In March 2022, I decided I want to challenge myself to an epic 3-week road trip to the South of Thailand. Solo.
Well, actually, at first I asked some of my friends if they want to join me and they said, they could meet me at my final destination. The trip would be too long and arduous for them.
Solo trip it is then. It began in Bangkok and I would make my way to old and new destinations in the south.
The plan was
Bangkok - Chumphon - Nakhon Si Thammarat - Songkhla - Phatthalung - Trang - Phuket - Bangkok
Oh, and I should mention that the idea was to reach Phuket by the time of my birthday which is on April 2nd.
Instead of describing everything that happened on this trip, I'm just going to share some highlights, pictures, and interesting stories.
I've been to Chumphon before but I needed a 1-night pitstop before hitting up a new Thai province. It's important on trips like this to break it up into smaller bits.
The first time I went to Chumphon, there weren't many people. It was quiet(er) than usual because of COVID restrictions. I also stayed beachside at Novotel back then.
This time I stayed in the city center area at the Retro Box Hotel. Literally, this hotel/hostel is made up of shipping containers that have been converted into rooms. A bit pricey at 890 Baht for a standard room but it’s central and close to markets, lots of street food, restaurants, and bars.
I spent my night here trying local curries and checking out some of the nearby bars for a couple of drinks.
Nakhon Si Thammarat
The next morning, up and early, I started my journey to Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Along the way, I also took a slight detour because I saw a strip of land jutting out on Google Maps while driving through Surat Thani. So, decided to go check it out. The place is called ปลายสุดแหลมซุย or The end of Cape Sui.
This was my first drone flight on this trip (and many more to come).
Onwards with the drive. I had originally planned to go directly to NST district or town but instead, I found some resorts on the way where I decided to stay for a few days.
My first stay was at Khanom Beach Resort & Spa in Khanom district. What a beautiful resort with 5 types of rooms, a restaurant, and a pool. You can find more details about the resort on their info page.
I spent most of my time here flying the drone. But I also relaxed, swam, ate food, and drink cocktails.
It was quite a romantic resort so I sent a message to the world: Join Me!
I got some responses but sadly, it was a bit late. I had to continue on with my trip.
The drive further south was stunning with coastal roads along the Gulf of Thailand. I had to stop and take some drone shots.
The next destination was Sichon, another district and beautiful coastal city in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Here I would be staying for 2 nights at the Sichon Cabana Beach Resort, a modern luxurious property. This place was totally my vibe with its cool rooms, cafe, restaurant, and plenty of water sports activities.
Just like in Khanom, I spent most of my time flying the drone and exploring the beach.
A lot of drinking and eating was involved as well! Like all the time.
I even met some locals and expats here who I hung out with in the evening.
Sichon Beach Resort was an amazing stay with lots of great memories, adventure, and a foodie haven. I would definitely visit again with friends.
Just before leaving Sichon, I noticed that there was a fishing village nearby. On the map, it showed swirling river bends that connect to the Gulf of Thailand. Naturally, if you know me by now, I had to check it out with a drone.
And I am so glad that I did because it was a fantastic perspective of the landscape that you just cannot see with eye level. You have to admit, it is stunning.
On the way to the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, I came across lots of other scenic views. For some, I had to take a few detours but it was worth it.
Nakhon Si Thammarat district or the city center is just like any big cities in Thailand. It's got shopping malls, bars, restaurants, lots of hotels, and other conveniences. It's certainly not Bangkok though.
I stayed at the B2 hotel, which is a popular budget hotel chain in Thailand. It's nothing fancy but it's cheap, clean, and conveniently located.
With just 2 nights here, I decided to take it easy and not spend so much time exploring.
I got a haircut and a shave at a nearby barbershop for just 150 baht!
After that, I went looking for a place to eat and drink, which is when I came across this big beer garden called Memories with pumping electronic dance music. Of course, I had to go here but wondered if going in there alone would be weird. I decided to anyways, which was a good idea because I met quite a lot of locals and one expat here who were super nice to me.
I realized this was very rare in Bangkok to meet nice people like this. I had a great time that I actually went here again the next day with my new friends.
