Our yogi expert Jackie Heffer-Cooke shares her knowledge from her extensive travels around Thailand. She shares her tips on how to make this trip of a lifetime cost effective and child friendly. Not only will you experience a whole new culture, amazing sites, smells, tastes but you will make memories to last a lifetime.
Travelling to Thailand is good for your health. It’s official.
- Travel lowers stress levels – you are ‘away from it all!’
- Travel Improves brain health – new people, new environments, new adaptations
- Travel exposes you to different environments and therefore builds immunity
- Travel heals. There are many cultures who think differently from us, which may invoke personal healing changes. An opportunity to ‘find yourself’.
- Studies have found: Those who travel have a longer life expectancy. Maybe its exploration, maybe it’s soaking up experience, maybe it’s standing on a beach or a mountain top, giving us our complete moment-of-being and a feeling of resolution that we are all ‘is-ness’ – interconnected – one. Don’t know. But I am UP FOR IT! And apparently so are you…
After my documented travels in Thailand this year, so many family members, friends and colleagues have asked me where we go and what we do. So here we go… my guide to my favourite place on earth (so far) Thailand…
My Guide to Thailand
DIY travel in Thailand is easy peasy, but to make it even easier, here’s our Thailand ‘Land of Smiles’, Top Tips!
We first fell in love with Thailand in 2004, when we spent 4 months travelling around its islands and jungles. Since then we have returned 3 times in the last 6 years as it’s our joint favourite family holiday destination.
The beaches are sublime, the weather is always tropically warm, the food fresh and delicious, snorkelling sparkly, the cold Chang tastes divine, the wildlife wonderful, travelling by longboat is the best, but more than that – Thailand has a feeling not expressed through words, it is the people, the atmosphere, the sunsets, the calmness, the live for the moment, the non-material ideals, that makes you remember what we humans are all about.
This holiday is not a luxury holiday. You can easily book them through travel agents. This is Thailand on a budget, but we actually prefer it this way, we love the simplicity of the huts, the food on the beach, the relaxed ‘stay in my sarong all day if I like’ attitude 🙂
Everything mentioned here you can easily google and find.
When to go…
It is slightly different if you are on east or west coast, so do double check, but in general stay away from rainy season from May to September.
How to get there…
Well, we always google search for the cheapest flights from London to Bangkok, or London to Krabi. We mostly travel with middle eastern airways like Emirates, which are luxurious and reasonably priced. Because we do it on a budget there is always a stopover in a middle eastern destination, sometimes for around 6 hours, but we just prepare ourselves and see it as all part of the experience. For kids, as long as you keep an iPad charged, happy days! (They are not allowed any electrics on the holiday so they are happy to ‘top up’ on the flight!…)
If you fly to Bangkok you will need an overnight stay, then fly AirAsia to Krabi the next day. You can find a lovely hotel in Bangkok for around £60 for a family of four with a pool. There’s nothing like the feeling of that dip after being on a plane and in transit for 16 hours or so. Stay within 20 mins or so drive of the airports and simply get a cab there and back the next day. Make sure you know which airport you need, there are two, one for international and one for domestic flights, so you want to be between both of them.
Our last trip we managed to get a flight to Krabi, which did make life easier, so shop around and see what you can find.
We always spend about £450 pp on return flights. Remember under 2’s are free!
Thailand with children…
Do it! It’s so safe and easy and your kids can feel a freedom seldom captured in Europe, where they can paddle and swim in warm safe waters, they can go barefoot most of the day, and experience the warmth and friendliness of the Thais. They will love the fresh fruit shakes, the snorkelling, and explorations through the rock pools.
Due to personal finances, our Sam was 18 months when we first took him, but I would take a baby too, why not!
sun screen, lip sun screen, snorkel, well covering swim suits for kids – best to have this so they don’t burn, and you don’t have to worry, tummy salts etc, mosquito repellent, sting relief, Thai Baht.
Take Thai Baht for first few days, you can then easily get money out of machines at Koh Lanta. You can pay all accommodation, meals, drinks etc on cards now.
Expect to pay £25 to £75 per night for a hut. £2 for a beer, £2 glass of wine, £3 cocktail, £1.50 a fruit shake. £2- £5 per main course.
We fly to Krabi as this is the gateway to the best islands. Sometimes we fly to Trang and out of Krabi, but if this is your first trip I want to keep it easy for you.
Before you go book a minibus from Krabi airport to Koh Lanta, easy to google and pay online. Your driver will be ready and waiting for you at the arrival gate, with your name on a board and an air-conditioned minibus! There are cheaper ways to go on public transport, but for us after a long flight, with kids, it’s a worthwhile luxury. Minibus Transfer costs around £50 – £60, it takes about an hour and includes a couple of chain ferries which your driver will sort.
