The east coast of Thailand is a tropical paradise with spectacular waterfalls and coconut palms bending towards the sun. Kelly Loftus shares her experience island hopping in eastern Thailand with Contiki Holidays:
What can I say about Contiki’s Thailand tours? Well for starters, who wouldn’t love a week of fun and sun on the lush tropical islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao?
The best part for me was that Contiki took the guess work out of the trip for me. I was busy with work and life up until the moment I got on the plane leaving Canada and had zero time for planning or even research. All of my accommodation and transportation was taken care of for me without making me feel like I was being herded around like a sheep. I had enough flexibility to do what I wanted (like shop and get a tan) and the planned excursions were amazing highlights that were not to be missed. From the moment I arrived in Koh Samui I was shown a fabulous time without having to worry about anything other than which optional excursion would be the most fun!
Koh Samui was the first stop on the itinerary. Chaweng beach is a bustling tourist area with tons of opportunities for shopping and relaxing! It is hard to walk three feet without someone yelling “hello you want massage?” and really, who wouldn’t when a full hour Thai massage amounts to (at most) $5.00 Canadian! You quickly get used to bargaining for the best pricing on any souvenirs you may want to pick up along the way. General rule of thumb: whatever price they give you, half it, then work your way up from there. We had a great time exploring the island’s many treasures, including a beautiful lunch high in the mountains with an incredible view over to the neighbouring islands!
Next stop was Koh Phangan. What really amazed me was how Dave organized us getting on and off the inter-island high speed ferry – Lomprayah. This is not an undertaking to be treated lightly. To say that it is mayhem is an understatement. Honestly, having someone else figure out the system and make sure you get into the correct queue is worth the cost of admission all on its own. Once we were finally underway the trip was painless, but it is not something I would have enjoyed tackling on my own (and this is coming from one that usually enjoys a challenge!). Arriving in Koh Phangan we were all picked up by the owners of the resort that we were staying in, The Shiralea. What a wonderful welcome! This is traditional Thailand as I had dreamed. An open air house on stilts made up our reception/restaurant area, surrounded by individual guest cabins set amidst a lush tropical background. This is backpacker’s heaven! Try and plan your visit to Koh Phangan around a full moon. This is when/where the party is at! But don’t worry, if you miss the full moon there are also the blue moon, half moon and dark moon parties to keep you busy. Be sure to pack some neon, or be prepared to spend a few dollars stocking up in town!
My favourite thing in Koh Phangan was going for my very first dive experience at Sail Rock. What an adventure! This was something that wasn’t planned in advance, it was a spur of the moment “hey I’ve got a great idea!” thing. Man am I glad I went along with it! Be sure to check out Reefer’s Dive Resort, located right beside Shiralea. They will take good care of you.
The final destination for our whirlwind adventure was Koh Tao. Now this was a stunning location and the nicest hotel of the whole trip! The Charm Churee Villa is spread out over a steep hill and nestled at it’s centre is its own private beach – great for some snorkelling! This is really paradise. The rooms are spacious and luxurious and the staff is incredibly friendly. While in Koh Tao we spent a day snorkelling all the popular spots and I got to swim with a Black Finned Shark! If you enjoy drag queen cabaret shows, be sure to check out a “cultural” show while in Koh Tao. Lots of fun and not to be missed!
In all, Contiki was a fantastic host for a beautiful, relaxing time on the pristine eastern islands of Thailand. This tour is an ideal add on to a longer adventure around South East Asia. What a great way to relax and rejuvenate before starting your long (20hr) trip back to Canada!
Looking for more information on travelling to Thailand with Contiki Holidays? Kelly Loftus is an International Travel Consultant at our Woodgroove location in Nanaimo, BC and can be reached online or calling 1-866-390-5368