Southern Thailand Travel
(Mountains, Coastal Plains, And Islands)

Surat Thani Province 

Southern Thailand including the provinces of Surat Thani, Krabi, Phuket, Phang Nga, Trang and the often overlooked Nakhon Si Thammarat, have some of the best places to visit in Thailand, and is the gateway to Thailand's most stunning holiday destinations including Koh Samui and Phi Phi Islands. 

Located approximately 650 kilometres south of Bangkok Surat Thani or 'the city of good people' as it is also known is the largest province within this southern region.  Situated on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand, this province covers an area of almost 13,000 square kilometres  and is home to around 1 million people who live within its 19 individual districts.   

This province is a popular holiday destination as it is the gateway to  a number of islands just off its coastline including Koh Phangan and the famous Koh Samui (see review below).  

The province is dominated by the coastal plain of the Tapi River while the western border is characterised by the limestone mountains of the Phuket Range with the highest peak being around 1,350 metres in height.  With so much natural beauty on offer Surat Thani also has a number of national parks to visit including Ko Ang Thong marine park, and Khao Sok and Khlong Phanom which are among the most beautiful in southern Thailand.   

HISTORY

The city of Surat Thani (see image below) with a population of around 125,000 people (including a large Muslim community) has an interesting history, having been invaded by the Japanese on the 8th of December 1941 during WW2.  While suffering some damage to its buildings and other infrastructure during the battle, there is no visible evidence today of this event.

The province is said to date back to around the 3rd century A.D. when it formed part of the Srivijaya kingdom (i.e. Malayan empire) which continued up until about the 13th century.  This Thai city was officially named Surat Thani by Rama VI on 29 July 1915.      Agriculture is an important feature of the economy in Surat Thani and southern Thailand with coconut and rambutan being the main fruits grown.   

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel from Bangkok to Surat Thani within southern  Thailand is by either plane bus or train.

Buses depart daily from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (located in Thonburi district) for Surat Thani.  There is a  new bus station just outside of town.  The journey takes around 10 hours.  

Surat Thani International Airport  (see image below) is located in Phunphin district and is approximately 21 kilometres from the Surat Thani city centre.  The airport is frequented by Thai Airways and Air Asia.  Flight time from Bangkok is approximately 70 minutes. 

Trains depart Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station between the hours of 12 PM and 11 PM  daily.  Travel time is approximately 13 hours and the Surat Thani Railway Station is located approximately 15 kilometres from the city centre at Phunphin district.   There is a bus service to take passengers from the train station to the city centre.

Koh Samui (Southern Thailand)

Koh Samui is Thailand's second largest island and one of its premier attractions.  This southern Thailand island which measures approximately 228 kilometres square, is located approximately 466 kilometres south of Bangkok.  This island which is situated in the Gulf of Thailand is about 35 kilometres from the east coast province of Surat Thani.  

Koh Samui has a permanent Thai population of around 60,000 residents, although foreign tourists to the island number approximately 1.5 milliion annually.  

While being renowned for having some of the prettiest beaches in southern Thailand and the world, this popular island has a history that is believed to date back at least 15 centuries ago, and its roots lie in its Malay and Chinese heritage.  

Today, Samui has grown from an isolated community to one of the most developed tourist destinations within Thailand, chiefly  due to its pristine beaches covered in powder white sand and beautiful crystal clear waters.  Here you can find budget accommodation or 5 star premium resorts; there are so many choices available (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Samui is by plane.  Samui International Airport which is privately owned by Bangkok Airways would have to be the most beautiful in southern Thailand (see image below).  Opened in April 1989, the airport is located along the northern part of Koh Samui near Bophut Beach.  Its airstrip measures 2,100 metres in length and the main terminal was designed to blend in with the island's natural flora and fauna.

Once inside travelers can relax and enjoy fine dining in an open air Thai restaurant while other facilities include a post office and a souvenir shop.  Traditional Thai massage and spa facilities are also available within this tranquil setting (also see Thailand massage parlors) .   

A number of carriers including Thai and Bangkok Airways fly to Samui International Airport.  

Chaweng Beach

Chaweng Beach is the longest beach on Koh Samui and is well known for providing an abundance of pristine white sand, plentiful sunshine and turquoise coloured waters along its 7 kilometre stretch of beach.  These natural features help to explain why Chaweng is the largest and busiest beach on Koh Samui Island. 

Along the beach banana lounges and beach umbrella's can be seen lining the perimeter of the beach just in front of a line of shady palm trees which form a natural barrier separating the beach from the adjacent road.  It is along this section of the beach where the majority of beach-goers who aren't interested in the water sports tend to lay and  just enjoy the sun (Click here to read more).     

GETTING THERE

Chaweng Beach is located along the east coast of Koh Samui just a few minutes from Koh Samui International Airport.  A taxi journey will cost you approximately 400 Thai baht.

