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  • Writer's pictureDan & Lois Gardner

Exploring Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Phuket & Bangkok

From Kanchanaburi, to Phuket, to the Phi Phi Islands, to Phang Nga Bay, to Bangkok...

Here's some recommendations, photos and "fun" stories from our adventures in Thailand back in 2017. Hope they can inspire your own trip to Thailand soon!



After getting off our 11 hour flight from London to Bangkok and collecting our luggage, we jumped in a Taxi and started the 4 hour journey west, to Kanchanaburi.

We spent the next 4 nights in a hotel on the River Kwai. It was a very calm and peaceful place, and the majority of people staying in the hotel were Thai, on their own holiday breaks. It was nice to be amongst local Thai people and see how they live by visiting their food markets and talking to them as they went about their daily routines.

The Thai food was incredible! Although I don't think I was quite ready for their red Thai curry. I'd tried the green curry on our first night which was delicious, so I thought I'd give the red curry a go on the second night. I quite like a curry with a kick to it, a bit of spice is fine... but this was on a whole new level for me. After two mouthfuls my eyes glazed over like a mad frog-man and my face felt like it might fall off. What made it worse was that we were the only ones in the restaurant so the waitresses stood just a few meters from our table in case we needed anything. They watched as sweat poured from my brow and pain developed in and around my eyes (and of course in my mouth!) I really wanted to adapt to the Thai culture and their iron taste buds, but I also wanted to live to see another day, so after eating another 3 mouthfuls and crying A LOT, I decided to accept defeat and order a green Thai curry instead.

On our second day in Kanchanaburi we visited Erawan Falls, a tropical evergreen forest full of waterfalls in the Tenasserim Hills.

Erawan Falls

I was ridiculously excited to see Erawan Falls! I've always had this strange obsession with waterfalls, I don't know why. So I couldn't wait to explore the different waterfalls on each of the 7 levels climbing to the top. It was going to blow my mind!

We got to Erawan Falls early to avoid any crowds and made our way to the first waterfall around 8.30am. I'd highly recommend this for anyone visiting Erawan, as you can really appreciate the natural beauty you are surrounded by so much more when there are less people around.

Now a word of advice regarding waterfalls. If you really like waterfalls like I do, then be careful when "waterfall adrenaline" (as I call it) hits you. Please think about what you are doing and be aware of your surroundings. I give you this free advice as I nearly seriously injured myself due to "waterfall adrenaline"...

When we arrived at the first waterfall at Erawan the excitement instantly took over me and before I knew it I'd jumped into the lake (which was full of Gerra rafa fish that nibbled on my legs and feet) and began to swim toward my beloved waterfall. Reaching the rocks that sat below the cascade, I climbed up on them and stood up quite quickly without considering what was directly above my head... As I stood up I hit the top of my head (very hard) on a rock that was directly above me, and yes, it really, really hurt. Lois was on the other side of the lake watching me and said she heard the thump. I'm surprised it didn't knock me out to be honest! How incredibly funny would that have looked?!.. A silly little excited white man swimming across a lake, jumping up on some rocks under a waterfall, only to knock himself unconscious on a rock and fall face first back into the lake. Ha-ha!.. Anyway, I survived the experience and came away with just an egg shaped lump on the top of my head, a reminder for me to take control of "waterfall adrenaline" next time it strikes!


On our third day in Kanchanaburi we visited a place called Elephant World in Wang Dong. Elephant World is a sanctuary for sick, old, disabled, abused and rescued elephants. They are looked after in their own natural environment by volunteers and by the incredible Thai Mahout people who live in a small village close to the elephants.

Elephant World, Wang Dong

We spent the day gathering food for the elephants from the fields nearby and preparing sticky pumpkin rice for the "old pensioner" elephants with no teeth. After being educated by the Thai Mahout people and volunteers about the history and welfare of elephants in Thailand, we then fed them all a huge amount of fruit & vegetables and gave them a good scrub in the river. It was an incredible experience to be up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. Something we will never forget.

