Elephants and Islands - the perfect Thailand adventure!

Jodie Love on 16 March 2018
Thailand - home to exotic islands, white sand beaches, fascinating culture, delicious street food, spectacular landscapes and incredible wildlife. Thailand has it all and can guarantee the holiday of a lifetime whether you are looking for pure luxury or travelling on a shoestring as a carefree backpacker.

I have had the pleasure of visiting Thailand both as a backpacker when I was young and carefree and more recently as someone seeking that little bit of luxury. Each time I visit I always make sure I hop between different locations during my holiday, there is so much to see it would be a shame to stay just in one place. I have travelled as far North as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and as far South as the beautiful islands of Koh Yao Yai and Krabi.

My all-time favourite trip to Thailand was an island-hopping adventure which visited the unspoilt island of Koh Yao Yai, the laid back coast of Krabi, the majestic elephants of Khao Sok National Park, before ending in buzzing Phuket for some beach time, delicious food, fancy cocktails and retail therapy. I love talking about this trip with friends and family and have since sent many clients off on the same adventure. Here is a little taste of my experience.

First stop is the serene island of Koh Yao Yai. Arriving at the luxury eco-resort by speedboat I was blown away by its beauty, the resort itself blends beautifully into the cliff face and rests in its own private and secluded bay. The rooms and villas are littered up the cliff face with breath-taking views out to the ocean and islands beyond. Once checked in we were whisked up the hill to our room in one of the many resort shuttles. We opted for a sea view room and our view out to the ocean was incredible! The infinity pool at the top of the resort was the perfect place for us to watch the sun go down with an exotic cocktail or a local beer. We were spoilt with things to do during the day, everything from yoga classes to paddleboard hire as well as a whole host of day trips the resort has available. Apart from a few resorts the island itself is relatively untouched by tourism, so it was a real glimpse at local living and everyone we met was very welcoming. Although it's a beautiful island there isn't a huge amount to see so if I went back, I probably wouldn't choose to leave the resort. Our next stop - Krabi!

Krabi is a laid-back beach destination home to a multitude of different resorts all offering something slightly different. We stayed at a resort on Tup Kaek beach which is much quieter than some of the other resorts but has a beautiful atmosphere and is great for swimming and relaxing. Our room was right on the beach with gorgeous views and our own private sun loungers. We were only 5-10 minutes by taxi to Ao-Nang which has some amazing bars and restaurants as well as lots of shopping options. We chose to do a day trip from Krabi as they were better value for money here than from Koh Yao Yai. We enjoyed a day trip over to Koh Phi Phi island and Maya Bay which was made famous by the movie 'The Beach', it was an action-packed day visiting lots of stunning locations. We also visited Krabi Town market on one of the evenings which is the perfect place to fill your suitcase with souvenirs and fill your bellies with yummy Thai street food. We also stopped for lunch at the highly recommend May and Mark's restaurant in Krabi Town for some amazing local food.

Our next stop was the personal highlight of my trip, we were heading off into the jungle-y depths of Khao Sok National Park for a stay at Elephant Hills. We opted for the Jungle Lake Safari package which meant one night in the luxury tented jungle camp and another night in an over-water lake cabin. After being collected from Krabi and whisked into the jungle to check-in we went to visit the elephants, they were clearly very happy and well looked after. We spent a few hours watching them playing and helping the staff to bathe the elephants and then feed them. It was an incredible experience and so nice to be up close to these majestic animals whilst also safe in the knowledge that this was a truly ethical experience. Once we got back, we had free time to use the pool and relax. In the evening we were treated to some local entertainment and a cooking class along with a delicious meal. On day two it was time to head over to the lake cabins, each cabin had direct water access from the balcony and its own kayak which we could use whenever we wanted. We were taken on a kayak safari to spot monkeys with a local guide in the morning and a jungle walk for more wildlife spotting and some cave exploring to finish off the day. In the evening we were spoilt with another amazing meal and a free evening to chat to the other guests. All in all, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I loved every minute. On our final morning we were transported to our fourth and final stop – Phuket!

Phuket, known for its buzzing nightlife and countless activities attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every single day. There are a few different beach resorts in Phuket so there is something to suit every style of holiday. We stayed in Patong which is the most famous beach resort and known for being the biggest, loudest, busiest and most fun. I am well-travelled but even I was overwhelmed at first, so I am glad our hotel was out of the way and not right in the centre of the action. It was a great spot for our final few days though as we had literally hundreds of restaurants and bars to choose from and there were plenty of opportunities to pick up some final souvenirs before our journey home. It was also a great base for a couple more day trips and there are lots of water sports and activities available on the beach too. Next time I would probably opt for the quieter beach resort of Karon, located just a bit further down the coast still with a great choice of restaurants and bars but much quieter beaches.

What Thailand does well is ensure it offers something for everyone. Even in the busier destinations you will always find a couple of quieter beach resorts along the coast which are better suited for families, honeymooners and those who enjoy a bit of peace. Thailand also boasts a range of accommodation to suit every budget right from backpacker hostels to super-luxury resorts. If you’d love to experience all that Thailand has to offer, please get in touch as I’d love to create a bespoke itinerary tailored just for you.