Madrid to Bangkok
Thailand is one of the world’s hottest tourist destinations with millions of visitors arriving each year to enjoy hot sun, clear blue skies and even clearer tropical waters. Friendly people, great food and not to mention pumping nightlife make Thai hotspots like Krabi and Phuket the perfect holiday destination for travelers of any inclination. Finnair’s Thailand travel guide highlights some of the best holiday experiences to seek out in these Andaman sea holiday meccas.
SIGHTS IN THAILAND
It’s no secret that people come to Thailand to let their hair down. In Phuket this is easy to do with the multitude of bars, clubs and restaurants creating an around-the-clock buzz of people, sights and sounds. Seemingly any type of fun can be found - superclubs like Seduction, laid back beachside bars and a wealth of dining options, local and international. A well-known Thailand sight is Phuket’s Fantasea, the place to watch Thai trapeze artists whirl in a grand stage show. In Krabi you’ll find more relaxed ways to spend your evenings by the sea with relaxing restaurants and poolside drinks.
Freshen up after a night of partying with some of the many water activities available in and around Phuket and Krabi; swimming, snorkelling, diving and parasailing can all be done within easy reach of your hotel. Explore the many beaches of the area with a long stroll on the fine white sand.
Thailand has a strong spiritual side balancing the all-night partying and this is evident in the many shrines and temples in both areas. The most visible of these sights is the Big Buddha in Phuket, sitting atop a high hill and visible throughout the city. Climb up to visit him for amazing views out over the sea. Pay a visit to Wat Chalong Temple where Phuket’s spiritual centre is found. Locals give offerings and pray here so remember it’s a holy place.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEAR KRABI & PHUKET
- Phi Phi Island – A very popular thing to do near Phuket, a short boat ride gives you that tropical island feeling. Snorkelling and beachside fun are the order of the day here. You can also rent cheap lodging here for a romantic overnight stay.
- Maya Bay – Made famous as the setting for the film The Beach this white sand paradise is perfect for a lazy day of swimming, snorkeling and relaxation.
- Tiger Cave Temple – Just north of Krabi is this beautiful example of Buddhist art, in the form of a golden Buddha sitting in meditation atop a high hill. Over 250 meters high, the climb to the top can be difficult but the view is a stunning reward.
- Railay beach – Accessible only by boat this isolated enclave attracts climbers and visitors who want to get away from the crowds. A worthwhile thing to see near Krabi.
- Phang Nga Bay – Between Krabi and Phuket lies this calm bay full of towering rock formations covered in green growth. Take a slow boat cruise among these giants and soak up the beauty of nature.
SHOPPING IN THAILAND
Shopping in Phuket and Krabi is mostly in local markets and at street stands rather than in large malls, but a few do exist. Haggling truly is a Thai pastime so don’t be afraid to try for a better price.
- Central Festival and Jungceylon – Two large malls in the Phuket area catering to tourists with large selections of well-known brand stores and western eateries.
- Krabi Town Walking Street - Held every weekend this large market comes alive with locals touting their wares, with everything from fresh food to clothing to souvenirs and street food.
- Vogue Department Store – A department store in Krabi where you can have a western shopping experience if you tire of haggling in the markets.
FOOD & DRINK IN THAILAND
Thai food & drink has been exported to the world, so many people are already familiar with how delicious thai food can be. There are many dishes to try that you might not have tasted. Here are some classic Thai food & drinks that are worth a try:
- Pad Thai – Stir-fried rice noodles with meat or seafood, a Thai classic enjoyed all over the world.
- Som Tum – Spicy green papaya salad.
- Tom Yum Goong – A spicy shrimp soup, the local variety can be quite fiery.
- Curry – Thai curries are renowned for the full flavours and liberal use of fresh ingredients like lime and Thai basil. Available in a variety of styles these must be tried.
- Tom Kha Kai – Creamy coconut soup with chicken.
- Kai Med Ma Muang – Chicken with cashew nuts served with vegetables in a tasty soy-based sauce.
- Thai Iced Tea – Traditional Thai drink with a strong sweet flavour, served hot or cold.
- Beer – Chang and Singha are by far the most popular beers, both local lagers that are perfect on a hot day. International varieties are also common in bars serving Westerners.
- Wine & spirits – Available in all restaurants and from convenience stores and shops.
- Coffee – Available in most of the usual varieties, but not a popular drink amongst locals.
TRANSPORT IN THAILAND
While Phuket and Krabi see millions of visitors each year, most transport in Thailand is road-based. It is however cheap and very convenient to get around.
- Tuk Tuk – Ubiquitous throughout the country these three-wheeled taxis whizz people around quickly and cheaply. Negotiate your fare with the driver before getting onboard.
- Taxi – A slightly more comfortable ride than a Tuk Tuk, these are regular cars with seatbelts and air-conditioning. It’s normal to negotiate the fare before setting off.
- Longtail boat – A great way to get to any destination on the seas around Phuket and Krabi. Can be rented straight from the beach and cost approximately 500 baht per hour. Remember to haggle!
- By foot – Walking around Phuket and Krabi is the usual way to get around in the main tourist areas and is generally safe. Keep an eye out for traffic as it can be heavy during peak periods.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT THAILAND
- Currency – Thai Baht (฿).
- Electricity – 220 volts, 50hz, Thai plug that accepts both American and European styles.
- Tips – Not mandatory but very much appreciated.
- Payment / card – Have cash ready for markets, small stores and transportation. At hotels and most larger restaurants cards are accepted.
- Time zone – ICT / UTC+7.
- Water – Tap water isn’t safe to drink but bottled water is cheap and plentiful.
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