All the money raised at this sanctuary goes toward giving these beautiful animals a decent life, free from abuse and free from being used as money making machines like so many Elephants still are today.

Kanchanaburi was a beautiful experience. The wildlife, the nature and the people were all very inspiring.



Phuket was a little piece of paradise with many hidden gems to discover for yourself. We spent a week exploring Phuket and some of the islands off the coast including the Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay.

One of the first things we did when we reached Phuket was get a massage. There were massage establishments about every 10 metres on the streets that surrounded our hotel, so it wasn't hard to find somewhere. We found a place that charged just £6 for a full body Thai massage for 1 hour - WHAT A BARGAIN I thought to myself! Little did I know that I'd be paying a lady £6 to beat the life out of me for an hour! She literally bent and stretched my limbs in directions that they were surely not meant to go. She applied so much pressure on my back that I grunted even though I tried so hard not to. She hated me. At one point she climbed onto my back, wrapped her legs around my shins and did a forward roll (ON MY BACK) which lifted my bottom half into the air towards my head. Nobody should be bent that way - it's just not healthy. My face felt like it held 95% of the blood in my body and I just wanted this "massage" to be over as soon as possible. Needless to say, it all felt pretty horrendous. That was my first and last traditional Thai massage.

If you do ever find yourself in Phuket then get yourself down to ‘Star Fashion’ at Cape Panwa. Tony the tailor is a top bloke and will sort you out a beautiful tailored suit in just a few days. You can pick out your desired fabric and lining off the shelf in front of you, request the type of suit you want made and leave with something you’d pay 3 or 4 times the price for in London. I’d highly recommend Tony, he's a great guy!


Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi islands are an archipelago of 6 islands, with the 2 main islands being Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. Just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute ferryboat ride from either Phuket or Krabi.

Monkey Island

Peleh Lagoon, Phi Phi Lae


Phang Nga Bay

We enjoyed exploring by boat the many islands and caves around Phang Nga Bay, I just wish we had longer there, as we only saw a fraction of it. The giant rocks and mountains were scattered across the ocean with numerous caves and turquoise pools hidden within.

Now... another little word of advice for if/when you take a boat trip in Thailand. If when on board you are encouraged by the funny little Thai men to do some sort of flip off the top deck of the boat into the water... don't do it - unless you are very confident in your ability. I say this because the funny little Thai men told ME that I should do a flip off the boat, and I wasn't confident in my ability WHATSOEVER.

I had only approached the edge of the boat so that I could jump off and perform "THE BOMB" like a typical Englishman, and before I knew it I was being pressured into risking my life, or at least my dignity! Nobody else was listening to the Thai men as they encouraged people to flip into the water, so I thought I'd challenge them in the hope that they would stop their childish taunts!

I said to them "Okay, I'll do a flip, if one of you guys do a flip first!". This was in fact a bad life decision and I immediately regretted it. One of the little Thai men stepped forward who was about 5ft.5 and must have weighed about 7 stone. He looked confident and he was smiling, which was annoying. Off came his vest and before I knew it he had jumped up onto the railing which run along the side of the top deck of the boat. The fact he wanted to get to higher ground made me think he probably didn't feel pressured into doing this and maybe he had done this before... just maybe!

Mr 5ft.5 Thai man then turned around with his back to the water and leapt like a crazy Thai ninja frog into the air, executing a perfect double back flip before his tiny feet plopped into the water creating but a ripple! Applause followed from the audience on the boat... Fan-flipping-tastic! This had majorly backfired on me!

The other Thai men now looked at me and nodded as if to say "You go now, stupid English man". I couldn't really get out of this, there was an audience that had witnessed me say "I'll do a flip, if one of you do a flip!"... You're an idiot, Dan, plain and simple. You should have just said "Nah, you're alright mate" and let them continue their taunts. Now because of your stupid mouth this was happening.

