Phuket or Krabi? Which One Better for VISITORS? EXPATS?

Krabi vs. Phuket - Which is better?
Krabi at a freshwater spring stream near Thalen Bay. Krabi is more spread out, and I think there are more natural things to see and do here versus Phuket.

Choosing Phuket or Krabi is not that difficult for me as an expat, but it’s a question that many ask themselves because the two are close to each other and you’ve probably heard good things about both.

If you’re a visitor or expat and you want to know which one is better – Phuket or Krabi (just click).


Sisaket, Thailand – Isaan Through and Through

Young boy monk in Sisaket, ThailandI’ve not spent a lot of time in Sisaket, Thailand, maybe a 4-5 months or so, in total. Sisaket is a province and a town. The town is located west of Ubon Ratchathani in the Isaan area of Thailand. “Isaan” is what the northeast area of the Thailand is known as.

In the summers the temperature is blistering hot. The Songkran Water Throwing festival is seriously appreciated during this time. They should throw water for all of April, May, and June because it is like a desert during these months. Even on into July and August, you don’t want to leave your flip-flop sandals on the outside of a temple you’re visiting because if you need to walk across the ground that has been brightly lit by the sun for a couple hours you’re going to be dancing your way towards some shade in a hurry! In the winters it can be COLD. Riding the motorbike in Isaan after 10 pm on a winter’s night can get below the freezing point with the windchill. Frequently during the winters at night, it’s possible to breathe out the fog.

Sisaket town is smaller than Ubon Ratchathani and doesn’t have near as many shopping outlets available. There is one small mall in the town called, “Soon Heng” with a supermarket, theaters, bookstore, KFC chicken, and MD’s Sukiyaki (like MK’s), a coffee shop and a donut shop, plenty of karaoke booths, a place for kids to play and a small food court.

All around Sisaket seems to be a market. The entire town is like one big market. You can find tents and small shops selling fruit and every kind of food and clothes. But, uhm, no farang food like pizza and spaghetti. One would need to go an hour east to Ubon’s “Risotto” restaurant to find the closest quality pizza and spaghetti.

Sisaket has a train station and a bus station. The train will get you anywhere in Thailand as it goes through Nakhon Ratchisma (Korat) as well as Bangkok. There are air-conditioned and fan-cooled coaches. Overnight trains to Bangkok are comfortable as you can sleep for 10 hours and when you wake up, you’re there! Cost of an air-conditioned sleeper seat would be around 600 baht (in 2007).

Everyone seems to know each other in Sisaket. I remember a couple years ago I was at an outdoor market with my friend who is from Sisaket (born there) and she had her back turned to traffic, but someone KNEW it was her as they drove by in a truck and stopped to chat with her. How they knew it was her we haven’t the slightest idea except that everyone knows everyone.

As a foreigner in Sisaket, I was treated really well. There are many Thai people that want to practice their English with me and laugh when they see me. Some stare. Some point. Some say, “Mommy, farang!”. There’s no ill-intention, just curious people. A long time ago during the Vietnam war, they saw quite a few soldiers from America around, but we’re scarce now. As I said in the review of Ubon Ratchathani, there are about 1% of Thailand’s visitors having a look at Isaan. Isaan is a big place covering many provinces. Ubon is the largest province. If 1/20th out of the 1% of visitors to Thailand are going to Ubon, then about 1/500th of 1% are visiting Sisaket.

Last time I was in Sisaket I don’t remember seeing any farang (western) tourists or residents. I was there for almost a week – and it was just me and the lovely Isaan people.

Sisaket townspeople really enjoy having foreigners around. Some think we bring them good luck. Others, that we bring money. Others still, that we will marry their daughter or other relations! There’s no shortage of beautiful girls here, but most that are of working age have moved on to Bangkok or somewhere else to earn money. Girls in high school can be frequently seen, but those of college age are pretty rare. There is a Rajabhat University in Sisaket, though I think it must be much smaller than the one in Ubon Ratchathani. Ubon is kind of a college town considering they have Rajabhat, Ubon Ratchathani University, Polytechnic, and a lot of technical schools.

Young Buddhist monks at temple in Sisaket

There are many elephants walking around at night. Here is a short video of a very small baby elephant that is paraded through the street. The owners take the food with them and get people to pay to feed the elephant. Kind of sad I guess, but elephants like to walk I think. This one I saw a month ago is really cute, but when the guy realized I wasn’t paying to feed it, he quickly moved on.

On the road going towards Surin is a golf driving range, though I’m not sure there is a place to play golf since I’m not a player.

