Similan Islands – Tranquil Hidden Gems in Thailand

There are many reasons why I love Phuket and keep going back there. Be it the relaxed pace of life there or the cohort amalgamation of people from all over the world looking to have a time of their lives. This “Pearl of Andaman” is an excellent take-off point or a gateway to several beautiful islands scattered across the Andaman sea.The Similan Islands is one such place that is often overlooked by visitors who mostly head to the much publicized Phi-Phi islands instead.

Islands in Thailand
View from the top of Similan Island

About the Similan Islands

The Similan Islands is a cluster of eleven islands that are actually part of the Mu Ko Similan National Park, located off the coast of Phang Nga bay. The waters around these islands are home to a plethora of diverse marine ecosystem which provides some excellent diving and snorkeling spots. However, three of the eleven islands are off-limits to tourists as they are entirely functional for the marine life protection and preservation initiative of the national park. These islands were the first Thai territories to get hit during the disastrous 2004 Tsunami resulting in extensive damage to the underwater life which left the place with damaged corals and displaced species. Dedicated efforts are being made now to conserve and protect the reefs which shelter thousands of sea turtles, manta rays and the occasional sharks.

Similan Islands
Pristine blue waters around Similan Islands

It was my love for beaches, islands, the sea and the urge to go places that are not the most popular that led me to visit these islands. A 90 minute boat ride from Khao Lak took us to a cove that was brimming with nature at its most honest and serene best – under the sea and on the land. Snorkeling in the clear waters alongside the stunning variety of marine species, some amazingly beautiful coral reefs and a couple of curious sea turtles, I did not want to stop.

Similan Island
Coast of Similan Island 9

These islands are absolutely devoid of the usual rapid development activities and have hardly any modern amenities to mention. Filled with forests and surrounded with turquoise waters all around, the beaches here are probably the most pristine I have seen in Thailand till now. Beautiful pieces of sea stones and corals wash ashore with every wave that hits the beach. Inland, the forests are thick, green and humid with a few harmless monkeys jumping around. I had a friendly encounter with one of the thousands of hairy-legged crabs that crawl all over the island.

Beaches of Thailand
White sand beaches of Similan Islands


On the island, there is a “Hill” which is actually a formation of huge rock boulders piled up on one another. The summit of this hill is an excellent viewpoint that provides stunning views of the island and miles across the surrounding ocean. However, the climb to the top can be quite rough and physically exhausting as one would need to go through several steep narrow passages between the rocks. There were quite a few people who took that climb as I realized it was worth all the effort once I reached to the top.

Islands of Thailand
Beautiful view of the island cove from the summit of the hill
Islands of Thailand
View of the ocean from the summit of the hill at Similan Island

These islands are entirely managed by the national park authorities with the sole purpose of sustaining and protecting the marine ecosystem. Visitors to these islands are always provided with special guidelines on responsible tourism before setting foot on the shores or venturing under water. There is a constant effort to keep these islands safe, clean and away from the commercialization that has happened to Phi Phi over the years. This is visible from the availability of accommodation which are limited to camping tents and basic bungalows by the sea which are also provided by the national park management.

Similan camping

How to get there and back

Tour agencies from Khao Lak operate fast boats to these islands everyday. You can choose for the day trip that departs at 9 AM and returns by 5 PM or the overnight camping trip which departs at 9 AM and returns the next morning. Camping on this quiet island can be fun and peaceful at the same time. The Fantastic Similan Travel group are well-known for their outstanding service with responsible and efficient staff. Visit for more info on their available trips.


I found the below two websites providing the best information on the Similan Islands. Various aspects of the place like the history, wildlife and accommodation process are available on these sites.

Similan Islands



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Similan Islands – Tranquil Hidden Gems in Thailand

A Food trail in Bangkok : The floating market of Khlong Lat Mayom

Getting to see the various places around a destination with a local friend and expert can actually be one of the best things that could happen on our travels as that gives us the opportunity to have a more meaningful connection with the place. I myself had that experience when I booked a day trip to the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market with TakeMeTour group in Bangkok. A day that involved ferry rides, traveling on the back of a pickup truck, a boat ride along the canal at the market and a lot of tasty food, I got more than I had expected.

