Experiences in Thailand: All roads lead to Koh Tao is written by Circle Colberg.
Alternative routes to the southern islands of Thailand
Thailand is a paradise for all kinds of travelers. There are lots of different ways to travel and a lot of different places to sleep for both the rich and the less rich tourist.
If you have been on a tour of Thailand before, you are probably already set that the locals have their own time frame. You can therefore never count on the train, boat or bus timetable - it's just part of the Thai travel experience. But to get the full benefit of Thailand then do yourself the favor of trying to travel at night. You will never forget that.
Bangkok on rails
I have been on tour in Thailand many times and can therefore confirm that there are many ways to stay overnight. They do not necessarily have to consist of resorts, hotels or hostels. With a good sleeping heart, you can take the long and eventful train ride from Bangkok down to the city of Surat Thani down south.
Night's journey from Bangkok started from Hua Lamphong train station. From here I am greeted by a crowd of people who are all trying to reach their train. I am in the same situation, but with the help of the nice Thais, this will not be a problem for me. I therefore quickly find my platform, get on the train and find my place. The first thing that strikes me as I board is that no one beds is… I immediately fear that I will have to sleep upright on the long train ride.
The train pulls out of the station, and I have sat down well and look forward to the experiences that await me. More vendors are coming through the train. They sell everything from food to souvenirs. Here, your taste buds can be tasted with the local and traditional Thai dishes, which are sold on board the train.
I'm on my way to southern Thailand, and to my pleasant surprise, the train stewardess arrives and prepares for a good night's sleep: the seats in the passenger compartment are suddenly converted into bunk beds. I can now settle in with fidgeting train noises outside the window.
Towards scenic experiences in Thailand
As the morning rays of the sun hit me, I take a quick look out the window. Here I am greeted by green agricultural surroundings and cows out in the field. I have never experienced anything so amazing to wake up to. With the thought of the long train ride in mind, it is now time to explore the train from one end to the other.
My worst fears on a very long train ride are the Thai toilets. Did you dare to hope that they have European toilets now that you were on a night train? Here I am greeted by great disappointment. The toilet consists of a hole in the floor so I can look directly down at the rails. But here the disappointment does not stop; there is a large blue tub with dirty water with an empty cola bottle down in it. When you come from Denmark, it is not exactly what I associate with an ordinary toilet. So from here, my tip to you will be: Always remember toilet paper with you on the train ride.
Experience Thailand in the front row
The whole travel experience on the night's train ride lies in the various landscapes you pass by. Imagine lying in your lower berth with the curtain drawn out to the rest of the cabin. That way, you can immerse yourself in the distinctive Thai country atmosphere that you encounter on the train journey. If this is something that also fascinates you, remember to book the lower berth on your next train journey in Thailand; here you get a ticket for the first row.
Before I know it, the long train ride is over. Next stop is Surat Thani. A city that many misunderstand and use exclusively as respite before traveling further down to the islands.
Night experiences in deserted Thailand
There are many roads to the diving paradise on the island of Koh Tao, but one of the memories that has made the most impression on me is the night boat from Ban Don Pier in Surat Thani.
From the second I get off the train, a guide is ready to show me to my minibus, which will take me to the city 'boat terminal'. I arrive at the port late at night. To my great confusion, there are only fishing boats in the harbor - and I can not sleep on them? But I'll have to. After wandering through countless food stalls, it is now time to board what will now be my transport to Koh Tao.
The fishing boat is of old Thai style. Not something you in Denmark would offer tourists for a longer crossing - and not at all to spend the night. Thin, narrow mattresses have been laid along the sides of the floor of the boat. The mattresses are numbered so that everyone has a place each. There are not many tourists on this boat and it amazes me.
Experiences in Thailand with rocking accommodation
With the boat's slow speed, havets high waves and a bout of seasickness, the sun's rays begin to peek out on the horizon. A beautiful sight meets me in the distance. I begin to make out the silhouette of Koh Tao the closer the boat gets to the shore.
I later found out that the boat I was sailing with out to Koh Tao is the primary means of transportation for the locals. That type of local experience in Thailand just makes the trip a little more memorable.
You can also sail with a boat, which offers bunk beds and is more used by tourists in Thailand. But the local boat's decor and swing rides should not scare you to try out this mode of transportation. Who would not want to share a bed with twenty local Thais?
From the mainland to the diving paradise on Koh Tao
Welcome to the divers' paradise Koh Tao. You will find all the great resorts, hostels and restaurants on Sairee Beach. Here you can enjoy a cold beer on the beach, pamper yourself at the local massage clinic, or quench your hunger with the famous 7-Eleven toasts.
If you want to dive on Koh Tao, you can take your diving course at the island's largest diving chain Ban's Diving Resort, where you can also spend the night. I myself have lived here several times, even though I do not dive.
Island experiences in Thailand: The islands around Koh Tao
Koh Nang Yuan is a nearby island, a short boat ride from Koh Tao. This is a protected island where you have great opportunity to explore the landscape below havets surface. The island offers a few hours of entertainment with a café to satisfy the great thirst and hunger.
As the island is protected, stricter rules also follow. You must not bring your own drinks and food, as the island must remain plastic-free. You also have to pay a modest amount to land on the island. But if you have the good running shoes with you, do not deceive yourself for a small 20-minute walk and climb up to one of Thailand's beautiful viewpoints. Here you experience a true panorama of the island itself with a view of Koh Tao.
Remember to sail out to the island early - both because of the strong rays of the sun at noon, but also because of the many tourist trips that flow at the same time.
Koh Tao itself has long beautiful beaches, and then the island is a not very long boat trip from Koh Samui, which is the perfect family holiday destination. But if you're more into the streets, Koh Phangan is known for its wild parties - especially Full Moon Party.
Koh Tao on wheels
The trip does not quite end yet. Another way to get back to Bangkok is the night bus. The tour starts in Chumphon on the mainland late in the evening and ends at Khao San Road in Bangkok - the heaven of backpackers. This is a Hurtigruten.
With a sticker on the blouse, I am directed into the bus, where the standard is equal to the Danish buses. The seats can be reclined, and with the handed out blanket and pillow I can look forward to a good night's sleep.
This bus journey is also one of the faster forms of travel, so fasten your seatbelt, because it does not go slowly. The driver does not worry about speed limits returning to Bangkok. For him, the trip just needs to be reached within the timetable. Therefore, it may be a good idea to remember headphones as well as a sleeping mask.
One of the pleasures of the trip is the many stops along the way. Here you will meet various local businesses who choose to keep their shop, café or kiosk open at night. You can just manage to buy snacks and soft drinks for the trip and go exploring in the area.
There are many ways to get around, and with this as inspiration, your next trip can only become more eventful and even more filled with memorable experiences in Thailand.
Good round trip in Thailand!