The other day I saw an interesting feature over on Pitchfork called Over/Under. The premise involved asking a musical artist whether something is underrated or overrated. The subjects were completely random and ranged from Ed Sheeran to Bitcoin to colouring books. The twist of the game is that the artist has to say whether the subject is categorically underrated or overrated – they can’t just say they think it’s accurately rated.
I thought it would be fun to apply this game to my own travels – to look back at places I have visited and force myself to decide whether I think they are underrated or overrated. Even if I think they are completely deserving of the reputation they have, I must decide whether they slip just above or below the line.
I’m going to do this with the places I’ve visited starting with Thailand. So, here is where I visited in Thailand and whether I think each place is underrated or overrated.
I have spoken to quite a few people who didn’t like Bangkok, probably because it didn’t fit the palm tree and white sandy beach vision they had of Thailand, but I enjoyed it. I thought it had a number of different sides to explore; the backpacker scene, the traditional temples, the business district, the chaotic Chinatown. It’s a city I’ve always thought I’d like to visit again. For these reasons I’d say Bangkok is…..
We visited Chiang Mai after Bangkok and its peaceful ambience was a welcome antidote to the frenzy of the capital. Chiang Mai is a lovely town in northern Thailand with lots of interesting things to see and do, including hikes, river rafting, Thai boxing matches, and an amazing food market. When someone asks me for advice on where to visit in Thailand I always recommend Chiang Mai as an example of a different side to the country from the islands and beaches. For these reasons I’d say Chiang Mai is…
For the love of god, please do not ever visit Phuket Town. Unless you’d like to have British tabloid newspapers delivered every day. And you like hordes of obnoxious British and Swedish tourists. And concrete buildings. And tinny dance music blaring at all hours of the night. By the way, this is referencing Phuket Town, not the fancy resorts or the other towns on the island of Phuket which surely have to be nicer. I’m not sure if Phuket Town has a reputation for anything as the only reason we visited was to get the ferry to Ko Yao Noi, but any positive reputation it has is completely undeserving so I’m going to say it’s…
Ko Yao Noi
We ended up on an island called Ko Yao Noi after Googling “non touristy island in Thailand.” Ko Yao Noi was cited in an article as a suggestion and it wasn’t too difficult to get to as you could get a ferry from the dreaded Phuket Town (as referenced above). Ko Yao Noi was a real find; we stayed in a rustic hostel which, if not luxurious, had a spectacular view of the sea and the limestone rocks scattered upon it. While the beaches weren’t the best in Thailand they were still pretty and completely deserted. There now appears to be a number of hotels on Ko Yao Noi, including a few swanky resorts, so I’m not sure if it is still the peaceful haven it once was. But when we were there it was….
Paul and I turned up at a shabby beach hut on Ko Lanta, met a crowd of fellow backpackers, and settled in for a week of the archetypal Thai beach backpacker experience; drinking tea in the morning, drinking beer as soon as it was acceptably late enough, and barely moving our backsides (this way of travelling, I have to state, was rare for us). It was a lot of fun though and Ko Lanta was a beautiful island, although I didn’t see much of it. From the beach we planked ourselves on, and the other bits of the island I saw on the day we ventured out, I’d say it was…
Thailand as a country is underrated. You might wonder how this can possibly be the case when it is one of the most tourist visited countries in the world, but I think it is completely deserving of all the people who travel to see it. It has a vibrant capital city, spectacular beaches and islands, interesting temples and other cultural sights, and amazing food. It’s cheap too. When people talk to me about travelling to South East Asia they often say they are considering Laos and Cambodia, the lesser visited countries in the region. If they ask me for recommendations for where to go, I always tell them to consider Thailand. Don’t be put off by the fact it’s more touristy, it offers everything you’d want from a South East Asian holiday and is more beautiful and interesting than some of its neighbours. For me, Thailand is always….