About Khlong Lat Mayom


Bangkok is well-renowned for its array of the famous floating markets. Along with the many other attractions, the floating markets are a huge draw for visitors to Bangkok. While many might argue that some of these floating markets have become very commercialized and dont have the real flavor anymore, the Khlong Lat Mayom market still stands out in that aspect. Located about an hour journey(ferry ride + hopping on a pickup truck) from the Saphan Thaksin pier, this place is very local with not much of an inflow of tourists and there is hardly any unwanted persuasion from the vendors to buy stuff.

The Trip

Ferry Ride

After meeting at the Saphan Thaksin ferry pier with Fon – our local expert and John – our photographer, we spent the next 25 minutes on board the ferry as we trudged along the mighty Bangkok river. As we moved along each pier, Fon provided me good information about each place and the significant landmarks around them like Chinatown, Grand Palace and Wat Arun.


Swamp Canal

After alighting at the Thonburi Railway Station pier, we hopped on to the back of a pickup van – which looked more like a bigger and a bit advanced version of the normal “tuk tuk” – and we were on our way to the destination. During the 30 minutes journey, as we passed through a very different side of Bangkok where there was hardly any tourist to be seen, Fon, me and John exchanged stories about our lives, work and travels. It was especially interesting to listen to the local stories from Fon, which you might not always get to hear usually,



By the time we reached the market, we were all very hungry and we took that opportunity to head right into the food market to fulfill our appetite. The food market was something that I had always wanted to see and experience. Food stalls were spread across the entire place serving all kinds of authentic Thai food – way more varieties than the usual Tom Yam or Phad Thai – and some really unique sweets.

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Once we had our hunger pangs satisfied, we headed towards the canal where we were supposed to take a leisurely boat ride. As we waited for the boats to arrive, I stood by the canal watching the thousands of fishes jostling for space as folks dropped chunks of bread to feed them.  The boat arrived after 20 minutes and I was quite pleased to see it was not the usual long-tailed boats, instead it was a small paddle boat which meant more nooks and corners to explore around the canal over the next 30 minutes. Check out the video below


After the boat ride, we crossed over to the second part of the market by going down and under a small bridge. Keeping up with the tradition of reshaping my skull while I am in Southeast Asia, I bumped my head twice on the very low ceiling while crossing over to the market. This market had more of the different kinds of food, fruits and also vendors selling lip-smacking curry noodles from small boats. On Fon’s suggestion, I took a take-away of those for my lunch – which I later found out, wasn’t enough as I just couldn’t stop admiring the earthy authentic Thai flavors in it.

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Having a friend along who is more than just a guide

Fon – the friendly local expert

When you book a tour through any Tour and Travel group, we always hope that the guide/expert would be knowledgeable with what he/she is doing. But this experience was so much more than just the usual tours and trips as Fon, the local expert, was not just very good is showing me around but she actually took interest to understand my preferences and expectations when it came to traveling. Instead of being a guided tour, it was more like a group of friends traveling together as me, Fon and John had quite a lot of fun apart from sharing our stories and experiences.

About TakeMeTour


TakeMeTour is a Thailand based travel startup who have many local experts enrolled in their program to provide some real and authentic day trips across different destinations in Thailand. Whether you want to visit the floating markets of Bangkok, the sticky waterfalls in Chiang Mai or a trip to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, Take Me Tour group has some of the best local experts to make for an unforgettable experience. Book their tours online which is a really hassle-free process and be ensured of a really good time. To book this particular day trip to the floating market visit the website here on TakeMeTour.

and style


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A Food trail in Bangkok : The floating market of Khlong Lat Mayom

Thailand: Best of Thai Food in Chiang Mai – A Photo Essay

A small city in Northern Thailand surrounded by hills and lush-green forests, Chiang Mai has turned into one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia. The beautiful temples dotted all over and in the outskirts of Chiang Mai draw visitors from all over the world. However it is the amazing array of Thai food that this city serves which makes for an authentic Thai experience. From the numerous hip cafes and the local restaurants to the bustling food markets, Chiang Mai has some of the most lip-smacking food when it comes to Thai cuisine.

During the eight days in Chiang Mai, I have been part of several misadventures including snakebites and an almost damaged iPhone. However, sampling the different foods in the night markets did make things better. Here are some of the best foods I have had in Chiang Mai.