There are 4 public parks that can be seen. One very large park is very special and was built in honor of the present King’s mother. The name of this park is, “Soowan Som Det”. It is a BEAUTIFUL park with many lakes filled with large catfish and Tilapia (Nile Perch) that can be fed for 10 baht for a bag of fish-food pellets.

During March and April, the yellow trees called in Thai, “Dok Koon”, are blooming along with some purple flowered trees. There is another tree with flowers called, “Lum Duan” that suffuses great areas of the park with the most incredible smell – like a woman’s perfume. The first few times I smelled it as I ran around I thought that a woman must have just ridden through on her motorbike or something. I never imagined that the smell could be a flower because it is exactly like a perfume someone might purchase in a beauty store. The people of Sisaket have a big festival during the time these flowers are blooming in March. The park at that time is filled with hundreds (thousands?) of people dancing, eating, playing sports, selling their products and showing their artwork.

There is a small zoo in this park where you will find deer, hippos, alligators, birds of every sort, peacocks, turtles, a vulture, snakes, lizards and water monitors. There is one group of animals with genetical anomalies here which is sad to see. One was a cow with another cow growing out of its right shoulder area. Three or four legs can be plainly seen coming out of the shoulder region and there are other bones under the skin that give the cow a distorted appearance. Next to the cow is a buffalo with a malformed jaw and another buffalo missing a leg. It’s quite sad to see. Especially sad was that the cow with the deformity was a male and seemed to be horny for the female cow that was in the same pen. I kept telling him not to mate, it’s going to be nothing but bad news, but I think eventually he’s going to be able to pull it off successfully. There will be another addition to the zoo’s genetic wonders section if that happens.

The other parks are very small and don’t have many trees for shade. The weather during summer is very hot in Sisaket, I can’t stress that enough! Bring a hat and water with you wherever you go, you’ll need it.

There are a couple hotels in the city that tourists should have a look at. The best one is probably “The NorthEast Hotel” which is located on Sisumung Road near Wat Luang. The rate is about 600 baht per night and there is no discount for multiple days or weeks staying. It’s a new hotel with a coffee shop and free internet broadband place close to it. The rooms are all air-conditioned and clean. I didn’t stay there, but went and had a look at the room. I stayed at a hotel that is near the train station called, “Prompeeman Hotel” for 500 baht per night for a fan room. The sheets were incredibly disgusting and so I took some from the maid’s cart which was brand new and I re-did my bed with those. Maybe better to stay at the “NorthEast Hotel” for the cleanliness factor. There are numerous nightclub type establishments off the lobby area of the Prompeeman hotel and it seems like the one happening spot for night time activities if you are into that.

There is a bus station that can get you anywhere with air-conditioned or fan buses. Across the street is a nightclub – the largest in Sisaket, and called, “Nona”. I’ve not been there, but a friend said it resembles “The Rock” nightclub in the base of the “Nevada Hotel” in Ubon Ratchathani.

Sisaket has many temples in the area of the city and surrounding. There is a temple right outside the city about 5 kilometers called, “Wat Prathat Ruang”. If you visit there you can ring many of the bells and gongs in the temple for good luck. Great fun! Other temples are on the way to Surin and some have ancient ruins that are part of the Khmer dynasty. I have some photos here of an old brown-stoned temple on the way to Surin that was really nice.

This will sound funny, but when I was at that temple I went in to look at the Buddhist amulets for necklaces and other things they were selling. There was an odd man behind the counter whose eyes were wide and hazy, almost like he was blind, but he got around the office OK. He was missing his front two teeth. When he saw me said, “Florida” about 8 times until I understood what he was saying. I’m from Florida. I told him. He just shook his head and said, “child”. Then he said, “boy”. It was so strange. I’d never met him and he’d never have met anyone that I knew. I have a son in Florida that I think about every day and that I miss a lot. He’s always on my mind. This guy picked it up immediately. Very odd.

Khmer Buddhist temple, Sisaket, Thailand

Anyway… so, Sisaket is a very quiet town that is safe and a great place to relax if you want to unwind from Pattaya, Bangkok, or some other high-energy area of Thailand.

Don’t forget to try the ant-eggs. Women carry them around the city in clear plastic bags – they appear to be queen ants by the hundred that they chilled to stop the development. They are big, juicy, and a unique taste that you’ve likely not found elsewhere.

Sisaket, Thailand… is Isaan personified.

