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Day Trips - Thai Life Archives

Monkeys Boats Guns Bangkok

The Chao Phraya river runs through Bangkok and it's a short bus journey to the mouth of the river to see the 'island' with Phra Chulachomklao fortress, a pagoda, a training ship, a gun museum and even some wild monkeys in this unusual day trip!

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Chonburi Bang Saen Beach

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Bang Saen beach is a beach frequented by Thai's, it's in Chonburi province, the same province that has Pattaya City, and is only an hour and half by bus from Bangkok, making it perfect for a day trip to the beach. I've visiting during Songkran to see the sand sculptures, Songkran runs from 13th-15th April, but here in Bangsaen the peak is 16th-17th with some Thais partying till the 20th.

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Bell Temple in the Sea Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

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Up on the top floor inside the pagoda is a Buddha surrounded by colourful paintings telling the story of his life. Outside other views show slices of the temple roof next door amid glimpses of the sea. There's a great view from up here, of the whole temple complex.

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Bell Temple in the Sea

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There's a temple, a short trip east from Bangkok, on a pier in the sea in the gulf of Thailand, called Wat Hong Thong and it's one of the most beautiful temples I've seen in a long time. Picture the scene, it's a hot humid day, you sit on a pier with a cooling sea breeze blowing in from the gulf, and the gentle sound of thousands of bells.

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Mussel Fishing in Gulf of Thailand

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I've covered Wat Hong Thong before, the bell temple on a pier in the Gulf of Thailand. Well, as I was leaving I discussed it with the driver and found out the fishing boats farm mussels in mussel beds out at sea all along this coast. If I wanted I could go and see the mussel fishermen at work.

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Thai Family Sauna

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One thing worth trying is a real family friendly Thai sauna. These are no flash saunas for Thais, in cheap areas of town, and they're often nothing more than a converted house with a tiny stream room. They're good, clean, fun. This one is near Bang Chak, and open at weekends only.
The basics are this: This is a family friendly place. Men and women are welcome, but you'll need a swimming costume and women need to wrap in a sarong or a beach cover dress like mine. She has towels and sarongs to rent there, but better to take my own. You change in one of the two changing rooms, men change separate from women.

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Unspoilt Beach on a Quiet Island, Near Phuket

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If you take a short boat trip from the Island of Phuket, you can escape the tourist beaches and find some quiet, almost deserted islands just off the east coast. The one I'm visiting is Ko Yao Noi, the smaller northern island next to Ko Yao Yai.

Although it's small, it has a village, a few cheap hotels next to the beaches on the eastern side, and a few more upscale villas for rent. But it's not necessary to stay here, you can make a day trip here from Phuket if you start your day early.

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Nai Yang Beach - Tsunami and Texture

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The middle and south side of Nai Yang beach is more about contrasts than plane-spotting. This bus-bar has seen better days, the greenery is slowing taking it over, it's already up to the wheels.

Not far from here is Crown Nai Yang Suite Hotel, a dilapidated hotel that was struck by the Tsunami. The guard tells me the water reached the first floor, but what really killed it was the electrics, all the pumps and electrics were underground. With the hotel needing investment, and the area devastated, it simply never re-opened.

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The hotel could be fixed up and painted, but somehow the money isn't there and superstitions prevent it. It's so cheap in Thailand to build new things, that's it's often simpler just to rebuild next door. Across the street lots of new shops have opened.

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Nai Yang - The Planespotters Beach

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Phuket has a lot of beaches, Nai Yang is long stretch of sand in a bay, with the Phuket Airport at the north and a huge deserted hotel at the south. It has everything, from plane-spotting to coral spotting, with good food in-between.

I arrived along the road to the airport, and followed the signs to Nai Yang Beach, completely missed the tiny turn off to the beach itself and ended up at Phuket Airport. A short detour later I found the beach, got onto the warm soft sand and headed up to the headland to see the planes at the north end.

The swimming area is marked with yellow/red flags, but this is a very narrow part of the beach, as I headed north, red 'no swimming' flags tell me to stay out of the rolling waves. 3 tourists were drowned last month, the currents are very strong here on Phuket and rip tides pick off the weak and drunk.

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Naka Yai Island, Phuket

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Naka Island and its sister island Koh Naka Noi have been tempting me for months now. You can see them just off the coast on my visit to the North East Coast of Phuket. So close, I could probably swim out to them, but so far, I would probably drown from exhaustion on the way back.

Well today, I decided to visit, take a picnic and have a day of sun, sand and sea. The first hurdle is to find the cheapest way there. My usual trick of negotiation with the local fishermen doesn't work. They've formed a cartel! All of them take me to the ticket office at the pier, 1500 baht for a long tail boat for the day. I know $50 doesn't sound that much, but it is to me!
I try the next pier down, but he wants 4000 baht! Suddenly 1500 baht sounds really cheap, what a bargain!

The island has some nice beaches on the east side, and we landed there to begin with. It's clean water, lots of fish close to shore, but the noise from the jet-skis annoys me. I so want to try a jetski, but at 1500 baht for 30 minutes they're too expensive. Maybe on the other side of the island they're 4000 baht and I'll change my mind, but for now, I give them a miss.