Chaweng Walking Street

The Chaweng Walking Street at Koh Samui is a great place to visit if you are looking for a fun outdoor market to attend, after spending a long day at the beach.   While this southern Thailand market may not be as loud or as crowded as some of the outdoor markets in Bangkok, this venue is located within the busiest part of Samui.  Indeed, once you arrive at this night market your senses will be flooded by the sights and smells tempting you to both shop and eat until your heart is content (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The Chaweng Walking Street located on Koh Samui in southern Thailand opens from about 4 PM to midnight, but is closed on Fridays and Sundays.  It is located in south Chaweng along  the main Beach Road.  

Lamai Beach

Lamai Beach is located along the southeast coast of Koh Samui and is defined by a 4 kilometre stretch of pristine white sand and unique rock formations, which are surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand. 

While it may be smaller and less frequented by tourists than Koh Samui's larger Chaweng Beach (located approximately 10 kilometres to the north), it does offer a more relaxed environment more suitable for families who are vacationing within southern Thailand  (Click here to read more).    

GETTING THERE

The best way to get to Lamai Beach in southern Thailand is to take a minibus or taxi from Koh Samui International Airport.  Fares range between 150-400 Thai baht.

Bophut Beach

Bophut Beach is another favorite destination of mine on Koh Samui and indeed southern Thailand, which includes the popular Fisherman's Village market.  The beach itself which is shrouded by shady palm trees is located on the northern coast of Koh Samui.  This area is also said to have been an French outpost at one time during its history.  Today though this area is a popular not only due to its pristine beach which provides powder white sand and clear blue waters, but because this part of Samui has retained some of it's old world charm (Click here to read more).   

GETTING THERE

The area of Bophut in southern Thailand is located only 15 minutes from Koh Samui International Airport.  Travel is easy using either a taxi or bus. 

Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks

The Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks (also known as the Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks) would have to be one of the more unusual attractions to be found on Koh Samui in southern Thailand.  Located along the Koh Samui coastline at the southern end of Lamai Beach these rock formations have the uncanny resemblance of both the male and female genitalia. 

Hence, many tourists who visit Koh Samui seem to gravitate to this attraction just for a bit of fun and to take a photograph or two standing next to these unique rock formations (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The rock formation can be accessed by foot along the southern end of Lamai Beach.

Hin Lad Waterfall and Wat Namtok Temple

The popular Hin Lad Waterfall and Temple (or Wat Namtok) is located on the island of Koh Samui in southern Thailand.  Set within a dense and lush tropical landscape with gorgeous spring blooms and wild flowers, this naturally formed waterfall is located about 2 kilometres south of the administrative town known as Nathon.  While this waterfall is not the largest on the island its location does make it quite accessible for most people regardless of their fitness level (Click here to read more).  

Just to the let of the Hin Lad Waterfall is the small Buddhist temple called Wat Namtok Hin Lad.  The temple looks quite new and is covered in a crisp coat of white paint.  It is well camouflaged by the jungle and seems to blend into the environment surprisingly well.   

GETTING THERE

The Hin Lad Waterfall and Temple are located at Lipa Yai which is about 10 minutes to the south of Nathon in southern Thailand.  You can take a taxi to the site entrance 

Turtle Island (Koh Tao)

Turtle Island or Koh Tao, is located near the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand and is part of the Surat Thani province in southern Thailand.  This stunning island is a tropical paradise and as such has gorgeous sandy beaches, coral reefs and clear blue waters which allow you to see the fish and turtles swimming below.  While the island may only be 21 square kilometres in size it has everything you will need on this remote island getaway.


The island has had an interesting history having been discovered by several European explorers including William Dampier c1697  when the island was named Pulo Bardia.  Later, the island was used as a shelter for fisherman and between 1933 and 1947 as a prison for political prisoners.  With the introduction of farming and cultivation practices which included both coconuts and vegetables the population on the island grew (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Koh Tao is by ferry.  They depart from Koh Samui, Surat Thani and Chumphon.  Travel times vary between 1.5 to 3 hours depending upon where you depart. 

Koh Phangan Island

While Koh Phangan Island is best known for its famous Full Moon Party, this Island which is located close to Koh Samui and Turtle Island offers the traveler much more than this.  While the name of the island actually means 'sand bar' in Thai as these are a dominant feature within these waters; don't be fooled by the name because this is one very beautiful island. 

The natural beauty of Koh Phangan has been known in this region for well over two thousand years.  Archaeological investigations conducted on neighbouring Koh Samui in 1977 provide evidence of human occupation on both Koh Samui and Koh Phangan dating to the time of Christ.  During the past hundred years the late King Chulalongkorn of Thailand also fell in love with the beauty of this island vacationing here on no fewer than 14 occasions


Prior to the 1970s, this island was a quiet fishing village although the economy was based upon tin mining, fishing and farming coconuts.  Since then with the influx of foreign visitors tourism has taken over as the major source of income for the island.  This growth in tourism also led to a growth in the islands population as 14,000 people now call this slice of paradise home (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Koh Phangan in southern Thailand is by taking a flight from Bangkok or alternatively a ferry from Koh Samui. 

Phuket Province (Southern Thailand)

Located off the southwest coast of southern Thailand or approximately 840 kilometres from Bangkok, is the world famous island of Phuket.  

