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Seeking an Ultimate Backpackers Island

  • Phiddy

    Joined Travelfish
    1st December, 2011
    Posts: 64

    I am doing a circuit around SE Asia from Jan next year, and will hopefully have anywhere between one and three weeks at the end of it (April) to spend on an island of my choosing. But I'm having trouble picking the perfect one. Has anyone spent much time around Chumphon / Ranong / Koh Chang (ranong) ? These areas look similar to what I'm after - an island with little to no development, ie. just bungalows and no luxury hotels or anything.

    Having said this I'm 18 and travelling on my own, so would also really want a place where there are backpackers hanging out and it's easy to meet new people, preferably a bar or something, maybe a little music but that's all. I am NOT interested in full moon parties etc. etc. But also not an island that's full of just familys or couples keeping to themselves (not a problem though if they're friendly!)

    I finish my mainland travels in Cambodia so I was going to go from there to Koh Chang, and then maybe hop across to Koh Mak / Kud, but these all seem a little developed and touristy. The problem with travelling to the Andaman coast is timing if I only have one week, but I guess I can do this on an overnight train or something - it's worth it if I find somewhere with a nice relaxed friendly atmosphere.

    I stumbled on Koh Jum http://www.kohjumonline.com/friends.html

    Has anyone been there? It does look nice.

    #1 Posted: 6/12/2011 - 16:59

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  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1140
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    I have not been to Koh Jum but my colleague (a silent observer on Travelfish) went last February and said it blew the socks off all the islands she hopped through on her way there. She said it was much less developed but still very fun. I'm keeping that same website in my back pocket since she told me about it, and plan to a visit there myself sooner or later.

    Also - if you want to be off the beaten track on Ko Chang I'd check out Long Beach: http://www.travelfish.org/location/thailand/eastern_thailand/trat/salakphet_bay

    We stayed at a place called Zion that had just opened up the year before and run by a nice foreigner-local couple. If you want something more social Treehouse is off the water but very cool deck to eat and drink on overlooking the bay. At the time we stayed this was all there was at the beached tucked into a little cove - Loved this beach and spent evening looking up at the moon with phosphorescent fish bulbing around our ankles as the power went off in the area after 10pm.

    #2 Posted: 6/12/2011 - 20:44

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Canada
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    Hi Phiddy,

    Koh Jum is great. Massive, wide beach on a gorgeous island with stunning sunsets and views across to Koh Phi Phi and Phi Phi Leh. Affordable, too. Koh Mak isn't very developed compared to Koh Chang, but has gone slightly upscale since I was there last. Have heard great reports of it, though, from reliable sources. Koh Wai is also very quiet and has some great beach areas and hiking trails, but can get a lot of day traffic from Koh Chang depending on the time of the year. Koh Si Boya is fantastic for peace and quiet, but not for swimming or hanging out on the beach. It's very close to Koh Jum.

    Nice people to be found on all of these places.

    There are loads of islands and pretty much all of them have been hosting tourists for at least the last 15-20 years, some much longer. For what you're looking for, I'd say that Jum and Mak and Wai and possibly parts of Koh Pha-ngan would fit the bill nicely.

    Check tezza's website ... http://tezza-thailandbeachesandislands.blogspot.com/ ... and some of tezza's latest posts. You'll be hard pressed to find a better source of info for so many places all in one spot.

    #3 Posted: 6/12/2011 - 20:48

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6043
    Total reviews: 10

    Phiddy
    Since you are going to the Islands, this might be useless advice, but when in other areas of Thailand NOT on the tourist trail, it is easy to find places to hang out that cater to indigenous people here. 18 year old white guy - you're an instant superstar. Very easy then to meet other people around your age. My son loves that aspect of being here. Just a friendly tip, as I am not sure how well that applies to the Islands but perhaps you'll spend time in other parts of the counry.

    #4 Posted: 6/12/2011 - 21:38

  • Phiddy

    Joined Travelfish
    1st December, 2011
    Posts: 64

    Thanks for the replies ! Madmac I should probably mention I'm a girl haha. Thanks for the advice, I am really interested in going to places outside of the tourist trail, maybe after I've been there a while and feel confident

    #5 Posted: 7/12/2011 - 08:49

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
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    If you want to get off of the tourist trail, Phiddy, try traveling along the Mekong River from Chiang Khan to Khong Chiam. It's beautiful, quiet, there are lots of places to stay, people are great, and it's very affordable.

    #6 Posted: 7/12/2011 - 10:18

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
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    I plan to go to Koh Chang & Koh Phayam in Jan. Maybe Bang Saphan Yai as well, I'll let you know how it works out:)

    #7 Posted: 7/12/2011 - 11:20

  • Phiddy

    Joined Travelfish
    1st December, 2011
    Posts: 64

    altmtl thanks :) please do, I would love to hear from someone who has been there very recently !

