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Southern Thailand

Содержание
Ang Thong National Park
Ao Nang
Chumphon (province)
Chumphon
Hat Yai
Khanom
Khao Lak
Ko Jum
Ko Lanta
Ko Lipe
Ko Nang Yuan
Ko Phi Phi
Ko Siboya
Ko Tao
Ko Tarutao
Krabi (province)
Krabi
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Narathiwat
Padang Besar
Pattani
Pha Ngan
Pha Ngan / Haad Chao Phao
Pha Ngan / Haad Rin
Pha Ngan / Thong Nai Pan
Pha Ngan / Thong Sala
Phang Nga
Phuket
Phuket Town
Phuket / Bang Tao
Phuket / Kamala Beach
Phuket / Karon Beach
Phuket / Kata Yai Beach
Phuket / Laem Singh Beach
Phuket / Patong Beach
Phuket / Rawai
Phuket / Surin Beach
Rai Leh
Ranong
Sadao
Samui
Samui / Bophut
Samui / Chaweng
Samui / Choeng Mon
Samui / Lamai
Samui / Mae Nam
Satun
Similan Islands
Songkhla
Sungai Kolok
Surat Thani (province)
Surat Thani
Tak Bai
Ton Sai
Trang
Yala
Статьи
Wikitravel. Southern Thailand. 01.2008.
Фотографии
Комментарии


Chumphon (province)
 Understand
Chumphon (sometimes rendered as "Chumpon" or "Chumporn" or "Chomphon") Province is a relatively quiet, low-key tourist destination, roughly halfway between Bangkok and the border with Malaysia. For many backpackers, it's little more than a point of passage to the fabled Gulf of Thailand islands, especially Ko Tao. However, Chumphon Province boasts beautiful beaches, excellent scuba diving, and exceptional natural amenities; there are several national parks nearby where jungle treks or motorcycle tours to waterfalls and caves can easily be arranged, with guides or independently. As an outpost of Thai kingdoms dating back to the Ayutthaya period, there are also a few historical sites. Naturally, the seafood is exceptional. In general, once you're away from backpacker central, Chumphon Province offers modest but very pleasant and cost-effective alternatives to the oversold resorts.
 Get in
The east coast makes for a relatively easy drive - it's roughly 6 hours from Bangkok by car.
 By plane
Chumphon has a small airport (CJM). Unfortunately, as of January 2006 there are no flights at all, as both PBAir and Andaman Air have stopped their flights.
 By train
There are direct train services to Chumphon from as far away as Bangkok to the north and Butterworth in Malaysia to the south.
 By bus
There are frequent direct bus services from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (about 7 hours) and numerous other destinations.
 Do
 Scuba diving
Although the beaches are very nice, uncrowded and interesting, there isn't much shore diving around Chumphon. The prime diving destinations lie around local islands and rock outcrops that range from 30 minutes to 3 hours away by speedboat: Ko Ngam Noi (famous as a source of prized birds' nests), Ko Ngam Yai, Hin Lak Ngam and Hin Pae. A number of other islands also offer diving attactions: Ko Samet, Ko Thalu, Ko Rat, and Ko Thonglang.
Fish and nudibranches are plentiful in this area, although large pelagics are less common; sea turtles can be found regularly at a few dive spots.
The striking rock outcrops visible above water are even more spectacular under the surface, where they're covered with colourful hard and soft coral formations, and there are many narrow 'swim-throughs' and small caves to explore.
Visibility varies substantially due to tide and wind conditions; it ranges from better than 18m on a good day to 8-10m under less favourable conditions.
WARNING: lionfish and devil scorpionfish are plentiful in some locales, and trigger fish are not uncommon. Be careful with your buoyancy, stay off the bottom (also to avoid stirring up the loose sediment), and don't touch anything you don't absolutely have to!
 
Chumphon
Chumphon (ชุมพร) is the capital of Chumphon Province. Like Surat Thani most people only stay here in transit going between Bangkok and the southern parts, including the islands inside the Gulf of Thailand.
 Get in
The public bus service operates just north of the centre of town, however many find themselves taking the train, located to the west.
Various ferry companies operate ferries to, or within reach of Chumphon, and/or a bus service into the centre of town. For those who are located in the gulf islands, Chumphon maybe more suitable to transit if you are going to Bangkok as opposed to returning back down to Surat Thani.
 Sleep
Suda's Guesthouse 8 Thatapao Road +66 77504366 - friendly owners, but might try to sell you something. Twin room with fan 250 baht.
Krabi (province)
 Understand
The distinguishing feature of both Krabi and neighboring Phang Nga is the massive limestone karsts, rising vertiginously out of the flat rice paddies on land and as islands from the sea. Add in some gorgeous beaches and excellent scuba diving and rock climbing, and it's little wonder that tourism in the area has been booming.
While less commercialized than neighboring Phuket, Krabi Province cannot be described as undiscovered: it receives two million visitors a year, and the major tourist areas cater extensively for foreigners.
 2004 tsunami
Krabi Province was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. A year later, signs of the damage are now hard to find in many places, but in the worst hit areas (especially Ko Phi Phi and Khao Lak) reconstruction is still ongoing.
 Climate
Krabi is hot and humid all year round, with peak temperatures around April. The rainy season arrives in the fall and drizzles until about November, during which time many hotels and bars close, and the sea can get rough and some ferries (including those to Ko Lanta) stop running. High season is November-April inclusive, when it's a little cooler; the peak tourism period spans Christmas and New Year.
 Talk
You can get around on English alone in the more touristic areas, although a few words of Thai will come in handy off the beaten track and will be much appreciated anywhere.
 Beaches
  • Ao Nang - popular beach for backpackers
  • Rai Leh (Railay) - Thailand's rock climbing Mecca, a craggy peninsula with several small beaches
  • Ton Sai - Cheapest bungalows in the area. Preferred by backpackers away from the hordes of tourists and an easy walk to Rai Leh.
  • Had Yao (Long Beach) - the last untouched beach in Krabi Provience, and perhaps the most spectacular with its views of Jum Mountain and Ao Nang's cliff walls.
 Islands
  • Ko Jum - peace & quiet for those looking for solitude
  • Ko Lanta - the new escape for those who find Ao Nang/Rai Leh too touristy
  • Ko Phi Phi - where parts of The Beach were filmed
  • Ko Siboya - rural Thailand with a difference
 Get in
The most popular way to enter this province is via its capital, Krabi.
 By plane
 By bus
There are regular direct bus services between Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal and Krabi (~ 500 baht), but probably the best option is to take a VIP bus, which for 250 baht more makes the 10 hour ride much more comfortable.
 By train
The nearest train stations are:
  • Trang - 2-2.5 hours away from Krabi by bus
 Get around
 By boat
Krabi is mostly coast and islands, so you'll be spending quite some time on boats when getting around.
The most common boat type for shorter hops is the long-tail boat (reua hang yao), which true to the name has the propeller at the end of a long 'tail' stretching from the boat. This makes them supremely manoeuvrable even in shallow waters, but they're a little underpowered for longer trips and you'll get wet if it's even a little choppy.
 Do
 Scuba diving
Krabi Province and the Andaman Sea have a number of excellent dive sites. You can find dive resorts at almost every coastal destination in the region and on the islands that tourists visit. Dive resorts on Phuket will visit some of these sites too. Most will offer a selection of dives at the following sites:
Hin Bida (near Ko Bida) - a submerged rock best known for its leopard sharks
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (55km south of Phi Phi) - the region's most famous dive sites, offering steep deep wall diving and, thanks to their position in the open sea, spectacular marine life; usually approached from Ko Lanta, occasionally by overnight trip from Phuket
King Cruiser - a car ferry that sank in 1997, providing the area with its only wreck, located at 30 meters; unfortunately its condition is deteriorating fairly fast in the warm waters
Ko Haa (Five Islands, south of Ko Phi Phi) - has excellent coral dives between 15m and 25m and some cavern dives including one that allows you to surface in the center of one of the islands
Ko Bida - an island close to Phi Phi Lay
 Get out
  • Phang Nga - yet more beaches and strange limestone formations
  • Phuket - the original southern Thai beach resort island, just two hours away
  • Ko Samui - on the gulf coast, about 6 hours away by bus+ferry
Krabi
Krabi (กระบี่) is the provincial capital of Krabi Province, Thailand.
 Understand
Krabi is a small city with a population of around 18,000. Located just upriver from the coast, it has no beaches and hence visitors make a beeline for Had Yao, Ao Nang or Rai Leh (Railay).
 Get in
Direct connections are by air and road; travellers can also take a train to Surat Thani and continue on to Krabi by bus from there.
 By plane
Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 10 km from the city limits, 15km from city centre, 40km from Ao Nang and 23km from Had Yao. Thai Airways operates daily direct flights to/from Bangkok, likewise Air Asia from March 1st 2006. Tiger Airways flies direct to/from Singapore nearly every day of the week and to/from Darwin on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. One-Two-Go Airlines operates daily flights to Krabi from Bangkok (DonMuang). Krabi Airline, a newly established airline will start it's operations in January 2008. Tentative 1st Flight Operation From Oslo (OSL) Norway and Munich (MUC) Germany on 19th of January 2008 respectively. Destination Air Shuttle, Thailand's only Seaplane service also routinely flies in and out of Krabi (Au Nangh) from Phuket and to a numerous outer islands.
The international departure tax surcharge is 400 baht; domestic departure tax is included in the price of the flight.
National Car Rental has a branch at the airport; motorcycle taxi rides are available outside the terminal.
Krabi Limousine (tel. +66-75692073) has a desk inside the terminal and provides "limousine taxi" (using large air-conditioned sedans) transport to Krabi for 500 baht; Ao Nang for 800 baht; Phuket for 2500 baht. Krabi.com offers taxi and minibus (minivans) for less however travellers have to make deposit payment of 200 baht online via credit card.
 By bus
Buses from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (tel. +66-24351199) to Krabi take about 12 hours and depart as follows:
  • VIP bus - 07:20 - 710 baht
  • First class bus - 19:00 - 486 baht
  • Second class bus - 07:30, 19:00, 19:30, 21:00 - 378 baht
Buses also run from the east coast with connection to ferries to Ko Samui and onward. Choose your ticket carefully - the trip should take no more than three hours, but some travellers have endured ridiculous ten hour rides which included extensive "repair stops" right in front of restaurants coincidentally affiliated with the bus company... such hassles can be avoided by using state-run BKS buses instead of dodgy private operators.
Shuttle buses run between Krabi airport and Phuket airport several times a day. There are also regular buses that make the 2 hour run.
Buses to/from Ao Nang charge 40 baht and run every ten minutes during the day and every 30 minutes after dark.
 By car
Krabi is located on Highway 4. Shared pickup truck taxis from Ao Nang to Krabi are frequent and cost 50 baht.
 By boat
Ferries run from/to Ko Phi Phi, Ko Jum and Ko Lanta daily. Most depart in the morning. Tickets can be purchased at the dock or from tourist offices and most local guesthouses and hotels. The normal passenger ferry does not start from the center of town anymore, but from a new passenger port about 3 km outside Krabi. Free taxi transfer to the pier should be included in the price of your ticket. If your boat starts from the old piers in the center of town (Chao Fah pier or Phi Phi pier), you are most likely on a more expensive and longer tourist boat ride. Also, make sure that when you arrive at the airport the taxi driver takes you to the correct pier. Many times they'll take you to a travel agent near the old pier and sell you additional accommodations or services. Only ever buy the ticket you need. Prices will often get cheaper the closer you get to your next destination.
Ferry tickets to Ko Phi Phi are 350 baht when purchased from a travel agent.
The large displayed time-tables in the many travel agencies are just for show and the times are not to be taken literally. Ask. As of July 2007, there were two ferries a day from Krabi to Ko Phi Phi a day: 10am and 2:30pm. They add additional ferries during high-season.
The pier at Klong Jilad, for ferries to and from Ko Phi Phi has a taxi desk with posted prices: 150 baht to Krabi town, and 350 baht to the airport.
 Beaches
Ao Nang Beach, is Krabi's most developed beach. Fringed by palms, the long beach is backed by a wide range of accommodation including resorts, bungalows and guesthouses. Most travel services can be found here, and there is a good variety of restaurants featuring both local and international cuisine.
Railay Beach, [1] paradise found? The coast in the south of Thailand is a luxurious tropical paradise. Towering limestone cliffs shelter incredible beaches, the most beautiful is Railay. Isolated from the mainland, the peninsula of Railay is surrounded by the warm Andaman Sea, lush jungle, and twisted rock. It contains enough activities for the most adventurous while allowing those who just want to chill out in paradise the opportunity to do just that.
Tonsai Beach, Tonsai beach is a gym monkeys paradise. Hundreds of steep generously bolted tendon popping routes ranging from 6a+ to 8c. A great place to hang out climb and day dream of that new project you're about to start sometime after lunch. Here you will find the famous, the wanna be famous and lost hippies.
Hat Yao, the longest, completely empty stretch of beach on mainland Krabi
 Do
Tiger Cave Temple, This temple complex not only serves as a religious site for the monks who live and worship there, but also features a maze of natural caves in an overgrown jungle valley where stone tools, pottery remains and the mold for making Buddha footprints have been excavated.
 Buy
There is a lot to buy in Krabi, although there is no official tourist market in Ao Nang, there are many roadside stalls and shops selling the usual t-shirts, bags and shoes etc. However, Bangkok and the north of Thailand are far cheaper and people more inclined to barter than any of the tourist shops in Ao Nang. Krabi town, too, is far cheaper than any of the tourist resorts - this is reflected in the price of food and drinks especially. There are two night markets in Krabi town that are worth a look, also a vogue department store where real items can be found cheaper than in in Ao Nang. Do check out the Tesco Lotus Shopping Mall which is near the airport. Prices are cheap and there are lots of eateries available there.
 Eat
At night there is a charming night market close to the promenade next to the piers. Food is good and cheap, with Muslim influences. From time to time the town organizes shows on a small stage next to the market.
An even better market can be found on Soi (Lane) 10 in the centre of town. This market has plenty of fresh fruit and lots of authentic cooked food. Only a few places have menus, otherwise point and enjoy. This market does not sell alcohol.
There are several Italian restaurants of varying degrees of authenticity. Viva has Italian management and probably the best food.
The Hotpot Buffet Restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Tesco Lotus shopping is value for money! Pay 139 baht and eat all you can!
 Sleep
Chan Cha Lay, 55 Utarakit Road, +66''-75620952 (chanchalay_krabi@hotmail.com). A great, highly recommended budget option. This small hotel is clean and well-kept, and the design interesting & tasteful, cosy, cheery. Centrally located, there are endless food options nearby. Rooms 250 baht with shared bath, 350 baht with for private bath (low season). Air-con rooms also available.
City Hotel, 15/2-4 Sukon Road, +66-75611961 (fax: +66-75621282). Standard western style hotel, comfortable but not especially luxurious. Trappings include hot water and cable TV. Double rooms with fan start from 450 baht and rooms with air-con from 550 baht. Annoying free wake-up call at 11AM.
Good Dream Guesthouse, 83 Uttarakit Road, +66 -75622993 (krabidream@gmail.com, fax: 75622993). Centrally located budget guest house with many foreigner options for food and drink nearby and free Internet/Wi-Fi for guests. All rooms have hot water. 120-450 baht.
Phanom Bencha Mountain Resort, +66-75660-501 (info.pbmr@gmail.com), [2]. This garden resort is a 15-minute ride from downtown Krabi and the airport, and has a natural swimming pool and trekking opportunities in the adjacent Phanom Bencha National Park. Low/high season prices are: double bungalows for 4 people 1000/1300 baht; single bungalows 500/800 baht; tents 350 baht. This is an eco resort.
Swallow Guesthouse, 31 Maharaj Soi 4. One of the longest running guesthouses in Krabi, right in town, minutes from all markets, shopping, etc. Extremely clean fan rooms only and friendly service. 200-350 baht [2007-8].
Ao Nang
Ao Nang (อ่าวนาง) is the busiest beach destination in Thailand's Krabi Province.
 Understand
Formally Ao Phra Nang ("Princess Bay") although everybody uses the short form, Ao Nang is the most 'Westernized' beach in Krabi, originally a backpacker hotspot but now moving slowly upmarket as the airport brings in higher flyers. While not quite as scenic as Rai Leh, there is a good range of cheap accommodation, many good restaurants, easy transport and travel/tour agencies ready to cater to your every whim, making it a good base for exploring Krabi.
Orienting yourself in Ao Nang is easy: almost everything is located either along the beach, which runs west-east, or along the Airport Road (Highway 4203) which goes up north from the east end of the beach. Long-tails arrive on the beach near the junction of the two roads.
 Get in
 By plane
Krabi International Airport is about 40 minutes away by car. As of 2005, the local airport limo monopoly charges a fairly steep 600 baht for a transfer (up to 4 people). Many hotels will arrange a pickup at similar prices on request. Travel time is about half an hour.
Local shuttle buses — really just converted pickup trucks (songthaew) — run from Ao Nang to Krabi (40 baht) and from Krabi to the airport (50 baht). The total trip between Ao Nang and the airport takes little less than 2 hours. To get to Ao Nang from Krabi town you should look for a white songthaew outside the 7-Eleven store.
As of late 2007 there is now a big bus service from the airport to Ao Nang, via Krabi Town, the Krabi ferry terminal and Noppharat Thara beach.
 By boat
Rai Leh West and Ton Sai are only 10 minutes away while the less developed Had Yao (Long Beach) is 25 minutes away by long-tail. Boats leave constantly from the east end of the beach and charge a flat 80 baht/person during the day, 100 baht/person at night. There is no pier so expect to get at least your feet wet, probably more.
There are also public ferry services to Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta (usually twice daily), for which any travel agent will be happy to sell you tickets at around 200 baht/person.
Boats from Ko Lanta now arrive at the new jetty, from there take a taxi (350 baht), or local bus to Krabi (50 baht) and then on to Ao Nang (40 baht).
 By Songthaew
There is a Songthaew(shared pick-up truck / taxi) service to Ao Nang from Krabi town, which runs throughout daylight hours in low season and up to 10pm in high season. The fare is 50 baht and they can be expected every 15-20 minutes. Songthaews are colour coded according to destination so make sure if you are coming to Ao Nang from Krabi you get on a white one.
 Get around
Tuk-tuks in Ao Nang charge a flat 20 baht/person for trips around town. Songthaews also run all across Ao Nang onto the Shell Beach (See) and some all the way to Krabi town, fares from 10 baht up depending on distance.
 See
Fossil Shell Beach (Thai Su-san Hoi, literally "Seashell Graveyard"). Some 7 km west of Ao Nang, this mildly traplike tourist attraction has slates of compressed 40 million year old shellfish, which bear not a small resemblance to concrete. There's also a small grubby museum and a huge slew of gift shops. Entry is a steep 200 baht for foreigners - but only 20 baht for Thais.
Nopparat Thara Beach. Picturesque beach at the western tip of Ao Nang, zoned as a national park. During low tide you can walk up to some of the nearby craggy limestone islands.
 Do
There is little to do immediately around Ao Nang, but Rai Leh and Ko Phi Phi are just around the corner and there are many tour operators offering activities such as sea kayaking and elephant treks.
