Pink Dolphins in Thailand: Where and How to See Wild Pink Dolphins

Once I had heard a student mention about wild pink dolphins in Thailand, I put it to the top of my Thailand bucket list and made it my mission to seek these pink dolphins out. One of the things that continues to amaze me, even after three years of living in Thailand, is both the range of species and wildlife that lives here and also how quiet and untouched by tourism some areas still are. If you are looking for the real unseen Thailand without the built up hotels and crowds of tourists, then consider a visit to Nakhon Si Thammarat province. There is so much more that I want to explore here, so watch this space. I spent a weekend down in Khanom with the aim of seeing the pink dolphins and they did not disappoint!

 

pink dolphins in Thailand
The moment when two pretty big dolphins approached our boat!
How and Where to see Pink Dolphins

I recommend staying at Bansonmanee Guesthouse. The woman who ran the place was a foreigner and extremely helpful with all our requests. We had a basic and reasonably priced bungalow (around 600 baht) and we could walk down a small green path and we were on 4 empty km of Nadan beach. I believe that on Saturday and Sunday there would be more open but we were travelling on weekdays and there were about 2 restaurants open for food on the whole beach…not much choice but definitely not touristy either.

 

pink dolphins thailand
Follow me to the empty beach!
Pink Dolphin Tours and Boat Trips

For the pink dolphin trip, I recommend booking through your hotel. If you are lucky or in a group, there is a full day trip costing around 1000 that includes dolphin spotting, waterfalls and some small island exploring and lunch. It was so quiet that this tour did not have enough people to run, so my friend and I paid  700 baht each for a morning pink dolphin spotting boat trip. Turns out no-one else was on the boat so we ended up on a private long tail boat. Remember a tip goes a long way in Thailand and it is always appreciated (even though people may not show it at first!).

 

pink dolphins thailand
A blowhole and a fin…
The Pink Dolphins

In all honestly, the dolphins did not look SUPER pink, though I have seen some pinker dolphins in photos. Not that much is known about these pink dolphins who are a sub-species of white Chinese dolphins. It is thought there are around 2000 in the wild and around 150 in Thailand – though I’m never sure where people get their numbers from!

I was lucky enough to spot around 8 pink dolphins in two separate places off shore. The only other boats to be seen were longtail fishing boats, and compared with other dolphin trips I have taken in places like Indonesia and the Philippines, it felt really good to a) be the only people there and b) not be ‘chasing’ the dolphins. The dolphins were much bigger than dolphins I had seen before and at one point even came really close to the boat. We could hear them making noises through the blowholes and at one point even heard them ‘squeak’ to each other. We also spotted a baby pink dolphin. It’s magic moments like this that make me fall in love with Thailand a little bit more.

Want to see wild pink dolphins for yourself?

Useful Advice for Seeing Pink Dolphins

Stay: At Bansonmanee Guesthouse which has cute bungalows right on Nadan Beach or look for alternatives here on Agoda.

Getting there: I did the ‘fly and ride’ service with Nok Air from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat airport which then includes a transfer minivan to Khanom itself.  (Thanks to Emily for this usefuk information!) It’s a sleepy spread out village with a small amount of accommodation and mostly advertises pink dolphin watching.

If you prefer trains or buses then book your tickets using this website here: the more tickets you buy, the better discounts you get!

Don’t miss: these strange looking ‘pancake’ rocks

pink dolphins thailand
Well named ‘pancake’ rocks

 

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What to Pack for South East Asia

When researching a trip I always love to plan outfits and look for recommendations for what I need to pack for backpacking. My first backpacking trip was around South-East Asia and I made many rookie packing errors. I overpacked, everything was far too heavy, it was a nightmare finding things and I didn’t have much room to buy more stuff. Having lived in Thailand and travelled a lot of South East Asia over the last three years I have definitely improved my packing skills.

For 20 Backpacking Essentials for South East Asia then read my blog post here. For the ultimate list read on…

First things first….A backpack – while suitcases might appear easier with wheels and you don’t have to carry them, in reality a backpack is a better idea. South East Asian cities have mostly uneven pavements blocked by street food vendors, restaurants spilling out onto the sidewalks, clothing stalls and people haggling and queuing which makes trying to get a suitcase down the road very tough work. Sand and suitcases also rarely mix and hopping on and off boats and ferries is much easier with a backpack. I currently use a 40L Dry Bag as my backpack, really similar to this  Aquafree Dry Bag, 40L – Blue from Amazon. I love that it rolls down so if I have less items I can make it even smaller and I’ve also used this as hand luggage for various trips too.