Chicken and long beans in red curry paste
Chicken and long beans in red curry paste
Green Mango Salad
Green Mango Salad

The green Mango salad or Som Tam Mamuang was the first thing I ate after reaching Chiang Mai. This is one of my all time favorite dishes in Thai cuisine. The sweet, sour and spicy flavors of this dish along with the fruity raw Mango makes for a mouth watering combination.

Steamed Gyoza
Steamed Gyoza
Fried glass noodles
Fried glass noodles

The two food markets at the Chiang Mai night bazaar are a heaven for food lovers. Cheap and tasty, the range of foods vary from Thai, Seafood, Indian, Chinese, Steaks and a lot of fruit stuff. The prices range from as low as 20 Baht to 250 Baht. The two food markets are the best places to have local fare at affordable prices with a very social dining setting. The Pad Thai below was for just 20 Baht and it was one of the best we have had.

Pad Thai
Pad Thai at the night market


Khao Soi – A special mention about this this dish that is specific to Northern Thailand and Laos. Arguably the best food in Chiang Mai, this dis comprises of egg noodles and deep fried crispy noodles served with curry sauce containing coconut milk. This dish is not that easily found elsewhere apart from Northern Thailand.

Khao Soi
Khao Soi

Getting a taste of authentic Thai food and culture is what northern Thailand is about apart from the beautiful landscapes. The Thai food is so much more than the usual Tom Yum or Pineapple Fried Rice if one moves towards the north in places like Chiang Mai, Pai, Isaan. There is probably no better way than the local food markets if you want to taste the local fare at affordable prices and in a shorter timeline.



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Thailand: Best of Thai Food in Chiang Mai – A Photo Essay

Things to Do And See On Your Trip To Bangkok

Stunning hotels, culture, history and shopping – not to mention mouth watering food. Bangkok really does have a vast range of attractions for every traveler. Bangkok is a city of contrasts where you can find historical places right next to modern day skyscrapers. You can find luxurious restaurants serving international cuisine and local street-food cards in the same neighborhood. This bustling city, Thailand’s capital, is the most developed in the country and makes for an amazing place to visit. Bangkok is a popular destination for most travelers visiting Southeast Asia whether on a luxury trip or a backpacker’s budget. You will see and experience some incredible things, and make memories that will last a lifetime for you.

Explore some amazing architecture

Source: Wikimedia

Bangkok is home to some spectacular pieces of architecture, which date back hundreds of years. There are numerous temples and museums to explore: from the Wat Mahatat to the Temple of Dawn, to the elegant gold and white Wat Traimit temple. You can also see the beautiful Grand Palace, this is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok and without a doubt the city’s most famous landmark. Besides historical monuments, Bangkok also features numerous modern breathtaking buildings from malls to skyscrapers. I personally am not a great fan of shopping malls but Bangkok really has some pretty amazing ones. The Terminal 21 shopping mall for example, is a wonderful piece of modern architecture built with an airport terminal theme. If not for the shopping, then at least for the architecture buffs these malls are a great sight. 

Stroll around and relax in the Green Spaces

When you think of Bangkok, parks and green spaces probably aren’t the first thing that come to your mind. But there are a number of them scattered across the city, They make a fantastic place to get some respite from the bustling city life and experience some calm relaxing moments. You could stroll through Saranrom Park or relax on a boat in Lumpini Park. You could rent bikes and explore Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan park and botanical gardens. There’s so much more to Bangkok than just the crowded city.

Source: Flickr

Visit the Zoos and Aquariums

Although I am not a big fan of watching wildlife in constricted spaces, zoos and sea world aquariums are quite popular and fun for kids. Bangkok has an incredible zoo as well as a safari park, where you’re able to go and see a variety of animals. In Safari World you can see shows, have animal encounters and go on a thrilling safari drive through the picturesque park setting. Dusit Zoo features an activities ground, a zoo museum, and sightseeing train. You can see rare animals such as white Bengal tigers and albino barking deer. You could visit Bangkok’s butterfly and insect farm, or Siam Ocean World which is one of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia. Unlike other places in Thailand like Phuket, where the animals in the zoos are in dire conditions, in Bangkok they are well taken care of by the authorities so you will definitely be not disappointed to visit these places.