I slowly walked to the edge of the boat and assessed the situation. It was a good 16ft down so there wasn't a chance I'd be attempting a back flip! Plus I didn't have a clue how I'd even start to perform such an athletic movement. So, a front flip was what I'd have to give the people... I turned back and gave the Thai men a nod as if to say "Here I go, you bunch of idiots!". By this point Lois had come over to see what I was doing. I didn't have time to explain, so I just smiled at her and turned back to the water below. I really didn't want to attempt the flip and only make half a rotation, meaning I'd land painfully on my back! So, I decided I had to keep limbs tucked in and throw my head forward and under myself very quickly as I leapt out so to achieve a full rotation!...

After composing myself, I went for it, I threw my body off the side of the boat, forced my head down to perform the forward flip and kept my arms and legs tucked in as planned. At this second in time I think it was one of those "record scratch - freeze frame" moments where the narrator would say "you're probably wondering how I got here"... Well, you know how I got here, and to cut straight to the chase I had basically underestimated my ability to front flip, as well as the height I was jumping from...

Instead of achieving one full rotation and hitting the water feet first as planned, I achieved one full rotation AND A HALF and consequently FACE-planted the surface of the ocean with great force! I can't tell you how painful that was. Falling 16ft whilst in mid-flip, and slapping the water with my face! I can only imagine just how RIDICULOUS I must have looked!..

As my face smashed into the water I just remember thinking "AHHHHHHHG!!"... and then thinking "I've definitely broken my nose". I was expecting to rise to the surface and be surrounded by my own blood, but strangely that didn't happen. I then suddenly remembered that I had quite an audience when I jumped from the top deck of the boat, including 3 or 4 Thai men (who were ultimately to blame for all of this). For some reason I felt the need to put on a brave face, although I was in extreme amounts of pain. I looked up at the boat to see many worried faces gazing down at me, and one Thai man asked "Is your face okay?".

"I'm fine!" I lied as I raised my arm and gave them all a thumbs up! Inside I wanted to cry. I swam slowly to the back of the boat and climbed up on deck. I checked my nose was still attached to my face (which thankfully it was) and then just sat on the back of the boat until my face had stopped screaming at me! I thought Lois might come down to check if I was okay, but that wasn't the case. I'm assuming she was still on the top deck trying to stop laughing. When I did finally go back up to join her, none of the Thai men said a word to me and all Lois had to say was "Your face is really red, Dan!".

Bad times. Let that be a warning to all you men who think you can do front flips off boats to prove little Thai men wrong, when in reality you can't do front flips off boats and you're going to end up bruising your face really, really badly. Don't be a hero, just say no, it's not worth it.

Knao Phing Kan

Hong Island

After an unforgettable week in Phuket, we travelled back to Bangkok for a day and a night, before flying back to London.



Although we didn’t spend long in Bangkok, we soon realised it was a bit of a mad city! Very fast paced, slightly strange in places, and a health and safety nightmare! We enjoyed it very much though! Whizzing around to various night markets and restaurants by tuk tuk was great fun and definitely the easiest way to get around the city. To end our Thailand Adventure we enjoyed a cocktail or 5 at the top of the tallest hotel in Bangkok, The Baiyoke Sky Hotel (which is over 1,000 ft. high). It seemed a good way end the trip, even if we did only get 4 hours sleep before our 12 hour flight the next day...

We hope to return to Thailand for more adventures very soon!



Places to see:

*In Kanchanaburi - Erawan Falls, The River Kwai, Wang Dong (Elephants World).

*In and near Phuket - Kata Noi Beach, Cape Panwa, Phuket Town, Monkey Island, Peleh Lagoon, Phi Phi Lae, Hong Island, Knao Phing Kan.

Things to be careful of:

Know your limitations with hot Thai foods. Keep 'waterfall adrenaline' under control. Only get a Thai massage if you enjoy pain. Don't listen to little Thai men on boats.

Thanks for reading.

Dan & Lois

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1 Comment

Feb 07, 2023

Heeeey that's a amazing contry, beautiful Places, love The elephants and The Views... 💚🔝

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