My tour of Thailand is done, at least for now.
Please SEARCH FOR ‘Thailand‘ to find all of my Postings, Travel Budgets and Retirement Reviews.
Meanwhile, here is some general information about Thailand and / or the places of interest that I did not get to…
Meanwhile, here is some general information about Cambodia and / or the places of interest that I did not get to…
Diving: Visibility is exceptional, and encounters with whale sharks are not uncommon in the waters around Thailand’s spectacularly scenic islands. The Mu Koh Similan National Marine Park is an underwater playground where you’ll find coral in every color and rare marine creatures. Note that the 2004 tsunami had a considerable effect on some of Thailand’s dive sites, but many are open for visitors; contact a dive operator for more information.
- Best Places to Dive: Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Koh Phi Phi
- When to Go: On the Andaman Coast (Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Koh Phi Phi) the best diving is Nov.–Apr., when seas are calm. Avoid monsoon season, which varies throughout Thailand.
ANDAMAN SEA ISLANDS:
Little Ko Chang
They don’t come too much more relaxing and off the beaten track than the small beaches with only one budget resort on the north-west coast of Ko Chang. A smallish attractive island up near the Burmese border, accessible from Ranong. It has several quiet beaches and a surprising number of bungalow places, and would appeal to old hands wanting to an find an island like Tao, Chang (eastern Gulf) etc were like in the “old days”. Ragers and people looking for mid-range and higher accommodation will be disappointed, however.
About 37 miles south of Krabi Town, laid-back Koh Lanta has somehow avoided the mass commercialisation that’s hit other expat havens in Thailand. Koh Lanta is definitely pricier than other popular expat havens but you can still live well here for much less than you’d pay in North America. A two-bedroom oceanfront villa can cost you as little as $575 a month.
Read our article ‘An Uncrowded Island Paradise.’
Ko Phi Phi (overpriced, touristy party island?)
Ko Phi Phi is a small archipelago in the Krabi Province in Southern Thailand. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants.
The Phi Phi islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat jaunt and a 90-minute ferryboat ride from Phuket, these picture postcard islands offer the ultimate tropical getaway.
Classic beaches, stunning rock formations, and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life – it’s paradise perfected.
There are two islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The larger and inhabited, Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores.
Despite the influx of day visitors (from places like Phuket), staying on Ko Phi Phi still promises a compelling Thai Island experience.
This group of rocks and islands lies 90 minutes by speedboat off the coast of Phang-Nga, or eight or more hours by slow boat from Phuket. The area was declared a marine national park in 1982 and consequently remains largely undeveloped. Derived from the Malay term sembilan, meaning ‘nine’, Similan refers to the nine main islands in the group.
The waters surrounding the Similans are teeming with tropical fish, colourful coral, and offer exceptional underwater visibility. As a result, the diving is generally considered to be the best in the region, and compares favourably with some of the best in the world. (see more about diving here).
Part of the reason for this is the very interesting submarine topography, due in part to the huge granite boulders which not only litter the shorelines, but also lie in jumbled heaps beneath the waves to depths of 35 metres and beyond.
Ko Yao Yai & Ko Yao Noi Islands
One hour by boat from Phuket or Krabi. These islands represent what Thailand was like when it was first discovered by backpackers. They are part of a national park with simple beach-bungalow inns and village homestays.
PHANG NGA BAY:
A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay are the sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee are just two of the more famous spots in this bay. By far the best means of enjoying the spectacular scenery, with only brief encounters with the tourist crowds at James Bond and Koh Panyee, is to take one of the boat trips from the northern end of Phuket.
A leisurely day trip cruising through the dramatic limestone islands, occasionally stopping to enjoy quiet beaches, is far more rewarding than the standard bus-boat tour.
GULF OF THAILAND:
Get your face paint and glow sticks at the ready for what is probably THE best beach party in the world. Each month, thousands of backpackers hit the sands from dusk until dawn at the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin. As If that wasn’t enough, there are also the Half Moon and Black Moon festivals now too! This is party paradise. Yet for those backpackers willing to stick around a while, you may discover there’s more to Koh Phangan than meets the eye. As the majority of revelers move on as the Full Moon Party ends, take the chance to explore the rest of this tropical paradise. You will be rewarded with gorgeous deserted beaches, cascading waterfalls and some amazing snorkeling. As well as beautiful countryside, Koh Phangan is also a haven for yoga and meditation – perfect for those backpackers wanting to get in touch with their spiritual side when in South East Asia.
Learn how to dive. Unlike neighbouring party island Ko Pha-Ngan, relaxed Ko Tao is all about diving.
While Thailand is always known for Bangkok and the Full moon parties of Koh Phangan, one of the best place for people who want to enjoy the pristine glory of the beaches of Thailand is Koh Tao. Situated close to Koh Phangan, this Andaman Bay island is a perfect beach destination that is relaxing and devoid of crowd and frivolity. Other destinations in Thailand that are known for their natural beauty and laid back lifestyle are Chiang Mai and Pai.