What to Pack for South East Asia: Clothing- Women’s Packing List

 

Dresses – I love short summery beach ones like this and long maxis like this Floral Print Split Maxi Party Dress for classier nights to sky bars and covering up for temple visits.

 

Denim Shorts – my summer staple and they go with everything

what to pack south east asia
Hiking in my denim shorts with my little dry bag

Elephant/Baggy Trousers – if you want to go backpacking then you have to buy a pair to fit in with the backpacking crowd. I prefer to look less like a backpacker and love styles like these Floral Printed Trousers . They are great for temple visits and bus and train travel when you don’t want to stick to cheap leather seats.

what to pack south east asia
Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand in my baggy pants

Leggings and a hoody – because it does get cold! I’ve been on many buses, trains and planes where they blast the air con and it is not fun. Come prepared. I also pack socks.

 

Cover Ups – I love pretty crochet cover ups like this Cover Up Crochet Dress (Off White) for looking good on the beach and a sarong is really useful as a beach towel, covering your shoulders to be respectful or to stay out of the sun and even as a lightweight blanket like this great value Cover Up Sarong.

Maxi skirts – great to mix and match with various tops and good for covering legs to protect from evening mosquito bites and for temples, like this one here Summer High Waisted Coral Print Maxi

 

Chinos – preferably Khaki coloured so you look the part on those jungle treks! Don’t think about doing it in shorts – one word – Leeches.Buy ones similar to these Belted Casual Chino

 

Bikinis/swimwear – so these may be my downfall and I definitely have way more than I need. I love sporty styles for water sports like this and strapless styles for avoiding tan lines. I also don’t recommend wearing thong/g-string style bikinis around South East Asia as there are still conservative areas and you could offend people.

 

Playsuits – I love these casual styles to throw on over bikinis or to wear out at night to party. I like styles like this Bohemian Romper

 

What to Pack for South East Asia: Footwear

 

Flipflops – easy to get in and out of as in many places you should remove your shoes before entering people’s homes, temples and even some shops where people live above it. These Summer Beach FlipFlops are right up my street.

 

Walking boots – jungles, mountains, national parks, don’t be the muppet wearing converse and falling over when hiking.

 

Sandals – I personally dislike wearing flipflops all the time and feel it cannot be good for your ankles. If you want to visit posh skybars or clubs in cities like Bangkok then a dress code applies and you will be turned away for wearing flipflops or even Birkenstocks.

 

Tom-style pumps – I think these are great if you think walking boots are a little extreme. I always wear these for activities like white water rafting, visiting waterfalls and I prefer to use these when driving a scooter as well.Mine are a similar style to these TOMS Women’s Slip Ons

what to pack south east asia
My handy pumps for National Park exploring

What to Pack for South East Asia: Accessories/Extras

 

Jewellery – I wouldn’t recommend taking anything valuable or sentimental as you may lose it or risk it getting stolen. I take a lot of stud earrings like these Women’s Stud Earring (6 Pairs) and a couple of bigger pairs for a night out. I usually buy some cheap rings or bracelets for some party nights. There are some great cheap earrings in markets out here so definitely come planning to buy.

 

Hair bands and kirby grips  anything to keep long hair off your sweaty neck in hot humid temperatures, I always bulk buy 40 Pack Black Hair Ties as out here buying individual ones in markets can add up!

 

Towel – Invest in a tiny travel towel that dries quickly. I recommend a cheap one as you will probably have to throw it away because of the smell by end of trip. Buy yours RainLeaf Microfiber Towel before you travel as I have rarely seen them for sale over here in South East Asia

 

PJs– shorts and t-shirt PJs – no sleeping naked in dorm rooms please.I love these Sleepwear Short Sleeve Pajama Set

 

Smallzipped bag to wear across the shoulder like this one Crossbody Travel Bag and/or a small day backpack– protect your items from thieves and big enough to keep a bottle of water in too , like this Casual Travel Daypack

 

Dry bag– like this 5L one Dry Bag Sack is great for monsoon seasons, boat trips, desert island swimming…

For Thailand’s island summaries read this post here for the best places to party, snorkel, dive and chill on the beach…

What to Pack for South East Asia: Toiletries

 

Make up – I only wear mascara and I use a tinted moisturiser which includes a high SPF. I find anything else just seems to slide off your face in the heat and humidity.