Andaman Camp and Cruise, tel: +66 87 885 1125. [1] - day trips and camping trips to many islands.
 Rock Climbing
Climbing can be arranged through Ao Nang agencies who will arrange transfers, lunch, and as much climbing as your limbs can handle - alternatively, simply wander over to Rai Leh or Ton Sai and organize an introductory course yourself. Currently, there are no climbing guides based in Ao Nang.
 Scuba diving
Most of the dive shops offer a very similar price for the dive courses and dive trips. You may get a slight discount if you are a group of 4 but not much more than 10%. Sites visited daily include the local islands in Ao Nang bay, Phi Phi Marine National Park, the King Cruiser Wreck site and Shark Point Marine sanctuary. It's now also possible to do a one day safari by speedboat to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang for the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays, or to do some spectacular cavern diving at the 5 islands of Ko Ha Yai.
Aqua Vision Dive Centre, 76 /12 Moo 2, [2]. English and German run PADI and SSI dive center, most European languages available including Russian. Located just above McDonalds, with a small booking center next to Planet Ao Nang bar on the beach front and an office in the Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort. Runs day whale shark and manta ray safaris on a flybridge speedboat.
Kon-Tiki Diving and Snorkeling Center, 161/1 Moo 2, [3]. 100% Scandie-run 5-star PADI dive center, most European languages also available. The only PADI/National Geographic Dive Center and Go Eco operator. Winner of Project AWARE Environmental Achievement Award 2006.
Phran Nang Divers, 32/10 Moo 2, [4]. 100% English-run PADI dive center with over 15 years experience diving in Ao Nang. Courses run in English and German, most European languages also available.
Raya Divers, 1/2 Moo 5 Tambol Rawai (about 2km up Airport Road), +66-76280074, [5]. 100% Finnish-run 5-star PADI shop; instruction also available in English. Good gear and an emphasis on safety.
Scuba Addicts (1/2 way down the main street), [6]. English/Finnish run PADI 5-Star, Gold Palm Resort. The only local dive company offering Halcyon wing-style BCD's as standard.
 Buy
Ao Nang has no shopping malls or supermarkets, but there are plenty of convenience stores and souvenir shops. The vast majority of shops are lined nicely along the beachfront road. There are also a few side roads that branch off into the cluster of crowded shops found elsewhere in Asia. The regular tourist fare (e.g. postcards, magnets, trinkets, etc.) are plentiful as are clothes, shoes, and pretty much anything else you'll find elsewhere in Thailand.
 Eat
 Budget
For cheap eats, there are a few street carts scattered about, although most serve backpacker fare like banana pancakes (15 baht a pop). The fried chicken lady in front of the Tipa Resort does a pretty mean som tam (papaya salad) at 40 baht though, and also look out for the yellow-signed noodle stalls with a "4" in a bowl as their logo, which dish out a garlicky but tasty bamii muu daeng (roast pork noodles) for 25 baht.
The Pad Thai served in in a stall named "Kai Tieun Restaurant" is good and cheap. The noodle itself is not spicy and you need to add the condiments available on the table to make it spicy.
The stall in front of Adidas Store serves rice-type lunches at 20-30 baht a box. The "Kao Nam" (Similar to Nasi Briyani in Malaysia) is superb. Be careful before ordering "Keng Mu" (Minced spicy chicken meat with rice) though, be prepared to gulp in lots of water to counter the spiciness.
Generally the places along the beach are more expensive and the ones up the hill tend to be cheaper and better value. Even up past McDonald's on the right some do squid and fish at amazingly low prices.
Tonsai Restaurant, Ao Nang Soi 15 (15 minutes from the beach up Airport Road). Popular low-key eatery offering a good spread of good Thai food. Most dishes around 50 baht.
The Boat Cafe on Airport Road (opposite the 7-11) has no sign in English but is easily recognizable from the old long tail boat outside which they use to serve up thom yum and other Thai soups at lunchtime. Dishes cost 20-35 baht, and the best recommendation is the large number of locals coming in for an evening meal.
One More Restaurant on Airport Road (15 minutes from the beach up Airport Road on the right side). Low-key restaurant serving a variety of Thai dishes and seafood at affordable prices. The staff here is incredibly friendly.
 Mid-priced
Wanna's Restaurant, facing the beach in central Ao Nang, offers rather good Thai and Swiss dishes for approx. 100 baht. The home made swiss museli with yoghurt and fresh fruit is highly recommended.
Loft Restaurant, Nopparatthara Beach, [7]. Less than 3 mins from Ao Nang Beach area and with a cheap 20 baht/person motortaxi (tuk-tuk) ride, it's a great place to go for food and to get away from the tourist crowds at Ao Nang Beach. Friendly service and a great owner/host Jeff who opened the restaurant and bar (named 'Bad Habit') with his wife Oil. Alfresco dining on the roof, beautiful sunsets. Food prices are a good range, with really good fusion western Thai and traditional Thai food.
Taj Palace, across from McDonalds in Ao Nang, offers Thai dishes at about 100 baht and Indian dishes at about 150 baht. The food was better than most in Ao Nang, with exceptionally succulent shrimp.
 Drink
There is no shortage of places for a drink, and not very many Patong-style girlie beer bars or go-go joints. On the Ao Nang beach front there is now only one bar - Planet Ao Nang, although a little further down towards the Railay end of the beach is Last Fishermans Bar. Both are good for watching the sun go down over the ocean.
 Sleep
 Budget
Beach Resort (just beside Ao Nang Villa). Clean and decent rooms; those without a balcony have a view of the limestone cliffs behind the hotel. 650 baht, 200 baht for extra bed.
Laughing Gecko (on the road to the Thai boxing stadium). Very good food (buffet with Thai dishes, always at least one vegetarian, for dinner. Nui and Patricia are really nice fellows. Huts are basic, like in the good old backpacking days.
P.A.N. BEACH, at Noppharat Thara beach (across the river where the ferry leaves), 098664373. New, comfortable bungalows with private bathroom. 400 baht (high season).
PK Mansion, (66 75) 637 431-2 (pkmansion@hotmail.com, fax: (66 75) 637 471). Good central location in the heart of Ao Nang town. Rooms are reasonably clean and come equipped with air-con or fan, attached bathroom and satellite TV. Value for money. from 700 baht.
Yellow Sun Guesthouse. Clean and basic doubles with private bathroom and window. from 300 baht.
Na-Thai Resort (149 Moo 1, Baan Na-Thai - Centrally located. Phone for free pick-up), +66 (0) 7563 7752, [8]. Clean and basic doubles with private bathrooms. Choice of standard/Superior Bungalows, long term villas from 500 baht.
 Get out
The cliffs and beaches of Rai Leh, just 15 minutes away by boat, make a great day trip. Phra Nang is the next beach past Rai Leh and has dramatic limestone 'karst' rock formations. Names get confusing, as Ao Nang (the developed resort) is sometimes called Ao Phra Nang. From Phra Nang you can walk across to Rai Leh East, with its mangroves, and hire kayaks to paddle round the rugged peninsula. There's also a path from Rai Leh East to Rai Leh West where the most longtails call.
Poda Island is another good day trip - you come back with the same boat and only pay on return. There's even an area to the right of where the longtails come in to Poda that's just worth snorkeling (unspectacular coral but a fair few fish).
Ao Nang is one of the main gateways for travel to the Phi Phi islands, about 2 hours away by long tail boat, 40-50 mins by speed boat.
Rai Leh
Rai Leh (อ่าวไร่เลย์), also commonly known as Railay, is a tourist area located on the Andaman Coast of Thailand, in Krabi Province. Rai Leh is primarily known as a rock climbing hot spot, attracting climbers from all over the world to its superb towering limestone.
 Get in
As Rai Leh is a peninsula surrounded by ocean and mountains, final access can only be by boat. Long-tails depart from Ao Nang (10 minutes, 100 baht/person, minimum 6 people) and Krabi (30 minutes) on demand, making those towns the gateways to Rai Leh. It's also possible to access Rai Leh via regular ferries that run between Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi, and Phuket (more frequent in the November-May dry season - times available from local travel agents, or check online ferry schedules).
The Krabi, Phuket, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi articles have information on reaching the gateways to Rai Leh from throughout Thailand. From Bangkok there are flights to Krabi and Phuket, direct bus services, and trains to Surat Thani with onward connections by bus.
NB: If departing from Ao Nang, be aware that you're expected to walk out several meters into the surf before getting on a boat (depending on the tide). It might be best to change into clothese suitable for getting wet, or at the very least be sure you don't have more luggage than you can carry a few meters into the ocean.
 Get around
Rai Leh is considered to be all of the peninsula, which has four primary areas:
Phra Nang: a fine white sand beach, on the southern tip of the peninsula
Rai Leh East: the mangrove side of the peninsula, used by long-tails to/from Krabi
Rai Leh West: a fine beach of white sand and shallow water, where most long-tails arrive from Ao Nang
Ton Sai: a cove around the corner from Rai Ley West where rockclimbers and backpackers hang out in cheap accommodation and practice climbing
It's a 5-10 minute walk between any of these landmarks. The village itself is a pedestrian's dream, as there are no cars, and the uneven bumpy walkways make even bicycles impractical.
 See
Phra Nang Cave, also known as Diamond Cave, on the east side of the peninsula, to the north of Rai Leh East, is an interesting place to explore and one of the few strictly sight-seeing destinations at Rai Leh. A nominal entrance fee pays for a short walk along the lit boardwalk through formations that glitter as if they were full of diamonds. Though not breathtakingly large (and thus easily viewed in about fifteen minutes) it is quite beautiful. The cave is a common stop for day trips from Phuket and Ao Nang.
Phra Nang Shrine, north end of Phra Nang Beach. Dedicated to the spirit of the drowned princess (phra nang) who gave the beach her name, this small shrine in a small cave is notable primarily for the dozens of carved red-tipped phalluses donated by fishermen seeking her favour.
 Do
 Climbing
Rai Leh is perhaps the best winter sport rock climbing area in the world, with over a thousand bolted routes up limestone faces with breathtaking views over the ocean. If you are an avid rock climber, chances are you already know about this place and the spectacular cliffs are the reason you are here.
Climbing is graded on the French scale, most is steep and challenging with only limited possibilities for beginners. Due to the corrosive nature of the seaside location, the steel bolts may be of questionable integrity, bolt failure is not uncommon here, and threads (rope tied through holes in the rock) may be of questionable integrity as well. Overall the rock quality is superb; however, like everywhere else, you will find the occasional loose section including the famed Rai Leh stalactites.
Required climbing gear: Rai Leh and around is all sport climbing. Beyond a 60 metre (200 foot) rope, sixteen quickdraws, your harness, shoes and a lot of chalk, you won't need much else. Anything you forget or don't have can be rented at the climbing shops.
Guides: Rai Leh and Tonsai have several guide operators with services ranging from introductory rock climbing courses to rent-a-belay partner.
Phra Nang Adventures [1] Exclusive guide to Ko Lao Liang for climbing/diving/camping.
King Climbers [2] - on the east side of Rai Leh, next to Ya Ya's accommodation.
Hot Rock Climbing School [3] - on the west side of Rai Leh, near The New Scholar Real Coffee shop, and the owner Luang has been around the area for over 15 yrs.
Guide books: There are three different guide books published in a variety of languages by the local guide shops, each providing excellent directions and route finding. Most were updated around 2004 or more recently and can be ordered online, directly from the guide shop, or your local climbing store might carry stock.
Rock Climbing in Thailand [4] by Elke & Wee. New edition 2007.
Thailand: A Climbing Guide [5] published by The Mountaineers and written by Sam Lightner Jr. All the money earned from it is to be donated to the re-bolting cause:.
 Diving & snorkeling
Rai Leh is not a major diving spot as the local coral and sea life is not as diverse or spectacular as other areas of Thailand. However there is a dive shop that will certify divers and take them on boat trips to decent dive sites, including a sunken wreck. Serious divers tend to prefer the Similan Islands, Ko Phi Phi or Ko Lanta for quality diving.
King Cruiser is a car ferry that sank in 1997, providing the area with its only wreck, located at 30 meters. Unfortunately its condition is deteriorating fairly fast in the warm waters. This is the most popular dive site in the area.
Snorkeling is not a major draw for Rai Leh though it is possible to swim out and see coral and fish a few meters off the sandy beaches. Beware of the ever present longtail boat traffic. Most looking for some snorkeling fun rent a longtail and head for the islands south and west of Rai Leh, such as Poda Island, but even there the snorkeling is only moderate. Some hotels organize snorkeling trips or you may prefer to charter your own boat for the afternoon. A one way trip usually takes less than 25 minutes.
 Kayaking
While not as good as at Phang Nga, the kayaking around the peninsula at Rai Leh affords a great alternative to climbing and a stunning view of the area. Several of the limestone islets off Phra Nang beach have sea caves eroded into their bases, including a few large enough to offer opportunities to beach the kayaks and explore. Paddling into caves and through subterranean passages is particularly interesting, but watch out for low, jagged ceilings. For those with more ambition, a short open-water crossing (about one hour of steady, heavy paddling) leads to the private island of Ko Poda which has beautiful and relatively isolated beaches.
Several bungalow resorts on the Rai Leh West side of the peninsula have sea kayaks available for rental for around 600 baht/half-day, 1000 baht/full-day (including life-vests). The kayaks are simple two-seat plastic models, but perform fine on the millpond-smooth water of the bay. A half-day is probably plenty long enough to explore the immediate environs of Rai Leh. A bottle of water, a hat and plenty of sun protection are essential!
 Trekking
Rai Leh itself does not offer many trekking opportunities, as the peninsula is so tiny. The one interesting and undeveloped area is the jungle atop the limestone towers that make up the club-shaped southern end of the peninsula. Along the paved path that runs from Rai Leh East to Phra Nang beach, a so-called "trail" leads up a slippery, rocky embankment to the jungle-covered plateau. A narrow, indistinct trail circles the top of the southern tower, with a left turn offering access to the highest point (accessible via a sheer face and thus navigable only with climbing gear) as well as a fantastic lookout point over the peninsula. A right turn on the path leads downward into a hidden glen, which provides access to the secret lagoon called Sa Phra Nang or Holy Princess Pool. The route from this glen to the lagoon leads down a steep, rocky ravine, and the path is covered with slippery red clay, making it quite treacherous even for the experienced. The technique is not so much climbing as scrambling, and the knotted nylon ropes are often more dangerous than they are helpful. The lagoon itself is breathtakingly beautiful, but try not to step in, as the soft bottomless muck has quite a penchant for trekkers' footwear.
 Buy
Rai Leh has many small general convenience stores with various essentials at reasonable prices, considering shipment costs to what is essentially an island. Though most shoppers (souvenir or otherwise) will be better satisfied in nearby Ao Nang, clothing, souvenirs, beachwear and such are all also available in various small shops in Rai Leh East and Rai Leh West. There are no real grocery vendors, so meals are limited to the restaurants, though some small snack items are available in the convenience stores.
 Eat
Rai Leh has a variety of restaurants to choose from, although none are remarkable (for Thailand at least) in character or quality. In general however, the food is what you would expect for southern Thailand - tasty and inexpensive.
Rai Leh West has four restaurants: one for each of the three hotels on the beach, and a smaller restaurant near CoCo's bar. All offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner along the beach with a lovely view of the surroundings.
Rai Leh East has more restaurants and the variety is much greater, though none offer the scenery of the west beach (restaurants near Diamond Cave may be an exception where they offer an impressive view of the bay from their position higher up the hill).
 Drink
There are several other bars situated on the beach, each attached to one of the hotel restaurants, and all quite pleasant for a relaxing sunset cocktail.
CoCo's is the only stand-alone bar on Rai Leh West. It is quite small with only a couple of tables but they layout beach mats on the sand during the evenings which makes for an ideal location to enjoy the sunset.
Rai Lay Bay Resort Bar is attached to the restaurant at the Rai Lay Bay Resort and Spa Hotel. The bar is beachfront and is lined with stools and shaded by the nearby palm trees. As it is the largest bar on Rai Leh West, it usually fills up quite quickly prior to sunset. NB: Currently under renovation.
Last Bar really is the last bar. At the end of Rai Leh East, it is the closest thing to a dance club Rai Leh has to offer. With nightly shows, and plenty of travelers, it is the place to spend the night if you plan on having a few Chang beers.
Stone Bar is located near Diamond Cave climbing area, five minute walk up the path from Diamond Cave Bungalows if you are starting at the beach. It is a peaceful, relaxed place to spend a few chilled-out hours. The name is indicative of both the rock upon which a drinking platform is perched, and also a tip of the cap to the rasta colors it flies loud and proud. It's well worth a visit and also has a variety of games such as chess, connect four and draughts to while away lazy hours.
Rai Leh East offers more in the way of energetic bars with dance music. These bars can be found near the Diamond Cave Bungalows.
 Sleep
Rai Leh primarly caters to two groups: honeymooners/families and rock climbing backpackers. Fortunately, there is accommodation to suit both ranging from bamboo bungalows to concrete three story hotels. Prices typically double during high season (November-April inclusive)
 Budget
Most Rai Leh budget accommodation is found on the east side of Rai Leh. For the best variety of budget accommodation (wooden bungalows) try neighbouring Ton Sai Beach - a ten minute walk or one minute long-tail ride - where rooms can be had for a few hundred baht/night.
Railay Cabana Bungalows — The cheapest accommodation on Railay are a collection of bamboo bungalows, found behind Diamond Cave on Rai Leh East. Prices can be as low as 100 baht in the low season, July/August. Reaching 700Baht in high season. The savings does come with a price, expect a 10-15 uphill walk from the beach.
 Mid-range
Rai Leh West has several beach front hotels/bungalow operators located on the west side of Rai Leh. While the prices vary greatly depending on room type, they're all priced a cut above your average budget operation.
Railay Village Hotel (currently closed for renovations, due to re-open in January 2007) has a collection of concrete bunglows, each with private bathroom and fan or air con, set back off the beach among a garden setting. High season rates 500-2000 baht for double occupancy.
Sand Sea Hotel [6] is similar to Railay Village Hotel in that it is a collection of concrete bunglows, private bathroom, choice of fan or air con and quietly set back off the beach among a garden setting; Although the included breakfast buffet is nothing special for Thailand, the rooms have marginally nicer decor, and has a nice swimming pool -- which attracts a more family oriented clientèle. High season rates 1950-2500 baht for double occupancy.
Rai Lay Bay Resort & Spa Hotel is the largest and offers a combination of concrete bungalows and two-storey deluxe hotel rooms with marginally nicer decor. The hotel rooms are slightly closer to the beach, while the bungalows almost stretch right across the peninsula through their gardens, and there's a nice swimming pool. High season rates 1950-5900 baht for double occupancy, including a good buffet breakfast.
Rai Lei Beach Club [7] rents private houses. The homes are located on the western side of Rai Leh, adjacent to CoCo's, and vary in size and quality. None have air conditioning or hot water but include daily maid service. High season rates begin at 3500 baht for a single room home and range up to 13,000 baht for a three bedroom home that sleeps twelve.
