Tag Archives: Thailand

Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok national park is a beautiful protected natural area in Southern Thailand.

Khao Sok National Forest

There’s the Cheow Lan Lake where you can stay in rafthouses and enjoy a very scenic, beautiful setting.  You can also go trekking – there are different levels of trails, some for easy treks, some for more challenging ones.

Khao Sok National Park

There are many limestone mountins in the Khao Sok National Park.
Khao Sok Limestone Mountains

There are many waterfalls where you can swim with clear, fresh water, the most popular ones are the Ton Kloi waterfall, the Bang Liap Nam waterfall, the Tan Sawan waterfall and the Sip-et Chan waterfall.

During rainy season, many things in the national park are not accessible.

It’s best to come here with a tour guide who can explain you about the nature, the surroundings and who can also assure your safety.

If you come during high season (between December to March) you might even see the world’s second biggest flower: the rafflesia kerrii.
Bua Phut (บัวผุด), Rafflesia kerrii
It surely is not the most beautiful flower, but it’s nonetheless very impressing.

Night safaris are also exciting, and you can get into the jungle and sleep in tents. The sounds that you will hear here at night are just amazing.

Other activities that you can enjoy in the park are elephant riding and you can get on a canoo trip.

There are fascinating caves that you can explore too. Overall, if you want to enjoy nature in Thailand, the Khao Sok national park is a place very well worth visiting!

Ko Samet

Ko Samet is a popular weekend getaway islands for people living in Bangkok, both Thai and foreigners. It get’s pretty crowded on the weekends, and if you like to party at the beach, then it’s perfect.

Just 6km in total size from the northern tip of the island to the southern end, it still has plenty of nice beaches, particularly on the East side where most of the restaurants, bars and places to stay are.

Samet Beach - Part 6

Actually Ko Samet is part of a marine national park – as you will first notice when you pay the 200 Baht national park entrance fee. However, when you are actually on the island, it’s not exactly obvious how this money is put to good use, as there obviously is a garbage disposal problem in some areas and with the sprawling development of tourist facilities in some areas of the island, it’s not evident how the idea of “preserving and protecting nature” is put into practice here.

Apart from that, the island has a lot to offer, and you can also take part in great snorkeling trips around the island.

You can see this holiday video from some tourists to get some impressions from the island:

What’s also special about the island – the weather here is nice almost year-round. So why many islands are impossible to reach during the monsoon season, Ko Samet is quite easy to get to anytime.

If you want to relax at a nice, quiet beach, it’s best to come during the week – the price often are lower too. But if you want to mingle with the crowd and party, the weekends are much better. It’s a good idea to book in advance, especially if you are coming around high season – from December until January, pretty much all good accommodation is booked out, and the only places left are those that charge way too much money for way too little quality.

You do not necessarily need a personal tour guide when going to Ko Samet, but you will definitely be able to get more out of your visit here if you hire one to plan the trip for you and give you advice on what to do, where to go and where to stay.

The busiest of all beaches here is Hat Sai Kaew, at the north-eastern shore of the island. The sand here is just great – white and soft, apparently because of the high silicon content in the sand. Most bungalows, bars and restaurants are located here, and you can sit by the beach and enjoy fresh seafood here.

Samet Beach #2

Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son is actually a pretty small town near the north-western border of Thailand. But it is also a very charming place to visit, and there are many activities that you can participate in.

Mae Hong Son from Kong Mu

It also has a lovely setting – in the mountains, often covered in a fog that gives it a mystic atmosphere.

If you come to Mae Hong Son, one of the things you should really do is to go trekking. It’s location makes it easy to go on trips into the nature that are just wonderful. Just make sure you come here at the right time of the year, because particularly during Monsoon season, it can be difficult and dangerous to go into the nature.

Between November to February, it’s high season and especially on the weekends it can sometimes get quite busy – although quite busy in a very relaxed manner, and it never becomes as crowded as in some of the other tourist hot spots. The people here are also genuinely friendly and polite, and enjoy a relaxed and laid-back lifestyle.

