Fifteen girls sat hunched over their laptops in our dorm’s common area, researching flights and calculating conversion rates from Thai baht to U.S. dollars. About an hour later, I handed over 1,140 baht (about $32) to a 7-Eleven employee down the street in exchange for a round-trip ticket from Bangkok to Krabi in southwest Thailand. I still don’t understand how this works, but you can buy pretty much anything from 7-Eleven here, including last-minute $32 plane tickets.
We packed some incredible experiences into a few short days at the beaches of southern Thailand. If you find yourself in the area, don’t miss these adventures:
- Climb rocks with a view
Confession: before this, I had never really been rock climbing before, other than a few visits to an indoor climbing gym a few years ago. But Thailand’s cliffs attract climbers from all over the world, so why not start here? You’ll mentally and physically push yourself until you’re hanging onto the top handhold, admiring the beach, the tree-covered cliffs, and the long wooden taxi boats gliding through the bay.
- Trek to the Tiger Temple
It’s a steep 1,237-stair climb to the Tiger Temple in Krabi, but this place will give you a great workout, a gorgeous view, and a peaceful spot to reflect on your journey. So far, it’s my favorite thing I’ve done in Thailand (although it took a little convincing to get my friends to climb all those steps with me).
On a clear day, you can see the whole town and the ocean in the distance, but last weekend’s fog gave us a more mysterious outlook, with just the nearest tree-covered peaks peering through the grey. A giant golden Buddha watched over the scenery with half-closed eyes and folded hands. We looked around quietly, and then our tour guides taught us a few yoga moves on a ledge high above the trees. Being in such a peaceful place reminded me to be thankful for the opportunity to explore this beautiful side of the world.
- Kayak in caves
Our group booked a day tour for $30 each, which included transportation, delicious Thai lunch, hours of kayaking, cave exploration, and a visit to an emerald pool in the jungle. Kayaking is such a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery around you. We paddled past towering cliffs and sprawling mangrove forests, then into a few dark caves. Cool droplets splattered on our kayaks from the stalactites above us, until the cave opened up into a small, quiet lagoon.
- Try out your bargaining skills
Lately I’ve been practicing my Thai survival phrases: the numbers, how much is it, and can you lower the price please? At the Krabi market, I got an elephant sculpture for $4, two pairs of pants for $9, and a purse for $6. It was also fun to just wander around the vendors. Thailand has an unending amount of markets with local fruit, cheap clothes, some kind of meat on a stick, art and handbags, and pretty much anything you could think of.
- Meet the monkeys at Railay Beach
We came across a whole family of monkeys in the trees above us and on top of the fences beside the walking path. Monkeys are adorable, but they’re not afraid to steal your food. These guys weren’t as aggressive as the others we’ve run into, but they did sneak a can of Pringles out of my friend’s backpack. Seriously, be careful about those monkeys.
Thailand is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see more of it and find new ways to adventure. If you have an opportunity to study in Thailand with ISA, go for it.
Want to explore Thailand more through an ISA student’s eyes? Check out “It Only Takes Three Days to Fall in Love With Thailand”