Rai Leh East has no beach front hotels/bungalows; accommodation is either set back from the water or up on the hills. Many of the hotels offer fine views of the bay and surrounding mountains.
Diamond Cave Resort [8] is at the far end of Rai Leh east, weith steps from near the beach leading up to well maintained gardens with a pool, surrounded by a variety of concrete bungalows, several of them nestled into the jungle marking the edge of town. High season rates 2000-3400 baht.
Railay Princess is a new hotel located on the east side Rai Leh, near YaYa's Bungalows. It is a three story hotel style building that is set inland from the beach. While it lacks any beach front, it is quiet, and features a lagoon and pool with views of the surrounding mountains. High season rates start at 3000 baht, including breakfast.
 Get out
Most exit Rai Leh as they came in. The Phi Phi Islands, Ko Lanta and Phuket are easy destinations from Rai Leh and transportation can be easily booked through any hotel or activity center.
Ton Sai
Ton Sai is a beach near Krabi in Thailand, offering a combination of inexpensive accommodation and great rock climbing routes that make it popular with both backpackers and climbers alike. Compared to neighbouring Rai Leh and Ao Nang it's relatively rough around on the edges; in particular, the beach is unsuitable for swimming and becomes quite rocky as the tide goes out.
 Get in
There's no overland access to Ton Sai, so all visitors arrive by boat. Rai Leh is a two minute long-tail ride or a 10-15 minute walk away, while long-tails from Ao Nang to Rai Leh will also stop at Ton Sai on demand.
There are three ways to reach Rai Leh on foot:
1) At low tide it's possible to walk around the rocky outcrop which separates Ton Sai from Rai Leh (10 minutes).
2) At high tide, most opt for the steep path which climbs up and over the rocky outcrop, which is densely covered with foliage (10 minutes).
3) The least used option is a longer trail which starts on the northern, forested, edge of Ton Sai and meanders past bungalows, thick jungle, and eventually to the back of Rai Leh, near the Diamond Cave area (20 minutes).
None of these options are possible at night without a flashlight/torch, and the jungle paths can be slippery and treacherous after the rain. At any time all three routes can be awkward and tricky for all but the fit and able-bodied so don't feel bad about taking the easy, scenic, and relaxing long-tail to get across.
 Get around
The only way to get around Ton Sai is on foot. The beach and the main road act as the primary through fares for the area. It may take five minutes or less to cover the entire area. During heavy rains, the dirt road becomes muddy and treacherous.
 Do
Rock climbing is the primary draw for visitors, with Ton Sai offering as many routes as Rai Leh, and hosting a number of climbing schools and guiding companies, including:
PhraNang Adventures [1] specializes in all inclusive custom packages. Offers camp and climb on Ko Lao Liang.
Wee's Rock Climbing School [2] offers a variety of courses and has a gear shop. Course prices range from 800 baht for intro courses to 8000 baht for five day advanced courses. Also organises Deep Water soloing trips.
Playing with fire -- Ton Sai could well be the world centre for fire tricks: light something on fire, twirl it in the air, that's the basic idea. A lot of climbers can be found on the beach during their rest days practicing.
SCUBA Diving
Hydra Divers, tel: +66 84 627 5227, [3]. The only dive centre at Tonsai Beach will guide you to the underwater world.
 Eat
There are several restaurants and bars on the beach and most bungalow operators have restaurants as well. Beware that many operations in Ton Sai are not electrified throughout the day meaning that unless they are careful with food storage you'll end up with a nasty case of food poisoning.
 Drink
There are several bars on the beach, several of which (oddly enough) feature non-stop reggae music. A popular climber's hang out is Ton Sai Roof, at the east end of the beach, where the routes begin at the foot of Freedom bar.
 Sleep
All accommodation is set off of the beach and tends to be of the bamboo bungalow variety, and a little more rustic (and certainly more affordable though prices have more than tripled over the past five years) than at Rai Leh. Rubbish piles and noisy generators are common nuisances.
Andaman Nature Resort - set well off the beach near the base of the cliffs, the basic bamboo bungalows are popular with budget travelers. The Andaman is largest collection of bungalows in Ton Sai. Rates are around 800 baht during the high season for a basic room with private bathroom. 100-150 baht during low season.
Country Side Resort - set back behind the beach (follow the path up the hill from the internet cafe, and take the right-hand fork - follow the signs), this set of 10 bungalows or so are lovely, well-kept and have views. Each is built on stilts, with its own deck, clean tiled bathroom, single or double beds, many windows and a wall of three glass doors opening onto the porch. During low season it is the best deal on Ton Sai at 150 baht. During high season the rate may rise to 7-800 baht. Fea cooks a mean meal, with plenty of helpful advice and smiles. The downside, as elsewhere, is ongoing construction across the street - not a big intrusion since most days are spent at the beach, on the water or on the side of a mountain.
Contacting some of the bungalow operators for reservations can be difficult. Some of the climbing schools including Wee's (he updates the price list for the bungalows each year as well) [4] will book reservations for a flat fee.
Ko Jum
Ko Jum (เกาะจำ) is a small island between Ko Lanta and Krabi Town. While the south end of the island is known as Ko Jum (or Jam or Cham), the northern part is also called Ko Phu (or Pu), and local villagers take fierce pride in the two different names.
 Understand
Ko Jum has three main villages and is home to about 1500 permanent local residents. On the west side of the island are about 20 resorts which provide very simple bungalow accommodation.
 Get in
Most travellers arrive via the ferries that connect Ko Lanta and Krabi, which charge about 350 baht (the same price as for the entire crossing, even though Ko Jum is at the half way point). The fare can be paid on board, but pre-booking is recommended as the ferry is often full. Tickets can be bought from travel agencies in Krabi or at the main ferry offices at the old pier on Thanon Khong Ka, and with resorts on Ko Jum.
Ko Jum has no jetty or dock - the ferry stops offshore and is met by longtail boats. If you've pre-booked, then a boat from your resort should be there to pick you up; otherwise simply choose one and ask for a lift to shore.
 Get around
Ko Jum is a relatively small island and most of the population gets around on small 100-125cc motorbikes, which can be rented easily. There is also a local taxi service, comprising a motorbike and sidecar! The roads are narrow, unsealed, and frequently pot-holed and wet, and can be very challenging for inexperienced riders. Only in the main village is there a concrete road surface.
 Stay safe
It seems unlikely that there are any problems on Ko Jum but take usual precautions.
Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island district off the west coast of Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province it is known for its diving and long white beaches.
 Understand
Ko Lanta is in fact a district consisting of several islands. The two largest are Ko Lanta Noi and Ko Lanta Yai. Although Ko Lanta Noi is inhabited, Ko Lanta Yai is the primary tourist destination and this article discusses Ko Lanta Yai.
Ko Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It's popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing. However, there are plenty of bars and the longer term stayers are friendly and know how to party! It is also popular with families with young children, and of course, with divers. You could say that while Phi Phi is chicken barbecues and Mekong buckets, Lanta is chicken flesh and buckets and spades. But you'd be wrong. Ko Lanta can certainly provide a party if you know where to look.
Ko Lanta is a little less well-known than Ko Phi Phi, which has become more commercialised and corporate, but it is hardly undiscovered: the several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows, although the farther down the island you venture, the less this is true. And even when the island is at it fullest, there will be a quiet place for you to relax - the beaches are never full. Ko Lanta is especially popular with Swedish tourists: although the "tourist language" is English as it is in most places in Thailand, and you will find menus and so on are translated into English, expect the poolside language to be Swedish much of the time. However, there are still many English and Irish bars and restaurants to visit.
Ko Lanta sustained limited tsunami damage in December 2004, but virtually all businesses are now operating normally again. Around 20 people perished.
 Get in
 By air
The nearest airports are Krabi, Trang and Phuket. Krabi and Trang have direct road and boat connections to Ko Lanta, and are the best options if you're only visiting Ko Lanta. Flying into Phuket is a better option if you're intending to spend time in Phuket and nearby islands, or, since Phuket has many more international flights, if you don't want to have to organize a domestic flight to Krabi or Trang from Bangkok. As an alternative to Bangkok, there are daily flights to Krabi directly to and from Singapore.
 By car
Ko Lanta does not have roads connecting it directly to the mainland, but is served by car ferries. Take road 4206 off highway 4 about 20km south-east of Krabi airport. Drive to the end of the road, where there is a car ferry from Baan Hua Hin to Ko Lanta Noi. From the pier here, turn right and follow the "ferry" signs to the second car ferry to Ko Lanta Yai. Ferries operate 07:00-22:00.
There are plenty of car taxi and minivan taxi services from Krabi and the nearby airport. A seat in a ten person minivan from the airport to Ko Lanta costs about 250 baht. These minivans usually don't have much room for luggage (although they can usually find room for one or two large suitcases together with backpacks for the rest of the passengers) so if you're not traveling light you might need to get a private taxi.
This is what the divemasters do. A private minivan taxi will usually be quoted as 2500 baht. It's possible to bargain a few hundred baht off this price but not much more or the tolls will consume too much of the price. Car taxis cost about the same.
When travelling to/from Ko Lanta in the afternoon by road, allow 2–3 hours for the journey as the queues for the vehicle ferries can be lengthy. The passenger ferry which leaves Ko Lanta pier (high season) at 08:00 and arrives at Krabi pier at 10:00 is quicker.
 By boat
Ferry services run from Krabi, Ao Nang and from Phuket via Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lanta Yai's Saladan pier. Ferry services are subject to weather and to demand: many will not run at all during the monsoon season and at a reduced frequency during the low season. Many ferries have limited room for luggage. Often the ferries dock alongside each other, meaning that to get on and off passengers must clamber onto and across other boats with their luggage.
Services from Krabi are run by P.P. Family Co (+66 75 630 165) and depart Krabi pier at 10:30 and 13:30, taking 2 hours to reach Ko Lanta (200 baht including free pickup from Krabi hotels). There's a transit bus from Krabi town center for 10 baht.
Services from Ao Nang are run by Ao Nang Travel and Tour (+66 75 637 730) and depart at 10:30 (280 baht).
Ferries depart from Ko Phi-Phi at 11:30 and 14:00, and take 1 hour. If travelling from Phuket in a single day, you will need to leave Phuket on the 08:00 ferry to transfer to the 11:30 ferry. Tickets to Ko Lanta are 200 baht from Ko Phi-Phi and 450 baht from Phuket.
 Get around
The main road which loops around the island is recently paved with cement. Some roads are still unpaved dirt. It's worth knowing the names of the resorts near yours: both the pickup trucks and motorcycle taxis will often want to pick you up or drop you at a nearby resort with a better road.
Resorts and some of the major tourist services (like the dive shops) own large pickup trucks and transport tourists around in the tray. Very occasionally, they own minibuses instead. If you come in by ferry your resort will almost certainly meet you at pier with their truck; if you're travelling with very small children who you don't want to cling to while you bump along sitting on the side of the truck you might want to warn them in advance that you'll want to ride in the cab: it's generally assumed to be the private domain of the driver.
You will find the locals almost exclusively ride motorcycles; you can hire these in several places for a few hundred baht a day. You can also hire motorcycle taxis with sidecars. These will happily take you on the unpaved roads but the ride can be as slow as walking. A typical fare for a ride from Saladan to Klong Dao Beach is 40 baht.
Jeeps can be hired for 1200 baht per day. Be sure to check insurance, contract terms and the condition of the vehicle. The "roads" of Ko Lanta combined with the driver operation characteristics of some renters are a serious challenge for any car. The frequently available Suzuki Sporty seems primitive and therefore sturdy, and a replacement should cost around 150000 baht.
 See
Lanta Old Town is a small village on Ko Lanta's East side. It's one of the region's most culturally diverse with Chinese merchants, original Thai fishing families and an ancient Sea Gypsy community. Many years ago, Ko Lanta's Old Town acted as the port and commercial center for the island and provided a safe harbor for Arabic and Chinese trading vessels sailing between the larger ports of Phuket, Penang and Singapore. Today, Old Town is the district capital; it has a post office, police station, Buddhist temple, Chinese temple and the island's hospital as well as a long pier. It's a charming place to visit and boasts many good restaurants and interesting shopping like handmade Hammocks and an original Batik and Art Gallery. It's also a great jumping off point to other Islands like Ko Bubu and Ko Talenbeng.
 Do
 Longtail boating
Lanta Longtail , 9/1 Moo 1, Lanta Old Town, Ko Lanta Yai +66 8916619 (info@lantalongtail.com) [1] - private charters, island tours, beach camping and fishing trips.
 Learn Thai cooking
Time for Lime, 72/2 Moo 3 Klong Dao Beach +66 75 684590 (info@timeforlime.net) [2] offers day and evening professional Thai cooking classes right on the beach, plus workshop series. Daytime courses (teaching 4 dishes) 1800 baht, evening classes (teaching 3 dishes) 1400 baht.
 Sea kayaking
Rapu Sea Kayaking, 10/5 Moo 2, Ko Lanta Yai +66 92 871 749 (contact Chutima Junsirikamon) - guided sea kayak tours of the mangrove areas.
 Diving
There are no scuba diving sites on the island itself, all require a boat trip. However Lanta is the closest island to the famous Hin Daeng and Hin Muang sites, so it is very popular with divers. Other sites visited by dive shops include Ko Haa, Hin Bida, Ko Rok, Ko Waen and the Kingcruiser wreck. There are many dive centers on Lanta offering everything from beginner training on; if you want training, many shops can start any course on demand, particularly Open Water and Advanced Open Water. Courses are offered in English, Swedish, German and Thai at most shops and other languages will be available at some.
There are essentially two choices when travelling to dive sites: a larger, slower boat out of Ban Saladan (1.5 hours to Ko Haa, 3 or 4 to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang) or a speedboat departing from various beaches on the island (as little as 1 hour to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang). The slower boats are recommended for comfort reasons, but you will lose the entire day to the trip. Almost all shops offer free pickup from at least resorts towards the northern end of the island.
Almost all day trips are for two dives. Prices are in the range of 2500–3000 baht for a day's boat diving on the closer sites, 3000–4000 baht for Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Gear hire will be about 500 baht per trip. Certification is all PADI: about 13000 baht for a four day Open Water course, and 10000 baht for a two day Advanced Open Water course (five dives). The speedboats tend to cost extra.
Some dive centers ask for Advanced Open Water or equivalent certifications, or 20 or more dives experience, if you are diving Hin Daeng/Hin Muang.
Atlantis Diving, 18 Moo 1, Saladan, +66 75 684 081 (info@atlantis-diving.net), [3]. Atlantis has daily dive trips departing from Saladan on a 21m boat. Training in English and German.
Blue Planet Divers, 3 Moo 1, Saladan, +66 75 684 165 (scuba@blueplanetdivers.net), [4]. Daily dive trips departing from Saladon.
Dive & Relax PADI Dive Resort, 223 Moo 2 Phra Ae, Saladan, +66 848 422 191 (info@diveandrelax.com), [5]. Speedboat pickup from your beach. Training in several languages.
Go Dive, 6 Moo 1, Saladan +66 75 684 320 (info@godive-lanta.com) [6] - PADI courses in several languages, pickup from any Ko Lanta hotel/resort. Dive sites: Hin Daeng and Hin Muang; Ko Haa; Ko Phi Phi; Ko Bida; Hin Bida; Shark Point; Anemone Reef and King Cruiser Wreck.
Ko Lanta Diving Center, 1/3 Moo 1, Saladan +66 75 684 065, (info@kolantadivingcenter.com) [7] - PADI courses. The first dive shop on Ko Lanta, founded in 1992; dive sites: Ko Haa; Ko Bida and Hin Bida; Ko Phi Phi; Shark Point, Anemone Reef and King Cruiser wreck; Hin Daeng and Hin Muang; also 2-day trips to Ko Ngai and Hin Daeng.
Laguna Fun Divers, 147 Moo 1, Saladan +66 75 684 528 (lagfund@gmx.de) [8] - PADI courses. Speedboat trips: Hin Daeng; Ko Rok; Ko Haa; Ko Ma; Hin Bida and Ko Bida; Ko Phi Phi.
Lanta Discovery Diver +66 75 684 035. [9] - offers speedboat trips to various locations, with boat pickup from all the beaches.
Lanta Diver, 197/3 Moo 1, Saladan +66 75 684 208 (fax +66 75 684 057 scuba@lantadiver.com) [10] - PADI courses. Founded by a Swedish couple and staffed mainly, but not exclusively, by Scandinavians; dive sites: Ko Haa; Ko Bida and Hin Bida; Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Lanta Diver is one of the better known dive shops and is popular with moderately experienced divers (although they do everything from beginner certification on). Book their Hin Daeng/Hin Muang trips in advance.
Lanta Diving Safaris, 289 Moo 1, Saladan +66 87 88 96 802 (manta@lanta-diving-safaris.com) [11] - The M/V Flying Seahorse is Ko Lanta's only live-aboard.
 Eat
Ko Lanta has a wide variety of restaurants, the kind that most visitors travel to Thailand for: beach-front locations serving delicious and inexpensive Thai and seafood dishes. Eateries line the beaches in front of the bungalows and no visitor will starve from lack of variety or interesting places to dine.
Sunset Restaurant is a very small restaurant on Klong Dao beach close to D.R. Lanta Resort beside Mooks bar. The Thai food is the best on Klong Dao beach and cheap too. Real Thai style eating with the tables directly on the sand and no decorations at all but a nice view and cool breeze from the sea. And the food... mmm.
Abdul's Pancakes is a crêpe stall run from a motorcycle sidecar. You can most often find him in Moo 1, Saladan, opposite Lanta Diver when the boat divers come back (around 15:00). His chocolate and banana crêpe and his chicken crêpe are especially recommended.
Cook Kai is just across the street from Klong Nin Beach. Wholly built of wood and lovely decorated, it offers a spacious open dining area and bar. Run by the cook and his brothers and sisters, their Thai food, which has a bit of an extraordinary note, is probably the best you can get in the area and beyond. Go for the daily specials announced on the board at the entrance! Cook Kai also offers thai cooking classes.
River Restaurant is a friendly family operation located on the beach just south of Narima Resort. They have a delicious menu...lots of Thai dishes and a few western ones as well. The Phad Thai is excellent. It is very popular with families and the owner's children often play with tourist kids
Thai Cuisine is a long-established favorite. It is located in Phra Ae just south of the Opium night club. The menu features a wide selection of wonderful Thai dishes and Chinese as well. The "special" spring roll is excellent. There is bar service and a small artisan boutique. Say hello to the chef/owner, Somkuan... he's a great guy.
 Drink
There's not much in the way of nightlife, which, for many, is part of the appeal. There are a few restaurant/bars at the harbor and most hotels.
Chalee BARley's - a friendly bar/restaurant/guesthouse on Klong Nin Beach. This is a great place to meet other mellow travelers, and if you are stuck without accommodation, you can always crash on the floor.
Mooks bar - on Klong Dao beach between D.R. Lanta Bay Resort and Sun Fun & Sea Bungalows, and a good spot to relaxing with a drink on the beach, listen to some reggae, and maybe watch sports on TV. Mook himself is a person worth meeting.
Oscar's Bar - driftwood terrace on the beach.
Where Else / Feeling Bar - [12] Indian & Thai food, in a clean, friendly, quiet, and above all relaxed atmosphere.
