Good news: a new ferry service is about to start between Hua Hin, a sleepy beach resort town on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand, and Pattaya, Thailand’s hedonism capital. I’m a big fan of Pattaya (and not for the same reasons as you’d think), since it has one of the best selections of restaurants of anywhere in Thailand outside of Bangkok.
The new ferry is a welcome addition, since traveling to Pattaya from Hua Hin currently means taking a bus or taxi all the way to Bangkok, then switching over to another bus or taxi for the two hour journey to Pattaya. Grossly inefficient when you consider Pattaya is a short trip across the Gulf of Thailand from Hua Hin.
The new service will take 1.5 to two hours and start from the New Year. Early rides will be limited to passengers and not allow vehicles, making this better suited to tourists than expats looking to avoid the long drive to Pattaya.
As someone who loves checking into a hotel around Jomtien (good list available here — update: and another list of guest friendly hotel options in Pattaya here) and enjoying Pattaya’s excellent dining opportunities, this is a great development. One more reason to head back to the mainland every other month.
Life in a tropical country is hot, especially at the beach. Here are five essentials for a great day at or by the beach in hot tropical weather, from sun protection to summer clothing and accessory essentials.
Since it gets so hot during the day, light clothing is vital if you want to feel comfortable and avoid sweating so much. Light cotton t-shirts are great for on top. I like this style of t-shirt, which doesn’t get so moist on hot weather. For women, products like silicone nipple covers offer better comfort than a bra without getting sweaty during the daytime.
The sun here is extremely intense, and sun protection is a must if you’re visiting the beach during the daytime. Stick with an SPF15+ sunscreen, which will keep you protected even in the hottest sun. Make sure you reapply it after you go in the water.
Hat and Sunglasses
If you’re going to spend all day at the beach, pick up a hat and sunglasses to protect your head and eyes from the sun. You’ll prefer it to constantly looking away from the sun or squinting all day, trust me.
Waterproof Cellphone Bag
This waterproof cellphone bag is a life saver for me. You can also pack some money inside, in case you need to buy anything while you’re there. It’s small enough to fit inside your clothes while you’re swimming, making it safer than bringing your wallet to the beach with you.
Hot weather means dehydration and heatstroke are real risks, especially if you plan to spend all day at the beach. I recommend packing some water with you, at least one litre if you want to spend several hours at the beach in direct sunlight.
I’ve lived in Thailand for over three years now, and my family has come to visit me several times. Every time, they have gone home anxious to return again. Thailand is addictive in that it’s a cheap destination that’s easy to access from Europe, making it easy to return again. Lucky for me, my family comes back often (although not so often that I don’t welcome their company).
Although Koh Phangan has a reputation as a party island, it’s my favorite place in Thailand to travel with my parents. My mother and father, who are in their 60s and are teetotalers, both love the island and like spending time on the beach here. The fact that it’s got a reputation for parties doesn’t put them off, and it shouldn’t put you off either.
Recently, my dad got veneers in Bangkok and stayed for the weekend. He then spent the next week relaxing on Koh Phangan before returning to Bangkok to visit the hospital to get everything checked, then returning home to the UK. The whole experience was chilled out and fun – not what you might expect if your view of Koh Phangan is based on the Full Moon Party.
The only place I’ve enjoyed more than Koh Phangan, and the only place I think is better for family trips, is Railay Beach in Krabi. It’s quiet and peaceful, with the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in my life – even better than Bottle Beach here. Railay also has the added advantage of being really easy to get to compared to Koh Phangan, since there’s a direct flight there from Bangkok and a simple long tail boat ride from Ao Nang.
I’ve taken my parents to Railay once and to Koh Phangan several times. On all of their trips here, they’ve enjoyed the beautiful nature and commented about how peaceful the island is. When we stopped on Koh Samui on the way back from a snorkeling trip last time, both of them commented on how much they preferred Koh Phangan for its quieter atmosphere. I knew I made the right decision by living here, and it’s good to see that my family loves visiting too.