Being Thailand's largest island Phuket covers an area of some 540 square kilometres and is without a doubt one of Asia's premier tourist destinations.  The name Phuket in Malay is said to mean 'hill', which probably takes into account the island's mountainous terrain.  Due to the size of this province it is divided into 3 districts which include: Mueng Phuket, Kathu and Thalang.

However, the island is characterized by its pristine beaches, lush green rainforests, waterfalls (including the Bang Pae Waterfall) and by the surrounding turquoise coloured water of the Andaman Sea.  There are also some spectacular views that look out over the sea from vantage points including those at the renowned Promthep Cape.


However, the main reason people flock to Phuket is to visit one of the 28 pristine white beaches and to unwind with the famous Phuket nightlife. 

However, the main reason people flock to Phuket is for the beaches  which are among the best in southeast Asia. These include:

There is also a good range of accommodation options available on Phuket, from the high end five star resorts to the modest priced hotels and bungalows.  For more information regarding Phuket  (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Phuket is by plane or bus.  Flights from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Phuket's International Airport occur daily with a number of local airlines servicing the island including Nok Air, Air Asia and Thai Airways.

Being an international airport direct flights are available to Phuket  from a number of countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan to name a few.   There are an abundance of taxi's and mini-vans located outside the Phuket airport to transport you to your hotel.   

Buses to Phuket depart Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal daily with the journey taking approximately 13 hours.

Dino Park Mini Golf

The Dino Park Mini Golf theme park which is located between Karon and Kata Beaches is also a popular destination for families visiting Phuket.  The theme park appears to take inspiration from both the 1993 science fiction film named Jurassic Park and the popular animated TV cartoon of the 1960s called the Flintstones,  and combine these concepts with mini golf  (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

Dino Park and Mini Golf is located along Karon Road close to Marina Phuket Resort (not far from Karon Beach).  It is only a short taxi trip from basically anywhere around Karon Beach.  Dino Park Mini Golf opens daily between 10 AM and 11 PM.  The cost of entry is 240 Thai baht for adults and 180 Thai baht for children.     

Coral Island (Koh Hae)

Coral Island or Koh Hae as it is also known is located only a few kilometres off the southeast coast of Phuket in Thailand.  This small island which has only two main beaches, namely Banana Beach and Long Beach welcomes visitors from Phuket who wish to experience true paradise on this secluded and pristine island.    

While both beaches on Koh Hae have lovely powder white coloured sand, it is Long Beach which is approximately 800 metres in length that tends to be the most crowded.  For it is on Long Beach where  most tourists come to engage in the numerous water activities which are available here (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The best way to get to Coral Island is by boat from Phuket, Thailand. Travel time from Phuket is approximately fifteen minutes.  You can travel by either ferry, longboat or speedboat and the journey costs about 950 Thai baht per person.  You can catch these boats from the Chalong or Rawai  Piers.

Raya Island

Raya Island or the Racha Islands as they are more commonly called are two beautiful islands located approximately 20 kilometres south of Phuket in southern Thailand.  Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, these unique islands which are heavily vegetated (being home to a variety of flora and fauna) are known as Raya Yai (the big island) and Raya Noi (the small island).  They have been known to divers for years due to the crystal clear waters, amazing coral reefs, and white sandy beaches that are associated with these islands.   Indeed many day tripping tourists come to these islands from Phuket as they are much quieter than say Coral Island and Phi Phi Island.

These islands are actually quite similar to the Phi Phi Islands in some respects.  For example, both Raya Island and Phi Phi Island are renowned diving and beach locations, and both include a larger inhabited island and smaller uninhabited island. However, the similarities end there in my view because Raya Yai Island is much smaller (and has less beaches) than Phi Phi Don and has only reached the level of development that Phi Phi Don had back in the early 1990s.  Although, this is great if you want the beautiful island destination without the fuss and clutter that large scale development can attract  (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Racha Island is by taking a boat from the Chalong Pier located on the east coast of Phuket.   While speedboats can do the journey in approximately 25-30 minutes the larger Ferry boats take about 1.5 hours.   If you click on the booking.com site on this page just type in Racha Island or accommodation options.

Maiton Island

Maiton Island or Timber Island as the local Thai population call it (due to the heavily forested landscape) is a tranquil little island located approximately 9 kilometres off the southeast coast of Phuket in southern Thailand.  Situated between Phuket and Phi Phi Island, this small slice of heaven on earth is overlooked by most tourists and tour operators visiting Phuket and its surrounding region as there is limited infrastructure on the island. 

But the lush tropical vegetation and cool sea breezes mean that temperatures are quite pleasant here and range between 21-35 degrees Celsius, and the island also has a lovely beach adjacent to the resort with powder white sand  (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Maiton Island is by taking a boat from the Chalong Pier located on the east coast of Phuket.  Many visitors choose to catch a longtail boat which takes approximately 1 hour and costs about 1,000 Thai baht per person. 