Behind the drinks bar, in the middle of the beach, is a path into the jungle. I head off to explore. The bartender assures me it's safe, she lives on the other side of the island. It's not a difficult path, it forks a couple of times, and I always took the right fork until I was out of the trees and onto a dirt path. To the left the village, to the right, Tentara Naka, a beach resort with tents to sleep in for a closer to nature experience. I head off to the village.

(Video and maps after the break).

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South of Sarasin Bridge

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Sarasin Bridge is the only bridge connecting Phuket island to the mainland. I've explored north of Sarasin bridge, before, but this time I'm going to explore south along the coast. There is a rural road here, with lots of little side roads and I want to see what lurks here.

The short answer is piers!

The shot above is a pier across from Panak island. From here you can catch tour boats around the islands. As soon as I pulled up, a woman approached with a price list and photographs. A smaller long tail boat can get you a 4 hour cruise around the islands for around 3000 baht. Obviously priced for tourists, a smaller long tail boat will seat about 6 people.

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Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace

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Twos hours out of Bangkok, on Highway 4 heading south is the site of King IV's palace on the hill overlooking Phetchaburi. Phra Nakhon Khiri, as its know, has a museum that lets you see into the past, a pagoda, and a temple, all in white, all gleaming on the hillside.

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Wat Peuch Udom, Near Bangkok

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When I was a child, I lived a nomadic life. We lived wherever my dad was working. As a laborer he was building town houses outside Bangkok at Nong Chok, and we lived in block temporary houses made of steel sheeting, alongside the other builders and their families. A trip to this temple was a childhood treat then, it was the local famous temple, and with good reason... animatronics make this a playground for kids.

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Mimosa & Fish by the Sea Pattaya

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I don't visit Pattaya much, it's a touristy city in the east, filled with burger bars and some of the worst pizza in Thailand. It does however have some nice tourist attractions to visit. Yes they're more cheesy than the pizzas, but that's part of their charm! So I decided to visit Mimosa, billed as a French themed town.

I've seen Mimosa promoted on television, a recreation of a traditional French village in the middle of bustling Pattaya. I've been to France, I visited Angers, a real stunning old town with a castle, and with one of the worlds best theme parks nearby, one you've probably never heard of Puy Du Fou.

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Chonburi Fish Market

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I opened Google maps and viewed Chonburi in the satellite image. There's a road that runs across the sea that's just screaming out to be explored! So I drove down to Chonburi and headed out across the bridge to this ocean going road.

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This is a bit disappointing at first, the problem is you can see Chonburi to the land-side and so you don't get the impression that this road runs across the sea! Thankfully I did find something that made the whole trip worthwhile, a fish market.

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Amphawa, Floating Market

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It's a few years since I've been to Amphawa, and boy has it gotten busy! This tiny little town, sited on a canal two hours west of Bangkok has really grown in popularity and its well deserved. This is the floating market that Thai people come to, but now I see a lot of foreign faces too. The tourists have really wised-up to this place.

One of the best things to do here is to eat along the river, small benches line the sides, you can order up dinner from the boats and freshly grilled seafood is lifted up onto your table. You can marvel at how they work in such small boats to serve meals up so quickly.

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Hindad Hot Spring, Kanchanaburi

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I like hot springs. Hot springs feature a lot in this blog. There's something about naturally heated water that's magical.

Well not so much with this hot spring. The last time I was here, the place was packed with Russian tourists and the water quality suffered from all the visitors. It was nowhere near as clear and refreshing as the Crystal Canal, and lacked the fish of Pornrung hot spring. But its one of only two hot springs in Kanchanaburi that I know of, so it will have to do!

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Coconut Island, more than pizza

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I visited Coconut Island (Ko Maprao) last week, to try out the highly recommended pizza at The Island Resort. But there's more to this island than the resort.

This time, my plan was to catch a boat from Laem Hin pier, the pier just opposite Maprao Island and explore the island on foot. I read it was twenty baht to catch the boat to the island, but that is for the locals. Since I will be visiting the Seafood Restaurant Rafts, I can use the boats for free.

Well, not exactly free, the boat gets a good commission from the restaurant, which is why they're so keen to get you into their boat!

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Don Hoi Lod, Mudflat Fishing for Clams

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As you head South West from Bangkok, there's a turnoff to a bay on the gulf of Thailand. It's shallow, and muddy and perfect for clams. Don Hoi Lot literally means mound of straw-seafood, or as you know them, razor clams.

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It's a full tourist thing, complete with seafood restaurants, picnic areas, seafood markets and resorts to stay at. The idea is you arrive as the tide is going out, with this bay being so flat, the tide is very fast here, half an hour sees the bay go from mud to sea. With miles of mud flats, you could not outrun this tide, let alone crawl through mud as it comes in.

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Chalong Pier, The Journey Is the Reward

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Most people don't visit the pier unless they're going somewhere, perhaps to an island, perhaps for a cruise. Well I decided I'd explore the pier itself, inspired by Aydin Büyüktas photography, I decide to try my hand at making my own Chalong-Inception photographs.

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