If there was one place we could go back in time to see, it would be Thailand’s islands and coast. The areas of Krabi, Railay Beach and Phuket are home to some of the most breathtaking beaches on earth. Limestone karsts jut out from warm, turquoise waters to form an archipelago worthy of the world’s best rock climbers. We couldn’t resist taking a rock climbing class ourselves to check out the views from above. Unfortunately, after decades on the tourist circuit, the views now include unsightly hotels and crowds of tourists as overdevelopment has left its mark.
Thankfully, we had the opportunity to spend a day kayaking through the untouched Ao Phang Nga National Park (thank you for the recommendation Leanne!) The cave and rock formations here are a sight to see — and to see many of them you need to lie down flat in your kayak to clear the cave walls! One can’t help but wonder if the entire stretch of coastline was this pristine a couple of generations ago.
The island of Koh Tao is renowned for its marine life and the most affordable PADI diving centers in the world. We completed our scuba open water certification here and marveled at the brightly colored fish and plentiful coral. Although we thoroughly enjoyed this island’s relaxed vibe, we felt as though we could be anywhere in the world; the expat community is alive and strong–to the point that we didn’t meet a single Thai local.
To us, the stretch of Thai coast that we visited may have felt like it was past its prime, but Bangkok felt ageless. The city has a youthful energy. We enjoyed wandering through Chinatown, sipping cocktails at rooftop bars and staying out till the wee hours of the morning. Our last day was capped off with a huge celebration and cycling event for the king’s 88th birthday. Almost everyone wore yellow t-shirts that said “bike for dad”. Entry fees were waived at the amazingly well-preserved cultural attractions and white lights lit up the city’s thoroughfares. The festivities were a great way to end our stay in Thailand.