Promthep Cape Phuket

Promthep Cape Phuket, or Laem Promthep as it is also called has been a famous landmark on this popular southern Thailand island for some time now.  Located on the southwestern tip of Phuket, Promthep Cape provides visitors with one of the best vantage points to look out over the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea and watch sail boats and other pleasure craft meander around the coastline. 

Although, if you arrive here at the correct time you will also be rewarded with one of the most stunning sunsets that you will see on Phuket;  subsequently this is a popular location for taking photographs as evidenced by the bus loads of Chinese tourists that frequent this area around sundown.  To help you arrive at cape at the best time, they have built a quaint little stand or sunset guide which provides the approximate times for sunset at this site throughout the different times of the year (Click here to read more).  

GETTING THERE

Promthep Cape Phuket is located approximately 19 kilometres from the town centre.  You will need to hire a taxi or take a bus tour to get there, however this is a popular tourist destination so you will have no trouble getting there.

Bang Pae Waterfall

The Bang Pae Waterfall  is the largest waterfall on the island of  Phuket in southern Thailand.  This 10 metre high waterfall which is one of only four on the island is popular because it provides both  Thai and foreign visitors with a cool relaxing environment where they can swim, picnic or hike amongst the lush tropical landscape.

The waterfall is situated about 13 kilometres north of Phuket town within the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park which is truly beautiful, and is home to a variety of magnificent flora and fauna species including Gibbons and Lizards, Barking Deer and Langurs.  The area is also home to the Gibbons Rehabilitation Center (click here to read more).   

GETTING THERE

The Bang Pae Waterfall  is located approximately 13 kilometres from Phuket town within the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.  You can travel there by songtaew or taxi. 

Wat Chalong Temple

Wat Chalong Phuket or 'Wat Chaitararam' as it is more correctly  known is the largest Buddhist temple yet to be erected on the island of Phuket in Thailand and one of their most famous destinations.  This stunning temple and its surrounding complex of buildings are said to have been built around 1837, during the period of King Rama V.  Apart from the large intricately decorated temple, there is also an impressive 61 metre high Phra Mahath chedi which is one of the most important landmarks on Phuket (see image below).   Indeed, the spiritual significance of this site brings hundreds of local Thai's here on a daily basis to both pray and seek Buddha's blessings upon themselves and their families.  

Outward signs of this devotion can be seen by the gifts of flowers that are brought to this Buddhist temple and the gold leaf that is applied to the statues which are located inside the temple.  The Wat Chalong Temple which is actually located within the Chalong sub-district of  Mueang Phuket, being one of three districts on this island along with Kathu, and Thalang districts.  However, the temple which has undergone several extensions and renovations over the years also contains a number of painted walls which depict events from the life of Buddha when he was upon the earth over 2,500 years ago (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

The Wat Chalong Phuket is located approximately 10 kilometres south of Phuket town near Kata Beach in southern Thailand.  The best way to travel there is by taxi or tuk-tuk.  The temple is open daily between the hours of 7 AM and 5 PM.  

Central Festival Mall 

The Central Festival Phuket (CFP) complex is a world class  multi-level shopping mall which is located on the outskirts of Phuket Town in southern Thailand.   Constructed by Thailand's Central Retail Corporation at a cost of 20 billion Thai baht, this air-conditioned mall was designed to offer Phuket's visitors with an unparalleled experience  while also supporting the Thai government's policy on attracting high-end tourists to the island.  While most of the construction was completed back in 2004 the complex underwent some remodeling in 2010, with a new focus on getting visitors to both eat and shop; turning this mall into more of a lifestyle centre.

Indeed, Phuket is seeing something of an investment boom at present with the owners of Central Festival Phuket also investing in a variety of other retail outlets including the Central department store, Robinson department store,  Supersports, Power Buy, Tops (grocery store) and B2S (which sell books, music, stationary) among others.  Each of these stores are also located at Central Festival on the second and third floors respectively (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

Central Festival Phuket is located at 74-75 Witchitsongkran Road Phuket in southern Thailand.  The mall opens between the hours of 10. 30 AM- 10.00 PM 7 days a week.  The best way to travel there is by taxi or tuk-tuk.

Sirinat National Park

Sirinat National Park (or Sirinath National Park) located on the western side of Phuket is one of Thailand smallest national parks, and is situated in the Thalang district.  This marine national park  which measures approximately 90 square kilometres in size starts at the island's most northern tip and extends down past Phuket's international airport, or about 30 kilometres north of Phuket town. 

This southern Thailand destination is unique in that it stretches along Phuket's popular coastline (including Nai Yang Beach) and includes a 68 square kilometre sea component that incorporates the surrounding mangroves and spectacular coral reefs.  These reefs are located approximately 700-1,000 metres offshore and include coral species such as soft coral, plate coral, sea anemone and sea fan and during good weather can be reached without chartering a boat.  

But the national park also covers a large 22 square kilometre land section which includes dense forests which are home to a variety of flora and fauna and is therefore a popular tourist destination for campers, hikers and bird watchers alike.  This is a part of Phuket where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the foreign tourists in Phuket town and relax and take in the natural beauty that can appear hidden at times (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

If you fly to Phuket International Airport then the best way to travel to Sirinat National Park is by taxi.  The park entrance is located close to the airport at 89/1 Moo 1, Ban Nai Yang, Sakhu, Thalang district.  The park opens daily between the hours of 8.30 AM and 4.30 PM.  Admission is 200 Thai Baht per adult and 40 Thai Baht per child.