 Sleep
Ko Lanta has three tourist seasons: low, high and peak.
Peak season: late December, early January and for some resorts also around Songkran in April; expect premiums of 25–50% or more over the high season price and on Christmas and New Year's Eve many resorts have a compulsory banquet costing about as much as an extra night's accommodation.
High season from November until February, excluding peak season
Low season: April/May to October. Many resorts will be as much as 50% cheaper than the high season price. Many places used to close entirely but increasingly they're open year round.
You won't have much trouble finding accommodation as late as your arrival at the Saladan pier except in peak season. Standard accommodation on Klong Dao and Long Beaches (the two most northerly beaches) now start at about 1200 baht for a basic air-con bungalow or hotel room. The places further away offer free transport and are much cheaper (100 baht for a spotless beach hut with bathroom), but the beach may not be so attractive and rides into town will be lengthy.
Accommodation is arranged by beach, north (most convienient to Saladan) to south (least convienient). Prices quoted here are for the high season unless otherwise specified.
 Klong Dao Beach
Andaman Lanta Resort, 142 Moo 3, +66 75 684 200 (andamanlanta@hotmail.com, fax: +66 75 684203), [13]. Large complex with 2-storey hotel style building and bungalows. Restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Rooms from 1550 baht, bungalows from 2900 baht.
Best Western Maya Ko Lanta (info@mayalantaresort.com), [14]. Hotel style building - Lanta's only resort currently owned by a major chain. They have a food and a fancy (by Lanta's standards) restaurant. From 4400 baht.
DR Lanta Resort, 206 Moo 3, +66 8 1081 5679 (fax: +66 75 684 383), [15]. Restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Rooms 1800 baht, air-con bungalows from 2000 baht.
Lanta Summer House, 208 Moo 3, +66 75 684 099 (lantasummer@yahoo.com). Typical beach-side bungalow resort with three-bed air-con bungalows. The restaurant is in the lower price range but the offerings, while extensive, are very watered down (they don't do spicy). Nice and friendly staff. Poolside bungalows with airconditioning from about 1300 baht.
Royal Lanta, 222 Moo 3, +66 75 684 361 (sales@royallanta.com, fax: +61 75 684 362), [16]. Luxury villa with beautiful bungalows in the Thai architectural style, pool, and laundry service. Bungalows from 3700 baht.
Southern Lanta Resort and Spa, 105 Moo 3, +66 75 684 174 (info@southernlanta.com, fax: +66 75 684 174), [17]. Large resort with 100 bungalows, pool, restaurant and beachside bar. Bungalows 1800-15000 baht.
 Long Beach (Ao Phra Ae)
Chaw Ka Cher Tropicana Lanta Resort, 352 Moo 2, +66 75 637 970 (info@chawkacherresort.com, fax: +66 75 637 404), [18]. Secluded resort with tropical garden. From 2000 baht.
Good Days Lanta Chalet and Resort, 183 Moo 2, +66 75 684 186 (info@gooddayslanta.com, fax: +66 75 684 187), [19]. Fan bungalows from 900 baht, air-con from 1400 baht.
Lanta Longbeach, 172 Moo 3, +66 75 684 198 (reservations@lantalongbeach.com), [20]. Pool and restaurant. Air-con bungalows from 1700 baht.
Lanta Nakara, 172 Moo 3, +66 75 684 198 (reservations@lantalongbeach.com), [21]. More luxurious cousin of Lanta Longbeach (same management); as a pool and restaurant. Air-con bungalows from 2500 baht.
Relax Bay Resort, 111 Moo 2, +66 75 684 194 (relaxbay@hotmail.com, fax: +66 75 684 196), [22]. French-owned resort with its own 1km beach and Thai-French restaurant. Fan bungalows from 1000 baht, air-con from 1700 baht.
Sanctuary, 186 Moo 2, +6681 891 3055. Well-designed bamboo bunglaows, mosquito nets and great Indian and Thai food from the restaurant. Fan huts up to 400 baht per night (low season).
 Klong Khong Beach
Where Else Resort, 149 Moo 2, +66 75 684 253 (fax: +66 75 684 253), [23]. Funky, chilled out bamboo eco tourism village surrounded by old coconut palm trees. Each bungalow is unique. Fan bungalows from 500 baht.
 Klong Nin Beach
Lanta River Sand Resort, +66 75 662 660 (piu@lantariversand.com), [24]. Thai-style bungalows 900 baht (no air-con).
Narima Bungalow Resort, 98 Moo 5, +66 75 618 081 (narima@inet.co.th), [25]. Open air beach views and wooden floors. Bungalows from 2000 baht.
 Kantiang Bay
Anda Lanta Resort (formerly Waterfall Bay Resort), +66 28 995 919 (info@andalanta.com, fax: +66 24 157 436), [26]. Overpriced luxury bungalow resort with satellite TV and Internet access for guests. However there's no room service and the telephones don't work. Open during the low season. Room from 2300 baht, bungalow from 4500 baht.
Bamboo Bay Resort, Aow Mai Pai, +66 75 665 023 (bamboobay@bamboobay.net). Fan bungalows from 500 baht, air-con from 1300 baht.
Kantiang Bay View Resort, 9 Moo 5, +66 01 787 5192. Restaurant + "Why not?"-bar directly on the beach. Wooden bungalows. Not to be confused with the nearby Marine Park View Resort, which is located on the hill! Free pickup from Ban Sala Dan to Ao Kantiang, but return to Ban Sala Dan is 500 baht! 1000 baht and up for fan bungalows and 1500 and up air-con.
Lanta Sand Resort & Spa, 279 Moo 3, +66 75 684 633 (lanta@lantasand.com, fax: +66 75 684 636), [27]. 48 bungalows. Villas from 7000 baht.
Marine Park View Resort, 7 Moo 5, +66 75 665 063 (LantaMarineBookings@Gmail.com), [28]. Restaurant + Shroom Bar with the best view of the beach. Air-con rooms in large bungalow from 2100 baht.
Ko Phi Phi
Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province.
The named islands are:
Ko Phi Phi Don, the largest and only populated island.
Ko Phi Phi Leh (also known as Ko Phi Phi Lai), a smaller island to the south, popularised when parts of the movie "The Beach" were filmed there. Uninhabited apart from bird nest harvesters and a few Maya Bay wardens; expect plenty of tourists during daylight hours, especially in Maya Bay, the beach of the eponymous movie.
Ko Phai ('Bamboo Island'), a small low-lying islet to the north of Phi Phi Don with several good beaches.
Bida Nok and Bida Nai, two small adjacent limestone karsts to the south of Phi Phi Leh, with near-vertical cliff walls rising from the sea.
Although rapidly becoming less and less attractive due to the masses of tourists as well as the construction on the island, it's still a very beautiful place to visit, and is one of those places everybody should go at least once in their lifetime. Although the beaches are not the best in Thailand, the place has a good vibe and nightlife and there are dozens of dive shops to choose from.
Most of the (over)development of Phi Phi Don is situated in or around Tonsai village, which is on the low, sandy isthmus that joins the two hilly spurs that comprise the rest of the island. There are also other, quieter resorts on Long Beach, Laem Thong, and at other less accessible areas of the island.
Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island's infrastructure was wiped out. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services like electricity, water, Internet access and ATMs are up and running again, but waste handling has been slower to come back online.
It should be noted that, while very laid back, many of the local islanders are Muslim. You will lose considerable respect if you walk around town in your skimpies (this applies to Buddhist areas of Thailand too!). While many tourists do in fact parade down Main Street in their Speedos or thong bikinis, to avoid offending your hosts, it's usually best just to throw on a pair of shorts or a sarong; similarly, toplessness on the beaches, while grudgingly tolerated by most locals, is also probably best avoided.
 Getting there
 By air
Destination Air Shuttle - direct seaplane transfers from/to Phuket International Airport and other popular Andaman coast destinations. They often run a low season promotion for transfer from Phi Phi to Phuket Airport for only 2000 baht (high season is 6000 baht), and land at Laem Thong near the northern tip of the island - transport to Tonsai, if required, is about 30 minutes by longtail boat. This is a fairly good deal considering the ferry (400 baht) plus taxi (700 baht) to Phuket's airport will run you around 1200 baht.
 By boat
Ferries leave from Phuket and Krabi daily (several times a day during the high season). Tickets are 350 baht to/from Phuket, Krabi (350 baht) or Ko Lanta (300 baht), and if bought in advance should include transport to the pier. They are much cheaper when bought in a package with a bus ticket at a travel agency in Bangkok. The nearer you get to Ko Phi Phi, the more expensive the ferry tickets get, peaking at 350 baht at the pier.
Not all ferries are created equally. You can often take your ticket from a travel agent and apply it to a nicer ferry. Talk to the locals and find out what is the best ferry to take. The ferries run by Chao Ko group, particularly the smallest "Pichamon IV" are often overcrowded and appear to be very poorly maintaned, which does not inspire confidence, particuarly in heavy seas. In April 2007, a ferry operated by Andaman Wave Master caught fire and sank, resulting in the necessity for the passengers to be evacuated by speedboat. However, the ferries run by PP Family are larger and seem more suited to the task.
Other tour vessels visit the island from several Phuket-based resorts, usually on day trips, the price for a speadboat from Rawai Beach was quoted at 15,000 baht return(or one way) for up to 6 people(Dec 6 2007). There are many speedboats operating directly from the beach but it may be best to book the day before as most seem to be on away on trips during the day. Speedboats can also be chartered from other nearby locations, but at a very high price (in July 2007, the starting price for a speedboat to Phi Phi Don from Ko Yao was quoted at 20,000 baht).
 Getting around
Phi Phi officially has no motorised transport, though there are a few motorcycles with truck sidecars, usually used for goods and construction material transport. Transport on land is by foot or bicycle, but in the populated areas of Tonsai, nowhere is more than about ten minutes' walk from anywhere else. Long-tail taxi-boats ply between all beaches; on Phi Phi Don, you can also walk to any beach. From Ton Sai to Long Beach, expect to pay 40 baht/person in the afternoon, at least 80 baht at night. To have a complete boat to yourself, expect to pay at least 100 baht.
Wheelbarrows are used to transport goods, including your luggage if you like. Expect free "transport" from the pier to your room, but not necessarily in the opposite direction.
 See
Viewpoint - walk up to the Viewpoint, 186 metres above sea level (a very steep walk of between 10-25 minutes, depending on fitness), to get a breathtaking view of the entire island - particularly at dawn or sunset (bring a flashlight). You will be surprised at how narrow the sand strip is between the two main parts of the island.
Monkey Beach - accessible on foot or by renting a canoe, or be lazy and charter a longtail boat. Don't forget to take some bananas for the monkeys! Be careful as they can sometimes be aggressive.
Fireshow - there are several highly skilled and entertaining fireshows held nightly in several venues on the island, including at Carlito's, Apache Bar, Hippies, Carpe Diem, and The Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar on Lohdalum.
Tsunami Memorial Garden - by the Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar; a beautiful place for quiet contemplation and paying one's respects to the victims of the recent tragedy.
 Do
Ko Phi Phi Leh - take a longtail boat and visit Maya Bay - the "secret beach" where the movie "The Beach" was filmed. Water directly around the island is sometimes disappointingly murky and not so good for diving. The beach on the other side of the island, across from where the boats land, is slightly nicer. It is highly recommended to arrive at Maya Bay before 8am, when the place can still be enjoyed in solitude. As from 9am hoards of speedboats with tourists on package tours arrive from Phuket. Another thing to think about when coming to Maya Bay is the time of year. During the high season (October - May) you will feel like you are at Disneyland, but during the off season and you shouldn't be surprised if you are one of only two or three small groups on the beach, or even alone. NOTE: Park Rangers have begun enforcement of a National Park entry fee of 400 baht/person, though if you are traveling in a tour group, they will typically include it in the price of your trip.
Snorkeling - there are two rocks within swimming distance of Long Beach known as 'Shark Point' where harmless blacktip reef sharks can be seen. The Adventure Club dive shop runs 'Shark Watch' snorkeling trips to Shark Point that 'guarantee' a sighting of sharks. Many dive schools take snorkelers on their dive boats, but expect to see only a hint of the underwater marvel visible to scuba divers. The snorkeling off Bamboo and Mosqito Islands is quite good although the reefs are a long way below you at high tide. For an excellent chance to see sharks, visit Paradise Diving on Longbeach who will point you in the right direction of the Black Tip Reef Shark's habitat metres from the sandy shore. Paradise Diving is located on The Paradise Resort in the middle of Longbeach.
Scuba diving - there are many dive shops, and some very good dive locations. Prices are regulated, so expect to pay the same everywhere. Shops on the island do a few different trips. The typical trip offered is a two tank local dive within the Phi Phi Marine park which will run about 2200 baht. They also do 2 -3 tank trips to the King Cruiser wreck with your follow up dives at both Shark Point and Anemone Reef, this trip usually runs between 3200 -3900 depending on the number of dives you do. No diving trip to Phi Phi would be complete if you didn't head down to Hin Daeng. Hin Daeng has some of the stepest drops in Thailand (60m+) as well as being the place you are most likely to see Manta Rays and Whale Sharks. This trip usually runs around 4500 baht. The town centre is crammed with dive shops and is fiercly competetive. For a more relaxed experience there are several dive shops also available on Longbeach. Check out DiveThailand.comfor more information.
Rock Climbing - there are opportunities for rock climbing on Ko Phi Phi, and a few climbing shops to rent equipment, find a guide or take basic lessons. (Spider Monkey can be recommended). While not as famous as Rai Leh beach, nor with as many routes, the climbing is on similar limestone cliffs, and similarly beautiful. The climbing here also tends to be less crowded than at Rai leh. There are about four walls that are used with some frequency.
 Buy
Most stuff is brought in by boat, so most things are less original and more expensive than on the mainland. However, there are a few shops that manufacture their goods on the island. Prices for commodities vary widely between shops.
D's Books, with two locations on Ko Phi Phi and many others throughout Southern Thailand, is a well respected book store.
Most of the items sold here are either made by local fishermen or they are brought to the island from Phuket town. Rising commercialization and inflow of tourists throughout the year seems to be a big bonus for these locals. Prices told may exactly not be worth the item, but if you are a good talker, you can bargain for a good price.
 Eat
Food on Ko Phi Phi is extremely varied, given the diminutive size of the island, but is not as spectacular as it generally is in Thailand, because most ingredients have to be brought in by boat from the mainland. Nevertheless there are some restaurants that manage to serve surprisingly tasty food:
Cosmic - Italian restaurant that deserves the name - has two outlets on the island and serves very good pizza. Aside from the pizza, the Thai food at this restaurant is good and reasonably priced.
Hibachi - all you can eat Japanese-style buffet near Reggae Bar. Excellent sushi selection for the price (200 baht). Two outlets very close together. The grilled selections and Thai food on their buffet is not very good.
Little Britain - If you are looking for a good traditional English breakfast with eggs, Heinz Baked Beans, sausage, bacon, potatoes, mushrooms and black pudding this is the place to go. English tea also comes with your breakfast.
Mr. Tee's - When you come off the ferry, veer slightly left and you find yourself on an alley covered by tarps, with small Thai restaurants. You'll notice a lot of locals eating in this alley. The first booth on your left is Mr. Tee's. They tend to be forgetful but the food is good, cheap, and spicy!
Papaya - one of the first restaurants rebuilt after the tsunami. A small green 'shop' restaurant opposite the Reggae Bar and next door to Tiger Bar, run by the enthusiastic and friendly Mr Nod. Don't let the unprepossessing looks of the restaurant put you off - the food here is incredibly good and very good value. Serves authentic Thai food, hot and spicy as it should be, but the staff helpfully allow you to express the spiciness in percentile terms, with 100% being 'Thai spicy'. Among local expats living on the island, this place is known as the place to get good cheap Thai food. If you are looking for a personal sized portion with rice at a cheaper price ask for your food to be "On Rice".
Sports Bar - For some great English-style meat pies Sports Bar is the place to go. It is also the only place on the island where you can buy a Pint of Chang and get Pitchers of beer.
Tuk's BBQ - Located next to apache, its basically a street vendor, but it has the absolute best BBQ on the island, with most items costing 30 baht.
 Drink
Drinks prices are quite high (cocktails 180 baht). Many bars offer similar entertainment, cabarets and striking fire shows - performed by the same people, advertised by posters and flyers apparently drawn by the same person...
Apache Bar - a multi-story bar overlooking Ton Sai. And the home of the weekly transvestite shows. Was damaged in a fire in the early parts of 2007 but is now up and running again. Good place for dancing on Saturdays. Get a cheap "bucket" right next to the Apache Bar before entering.
Beach Bar - located right in the tsunami wastelands and a good choice for those looking to have a quiet drink.
Carlitos Bar - relaxed drinks on the beach served by amiable waitresses. During the winter months this place is full of Scandinavian party goers. Most of the service staff this time of year is over on extended holiday from Sweden so expect a lot of beautiful tanned blonds to be walking around.
Hippies Bar - nice but rowdy place at the beach with a lot of fire shows and full/half/quarter moon parties on a weekly basis.
Reggae Bar - popular place that organizes mock Muay Thai fights most nights. If you are there at the right time you can even join in with the Muay Thai fights. They invite tourist, usually drunk, to get into the ring geared up and to beat on each other for a few rounds for a couple of FREE buckets.
Rolling Stoned Bar - Great rock music with a live band during high season and at other times of the year. They also have four pool tables and is a one of the more popular bars on the island.
Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar - on Lohdalum Bay, a nautically-themed beach bar with 'ark' and longtail-bar, pool table and laid-back beach seating. A great place to watch the often spectacular sunsets.
Tiger Bar - The local expat's hangout. Located next to Papaya Restaurant and Rolling Stoned Bar this small multi level bar is a favorite with the local dive community. The bar typically gives out FREE buckets from 12:00 - 12:15.
Woodys Bar is basically just a walk up liquor store, but they have a few tables out front. Its close to Apache. The staff are funny and the Beatles are always playing. Nice place to get a 180 baht bucket to walk around on the beach with.
 Sleep
Accommodation is relatively expensive - doubles range from 400 baht up into the 1000s the closer you get to the beach front. If you are a budget traveler expect to work hard to find a decent price. If you get really desperate a couple of places rent out tents for about 200–300 baht - mind your valuables! One thing to note, prices are double during the high season which runs from October/November until May. Other time of year you can find relatively cheap accommodation in the 200 -300 range.
To have the best choice for accommodation, arrive in Phi Phi just before the time of the full moon party, when most people will be on Ko Pha Ngan. Since a lot of people move from Pha Ngan to Phi Phi after the party, accommodation may be very hard to find on Phi Phi around this time. It is not uncommon to see people arrive on the morning ferry only to leave on the afternoon one because they have been unsuccessful in aquiring accommodation.
Holiday Inn Resort. Claims to be the most peaceful resort on the island. Expensive (by Thai standards)
Phi Phi Rimlay. Very nice air conditioned rooms near the beach for 800 baht.
PP Island Resort, [1]. A good place for honeymooners. around 3,000 baht.
