We started in Bangkok
We made sure that we bought the tickets a day in advance, but that was still cutting it close. The travel agent had to call to make sure that there where tickets available.
It would probably be better to get the tickets a few days in advance, essentially if it it Full Moon Party season. We chose to take the Lomprayah bus and speed boat. It is the most expensive choice, but also the most comfortable.
Since it was high season, in other words, the days before the Full Moon Party, we had to pay extra. About 1550 Baht per person. It could have been a lot cheaper if we had taken the government train and the normal ferry. But that would also have taken a lot longer. Think around 22 hours with transfers and such, instead of the 11 hour bus trip we had.
We took the night bus, which was delayed by 1½ hours, with minimal information from Lompraya, just saying “The Bus will be here soon, maybe 30 min.” I knew it could take some time and perhaps they didn’t know themselves. But, I knew we could get some food and drink and just find a good spot to wait.
After a bus ride through the night and a morning ferry, we finally arrived at Koh Phangan, or Ko Pan Ngan, depending on who you ask.
We quickly found a songthaew that took us to our resort. It would cost us 600 baht for 2 persons if we wanted to go straight away, or 300 for both of us if we could wait for others too. We waited since we were not so stressed.
The Royal Orchid Resort
This was a very nice resort that I found on the internet on hotels.com for a good price. I wanted to stay away from Haad Rin and the Full Moon Party area, since there you will have a hard time getting good sleep.
I thought it would be a few minutes walk to the beach, but it was basically on the beach, but inside a sort of a cove so it didn’t count as the “real” beach. But for me, this is good enough
We actually liked the resort so much, and they had such good food, that we did not visit so many other places. But with an area like this who could blame us.
But if you dont like bugs or insects, Thailand may not be the place for you. Here are some examples.
A small village in the northern part of the island. This whole area is much more relaxed and laid back. But they do have a bunch of restaurants and have a 7-11.
There are not so many bars, but Woodstock bar is one of my favorites and I know Meo since 5 years. We asked him and his wife if they could recomend any tattoo artists around, and his wife showed us a tattoo that she had made at Primate Tattoo.
He worked as a tattoo artist, and she sold Thai tea and coffee, both hot and cold, and they rented out the space next door to a foreigner who rented out motorbikes and jetskis. They were a very nice couple and it was fun to hang out with them. We did start to talk about having dinner together, but our stay on the island was comming to an end, and we couldn’t find the time. But next time for sure.
I, in a way knew Meo before I met him. I had two friends who told me about him when I first met them. I went to visit him the first time I was in Thailand, and have not seen him since then. But he remembered me as soon as he saw me and greeted me with a big welcome back. The high season had not really started, so he didn’t have much more than Sang Som with Coke or Leo the first day. But the second time we came back, he was fully stocked. You have to try his Coconut Pina Colada Special. It can take some time, since he needs to go out in the dark and find the coconuts first. But then they are made with fresh coconut, in the coconut, and you can eat the inside of the coconut too. A total coconut experience.
Chou Chou Café & Restaurant
It was connected to a dive school and had many foreigners and the owner, who also had the dive school, spoke good english. And the food was great. Real Thai food. Not the fake western-way-turist-thai-food that you can get at any Thai restaurant around the world.
The Pirates Cove
Unfortunately it was closed when we were there. But it looked like a great place to hang out in, on the beach, but still away from the beach. Very cozy.
Read the post about the Full Moon Party for the full story. Otherwise it is the same as it allways is. Too many drunk turists drinking on the beach. We met many people whom had taken mushrooms and the smell of marijuana could be smelled every here and there.
DO NOT use or buy drugs on the beach. The Police are well aware that people use drugs and will go undercover to “bust” people and coerce or threaten with jail if you don’t pay up. And according to the law, the current fine is 30,000 baht, even for a Thai.
I was told by a Thai friend that a farang (foreigner) could expect to pay 50,000 baht. Sure, you could wait for the court system and only pay 30,000 Baht, but that doesn’t sound like a nice holiday. If you want first hand experience, read the book: Mr Nice. About a western drug smuggler who spent time in the infamous Bangkok Hilton. I.E. The Bangkok City Jail.
This is Same Same hostel, run by a couple of Danish girls, and a hotspot for meeting Scandinavians. They also have a delicious stone oven made pizza. This is actually the first place I stayed at the first time I was in Thailand. Good times. But a different story alltogether.
A Video Collage of our stay
We did meet a nice young German couple who came to our resort looking for directions. The manager of our resort knew the way and I thought that I could show them. They were a bit upset already since they had bought a package deal which included everything. And everything was taken care of. They had train tickets, and bus tickets, and a resort booked, and a transfer to Koh Tao. Sounds Great!
The only problem? The trains in Thailand are known for being cheap. Not fast. And the two bus transfers? Government buses, with long waits between the bus arrival and train departure and the train arrival and the next bus departure. About 2-3 hours each time, with minimal information about when the buses would depart. The whole trip had taken them 22 hours. That is 22 hours with no decent food and good sleep.
And when I drove them to the resort, it was off the main road and about a mile straight into the jungle on sandy and muddy roads. I could manage it with having 20 years experience on a motorbike, but you really needed a car to get there. And the resort consisted of 4 simple fan rooms, and nothing and nobody around. You want to go somewhere, drive through the muddy road, or ask the resort taxi to drive you there.
The owners were a elderly couple who didn’t have much. And they didn’t speak much English either. With me in the middle acting as a kind of interpreter, we found out that they had been charged 600 baht per person for the room, while the room actually only costed 600 for 1-3 people.
The german couple asked if they could get their money back, but there were no refunds. I figured as much, looking at what the couple owned, they could not afford to give refunds. But they did understand that both they and the couple had been hoodwinked so they did treat us to the beers and shakes that we had ordered while waiting for the man who could speak a little bit of English.
The plot-twist? It was not a Thai who had sold them the package, but an American. So don’t go thinking that all Thai people are trying to fool you. All the ones I know have such good hearts and would not try to trick or fool anybody.
So my advice is if you are unsure, go with a travel agent, it costs the same as buying at the normal ticket counter and they can give you different options and prices. DO NOT BUY ANY PACKAGE DEAL.
If you have to, book one night. If you like it you can usually stay longer, but you can also change accommodations if you like. Booking through a site like hotels.com, bookings.com and agoda.com are a safer choice. I prefer hotels.com because of their rewards program and deals if you are a member.