Phuket Town

Phuket Town which is located in southern Thailand (which includes Old Phuket Town) is more than just the capital of this popular southeast Asian tourist destination.  Phuket Town actually offers visitors an insight into the rich history of this once bustling provincial capital and tin mining town. 

Phuket actually became wealthy off the back of both the tin mining and rubber tree industries and produced an upper class of wealthy families; as evidenced by the grand buildings and palatial homes built over a century ago that still stand today.   It is also the province which has the highest Chinese ethnic population and these influences can be seen by the architectural styles, Chinese temples and even the cuisine which has been assimilated into the culture of Phuket Town.


While Phuket is Thailand's largest island and has a recorded history of over one thousand years; it now derives most of its income from tourism but this wasn't always the case.  Indeed, Phuket which is connected to the Thai mainland by by two bridges was one of the major trading routes between India and China.   By the 17th century a number of countries including the Dutch, the Portuguese, the English and the French had been trading with Phuket for quite some time primarily for the tin which was plentiful on the island.   However, by 1903 a new industry was taking shape as money was being made from the growing of rubber trees.  Eventually one third of the island was under cultivation to produce rubber  (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The hub of Old Phuket Town is arguably along the historical Thalang Road.  Depending upon where you are staying in Phuket you can either walk or get a taxi into the heart of Old Phuket Town. 

Phuket Fantasea Thailand Show

The Phuket Fantasea Thailand Show provides a cultural journey for the entire family which will take them back into Thailand's past through the medium of dance and story telling but on a grand scale.  This is the biggest and most extravagant show anywhere on Phuket and showcases ancient Thai traditions and customs by utilizing hundreds of performers along with exotic animals such as tigers and elephants.  The entire stage production is enhanced by the use of cutting-edge special effects and a massive 40 metre wide stage.  I first saw this show back in 2005 while visiting southern Thailand and absolutely loved it.

This award winning stage show which rivals the glitz and glamor and scale of a Las Vegas production takes place at the 140 acre Phuket Fantasea theme park complex located near the northern end of Kamala Beach.  This complex which opened back in 1998 has it all from a large palace of the elephants building, shops, carnival games, a 4,000 seat restaurant which serves authentic Thai and international cuisine, a photo studio and of course elephant rides.  As the show takes place in the evening most people tend to combine dinner at the Golden Kinnaree Buffet Restaurant with the show (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The Phuket Fantasea Thailand show is located at the northern end of Kamala Beach or approximately 35 kilometres south of Phuket International Airport and 20 minutes from the popular Patong Beach.  The Phuket Fantasea Show occurs daily (except Thursdays) and the complex opens at 5 PM and closes at 11.30 PM. Dinner is served between 6 PM and 9 PM.  The gate to the show opens 30 minutes before the show starts and there are two shows daily.  The first show is 7 PM and the second show is at 9 PM.  The cost of the show is 1,500 Thai baht for adults and children.  Dinner is approximately 400 Thai baht extra per person for adults and 200 Thai baht for children.   For a fee you can also be picked up from your hotel.

Phuket Nightlife (Southern Thailand)

Phuket nightlife is world famous for it's mix of bright lights, live music, disco's, red-light districts, dance clubs, girly bars, gay pubs, sports bars, cocktail lounges, massage parlors and of course outrageous lady boy cabaret shows.  While prostitution is illegal within Thailand it is tolerated by authorities especially within the tourist hotspots and some bars and nightclubs are a front for such activities. 

However, it is after the sun goes down along the popular Bangla Road at Patong Beach along with Karon Beach and Kamala Beach when the party atmosphere gets into full swing.  While most of the bars on Phuket open around 9.30 AM in the morning they are all fairly sedate during the daytime.

However, there is more to Phuket's nightlife than just bars and dancing girls as there are a number of other fun activities such as restaurants, mini golf and cultural shows just to name a couple (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

Bangla Road, Patong Beach is the heart of Phuket nightlife and is located approximately 35 kilometres south of Phuket International Airport.  

Krabi Province (Southern Thailand)

Located approximately 814 kilometres (by road) from Bangkok and covering an area of some 4,700 square kilometres is the southern Thailand coastal province of Krabi.  Like the province of Phuket, Krabi is bordered by the Andaman Sea and is an area of immense natural beauty.  

Its coastline contains a number of beautiful sandy beaches with limestone cliffs and caves which are well known amongst rock climbers.  There are also 130 offshore islands which are grouped within four separate archipelagos and these include the Poda Islands, the Hong Islands, the Phi Phi Islands and the Lanta Islands.  These islands include Koh Lanta and Koh Kai (i.e Chicken Island located at Talay Waek) which are in close proximity to Krabi Town (Read below for more detail).

