 


It's only open for dinner.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Pum Ko Phi Phi – Restaurant and cooking school on Ko Phi Phi


Cheerful Pum is a small chain with three locations: Ko Phi Phi, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. 


It does excellent Thai staples at very reasonable prices, and uses natural, whole ingredients. The restaurant interior is relaxing and comfortable, cool gray cement shows off bright orange pillows and decor.


Dishes have fun names such as "red lipstick" (red curry), and cocktails are creative: try the lemongrass and Mekong whisky, or Thai coffee and Mekong whisky. Sweet and refreshing!


Cooking classes are held twice a day at 1pm and 4pm; you can do short classes that focus on a single dish for 399 baht, or three-hour classes for 1200 baht, plus options in-between.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Regina Garden – The place to eat some tam and watch the sun set


One of the most laid-back venues along this block of riverfront restaurants and bars, Regina's has a mellow garden atmosphere. Tables are set on the grass or dirt along the water, or up higher on a covered patio. Whimsical wooden sculptures adorn the leafy grounds, while inside is what feels like an antique curios shop. Prices are reasonable for the atmosphere and location; about 80-100 baht for Thai mains. Some of the staff doesn’t speak English but the menu is in both Thai and English. 


Best Places to Eat in Thailand (III)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Blue Lagoon – Cooking school, excellent restaurant, and bungalows on Ko Chang


Right before Khlong ("canal") Prao enters the ocean, it widens into a small lagoon. Over this lagoon hover a half-dozen wooden bungalows trimmed in turquoise-painted wood. It's a great spot to wake up.


The Blue Lagoon restaurant, cooking school and resort are all worth your while. Run by a family of big-smiled women who share their grandmother's recipes with students, the complex includes an organic garden and romantic eating pavilions. A thin floating bridge leads you to a sandy beach where you can enjoy a sunset beer at one of the many beach bar establishments.


A cooking class runs 1000baht / person and you'll learn some Thai basics such as pad thai, chicken and cashews, and curry. As a gift you'll receive an arty cookbook of all the recipes you used. 


Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Blue Lagoon


The small bungalows on the lagoon are 700 baht, while two-story "garden" bungalows, which are much larger, are 1000. 


Be forewarned, however: if guests decide to stay an extra day or two, Blue Lagoon honors that and not a reservation. Therefore, it's possible that if you make a reservation more than a day or two in advance, you could arrive to no room. We've seen it happen. It's best to call and confirm your reservation the day you are arriving.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: May Kaidee – Vegetarian restaurant and cooking school


May Kaidee is a small chain with restaurants in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Their vegetarian food is vibrant, colorful and healthy – for example, they use brown rice instead of white for all dishes. 


The Chiang Mai location was recently remodeled and expanded and now takes up a lovely garden corner on Ratchapakinai Rd. Dishes are very affordable, with mains like curry and vegetable fried rice costing between fifty and sixty baht. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, they can work with you on special orders. 


Best Places to Eat in Thailand: May Kaidee


May Kaidee also holds a vegetarian cooking school daily at 9am for 1200 baht. The class last half a day, and you'll learn to make vegetarian versions of pad thai, massamam and green curry, and about a half dozen other dishes. A trip to the market will introduce you to many of Thailand's unique fruits and veggies. 


Best Places to Eat in Thailand (II)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Bang Po Thakho Seafood – The best Samui-style seafood


On the north side of the island, Bang Po Thakho does excellent Samui-style seafood, which means a few things. First, it's southern-Thai food style, which means you'll get a lot of sour notes. Second, it uses a lot of Samui's main ingredient: coconuts. Third, it has some dishes that are good for experimental eaters, such as sea urchin and baby octopus. 


Tables are set up on the beach, and diners are automatically given shells filled with a spicy shrimp paste with fresh veggies on the side. Have fun and order a lot of dishes!


Bang Po Thakho is located on the northwest side of the island in Bang Po village. It's next door to the 4 Monkeys bar.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Beetroot Stories – Vegetarian food in Chiang Mai’s Old City


A little vegetarian restaurant with delightfully colorful food (maybe because of all those beets?), Beetroot Stories has a small but delicious menu that takes Thai specialties and makes them just a little bit more special. For example, the Massaman curry is made a bit sweeter with pineapple and cinnamon sticks, and a little bit more healthy by being served with brown rice. The French toast is not only sweet and banana-y, but nutty as well – and totally delicious. Cappuccinos are made yummy with coconut milk and cinnamon. Also on the menu are salads, smoothies, lassies, and all-day breakfast. 



In the courtyard behind Wawee Coffee on Rachadamnoen Rd, Beetroot Stories shares outside tables with some of the other small restaurants in the area. 


There is no website, but they do have a Facebook page.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: KaTi – Restaurant and cooking school on Ko Chang


In an easy-to-miss building along the road at Khlong Phrao, Ko Chang, KaTi is worth looking out for. Both a restaurant and a cooking school, it does beautiful curries and unique smoothies.


It's opposite the side of the road that the beach is on, at Khlong Prao.