The coolest thing here was this shot wheel that cost half of what it would in Bangkok (and I've never even seen something like this there).
Other than that, I visited Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, the iconic temple complex in this city.
About 23 km west of town is a beautiful and fascinating village called Kiriwong. It's described to have the purest and freshest air in all of Thailand with plenty of flora and fauna. There is also a majestic river that flows through, making it a very scenic and peaceful place to visit.
Locals love to come here for picnics, photography, and family time. You can either sit by the river and eat at a local restaurant or visit one of the many cafes in the area.
It is also being promoted for its community-based tourism and local life. It was one of my favorite places I've ever been to. So clean, fresh, and simply gorgeous.
I definitely need to go back to Kiriwong again and explore more. Just had enough time to eat by the river and fly the drone for a bit before the thunderstorm rolled in.
The next province on my Southern Thailand road trip was Songkhla. The drive from NST to there was amazing, especially on route 408 along the coast. Incredible scenic and beautiful. I would stop along the way quite a bit to take pictures including the Koh Yai Grand Canyon.
Geographically and visually, it is phenomenal with the coast on one side and the lake on the other.
I was making my way to Songkhla old town for my first stop in this province. For that, I had to cross two bridges and an island in the lake (more about it later). Again, the entire drive was incredible with the phenomenal landscape, and coastal and lake views.
Songkhla Old Town
I arrived early evening in Songkhla old town and immediately checked into my hotel - V Place Residence. After getting freshened up a bit (and waiting for the rain to stop) I went exploring the old town for some food and drinks.
Sadly, was a ghost town on this day and it was just 8 pm. Not many restaurants or bars were open and hardly any people were out and about. But, it was perfect for some night photography.
Finally, I found one cafe called Blue Smile Cafe where they had pretty good food and homemade craft drinks. After hanging out here and speaking with the owner a little bit, I headed back to my hotel for a good night's sleep.
The next day, I woke up very early to do some serious exploring of Songkhla town and the coastal side. Unlike the night before, it was a hot day and great weather for more photos.
Here’s what I did:
- Drove and walked around Songkhla old town to see the street art and architecture during the day
- Went to a few beaches in Songkhla
- Hung out at a beachside cafe
- Drove around Ko Yo, an island in Songkhla lake. It's an interesting place to visit for its natural beauty and geolocation. It is connected by two massive bridges that connect two districts of Songkhla.
After having lunch at Ko Yo, it was time to head to my next destination - Hat Yai where I would be spending 2 nights.
On the way, I wanted to see one of Songkhla's biggest attractions - The Central Mosque. To capture its grandeur on camera, I had to use my drone.
It is such a majestic and awe-inspiring piece of religious architecture, from the outside and inside.
Sure, Thailand has some magnificent temples but there are also beautiful Mosques and Churches across the country.
Not far from the Mosque is the city of Hat Yai . I headed there to check in to Crystal Hotel Hat Yai. It was a nice modern hotel with a decent view of the city.
It was time for relaxation after a hectic day of driving and exploring so I decided to head to the rooftop pool and chill.
Of course, I had to get a drone perspective of it too.
After some relaxation, I wanted a night out. I looked online to see what is a good bar and it lead me to The Library. From the name, it sounded like it would be a chilled lounge where I can go hang out and drink by myself.
However, it actually turned out to be one of the most happening places in town. It reminded me of Revolucion bar in Bangkok with delicious cocktails, high-energy bartenders (fire show and juggling), neon laser lights, and pumping music.
Basically, it is a party spot.
It was a great night. I actually talked to some of the people at the bar. That is the best part of traveling - meeting new people and making friends. Some were locals, while others were from neighboring provinces. Since there aren't many places to party in places like Phattalung and Trang, they come to Hat Yai.
The next morning, after nursing a small hangover, I decided to drive around to a nearby viewpoint on the mountain. There I came across this gorgeous steel pagoda with gold accents.
After taking a snap of the viewpoint, it was time to explore downtown Hat Yai. There wasn't much there. It reminded me of China Town area of Bangkok but not not nearly as busy. It was almost a ghost town. Most of the the markets and businesses were shut.