This province is divided into 8 disricts including: Mueang Krabi, Khao Phanom, Khlong Thom, Ko Lanta, Ao Luek, Plai Phraya, Lam Thap and Nuea Khlong.

HISTORY

However, Krabi is unique in that it is one of Thailand's oldest settlements.  Indeed, archaeological investigations that have been conducted in relation to a number of caves have uncovered skeletal remains, pottery and stone tools which have been dated back to around 25,000-40,000 years B.P (i.e. years before present), meaning that Krabi was previously inhabited by early Homo Sapiens.  

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Krabi is by plane or bus.  A number of airlines including Bangkok Air, Thai Airways, and Air Asia have daily flights betwen Bangkok and Krabi International Airport (established in 1999, see image below) with flight time being about 1.2 hours.

Daily bus services depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal on a regular basis and the journey takes approximately 13 hours.  

If you are travelling from Phuket the bus journey takes approximately 4 hours. 

Koh Phi Phi Island

Phi Phi Island in Krabi has been described as Thailand's 'jewel in the crown' as this magnificent group of six limestone islands (including Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley) are of exceptional beauty, making this area one of southeast Asia's premier holiday destinations.  Being located between the popular island of Phuket and the western Strait of the Malacca coast of the mainland, this  group of islands are part of the Krabi province.  I visited Phi Phi Don in December 2013, which is Thailand's peak holiday season and it was very crowded with foreign tourists. 

While these islands form part of the Phi Phi archipelago and are situated within the Andaman Sea 46 kilometres south of Phuket, it is Phi Phi Don (which is the largest) and Phi Phi Ley that are the most visited by tourists and the most famous.  These islands are renowned for their unique limestone caves and steep cliffs and white sandy beaches which allow tourists to engage in activities including rock climbing, swimming, snorkeling and sight seeing to name a few (Click here to read more).      

GETTING THERE

The only way to get to Phi Phi Island in southern Thailand  is by taking a boat from either Phuket of Krabi. 

From downtown Krabi you can take a boat to Phi Phi Island from the  Chaofa pier.  Boats depart daily with travel time to the island being approximately two and a half hours.  Tickets cost around 150 Thai baht per person.  

Maya Bay

Maya Bay is in every sense a tropical paradise.  This stunningly beautiful beach cove which is sheltered by towering 100 metre high limestone cliffs of Koh Phi Phi Ley is one of Thailand's most priceless national treasures.  While there are six islands within the group known as Koh Phi Phi, it is Phi Phi Don (which is the largest) and Phi Phi Ley that are the most visited by tourists. 

Phi Phi Ley Island actually contains two shallow bays which are surrounded by a ring of steep limestone cliffs, and they are named Maya and Loh Samah.  However, it was Maya with it's clear aqua blue waters, a 20 metre wide pristine beach with  powder white sand, that was chosen as the backdrop for the British/Hollywood movie 'The Beach'.  This movie which was filmed here back in 2000 starred Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo Di Caprio (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

The only way to travel to Maya Bay in southern Thailand is by boat, departing either from Krabi or Phuket.  From downtown Krabi you can take a boat to Phi Phi Island from the Chaofa pier.  Boats depart daily with travel time to the island being approximately two and a half hours.  Tickets cost around 150 Thai baht per person.

Koh Lanta Yai

Koh Lanta is a beautiful Island which lies within the popular Krabi province off the coast of southern Thailand within the Andaman Sea.  Situated within an archipelago which contains at least 50 small islands, only three of these are inhabited; being Koh Yai, Koh Noi and Koh Ngai.  The majority of the Thai population that reside on these islands are Muslim and at least 10,000 people live permanently on Koh Yai making their living from fishing, rubber tree farming, coconuts and of course tourism.  

These islands were hit by the 2004 Tsunami and around 20 people lost their lives but a decade later and the islands have fully recovered.  This area is renowned for the pristine white beaches, clear blue waters, coral reefs and colorful fish.  When you combine an abundance of sunshine, it all adds up to a recipe for diving, snorkeling, swimming, sun baking and relaxation.  If this is your idea of a great holiday then Koh Lanta Island will not disappoint (Click here to read more).  

GETTING THERE

Koh Lanta Yai is located approximately 1 hour by boat from Krabi Town.  There is a town at the northern tip of Koh Yai called Ban Saladan where Ferries from Phuket, Phi Phi Island and Krabi arrive.

Koh Hong Island

Hong Island which is located offshore from Krabi Town in the picture perfect Phang Nga Bay of southern Thailand, may not have yet attracted the attention of Hollywood directors and A list actors as other islands in Thailand have, but then that's exactly what makes this island so rare within southeast Asia and such a wonderful holiday destination. 

A number of of Hollywood movies have been made within the land of smiles since 1974, after the James Bond film 'The man with the Golden Gun' was first filmed on Nail Island. 

More recently Phi Phi Island became the back drop for Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and his film called 'The Beach'.  While each of these destinations are breathtakingly beautiful, their fame has meant that they are two of the most visited islands within the region.  