Shop Til You Drop

Bangkok is one of the most popular places to shop in Asia, and with good reason. Prices are affordable, the quality is good, and you will be spoiled for choice when you are out for shopping. Are you looking for an amazing street market experience? From floating markets to bazaars to even night markets you won’t be short on choice. In contrast, you also have high-end shops and boutiques you can visit in plazas and shopping centers for a totally different experience. Whether you want new, vintage or handmade, there’s something for you here.

Take a boat ride along the river

Cruising along the river

The river in Bangkok is one of the major transportation lifelines of the city and also a significant tourist attraction. Hop on one of the tourist boats or even better, take the water taxis that the locals use as a daily mode of transportation and enjoy the leisurely ride down the river while you can also enjoy the sights of some of the monuments on either side. This is a wonderful way to experience one interesting facet of Bangkok if you are looking to take a break from shopping and partying.

Have you been to Bangkok? What was the most exciting thing you did on your trip, and where would you recommend to others?


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Things to Do And See On Your Trip To Bangkok

Four reasons why I love Thailand

Two years, eight destinations, one country – that has been the quantitative story of my journey through Thailand for me till now. If I were to pen down each of the different kinds of experiences I have had in this country, it would be no less than a 500 page book of roller-coaster like proportions. From snakebites, accidents, being chased by wild boars out of a jungle, getting my debit card cloned to eating some amazing food, camping on idyllic islands and beautiful beaches, I have seen a lot in Thailand. Today, what remains with me of this wonderful country are four good reasons why I will go back there again.


Khao Soi
Khao Soi

Even before I had set foot in Thailand, I was already a big fan of Thai Food. From the legendary Tom Yum to the irresistible Phad Thai or the pleasantly spicy Som Tum, I can go on and on about Thai food. There is not a thing I don’t love about Thai cuisine partially because I have a decent tolerance level for spiciness as Thai food can be very spicy but more so because of the depth of all the unique flavors that emancipate from the food. Whether it is the floating and food markets in Bangkok or the night food bazaar in Chiang Mai, the food in Thailand will never cease to satisfy your taste-buds.


Thai people
Cheerful elderly couple at Chiang Mai night bazaar

Thailand is called the Land of Smiles for a reason – the people of Thailand. Everybody who has been to Thailand or has Thai friends elsewhere, will agree with me that Thai people are a cheerful bunch. Whether you are in the big bustling Bangkok or the calm quiet Pai, the local people are always seen with a smile on their faces. Even though the people of Thailand (like most of South-East Asian countries) are struggling with their own problems and lesser privileges as compared to the other developed countries in the region (Singapore, Japan etc), they do not let that factor become a burden or a source of constant unhappiness. Majority of us travelers will swear by the Thai hospitality towards visitors.


Rawai Hill in Phuket, Thailand

Stunning white-sand beaches, lush green forests, hilly terrains, rocky roads, meandering rivers – name it and you’ll find it here. Well, except for snow-capped mountains!! Although mostly popular for the beautiful beaches and islands, there is a lot more to Thailand than sea, sun and sand. The greenery around the mountainous regions of Northern Thailand such as Pai and Chiang Mai are a pleasant contrast to the vibrant city life of Bangkok or the many lovely islands in the Andaman Sea.   


Colorful paintings on display in the busy streets of Phuket

Yes, this might be a surprising one. For me this turned out to be the most attractive aspect of Thailand. I have lived in some places which range from comfortable to perfect (Milan, Singapore). That is why I crave for a little bit of chaos where I won’t get annoyed for not getting a taxi or missing the 9 AM bus. This need not always been a bad thing as I experienced in Thailand. It was pleasantly chaotic and not annoyingly chaotic. I didn’t mind the honking of vehicles or not being able to walk at a brisk pace along the streets of Patong, nor did I mind the occasional traffic jams. I realized I did not want to walk briskly past anyone, I did not want to rush to catch any bus or train, instead I just went with the casual and relaxed flow of this beautiful country.

Everyone has a go-to song, book, movie. Thailand was my go-to place at a time when I was going through some tough times in my personal life. As I was sailing away on a boat in the Andaman Sea on a fine day, I actually beginning to realize the true meaning of Freedom. My friends and family keep saying that there is no need to go back to that country after some unfortunate incidents that happened in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. But would I stop crossing the road for the fear of getting hit by a speeding car?? You know the answer.


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Four reasons why I love Thailand