That is when I decided to go back to the hotel, get some work done and get ready to meet my new friends (from the night before). They were going to take me to a a couple of different spots in town for drinks and food.
First we went to a Halal Steakhouse called Black Bridge. The food was quite good but of course expensive, which is why I usually don't go to steak joints.
I would have preferred to eat cheap local Thai food but overall, it was a pleasant change of cuisine.
Later we went to a Thai pub known as Gasoline for drinks and a bit of partying, local style.
This was more like it. I started wishing we came here for dinner in the first place.
While it was just like any other Thai Pub, I enjoyed it. The music was a mix between DJ spinning EDM and Thai band covers.
Hat Yai did not disappoint with its nightlife. It turned out to be another really fun night.
I had no idea what to expect in Phattalung. I didn't plan much to do here except to visit the Grand Canyong and a lake that I saw on Google Map.
On the way there though, I took the scenic route along the lake which brought me to this lookout point that basically borders Songhkla and Phattalung.
It was a very nice spot. Definitely worth visiting and driving through.
When I arrived in the Phattalung town, it was already too late to visit either of the two attractions I wanted to visit, so I proceeded to checkin in to my hotel - Centris.
It was still early evening with a bit of light. I rented a bicycled and went around the city. I was pleasantly surprised how quaint and charming the town is.
Along my journey I went to the walking street aka Train Station Night Market, saw some street art, shopping malls and simply soaked in the vibe of the city. It was time to slow down and take it all in.
Hope you enjoy the pictures as I did in real.
The market had a very nice view of the mountain and the train station. I absolutely Loved it! The food here was enjoyable too.
Phattalung city certainly has a small town, old-fashioned atmosphere with incredibly friendly locals.
After dinner, I was in bed early so I could wake up in time to catch the sunrise at Thale Noi.
Sadly, I woke up a bit late having been exhausted from the trip so far. I didn't manage to catch the sunrise but I was early enough still.
After a 30-minute drive, I arrived at Thale Noi, a massive lake and wetland in Phattalung. It is known for its indigenous flora and fauna.
To see them, you have to take a boat ride onto the lake and it is well worth doing that.
After walking around the lake for a bit, I came across some locals who asked me if I wanted to have a boat tour. I can't remember how much it cost but it was not more than 500 Baht as I can recall. Either way, it is a must-do activity if you are in this province.
I got to see all kinds of plants, birds, and animals. Let's look at them together with these pictures.
The way the boatman maneuvered his way through these bamboo stilts was spectacular. I was absolutely amazed by his skill.
And away we were out in the lake. It is difficult to explain the feeling to be out in the middle of nature but I can also describe it as MAGICAL.
Just before I thought it could not be better, out in the distance we could see all the gorgeous aquatic plants floating over Thale Noi. Among them, birds would fly, swoop and land on top of the plants. I couldn't believe how beautiful the scene was here and I can tell you that the pictures do not do justice to this place.
Now, it was time to take the drone out. I had to get an aerial perspective of Thale Noi.
Moving on, the boat guide took me further out on the lake to see some larger creatures that inhabit the area.
Water buffalos! Wow. What an incredible experience seeing them up so close and personal in their habitat.
Again I cannot stress how amazing Thale Noi is. If nothing else, this is why you should visit Phattalung.
Grand Canyon of Phattalung
The craziest thing happened next.
While flying my DJI Mini 2 around, I noticed something fly towards it from the corner of my eye.
IT WAS AN EAGLE! It probably thought my drone was a threat or prey but the eagle decided to attack my poor little drone. Luckily both my drone and the eagle were unharmed. The eagle got scared of the spinning blades and retreated but after a few seconds, it came back again.
I quickly tried to bring the drone back to the ground and I did, but wow it was a stressful situation.
That is when I left but I found another side of the canyon and carefully looked for any other eagles. No sign...so I took it up for another spin. This landscape section was better looking anyways.
Trang is one of the Thai provinces I've been meaning to go to for a while. Especially to its beautiful islands.