On the other hand, Hong Island which is uninhabited is also breathtakingly beautiful yet you don't have to share it with so many other holiday makers as you do on Nail Island and Phi Phi Island  (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

From Krabi Town you can take a charter or tour boat to Koh Hong Island.  Boats depart daily with travel time to the island being approximately 1 hour from Krabi.  Ticket and tour prices vary but expect to pay around 1,000 Thai baht per person to visit the island. 

Ao Nang Beach

Ao Nang Beach (or Princess Bay as it is known) which is located in the Krabi province of southern Thailand is one of the most popular beach destinations in this part of the country as is Railay Beach.  

While Krabi is the gateway to around 17 islands including Phi Phi Island,  Koh Lanta, Koh Hong and the unique beach destination known as Talay Waek, Ao Nang definitely offers visitors a more relaxed beach environment and provides a good selection of accommodation and other services and amenities that foreign tourists come to expect (Click here to read more).   

GETTING THERE

Ao Nang Beach is situated within the Muang Krabi district of Krabi province, or approximately 20 kilometres fom Krabi Town, and 40 minutes from Krabi International Airport.  Taxis and mini buses can take you to your hotel at Ao Nang once you arrive in Krabi.

Railay Beach

Railay Beach in Krabi southern Thailand is an idyllic and isolated holiday destination located along a small peninsula between the cities of Krabi and Ao Nang.  This picture perfect tropical paradise is accessible only by boat as the area is separated from the mainland by a series of high limestone escarpments.  Hence, there are no roads here, no cars, no medical facilities and only two ATM machines so this is not the place to be if you cant live without all your normal conveniences.  The area has a very relaxed, island like feel to it and the nightlife here is very low key with only a few bars and a number of restaurants which are spread out among the four main beaches.  

The limestone cliffs which give Railay its seclusion are a dominant feature within the southern waters of the Andaman Sea and provide a wonderful backdrop to the stunning Thai beaches including those of the nearby Phi Phi islands.  Tourists flock to Railay not only for their pristine beaches but for rock-climbing; as there are numerous climbing routes established on the cliff faces and escarpments which attract enthusiasts from many parts of the world (Click here to read more).  

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Railay Beach is by taking a boat from Krabi.  The best way to travel to Krabi in southern Thailand is by plane or bus.  A number of airlines including Bangkok Air, Thai Airways, and Air Asia have daily flights between Bangkok and Krabi International Airport with flight time being about 1.2 hours.

Daily bus services to Krabi depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal on a regular basis and the journey takes approximately 13 hours.  

From downtown Krabi you can take a Ferry boat or longtail boat to Railay Beach from the  Chaofa Pier.  Tickets cost around 150 Thai baht per person. 

Talay Waek


Talay Waek is a unique beach destination located between the offshore islands of Koh Kai, Koh Tup, and Koh Mor which are located in the Krabi province of southern Thailand.  Talay Waek, which in English means 'the sea divided' is a natural feature which occurs when the Andaman Sea flows in two directions; being parted by a long sand bar which links the islands of Koh Kai (Chicken Island), Koh Tup  and Koh Mor.  This phenomenon happens each day as the tide recedes.

The sand bar which appears to rise miraculously from the Andaman Sea creates (for a period each day) a white sandy beach which allows tourists to relax or walk around and explore the islands on foot.  This has become a popular destination for tourists who take boat tours to the four popular offshore islands of Krabi  (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

Boat tours to the offshore islands including Talay Waek are available from the Chao Fah pier in Krabi Town or from Ao Nang.  Prices vary from about 300 Thai baht to 2,300 Thai baht per person depending upon the type of tour you wish to take.

Krabi Hot Springs

The Krabi Hot Springs are a naturally formed set of heated steam baths which are located within a tranquil jungle setting approximately 70 kilometres from Krabi Town, in southern Thailand in the Khlong Thom district. These thermal springs which are heated from deep beneath the ground within volcanic chambers keep the water at a constant temperature of around 35-40 degrees Celsius depending upon the time of year that you visit.  This constant temperature allows guests to bath in their very own outdoor sauna all year round. 

The thermally heated water which runs into a series of bath tub shaped hollows which have formed along a section of the Khlong Thom stream (probably as a result of the water cascading down from the mountains and over the waterfall), are located within an area of jungle which is in close proximity to the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The Krabi Hot Springs and Emerald Pool are about a 40 minute drive from Krabi Town at Baan Bang Kram, Baan Bang Tave , Klong Thom district in southern Thailand.
The best way to get there is by taking a bus tour.  These can be arranged in town at any of the tourist shops.  It costs about 290 Thai baht to enter the 
Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve and Krabi Hot Springs but if you do a tour these prices are usually included.

Phang Nga Province (Southern Thailand)

Phang Nga province is located approximately 788 kilometres south of Bangkok in southern Thailand; on the western side of the Malay peninsula looking out over the Andaman Sea.  Covering an area of some 4,100 square kilometres and located close to the provinces of Krabi, Surat Thani and Phuket, Phang Nga is best known for some of its islands which are located in the Phang Nga Bay including the famous James Bond Island (see below for more information).  

