In August I was thinking about my new year resolution to visit four new countries and how I had visited three, so I needed to get a new country until end of year. Also Christmas time looked promising as we had plenty of days off, so I would need to take just a couple of days off to get almost two weeks off work.
First I tried to convince my boyfriend to go somewhere with me, but he didn’t feel like it. Then I checked with a couple of friends, but all of them had plans already. Finally I checked with my sister and she was interested. We’re quite different people and not always get along, so sometimes traveling together can be rather challenging. 😉
This year has been rather stressful at work, so I was thinking that I wanted as no-hassle holiday as possible, so we ended up booking a package trip with TUI to Khao Lak in Thailand. Direct flights from Helsinki as I was going to go there anyway and my sister lives there, and we also booked transfers from the airport to our hotel.
Little did I know that I would end up visiting Liechtenstein in October, so technically I wouldn’t need an additional country to fulfil my new year resolution, but this break ended up being very needed as I was extremely tired. I even left my work laptop at home, which rarely happens. 😉
The trip didn’t start so well, because our flight was five hours late, which seriously sucked. In addition to this, we spent almost two hours standing in line just in order to check-in and leave our bags. This meant that we arrived at our destination super late and didn’t get the chance to go and eat because all the restaurants were already closed. Luckily our bus stopped on the way to our hotel and we bought some instant ramen and dried mango in a 7-Eleven, so we didn’t have to go to bed hungry.
We stayed at Khaolak Merlin Resort, which was a great place to stay. Our hotel had some really nice Christmas trees in the lobby.
Our room was somewhat inconveniently on the fourth floor, so there were always some stairs to be climbed, but we had a vaulted ceiling, a big balcony, and the room was very big.
We had a view from our balcony onto a peaceful pool, which wasn’t very much used. There were always just a few people at this pool and we actually used this pool in the mornings and moved to the beach in the afternoons, when most sunbathers got enough.
There was a separate children’s pool with slides and such, so this pool was mostly used by couples with occasional child dropping by.
Just outside of the resort gates there was a bunch of restaurants and shops with clothes and also a couple of “supermarkets” with ATMs. We chose Mr. Ju’s Zero Kilometer Restaurant, which was ok, but nothing special.
The next morning we had to wake up at 4 a.m. as we had booked a day trip to Phi Phi Islands. Khao Lak is located about 1 h 40 min drive from Royal Phuket Marina from where our boat left. Us and a couple of other people managed to get seats in front of the boat, which was perfect. The views were serene, the wind was kind and warm, and the sun was rising slowly.
It took about an hour to get from Phuket to Phi Phi Lee island and the Maya Bay, which is known from Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach. The sad thing is that the beach became so popular that tourism destroyed the corals near the beach, so the authorities had to shut it down to allow the nature to recover. The good news is that it seems to be working and corals are re-growing in the bay. You can still see this bay from the water, but the boats are not allowed to get close to the beach.
After that we continued to the northern island – Phi Phi Don. There we had an opportunity to snorkel, which was really cool because the place we stopped at had some amazing corals and fish.
We also stopped at one more place just to swim. The water was wonderfully warm. I was expecting it to be colder, but it was a pleasure to dip again as the day was getting hotter by the minute. We even moved to sit inside the boat because the sun was getting seriously hot and I was afraid to burn my skin.
We also got close to Monkey Beach, but didn’t get off the boat. The guide said that we’re not getting off the boat because the monkeys can be aggressive, but seriously I think that’s bullshit. The beach was super small and it’s probably very inconvenient to get all the tourists there and then watch them try to take pictures with monkeys. 😉
There was one smaller boat, where a woman got out and her boyfriend had to take tens of pictures of her sitting close to monkeys. Have I mentioned that I hate people taking picture-taking so seriously? 😉 Snap and go!
Then we finally got to the island and we got one hour. One possibility was to climb to the viewpoint, which is almost 200m up and another was to stay on the beach and have a cocktail. My sister chose to stay on the beach, but I decided to climb the stairs. Not that I love climbing a bunch of stairs in +35°C, but if I come all across the world, then I will for sure see whatever I can.
The climb wasn’t that bad in the end. I stopped a couple of times to catch my breath, but I think it takes maybe 20 min to reach viewpoint #1. It says that viewpoint #2 is just 5 min away, but it seemed more like 15.
I still think that the climb to viewpoint #2 is worth it. While climb to viewpoint #1 is mostly stairs, it is more of an upward path to get to viewpoint #2. You get some really cool views and if you have more time, there is also a cafe where you can buy drinks and enjoy the view.
After Phi Phi Islands, we again boarded our boat and were taken to Bamboo Island nearby. There we were served lunch and had something like an hour and a half to relax, swim, and do whatever we wanted. At this point I already got enough of swimming, but because it was a hot day, we did swim some more. Water here is wonderful and we also saw this guy climbing the tree trying to eat some birds’ eggs.
After that we began our longish trip back to Khao Lak. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were dead tired. We took a shower and ordered room service on a whim. The food at our hotel was actually really good, so we ended up doing that once or twice more during our stay in Khao Lak. Unbelievable how you can get tired being on holiday and all. 😉