Places to Visit in Thailand – Northeast

Rice field in Northeast Thailand, Khun Han, Sisaket
Land spreading out so far and wide! Oh darling I love you but, give me that country side... duh duh duh duh dutdut

We had a great time touring the northeast Thailand (Isaan, Isan, esarn) region for almost two months. There is something cool about the northeast – and it’s nothing to do with all the amazing sites and scenery you can see there – though there are a few things worth checking out – like Huai Chan Waterfall in Sisaket province. We were there the day Cambodia was firing artillery across the border – but didn’t hear anything. It’s right on the border with Cambodia.

We saw Nong Khai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Korat, Ubon, Sisaket, Surin, and some baan nawk places in Sisaket where my some of my wife’s family live. All in all it was a great place to visit – and I highly recommend it if you have spousal relatives up that way. Go for the adventure.

The people in the northeast of Thailand are real gems… If your spouse comes from a decent family you’ll see the best Thailand has to offer. If your spouse comes from a family of bar workers – well, you’ll see some of the worst people in Thailand and you won’t have that great a time shelling out cash for sick buffalos, hospital visits, new cars, and short-term loans that are never payed back. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with any nonsense… they took care of me and I had an amazing and restful vacation for over a month and a half.

I’ve read somewhere that less than 2% of all foreign tourists make it to the Isaan region – even to stop in any of the cities. Isaan is a giant place – and there IS a lot to see. There are waterfalls, mountain areas, the border with Laos can be fun for a day or 2… There are lakes for fishing or riding paddle boats on them… fish aquariums… even Sisaket has a well put together fish aquarium now. Entrance fee was dirt cheap – I think even I payed only 30 THB.

Huai Chan Waterfall in Northeast Thailand - Sisaket Province near Khun Han

There are cultural things to see – morlam laos dancers and great places for som tam, gangleeung, and more… The chicken in the northeast is always better – less fatty, because they use free-roaming chickens for the most part. The som tam is the best. The spice in the Ubon / Sisaket area is the hottest in the nation that I’ve had so far. I always ask for Pedt Silopsilai – so spicy I fall down into a coma. Only in Sisaket do they take that literally as a challenge.

So, basically the best reason to visit the northeast is because you haven’t been before, and the people are great.

Go have a look, see what you’re missing. Chances are you’ll go right back to where you were staying before, but, it’s worth a look so you can appreciate what you have. That’s what it did for me – as well as make me miss the place a bit.

Cities I Cannot Live In – In Thailand

I don’t like big cities. I moved to Thailand, in part, to escape them.

Bangkok is entirely out of the question – always was. It’s a better big city than New York City, but still – way too big for me. I did my time in NYC and won’t go back to breathing the vehicle fumes again.

Chiang Mai is out for that reason – too many cars, too much traffic, polluted air – no thanks.

Recently we checked out Khon Kaen. It’s a GIANT city. I had no idea. I thought it would be like Ubon Ratchathani. NO. It is about 9 times bigger than Ubon, and the people not nearly as nice.

We hit Korat – Nakhon Ratchasima. It’s also much too big. I don’t think it’s even as big as Khon Kaen, but it’s still too big. People are nice, traffic sucks – yes, it’s the holidays, but still… the place has 6 lane roads – maybe 8 in some places. Too big.

Phuket, I thought would be good to live in – before we had a baby. Now – it’s much too congested during high-season.

Songklha – I’ve never stayed in for long. Witht he ongoing violence it’s not likely we’ll move down there to raise our happy family.

I think that’s about it – the big cities of Thailand that I simply cannot live in.

Oh – Pattaya. I don’t really consider that a big city, but I guess it is. No, I wouldn’t consider living there either. How someone spends their life in Pattaya – I’ll never know.

Phi Phi Hotels Ripped a New One at

Suzanne Nam writes at and recently she ripped Phi Phi hotels and employees of hotels a new hole in the bummy. Sorry, I’m talking baby-talk since we had our daughter 6 months back.

She says…

The problem is, Phi Phi isn’t a secret. Hoards of travelers descend on the tiny island every year. During high season it gets very crowded. At night the bars and clubs keep pumping out loud music till the middle of the night, which is great if you’re on the dance floor and really annoying if you’re trying to sleep.The island also has the worst selection of hotels in Thailand. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little but it is true that hotels on Ko Phi Phi are often disappointing. They’re expensive and not always well kept and service is not up to par with the standard super-friendly, accommodating attitude most people in Thailand have.

I can’t comment, having never been to Phi Phi.

Is it really that bad? Sure some tourists died staying in hotel rooms there… was that ever resolved? Was it drugs they took that contributed to their deaths, or was it something in the hotels’ rooms?

If the traveling population is going by what Suzanne says about Phi Phi hotels I think some people are just going to skip the islands and go elsewhere. Lanta?

