March 2016 Travel Report: Sunsets in Thailand
After a fairly relaxing February, I hit the road hard in March, travelling from the very south of Laos to the far north of Thailand. There were plenty of stops in between, and most of those stops included chances to witness some truly beautiful sunsets. Here’s a quick rundown of what I got up to in March, including photos of some of the best sunsets in Thailand!
Don Det and a Mekong River cruise
The first couple of days in March were spent on Don Det, a tiny island in the Mekong River. From there we (Gia and I) boarded a luxury former teak transporting boat for a cruise down the Mekong. We saw the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and some ancient Khmer ruins, as well as a couple of nice sunsets.
Further reading: A 3 Day Mekong River Cruise in Southern Laos
It took us almost 30 hours to travel from Pakse (Laos) to Koh Kood (Thailand). The long journey immediately paid off. Koh Kood is one of the nicest islands I’ve ever been to — it’s definitely my favourite island in Thailand (we liked it so much that we are heading back there soon). The beaches are almost deserted and feature pure white sand and Maldives-esqe clear blue water. Oh, and the Koh Kood witnesses some of the best sunsets in Thailand almost daily.
Further reading: Koh Kood: The Most Beautiful Island in Thailand?
After 5 days on Koh Kood we hopped aboard a speedboat headed for Koh Mak, a small island roughly halfway between Koh Kood and Koh Chang. The beaches on Koh Mak were OK but it was quite a big comedown after Koh Kood. The sunset wasn’t bad though!
By far the most popular island in this part of Thailand, Koh Chang is huge and quite heavily developed. We planned to stay for 3 nights but left after 1 — it isn’t a horrible place but the beaches don’t compare favourably to those on Koh Kood and the vibe is a lot less laid-back. Again though, we saw a nice sunset, which is always a good way to end the day.
Another long day of travel saw us rolling into Ayutthaya at around 9 pm. The next day we explored the ancient temples and Buddha statues of this former Thai capital. The ruins are spread throughout a modern city which makes for a far different experience to other comparable historic sites. Ayutthaya is one of Southeast Asia’s top ancient attractions and it’s only a couple of hours by train from Bangkok. Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a great place to view one of the best sunsets in Thailand — make sure you stay the night in Ayutthaya so you can see it.
Lopburi is another former Thai capital close to Bangkok. Not only is it full of crumbling temple ruins but it is also home to hundreds of monkeys who pretty much control the downtown area. Lopburi is one of my favourite towns in Thailand and it’s close to Bangkok, definitely check it out if you get the chance.
Next up (after a drunken night in Bangkok) was Kanchanaburi, home to the famous (but not actually the original) bridge on the river Kwai. It’s a cool little town and is one of the cheapest places that I’ve been in Thailand. We spent a few days there relaxing in our raft hotel room (the rooms float on rafts next to the riverbank). We also found time to visit Erawan Falls and Hellfire Pass.
Our sunset luck ran out in Amphawa but we had a great time exploring the famous floating market. It’s only an hour or so from Bangkok and its mixture of historic teak houses, creative street food and riverside shopping makes it worth checking out if you ever find yourself in Thailand.
We struck out again with the sunset in Sukhothai, yet another former Thai capital. Sukhothai (which translates to “dawn of happiness”) is regarded as the birthplace of Thai culture and art. The ruins didn’t impress me quite as much as the ones in Ayutthaya but it was still fun cycling between the various temples and Buddha statues.
Our final destination in March was Chaing Rai, a small city close to the borders with Myanmar and Laos in northern Thailand. The area near Chaing Rai gained infamy as part of the “Golden Triangle”, a major opium cultivation and trafficking area which spread out over parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. We had planned to head to Phu Chi Pha, a popular sunrise spot a few hours from Chaing Rai, but were told by the guy selling tickets for the minibus that we couldn’t go. When we asked him why he showed us a photo of a hill covered in flames. This part of Thailand gets bone dry at this time of year and the haze is a big problem, and so are fires by the looks of it. We did see something pretty amazing just outside of Chaing Rai though — Wat Rong Khun, AKA the White Temple. This temple, while not at all historic, is a feast for even the most haze-shot eyes. The outside is an incredibly detailed (and very kitschy) sea of carvings. The inside features paintings of all sorts of things, including Michael Jackson, Neo from the Matrix and Freddy Kruger. It’s a Buddhist temple but it’s eccentric to say the least — it’s not surprising some of the faith’s followers aren’t too impressed by it.
One more sunset
On the bus ride from Chaing Rai to Chaing Mai we were treated to one final March sunset in Thailand. It was a busy month of travel but one that made me appreciate Thailand a whole lot more than I used to. Thailand really does have it all — beaches, ruins, river towns, monkeys, markets, temples and great food. Don’t be put off by people who say it has become too touristy.
Have you seen any sunsets in Thailand? What was you’re favourite? Let me know in the comments below!