Thailand Island Hopping Guide
Thailand has to be one of the favorite countries I’ve visited so far. The beaches are breathtaking, the food is delicious, and the people there are very friendly. I visited Thailand through Contiki, and this company helped me have the time of my life, all while not having to plan anything. For those of you who haven’t heard of Contiki, it’s a travel company that does group tours around the globe for 18-35 year olds. It’s been around for awhile, as my parents went on Contiki tours in their twenties. I loved hearing their adventures and I wanted to experience this for myself. So, a friend and I booked the Contiki Island Hopper East tour, link here. It was a nine day tour to three islands that included transportation, majority of meals, and hotels. SO nice when you don’t want to stress about all the minor details that trip planning entails. The three islands we toured was Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao.
Here we stayed in Chaweng beach, which was a busy area with lots of restaraunts, entertainment, and shops. There’s lots of beach bars here, with a laid back vibe and house music popular. Tons of shops that seem to go on for miles surround you, so there’s lots of opportunities to pick up some souvenirs. We saw a mummified monk at Wat Khunaram temple, that still remains today in a position of meditation 43 years after his death. You can be blessed by some Buddhist monks here, or walk around and admire the beauty of the temple.
We also visited the famous Grandfather and Grandmother rocks, that somehow happen to look like male and female genitalia. It’s a funny spot for some crude photo ops (see my friend below). There’s also lots of souvinier shops here and some yummy coconut ice cream.
We spent some time at the beach too (obviously). The ocean water was hot when I was there in September, so it’s nice to be able to order cool drinks while you’re tanning. There’s also a bunch of women that offer Thai massages on the beach. For $10 USD you get an hour massage. I may or may not have had one every day I was there.
We took a ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao, with more beautiful beaches to explore. There was a snorkel tour we did which allowed us to see a ton of tropical fish and turtles. The boat took us to the amazing beach and viewpoint at Koh Nang Yuan, where you could do a quick hike up to the top of the island for an incredible view. We swam in the warm water here for a bit before our boat took us back to Koh Tao.
We took another ferry to our last island on the tour. This island is perhaps known as the party island as it’s famous for its Full Moon Beach parties that attract travelers from all over the world. While I wasn’t there during this event, Contiki set up our own Full Moon Party for the group, where we all shopped for neon clothes, and got to paint artwork on each other with black light paint.
We also ended up doing an elephant ride, which I would never recommend to anyone after my experience. We were miserable the entire time because we could tell the animals were exhausted and abused. Don’t give these companies your money!! I’ve heard now that the majority of elephant tours in Thailand are like this so please do your research before booking.
I enjoyed more cheap Thai massages on this island as well, and ended up getting my first tattoo! I really wanted the traditional bamboo tattoo and Thailand was the perfect place to get it. My tattoo is of a lotus flower, and getting it done in Thailand made it very special as there were lotus flowers everywhere, and they are highly respected in their culture. My artist didn’t speak a word of English but did an amazing job. Half of our group ended up getting one here! A cool experience if you’re interested, it was done at Tattoo Club Koh Phangan.
I definitely recommend booking a trip with Contiki if you’re within the age range. I made friendships with people from all over the world, and have kept in contact with many of them still. We even went to South Africa a year later to visit some of our friends that live there from this trip. It’s amazing to be with a group your age that all love to travel the world and party together while doing it. I’d love to do another Contiki tour soon, possibly one of the European ones!
This trip was an slow-paced, relaxing vacation and I would love to go back to Thailand again to do the western islands or Bangkok. Until then!