From Trang to Bangkok
From blissful beaches and stunning dive sites to funky frog-head tuk-tuks
By Helmut Dostal
A kingdom like no other
Visitors to Thailand often choose a single destination and, as much as they enjoy their stay, they really miss many sights and treasures that this beautiful kingdom has to offer.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to travel to a number of different regions of the country to experience its richness, diversity, and the warm and welcoming nature of the locals.
In my travels, I went from a luxurious spa treatment at the very private Anantara Si Kao Resort outside Trang to a speedboat ride among the breathtaking scenery of rugged islands rising from the sea and beaches off Krabi. It’s a paradise for diving and snorkelling.
For another “wow” experience in the Trang region, I took a short boat ride from the Anantara pier to swim through the rocky entrance of the fantastic Emerald Cave—a sight to behold. The Emerald Cave is on the west coast of Muk Island and can only be entered by swimming or on small boat at low tide through a long, narrow tunnel that stretches back 80 metres. Between 10am and 2pm is perfect timing to see the sun reflecting off the water to create a magical effect on the cave walls.
Later that day, back in Trang, I get on a crazy ride around the Old Town in three-wheeled frog-head tuk-tuk, the Thai version of a London taxi. My driver speaks zero English, has few teeth and the biggest grin, like Trump after he won the election. I “land” at a local restaurant called Baan Suan Sudaporn. It’s perfectly decent and the food is good and plenty, with heaping platters of roasted pig’s ankles and delicious cold beer.
The next stop on my discovery tour is Krabi. The town has the same name as the province that hugs the most scenic coastline of the Andaman Sea. With more than 200 floating islands and 160 km of coves, beaches, and dramatic limestone formations, it is an endless feast for the eyes—expect lush jungles and mangrove forests as well.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the scenery along Krabi’s coastline, so it feels great to find a resort that combines a luxurious stay with all the activities that make the experience so complete. The Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Resort is just such a place. Whether it’s golf, tennis, the spa or lounging at the immense pool, the biggest in all of Thailand, I have no trouble keeping myself pleasantly occupied.
After two days of blissful relaxation, endless beaches and wide open ocean views, nothing prepares the traveller for an arrival in Bangkok, the capital city. Known as the “city of angels” to its locals, Bangkok is the political, economic, cultural, culinary and spiritual headquarters of Thailand. Diving into the exciting pulse of this big city can be overwhelming, but it’s lots of fun. Traffic congestion statistics put Bangkok into the top five metropolitan areas worldwide but, looking past the organized chaos on the streets, Bangkok is a fascinating study in contrasts.
Here, the golden glow of ancient Buddhist temples compete with a dense forest of modern high-rises interspersed by busy canals and the Chao Phraya river.
My home for the last two days of my travels is in such a tower, the elegant Banyan Tree Bangkok, where I enjoyed treats and luxuries as a club guest. Getting spoiled at afternoon tea in the 19th-floor club lounge with fine wines and delightful snacks, and taking in the stunning view from the 61st-floor Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar, put a final exclamation mark on my travel experience in Thailand.