• Nimish Jaitapkar

Adventures of a Solo Indian Traveler in Thailand

Updated: Oct 13, 2018

Episode 1: Thailand (Part 2)

Ever since I started traveling alone, I follow a mantra:

“When in doubt, become the faceless man.”

That was a Game of Thrones reference by the way. Well, I’ve seldom come across someone who could harm me in anyway while I was traveling. Though there have been a few instances when you just can’t trust someone because of some preconceived notions, but it’s a great experience when those notions are proved incorrect. 

With my own experience and some acquired knowledge from fellow travelers, I have written a blog to help orchestrate a solo trip, for the first time solo travelers. Coming back to where we left the last time; the first phase of my Thailand trip mostly comprised of islands, beaches, oceans, sun and sand. With a hungover tropical state of mind and some vacation tan, I was on my way to the cities.

Chapter 7: Krabi

Railay (or Rai Leh) Beach

On the west side of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea lies a small though touristy town (even a province) called Krabi. The highlights of this city are two beaches called Ao Nang and Railay (or Rai Leh) Beach.

I reached Krabi by taking a ferry from Koh Phi Phi. Most of the happening locations like bars and pubs are around Ao Nang beach. I was staying at a party hostel called Slumber Party Hostel. One can find a very peaceful and serene stay at Railay beach as a lot of the crowd prefers staying at Ao Nang due to the abundance of luxury hotels. It was an Indian marriage season I guessed, since most of the people at Ao Nang comprised of newly wed Indian couples. The Ao Nang walking street which they call it isn’t really a great place to chill as it majorly a shopping street with a couple of bars.

I was being terribly judged by the Indian families, as it is a rare sight seeing a solo Indian traveler. In order to get away from the crowd, I grabbed a few beers and headed straight to the beach where I knew I would get some peace. I found company in an Israeli girl who shared a lot of knowledge about Israel and vice versa.

Other than the two beaches, some highly marketed tourist attractions are the Crystal and Emerald Pool along with the Hot Stream Waterfall. Both these attractions are about a 100 km from Ao Nang beach.  So, I grabbed a scooter and left to visit both the attractions. Even though, the ride was a beautiful one, both the places didn’t really live upto the hype. The crystal pool was overcrowded with a lot of families plunging into the still water, leaving it dirty and stinking.

The hot spring waterfall though less crowded was again a turn off as the water wasn’t really hot. All this for a huge entrance fee was another turn off. Since, I had a flight to catch next early morning I headed straight to Ao Nang, took a long-tailed boat and headed straight to Railay to spend the evening. Railay was the best part of my Krabi trip. Less crowd and amazing scenery. Not staying at Railay while in Krabi was the biggest mistake I made. The amazing limestone formations and clear blue sea is what makes Railay an ideal holiday getaway. So, the next time I’ll be saying no to Ao Nang and a big yes to Railay.

Getting There: A flight from any major airport in Thailand can take you to Krabi airport. The airport is around 20 km away from Ao Nang. Stay: If staying at Ao Nang, Slumber Party Hostel is the place to be for the budget traveler. Railay Beach has some amazing boutique stays for the leisure travelers. Getting around: Rent a scooter as soon as you land at Krabi airport. Long tail boats run every 30 minutes from Ao Nang to Railay and back.

Chapter 8: Bangkok

The Grand Palace

From a tropical jungle to a cement jungle, the next stage of my trip was going to be much different. With a good vacation tan and a tropical state of mind I landed in Bangkok city. Much like my home, Mumbai, Bangkok didn’t really interest me much as a travel destination. Unlike other destinations in Thailand, Bangkok is one of the best destinations for a family holiday where the ladies would enjoy shopping at the plush malls and the kids would have their share of fun at the city zoo (Dusit Zoo) and aquarium (Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World). It also offers other tourist destinations like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho (the temple of the sleeping Buddha), Wat Arun and the infamous Chao Phraya River.

Khao San Road

I decided to skip these places and come back during a family holiday. This, being a backpacking trip, I decided to stay with my fellow backpackers at Khao San road. This kilometer long road is a backpackers’ haven, as it is away from the white collar world of Bangkok.

I chose to stay at a small but beautiful hostel, bang on Khao San called Nitan. Though difficult to find, it was the best place to stay as you don’t really want to travel far after getting drunk at one of the parties on Khao San. Bars, clubs, good food and backpackers donning beach shorts and flip-flops is what defines Khao San Road.

