If you’ve never been to Thailand, you should definitely visit this enchanting country at least once. Isolated idyllic beaches, amazing landscapes deep within the jungle, wild party cities and the rich culture and cuisine make Thailand one of my favorite destinations for incredibly varied workations in Southeast Asia. The diversity of the country makes it one of the most popular destinations for digital entrepreneurs and well-known influencers.
In this article, I would like to tell you how I travelled from idyllic island to idyllic island with my laptop in 2017, working on Thailand’s most beautiful beaches! And all of that on a small budget. My original budget was EUR 1,000 (including the flight from Vienna) for the 12-day trip. In the end, it was EUR 1,100, because I treated myself to a few visits to some of the expensive rooftop bars in Bangkok.
Bangkok, a city you must have seen.
Bangkok – a must on your bucket-list of cities to see. When I arrived in Bangkok, I was rather surprised at how far from my expectations the city turned out to be. I imagined Bangkok to be much more disorganized and chaotic. Perhaps I was somewhat jaded by the myriad of past experiences I’d had in China. I arrived at my hostel on the Khao San Road (yes, I wanted to do it just like Leonardo Di Caprio did in The Beach :D). I immediately launched myself into the nightlife. Every evening, every day of the week, the Khao San Road is jam-packed with party lovers from all over the world. People dance and drink on the streets and in the clubs until the early hours of the morning. So, I spent the first two nights on the Khao San Road, then I met some very hospitable Thais and headed off to a less touristy quarter of Bangkok, so I could get to know this amazing city from behind the scenes, and to find some nostalgic nooks and crannies to work in. After four days, when I’d had enough of the big city, I booked a cheap flight to Krabi, and set off to explore the islands of Thailand.
Here are a few tips for your trip to Bangkok:
- Internet: In Bangkok, you can simply buy a sim card at one of the stands at the airport. The network coverage is good and the internet speed is very fast. The tourist sim cards are usually slightly more expensive than the local ones. If you are going to be in the country for several months or more, it is worth researching which sim card will be best for you at that specific time.
- Sightseeing: You can visit all of the main sights – the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Pho, Wat Arun – in one day, if you get up early enough, and that way, you’ll also avoid the masses of tourists. You should end your tour at sunset, at one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok, the Golden Mountain Temple (Wat Saket). With a rented bicycle, you can tour the whole of Bang Krachao for around EUR 1.50.
- Nightlife: If you’ve seen Hangover 2, you are probably interested in the rooftop bar from the movie. The name of the bar is the Lebua Sky Bar, and it is actually one of the most amazing rooftop bars in the world, so it is by no means cheap. But, it’s also worth visiting some of the other rooftop bars with a view of Bangkok’s skyline. If it’s classic tourist parties you’re after, you can simply spend a night out on the Khao San Road.
If you like dancing to electro house and/or hip-hop, you should check out the many clubs at the top end of Sukhumvit Road.
- Accommodation: I don’t think there are many other cities that offer a wider selection of accommodation, ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels, than you will find in Bangkok. If you want privacy, you can get a double room for just EUR 10 per night. But the 5-star hotels are also relatively cheap — about EUR 40 per night for a double room.
Krabi, the ideal starting point for an island Work-cation.
While we were coming in to land on Krabi, I quickly booked a party hostel, because before that, I had no idea what kind of mood I’d be in. These hostels all have a big, bustling bar, with special offers on drinks, to get the guests into the right mood for the evening in general, and for meeting people. Although I was in Krabi in the middle of the week, the clubs were very crowded, and another unforgettable evening developed. Krabi’s Ao Nang Beach is really nice, and it offers many quiet places where you can work in a relaxing atmosphere. From the various piers, there are longboats and speed boats that will take you in any direction, and to all of the beautiful isolated (and bustling) islands.
The idyllic Thai islands — the perfect creative workplace for every notebook entrepreneur and “home” office enthusiast.
I must honestly say that I was surprised by the beauty of the beaches and the clarity of the water, despite all the negative hype and the stories one hears. It’s easy to avoid the crowds of tourists by simply booking accommodation on the islands where this is possible, and avoiding the beaches between 11am and 3pm. This is the time-window during which the various excursion boats bring the hoards of package tourists and Instagrammers to the most popular spots. If you travel a lot, you develop a feeling for how far the day tourists can get at certain locations, so you can set up your beach office outside of this radius, and enjoy the silence and the sound of the waves.
Here are a few examples of the islands you can get to by speed boat or longboat. You can either book your own private boat, or wait until the boats are full, which is cheaper. I always had perfect mobile internet on the islands, if anything has changed in this regard, please let me know in the comments section. You can stay on most of the islands (some of them have no accommodation, see below) for just a few euros, and feast on the delicious Thai food for a reasonable price.
Rai Leh is a peninsula that is not accessible by land. With its lovely Tonsai, Railay and the Ao Phra Nang Beaches, it’s the perfect starting point for an island workation in the south of Thailand. The scenery is incredibly beautiful and there are good bars and hotels in all price categories. Unfortunately the peninsula is very crowded by day tourists, so you need to take the measures mentioned above in order to avoid the masses. Boats leave regularly between Ao Nang and Rai Leh.
This is a very large chain of islands, which so far, has not gotten too touristy. There are several accommodation options and restaurants on the island. The beaches are very nice and not overly crowded. The islands are easily accessible via Krabi, by ferry or by minibus (which involves a short ferry trip).
Koh Jum is located north of Koh Lanta, and a little closer to Krabi. It is even less frequented by tourists than Koh Lanta, and the island offers wonderful experiences for beach and nature lovers. The island can be reached by ferry or minibus (including a short ferry trip) from Krabi. There are cheap restaurants and bars on the island.
A small island off the coast that can be reached by one of the longtail or day-trip boats from Ao Nang. The white beach is absolutely breathtaking and the water is as clear as glass. There is a small hotel on the island.
Chicken Island & Tub Island:
Just a little beyond Koh Poda, you will find Chicken Island and Tub Island. The two islands are connected by a sandbank, so you can walk across at low tide. These islands are also accessible from Ao Nang by boat. There is no accommodation on the islands, and the both the beaches and the water are absolute perfection.
Bamboo Island is an incredibly beautiful, idyllic island with a white sandy beach and turquoise water, and what’s more, the island is also perfect for snorkeling. You can get there from Ao Nang or Koh Phi Phi, either in one of the excursion boats or in a private boat. There is no accommodation available here.
Koh Phi Phi:
Koh Phi Phi is divided into two sections, namely Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh. Koh Phi Phi Leh doesn’t offer any accommodation, but it has super beaches and bays which are visited by day tourists (e.g. Maya Bay, where the film The Beach was shot – it is currently closed),. I took a break and went snorkeling off the island, and I saw some lovely corals and other exotic sea creatures, and also a few sharks.
The main island, Koh Phi Phi Don, is pretty much overrun by tourists. There is plenty of accommodation available, and there is also a big selection of restaurants and bars. Every evening, there are countless relatively good beach parties on the big Loh Dalum Beach. It’s the ideal choice for those who like to work during the day and relax and do some dancing at night. If you are prepared to do a bit of walking, to get to the other beautiful beaches on the island, you will a quiet place on the beach, away from the crowds of tourists.
Of course there are many other beautiful islands around Krabi. This is just a little taste to inspire you. Thailand is huge, and there are masses of beautiful places to discover, from which you can work and be creative. Thailand is one of my top travel destinations, and I will be back there soon, to add to this article and write new articles about this diverse and wonderful country. Until then, have fun travelling with your office in your backpack!
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