The city is also interesting from an ethnic viewpoint – half of the population here is of Thai Yai origins – and you can see that in different aspects of life, including the temples, religious traditions, the food and so on.

There are also many Karen, Lisu, Hmong and Lawa hill tribe people living here, and in the province of Mae Hong Son you find some Burmese refugee camps.

The official founding year of Mae Hong Son was 1831, but for many years it was very isolated from the rest of Thailand. It was known as the “Siberia of Thailand”, because many politicians from Bangkok who made some major mistakes or got the wrong enemies where transferred to a post in Mae Hong Son. The first paved road that connected Mae Hong Son to the outside world was built in 1968.

It’s a small town but you can find ATMs, a tourist police and also an office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand here, lots of guest houses, hotels, tour agencies and restaurants. On Sundays, there’s a small market, and in the morning ours you can find a morning market near the bus station and the Wat Hua Wiang temple where you can see (and buy) lots of produce from hill tribe people, which can be quite interesting if you have an interest for foreign foods and ingredients and spices. It’s best to come with a personal tour guide who can explain you about different plants and spices and foods, because many people here do not speak good English.

Wat Doi Kong Mu is also a nice temple to visit, because from there you get a good view of the area.

You can travel to Mae Hong Son by car, van or bus, but that’s a long way or you just take an airplane.

Mae Hong Son - twilight arrives - Jan 2007


Whether you are looking for budget guest houses, homestay, wellness resorts or luxury hotels – Mae Hong Son has something good to offer for each of these. Particularly the Fern Resort Mae Hong Son stands out, because it’s managed with the right spirit: it’s eco-friendly and it’s also friendly to the community of the area. Lots of people who work here are local villagers, and the vicinities are really nice.

Nakhon Si Thammarat

Nakhon Si Thammarat is a province in the South of Thailand, and it’s also the second largest town in the South. It’s not a popular tourist destination – mainly because there are so many beautiful islands that people would rather visit in the area.

But if you’re looking for something different – Nakhon Si Thammarat might be worth checking out.

There’s a lot going on culturally and artistically. If you want to see a traditional Thai shadow play, this is where you should look. The puppets are made out of rattan and cow- or buffalo-hide, in the traditional way.  It’s definitely not something everyone will appreciate, but it can be a hypnotic experience if you’re open to it.

This kind of theatre is popular all over Southeast Asia – not just Thailand. But it is one of the oldest kinds of theatre. It is believed that it originated in India, and then spread throughout the region. There are records that 400 BC Buddhist literature was enacted in these kinds of shadow places. Local cultures have adapted these plays to their own traditions.



Nielloware_1, Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat is popular for it’s high-quality nielloware.


According to some historic sources, Theravada Buddhism arrived in Thailand first at Nakhon Si Thammarat. This was a an important trading hub once, and a lot of the ships that travelled between India and China stopped here too, so a lot of cultural exchange took place. From here, Theravada Buddhism went up to the Sukhothai kingdom in the 13th century.

Even today, it’s still one of the major religious places in the South. There are several important Buddhist festivals that take place here, and it’s worth checking out when they happen before you come here.

The main temple in the city is called Wat Mahathat. Relics of the Buddha are stored here, and pilgrims from all over the country come here to pray, meditate and worship. The relics have been brought here by an Indian prince around 2000 years ago, enshrined in a chedi.

When you visit the temple, you might see one area where lots of baby pictures are placed. It’s best to come here with a personal Thai tour guide, but to give a short explanation: This is also where women come to pray to a particular Buddha image when they want to get pregnant. After they have given birth, they will come here and thank the Buddha, and will place a photo of their baby here.

The National Museum is another interesting place in Nakhon Si Thammarat worth visiting. pers

Ko Tao

Ko Tao is one of many beautiful islands in Thailand – and it’s a diver’s paradise. In fact, this is what this island is most popular for – for it’s diving. There are so many diving schools on this island, and so many places to explore, it’s known all over the world among divers.

Ko Tao Sai Thong Resort

Ko Tao means “turtle island”, mainly because some parts of the island look like turtle. Nowadays, the island is filled with people from all over the world, and there’s a reason for that: the nature here is just beautiful.

