Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting my tech skills to work planning our trips during the summer holidays. You see, I have this obsession with finding the perfect beach. You know the one: powdery white sand, crystal clear blue water, swaying palm trees, no one else around; and, of course, the perfect hotel to match: small, boutique-style, spa treatments galore, tasty food, and no hideous strip of chain hotel monstrosities looming above.

crystal clear waterAmazingly, I found this perfect place in Malaysia (Redang Island) on our first vacation when we moved there in 2005. Unfortunately, it’s a little too inconvenient to get there from Bangkok and part of the “perfect beach” experience is only having to undergo one flight (maximum) to get there. Plus, I figured Thailand, the land of beautiful beaches, must have something even better!

Normally, I would ask around at school for tips from my colleagues that have been living in Thailand for many years, but all I got was the same old, same old: Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Samet, Koh Chang. Not that those places aren’t beautiful, but I really wanted something different, something only the local resident would know, yet of course, would meet my needs as an emerging “fancy pants” (as my husband would say).

Now, I realize I shouldn’t really spill the beans here on how I’m doing my super tech savvy undercover exploration of stunning Thai islands, but I figured, despite this being slightly off-topic for this blog, you guys are the only ones who would really understand how cool this little web 2.0 planning experience really was.

So, here’s what I did:

1. I knew I wanted to stay in Thailand, but I wanted to make sure it was one of those perfect beaches (not like some of the other places we have stayed, where the websites looks stunning, but when you get there it’s really nothing special). So, I figured the best place to start was a search of “real people’s” photos: Flickr.

2. I remembered that a friend of mine had recommended a specific beach in Phuket, but I couldn’t remember which one, so I searched on Flickr for “white sand beach Phuket.” A beach that looked suitable was the very last picture of the first page of search results.

3. Once I clicked on that image, the picture description told me that it was taken on “Koh Racha Yai island [which] is located 30 minutes south by boat from Phuket, Thailand.” Aha! This was the kind of place I was looking for, close but not too close, easy to get to, but still isolated.

4. With my new found destination in mind, I headed to my old and trusty friend, TripAdvisor to see what hotels were listed on this island.

5. The top rated hotel looked pretty spectacular, so I checked out their website, and then of course wentKoh Racha back to Flickr for more realistic photos and found this picture with this description: “Racha Resort is a luxurious 5-star resort built in 2004 after Tsunami.” Plus, there was even a comment from another Flickr user enthusing about this island and hotel with even more pictures posted! Yes, this was exactly what I was looking for!

6. Just to get all the facts, I opened up Google Earth, and checked out the beach from above (well, I guess from space, technically) and all the embedded images around the island, thanks to Panoramio.

7. Seeing as all the evidence points to an especially stunning, and quite private, beach on a lovely tropical island, I booked our flight and hotel right away.

Now all that’s left is to actually take the trip!

How do you use your techie skills to plan the perfect holiday?

15 thoughts on “Travel Planning 2.0

  1. Love this post! It is right on the topic that I love most – travelling!! I love using tripadvisor too and have found the most amazing places to stay, private guides etc from there, but I had not thought of flickr. What a great use of web2.0 technology! Look forward to seeing your photos up on flickr when you return.

  2. @Chris,

    Thanks! I love Koh Phi Phi too! It’s pretty nice living here, I have to admit :)


    I love it when my two favorite things merge: travel and technology! Pretty exciting for a geek like me!

  3. I have just gone though a very similar process and come up with Redang Island Malaysia!

  4. Have you considered Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa? Talk about your dream vacations! None of that salt water stinging your eyes.


  5. @terrystudent,

    You are going to love Redang! If you’re flying in from KL, check out the Berjaya Air flights and hotel packages – couldn’t be more convenient!


    So tempting….



  6. Since Doug’s tempting you with lakes, I’ll throw out another one: Spirit Lake, Idaho! Nice and rainy all through June with glorious sun in July!

    I’ve never thought of using Flikr with the traveling searches, but I will no pass this excellent strategy to my travel agent, Kevin Krembs:D

    Have a blast at the beach! When do you go?


  7. You document well the diverse ways to find quality information over the Internet. This post is a great complement to a lesson at school about Web 2.0 information. Speaking of perfect beaches we go to Kiawah Island, South Carolina at March Break. It has a ten mile hard sandy beach that you can ride your bikes on. It is a gated community with gorgeous homes and golf courses. We pretend we are rich for a week. All the best.

  8. Kim, I am so envious of you going to a beach for a holiday!! My family and I are dreaming of our next beach event….but sadly it will not happen until October….or more probably December. Bali is a favourite place of ours, but yes, I know…..the beaches are nothing compared to Thailand. But then again, I still think…hang on, I know, the BEST beaches in the world are in Australia, with South Africa a close second. I am talking about the FULL beach experience with sand, surf and sun.
    Have just spent time online as well organising my US trip for NECC and beyond and then back in Australia before moving to China (you see, no time for beach!). Hotel in NYC, flights around the USA, car hire in Melbourne. It is all so easy these days! Trip Advisor is good, Hotels.com (good but they took the FULL amount for the hotel off my credit card already even though the online print claimed only a deposti would be taken). My favourite is bestflights.com…for all travel needs! Happy holidays!

  9. I’m just happy to know that there’s someone else out there as committed (and can I admit anal) about booking the perfect holiday!

    I go through this every time we go on holiday. I visit the hotel websites, tripadvisor, travel forums, flickr, various holiday websites to see if there’s any deals going on.

    Don’t get me started on what I do to get the flights that are ideal…!

  10. @Dear Librarian,

    There’s nothing like a rainy beach! I found the Flickr search to be very informative so far – of course I haven’t actually seen this particular beach with my own two eyes yet, but I’ll be sure to share how the reality matched up to the vision. We’re heading down right after school ends in June, for about a week. Can’t wait!

    @Paul C

    Thanks! I think it’s a nice example of how anyone can leverage the power of web 2.0 too! I would never have thought of South Carolina in March! What’s the weather like?


    I do my best to actually take the summer as a vacation since I end up working through so many of the other breaks (no real complaining here, I know how lucky I am to have the “scheduled holidays” of a teacher’s life). We definitely have to go to Australia soon! I’ll be coming to you for recommendations for sure!


    I’m equally glad to hear there’s another obsessive person out there! Now I want to hear your flight strategies!

  11. My family traveled through Singapore and Malaysia in the April term break and one thing the kids wanted was a nice beach/resort, because they knew that most of the rest of the time we would be doing lots of walking and site-seeing.
    After lots of exploring (before we left) we found Bintan Island in Indonesia.
    For you, it would be one flight – Bangkok to Singapore and then a 50 minute ferry trip to the island. Although classed as Indonesia it uses Singapore currency and is very close to Singapore.
    The beaches were great, and there were 5 resorts linked together, where you could walk between them and use the facilities. The resort we staryed at was called Mayang Sari Beach Resort and was part of the Nirwana Garden resorts.
    Accommodation was reasonable (for the area), but probably dearer than Thailand?? food could be a little expensive, but with a range of cafes over the 5 resorts, you can eat cheaper at some of them.
    Keep it in mind.

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