Best Places to Eat in Thailand (I)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Chic's Dim Sum – Dim sum and then some


Offering more than 50 types of dim sum, Chic's Dim Sum is a fun place to go for a snack or an entire meal. (We liked number 2: cream buns, though they seemed to be filled with sweet egg yolk rather than cream.) 


Sit down, pick out your buns, and enjoy. There's also a large selection of Chinese teas. 



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Horm Lamai – "Ancient" coffee and dumplings


On the main road outside Lamai beach, this place does excellent "cafe boran" (ancient coffee), dim sum, and kanom jeem. Run by a Chinese-Thai, Horm Lamai also has an espresso bar in the back. It's well worth the visit. 


Horm Lamai closes in the early- to mid-afternoon. 



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Jok Sompet – Thailand's favorite breakfast, 24 hours a day


If you haven't tried jok (a rice porridge commonly served with pork in the north and seafood in the south; also called "congee"), head to Jok Sompet. This 24-hour restaurant is almost always busy, and it specializes in jok. A bowl of pork and egg jok is the same price as it is at a street stall: 35 baht. There are several protein options as well as a vegetarian option. The menu is printed in both English and Thai. 


There's plenty of other options on the menu, including dim sum, pork belly in a chili turmeric curry (65 baht) and other, more basic dishes. 


4 Unique tips to make the most of a trip to Thailand!

by David D. Chait


Thailand is a beautiful country with a diversity of sites, activities, and culture, which makes it a top destination for travelers from across the globe.


I recently traveled there on my Honeymoon and had the time of my life with the perfect balance of beach, hiking, and culture. To make the most of your next trip here are my 4 unique tips to make the most of a trip to Thailand.


I say unique because everyone knows how beautiful and historically significant the temples throughout the country are. From Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in the mountains of Chiang Mae to the Gran Palace in Bangkok, you shouldn’t miss a single one.



1. Take a canal tour in Bangkok (time is running out!)

One of Bankok’s biggest attractions is taking a small teak boat ride through the city’s many canals. These rides are not only a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, but let you really take in the city as you pass countless temples, homes of all shapes and sizes, and other sites.


In the future, however, these rides will never be the same, with new home construction currently banned on the canals.



2. Take a Thai cooking class.

Thai food is delicious with so many flavors and layers of complexities. Nonetheless there are surprisingly many Thai dishes simple enough for novice chefs.


On my Thai adventure, we took a cooking class in Chiang Mae and learned to make Chicken Pad Thai, Green Beef Curry, and Prawn Soup all complete with a walk through a traditional Thai market. We learned so much about Thai culture from food alone and left with a new skill.



4. Try the street food. It’s delicious!

Although many travelers might be intimidated by street food, an important part of a complete Thailand experience is to eat like the locals, which means trying the diversity of street food available. From noodles to vegetables to various meats and seafood on a stick there’s a whole delicious world to explore.


My favorite food throughout the country was by far pork on a stick.



5. Visit with an elephant. (But don’t ride one.)

Another must-do activity in Thailand is to visit one of the many nature preserves and see Elephants. You can feed them, bathe them, and learn much about this beautiful and fascinating creature.


Although there are many attractions that allow you to ride elephants, there are plenty of humane rescues.




David Chait is a passionate traveler and founder of Travefy, a free online group travel planner.

Activities and Adventures in Thailand (I)

Activities and Adventures in Thailand: Akha Ama Coffee Journey – A weekend in an Akha village, seeing how coffee is produced


Of all the trekking opportunities around Northern Thailand, the Akha Ama Coffee Journey is one of the most culturally relevant. Almost everyone drinks coffee, right? And how often do you have an opportunity to witness not only the coffee production, but also change in action. 


Run by the affable Lee of Akha Ama Coffee, the journey takes you into an Akha village (his home), where Lee has cultivated sustainable and fair-trade practices in order to give villagers there a better life. 


The weekend-long journey is only 2000 baht per person, and includes transportation, all meals, and accommodation with a host family. 


Check the Akha Ama website or stop by the coffee shop for specific journey dates.


Activities and Adventures in Thailand: Elephant Nature Park – Award-winning sanctuary


The Elephant Nature Park works with rescued and distressed elephants from all over Thailand, and, according to the website, is a place "where elephants no longer work for humans." 


This special place was established in 1995 in the Mae Taeng Valley. While visitors won't get to ride an elephant (or watch it paint a picture), they will instead help bathe and feed them as well as learn their individual histories. 


You'll need to book in advance; this can be done over the phone or at The Elephant Nature Park's office in Chiang Mai (see map). A day trip starts with a hotel pick-up, transport to the Park, all activities and lunch and then return transport. The cost is 2500 baht per adult. 


Activities and Adventures in Thailand: KaTi – Restaurant and cooking school on Ko Chang


In an easy-to-miss building along the road at Khlong Phrao, Ko Chang, KaTi is worth looking out for. Both a restaurant and a cooking school, it does beautiful curries and unique smoothies.


It's on the opposite side of the road that the beach is on, at Khlong Prao.