Phuket isn't Thailand

Travel to thailand

Thailand is the most popular destination for most. It’s almost constantly sunny and warm, it’s cheap, you don’t need a visa, and there’s a huge hype around the beaches. For around R 9 000 per person in off-peak seasons you can spend 7 nights in a 4 star resort and do nothing but laze on Phuket’s main beach.

I organised myself a holiday to Thailand in May. I loved it. Thailand is a beautiful country, and I came home with a tan, a huge smile and a fresh sense of adventure. I spent two and a half weeks travelling across the entire country, starting in Phuket, going over to the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. I experienced the Full Moon Party (which was epic), and visited the hill tribe villages of Chiang Mai in the North. I did my shopping in Bangkok, watched two cabaret shows (which did not disappoint) and spent a day bathing with elephants. It was an awesome experience.

I came back, eager and excited to sell Thailand to enthusiastic adventurers. What a let-down. Most everyone who considers a Thai holiday just wants to fly over to Phuket and spend 7 days on the beach and pay as little as possible for their flights, accommodation, breakfast and airport transfers. All I keep thinking is how much these people are missing out on! I spent a total of 2 nights in Phuket, and it was enough. There were better beaches to laze upon on other islands, and if you enjoy experiencing foreign culture and making awesome holiday memories, then Bangkok is the better place to do it.

I am a travel junkie. Adventure flows through my veins. I love few things as much as I love visiting other countries, tasting their food, witnessing their traditions, learning about their way of life. And Thailand itself was in no way disappointing. But that’s probably because I paid a little extra and made sure that every single thing worth doing in Thailand was a part of my itinerary.

So you want to go on the cheapest possible package to Phuket? Okay, spend R 9 000 and go chill on Phuket’s overcrowded, overstated beach, come back and tell me if you feel your life was changed in any way by the experience.

Yes, I said overstated. Don’t get me wrong – Thailand is a beautiful country. I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, with just the tiniest part of my heart, I came home a little disappointed. It’s such a popular destination, and everywhere you will hear about how great the beaches are. You know, I spent two weeks in the Philippines last year, and the beaches were better. The water was bluer, the sand whiter, the fish more colourful, the people friendlier, and the beaches less busy by far. So why always Thailand? Why always 7 nights in Phuket?

In my very humble opinion, travel isn’t worth it unless you can come home with half a book full of stories to tell, experiences to share, and new insights into life, who you are, and who you want to be. Yes, doing things that way is likely to cost more, and sure, it cuts into your annual leave. I just don’t really understand how 7-night-Phuket-package-holiday-goers come home feeling revitalised or different at all. It’s like saying you’ve been to France when you’ve only really seen Paris. Can you really then say you have been to France?

I could be biased, I could be wrong. I have been to 9 countries outside of South Africa over the past 6 years and if I could convince you of one thing, it would be this: There’s a whole great big beautiful world out there for you to explore! 7 nights in Phuket is cheap, but a holiday with a sense of adventure has more value any day.