 

Deodorant – obviously but also be aware that many products in South East Asia have whitening in them so when buying more over here read the label carefully.

 

Tiny bars of soap –  Some hostels/hotels provide these and others don’t so I feel it’s really useful to start collecting them.

 

Hand Wash Gel – small tube, very useful for doing small hand washing when needed or rinsing out swimwear etc, get small packets like  Tide Travel on Amazon

Washing Line– best thing my friend bought for me before I went – Go Go Travel Clothes Line which is one long line of twisted string with hooks either end for drying things

 

Insect Spray containing DEET Get 50% DEET from Amazon Repel 40% DEET Insect Sprayas over in SEA I have yet to find stronger than 15%

 

Toothbrush/toothpaste – and gum for when all else fails and you end up without sinks in off-the-beaten-track areas of Indonesia

 

Baby wipes– these are incredibly useful and very cheap. I use them to remove make-up,sun cream, sweat, dirt and cleaning bags or shoes, buy yours here Wipes Travel Pack

 

Hand Sanitizer – For those train/bus toilets where they often don’t provide soap, come prepared with Original Hand Sanitizer

 

Suntan Cream– I never like to go lower than SPF 30. The sun is extremely strong here.

 

First Aid Kit – after-bite for stings – once out there buy Golden Cup balm – local cure for insect bites!, plasters, antiseptic cream, diarrhoea tablets (and lots), painkillers, the Pill, nail scissors, string (you never know)

 

What to Pack for South East Asia: Extras and Essentials

Passport

Insurance Details (just in case) and visas

Phone/Camera

Gopro I love my GoPro Hero 4 for all my adventure activities and especially diving. Check out Amazon’s range here GoPro HERO4 BLACK.

Read this post for Thailand’s best dive sites…

Selfie stick – totally acceptable in S.E.A GoPro Selfie Stick

Small purse

International driving licence is required in some places to rent scooters. I found this true in Taiwan.

Sleeping bag liner – great for when your accommodation feels less than clean, I love my mummy version with a hood like this Backpacking Sleeping Bag Liner – Mummy

Eye Mask I love the look of this 100% Silk Eye Mask

Ear Plugs like this pack Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs

Headphones

Mini speakers for parties in the bedroom. I love this mini one from Amazon which is teeny tiny and has great reviews Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Adapter – for all countries buy one like this International Travel Power Adapter

Moving around South East Asia? Book your trains, buses and ferries here! The more you book the cheaper it gets! Big discounts are available, particularly for group bookings.

 

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This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Best Quiet Beaches in Thailand

With so many beaches in Thailand it makes it very challenging to decide which are the best ones. However, for me there are a few clear winners where the sand is white, the water clear, lots of greenery around and not too crowded. I have in no way been to all of the beaches in Thailand but having visited over 13 inhabited islands and many more deserted ones, these are a round-up of 5 beaches which I think are the best quiet beaches in Thailand.

For the all my island summaries read this post to help you decide which island to visit…

Book your trains, buses and ferries here…discounts available for multiple tickets and trips!
Kantiang Bay, Koh Lanta

This is definitely one of the prettiest beaches in Thailand. It has a huge area of white sand, you can see your feet when standing in the sea and the jungle comes down to meet the sand meaning no big built up buildings or roads in the way. It is incredibly calm and when I was there in April time the beach had about five people on it.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: Stay at this amazing accommodation, a slight walk up the hill but well worth it for the views of Kantiang Bay. It also has an infinity pool, spacious rooms with windows from ceiling to floor and a cheeky group of visiting monkeys!