A very famous land mark there is a night club with one of the most interesting names a night club could have — The Club. For people who like to dress to impress at any venue, RCA (Royal City Avenue) is a great place. With posh clubs like Onyx, Route 66 and Live, RCA is the go to place to party with the chic Thai and expat community. Do remember that flip flops and shorts are not encouraged at these venues.

Other than this, Khao San is famous for these Thai peddlers selling fried insects! Yes you heard it right. From fried worms to scorpions deep fried or pan tossed in soy sauce, being sold on the streets of Khao San is a common sight.

By the end of the night, when my curiosity was at its peak, I went ahead and tried a scorpion. The scorpion was dry with a prevalent taste of soy sauce, hence it didn’t really taste bad.

Nana Plaza, the largest Adult Playground

Wait up sex tourists! There is something for you too. Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza are the top destinations to find Go-go Bars and Strip Clubs. Soi Cowboy is a red light street while Nana Plaza is a three-storey complex for adult entertainment.

Chatuchak Market

Last but not the least, Bangkok is famous for its street shopping and the only name which comes to my mind when talking about the same is Chatuchak Market. Serious street shoppers can take an entire day to shop at this place. Some serious haggling skills are required when at Chatuchak Market and of course a new suitcase for all the things that you shopped.

Getting There: Bangkok has two airports viz. Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang Airport. Almost all top airline carriers fly to one of these airports. Stay: Bangkok being the capital of Thailand has a huge number of hotels and hostels. Areas around Khao San Road are apt for backpackers while areas around Thong Lor and Chao Phraya River are apt for business and leisure travelers. Getting around: Traffic is a huge issue in Bangkok and thus one may travel by the local metro railways or buses for cheap travel. Ubers are easily available too. Tuk tuks are the stars of Bangkok roads and a ride is definitely encouraged.

Chapter 9: Pattaya

The Walking Street

I’m sure you might be wondering, why haven’t we spoken about this place yet! Yes Pattaya, the sex capital of Thailand is one hell of a place. To find out if I’m saying this in a good way or bad, read on about my experience in Pattaya. Pattaya and Walking Street seem like synonyms. It’s like, every traveler of any age traveling to Pattaya has heard of this 1.3km long lane. So, I wanting to be in the middle of the action started looking for hostels near walking street. Well, obviously Pattaya doesn’t have any hostel as such. So I booked a budget stay at a hotel right in the middle of the walking street. As soon as I checked in, I still remember, the receptionist said

“Welcome to the circus, baby!”

and she wasn’t wrong at all. I went down at night and it looked nothing different than a circus. Bright lights, freelancers looking for a customer, bar girls calling you over to the strip club, farang promoters promoting clubs, a Turkish dude making hand made ice-creams, a group of East Asian tourists walking in a straight line looking at the freelancers as if they were animals in a zoo, ladies from massage parlors shouting “Masaaaaage! Boom Boom!”, street magician doing amateur tricks, a Thai dude singing Bollywood songs, a bunch of fifty year old Indian uncles carrying 18 year old Thai freelancers around, aliens landing, volcanoes erupting, ice melting — is just a small part of what all happens on this small stretch of road.

Girls at Lighthouse A Go Go

The stars of this show for me were the strip clubs. Some famous Go Go Bars include Alcatraz, Maulin Rogue (the Russian strip club), Lucifer and Baccara among others. I recently read that there are around 500,000 girls working at the Walking Street. So you name a nationality and you’ll find a freelancer or bar girl of the same, at Walking Street. Some of the best nightclubs in Pattaya include Mixx Discotheque, Club Insomnia/iBar among others. There are a few bars which host live performances and present some really good talent.

The Sanctuary of Truth

Most of the people wonder what they can do in the morning in Pattaya. Other than the Walking Street, Pattaya has one of the best attractions I’ve seen in Thailand — the Sanctuary of Truth. Just twenty minutes away from Walking Street is this one of it’s kind monument, completely carved out of wood. It is a religious construction filled with sculptures based on traditional Buddhist and Hindu motifs. According to Wikipedia, the structure is 105 meters high and covers an area of 1600 sq meters. This is an amazing place to spend the afternoon or early evening away from the bustle of the city. For kids there is Ripley’s Believe It or Not and other small attractions at Royal Garden Plaza.

On my trip to Pattaya, I noticed that most of the tourists were Indians. A lot of clubs in Pattaya infact are Indian themed (Raas, Nasha and Mehfil) and a lot of freelancers can speak Hindi. Ever since the cost of flights have decreased, more and more Indians are traveling to Thailand. The sad part is I only found Indians at most of the touristy places. I feel it’s time we change ourselves from being tourists to travelers.

