So we're planning a trip to Thailand for end Feb start March 2013 and as neither of us have been to Thailand before it's a daunting process. Whilst my hubby has travelled quite alot, this will be my maiden voyage overseas and I'm desperate to get it right.
It's our 10th wedding anniversary, so we're not interested in partying, bar hopping and seeing ladyboys in Patong. What we do want is seclusion, romance, AWESOME food, snorkeling, kayaking and cocktails (oh so many cocktails).
At the moment I think we're going to have 5 nights on Ko Yao at the Ko Yao Pavillions, then on to Phi Phi to stay at Zeavola, then on to Phuket for 4 nights to stay ? (must have a swim up bar, always wanted to stay somewhere with one of those).
So now is where the questions begin. Is Ko Yao still a nice, quiet, secluded paradise and if yes, can we still eat cheaply and get great Thai food? I'm not particularly interested in great burgers and steaks, I can get them here in OZ. Are we better to book our tours to places like Similian Islands, Mosquito Island etc from Ko Yao or Phi Phi? And, can we get a direct boat ride from Ko Yao to Phi Phi, or will we need to go back to Phuket? Has anyone stayed at Ko Yao Pavillions, and if yes what did they think?
Also, has anyone stayed at Zeavola? Is it as nice as it looks? Is there local places to eat near Zeavola (It's north east on Phi Phi I think), and places to book snorkeling tours from? We don't really want to get ripped off by the resort and would rather book our trips and tours with the locals.
Would anyone recommend anywhere else to stay that fits into what we're looking for? Is there somewhere better than Phi Phi if you want a great beach with snorkeling and no hammered 20 year olds? Or is Phi Phi one of those must go places?
We have a pretty big budget for accommodation, $350-$370 AUD (11,000 - 11,800 baht) per night for the first 10 nights, then around $150 AUD (4,700 baht) for in Phuket, so if anyone can give me some ideas of other places to stay that have great beaches, seclusion but local culture, food and tours at reasonable prices and snorkeling, please let me know.
Sorry for so many questions, but I'm trying to be as specific as I can to assist with responses.
Thanks in advance
#1 DeanneO has been a member since 10/6/2012. Posts: 2
Food at 5 star resorts is expensive. Seems odd you want cheap food but are paying $300 a night for a room.
Phi Phi does have good snorkelling. Lots of 20yo tools but your 5 star resort will be away from them.
"Also, has anyone stayed at Zeavola? Is it as nice as it looks? Is there local places to eat near Zeavola (It's north east on Phi Phi I think)"
Don't know it but the east coast has several different bays and it's rather isolated so you are faced with resort food or catch a longtail boat to another area. PP isnt really the place for authentic cheap thai food. Lots of westernised thai food plus banana pancakes and the like.
If you want local food try Krabi Town or Phuket Town.
Similian tours you should book from phuket.
Never been to Koh Yao.
"have great beaches, seclusion but local culture, food and tours at reasonable prices and snorkeling"
You could try Ko Kood. Different area altogether but has those things. Stunning beaches. Also called Ko Kut (read up on it on this website under islands).
With your budget I'd consider the top resort on Ko Kradan. Looks like a great resort and beautiful beaches. I'd pick that one if it was me. Seven Seas Resort. http://www.agoda.com/asia/thailand/trang/sevenseas_resort.html
$100-130. Don't need to pay anymore than that in Thailand.
$300 a night is just throwing money away and you lose the Thai aspect and really just get a big fat over the top resort.
#2 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
Thanks for your reply Longbeach. I guess we're willing to pay so much for our accommodation to avoid drunk 20 year olds and to have a nice villa near the beach. If you know of anywhere (on Phi Phi or elsewhere) please let me know as of course we'd rather not spend that amount.
Having never travelled to Thailand before, we are unsure of the areas and have the idea that the cheaper the accommodation, the more chance there will be lots of backpackers partying. Maybe this is an incorrect assumption???
We would much rather eat locally and enjoy authentic Thai food, not a westernised version and while yes money is a factor, we feel we'd have more chance of this in a village than at a resort. Likewise, we'd rather assist with supporting local business by booking tours through them than paying the inflated prices of a resort.
I keep reading posts by people saying $200 AUD + per night is too much to pay for nice accommodation and there are lots of cheaper places out there, but after a week online, I'm yet to find the sort of accommodation we're looking for (individual villa, mosquito netting, near the beach) that is out of a main partying area. Ideally we'd like the more secluded and authentically Thai, the better. We plan to have 4 nights in Phuket at the end of our stay to shop and have fun in a busy tourist area. The 10 days before that, we'd love to see and taste more of the real Thai Islands.
#3 DeanneO has been a member since 10/6/2012. Posts: 2
Okay, lotsa stuff to answer here:
*Ko Yao Noi is still a nice quiet spot. Pavillions has one of the better positions. You can eat cheaply at outside joints but Pavillions is down a 500m track from the main road so this will entail a bit of travel. Thing about more expensive resorts is that some of them still have reasonably priced food, some of them think they are at Berowra Waters.
All places in Yao can do daytrips into Phangna Bay (technically Yao Noi is a west PB island), the best daytrips available in the Andaman IMHO. Most go to the south bay off eastern Krabi but some may also do the eastern and central bay which has more variety. Nevertheless the south bay is supposed to be very good.