quiet beaches thailand
Views of Kantiang Bay
Main Beach, Koh Kradan

This is a tiny island which has limited accommodation and is mostly a National Park. Most island hopping trips around the area of Koh Lanta stop here for a visit or lunch break. The main beach is stunning; white sand and crystal clear waters and the decent coral around offers some snorkelling potential here too.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: To avoid the day tripper crowds, consider staying at a resort on the island

quiet beaches thailand
Island Hopping to Koh Kradan
Beaches on Koh Similan

The Similan Islands are some of the most beautiful islands I have ever visited in Thailand. They are extremely old and have smooth shaped rock formations as they used to be submerged underwater as coral reefs. While the snorkelling/diving here is not what it once was it is still worth a visit and the beaches are breath-taking. They have very white sand and transparent water and also some great viewpoints for photos.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: My best advice to avoid the day crowds is to camp overnight through the National Park service here.

quiet beaches thailand
Quiet beaches – Koh Similan
Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe

Another winner for the white sand and clear waters, head to Koh Lipe for one of Thailand’s most stunning islands. Unfortunately Lipe does have a battle with litter but the locals work hard to keep Sunrise Beach clear of litter to keep it the paradise beach it should be.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: In the evening, walk round to the very aptly named Sunset Beach for some of the best sunsets that I’ve seen in Thailand

quiet beaches thailand
Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe
Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is always the island I keep going back to. Mainly for the Full Moon Party but it has so much more to offer as well. One of my favourite beaches on this island it is only accessible by boat and so it is much quieter than other beaches around Koh Phangan. It has a few places for lunch time eating and it’s in a pretty white sand bay. Head here to avoid the crowds, especially around Full Moon time when the island fills up.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: Get a group together to make the longtail boat ride cheaper

quiet beaches thailand
Beaches on Koh Phangan

Where are your favourite beaches in Thailand?  Future contenders are Koh Phayam, Koh Maak, Koh Kut…watch this space!

Top 5 Beach Essentials
  1. Sarong – ditch the heavy beach towel, I find I carry half the beach home with them and buy a quick-drying sarong that does the job just as fast. I love brightly coloured ones like this Amazon one Ayliss Sarong if you’re looking for gifts for travellers or wait until you are out here and head to a market
  2. Dry Bag – Keep your belongings safe from the sea, especially handy when getting it and off boats. Buy yours from Amazon hereDry Bag (Green, 5L)
  3. GoPro – so useful for all your holiday footage. I love the Gopro Hero 4 as you can take it diving down to depths of 40metres GoPro HERO4 BLACK

For the all my island summaries read this post to help you decide which island to visit..

Activities To Avoid in Thailand

Thailand is a place of beauty, adventure and there are so many amazing activities to try here, that after three years of living here, I am still finding new activities and places to visit. Unfortunately there are also a number of activities that have given rise to exploitation, both in regard to wildlife and people. I believe that people do have the power to bring about positive change and, particularly in a country like Thailand, where many locals are keen to reap the benefits of tourism, I feel it is important for tourists to do their research into putting their money into ethical enterprises.

Activities to avoid in Thailand include:

·         Riding an elephant. Read here for more information on why riding is a form of abuse and how you can enjoy an ethical elephant experience instead

elephants Thailand
Feeding the ellies some sugarcane at Hug Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand

·         Visit a tiger temple or take pictures with tigers. The infamous tourist temple was closed down last year. When it was investigated, they found dead tiger cubs in a freezer and allegations of missing adult tigers thought to have been sold on the black market to China for tiger bones. This scandal is on top of the commonly held assumption that these tigers are drugged in order for tourists to take photos with them. I personally feel that the claim that people can get close to them because they are domesticated tigers brought up around people does not have any ground.  Getting into a cage with a grown adult tiger is dangerous, no matter how the animal was raised. Read more about the truth on the BBC website here

 

 

  • Go to a pingpong show, sex show or participate in any activities relating to the sex industry. Aside from my personal feelings about female exploitation, Thailand is a hub for human trafficking and there is no knowing how the women and men in these industries are treated. 425,500 people are thought to be enslaved in modern day slavery in Thailand. (Source https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/thailand/ )and some of these unpoliced, illegal industries have been found to ‘employ’ underage prostitutes, indicating child abuse and exploitation. Is this really where you want your money going?  This article is an interesting and eye-opening read from the BBC website.

 

  • Sunbathing in the nude, women going topless on a beach and males riding around on scooters without shirts. Spain this is not. Most of Thailand is fairly conservative, whether the locals are Buddhist or Muslim and getting your baps out on the beach is not acceptable here.

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe
  • Standing on coral reefs. Coral is extremely fragile and if you touch it, not only could you end up injured, but you are killing this vital eco-system that the ocean relies upon. Please be extremely careful of where you are stepping in the sea.