Along the west coast you find lots of white sandy beaches, and it comes as no surprise that it’s also the most popular place for tourists to stay. Lots of guest houses, bungalows and hotels can be found here in different kinds of price ranges.

With a bit of luck, you might even spot whale sharks while scuba diving around Ko Tao – if you’ve never had an encounter with these giants of the ocean, it will be unforgettable. If you want to see whale sharks, the best time to visit the island is between March and May, and then again around September/October.

In recent years, touristic infrastructure has sprouted rapidly. Nowadays, it’s not just beach bungalows and diving anymore – you find luxury resorts, cinemas, bowling vicinities, you can go paintball shooting, hiking, trekking and so on.

And of course – lots of great seafood to enjoy here.

There are still areas of the island that are more quiet, and if you prefer a secluded little island paradise feeling, you can find that here too.

Especially during high season you should book your accomodation before you arrive on the island – otherwise, you might end up paying inflated prices, and lots of nice accomodation will already be booked.

Ko Tao is a beautiful little island for those who want to have an active island vacation and meet other nice people.

Thai Silk

Most Thai silk is woven in North-Eastern Thailand, a region that is also known as “Isan” (pronounced: ee-san).Thai silk is very unique and differs from Chinese or Japanese silk. For example, Japanese silk is a lot finer and smoother – but it lasts only about years. Thai silk on the other hand is a lot more rough and lasts about 40 years, even when used on a daily basis.

Nowadays, most Thai silk is machine woven, but sometimes you can still find hand-woven silk. Of course, hand-woven is more expensive – and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find, because machine woven silk has flooded the market and lowered the prices that people are willing to pay for hand-woven silk.

There are many steps involved in making Thai silk, and many women in Isan still make their own silk from scratch. That means, they take care of the mulberry trees that silkworms love to munch on. The women then take care of the silk worms, feed them until they grow up and start to build their cocoon.

Once the cocoon has reached it’s final size, they throw it into boiling water to separate the cocoon from the silkworm. They also eat the silkworm – it’s rich in protein and actually considered a delicacy in the region.

The cocoon is made from a single fibre – and this fibre is almost 1km long! So they unspun this fibre and twist it together with other fibres, and that makes on yarn of raw silk. In the next step, this raw silk yarn is soaked to take away a substance from the fibre, and that makes the yarn more soft and almost transparent.

Then, the silk is dyed. Most silk nowadays is dyed with chemical colors, but some areas still use traditional dyes made from plants, minerals and animal parts.

Most Thai silk is just died and then patterns and motives are created in the weaving process by combining different colors together.

However, there is even a more complex way of creating patterns and motives: the raw silk yarn is being died in different colors in precisely defined distances, and then through careful weaving, the pattern or motive emerges  – not by combining several differently colors yarns together, but simply from the weaving of one yarn that has the motive already colored inside the yarn.

You can see what the preparation for this kind of dying looks like:

Thail Silk - The Making Of (Preparation for Dyeing)


This requires a lot of attention to detail and careful planning and visual imagination in advance.

Buying Thai Silk

But since Bangkok is the trading center of Thailand, you can buy all kinds of Thai silk here. Just be sure to buy original Thai silk – nowadays, fake Thai silk from artificial materials is produced so well that many people can’t tell the difference anymore by just looking or touching it. However, most of the Thai silk that you can buy on markets that are frequented mostly by tourists is fake.

If you want to learn more about Thai silk, we have expert guides who even worked as Thai silk weavers when they were young, helping their mothers, and they know all there is to know about Thai silk. They can also give you hands on lessons on traditional Thai silk weaving techniques and help you to learn to judge the quality of silk. Just contact us for more information.

Wat Pra Chetuphon

Wat Pra Chetuphon is a popular temple in Bangkok, also known as Wat Po. One of the main attractions here is the giant reclining Buddha image.

The reclining Buddha in Wat Po Bangkok

Every day people from all over the world come here. Most Buddhists also make merit by taking a small bowl of coins that you can get for a donation inside the building, and then putting coins in a row of alms bowls. This money will be used for the maintenance of the temple.