PP Viewpoint, [2]. Wide variety of rooms from bungalows with fans to air-con with minibar, all with awesome views of the bay. Pool, full service dining, two bars, kayak rentals, diving lessons and a private trail to the viewpoint. Poor food quality, check might be higher than offered in menu.
The Rock Backpacker, (075) 612402 (pptherockbackpacker@hotmail.com). Clean and friendly place and excellent for meeting up with other travellers, with 100 baht dorm beds, 150 baht singles and a few 200 baht doubles (prices double up during high season).
View Garden Resort. Rooms with bathroom, double bed, and shared balcony for 300 baht.
Ko Siboya
Ko Siboya (เกาะศรีบอยา) is a small island 20 Km south of Krabi in Southern Thailand.
 Understand
Ko Siboya (see-boy-ya) is off the regular tourist trail. Other than the island's one resort, you will find only a few local stalls selling household supplies, snacks and petrol as you explore the local culture. Ko Siboya is home to about a 1000 or so residents whose work is mainly in the rubber plantations or fishing. Dirt roads and foot paths connect the 4 or 5 small communities on this 3 x 10 km island. The lack of easy access to the island has limited transportation to either motorcycles or walking. A new community clinic is able to handle minor medical problems.
Ko Siboya escaped the destruction of the crushing tsunami of December 2004, as it was in the lee of Ko Jum, but did have to deal with the high water surge which devastated the island's fishing fleet.
 Get in
From Krabi Town there are three possibilities:
  • charter a private longtail boat (about 1000 baht)
  • take a songthaew to Nua Klong (on the southern highway towards Trang), where you can transfer to another songthaew to the coastal village of Laem Kruad; from there hire a longtail or wait for the somewhat scheduled ferry over to the east shore of Ko Siboya. Then hitch a ride with a local, walk the 3 Km or call Siboya Bungalows for a pick-up.
  • take a songthaew to Laem Hin (departures at 11:00 & 15:00, takes 1 hour, costs 50 baht); from there take the on-demand longtail public ferry to Laem Soma on Ko Siboya (20 baht)
You can arrange any of these trips yourself. Alternatively, go to the Siboya Guest House across from the GPO, they make sure a truck is there to take you to the bungalows (50 baht per person). If you take the ferry and arrive unannounced you'll have to snag a ride on a motor cycle; everyone on the island is very friendly just ask and don't forget to tip!
 Get around
Since there is only a pedestrian/motorcycle ferry to the island, you will find only a very few working pick-up trucks. Most transport is by moto or on foot.
 See
Rural life goes on without the tourist effect. About a third of the island is planted with rubber trees. Dirt roads connect the 5 small enclaves of population and 2 primary schools.
 Do
It's great to sit at one of the 2 or 3 coffee shops (someones front porch) at about 7:30am and watch the Thais come to life. Workers finishing in the rubber plantations, children getting dropped off for school or just people catching up on gossip.
 Eat
Siboya Bungalows[1] has the only full service restaurant on the island.
(Copy and paste these coordinates into Google Earth - 7 53 1.45 N, 98 58 42.67 E)
 Drink
Siboya Bungalows[2] has the only full service restaurant on the island.
 Sleep
Siboya Bungalows [3] is the only accommodation on the island. 20 basic bungalows (250 baht) plus four slightly larger bungalows (350 baht); each has attached toilet/shower.
 Contact
Telephone: as of December 2006 most mobile phones will work here.
Internet: check your e-mail before leaving the mainland.
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat (นครศรีธรรมราช) is the provincial capital of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province.
 Get in
 By plane
PBAir provides daily flight services from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2261-0220 – 5. Thai Airways [1] has daily flights connecting Bangkok with Nakhon Si Thammarat. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000, the Nakhon Si Thammarat Office at tel. 0 7534 2491, 0 7534 3874.
 By train
There are rapid and express trains departing from Bangkok Railway Station to Nakhon Si Thammarat at 5:35PM and 7:15PM respectively. For more information, contact tel. 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or call Nakhon Si Thammarat train station at tel. 0 7535 6364, 0 7534 6129.
 By bus
Regular and air-conditioned buses of the Transport Co. and private companies depart from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. The trip takes about 12 hours. Air-conditioned buses, varying in 3 types, leave Bangkok at the following times:
VIP Bus: 5:15PM and 7PM Standard 1 Bus: 9AM, 6PM and 8.30PM Standard 2 Bus: 6:40AM, 6PM, 8PM and 10PM
For more information, contact tel. 0 2435 1199-200 (air-conditioned buses). Nakhon Si Thammarat Bus Station tel: 0 7534 1125.
Travel within the province is easy with mini-bus service around the city. Transport to nearby provinces includes vans, taxis, buses, and trains.
Khanom
Khanom (ขนอม) is a small town in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province.
 Understand
Khanom is unspoiled by tourists and a little bit off of the beaten path, but still fairly easy to get to. It is a small, quiet fishing town with lovely beaches. It is a great stopping point when travelling through southern Thailand. Nai Plao Beach is the main area with a few hotels and restaurants.
 Get in
By mini-bus - You can get to Khanom from the nearest cities of Surat Thani (an hour north of Khanom) or Nakhon Si Thammarat (an hour south of Khanom) for about 80 baht.
By taxi from Donsak Ferry Pier (which is the ferry to/from Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan).
 Get around
The best way to get around is by motorbike. The town and beaches have very little traffic so it is safe to ride a motorbike around to get to the local attractions and to check out the different beaches.
 See
The beaches are nice and practically deserted. There are 2 caves in the area, a few waterfalls, a nice paved road up Dat Fa Mountain.
 Do
Relax, see some of the natural, unspoiled attractions in the area. Hike or mountain bike through the jungle to the waterfalls and caves or kayak and swim off of any beach.
Go to the Wednesday morning market in town and see the variety of fruits, veggies and fish and other local merchandise.
 Eat
"Khula Bhula Cafe", located on the beach road, is the coolest place in town, a lovely small cafe with a lot of characters that offers eclectic selections of food, from all-day international breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, to real coffee, smoothies, and Italian homemade icecream.
One More Beer - a great selection of both American and Thai food.
Khanom also has a great selection of fresh seafood.
 Sleep
There are hotels/resorts/rooms from about 300 baht to about 5,000 baht a night. Not much need to book ahead yet, this may change in the next year or two after Khanom is discovered.
 Get out
There are mini-buses that leave from Khanom every hour from about 6am until 4pm to Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat. There is also big bus and a VIP bus that goes to Bangkok every day at 5:30pm. It arrives in Bangkok about 12 hours later in the morning.
Khanom is in between 2 bigger cities and about 20 mins away from Donsak Ferry pier, which has ferries to Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan.
Narathiwat
Narathiwat (นราธิวาส) is the provincial capital of Narathiwat Province.
 Get in
 By bus
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัทขนส่งจำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Narathiwat bus terminal daily. The distance is ~1161km and normally takes 14 hours. 24 seats VIP bus (พิเศษ, piset) costs 1295 baht, departs from Bangkok at 17:15. On the reverse, the departure is at 12:30. 47 seats Class 2 bus (2) costs 669 baht, departs from Bangkok at 15:30 and Narathiwat at 12:45.
 Get around
Take motorcycle taxi around the city area at about 10-20 baht. Alternatively, a bicycle can be rented at a rate of 50 baht/day to explore the city area. Motorcycle rental rate is around 250 baht/day.
 See
  • Hat Narathat หาดมราทัศน์
  • Matsayit Klang มัสยิดกลาง - known as the central mosque, located at the southern end of Thanon Pichitbamrung
  • Wat Khao Kong วัดเขากง
  • Matsayit Jangwat มัสยิดจังหวัด - known as the provincial mosque, located at the northern end of Thanon Pichitbamrung
  • Matsayit Wadi Al Husen (Talo Mano) มัสยิดวาดินฮูเช็น - known locally as 'Matsayit Song Roi Pi' (มัสยิดสองร้อยปี) or 200-year-old mosque
 Do
Narathiwat Fair - held around the middle of September every year
 Sleep
 Budget
Narathiwat Hotel
 Mid-range
Baan Burong Guest House
Rex Hotel
Pacific Hotel
Sungai Kolok
Sungai Kolok (สุไหงโกลก) is a border town in Narathiwat, Thailand, just north of the Malaysian border. The town on the Malaysian side of the border is Rantau Panjang which is in the state of Kelantan.
Sungai Kolok is popular among Malaysians for its shopping and infamous entertainment delights. Tourism however has taken a knocking since 2005 as several bombs, blamed on southern Thai Muslim separatists, have rocked the town.
 Get in
 By train
Sungai Kolok is the railhead on the east coast branch of the State Railways of Thailand's [1] southern line. There are two departures daily to Bangkok, at 11:30 (rapid) and 14:20 (express), both stopping at Yala, Hat Yai, Surat Thani and many other towns en route. Although there is a rail link across the Golok River to Rantau Panjang (in Kelantan, Malaysia), there are no cross-border passenger train services.
 By bus
Head to Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui and other destinations by direct air-con buses from Thanon Wongwiwat bus terminal. Minivans depart to Hat Yai, Narathiwat, Pattani.
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัท ขนส่ง จำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Sungai Kolok bus terminal daily. The distance is ~1227km and normally takes 15 hours.
  • 24 seats VIP bus (พิเศษ, piset) costs 1365B, departs from Bangkok at 1715. On the reverse, the departure is at 1130.
  • 40 seats Class 1 C bus (1) costs 880B, departs from Bangkok at 1800 and Sungai Kolok at 1530.
  • 47 seats Class 2 bus (2) costs 706B, departs from Bangkok at 2100, Sungai Kolok at 0800.
 To Malaysia
The "Harmony Bridge" across the Golok River connects Sungai Kolok with the Malaysian town of Rantau Panjang. The Thai border checkpoint is about 1km from the railway station; a motorcycle taxi should cost 20 baht. The Malaysian immigration checkpoint is just across the bridge and can be easily walked. Once in Malaysia, you can either catch a bus or taxi to Kota Bharu or Pasir Mas where you can catch trains to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. See the Rantau Panjang article for more details.
 Get around
Take a motorcycle taxi. The rate to the border is 20 baht.
 Do
Traditional Massage around 200 baht per hour.
 Eat
When you cross Malaysia Border to Sungaikolok and waiting for a bus to Samui, Phuket, Bangkok. Near Bus station there is a Thai Style food with reasonable price called " Mak Deang Restaurant " (Bangalow Hotel) ".
Sleep
Asia Hotel
Genting Hotel ***
Grand Garden Hotel
Marina
Merlin Hotel
 Get out
The usual stop after Sungai Kolok is either Hat Yai, or Rantau Panjang in Kelantan (the northernmost province of east coast of Peninsular Malaysia). You can also head to Pattani to expore Thailand's southern Muslim provinces.
Tak Bai
Tak Bai (ตากใบ) is a small town in Narathiwat Province, 3km north of the border with Peninsular Malaysia. The local border crossing is at the village of Ban Taba (also known as Ban Ta Ba), and the nearest major town on the Malaysian side of the border is Kota Bharu, Kelantan's state capital.
Pattani
Pattani (ปัตตานี) is the provincial capital of Pattani Province.
 Get in
 By bus
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัทขนส่งจำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Pattani bus terminal daily. The distance is ~1061km and normally takes 14 hours.
  • 40 seats Class 1 C bus (1) costs 763 baht, departs from Bangkok at 18:30 and Pattani at 14:30 and 16:00.
 See
  • Wat Saikow
  • Wat Si Mahapo
  • Wat Changhai
  • Matsayit Klang - built in the early 1960s, this traditional green-hued structure is probably the south Thailand most significant mosque
  • San Jao Leng Ju Khieng Shrine
Phang Nga
Phang Nga (พังงา) is the provincial capital of Phang Nga Province.
 Get in
 By plane
There is no airport here. The closest ones are in Phuket or Krabi.
 By train
There is no train station here. You must catch a bus for Phunphin, near Surat Thani.
 By bus
All busses from Phuket and Takua Pa on the way to Krabi pass though this city. It has hourly busses to Phuket and Krabi and Surat Thani. Bus station phone number is 076/412014
 By boat
The pier, Tha Dan, is 9 km south of the town.
 Get around
You can use the sonthaews for travel in the city. If you want to explore the area, it is better to rent a motorbike. You can rent a motorbike at M.T. Tour (Muang Thong hotel, 100 meters from the bus station). If you have an own car or a motorbike already you still can go to M.T. Tour and ask him for a detailed map of the area for free !
 Do
Most people come to Phang Nga to explore the bay, Ao Phang Nga, by long tail motor boats or sea canoe (best option). There are many tours here and most follow the standard route around the bay passing karsts, hongs, and caves. All tours go to Khao Ping Gan (Leaning Rock) which was featured in the James Bond Movie, The Man With the Golden Gun, as Scaramanga's hideaway. Beware that on "the James Bond Island," the beach is littered with trinket vendors trying to sell you something and the experience of seeing the island may be somewhat disappointing and diluted.
The Phang-Nga bay tour also takes you to, Ko Panyi, a village built on stilts. The mosque and the graveyard are the only places which are built on ground. It's a tourist trap during the day as many tours also stop here. Some tours will give you the option to stay overnight, which is preferable to really experience the village as the tourist trap disappears in the evening. If you go inwards you an see more of thevillage and eat at local stalls. There are specially in the morning and late afternoon many boats to and out of the island.
In Ko Panyi there are now many people living and working from outside. It is not authentic anymore. If you wanna see a real village go to Ko Ma Paay. Just like other parts of South-Thailand, the inhabitants of Ko Panyi are of Malay descendant.
You can make the tour with Sayan (in the bus station) or M.T. Tour (in the Muang Thong hotel, 100 meters from the bus station). If you're not in a very big hurry do not buy immediately a ticket for the trip. Talk
 Eat
During daytime you can get cheap meals at the market or at the restaurant in the Muang Thong. In this hotel it's also possible to have a breakfast (eggs, toast, butter & jam). There is also a vegetarian restaurant on the main road if you walk south from the bus station. At night it is worth to try the restaurants at the riverside. Tuesdays and Thursdays there is also a night market 500 meters south of the bus station (on the main road)
 Sleep
All of the hotels are within 250-metre radius of the bus station so it won't be hard to walk to them.
 Budget
All of Phang Nga best budget hotels are within 100 metre of each other.
Khao Lak
Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a resort town in Phang Nga province on the western Andaman Sea coastline of southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, Khao Lak was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4000 fatalities. It has since made an impressive recovery despite many hardships along the way, and is once again a popular tourist destination. Khao Lak mainly caters to families and those looking for R&R - party people prefer Phuket.
 Get in
 By plane
The easiest way to get to Khao Lak is to fly into either Phuket (the closest alternative) or Krabi and go to Khao Lak from there. Both airports serve international as well as domestic destinations.
A taxi from Phuket airport to Khao Lak costs between 1100 and 1600 baht. If you think this is too much and prefer to take a bus, you will have to get to the main road about 3 kilometers from the airport. Hop on a bus headed towards Takua Pa, Ranong or Surat Thani, they all stop in Khao Lak. It's about 70 kilometers from Phuket airport to Khao Lak.
 By train
The nearest train station is at Surat Thani on the east coast, making this an inconvenient option.
 By bus
From Bangkok, buses go to Khao Lak from the southern bus terminal (Sai Tai). The trip, which costs less than 500 baht, takes about ten hours and runs overnight. Don't buy bus tickets from Bangkok travel agents - they will most likely make you go via Surat Thani where you have to change bus.
From the bus station in Phuket, take a bus towards Takua Pa, Ranong or Surat Thani. It will set you back about 50 .
From Krabi there's a daily minibus to Khao Lak. All travel agents in Krabi sell tickets.
 See
The Police Boat. A police boat, assigned to protect the princess who was in the area at the time of the tsunami, was thrown 1.3 kilometers from the shoreline, and it has been left there as a sort of memorial. It is found to the right of the main road, in the northern end of town.
Chong Fah Waterfall. about 10 minutes East of Bang Niang, this waterfall is very scenic and accessible to all. Great for the hot days.
 Do
Diving - with the Similan Islands (home to some of the best diving in Asia) just offshore, this is one of the main attractions in the area. There are also several local dive sites to choose from.
Similan Diving - Wicked, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, +66 76 485 868 (pland@wickeddiving.com), [1]. Wicked Diving Offers one day trips to the Similan Islands with safe, secure guides. Guides speak English, Swedish, Norwegian, German and Italian. 5000 Baht.
 Eat
Sweet Peas is located walking distance from Tony Lodge(refer below) and offers Thai and western cuisine
Coconut Grove is located on the beach in Bang Niang and features great food and very nice views for sunsets.
Pizzeria PORTOFINO is located in Bang Niang Beach near police boat and 7-11 shop.
 Drink
Happy Snapper Bar, +66 76 423540. This bar along the main street offers live music and is popular among those looking for a bit of partying in this non-party destination.
 Sleep
Tony Lodge[2], 6/27 Moo 5, Khuk Khak, Tha Kua Pa, Phang Nga, Thailand 82190 +66(0) 76 443 500
Motive Cottage[3], 26/16 Moo 5, T. Khuk Khak, Ta Kua Pa, Phang-nga, Thailand 82190, Motive Cottage Resort is a simple but stylish boutique resort, located in the middle of Khaolak. It's location allows you to reach the beach within 10 minutes walk, get to town in just a breath-holding, or easily wander around to major tourist attractions.
Le Meridien Khao Lak[4], 9/9 Moo 1, Tambol Kuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, +66 76 427500.
La Flora Resort & Spa [5] ,La Flora is a boutique resort featuring 70 rooms and villas. The resort is located on the mainland in Khao Lak about one hour North of Phuket International Airport.
Poseidon Bungalows[6], 1/6 Khao Lak, Lam Kaen, +66 76 443258, email: info@similantour.com. Located a few kilometers away from the town centre, this is a very friendly and environmentally conscious place that has a small beach of its own. A two-person bungalow is 800 baht per night, a four-person bungalow is 1200 baht . Arranges snorkeling trips to Similan Islands, see the Get out section.
Jerung Guesthouse, Located on the main road it is a modern and friendly place to stay with prices around 1000 baht per guesthouse/night
 Get out
  • Similan Islands - national park consisting of nine small paradise islands. Hugely popular among divers due to unbelievable underwater scenery. Dive boats usually depart from Phuket, but non-divers can get an equally fantastic Similan experience with Similan Tour[7], a Thai-Swedish agency that offers a highly recommended live aboard snorkeling tour of the islands. The three-day tour is 6,900 baht all inclusive and departs from Khao Lak.
Similan Islands
The national park of the Similan Islands [1] (เกาะสิมิลัน) is in southern Thailand, 50 kilometers west of Khao Lak. It is considered the best place in Thailand for divers.
 Understand
The park covers 140 square kilometers in total, 14 of those being land in the shape of an archipelago consisting of nine islands. They are Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (two adjoining islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, and Ko Huyong. For simplicity they are often referred to by their number instead - 1 through 9 starting from the south. Recently, the park was expanded to include the two remote islands Ko Bon and Ko Tachai, but since "Sembilan" is Malay for "nine" this doesn't seem to stick in people's minds and those are not visited as often as the original nine.
