Hello all - arrived in Bangkok a few days ago for my first time. Already loving it here. I'd like to head down to the coast and start visiting some islands. I'll probably be doing this for roughly a month before I head north.
Does anyone have any recommendations on budget island hopping during the high season months? I'm a solo male backpacker and am adventurous and don't mind staying in very budget accommodation.
Some islands I have initial interest in:
Coral and Raya islands?
Ko Chang Noi
Ko Bulon Lae
Ko Kho Khao
Any budget options on Ko Ngai
Ko Kradan (can anyone attest to staying out here overnight rather than daytripping?)
Ko Lao Liang
Would love some suggestions on some budget and beautiful options in Pha Ngan as well (not too interested in the full moon madness)
Obviously I won't be hitting this many islands - ideally I'd like to pick a handful. Anyone have any luck budget traveling on any of these?
Of the islands you mention, the best for a real low budget are Ko Chang Noi and Ko Bulon Lae. You should be able to find basic huts (no electricity at night) in the 400 baht neighborhood on either. Bulon can be reached by island hopping speedboats but Chang Noi can only be reached from Ranong.
In the 600 to 800 baht range (give or take), Ko Muk , Ko Libong and Ko Kradan should all have fan accommodation. Rubber Tree on Ko Muk is good. I've stayed overnight at Wally's Paradise Lost on Kradan and had a great experience, but it's small and popular so you should probably get in touch ahead of time to reserve something. The other places to stay on Kradan are at least 1,000 baht per night I believe.
Personally I'd pick Ko Phra Thong over Ko Kho Khao (they're neighbors). Phra Thong has basic huts in the same budget league as Chang Noi and Bulon, and I found it to be a really interesting island. Kho Khao is quite pricey for the most part, and the scenery / beaches are comparable if not better on Phra Thong. Ko Ngai is also one of the pricier islands -- it is beautiful but I'd probably skip it in favor of Kradan or Lipe as a solo traveler.
Ko Lao Liang might not be a bad spot if you're into the whole "package island adventure" idea. I believe it's a flat rate for accommodation and food, though I think you have to pay more for activities and transport, so it wouldn't be ultra-budget. Similans (and also Ko Surin) get pricey because you have to pay a tour company to speedboat you there, plus the national park fees. Really beautiful place but can perhaps get boring if you're overnighting b/c there's only the national park restaurant, the islands are really small and the national park doesn't provide the greatest means for getting around them (they leave that more up to the tour companies).
Ko Lipe isn't cheap, but you can find decent accommodation in the 700 baht range. I'm a big fan of Gipsy Resort on Sunset Beach. From there you could also go camp out at Ko Adang for a night or two.
The others (Ko Rok, Coral & Raya, and Ko Lok) I haven't been to. Ko Kut is south of big Ko Chang -- nowhere near the Andaman -- but I've heard great things about it.
Thanks a lot @DLuek. That was very helpful. I'm thinking I might train down to Trang town (ha!) or to Krabi town from Bangkok and will begin island hopping from there. I would greatly welcome any other suggestions any of you might have on some must-see islands in the Andaman that won't break the bank.
Quick update for anyone interested: Lipe was incredible. Planned for 5 nights and stayed for 14. Hostel there on westernmost end of Pattaya beach (Koh Lipe Backpackers) was 500 baht/night, bungalows next door at Daya resort start at 600 baht/night for simple fan doubles. I found Pad Thai and most noodle dishes to be 80 baht and curries/other mains 120 baht. So yes the island is a bit more expensive - but definitely worth seeing. Absolutely gorgeous water, killer snorkeling and an all around great vibe. Only downside is the past 3 weeks I've been comparing everywhere I've been to it
Now in Chumphon looking to head towards Koh Phayam, Koh Chang Noi, or Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Not a prob - just trying to give back since I've found this forum so helpful while planning.
@Leanard - I think I'm gonna put out a request to couchsurf in Prachuap. 600 baht bungalows while traveling solo aren't my cup of tea. Definitely worth checking out Lipe, I'd imagine things are much slower during low season, but I'm sure the island maintains its overall great vibe.
I'm glad you enjoyed Lipe. Instead of the 3 nights I'd planned, I ended up staying 11 myself! I must say that I much prefered the quiet sunrise side though.
Some feedback on Koh Phayam and Koh Chang Noi would be great: I've not managed to get to those yet as I keep going back to old favourites.
Sunrise beach was my favorite as well Tennouji - much more scenic views and less longtails than Pattaya beach.
Ended up heading up to Prachuap Khiri Khan instead of the islands. I'm craving some more time in the Andaman, but man the prices here in PKK are really nice. If I do decide to head back south to either of Phayam or Chang Noi, I'll be sure to write something up.
Any place in particular you'd recommend eating here Leonard? Today already I've had the best noodle soup and Kao Pad Muu I've yet to have on this trip. I'm impressed.
Leonard, I've been past Castaway several times since it opened in 2009. Always liked the look of that joint.
Good position? Oh yeah - it's in the southern most third of long Andaman beach. In the past this section was a bit scratchy but my last Lipe visit saw the area just about fully developed with mainly flashpacker/lower-midrange joints and they sure are doing a good job in manicuring the beach. Even better, my favourite section of beach on Lipe, what I call Viewpoint's second (most southern) beach is only 5 minutes walk away. And that gorgeous section of Andaman up near where it curves around to Mountain Resort's spit, is about 10 minutes stroll. So too is the start of Walking Street with the main Pattaya Beach another 5.
Resort Look Good? Definitely - they have some pretty attractive double storey bungalows and a nicely positioned beachview restaurant.
A couple of small points: this place aint exactly budget and you may be able to get better value elsewhere. Plus when it first opened it was hit with some scathing posts on a certain travel forum re high prices and poor service. However I have seen none in recent years and Trip Adviser + Agoda reviews were mainly good last time I looked.
That's pretty good for such a place. Relax Resort on the east coast of Phi Phi wanted more than that for a nice but basic bungalow last wet season.
Nice thing abt Lipe's Andaman Beach is that the wind is off the shore in wet season - very sheltered.
actually my prices were a bit wrong. Prices are a lot more extreme in high seasons
Garden View Breezy
that's a massive drop
they rent out a house too and that drops from 4000 baht down to 1000 baht
incredible variance. island must be a lot quieter in low season
still it's 1750 for beach front low season. rather save the 750 baht and be 20m back with a view anyway
Yeah, until fairly recently Lipe used to die in wet season. I think the major problem was access - only one slow general cargo boat not daily but a couple of times a week. I understand more recent wet seasons have seen one daily slow boat and one speedboat (weather permitting).
I spoke to a girl who was helping to run a resort on the north coast recently - she said the past few wet seasons had been quite busy on Lipe with lotsa places open on sheltered Sunrise and the main Pattaya beach. The western half of Pattaya would be sheltered by the big headland on those blowy wet season days.
Extreme high season prices seem to be a south (of Phuket) high season thing. The only islands I've seen recently with decent high season prices are Jum and Muk. Haven't been to Libong, Sukorn and Siboya recently. Oh yeah, I forgot good ol' Lanta. Well the competition there seems to keep things more reasonable and you can still find cheap accommodation.