What: a place to see in Thailand where there are no tourists from abroad.
Where: an hour from Bangkok in a South West direction.
When: all year round
This is a short clip of Amphawa in Samut Songkhram, Thailand. Amphawa is famous for fireflies, you take a boat journey down the canal at night to see the fireflies in the bushes in the darker places along the canal. When I did this, there weren't many there! They told me farmers using pesticides have taken a toll on the fireflies, but it's still worth doing.
Amphawa is a famous tourist place for Thai people to visit, very few westerners visit it, and the hotels are few and far between. In Thailand the best way to stay is called 'HomeStay' which is like a Thai bed and breakfast type accommodation. There are a few agencies in the town that you can book them, and the B&B usually have their own cars to collect and drop you off.
Language will be a problem, most people will only speak Thai there.
Udonthani is a city in the east of Thailand, it's where a lot of Thai girls married to farang come from. A poor farming community, or at least it was, with so many farang around and so much money in the area it's become quite a cosmopolitan place.
They've built new markets around the railway station and new nightlife places too. Lots of people have the money to go there.
A home-stay is a small hotel run by a family. In central Bangkok there is an island formed by a flood canal that was added to cut a shortcut to the sea, so that flood water could be quickly drained out to sea without flooding central Bangkok. You can cross in and out of the island by car, it isn't totally cut off, there is a bridge onto it, but the isolation makes it free from a lot of Bangkok traffic and a quiet calm place to stay.
It's a rural retreat right in the center of bustling Bangkok!
That island is kept low rise, natural and lush green, at the weekend it has a floating market and at night, a boat tour to see the fireflies. A riverside walk is not far, with restaurants and bars, so if you want a rural relax right in the center of Bangkok, this is an off-beat place to stay.
Koh Kood (aka Ko Kut) island is south of the more popular Ko Chang, and as you'd expect it's quieter, less spoilt, peaceful and much more about relaxing than the jet-ski disco culture of other Thai resorts.
The holiday didn't get off to a good start, with one of our friends getting shortchanged at Ekamai Bus Terminal and we had problems with the resort. We stayed at Away Resort, but I can't recommend it. We were told the kayaks are first-come-first-served, but when we wanted to use them, we were told the owners son and his friends had first call on them. We tried to book them for the next day, but even then the woman at the Spa was reluctant to let us use them... "what if the owners son wanted to use them again?"
Little things like this can really throw off a holiday.
Phuket is a popular destination and the busy Phuket town for tourists is Patong city. Patong is bustling and the beach is crowded and full of vendors and beach chairs. But barely a kilometer away is a beautiful quiet beach with few hawkers to disturb you, a coral reef 100 metres out to sea, and where kayaks can be rented and sea shells collected.
In my head this seemed like a great idea: take the overnight 1st class express sleeper train to Phuket, and wake up to a relaxing coffee ready to start the day in Phuket refreshed. In my head a lot of things seem like a good idea.
To get from Bangkok to Phuket Island by train, means traveling to Surat Thani then taking a short bus journey across the bridge to Phuket town, which is on the East side of the island. A few days earlier, a train had derailed on the northern route to Chiang Mai, so I knew I'd be taking my life in my hands, but never mind, an experience is an experience and so the train it would be!
I'm heading to Bangkok, and the drive from Phuket to Bangkok needn't be a repetitive slog up the highway. Khlong Phanom national park is on the way, and I'm determined to take the back roads and explore more of this beautiful park.
The plan, head east along the 4240, through the villages, and then north on the 4090. Have lunch next a lake, and use the 401 to rejoin the main pan-asia highway. For once, my plan not only works as expected, I get to see some extras I hadn't planned for.
This is a small bungalow beach resort in a quiet place, with some excellent cheap seafood restaurants on the beach next door. It's also undiscovered by tourists.
Maybe Paradise Beach resort isn't your ideal dream Thai beach holiday, burgers and coke on a busy tourist beach are fine, if you have children who are fussy eaters and don't want to travel far from your hotel. But for travellers who want a quiet empty beach, a cheap bungalow and freshly cooked tasty cheap seafood on a table with the sound of the sea in the background, well you need to look a little further.
Since I'm heading up to Bangkok, I decided to stop off at one of my favorite cheap bungalows in Prachuap Khiri Khan, which is just south of Sam Roi Yot National Park.