 History
The islands were created by upwellings of hot magma during the Tertiary-Cretaceous period some 65 million years ago, then smoothed by glacial ice and the erosion by the sea. The coral reefs are about 5000 years old and hence the oldest in Thailand. In 1982, the national park was established and now it is scheduled to become a World Heritage.
The 2004 tsunami left the islands and the underwater landscape almost unharmed, since the waters are very deep around the islands.
 Landscape
The nine granite islands are postcard perfect images of paradise, covered in tropical jungle and equipped with beaches of chalk-white sand. As if this was not enough, the views under the water surface are even more impressive - this is the best dive site in Thailand. Skin-Diver Magazine has acclaimed the Similans to be one of the ten most beautiful places in the world.
 Flora and fauna
There is an enormous diversity in species - both in fish and corals. The visibility is the best you will find in Thailand. You will see plenty of colorful fish such as lionfish and clownfish (Nemo), and if you're lucky you may spot a bigger one like a manta or even a whale shark.
On Ko Huyong Thai Marines run a turtle breeding facility, but access to the island is limited.
 Climate
High season in the Similans is from December until April, when the monsoon stays far away. The best period to visit is March, when the winds are calm and the water clear. The national park is closed from May 16 to November 15.
 Get in
There are several dive trips going to the Similan from Phuket and some from Khao Lak. Both day trips and live aboard cruises are available. Dedicated cruises where your boat picks your group up from your destination and cruises around usually start at 4 days and 4 nights in length. Many shorter trips are available, often with operators who have a large vessel on the islands over summer and who do regular transfers using smaller speed boats.
Note that there is a national park entry fee of 400 baht per traveller and a further daily usage fee of 200 baht per diver per day. Most boats do not include this in their quoted price. It is paid to your dive operator before the trip.
 From Phuket
Most of these actually depart from Tap Lamu near Khao Lak but focus on the Phuket area, with offices on Phuket and pickups from major beaches:
Diving liveaboards:
Jonathan Cruiser, 43/63 Moo 5, Viset Rd., T. Rawai A. Muang, Phuket, +66 76 281 529 (info@jonathan-cruiser.com, fax: +66 76 281 530), [2]. Jonathan Cruiser offers 4 day/5 night and 5 day/6 night liveaboard diving trips. 25000 baht for 4d/5n plus park fees and rental.
White Manta Liveaboards, 18 Sin Ming Walk, #02-03, Singapore, +65 9677 8894 (info@whitemanta.com, fax: +65 6452 5496), [3]. White Manta is a Singaporean operator which has two vessels doing liveaboards in the Similans: the MV White Manta and the MV Black Manta. White Manta liveaboards are fairly high end, with the option of staying in luxury master suites with en suite bathrooms. 4d/3n trips start at approximately 28000 baht.
Scuba Cat Diving, 94 Thaweewong Rd, Patong Beach, Phuket, +66 76 345 246 (info@scubacat.com, fax: +66 76 293 122), [4]. Scuba Cat Diving has several liveaboard options. There are three cruise vessels which do longer trips (4 days/4 nights and up) to the Similan Islands among other destinations. There is also a vessel, the MV Scuba Cat, moored on the Similans throughout the high season with transfers by speedboat on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and you can vary your length of stay from 2 days/1 night and upwards accordingly. The lack of daily transfers has its upside: there won't be the bustle of divers arriving and leaving every single day. From 10000 baht for 2d/1n.
South Siam Divers, 459/1 The Best Villa, Patak Rd, Karon, Muang, Phuket, +66 76-286-016 (info@southsiamdivers.com, fax: +66 76-286-020), [5]. South Siam Divers has two boats moored on the Similan Islands, one with daily transfers and one with transfers 5 days a week (excluding Wednesday and Sunday). You can do daytrips through to living onboard for a week or more. The boat sleeps 28 and day trips are also possible, so during peak season there can be as many as 60 people on board for lunch between the arrival and departure of the speedboat. Divers are allowed 4 dives a day of 50 minutes each and must follow a guide. From 11000 baht for 2d/1n.
 From Khao Lak
Diving liveaboards:
Similan Diving Safaris, 13/19 Moo 7, Khaolak, Kukkak, Takuapa, Phang-Nga, +66 76 485 470 (info@similan-diving-safaris.com, fax: +66 76 485 471), [6]. From 17800 baht (bunk in a 4 person room) for 4d/4n.
Overnight Diving Tours:
Similan Overnight Tours, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, +66 76 486 868 (pland@wickeddiving.com), [7]. Wicked Diving offers unique 3 day/2 night diving adventures. Nights are spent on the the islands, days are spent at various dive sites. Trips depart Monday and Friday 12,000 baht.
Snorkelling only liveaboards:
Similan Tour, 1/6 Khao Lak, Lam Kaen, Thai Muang, Phangnga, +66 76 443 258 (info@similantour.com), [8]. Similan Tour have a snorkelling-only liveaboard for 3 days and 2 nights, departing Tuesdays and Fridays. 7400 baht.
Day trips:
Similan Scuba Adventures, 4/56 Moo 7, Tambon Khuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, Phang Nga, +66 76 485 610 (fax: +66 76 485 610), [9]. Similan Scuba Adventures have a day trip where divers and snorkelers go to different sites to get the most out of the experience. They also have liveaboards. The day trip is 52 Euro for snorkelers and 76 Euro for divers (2 dives)..
Similan Diving - Wicked, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, +66 76 485 868 (pland@wickeddiving.com), [10]. Wicked Diving Offers one day trips to the Similan Islands with safe, secure guides. Guides speak English, Swedish, Norwegian, German and Italian. 5000 Baht.
 From Ko Lanta
Diving liveaboards:
Lanta Diving Safaris, 289 Moo 1, Ban Saladan, Ko Lanta, +66 75 68 49 04, [11]. Lanta Diving Safaris, Ko Lanta's only liveaboard, does periodic (about 1 per month) 7 day/7 night trips that include a day's diving in the Similans. 7d/7n trips approx 30000 baht plus fees.
 Fees/Permits
The National Park fee is 400 baht/day (children 100 baht). For Thai citizens the fee is 40 baht, children 20 baht.
Diving fee is an additional 200 baht/day regardless of passport.
 Get around
There are tours leaving from Khao Lak that offer diving and snorkeling tours. In addition, once on the islands there is the option of using the Marine Park boats for transit between the islands. This is not totally reliable, but is a less expensive alternative.
 See
Incredible marine life, great scenery, white sand beaches.
 Do
The Similan Islands are home to some of the best diving in the world. They are also home to great snorkeling, bird watching and sunbathing.
 Sleep
 Lodging
There are both tents and bungalows available for rent.
 Camping
Tents are available for rent. In addition, on Island #8 you can rent space and put up your own tent.
 Stay safe
See the Stay safe section of the Scuba diving article for diving safety tips.[12]
The Similans are crowded with boat traffic. There might be as many as seven liveaboards with clients diving in the same area as you. Most will have dinghies with outboards zipping around picking up groups of divers. Be careful when ascending. Listen for boat noise when ending your safety stop (especially if it's getting louder since this means the boat is approaching you) and ascend slowly while continuing to watch and listen for engines. A surface marker ("safety sausage") and 5 metre reel is recommended so that boats avoid passing over you, particularly if you aren't following a guide. Deploy your marker at the beginning of your safety stop.
Phuket
Phuket (ภูเก็ต),[1] pronounced "Poo-get", is Thailand's largest island and also its second smallest province. It is 48 km in length, 21 km at its widest, and is located in Southern Thailand, on the west-facing Andaman Sea coastline, suspended from the southern tip of Phang Nga Province by a pair of short but substantial road bridges.
Phuket Town is the administrative centre of Phuket Province, and the island's main population centre.
 Understand
Phuket enjoys great popularity as a travel destination. Most beaches are on the west coast, with Phuket Town to the south-east and the airport in the north.
 2004 tsunami
The west coast of Phuket was hit severely by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but almost no evidence of the damage now remains.
 Climate
Phuket is hot and humid throughout the year. The high season is generally considered to be from November to May. During the summer monsoon season, mornings and afternoons are still sunny and clear, but it tends to rain in the evenings and water clarity goes down. Locals consider May to October the "cool" season, and the weather is quite tolerable, much more so than in the tourism centers around the Gulf coast. It's comparable to Florida's summer weather in temperature and intensity of rain storms: 25-33 deg C, flying clouds, short and thunderous rainfalls in the afternoons and evenings. Surfing is possible off the western beaches.
 Festivals
Phuket Vegetarian Festival - an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the vegetarian festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune upon those who religiously observe this rite. During this time, local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples and aesthetic displays such as walking barefooted over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs are performed by entranced devotees known as "Ma Song".
 Talk
Phuket is one of Thailand's premier tourist destinations and (basic) English is very widely spoken, especially in the beach areas. That said, even a little Thai will draw smiles and can be useful in the less touristed areas of Phuket Town.
 Cities
Phuket Town - has the cheapest accommodation
 Beaches
Particularly in the monsoon season, there are strong currents on many of the beaches and drownings are a depressingly common occurrence. Heed the warning flags on popular beaches and play it safe if off the beaten track. It is important to note that, while many tourists who flock to the beaches of Phuket are European, nudity is viewed as highly offensive to Thais. It is very rude to go topless to beaches. Thais are generally non-confrontational, but it is always best to be respectful while treading on another's home country.
The major beaches from north to south are:
  • Laem Singh Beach - small bay with stunning views, between Kamala Beach and Surin Beach
  • Patong Beach - the largest beach resort, known for its nightlife
  • Ao Chalong - home to Phuket's most popular yacht anchorage
  • Rawai Beach - set off point for lots of local islands, popular with locals for eating on the beach
 Other destinations
 Ko Yao Noi
This island is one of many east of Phuket, halfway to Krabi. It is pretty unspoilt and features four upmarket resorts including The Paradise Ko Yao Boutique Resort and Spa [2], Ko Yao Island Resort, Ko Yao Pavillion Resort and the new Evason Hideaway opening soon. There are regular public boat services, plus most resorts operate their own shuttle boats, and Destination Air flies there with floatplanes several times daily.
 Get in
The island has an international airport and is also directly connected to the mainland by a bridge, so it's possible to arrive by air, road, or sea.
 By plane
There are very frequent flights to/from Bangkok as well as direct flights to many other airports in the region, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and direct charters to Europe and Australia in the high season.
 Airport
The compact Phuket International Airport (IATA: HKT) (ICAO: VTSP) is located in the north of the island, and is Thailand's second largest hub.
International departure tax is 700 baht payable in cash (there are several ATMs at the airport). Departure tax for domestic flights is included in the ticket.
Airport transfers
Limousine (blue) taxis from the airport are expensive, costing 500-600 baht to Patong Beach or Phuket Town
Metered (yellow) taxis (available outside the car park gates) cost 300+ baht
Minibus services (basically door-to-door share taxis) charge 100-200 baht per seat. One realworld example is from airport to Chalong to 6 persons was 1100 baht and there was not possibility to lower it easily.
Airport shuttle bus service (6:30-20:30, every 30 minutes) to Phuket Town bus station costs 52 baht; local buses run from there to all the major beaches until around 18:00
 Domestic flights
Several domestic discount airlines fly here, including Air Asia and Nok Air - tickets from Bangkok can cost under 1000 baht one-way if booked well in advance, or around 2000 baht (including taxes) if bought on the day.
Bangkok Airways has a monopoly on direct flights between Phuket and U-Tapao (Pattaya / Sattahip) and Ko Samui.
Destination Air Shuttle offers direct seaplane transfers (some of which operate seasonally) between Phuket and Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Ranong, Trang, the Similan Islands, and other popular Andaman coast destinations.
 International flights
Malaysia - AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines have direct flights from/to Kuala Lumpur. Also, FireFly, a new Malaysia-based low-cost airline, has flights from its Penang hub to and from Phuket.
Singapore - Silk Air has 32 flights a week. Low cost alternatives are AirAsia, Jetstar Asia Airways, and Tiger Airways.
Other low cost direct connections include Hong Kong, Jakarta, Macao, and Seoul.
 By train
The nearest train station is about 5 hours away, at Surat Thani, so a few local people and tourist travel to Phuket by train.
 By bus
Buses to mainland destinations including Bangkok, Chumphon, Hat Yai, Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong, Satun, Sungai Kolok and Surat Thani use the BKS terminal off Thanon Phang Nga in Phuket Town.
The most reliable buses from Bangkok are those from the Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Bus Terminal. There are 2 private bus companies, Phuket Travel Tour and Phuket Central Tour and the government firm, Transport Co,Ltd. Khao San Road operations have a bad reputation for theft, often turn out to include a "surprise" transfer to a minibus at Surat Thani, and are best avoided.
From Phuket bus terminal to your final destination, you can take a motorcycle taxi, tuk-tuk, meter-taxi, or bus. A motorcycle taxi into Phuket Town will be about 10-20 baht; to most beaches 100-200 baht (negotiable). A local bus to one of the main beaches will cost around 15-30 baht. It's not unusual for the tuk-tuk drivers at the bus terminal to tell arriving travellers that the local bus service has finished, even though it hasn't.
 By boat
Ferry services connect from Rassada Port in Phuket Town to Ko Phi Phi and on to Krabi on the mainland twice a day, taking 90 minutes and costing 350/650 baht one-way/return, for each leg. It's usually a pleasant ride, but can be rather bumpy when it's windy.
There are also boats to Ko Racha (2 hours), the Similan Islands (9+ hours) and other islands in the high season only. Boats and yachts can be chartered at Chalong Pier, the Boot Lagoon and the Yacht Haven.
It's possible to visit Phuket by cruise ship. For cruises from Singapore, try Star Cruises.
 Get around
Phuket is a large island and you need some form of transport to get around.
 By bus
From Phuket Town there are frequent bus services to the other part of the island such as Patong Beach, Kata-Karon beach, Chalong Bay, Rawai-Naihan beach, Seaport-Aquarium, Mai Khaw beach, Surin-Kammala beach. The fare is 15-30 baht up on distance, by both full-size buses and by songthaews. Most operate from the central market (Talad Sod or Ban San); those to major beaches go via Phuket Town bus terminal. There are no set stops - they pick up and drop off as requested. Most local bus services stop at around 18:00.
 By taxi
Phuket has two types of taxi - millions (or so it seems) of small songthaew-style minivans (usually bright red, occasionally bright yellow) called Tuk Tuks, and a much smaller number of conventional sedan-style taxis (yellow and red, with a "TAXI-METER" sign on top).
The minivans are universally referred to as tuk-tuks (even though they have four wheels, not three). They have no meter, and their drivers are notoriously mercenary, so always agree a price beforehand and do bargain hard. Short hops around town shouldn't cost more than 40 baht, but good luck getting from Patong to Phuket Town for under 200 baht.
For longer distances the metered taxis are generally a better bet, so do your bit to break the iron grip of the minitaxi mafia and patronize them if you can. You can hail one by telephone on 076-232157.
There are also motorbike taxis. While you should never hop on the back of just anyone's motorbike, motorbike taxi drivers wear bright numbered vests and are usually the cheapest way to go. However, it is important to note that these are slightly more dangerous than a Tuk Tuk, for obvious reasons, and are not comfortable for long trips. However, if you just need to get around town, they are a great way to go.
 By car or bike
More than 10,000 people are injured and over 250 killed every year in road accidents in Phuket. Nine out of ten accidents involve motorbikes. Major risk factors are the hilly terrain, careless speeding drivers and driving at night, and drunk-driving.
Renting a car or motorbike to explore the island on your own is a cost-effective way of getting off the beaten track. However, given the atrocious driving habits of most locals and the resulting carnage on Phuket's roads every year, the risks do demand careful consideration.
Motorcycle and scooter rentals start at around 150 baht/day, coming down to 100 baht/day for rentals of a week or more. Phuket police do enforce the crash helmet requirement, and also conduct frequent spot checks at which a driving licence must be produced. Many rental agencies will not require to see your licence. Whether or not you need an international licence or just your licence from your home country is unclear. So long as your licence from home is written in English, you should be fine. The current on-the-spot fine (you pay, you get a receipt and then they let you drive off - speaking from personal experience) for not carrying a licence is 300 baht. You may want to consider whether paying for an international licence is more expensive than just paying a fine or two while you are there.
Driving in Phuket is a little crazy compared to most western nations, but nothing like what you can expect to see in Indonesia or India and congestion is limited to Phuket Town and the main stretches of Patong Beach; still nothing like we see everywhere in Japan. Have some common sense and be ready to learn from watching how the locals drive and you will be quickly making your way happily around. Of course, it helps if you are accostomed to driving on the left side of the road. That in itself could be enough to detract some North American or European drivers.
 See
Phuket might not have the historical sites that Bangkok and Chiang Mai have, but it does have a few. Most visitors spend their time at the beaches and in the bars. The most heavily-hyped attraction is the Phuket Fantasea show at Kamala Beach, a self-proclaimed "cultural theme park", but comparisons to Disneyland are exaggerated at best.
However, Wat Chalong is a beautiful Buddhist temple located on the southern end of the island. Phuket used to be the important port on Indian Ocean, so it received buiding stye form China and Eurobe. There is also the history to be seen in Phuket Town. It is the Chino-Portugist building. Some own building opens their house to be museum and, of course, the sights and sounds of the Vegetarian Festival.
 Do
Elephant riding
This is a good way to support the remaining domesticated elephants of Thailand and their mahout, is fairly cheap, and can be an interesting new experience. The elephants are well trained, and you can tip the mahout by giving the money to the elephant who will hand it to the mahout with its trunk.
Animal sanctuary
Visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project by the beautiful Bang Pae waterfall. They have a visitor centre manned by Western volunteers and English speaking Thai staff who will talk to you about the project. Talks are free, but please support the project by buying a souvenir, sponsoring a gibbon or giving a donation. Don't have your photo taken with a captive gibbon in Phuket or on the beaches.
Golf
The golf courses of Phuket are of international standard. Each one has its own particular challenges and scenic splendour that only Phuket can offer. Discount green fee are available by booking through Phuket golf booking agencies.
Muay Thai training (Thai kick-boxing):
Experience the sensese of Thai Spa:
Watersports
Scuba diving, yachting, jet-skiing and parasailing are the most popular activities on the island. Most dive sites are off nearby islands, but distances are fairly short and there are dozens of dive shops and boats to cater to your needs, mostly based near Chalong Pier.
Other Activities
In Phuket, where everything happens for fun and adventure, you live life to the fullest with such a great variety of activities the paradise has to offer. Just besides the popular activities such as diving and snorkeling, golfing, Muay Thai, sailing and sport fishing, there are a bunch of other "must do while in Phuket" activities.
 Eat
Food in Phuket is surprisingly cosmopolitan, as many foreigners have set up shop to cater to their fellow travellers. All the usual Thai favorites are of course still available, with a particular emphasis on seafood. Thanon Ranong in Phuket town sports a string of vegetarian restaurants where a simple plate of rice and something can fill the stomach for as little as 30 baht.
 Drink
Phuket has a busy nightlife, second only to Pattaya among Thailand's beach resorts. Patong Beach is by far the busiest, and seediest, of the lot, but in addition to go-go bars there are also plenty of other bars, discos and clubs.
