Southern Thailand: Bangkok, Railay Beach & Tonsai Bay

THAILAND!! Breaking the order of events by sharing the last few weeks in Thailand before catching you up on Nov/Dec in Africa…what can I say, I’m feelin it. We arrived in Thailand on January 7 from Capetown, S Africa. We’d arranged to spend one night at this awesome Airbnb apartment in the State Tower (where Hangover II was filmed). The owner generously agreed to store our surfboard for the month while we travel around Thailand, so we’ll be back there Feb 3 to pick it up and spend another night. If you’re in Bangkok – let’s meet for a drink! We were pretty exhausted having arrived at 5am off a red-eye so we didn’t hit the town until 2pm but packed a lot in for one night in Bangkok. Walked to the river and took a long boat taxi down to the Grand Palace to the Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha and then walked the streets sampling bbq chicken and Japanese crepes (random, but d-lish). Then hopped a tuk-tuk to Chinatown for a 60 min foot massage (decadent) for $6 and a so-hot-it-burns-your-face-off Thai food on the street corner. Note to self – ask for mild. Hoo-ya!

So many Bangkok-haters told us to fly straight through but I love the crazy energy of this city. It was the first time that I’d felt like we were really TRAVELING since we began 4 months ago. I love foreign environments, the more disorienting the better, and Bangkok delivers. One day was not enough, we’ll be back as we fly through BKK several times in the next few months. Let’s hope the current political tensions don’t flare higher and citizens stay safe. I still have the weekend market to see! The next day we flew south to Krabi and took a boat from Ao Nang beach to Tonsai Bay.  As we rounded the corner to catch the first glimpse of the dramatic vertical limestones cliffs jutting out of the sea foam green waters, huge smiles swept across our faces – ahhhh yes, we have arrived. We spent the first 3 nights in Tonsai Bay enjoying the hippie climbing rasta vibe, twinkly lights, and the epic Mamma’s Chicken Thai food and smoothies. I could drink watermelon juice 3x a day and never tire of it.  The area (I want to say island but it’s not an island) has 3 main areas. Tonsai which is a 20 min jungle hike, $30 boat ride or 30 min low tide wade around the point from Railay Beach which is divided into Railay West (next bay down from Tonsai on sunset side) and Railay East (sunrise). Tonsai days consisted of beaching, climbing (for a half day…more on that later if I decide to do some cathartic blogging in lieu of psychoanalysis), eating at Mamma’s as much as possible and watching every sunset from the beach, cold beer in hand.

After 3 nights in Tonsai we upgraded to a gorgeous hotel for half price at Railay East. Hotel was fabulous, but food and personality paled in comparison to Tonsai. The pool made up for it though 🙂 Stay

  • Burners, climbers, hippie-chicks and climbers who dig hippie-chicks: Tonsai Bay is your next destination. We stayed at Tonsai Bay Resort which was nice (A/C, little deck, wifi) for $60-80 but you can get cheaper fan jungle bungalows if you’re up to roughing it a bit.
  • Families, peeps who want a pool: Railay Beach. I recommend Railay Princess where stayed if you can get a special (check Not sure I’d pay >$100/night  since it’s not on the beach but for the $53 we got it for it was a STEAL.


  • Tonsai – Mamma’s Chicken and Smile Restaurant are the best hands down. Order the Pad See Ew and the Green Curry Chicken @ Mamma’s, the pineapple stuffed with cashew chicken @ Smile.
  • Railay – Local Thai and Mangrove. Bonus – best wifi in the area.
  • Drink a fruit shake everyday. Try one with passion fruit! To the German guy who tried the line “I like the way you mix your fruits” on me – stop. Just stop.

Waiting out Thai showers on Tup Island


  • Download “The Beach” by Alex Garland, start reading.
  • Go rock climbing.  Bring your big girl pants, prepare to suck at it, fall, cry, and try again.
  • Hike to the lagoon – wear clothes you can get muddy. Make a mud totem.
  • Rent a kayak, find a cave and go so deep you have to lie back and limbo through.
  • Order a drink and a smoke on the rooftop of Skunk Bar. Inhale.
  • Buy jewelry at Fish in Railay West or the last jewelry table before Last Bar on the left in Railay East. The one with the gold bead bracelets.
  • Watch DJ Ting crush the fire show at Last Bar (11pm every night). If your single and willing, as my British dance floor bff was, go home with him. (update: sorry ladies, rumor has it DJ Ting is coupled up and babied up but still puts on a wicked fire show!)
  • Buy a beer at a min mart and watch the sunset, every night.
  • Get a foot massage. Every damn day. Except the days when you get a full body Thai massage.
  • Join the Whiskey Moonlight Bath Club – all it takes is a full moon and a bottle. Clothing optional.

Brusque Russian families, gender bending ladyboy bartenders, monkeys so bold they try to raid your hotel room, dread lock mullets, world class rock climbers dangling from every ledge, topless moonlight bathers, and fire wielding muay thai gigalo djs. There’s something for everyone at Railay Beach. Monkey Mania DJ Ting’s Fire Show Additional Resources:

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