Stay in Patong and watch ladyboys dance on tables at Cocktails & Dreams on Soi Ladyboy off Bangla?

Great to be in Isaan Again

A Thai band playing some Isaan music… great stuff. If you haven’t spent anytime in Thailand’s northeast you really should. Less than 1% of all visitors to Thailand (foreign visitors) see anything at all in the northeast!

The music and cultural shows – the dancing and music rule… You really should go see what you can see in Ubon, Sisaket, Yasothan, Nong Khai, Khon Kaen, etc. Stay for a week and see what you can find…

Krabi, Thailand Video Clip

I found this video clip of Krabi – off a blog I’ve never seen. The video is nice and comes with some mellow music… I was in the mood for this today so I’ll share it. Thailand is not just one of the most beautiful and exotic places on the planet – but, it’s one of the most laid back places… Krabi, Thailand Video – starting at Noppharat Thara Beach and visiting the islands off-shore.

Here are a couple things to do in Krabi if you’re visiting (about 100):

Things to Do in Krabi, Thailand >

Bungy Jumping in Thailand >

Mountain biking (and hybrid bicycles) in Krabi Town for Rental >

Vacationing in Thailand? Try Krabi!

Krabi River meets the ocean here in Krabi Town, Thailand. Khao Phanom Bencha, a 1700 meter vertical mountain and National Park is in the background in the clouds.
Krabi River meets the ocean here in Krabi Town, Thailand. Khao Phanom Bencha, a 1700 meter vertical mountain and National Park is in the background in the clouds.

Krabi is an amazing Thailand destination and probably the best place overall to visit if you only have a few short days in Thailand and want to make the most of your vacation.

Krabi has something for everyone including new additions in the shopping realm. Big C, Tesco Lotus, Makro, and an International Outlet store with Nike, Reebox, Adidas and other brand names are now open in Krabi Town.


If it’s familiar food you crave there is a McDonald’s and Burger King in Ao Nang Beach and KFC, Dairy Queen, Starbucks, Black Canyon Coffee and others in the Krabi area.

If you want to try something adventurous you can climb Wat Tum Sua’s 1,237 steps to the top of a small limestone mountain at sunset and get awesome photos. You could go to Huay Toh Waterfall just 19km up a country road from I-4 highway where it runs through Krabi Town. There are two hikes that are highly recommended, one being at “Khao Phanom Bencha National Park” on the other side of the mountain as where Huay Toh waterfall is. The other being in Tub Kaak, and is called, “Phi Phi Islands National Park” but it’s part of the mainland. That one is a steady climb to 500+ meters and 360 degree views for tens of kilometers. Amazing!

If you want to drink at the bars then there are plenty at Ao Nang Beach and some in Town on Chao Fa Road, Uttarakit near the pier, and some naughty nightlife places scattered all over town.

If you want to relax – there is Noppharat Thara Beach, Railay Beach, Phi Phi Islands, and many other islands that are easily reachable by longtail boat.

Krabi has an outstanding selection of things to do and if you know where to look for it – you’ll find exactly what you crave.

Krabi, Thailand Sunsets, 4 Photos

Stunning Krabi Sunset

Sunset over Krabi limestone karsts

Blue sunset? Special effects sunset Krabi, Thailand.

Limestone karsts at sunset in Krabi, Thailand.

Now that the rain has slowed down in Krabi… no, it hasn’t stopped. I think Krabi must be the wettest place in Thailand. I am looking forward to moving again here shortly. Somewhere more dry. Someplace with mountains to climb maybe? Someplace with really nice people like the NorthEast would be great – but where are the mountains to climb? Korat?

There are so many things to do in Krabi that you’ll never get bored. Well, if you’re looking for the crazy nightlife you might get bored as there is little of that. What is to be found is in Ao Nang and there isn’t much.

Top 10 Things to Do in Krabi

Top 10 Things to do in Krabi, Thailand on Vacation

Crystal lagoon (pond) in Krabi, Thailand

1. Visit Wat Tum Sua Buddhist Temple (Tiger Cave Temple).

2. Visit Huay To Waterfall in the Khao Phanom Benja National Park.

3. Go see the Crystal Lagoon or Crystal Pond (Freshwater swimming hole).

4. Take a ferry or longtail boat to Ko Phi Phi islands.

5. Ao Nang beach…

6. I found a cool little wat (Buddhist temple) that is built on one side of a huge limestone hill. Wat Tum Sang Phet (Diamond Cave Temple).

7. Nopparat Thara Beach.

8. Koh Lanta?

9. Chicken head island.

10. Railay beach.

I have a write up on a page I created at here…

Top 10 Things to do in Krabi on Vacation >