 Sleep
There is a glut of rooms in hotels of all sizes and classifications, serviced (catered) apartment complexes (so-called 'mansions') and homestays. It's a buyers' market even in high season (Nov-May), with air-con room rates starting at under 500 baht, and 2-3 bedroom furnished houses available for 7000-10000 baht/month. For budget accommodation, the best rates are usually those negotiated in person.
See Phuket Town and individual Beaches articles for listings.
 Get out
  • Khao Lak - family-oriented resort town that has made an impressive recovery after the tsunami
  • Ko Phi Phi - 1.5 hours by ferry, parts of The Beach were filmed at this stunningly beautiful location
  • Phang Nga - 2 hours away, this bay is famous for its gravity-defying limestone formations, including James Bond Island
  • Similan Islands - national park consisting of nine small paradise islands. Hugely popular among divers due to unbelievable underwater scenery. Dive boats usually depart from Phuket, non-divers can take a snorkeling tour from Khao Lak.
Phuket Town
Phuket Town is the provincial capital of Phuket Province.
 Understand
Phuket Town (เมืองภูเก็ต Mueang Phuket) is the largest town in Phuket Province. It has a population of 63,000 and is the economic hub of the island. For the most part just an ordinary, scruffy provincial Thai town, it's hardly a major tourist attraction, but the Chinatown area is worth a quick look and there are some great Thai-style shopping opportunities too. Overall, accommodation and food in the town is cheaper than near the beaches, and can provide a refreshing change of pace.
 Get in
Buses and songthaews connect Phuket Town to major beaches around the island, and start from Thanon Ranong at the Ranong market. The most popular service is the one to Patong Beach (20 baht, 45 minutes) which leaves every 30 minutes between 07:00 and 18:00. Fares to other beaches range from 15 to 30 baht. If you miss the last bus back a taxi will cost 200-400 depending on your bargaining skills.
Phuket International Airport is 30 km to the north of Phuket Town, about 30 minutes by taxi (500 baht) or 45 minutes by shared minibus (100 baht).
 Get around
Phuket Town is just a little too big to be covered comfortably on foot. There's little organised public transport as such, but motorbikes and four wheel tuk-tuks whizz about looking for fares.
 See
Phuket Town's low-key attractions are mostly related to its colourful Chinese history and heritage, found in the Chinatown area on the north-western side of the city around Thanon Thalang.
Jui Tui and Put Jaw Temples, corner of Thanon Ranong and Soi Phuthon (just west of the Ranong bus terminus). Put Jaw is the oldest Chinese Taoist temple in Phuket, first built over 200 years ago and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy (Kwun Im), while the adjacent and connected Jui Tui is its larger, more modern annex. If you have a question that is puzzling you, ask it and throw the two red mango-shaped pieces in front of the altar in the air: if they land the same side up the answer is "no", while if they land on different sides the answer is "yes". Free entry but donations welcome.
Sino-Portuguese Mansions, Thanon Krabi. Built by tin and rubber magnates in the late 19th century, these remain impressively huge even today.
Wat Mongkol Nimit, Thanon Dibuk. A classical Thai-style temple with a soaring roof and lots of colourful glass tiling.
Phuket Culture Museum, at Rajabhat University. It's free and very informative. Phuket's history is told in pictures and still scenes.
 Do
Go shopping!
 Buy
Shopping seems to be the main reason for visitors to come to Phuket Town. In addition to local markets and a slew of malls and departments stores, Chinatown's Thanon Thalang offers a large selection of boutiques and galleries retailing traditional handicrafts as well as antiques from the region. Phuket Night Bazaar is a large area, where you can get local stuff (though you might find the same things much cheaper at the Big C supermarket!).
 Markets
Ranong Market, Thanon Ranong, is the largest local market. A warren of stalls selling anything and everything, it can be a hot, sweaty and chaotic but an interesting experience if you've not been to one before.
 Shopping malls
Central Festival, Thanon Chaloem Phra Kiat - Phuket's branch of the Thai department store chain, also selling anything and everything but now in air-con comfort and a zero added to the price tag. It's still probably cheaper than the street markets at the beaches.
SuperCheap claims to be the biggest and cheapest mall in Phuket, a cross between a Metro Market, Walmart, a Bazaar, and a normal local market for nearly everything from groceries to motorbike and car supplies and electronics. The best time to visit is in the evening. Take a small dinner in the nearby Thai restaurant (all you can eat for 69 baht - but when you leave something on the plate it costs 100 baht!) and afterwards join the Thai people at the market. SuperCheap is situated on the road to the airport, about 5 kms out of Phuket Town centre, just behind the Esso site. Open until midnight.
 Eat
Siam Bakery, 13 Thanon Yaowaraj (north of the Ranong traffic circle). French-run bakery offering pastries and drinks (~50 baht) in pleasant air-con surroundings.
All You Can Eat, at Super Cheap, but you have to empty your plate - otherwise it costs double. That's not a joke, but very useful in keeping guests eating things they really like to eat and not wasting food. If you order water with ice, the ice costs extra!
Ruam Jai Restaurant, 215 Th Ranong, tel. 076-222821. Open: 6.00 - 16.00. A local run restaurant with friendly staff serving delicious all-vegetarian food. The prices are very reasonable, for example a plate of white/brown rice choosable with two or more dishes from the buffet of about 15 different courses is around 25-35b. Try also locally made fresh juices, 10b each. Popular among locals; it can be crowded around mealtimes. One of 3 vegetarian restaurants in very close proximity near the local bus terminal.
The Living Room Restaurant, Dibuk Road just past Montri Road. Great restaurant for tasty Thai and Thai-Chinese food. Relatively new with both an indoor and outdoor eating section / beer garden. Dimly lit interior for chill or romantic dining, they've got a spot for live music as well. Dishes 80-200 baht.
Weekend market - numerous stalls sell a variety of meats, vegetables, noodles, fruits and sweets that can fill a stomach for a handful of baht.
 Drink
China House, 43 Thanon Yaowaraj. Chinese tea and other drinks in an impeccably tastefully restored shophouse that doubles as an art gallery. On the expensive side though, with drinks 50-100 baht.
Coffee Max, on the roundabout where Thanon Ranong meets Thanon Yaowarat. Small, friendly coffee shop offering hot and cold coffee and tea drinks and a selection of pastries and cakes. Free Wi-Fi for customers.
Michael's Bar, 12 Takua-Pa Road. Owned by a British expat, a friendly, low-key place to grab a few drinks at a reasonable price. Has Wi-Fi or a solitary PC for customer use, free for the first 20 minutes.
Smile Cafe Newly opened cafe near the junction of Thanon Montri and Thanon Phang-Nga, run by a friendly young Thai couple who make a great ice-blended coffee or green tea.
 Sleep
 Budget
Ban Nai Inn, 22/98 Luang Poh Cham Rd, Soi 1 A. Muang, Phuket 83000. Tel 076-214907-9, Fax 076-232276. Small guesthouse located directly behind the long distance bus terminal (walk past the motorbike taxi drivers). Rooms are basic but cheap, and include tv, refrigerator, A/C, separate shower and wardrobe with lockable drawer. Little English is spoken, suggesting that this is a destination more popular with Thai tourists.
On On Hotel - 19 Th Phang-Nga, tel. 0 7621 1154; Old and a bit musty Sino-Portugese building with rich atmosphere, located almost in the center of the town. A small travel agency, laundry and cafe downstairs. Few scenes from the movie The Beach (2000) was shot here; check out room 38 for familiar views. Providing probably one of the cheapest accommodation of the island. Rooms from 180b to 400b. The cheapest rooms have shared bathrooms.
Phuket Backpacker [1] - Tel: +66-7625-6680. New (2005) establishment for western travellers, with sociable common room and kitchen facilities. It is located in the heart of Phuket town, next to the local food market on Ranong Road. Its central location allows easy trips - via buses and taxis - to Phuket's surrounding beaches and sights. There is also abundant shopping and dining in the area. Fan cooled rooms at the back are popular with cockroaches and mosquitos, so be prepared to share or fight for your space (and bring your own lock for the door). Free Wi-Fi, but the range does not extend to the outlying rooms.
Phuket Cyberinn Hotel [2] - Tel: +66-76220 100. Phuketcyberinn on Bangkok Rd. is located in the heart of Phuket Town. A 3-storey hotel is surrounded by many shops, street bazzars and wonderful old buildings. Easy to reach many spectacle beaches aound Phuket. It is just 30 minutes away from Phuket international airport.
 Mid-range
Metropole Phuket, 1 Soi Surin, Montri Road, +66 76 215-050, 214-020-9 (fax: +66 76 215-990), [3]. Large hotel, 5-10 minute walk from the main bus station and the market. May once have been an opulent choice, but it feels like a decision was made some decades ago to spend minimal effort on upkeep or cleaning of the hotel - at least the cheaper rooms and the "gym" are in desparate need of renovation! Wi-Fi 300 baht/day.
Phuket / Bang Tao
Bang Tao is a beach on Phuket.
 Understand
You can choose Bang Tao beach for relaxing holidays. There is no noise from cars and bars as it's not a crowded place.
 Get in
Bang Tao is about 40 minutes from Phuket airport and transfers can be arranged for about 600 Baht.
 Get around
Getting around Laguna is easy and free. There are free shuttle buses between all the hotels and the shopping centre as well as a ferry service around the lagoon to most of the hotels and the shopping centre. Leaving Laguna for other places in Phuket is expensive as few Phuket taxis travel to this complex. There are chauffeured cars available but these cost 600 Baht each way to Patong or Phuket town.
 Do
The Laguna complex is about relaxation. All of the hotels have swimming pools with food and bar service to the pool side. There are a variety of day spa facilities at the hotels. All the hotels have private areas of the beach with lounges and towel service. Food and bar service is available on the beach but cannot be charged to your room. The beaches are not patrolled but do have roped-off swimming areas. Some of the resorts have sailing and rowing boats for use on the lagoon. Banyan Tree has a championship golf course which can be used by residents at all of the hotels in the complex - green fees can be charged to your room. Tours can be booked through the hotels for all of the standard Phuket tourist attractions.
 Buy
The Laguna complex has a large number of shops but all are expensive. Much better deals can be found elsewhere in Thailand.
 Eat
The Laguna complex has a large number of very good and reasonably expensive restaurants. You can charge any of the restaurants in the complex to your room irrespective of which hotel you are staying in. There are some cheaper hawker-style restaurants on the beach which must be paid for in cash.
 Drink
There are a large number of bars throughout the Laguna complex but there is no nightlife to compare to Patong.
 Sleep
Laguna Beach Club Aimed at the younger tourist offering more of a party atmosphere than the other hotels in Laguna (but not anything like the party atmosphere available at Patong resorts).
Dusit Laguna Part of the luxury Thai hotel chain and is geared to Thai nationals
Sheraton Grande A luxury hotel with standard hotel rooms and two bedroom villas built over the lagoon. This hotel caters to an international market
Allamanda The family hotel in the complex offering two bedroom suites including kitchenettes and two bathrooms.
Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort Almost identical to the Allamanda but geared towards time-share customers.
Banyan Tree The most luxurious resort in the complex and includes full spa facilities and a championship golf course.
 Get out
If you want nightlife or shopping you can go with a taxi to Patong beach in about 20 minutes.
Phuket / Surin Beach
Surin Beach (Ao Surin) is on the west coast of Phuket, about 15 km north of Patong.
 Understand
Surin Beach still has a small village atmosphere, but this is gradually changing as more and more major housing developments and hotel projects get underway. Accommodation is not cheap and the best prices are around 500 baht in the low season.
The beach itself is lined with tall casuarina trees and small Thai style restaurants. There is no nightlife to speak of, but there are many quality restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. Surin beach can become quite dangerous in the monsoon season due to its steeply sloping beach, and many unwary swimmers have lost their lives here; however this has not deterred the local surf enthusiasts and when the waves are right you'll see many Thais on surfboards.
 Get around
rent a motor bike!!! pay no more than 200bahts per day!!
 Eat
Along the beach road there is a large array of restaurants offering from simple Thai stir fries to imported steaks, however, the specialty around is seafood. Most restaurants are local Thai restaurants which also serve simple international dishes. In the last few years there has been a new wave of redevelopment on the beach road resutling in some international standard restaurants. Places like "The Beach House" attract families and couples alike,serving Thai and European dishes focused on seafood under a huge tatched roof. The luxurious "Catch" Beach Club caters to the high class market featuring live entertainment every night of the week. There are currently a few more restaurants under construction. Most restaturants have bathrooms and showers that guests can use after having been on the beach.
 Sleep
Manathai Resort opposite the beach is a delightful, modern hotel with spacious rooms and excellent stylish communal areas with cool furnishings and high ceilings. Don't expect change from 4,000 baht per night though!
Phuket / Laem Singh Beach
Laem Singh Beach Beautiful beach accessible only by a short hike down a steep hill through lush forest. Well worth the exercise. The beach has 2 restaurants right on the sand serving good food and drinks at reasonable prices and with excellent service. Beware the rocks on either end of the beach whilst swimming.
 Get in
Hire a taxi (or tuk-tuk if you are a firm negotiator). Most drivers will be familiar with the beach. If necessary, show them on your guidebook map. Taxi's standard price for the one way trip seems to be 500 baht (high season), but you should always try to bargain. You will be dropped off along the side of the road where there's a sign pointing to a trail heading into the forest. A short but steep walk with occasional views through the foliage tease as you descend the hills above the beach. Mind your step. The trail is rocky and can be quite muddy after rain.
 See
See the beach and get some tan. There isn't much else to look at here except maybe under water. Fortunately, it's a beautiful beach and it faces west so you get nice sunsets. Although the beach is full of rental sun chairs, for the moment it is now as crowded as some of the more popular beaches along the Phuket's west coast.
 Do
Swim, lay on the beach, have a meal or a few beers at one of the four open-air restaurants on the beach. There are also rentals for speed boat with water skiing or wakeboarding, some jet skis, glass bottom canoes, and adventure diving trips as well as snorkeling. If you just rent the snorkeling gear or have you own set with you, stay out of the righten side (when facing the sea) of the beach where the boats and jet skis operate. Instead, swim to the tip of the left barrier rocks and despite of rather murky waters, you can see a good variety of fish in the shallow water. Watch out for the rip current when swimming back. For more colourful reefs and fish you may want to consider the adventure trip.
 Buy
Food and drink from one of the two restaurants on the beach, basic souveniers from the few shops betweeen the restaurants. There isn't much else to buy unless some hawkers come around. There were none in August '06 and also only a few at January '07 busy season.
 Eat
There are four small open air restaurants on the beach. The restaurant to the right (when facing the sea) is fantastic. Try the prawns in green curry or sweet chili sauce. They also have a selection of fresh seafood like lobster, king prawns, squid and various fish. Without doubt one of the best meals for your money in Thailand. Papa's Restaurant in the middle is not as memorable, but also well worth trying.
 Drink
Singha beer. Served ice cold and very refreshing on a hot day. Also, the fruit shakes are very nice and you should definitely try the freshly squeezed fruit juices.
 Sleep
Don't sleep on the beach. There's no accommodation. Let's hope it stays that way.
 Get out
Walk up the path the way you came and there should be a taxi or a tuk-tuk waiting by the road. If not, one should come by very soon. Prices to Phuket town by taxi is around 500 baht (high season), so tuk-tuk should be negotiable towards something lower. If you arrive by taxi, you may want to arrange a pick-up with the same driver so you won't have to worry about finding your way back.
Phuket / Kamala Beach
Kamala Beach (Ao Kamala) is on the west coast of Phuket, just to the north of Patong, and immediately south of Surin Beach.
 Understand
Kamala provides a haven for those who prefer the quieter life. Although the southern end of the beach can get busy in the high season, the northern end is peaceful all year round. "Rim Haad" (Beach Road), at the southern end, has a number of small 20-30 room hotels for the low/medium budget traveller. Friendly service and village feel and a diversity of restaurants and small bars can be found on this small road. Cheaper food options/market stalls can be found on the main Kamala Road.
 Get in
By taxi - 500 baht from the airport.
 See
The only two tourist attractions Kamala has to offer (besides the beach) are the Fantasea show and the Buddhist temple at the southern end of the beach.
At the middle of the beach, there is a small park with a tsunami monument.
 Do
If you are looking to spend most of the time on the beach enjoying the sea, this is a very good place to be. Beach is quite nice and is not too crowded. Sea floor is nice and sandy. In the afternoons the water spectacularly recedes leaving a blanket of rocks at the left end of the beach for local fishing and a beautiful swimming area at the right end of the beach.
On the beach, you won't be able to get around a Thai massage. These are offered at small stalls throughout the beach, and the rate seems fixed (300 baht/hour, March 2007).
The Kamala Wat is located at the southern end of the beach and is almost unnoticeable. The temple and its grounds have been restored since the Boxing Day tsunami and the Buddhist locals and resident monks welcome curious Australians and foreigners. It was the Australian television program Backyard Blitz that helped restore the gardens of the Wat after the tsunami. A memorial tree is placed in the garden with a dedication plaque and the walls of the main temple are a beautifully decorated story of Buddha. Visiting this Wat can be an enlightening and cultural experience; pictures and events of the Tsunami are displayed on a board for foreigners to see and the monks allow photos of the grounds as long as you're in the company of a local.
The extremely popular Phuket Fantasea is located in Kamala. Fantasea is an exuberant show/theme park that combines the rich heritage of Thailand with unique 4D effects and animals. The park is 140 acres and presents a 4000-seat restaurant offering a grand buffet of Thai and international cuisine. The park operates daily except Thursdays and opens at 8.30pm.
If more entertainment is desired you can take a taxi to Patong beach; however taxi's are unreasonably expensive ~500 baht one way (but less if you bargain). Tuk-tuks are a simple and (sometimes) cheap way to leave Kamala. Tuk-tuks to the more popular Patong cost around 300 baht. Some of the hotels provide an affordable shuttle to Patong.
Catching the local open-sided bus to Phuket Town or further is a cheap and cultural experience for travellers unwilling to pay expenses for taxis or tuk-tuks. The bus is fantastic and cheap - if you are willing to share it with curious locals. In Kamala the bus runs every hour and passes along the main road. You need only to flag it down and jump through the back - you pay the driver at the end of your journey.
 Buy
Kamala offers some small supermarkets, one of them a 7-11. There's quite a few souvenir shops on the road, along with some tour offices where you can book lots of different tours for diving or beach watching.
Most noticeable are about 20 to 30 tailors (including two just outside the Kamala Bay Garden Resort), which all try to guess your nationality and offer the 'best and cheapest suits in western fashion'. Before entering one of them, you should be well aware what you want and what you are willing to pay for it. Upon delivery, you should check all seams.
 Eat
There are quite a few restaurants direct on the beach. Usually they show some fresh fish and seafood on ice, where you can choose exactly what to eat.
One of them offers a weekly BBQ - all you can eat. You should make a reservation in time to get a table, but actually, its not worth it.
In the village you also find an abundance of restaurants, also with the seafood in the front on ice. Those which offer fewer Western dishes sometimes have the best Thai dishes.
For breakfast, try the "Rockfish". This restaurant is located south of the beach, on the hillside. It is rather splendid, and not too cheap, but the breakfast special is only 99 baht for juice, coffee and some breakfast (several choices).