Long beach, Pra-ae beach. Our favourite place in the world for an all-round perfect beach holiday. Sea is warm, sand perfect, sunset facing, fairy light lit and Thai cushion beach bars galore, massage, yoga…
Where to stay
We used to stay at Sayang Beach, which we still recommend, but for a family of four it is out of our budget now. If there are just two of you the huts are clean, the grounds and gardens well kept, the restaurant is good, the people friendly and the beach is all sand here. It’s a good base to explore up and down the two-mile beach! But it us busier now than it used to be. Still lovely though. If your children are small you can ask for an extra bed in the hut, and the other child if 4 and under will fit into your king size bed with you.
Last time we stayed at Lanta Marina Resort. Utterly helpful hosts, clean massive family huts, and right on the beach. This resort is on the very end of the beach where it is rockier, so not so good for swimming, but walk 5 mins up the beach and the rocks disappear. We enjoyed this end of the beach though as quieter, and we loved looking around in the rock pools. We fully recommend, in fact we would happily spend two weeks just here! £50 per night, per hut.
There lots of trips from Koh Lanta, which is why you don’t actually need to go anywhere else! We recommend Koh Rok and it’s quite lovely to go to Koh PiPi. You can also do an island tour of Koh Ngai, Koh Mook.
Thai trips are not professional in the way us westerners expect, so bear that in mind. U.K. Standard health and safety is not part of their consciousness. This kind of thing doesn’t bother me in the least, as I love to sit on a boat deck in the sun, however ‘rough around the edges’, and if you have a good book to hand who cares about the wait…
From Koh Lanta you can easily get to the other islands via ferry boat. Talk to your accommodation hosts and they will sort it all out for you. Thailand is extremely well set up for tourists and travellers.
Most people visit here for a day trip because of the crystal waters, we decided to stay for 4 nights last trip. It was blissful. There is a reef around the beach you can walk to at low tide, it’s like snorkelling in an aquarium! We stayed at Kalume Kradan village. Ran by an Italian, the food is amazing, but more expensive. We had two huts here per family, £25 per hut. Very simple huts! They do have more luxury huts too.
Haad Farang is a stunning grand beach, cut into the rock. Great for a visit, or to spend a couple of nights.
Beautiful, but been a long time since we were last here. Next time…
Beautiful, but much more on the tourist trail so a lot busier
We have visited but not stayed. Beautiful beach too!
Krabi Ao Nang and around
You could always head north up the coast to some of the really grand ‘picture postcard’ Thailand. We did this on our first, and on our last trip. It’s a busier experience, but is great fun and some of the beaches are really spectacular.
A busier beach, surrounded by lime stone carst cliffs. Quite stunning. Here you will find loads of restaurants and bars, usual tat shops, and a fun night out. We enjoyed fishermen’s rest restaurant on the far end of the beach, watching the sunset eating fresh BBQ fish on white plastic chairs drinking cocktails and we had a really fun night watching a great band at Coconut Bar. (And a very sore head The next day – stay away from the Thai Buckets – fun, but lethal! )
We went pretty luxury here, Irawan House apartments. 3 pretty and clean apartments around a lovely little pool. The hosts are excellent. They come in a cook you a great breakfast every morning and give you free lifts in and out of Ao Nang. Again they will sort out all your day trips for you.
And Ao Nang, Phu Phi Maan resort, which was stunning, but we didn’t realise it’s Muslim, so sell no alcohol 🙁 it was lovely though and a free transfer to the town whenever you like.
Visit Hong island. Phra Nang Cave beach. Railey beach. All by longboat, the noisiest, but in my opinion the best way to travel!
And further afield ‘James Bond’ island.
Also, I really recommend tiger cave temple, which is an amazing climb up 1200 stairs, a foot high each! To climb a cliff to the Big Buddha. This is not a trip for midday, it is quite tough, and only for the relatively fit (the kids didn’t do it) and positive thinkers! I did it at dawn. Wonderful way to start your day. You need to get a cab there and back.
So that’s my top tips.
Above all, ease yourself in, there is no rush in Thailand, smile and engage with the people around you and let the relaxed atmospheric lull you into total blissfulness.
I really hope you love it as much as we do 🙂 xx
Read more about Jackie’s love for the ‘land of smiles’ on a blog she wrote at the airport, fresh from her Thailand trip.
If you are saving for this trip of a lifetime and need something to look forward to in the mean time, why not book on to our Meditation for Mums Workshop, or our Christmas Retreat, for a bit of calming, re energising ‘you’ time.