Anyways, coming back to Pattaya — the place has a lot of restaurants to relish different cuisines. Indian travelers have a plethora of options, the best one being Maharaja, which serves authentic North Indian and Mughlai cuisine. There is a Turkish restaurant too which serves amazing Shawarmas and there is obviously the Turkish dude serving hand made ice-creams.

Getting There: Pattaya is around 170 km away from Bangkok. There is a government bus service called Ekamai which may take you to Pattaya for as cheap as 108 Bahts. This option is cheap and super comfortable as the buses are fully air-conditioned. Shared mini vans and private taxis are also readily available. Stay: To stay near the action, book a stay along Pattaya Beach. For a chill and peaceful stay one may choose to stay near Cosy Beach which flaunts beautiful villas and boutique hotels. Getting around: If you are planning to just go around Walking Street the whole time — then no transportation is required. If you are staying away from the action, you may choose to rent a motorcycle.

Other good stuff

Thai Massage:

While discussing about Thailand with a group, one person has to talk about Thai massage. Even though there is a larger inclination towards happy endings or boom boom, an authentic Thai massage is one of the best experiences one could have. On my Thai trip, a tiring day was always followed by a rejuvenating Thai massage. I used to spend a lot of time while in Thailand, looking for a good massage place. Here is the list of my favourite massage places in Thailand: 1. Koh Phangan: Chidaraya Spa — Haad Rin Beach Road — Full Body Massage: 450 Bahts 2. ‎Phuket: Healthland Massage — Patong — Full Body Massage: 300 Bahts 3. ‎Koh Phi Phi: Butterfly Thai Massage — Koh Phi Phi Don — Full Body Massage: 300 Bahts 4. Krabi: Haven Massage — Ao Nang — Full Body Massage: 300 Bahts 5. ‎Bangkok: Ruamm Massage — Khao San Road — Full Body Massage: 450 Bahts 6. ‎Pattaya: Let’s Relax — Chon Buri — Full Body Massage: 450 Bahts

Massage at Khao San Road

Other than these listed, there are a lot of massage parlors and spas in Thailand both cheap and luxurious. I would suggest against getting a massage on the beach or on the roads. The entire experience of a Thai massage is to be experienced in a peaceful environment and from professional masseuse or masseurs. While entering any massage parlor, do checkout the certificates that they usually hang on the walls or if you don’t find one, ask them for the same. Happy ending massages aren’t really massages as the girls (if not lady boys) are very delicate and they charge a bomb for the happy ending which is definitely not worth it.

Thai Girls:

A friend from Phuket

You can love them, hate them, but just can’t ignore them. That’s because they are really loud. It’s very difficult to not make friends with Thai girls when in Thailand. A lot of these girls usually travel from smaller towns like Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Kanchanaburi to the big cities like Bangkok and Pattaya for education and making money. Some of these girls study at famous institutions while others take up jobs at hotels or even as freelancers and bar girls.

Tinder, ThaiFriendly or ThaiCupid are great platforms to interact with Thai girls. One can start making Thai friends using these platforms, few months before the trip. Most of the Thai girls wish to move out of the country and are there to find a husband. Most of the girls are really docile, but at the same time they could be very fragile and volatile on an emotional level. Do not fall into a trap where a Thai girl asks for money because she’s lost or has been robbed. It is a very delicate matter and I wish to stay out of such things.

Thai Ladyboys:

Participants from a Cabaret Show in Phuket

Sweet, bubbly, caring and helpful are the words I would use to describe Ladyboys of Thailand. They are called katoey locally. To be clearer, Ladyboys are transgenders or intersex individuals. As a country, Thailand has accepted this so called “third gender” in a great way. One could find Ladyboys in all sorts professions here — Receptionist, Sales, Shopkeepers, Doctors etc. One must interact with the Ladyboys and listen to their story. This will only help clear any preconceived notions about them. On my trip to Thailand, I made a great friend for life. For the sex tourist, worried about a dupe encounter with a Ladyboy, be tension free.

A Ladyboy freelancer will always tell you about her gender and will seldom cheat you.

After visiting Bangkok and Pattaya, I wished I would skip those places and go north to Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to experience the cultural richness these places hold. Anyways, this trip holds utmost importance in my life and Thailand will always be a memory worth recollecting.

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