The Phang Nga Bay National Park which was created back in 1981 is a popular playground for both nature lovers and divers who flock here each year to experience the beaches, islands, limestone features including caves, mountains and forests which are each of extraordinary beauty. 

Likewise, this province is also home to the Mu Ko Similan National Park which was formed a year later in 1982 and includes a group of islands called the Similan Islands. 

These nine islands are well known for heir natural beauty both onshore and underneath the surrounding waters where coral reefs provide the perfect habitat for a variety of marine life and make this area the perfect destination for snorkelers and divers alike. 

Approximately 100 kilometres to the north of Mu Ko Similan is Mu Ko Surin National Park which was established in 1981 (read below).

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Phang Nga province in southern Thailand is by bus as there is no airport located here.  The nearest airport is Phuket International Airport.

Daily bus services depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal to Phang Nga on a regular basis and the journey takes approximately 12 hours. 

You can also catch buses from Phuket and Surat Thani provinces.

Mu Ko Surin National Park

The Mu Ko Surin National Park in southern Thailand, consists of a group of five pristine yet remote islands which are located approximately 60 kilometres off the coast of Phang Nga province.  These islands which include Ko Surin Nuea, Koh Surin Tai, Ko Ri, Ko Kai and Ko Klang  are situated within an archipelago in the Andaman Sea and allow visitors to experience an almost unblemished landscape and habitat (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Mu Ko Surin National Park is by boat from Phang Nga province.  Safe travel is only possible during the months of November to April and the national park is closed during the other months of the year. 

James Bond Island

James Bond Island or Koh Khao Phing Kan and Koh Tapu are two islands located in Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand.  These islands have grown in popularity to become one of Thailand's most famous landmarks since the release of the James Bond 007 movie titled 'The Man with the Golden Gun' back in 1974.  The two small Islands which are made of limestone and are both heavily forested are only accessible by boat (Click here to read more).

GETTING THERE

You can visit James Bond Island all year round.  The best way to get there is by either speedboat or long boat which you can ride from Phuket province and also Phang Nga province.  Many day tour packages are available priced between 1,500-3,700 Thai baht.

Trang Province (Southern Thailand)

Trang province (or  Mueang Thap Thiang) is located approximately 830 kilometres from Bangkok and covers an area of some 5,000 square kilometres.  It s located along the western coast of the Malay Peninsula bordering the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand.  This province is unique by way of being one of the first regions of Thailand where rubber trees were planted back in 1889, while also being a former port where foreign trade occurred.   This is an area with a history dating back to at least 900 years ago.  

While the eastern border is formed by the Khao Luang and Banthat mountain ranges; which are the source of Trang's two main rivers including the Trang and Palian Rivers, its long coastline which extends for over 100 kilometres also incorporates an archipelago with some 46 islands. 

Hence, this is a province with an abundance of natural features and beauty from caves and waterfalls, untamed jungles, secluded beaches and pristine islands.  While Trang may not be as well known as southern Thailand destinations such as Phuket and Krabi, it nevertheless has the usual Thai retail shopping chains such as Robinson, Tesco Lotus and SF Cinema's.      

GETTING THERE

The best way to travel to Trang province in southern Thailand is by plane train, or bus.  Trang airport is located approximately 7 kilometres from the town centre and flights occur daily from Bangkok.  A number of airlines fly to Trang including Nok Air and Air Asia.

Trains run between Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Station and the Kan Tang Station inTrang via Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

Daily bus services depart from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal on a regular basis and the journey takes approximately 13 hours. 

Koh Kradan Island

Koh Kradan is a pristine small hilly Island which is located approximately 10 kilometres off the southeast Thailand coast; with easy access via boat from the province of Trang. 

Located around 850 kilometres from Bangkok, this island remains  largely unknown to most foreign tourists.  Kradan Island with its powder white sandy beaches and tropical landscape (which is vegetated with coconut and rubber trees), is only 240 hectares in size and is incorporated within the 230 square kilometre Hat Chao Mai Marine National Park which was established back in 1981.  Over 90% of the island is protected national park so there is very little infrastructure or development on the island as a result  (Click here to read more). 

GETTING THERE

While Trang has three main piers, the best  way to travel to Koh Kradan is by boat from either the Kuan Tungku Pier or the Pak Meng Pier at Trang .   Boats including ferries leave for Kradan Island between 8.30 AM and 11 AM each day.  Fares average around 450 Thai baht per person. 

Emerald Cave Koh Muk

The Emerald Cave is a spectacular natural attraction located on the tropical Koh Muk (also known as Pearl Island) in the Trang province of southern Thailand.  

Koh Muk is a pristine island located within the southern Andaman Sea (about 1 hour south of Lanta Island) and is one of a seemingly endless number of islands that exist off the Thai coast within the provinces of Trang and Krabi (Click here to read more).   

GETTING THERE

The best  way to travel to Emerald Cave on Koh Muk is by boat from the Kuan Tungku Pier at Trang .   Boats including ferries leave for Koh Muk  between 8.30 AM and 11 AM each day.  The boat journey takes around 45 minutes. 

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