After the Grand Canyon, I drove toward Trang city. Luckily it was only an hour's drive so I was able to make it to my hotel by early evening.
I didn't do much here except walk around town a bit, eat and shop at a market near the center point and clock tower. Later I met up with the same girls I had partied with in Hat Yai, as they actually live in Trang.
After a bit more eating and drinking, it was time to turn in. In the morning I had plans to visit Koh Mook, one of many Trang islands.
Koh Mook is one of the most beautiful and wonderful that I have been to yet in Thailand. To reach here you have to take a speedboat or ferry from either the Khuan Tung Ku Pier or Hat Yao Pier. I took the former.
Parking my car overnight costs 200baht/day and the speedboat was around 600 baht (but I shared the cost with two Thai people).
It's a perfect island to rent a bike and explore. You can probably see the entire island in 2 or 3 days. I didn't because some areas looked a bit dodgy and my skills with the motorbike aren't that great. I only recently overcame my fear of riding one. Also, I have a fear of soi dogs (which I am also overcoming slowly).
The first night I stayed at Koh Mook Riviera Beach Resort. It wasn't pricey and looked pretty decent online. However, in reality, the room was actually very dirty with blood stains on sheets and lots of bugs and mosquitos in the toilet.
I called up the owner and asked for an upgrade. Since the resort was practically empty, he obliged and I managed to get a nicer beachside sea villa.
While that was good, the resort was not well kept in general and quite dead. There was no restaurant or breakfast either. I decided to book another hotel for day 2.
But before I could do that, I wanted to explore the island. I rented a bike from a nearby shop and on my way I went.
I checked Google to see where are some of the nicer beaches and it lead me to Garnet Beach, also known as Farang beach or Charlie Beach. I don't know why so many different names but it was certainly a nice beach.
Now time for some drone shots, obviously. How could I resist?
Here is a full shot of the beach from afar. I even managed to get a view of the other side of the island and mainland Trang.
The rain was seemingly rolling in now and I didn't want to get stuck here so instead of exploring more, I headed back to my resort.
By some chance, it only drizzled, which was a bummer because I came back for no reason. All was not lost though. I decided to walk along the beach and head over to a nearby resort I had seen quite a lot on social media - Sivalai Beach Resort. This was actually the main reason I came to Koh Mook. In fact, it was where I would stay for the 2nd night on the island.
And you will see why.
BOOM! There you go.
The way this resort, beach, and a small sandbar juts out into the sea is beyond fascinating. The clear turquoise water is also breathtaking with that beautiful beach, resort, and mountainside in the background.
Although a lot more expensive than the first resort, it was absolutely worth staying here for a night.
Here, enjoy some more pictures of Sivalai.
Again, I can't tell you how amazing Koh Mook was. I would go back in a heartbeat with a significant other or some friends. I got a lot of messages from my friends and followers who wanted to be there at that very moment.
Also, check out the Reel I made for Koh Mook.
There is not much to tell about Phuket instead it involved A LOT of partying. As I said, this whole trip was leading up to my birthday so it was a week of going out with friends. Every day for 1 week, a different friend was flying in and each night got crazier.
I did go to beaches and viewpoints too. It wasn't all partying.
But, I won't describe the Phuket trip, so I will leave you with pictures before wrapping up this extremely long (hopefully not boring and maybe useful) post. You can always ask me questions about the trip by messaging on IG or Twitter.
Best Experiences: I always try to have the best time everywhere I go. I can't single out any best experience or destination during this trip. Everything is unique and I soak it all in so I never have a favorite.
However, here are some superlatives.
Unexpected gem: Thale Noi in Phatthalung and Kiriwong Village in NST.
Most beautiful place visited: Koh Mook
Epic party: outside of Phuket, it would be at the beer garden in NST. The Library at Hat Yai was also pretty wild!
Stats from the road trip
🚗Over 3k km driven
🌇 6 provinces including 8 cities & 2 islands
🏨 11 hotels
🛸over 8.5 hours of drone flights
Friday, September 9, 2022 1:24 PM