 

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Make sure you don’t touch control…but definitely take some snaps
  • Touching wild animals- There are regular news stories in local papers here in Thailand about people touching turtles and I am frequently frustrated by the number of Instagram photos of people holding up a starfish. That is a wild animal and you are disturbing it. Remember to always be respectful of wildlife.

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance
  • Taking photos in the markets or streets with ‘pet’ monkeys or gibbons. These are animals that belong in the wild and should not be used in the tourist industry in this way. Often teeth are painfully removed to ensure the animal does not bite people and they are often wearing nappies and chained up.

 

activities to avoid in Thailand
Spotting wild gibbons in Khao Yai National Park – they can be heard all around Thailand, especially at dawn and dusk

·         Fishing and squid fishing. This is more of a personal thing as I am super into scuba diving and would prefer to see the fish underwater rather than kill them. However, I think it is important to be aware that Thailand has a massive problem with over-fishing and unfortunately very little is done to stop this. As a result of corruption many fishing boats can still be seen in marine parks which are supposed to be protected and I often sea fishing nets while scuba diving in supposedly protected areas. Don’t add to this problem.

activities to avoid in Thailand
Every time I go snorkelling or diving I usually find Nemo, help protect him and his habitat

And for things NOT to miss in Thailand check out this blog post

For more information regarding Thai culture and how to be respectful read this post

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50 Things To Do in Bangkok, Thailand

A Chiang Mai local recently said to me ‘but yeah, there’s not much to do in Bangkok..’. Now while I agree that Chiang Mai has lots of adventure activities it left me feeling slightly indignant about Bangkok, my home for the last 3 years.

So I’ve decided to make an epic list of 50 things to do in Bangkok that will never leave you feeling bored in this crazy Thai capital:

For a slimmed down version, read my must do and must see activities in Bangkok here

  1. Visit Bangkok’s temples

  2. Jim Thompson’s House Museum

  3. Drink at a skybar

  4. Party on Khao San Road

  5. Watch a Muay Thai match

  6. Do yoga

  7. Go to Thailand’s oldest cinema – Scala in Siam

  8. Eat street food

  9. Go wake-boarding

  10. Enjoy local nightlife at Bangkok’s clubs

  11. Go to  a Pilates lesson

  12. Go swimming

  13. Try a  Muay Thai boxing class

  14. Have a chocolate buffet afternoon

  15. Rent a bicycle and cycle around a park

  16. Have afternoon tea at a posh hotel

  17. Go to a ladies night for free flow prosecco

  18. Visit a cat café

  19. Go rollerskating

  20. Take a cycling tour

  21. Visit a butterfly house

  22. Go market shopping

  23. Volunteer

  24. Go to a theme park – Dream world

  25. Have lunch by the river

  26. Sing karaoke

  27. Spot monitor lizards in Lumpini park

  28. Explore Chinatown

  29. Cross the river to cycle around Bang Krachao

  30. Visit the flower market

  31. Go to an art gallery

  32. Visit the science museum

  33. Go iceskating

  34. Take a cooking class

  35. Take photos from a viewpoint – the Golden Mount temple

  36. Go on a river boat

  37. Visit a floating market – mostly food and souvenirs

  38. Snack at the Unicorn Café

  39. Go on Bangkok’s wheel at Asiatique

  40. Get a manicure or pedicure

  41. Relax with a massage – Thai or other

  42. Try SUP or knee boarding

  43. Paint your own picture at Paintbar

  44. Go surfing at Flow House

  45. Spend the day at a water park – I love Jungle water park in the North of Bangkok

  46. Party on a boat

  47. Eat cheap at a food court

  48. Watch a show – Siam Niramit

  49. Shop at a night market

  50. Take a salsa class at La Rueda, Asok

Looking for places to stay? I always recommend Agoda for booking accommodation in Bangkok, Thailand and the rest of Asia! (affiliate link)

If you’re pressed for time and just want the ‘don’t miss’ activities check out my top things to do in Bangkok

If you have longer and feel the need to get out of Bangkok, read my post on exploring around Bangkok for day trips and weekend getaways

Moving on from Bangkok? Book your trains, buses and ferries here! Discounts available for multiple trips and tickets…

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