Coins for Blessing

This temple housed the first open university for traditional Thai medicine, and until today you can get a traditional Thai massage by trained therapists on the compounds of the temple.

It’s best if you go here with a private tour guide who can explain you the meanings of symbols, the structure of the temple, it’s history and religious significance. There are many interesting things to see and learn here, and you can easily spend a couple of hours, given that you have an interest in history, Buddhism or Thai culture.

The temple also shows that Thailand has incorporated many elements of Chinese culture, and was deliberately designed to honor the exchange between both nations:

Wat Po

You also find images that depict energy lines of traditional Thai medicine. Some of the theories of traditional Thai medicine are similar to elements of traditional Chinese medicine (particularly with meridians and acupressure points) and Indian chakras.

Wat Po - acupuncture?

The lotus flower is one of the main symbols of Buddhism, so it’s no surprise that it can be found in the temple compounds of Wat Pra Chetuphon too.

Flower at Wat Po

When you look at the feet of the reclining Buddha, you can see an impressive mother of pearl inlay:
Inlaid Mother of Pearl Images

It represents 108 positive characteristics of the Buddha and includes depictions from the Himmaphan – a mythical realm of Thai cosmology.

Wat Po, Bangkok

These pyramid shaped structures hold remains of early kings of the current Chakri dynasty.

There are many fascinating stories that will bring alive this temple to you if you come with one of our private tour guides to this place. Contact us for booking inquiries 🙂

The Difference Between Being in Thailand as a Thai and as A Foreigner

There obviously is a big difference between being in Thailand as a Thai or as a foreigner.

Even if we take away all cultural and language differences (which only works in a hypothetical world) there still is another huge difference: a Thai, on average, earns around 8000 baht (depending upon which part of Thailand they live in).

That’s just about… let me get my calculator out… 260 US Dollars.

Now, you’ll spend that money in a week (or less) when you’re on a vacation in Thailand. A Thai however needs to spread the same amount of money out over a month.

And sure – as a Thai, there are some advantages: you don’t need to pay for a hotel or guesthouse, which is always more expensive than a flat or a house. As a Thai, I know my way around. I can get on a bus, or one of those funny looking remodelled pick-up tracks that we call songtaew, and get where I want to go for 16 baht, whereas you probably will take a cab for 70 baht.

But still – a normal Thai usually can’t afford to hang out in the kind of bar that is frequented by international tourists.

So what happens when a foreigner tries to live in Thailand on a Thai budget? Well, Talen tried it, and after seven days, he’s bored.

Can you live like a Thai?

No man is an island but for the month of May I sure felt like one. I spent a good part of the month still recovering from my bout of dengue fever and another bout of tonsillitis but I am happy to say that is all behind me now and I am again running at 100%, a claim that Rick from Behind the Noodle Curtain tested the veracity of just this past weekend when he came to Pattaya for a short holiday of sorts.

Rick and I have spent a considerable amount of time deliberating costs and finances in Thailand and this past weekend we touched on these things again, it’s very easy in a town like Pattaya to plan on going home early and spending less on a night out but but more often than not it’s easier to spend more and wondering where the time went as you are watching the sun come up. This isn’t a daily habit for either of us but it happens.

Both Rick and I have come to the conclusion that we can and will be doing some things cheaper such as living arrangements. When my lease is up I will be looking for a much cheaper condo which can be had in certain areas near me for around 5000 baht a month. Of course they aren’t up scale but some of these places are quite nice and actually roomier than what I am paying too much for now.

Our talks this weekend got me thinking back to a great post that Martyn from Beyond the Mango Juice wrote some time ago entitled Red Red Whine, this was an excellent article about what the average Thai makes in a days wages and how we as tourists and expats would be hard pressed to live within such means. At the end of his article Martyn challenged his readers to live like a Thai for just one day and the monetary amount allowed was 170 baht. As far as I know no one took him up on the challenge…until now.

But read the rest of the story for yourself…