Figure out the best place to stay on Khao San Road in Bangkok and where to escape when you've had enough of the mayhem. From Singapore Slings to the changes in Bejing after the 2008 Olympics, gab about it all here.

Are there any budget islands left in Thailand?

Lucky Luke

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
Having just got back from Thailand, I can report that there are still good budget options to be found on Koh Chang.
(prices as of May 2011)

While I was a bit disappointed by how developed the island was compared to how wonderful and sleepy it had been last time I’d been there, that was 5 years ago and I guess this is just what happens; progress marches on.
The island wasn’t awful or anything, but on the drive from the ferry terminal round to Lonely Beach I was quite shocked by how many more shops there lining the main road and on arriving in Lonely Beach, rather than two little grocery stores and a bunch of jungle. I found yet more shops and a whole bunch of new bungalow and resort operations.

However, things weren’t as bad as I initially feared and for some odd reason, 90% of the development is actually down the southern end, away from the actual beach. (If you’ve been there before – up past where Treehouse used to be, spreading round towards Bailan).

We spent the first two nights up this end of the town at Ice Beach bungalows.
I had the quintessential bamboo hut with light bulb, desk fan (ie: not wall mounted) and mozzie net with plenty of holes. Shared bathrooms were the cold water, open-air stable type affairs but newly built and fairly clean.
My hut wasn’t right on the water but only about 100m away, although as mentioned, this was the rocky end of the beach, you have to walk ten mins back past Siam Huts to get to the sand.
But all this was just 100B per night!

My mate had their next grade up in accom; a concrete box for 200B, with a private bathroom that smelt a bit like evil.
There were a lot of operations nearby offering similar accom at similar prices.

We stayed at Ice Beach a couple of nights then decided we wanted to be closer to the beachy bit of the beach so had a look at other options.

Siam Huts had pretty basic aircon with bathroom doubles for 450B (and fan rooms for cheaper) which are quite close to the water but also close to the bar which is one of the venues for the roaming party that plays the same whomp-whomp music at a different bar every night. Fine if you choose your nights right, no sleep is you get it wrong.

In the end we completely splurged and forked out an embarrassing amount for a really flash room at Nature Beach, complete with aircon, a flatscreen telly and possibly the most beautiful bathroom I’ve ever seen (or perhaps it just seemed that way compared to all the bus depot toilets over the past weeks!)
However, before we make the call to treat ourselves, we had a look at Nature Beach’s other options and they had some really tidy wee fan huts, some wooden, some concrete but all much nicer than Siam’s offerings, for around the 300 – 400B mark.
They even had quite a few twins, which is always nice when it’s hot and you don’t much want to wind up squashed under your mate’s sweaty back!

Foodwise, all the guest house restaurants run at around the 40 – 60B mark for a fairly indifferent noodle dish, 120 – 200B for the nightly BBQ, 30 – 40B for a shake, 50B for a small bottle of Chang or Leo. It’s all pretty same same...
I think the best food we found on Lonely Beach was at a little local eatery that’s pretty much straight ahead of you when you come out of the main bar street, it’s got a BBQ out front and always had loads of Thais eating there. Prices were about the same but the food was much tastier.

Shared sangtaew from ferry terminal to Lonely Beach was set rate 100B pp, motorbike hire was about 200B for 24 hrs.
So all up, it’s really not too much more than it was five years ago.


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  • Added on: June 1st, 2011
djmc wrote:It's kinda the same amount of hassle as getting down to islands in thailand isnt it? In thailand you gotta take a train + boat, or possibly fly + boat (to nearby islands around samui/phuket). And even the philippine islands you can fly to directly seemed to be a lot less developed and touristy compared to Samui/Phuket.

Also, I'm pretty sure there are many islands close to manila similar to koh samet and bangkok. I went to Anilao for diving and it was incredible. Only a relatively short bus ride away from manila (distance is short, traffic makes it far hehe).

Plus, I'm pretty sure cebu pacific is often a lot cheaper for domestic flights than air asia. They have some incredible sales.

I would LOVE to go to the Pilippines but with the 8,000 odd islands I would have no idea where to start or where to go! Any advice?

At least in Thailand there's a usual route that is pretty much mapped out, but I don't want to tread the same route a billion other travellers before me have :(


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  • Added on: June 6th, 2011
Clare: Fly to Cebu and start exploring from there. It's certainly not that difficult to find nice places and beaches.

Also, people should stop thinking just in island-terms when it comes to nice beaches. We were stunned when we cycled in Thailand. We found hundreds of kilometers of virtually empty beach on the main land while tens of thousands were crowding the nearby islands. It's silly, really. But just confirms that most people don't travel to discover, but travel to meet (other travelers).
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