    #8 Posted: 7/12/2011 - 11:41

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Earth
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    Easier to do if you join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/8624910873/ - I'll be doing regular updates!

    #9 Posted: 7/12/2011 - 12:02

  • Phiddy

    Joined Travelfish
    1st December, 2011
    Posts: 64

    I just asked to join :)

    #10 Posted: 7/12/2011 - 12:07

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  • asia4life

    Joined Travelfish
    30th November, 2011
    Location Sweden
    Posts: 19
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    At least 111

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I will recomend Chumpon. Depending on arrival time, spend one night in Chumpon Hotel, clean, fresh room with free wifi for 300 baht. The day after, grap the yellow songthaew outside to the north beach (30 baht)Thungwualen Beach. You can easily find a bungalow for 300 baht/night. Funky Bar is a good placce to start with, run by an English girl and her Thai husband. Sabai Sabai attract the French speaking, Good Bar attract Thais and all others

    I am more than twice your age, so we might not have the same preferences, but this is is a cheap and relaxed place (like Samui was 30 years ago), easy to make friends with the other "holiday guests" who mostly are Thai/European couples aged between 20 and 70.

    One warning, the beach last January had turned into a huge garbage tip, but the 50 something farangs living there where able to put pressure on local politicians so that a cleaning process of the beach started.

    #11 Posted: 8/12/2011 - 01:28

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6043
    Total reviews: 10

    Then Phiddy, you're an even bigger stuper star with this caveat: You will be very intimidating for the men here. They will all want to hit on you, and they will all be afraid to do so. The other women will be easier to break the ice with.

    #12 Posted: 8/12/2011 - 02:04

  • samila

    Joined Travelfish
    10th December, 2011
    Posts: 11

    What about Koh Nakha Yai located a few kilometers off Phuket's east coast?
    There 2 resorts on the island, 1 in the north and this one, Tenta Nakara, that only have 16 bungalows for rent: http://www.tentanakara.com/

    Koh Nakha Noi is a quiet island, no roads, no cars, no motorbikes, only a few tourists.
    You can read about it here: http://paddlinginphuket.blogspot.com/2011/04/koh-nakha-yai.html

    #13 Posted: 10/12/2011 - 22:13

  • Tennouji

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd September, 2007
    Location Japan
    Posts: 102
    Total reviews: 20

    Nothing like a first post plug, but that resort is hardly 18 year-old backpacker priced is it!

    #14 Posted: 15/12/2011 - 08:21

  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
    17th June, 2011
    Posts: 641

    Apologies if I'm jumping in on an already resolved thread but the Perhentian Islands could fit your bill. Good weather in April too I believe.

    #15 Posted: 15/12/2011 - 08:59

  • Phiddy

    Joined Travelfish
    1st December, 2011
    Posts: 64

    No this isn't resolved, I'm keeping an eye on this until early April and then I will decide which one to go to (decision may end up being based on convenience) but if I have enough time I will perhaps island hop.
    Any new suggestions are welcome :) Thanks for the replies so far

    #16 Posted: 15/12/2011 - 10:29

  • inspiredbyk-
    rissi

    Joined Travelfish
    9th December, 2011
    Posts: 68

    The Perhentians are a good choice if you want a backpacking island, but with more of a chilled vibe than most Thai islands. Within Thailand, Koh Lanta is my fave.

    #17 Posted: 18/12/2011 - 06:36

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1286
    Total reviews: 61

    I reckon you will be hard pressed to better little Ko Chang Andaman side as a backpackers' destination. Ko Jum is pretty sweet too.
    Then there is Ko Libong, Ko Phra Thong, Kos Yao Yai and Noi. Or the place with the best budget bungalow I've stayed at, Siboya Bungalows on the island of the same name. Beaches are pretty bad though.

    So many others - sometimes a well travelled island has some perfect travellers' beaches - like Ao Thian, Bottle Beach, Coral Beach or Ao Thong Wreng on Phangan.

    #18 Posted: 19/12/2011 - 03:09

  • Phiddy

    Joined Travelfish
    1st December, 2011
    Posts: 64

    Thanks ! Although to be honest I think Malaysia is a bit out of the way for me as I have to get back to bkk for a flight -- I want to have as much beach time as possible.

    Tilapia, thanks for the recommendations of where else to go in Thailand, I think I might do some sort of slow meander around the country and just dip into Laos and Cambodia (where possible) so suggestions like yours are very welcome :)

    #19 Posted: 19/12/2011 - 14:23

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