Road trip in Thailand
Driving through Thailand was something we never imagined we would be doing for Zeek's 30th birthday.
After a freezing cold winter in Guangzhou, we were craving some sun! Our crazy plan was to rent a car in Bangkok and drive to Krabi. We would take three days to make the 13-hour drive. We would stop along the way and spend a couple of nights along the coast.
Driving on the "wrong" side of the road or others call it the "left" side, was nerve-racking! made me so scared. "Hope we don't get into a head-on collision." hahaha no serious, I hope we don't.
Renting a Car in Bangkok
After scouring the internet for hours and 10 phone calls later, we decided to use VIP Cars. They were the most affordable and legit service we found while searching from China. We rented a full-size SUV (4 wheel drive & 7 seats) with 2 car seats and a GPS unit for about $35.00 a day; this also included comprehensive insurance. Zeek was ecstatic.
We landed in Bangkok at 2 am after an awful trip to the airport and no sleeping on the plane for well...the parents.
It turns out, arriving in Bangkok at 2 am brings benefits, like it was empty. VIP Cars' booth is located next to Budgets, and within 10 minutes, we were being waited on. Side note....we were able to change money and purchase our Thailand SIM card at the airport so that our phones now worked in Thailand. We don't recommend driving in a foreign country without a working cellphone.
The car was exactly what we expected and brand new. After over a year of not driving, Zeek got to drive a brand new 4 wheel drive SUV, with a great sound system. Boyz! None of VIP Cars' employees knew how to clip in the car seats. Learning moment, don't trust the car rental to properly install your car seats! We only had 3 days to get to Krabi due to a reservation at a bungalow on Railey Island so we decided not to stop in Bangkok. Getting out of the city was quick and painless.
After driving for two hours and not sleeping for almost 20 hours we needed to stop. We pulled off into a well-lit gas station, locked the doors and slept for 1.5 hours. We woke up to some excellent heat!
First Stop - Clothing Change!
After enduring a cold winter in Guangzhou, we were so happy for the 90 degrees surge that hit us as soon as the sun started rising. We decided to stop grab some food and change into our hot weather clothes!
This had been the first time we had been outside of China or Hong Kong in over a year, and we couldn't believe how EMPTY Thailand felt. We had become so accustomed to the 15 million people that we lived with every day. There was so much room and empty space, which is hilarious considering we had grown up in a city with 5,000 people, and now cities of 200,000 felt barren and desolate.
First Stop - Dolphin Bay Resort
We didn't make a reservation because, in all honesty, we didn't know how long it would take us to get anywhere. We scouted out a few resorts we like beforehand and figured we would stop at whichever made the most sense along the way.
Our first stop was to get our beach fix! No reservations, we just rolled up bumping music in our SUV. The kids were ecstatic to see the ocean. They ran into the water clothes and all.
The resort told us we couldn't swim in the ocean due to a lot of jellyfish. So we scooped the kids out and then went into their wonderfully designed kids' pool. The room was clean, there was a pool, and it was 95 degrees, everyone was happy! Oh, and the hotel had a restaurant that served beer. Zeek found his favorite beer very quickly.
The food at the restaurant of the resort was awful! If you stay, make sure to get out and eat, not worth the money to eat there. We had dinner down the road at a little shack on the beach for 1/3rd the price, and it was delicious.
Here is Zeek enjoying a meal at the restaurant down the road. Someone is happy. There were a lot of foreigners eating here with lots of kids, smiles, and great service! It was exactly what we needed!
Tips on driving in Thailand
Don't drive slow in the left lane...that is the fast lane! Expect to get honked at and tailgated if you linger here too long.
You have to exit off the main road onto the side road and then exit to the gas station. I am guessing this is because the traffic can get crazy on the main road. Don't miss them!
If you do miss a gas station, don't worry there are like a million 7 elevens in Thailand, where you can get everything...yes everything.
Make sure you look right and then left before crossing traffic. It can get confusing.
Use maps or GPS! Don't turn into Indiana Jones and try to navigate via the stars!
The Best Part of Driving Through Thailand
Roadtrips give us a sense of freedom. You can stop anywhere, roll down the window and smell the fresh air. The best part of driving through Thailand was our ability to make unexpected stops. There are all these roads off the highway that you don't know where they go. Well, what is a curious family to do...stop and check it out!!
We pulled off the highway numerous times and four-wheeled down dirt roads to find huts and lots of nature. We drove through the Elephant Nature Preserve and saw elephants in their natural environment with monkeys hanging from near-bye branches.
Monitor lizards are known as 'Tua Nguen Tua Tong' in Thailand and are everywhere, did I mention they are huge!! We had some 3-5 feet long cross in the road in front of us. No one got out of the car to say hi!
Mongooses as pets! Yup! At one food stop, we found a little store with a pet mongoose. It was on a cord near the owner. Of course, our kids wanted to play with it and cuddle it. Hmmm no, thank you. They did end up keeping their distance, but we figure the only reason that anyone keeps a pet mongoose is to kill snakes, so how many snakes were near? I guess we were happy to be next to the mongoose.
Fields and fields of Pineapple! I don't know what my visions were as a kid of pineapple growing, but it didn't look like this!! I blame my science teachers for my ignorant misconception. Lol No they grow from these bushes that look like the top of a palm tree but are much more concentrated and a lot spikier. We saw thousands of them along the roads. They are beautiful and officially my new favorite fruit plant.
Food stops! We were able to stop and eat food at the most unexpected places. This is more a favorite road trip activity of Zeek's than mine, but the kids love the crazy treats, and I like that none of it costs more than 10 USD for all of us to have some fantastic food.
Arriving in Krabi
We arrived a little after our expected time. However, we had a fantastic road trip. We became expert left side drivers. Getting to see small towns along the way, drive down dirt roads, stop at random street vendors while gazing at exotic animals made us wanting more.
If you are skeptical about driving in Thailand, don't be. You will be fine...our only piece of advice is don't drive slow in the slow lane. Happy travels.