Thailand was a crazy fun adventure. My friends and I went and it was probably one of, if not the best, trip I've ever been on. Each island we stayed on was unique in its own way; Pha Ngan was insane because there was a party every night and of course we had the full moon party to top it all off (flaming ropes, glow in the dark paint, buckets and Zorb balls- what more could you want?). Koh Samui definitely had the best beaches. We actually asked to stay there for an extra few nights at the end of our holiday just to relax on the beaches and work on my tan before going back home. Koh Tao however was my favourite. It's definitely the most picturesque of the three and the snorkelling is amazing. The Koh Tao pub crawl was definitely one of the highlights of the island. I'd say my two favourite nights were definitely the night of the Full Moon Party and Koh Tao pub-crawl. The trip was a bit like a party holiday with a dash of culture; during the day you could visit temples, snorkel and eat traditional Thai food which was insanely good. What I liked about the J1 Thailand was that everything was organised for us. So we didn't have to stress out or worry about getting to the islands, booking ferries/transport, especially accommodation in Pha Ngan; which fills up so quickly. But there was still an element of flexibility which meant we got to go to Bangkok and Chiang Mai towards the end of our trip even though it wasn't part of the holiday.
I’m not sure exactly why, but spending a summer in the US never greatly appealed to me. Countless friends of mine have done a J1, absolutely loved it and I know they had a blast but it was never really my gig. That’s when I found J1 Thailand online and finally understood everyone else’s manic excitement about deciding to go on a J1 style summer. Instead of skyscrapers and baseball games I’d be exploring perfect islands, pristine beaches and a Full Moon Party! Koh Samui, Koh Phanghan and Koh Tao speak for themselves but my favourite thing about J1 Thailand was going solo, getting to know 20 odd other Irish travellers (nearly all of which were solo too) as we made the journey to Koh Samui and having the proper life changing experience that Leo (or his character) did in The Beach! Without being tied to a job for the summer, our 30 strong group splintered across the whole of Thailand with people having different experiences alone and together, all the while having a WhatsApp group that became our own little perfect universe for 8 weeks (decided to stay longer and do Phuket & Bangkok because it was so cheap out there). Thinking about doing it next summer? Book it, just do it. ‘I regret going to Thailand…said no one ever’.