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Islands In The Sun TT
4 reviews for this tour
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Each departure date has it's own dedicated tour note, detailing all you need to know about that tour. Whether you've already booked, or weighing up your options, please choose carefully the relevant itinerary for you.
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Islands in the Sun
What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour
New Years Eve on the beach in Koh Hai - I had a lovely group, the hotel was the nicest that we stayed at and the staff were very friendly.
Tour Leader Name
How Was Your Explore Tour Leader
It wasn't clear if the leader, Nui, either didn't know the tour well or if she was just poor at communication. One the first night I was woken at 1am (?!) by the tour leader wanting to move my room mate to be into my room. She refused to move as she'd been told she'd have her own room that night and it was 1am. Why they tried to move her at that time I have no idea. We got used to what we referred to as 'Thai time', which basically meant that we doubled all travel times as a '2 hour' minibus transfer would actually be about 4 in reality. We also weren't informed of how cold the overnight train was so those of us on the top bunks barely slept due to not being prepared with the right amount of layers. My room mate and I were also allocated the worst / smallest rooms in each hotel and when we commented on this Nui just smiled. We were also told that the only place that we could ride an elephant was at Ao Nang, so I opted for this instead of the day trip to Koh Phi Phi. It is also possible to ride an elephant at Koh Lanta (as the trip notes said, but the guide said no) so I could've done both. Generally, we weren't very impressed with her.
What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour
Be prepared for the transfers. The start of the trip, whizzing around Bangkok and then the overnight train journey (followed by a minibus and a boat totaling around 20 hours) were quite stressful but once reaching the beaches everything became more relaxed. Take lots of layers for the train, an eye mask and maybe sleeping tablets. Although this isn't an activity filled trip, you need to be fairly flexible when moving from boat to boat on transfers as they can involve a big drop/climb of maybe 5ft at times (there are people to help, but you might struggle if you're less mobile). If you can't face the 15 hour return train journey after doing it once, you can fly from Trang (where the train leaves from) to Bangkok for a mere £60 and it takes just 1 hour. Well worth it in my opinion.
Do You Have Anything Else To Add
The accommodation was generally of a poor standard. I would much rather have paid £100-£200 more for the trip and stayed in better places. The water pressure in most bathrooms was very poor and the first hotel had no working boiler so showering there was like ice. We had one room near Ao Nang (Emerald Beach 'Resort') where the room smelt due to the constantly wet and mouldy bathroom floor. The electricity here was also turned off at certain times of the day, breakfast was a farce and the air conditioning spat over me for the times that it worked the first night. We found out from other travellers that it worked out at £6 per night to stay at that 'hotel'... My friend wanted to go on this trip but I currently don't recommend it due to the standard of accommodation for what isn't a cheap holiday.
Thank you for your feedback. We’re sorry you were disappointed with much of the accommodation; it’s all what we would regard as very typical mid-range Explore hotels. The first one – the Royal in Bangkok – was having some issues at that time in getting parts and workmen in to repair the boiler, due to the protests taking place in the city during December. They are normally prompt to fix anything that isn’t working. We don’t fly from Trang because the train is more in keeping with the Explore ethos of experiencing local travel (and keeping our carbon footprint down) but we know that from time to time some customers do choose to fly instead. We’ve no plans to make a change from train to plane at the moment.
What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?
"The highlight of the tour had to be the snorkeling off Racha Yai albeit closely followed by the paradise island of Koh Hai."
How was your Explore Tour Leader?
Our tour leader, Nuwa, was fantastic. He was very likeable, always organised and approachable. The language barrier was sometimes an issue but never one that couldn't be worked out. He coped very well with a couple of members of the group who were never happy, but in our opinion, he was great.
What tips would you give to someone else booking this tour?
Travel light !! We went to Thailand not really knowing what to expect so took a little too much of home with us, next time we will know better !! Almost everything you need is available (Rural Thailand even has branches of Boots) and things are so cheap to buy !! Definitely work on carrying cash as there are few places that you would use credit cards but we found that pre pay debit cards were simple ways to get cash from ATM's.
Do you have anything else to add?
This was a fantastic holiday and a great way to see Thailand. It was good to move on every couple of day's and the accommodation was great. To end the holiday with 3 day's on a paradise island was the perfect conclusion. However, I think the sleeper train element could be an issue if you're a light sleeper as the air con is fierce & the lights too bright, couple this with the rocking & clanking of the train and not much sleep was to be had !! It's worth the experience on the way south but the novelty was not there on the way back north !!