A pound goes a long way in Thailand, so even if your flights aren’t cheap, you will spend far less than you would visiting a European destination. Thailand has retained much of its rich culture whilst offering gorgeous white sandy beaches, soaring limestone cliffs and crystal blue waters. September is monsoon season in much of Thailand, so if you’re considering a trip this autumn, be sure to research the safe areas of this vast and multi-cultural country before you book your holidays in Thailand.
Explore Phang Nga Bay
The Phang Nga Bay in Northeast Phuket, with its giant limestone cliffs which emerge from the beautiful green waters is one of Thailand’s must see hotspots. Take a boat trip to Koh Panyee, a small but beautiful village built over the water on stilts. Eat at local restaurants and buy souvenirs to take home. Phang Nga Bay itself is famous for starring in the James Bond movie- The Man with the Golden Gun and fans can take tours of this part of the island to sample the tranquil scenery which made the movie famous.
It’s the ideal place to visit during the autumn as its waters remain calm all year round, protecting it from both the Southwest and Northeast monsoon seasons. If your budget allows, it’s a good idea to look into boat chartering. If you do not require a skipper or crew, you can hire a motor boat or small yacht for a week or more for unlimited sailing with your family and friends. Sailing is by far the best way to see Phuket, it’s reasonably inexpensive if you have an experienced sailor in the family, and you can reach all of its many isolated beaches and corals with greater ease.
Scuba Dive in The Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are a group of rocks and islands which lie about 8 hours by boat from Phuket. It’s a lengthy trip but if you are interested in either snorkelling or scuba diving, it’s worth it. The Similan’s surrounding waters are home to some of the most exotic and colourful reefs in the world and some of the best under water visibility too.
There are many scuba diving instructors operating tours for beginners, so be sure to do your research before you get on the boat. The area was declared a marine national park in 1982 and remains largely undeveloped to this day- so it really is one of the best spots in the region to see unspoiled beaches, white sands and clear blue waters.
Check out some Floating Markets
Before you head home, you simply must visit the Bang Khu Wiang floating market. Unlike anything you have ever seen, Monks arrive by boat very early in the morning, their boats piled high with fresh Thai produce like fresh coconut juice, tropical fruit and vegetables and other local delicacies. You can even sample some authentic Thai cuisine cooked on one of the floating kitchens nearby.
The Bang Wiang market begins at 4am each day and runs until 7am, where you can catch a boat every 15 minutes from the the Wat Chalo Pier. This will cost you around 5 baht (less than £1) and it lasts around 45 minutes. Don’t worry if you aren’t an early riser- the Damnoen Saduak Fmarket runs from 7- 11am and is a short bus journey from Bangkok- and well worth a visit.
Watch a Ko-Lae Race
The Ko-Lae boat race is an annual event first hosted in 1976 in honour of the King and Queen when the Royal Family travelled to Narathiwat on a state visit. The boat race itself runs from the 21st- 25th September and attracts teams from all over Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines on the Bang Nara River.
Local teams race their Ko Lae- traditional, brightly painted boats usually used by the South Malay’s communities for fishing. The boats are painted free-hand by self-taught local artists and the bow is carved to resemble the naga, or serpent, or more often a mythical bird. Each team works hard to select his crew and train each competitor months before the race. It’s to watch in victory or defeat. Afterwards guests can also enjoy a number of other traditional events such as a bird cooing contest and many stalls and shops selling local cuisine.
Thailand is a country best seen by boat. What’s your favourite way to travel?