One point - if you are flying into Phuket on Jetstar from Sydney which arrives after dark you will have great problems getting directly to Yao Noi. I'd do maybe my first 2 nights on Phuket - 2 hotels close to the airport (and not as far as the main Phuket beaches from the Yao Noi pier) which have swim up bars are Naithonburi at Nai Thon Beach and Nai Yang Beach Resort at Nai Yang. Both are nice quieter beaches with plenty of outside eats - the Naithonburi does free airport pickups and drop-offs.
I heard about a year ago that someone had started a direct high season speedboat from Yao Noi and Yao Yai to Phi Phi. Nothing since. Google? Hey, Zeavola should know - email?
Mosquito island is only a few km from Laem Tong where Zeavola is located and all the resorts in that nice section will do snorkelling/beach trips across there.
Do your Similans daytrip from Phuket - personally I think it is too far for a daytrip but when I visited in April there were heaps of people coming up from Phuket. BTW they van you to the pier near Khao Lak and then load you into big speedboats for the 80 minute trip out to the islands. Make sure you get a trip which includes not only the main beach at National Park headquarters island #4 but also Donald Duck Bay beach at island#8. These are 2 of the nicest beaches in Thailand and make up for the fact that global warming has impacted the snorkelling.
I'd stay a night or two at Khao Lak and do my Similians daytrip from there - actually if coming from either Lak or Phuket I'd stay a night on the islands to make the getting there more worthwhile - not the tents (they are overpriced and leak) but the National Park bungalows (still overpriced IMHO but cheap compared to the Zeavola - way more basic too).
Oops, just got visitors - will finish later.
*I don’t think there is somewhere better than the laid back east coast of Phi Phi for yourasks – particularly if you don’t want to spend large slabs of time travelling away from the Phuket area. I personally think Phi Phi is a must do for people who haven’t seen it – 2nd best landscape/seascape in Thailand after Phang Nga Bay. And Laem Thong in north east Phi Phi is the second nicest beach with accommodation on the island and is too isolated from town and too expensive for the 20yo ragers.
Laem Thong has a small bunch of midrangers or better so there is some variety of dining. But there is also a local Sea Gypsy fishing village and I heard the locals have built a couple of budget family sized bungalows for tourists, so they should also have a restaurant (my last visit up there I forgot to look – but the locals do have a small store down on the beach alongside their longtail taxiboat station). That taxi boat station will be able to lay on trips to Mosquito Island, Phi Phi Ley for the beach, trips to town for shopping etc.
*Phi Phi alternatives to Zeavola? Well most of the other places on Laem Thong are less expensive and I know for a fact that the Holiday Inn gets good reviews. Phi Phi Natural has always looked pretty good to me too.
But down a few steps but quieter and way more romantic – flashpacker standard Relax Resort on its own little beach, Had Pak Meng/Relax Bay, also on the laid back eastcoast – about 3km south of Laem Thong. Check the user reviews on Trip Advisor, the mass booking sites like Agoda, and here on TRAVELFISH – this joint gets consistently good reports.
One thing,Relax Resort hasn’t got a pool – you don’t really need one IMHO.
Food pricesin the restaurant were pretty good last time I called in – for alternatives you can walk 10 minutes south along the rocks to Ao Rantee which has at least 3 budget bungalow restaurants, another 5minutes via the rocks to Toh Koh Resort’s restaurant, but both these only below half tide –any fuller tide level makes the rock-hopping difficult. You can reach all these by jungle track too but it’s 20 minutes up killer slopes and then 20 minutes back down.
About 10-15minutes north of Relax Resort by a shorter, less steep jungle track to thesouth end of lovely Loh Bakeo beach is the super-flash Phi Phi Island Village –I noticed some locals had set up a “budget” restaurant just north of the resort and slightly inland – but the prices seemed to reflect that rich dudes used to paying over the top were staying adjacent. Still, the prices were way down on expensive restaurant levels.
Relax Bay is not the sort of place which attracts the young and noisy. Most stay in town to party – about the furthest out they get is Long Beach on the eastern end of the south coast.
There is a fringing reef all along the east coast of Phi Phi with pretty good snorkelling by Thailand standards. I haven’t snorkelled Laem Thong. The biggest concentration of snorkelling trip boats I’ve seen was off Ao Rantee.
*Other Phuketaccommodation? Jeez, there’s such a huge variety of joints and every second place from lower-midrange up has a pool bar. Maybe you could check Agoda, sawadee.com etc to see what floats your boat.
It seems you want to avoid the more crowded beaches – maybe you could check Cape Panwa Hotel in relatively unvisited south east Phuket, has its own nice little beach,an awesome main pool and accommodation from midrange to very flash, including some bungalows with private pools. To shop from here you will need a songthaew or taxi into Phuket town – maybe 20 minutes.
The nicest and quietest of the big 3 beaches is Kata Noi (not Kata Yai although that is way better than Patong). Has some real nice places might fit your asks. Once again Sawadee.com etc are the go. Shopping etc is okay but better 10 minutes over the northern headland at south Kata Yai.
20yo backpackers usually stay in cheap places like $10-50 a night.If you are in a $100 a night resort unlikely to encounter many of these louts.
Ko Ngai has some real nice resorts and it's an island with good snorkelling and it's resorts are mostly mid range and above so doesn't get the trashy crowd unlike Phi Phi. It's mainly a resort island though so no real thai village.
If I was you I'd look at Muk (mook), Ngai and Kradan islands.
#6 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
#7 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307