Vagabonding Field Report: Ao Nang, Thailand

Many people head to southern Thailand for beaches, islands, and the relaxed vibe of coastal life. Ao Nang is a bit more relaxed than larger cities like Phuket but still has a vibrant tourist draw and is an easy jumping-off point for many activities like rock climbing, island tours, beach lounging, hiking, and diving.

Cost of living:

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A cost breakdown for the month using our budgeting app.

If you’re trying to save cash and are settling down for a while, a monthly rental can be found here for about 9,000 baht if you’re willing to stay a few kilometers away from the main beach area. Doing this will save you cash and the restaurants and shops get cheaper as you move farther from the beach. A scooter rental will cost you 250 baht per day or only 3,000 baht per month. If you were to eat all three meals a day at restaurants, your daily food allowance would need to be between 350-500 baht per person. However, stocking up on groceries and eating breakfast and/or lunch at home can save some cash and drop your daily food costs down to 150-250 baht per day. Prices at restaurants can more than triple when you get to the main beach strip and the quality of food isn’t any better. Sometimes you have to give in and spend 200 baht on that piña colada so you can watch the sunset at a beachside bar.

Trips around Ao Nang are affordable if you do some searching. There’s no shortage of tour companies offering up the same tours and booking packages for every budget, but prices can vary wildly. Check a few offices before booking to find the best price. A typical trip in Ao Nang is the 4 Islands Tour which takes you on a longtail boat tour for almost eight hours, serves you lunch and drinks, picks you up and drops you off from your accommodation, and provides you the use of a mask and snorkel and an English-speaking guide. All this sets you back only 400 baht per person (in high season!) however, we did see it being advertised for about 800 baht per person as well. For divers, a two-dive day out to the Phi Phi Islands including equipment rental, lunch, and snacks will cost about 3,500 baht. They’re not the best prices in Thailand compared to dive meccas like Koh Tao, but Ao Nang does have some of the best diving.

Example day of spending in Thai baht.

Example day of spending in Thai baht.

Strangest Things:

On a songthaew taxi into town, we talked with a fellow passenger. He was Romanian, spoke Hungarian (one of the languages spoken at home for my husband growing up) and also had lived in Seattle, Washington near where I had grown up and gone to university. It’s not unusual to see expats living in Thailand and southern Thailand especially has its share. He reminded us how small the world can feel and how much in common each of us can have.

Typical Day:

We eat our cereal on the patio and watch our Thai neighbors go about their morning routines below. After doing some work on our computers, we make ourselves sandwiches for lunch and wrap up whatever we’ve been working on (articles, editing, video making). We pack a bag for the beach with our straw beach mat, towels, and books, then ride our scooter down to Ao Nang Beach. We set our mat up on the beach near the buoyed-off swimming area and alternate between sunbathing and swimming. Once the sun starts to set, we grab a couple of Singha beers from the 7-11 and share them in the sand while I shoot photos of the longtail boats with the pink sun glowing behind. After the sun is down, we drive to Jungle Kitchen for a delicious dinner of fruit shakes, spring rolls, and curries at a bamboo hut table. On our way home, we might stop at the local Tesco Lotus to pick up any supplies we may need for the next day: water, bread, peanut butter, etc.


Conversations with Locals:

Ao Nang attracts a lot of tourism, so of course there are many touts trying to get your business. As we walk down the street, we often get approached no fewer than ten times to have dinner at this restaurant, indulge in a massage, or, most interestingly, buy a custom-made suit. The other day, as we strolled down the main road, we saw a small frog sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. A restaurant tout noticed us observing the frog hop around and came over wordlessly and smiled at us. He stooped down and skillfully picked up the frog to show us. He didn’t say a word and we communicated with body language for a few minutes about the frog before it hopped away. We smiled and said our goodbyes and were never asked to eat at his restaurant or buy anything. Our interaction was totally a gesture of kindness and friendship and a marker of how genuinely kind Thai people are.

Where Next?

Now that we’ve been in Thailand for three months our visa and visa extension is running out. In February we’ll be flying to Siem Reap, Cambodia where we’ll be exploring Angkor Wat and later Phnom Penn. Follow our blog at Unknown Home for more on our travels!

Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Field Report: Ao Nang, Thailand  | February 4, 2015
Category: Asia, General, Vagabonding Field Reports

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