Another breakfast place is the Kamala Bakery, just a few houses down from the Siam Commercial Bank on the main road between Patong and Surin. The bakery has good breakfast options and tasty breads. Not as pleasant surroundings as Rockfish but the food is more substantial.
 Drink
There are several bars in Kamala - most designed to suit the tourists who flock to Phuket in the tourist season. For example the Welsh Bar and the Aussie Bar are bars that have a certain patriotic atmosphere but are rather quiet in the off season. Bob's Bar is located on the main road, towards the Southern end of the beach and provides standard cocktails as well as exotic original cocktails - notably the "Kamala Sunset" - a concoction designed by Bob himself.
 Sleep
Kamala beach has a lot of small bungalows and huts directly on the beach, at about 1600 to 2000 baht per night in the high season. If you don't want to book one of the bigger hotels, you should start with one night booked in advance and then look for accommodation yourself. Don't let some agency at the airport book rooms for you.
Kamala Beachfront Apartment [1] located directly on the beach with one and two bedroom apartments, breakfast not included, for up to 5 person per apartment.
Benjamin-Resort is directly on the beach. 600 baht per night for a 2 person room, including breakfast (ham & eggs, toast, coffee, tea, fruits).
Kamala Bay Garden Resort [2] is 200 m from the beach, has a great pool with waterslide, tasty hotel food, and all rooms are suites (choice of one-, two-, or three-bedrooms).
Kamala Beach Hotel and & Resort [3] is right on the beach, has very nice and clean rooms, very nice and friendly staff, and is affordable (approx 2000 baht).
Kamala Dreams Hotel [4] is right on the beach - the water comes right up to the path of the hotel during the night. Very accommodating rooms, comfortable and lesiurely atmosphere. Air conditioned. Staff are extremely friendly and willing to help. Restaurant has a huge variety of food - both Thai, European and Western. Extras include pool, sunbathing area, satellite television.
Layalina [5] looks like the most luxurious option - run by an Austrian manager, offers plasma tv and jacuzzi in the rooms and a very nice pool on the outside. The downsides are the price and the position next to the canal in Kamala.
hotel with no name consisting of three octagonal bungalows directly on the beach (first one south of the Muslim graveyard) - clean, stuffed with fresh flowers, and run by the owner herself only. 1600 baht per night without breakfast.
 Contact
Most Internet providers charge 1 baht/minute, usually with a minimum charge of 10 baht.
Jackie Lee Tours charges 1 baht/minute and no minimum, and all the usual tours and events can also be booked here.
25 baht/hour in Kamala (Main) Road 78/6 opposite of CLUB EURO - coffee or tea 10 baht.
Phuket / Patong Beach
Patong Beach (หาดป่าตอง Haad Patong) is the largest beach resort on the island of Phuket.
 Understand
Patong is the party capital of Phuket, with a sex-drugs-booze-saturated nightlife and a great beach. Mostly made up of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and various tourist attractions, there's a thriving nightlife, with numerous "entertainment complexes" and countless bars clustered together in and around Bangla Road, and female, transgender and male prostitutes to cater to every taste. Massage parlors of the erotic as well the therapeutic (Nuad Thai) genre provide less alcohol/drug infested venues for punters and wellness seekers. One can even find masseuses practicing this medical art atop bamboo mats on the beach sands (100 baht and up).
Prices are higher than in Phuket Town, but there's more budget accommodation here than at the more southerly beaches. This may not be a good destination for the average backpacker, except in the rainy season when prices are far lower. Rooming houses ('Mansions') a few blocks inland provide nice, clean a/c rooms and suites as cheaply as 300 baht/day (less without a/c), or 3,000-10,000 baht/month.
 2004 tsunami
Beach Road and the immediate surrounding areas were hit hard by the December 2004 tsunami, however the only signs now remaining are the "Tsunami" titles on sale at the VCD/DVD vendors.
 U.S. Navy
Phuket Island in general and Patong Beach in particular are popular destinations for ships of the United States Navy. The navy sailors are generally well behaved and are policed by their own Shore Patrol. As Phuket is not considered big enough, very large navy ships usually visit Pattaya instead.
 Orientation
Patong's two main axes are the aptly named Beach Road (Thanon Thawiwong) and Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi (the last bit means "200 years" and is pronounced song roi pee) running parallel a few hundred meters inland. A handful of streets and sois (alleys) connect the two, the largest and most central of which is Bangla Road (Thanon Bangla).
 Get in
 By plane
Phuket International Airport is 35 km to the north of Patong. "Limousine" taxis from the airport to Patong are a steep 500 baht (45 minutes); meter-taxis 300+ baht (if coming from the airport, from outside the car park gates); shared minibuses limit the damage to 150 baht (but 180 baht in the Patong to airport direction, presuming you book through an agency). Cheapest way of all (however also the most time consuming) is to take the airport shuttle bus to Phuket Town, and switch there to a local bus to Patong.
 By bus
Regular buses connect to Phuket Town (20 baht, 45 minutes) every 30 minutes or so between 07:00 and 18:00. The route starts from the southern end of the beach, after which the bus crawls through town (via Bangla Road), stopping to pick up passengers, before finally heading off across the hills.
 Get around
Patong can (just about) be covered on foot, but there are plenty of taxis and motorbikes to get you around.
Phuket has two types of taxi - millions (or so it seems) of small songthaew-style minivans (usually bright red, occasionally bright yellow), and a much smaller number of conventional sedan-style taxis (yellow and red, with a "TAXI-METER" sign on top).
The minivans have no meter, and their drivers are notoriously mercenary, so always agree a price beforehand and do bargain hard. Short hops around town shouldn't cost more than 100 baht these days, but you'll have to bargain hard.
For longer distances the metered taxis are generally a better bet, so do your bit to break the iron grip of the minitaxi mafia and patronize them if you can. You can hail one by telephone on 076-232157.
Motorbike taxi rides within Patong start around 20 baht.
 See
There are many sorts of beaches on Phuket, if one wants unspoiled and natural then Patong is not your kind of place, there are many unspoiled beaches in the north and south of this beautiful island.
Patong is for those of you who like a developed resort with a wonderful nightlife.
The beach is both stunning and busy. One of the finest developed beaches in Asia.
If one goes out in Patong with head full of prejudices and a determination to see the seedier side of Thailand, then this is what you will see. If on the other hand you go with an open mind and a willingness to understand rather than judge, you will find a highly sophisticated holiday resort with dozens of world class restaurants and entertainment opportunities.
There is a sex industry, but it easily avoided if you stay off the main drag of Bangla Road. If you do go there, please try not to judge what you see there, it is more complicated than you think.
Amongst the non sex related bars we can recommend are 'Erotica' off Soi Bangla, on Soi Seadragon - its aimed fairly and squarely at couples and is a sexy, smart, fantasy cabaret bar. Professional dancers perform a unique and highly entertaining series of original dance routines to some of the best tunes from the last 40 years.
Saxophone - on the beach road is the little brother of Bangkok's most famous live music venue. They have top quality Jazz, Blues, funk and soul outfits there each night and the place is very well designed. Can be hit and miss with the bands but usually very good quality.
Rock City - for those about rock - just down the beach road from Saxophone this place is easily spotted due to a giant, neon guitar outside. Live, hard rock and tribute bands perfromed by excellent musicians in a great atmosphere. Don't miss it.
 Do
  • Jet-skiing, parasailing and other watersports.
  • Most of the big Scuba diving companies have offices here too.
  • Get a designer suit or dress made for peanuts. Jaspalas Tailor off Soi bangla is a good place to start.
  • Pay to see the world famous ladyboy show at Simon Cabaret or see one for free at Katoueys R Us, off Bangla road.
  • Pay to see Muay Thai - Thai Boxing at the Bangla Stadium, or see it for free further down the road at the Simon complex, next door to katoueys R Us.
  • Take a river cruise with River Rovers.
  • Have a massage, we recommend Bali Hai on 200 Years Road.
  • Boogie at either Tai Pan, Banana, Tiger, D Club or Seduction discos.
  • Buy fake goods off the many stalls all over the place.
  • See the cabaret Show at Erotica - Soi Seadragon, off Soi Bangla.
  • Take a two hour Thai kickboxing lesson for around 300 baht.
 Buy
One of Patong's main attractions, besides the nightlife, is shopping. Many small stalls and markets line the streets offering everything from t-shirts and clothing, silk, carvings, souvenirs, shoes, CDs and DVDs. Bargain hard for anything you buy from these stalls, as everything is negotiable in Patong and starting prices are often ridiculously high. Get a local to help you haggle rather than complain about it.
Jungceylon, Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200P (near the northern end of Bangla Road) [1] is Patong's first full-fledged modern air-con shopping mall, complete with 200 shops, integrated hotel, etc. The launch was postponed several times in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. Now open, July 2007!
Patong OTOP Shopping Paradise, Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200P (south end). You might be excused for thinking that this has something to do with the "One Tambon, One Product" scheme to promote local industry, but no, turns out this market sells exactly the same copies of branded clothes and mass-produced handicrafts as everybody else. At least there's a fairly wide selection to choose from.
 Eat
Patong offers an amazingly cosmopolitan array of eating options, including Arabic, French, German, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Scandinavian and pretty much any country that sends tourists here. Prices are, however, generally inflated (at least by Thai standards).
Ali Baba, 2 Thanon Ruamchai, and Ali Baba 2, 206/17 Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200P [2] have two separate menus for two separate cuisines, namely Indian and Arabic; both are pretty good, and both locations offer air-con inside and smoking waterpipes outside. Appetizers 60-100 baht, mains around 200 baht.
Baan Yin Dee Restaurant, 7/5 Muen Ngen Road [3] offers a fusion of European and Thai food in a warm and relaxed atmosphere, with a discreet ambience and outstanding service.
Green House and Balcony Restaurant, Bangla Road. Extensive menu covering Thai and Western food, plus pastries and snacks from the in-house bakery. Terrace seating outside and air-con restaurant inside. A bit pricy though with most everything over 100 baht.
Floyd's Brasserie,at Burasari Resort,Patong Beach:Highly recommend!Tel + 66(0)7637 0000, [4]
Karlsson's Restaurant & Steak House, 108/16 Taweewong Road, Soi Patong Tower [5] is a good choice for imported steaks and Scandinavian specialities. Open 15:00-midnight.
Lim's Restaurant & Bar, Kalim Beach (follow Beach Road out of Patong, turn right at Soi 7 after Kalim Beach, on your right 500m into the soi) [6] is a nice hide-away from the busy streets of Patong, with modern Thai cuisine served daily 18:30-22:30. LIM's also has an adjacent art gallery of modern style.
Sam's Steak House, Holiday Inn Resort, 52 Thaweewong Road [7] serves the finest steaks only from top quality US or Aussie beef, free salad bar with all steak orders. Moderate to high price depending on the kind of food ordered but good value. Daily 18:00-22:15.
The Old Fisherman's, Novotel Phuket Resort (Kalim Beach) has Thai and international food. Reasonable prices for a hotel outlet. Open 18:30-22:30.
The Roma is down one of the little streets along Patong but easy to see you do go past MacDonalds. Good for imported Italian pasta and pizza, has indoor and outdoor seating. Under construction at May, 2007, probably they will finish until prime time.
The Yorkshire Inn, Soi Sansabai, has "fabulous" European and British food, and an "amazing" Sunday lunch which is repeated on Wednesday.
99 Seafood Restaurant, Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee, is an open-air restaurant opposite the Royal Paradise Hotel and has excellent seafood selections. The price is also quite affordable and the place is usually busy at night!
La Diva, Thanon Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee, is in a dead-end alley off Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee. It is a bit off the beaten path but you can find it right next to an Austrian, a Belgian, and a Mexican restaurant (go figure) at the bend of the alley. You can easily see it by its colorful neon sign. La Diva itself has a Latin theme and plays Latin pop non-stop. However, the menu is all Thai. And the Thai food there is the best I've ever had anywhere. One should not miss the green curry chicken (Gang Kiew Wan Gai) and the king prawn with glass noodles (goong po woon sen).
 Drink
Patong's nightlife spills out in all directions but the center of the maelstrom is Thanon Bang La and its four sois - Crocodile, Eric, Gonzo and Seadragon, packed with a frenetic mix of pubs, beer bars, and go-go bars. Soi Crocodile is also known as Soi Katoey, a reference to its many transexuals. While many of Patong's establishments are little more than fronts for prostitution, there are also a couple of good nightclubs with dance floors - an unusual sight in Thailand otherwise.
Molly Malone's is a nice place to sit down and have a decent pint or two.The prices are a bit high, but if you need some good pub food and want to sit back and watch the human traffic plus the great music band, this is a good enough pub.
Irish Bar Is another nice and less expensive place also on Beach Road, though not with a view of the beach. One of the only places in Patong to sell Guinness, it also has a Celtic cross made with Guinness cans.
 Nightclubs
Banana Disco, Thanon Thawiwong (50 m south of Bangla Road) - entry 300 baht, including 2 drinks. Small but good DJ.
D Club, Soi Crocodile, Bangla Road [8] - recently opened nightclub under joint Thai/Swedish ownership
 Sleep
Accommodation is rather expensive during the peak season with simple air-con rooms ranging from 500-1500 baht; fan rooms start around 300 baht but availability is limited. In the low season, air-con rooms are easily found from around 300 baht and up. You can usually get at better deal for the more expensive rooms by using one of the local travel shops. It pays to haggle with them.
 Budget
Add Mansion. Cheap & clean rooms in the town centre.
squareone, 241/34 Rat-U-Thit Road, 076 341 486 (info@square1.biz, fax: 076 340 873), [9]. Swimming pool, Wi-Fi, free Internet.
 Mid-range
KN Guesthouse, 076-294-151, [10]. Just off Ratuthid Road on Soi Jintana, near the Paradise Complex. Swimming pool and restaurant. Squeaky clean and great hosts. Rooms from 1200 baht.
Komma Bar & Guesthouse - fantastic location on the south end of the main Patong strip, right across the road from the beach, offers good food, warm vibes and hotel quality rooms for 1400 baht.
Patong Inn 128 Taweewong Road, tel: +66-76292545. Right in the middle of everything, just across the road from the beach and steps away from Bangla Road. Friendly staff, clean and comfortable. 2000 baht including breakfast for 2 people.
Yorkshire Inn. central location, nice people, and great rooms and suites starting from 1200 baht.
 Stay safe
Sections of the beach are not suitable for swimming due to strong currents, especially in the rainy season, and the entire area is at danger from idiots on jetskis. Heed warning flags and be careful. They installed a huge Tsunami Warning Tower to warn Patong people in case of another Tsunami.
Beware of dogs! If you travel along the winding cliff roads leading away from Patong on foot please be aware of dogs near houses and hiding in the jungle flanking the road. They seem to be very territorial; if you walk away slowly and don't get to close you should stay safe.
 Get out
  • Kamala - next beach to the north
  • Karon - next beach to the south
Phuket / Karon Beach
Karon Beach is on the west coast of Phuket, south of Patong and north of Kata.
 Understand
Karon Beach is approximately 1.5 km long. Most areas are fully recovered from the tsunami, with just a few vacant lots still awaiting redevelopment. Not many hotels have direct beach frontage - most are across the road (which is not a busy one).
 Get in
If coming from Phuket Airport you can pick up a voucher from the airport transportation booth for a flat rate of 650 baht. The drive is just under an hour.
For those who are price conscious, the transportation booth inside the airport also sells seats on a minibus for 150 baht. The minibus makes several stops along the way to drop off other passengers.
 Get around
The fastest way to get around is by tuk-tuk, which are mostly needed to go to other parts of the beach or nearby towns. To get to Phuket Town taxis are available and cost around 400 baht. There are also public buses which leave from Karon to different places every hour for around 20 baht.
 See
Unlike the bigger, busier, and noisier Patong Beach further north, Karon offers visitors a nice long quiet stretch of sand, with plenty of beach umbrellas available for rent. Facing west, it gives a beautiful view of the sunset.
 Buy
Bars, tailors and clothing markets are plentiful at Karon, either in the main part of town or along the beach front. There are also a number of supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies; there's not much you need to travel elsewhere for.
 Eat
Karon has a variety of restaurants to choose from including a surprising number catering to Scandinavian tastes. Most restaurants are lined along the beach front road.
Harry's Restaurant & Pub, 15/5 Luangpohchuan Road (opposite Phuket Orchid Resort) +66 7639-8258 [1]
 Drink
H20 Entertainment, [2]. 18:00-02:00. is a nice bar with pool tables and live music
 Sleep
Angus O'Tool's Irish Pub, Restaurant, and Guesthouse (opposite Centara Karon Resort), +66 (0)76-398-262, [3]. Restaurant open 10:00-midnight, all day breakfasts. Pub has music, live sports on two big screens, and families are welcome. Air-con rooms with bathroom & hot water, safe, fridge, satellite TV & CD player, free tea/coffee/water, Internet & Wi-Fi, from 600 baht.
Karon Living Room [4]. Very clean and friendly hotel with new room furnishing and ac rooms, friendly service, about 10 minutes walk from the beach. From 1400 (when booked locally).
Woraburi Phuket Resort & Spa [5].
Phuket / Kata Yai Beach
Kata Yai Beach (Ao Kata Yai) is on the west coast of Phuket, south of Karon Beach.
 Understand
Kata Yai Beach is approximately 1 km long. Much smaller and less crowded than Patong Beach.
 Do
Fantastic surfing.
 Sleep
Peach Hill Hotel, 13 Karon Road, Kata Beach [1] is located on a small hill between Karon and Kata Yai beaches, 400 metres from Kata Yai beach.
Club Med Phuket
Phuket / Rawai
Rawai is a beach in Phuket.
 Understand
Rawai is located at the southern tip of Phuket. It is much less touristy than nearby Kata and Patong beaches and an excellent place to experience some real Thai culture.
 Get around
Rawai is quite spread out and a scooter is highly recommended. The longer your hire period, the cheaper it becomes and is possible to hire one for around 120baht/day. Otherwise expect to pay 150-200baht/day depending on the type of scooter.
 Do
Rawai beach itself is only used to moor fishing boats, long tail boats and speed boats, for snorkeling and sightseeing trips to neighboring islands and swimming there is not recommended. Mid 2007 a new pier has opened. There is a Sea Gypsy Village by the pier with shops and longtail boats for rent. Lots of seafood restaurants on the beach, this is where Phuket Town comes on the weekend for a beach party. There are a few popular cocktail bars on the beach for a limited but fun night life. There are several low end guest houses and a hotel on the beach. At the top end is the Evason Resort. Nai Harn beach is only a few minutes away by scooter or taxi or local bus and is one of the nicest beaches on the island. Popular with Thai people as well as tourists it is a protected cresent shaped beach less than 1km in length. There is also a very nice Budhist Temple there looking over the lagoon. Most of the other beaches are dominated by resorts and shopping and bars. The high end Meridian Phuket Yacht club sits on a hill at one end of the beach. In particular 'Promethep Cape' is recommended for views of the sunset over the Andaman sea. There are tourist shops and a popular restaurant with a nice view of Nai Harn beach.
 Drink
Although Rawai is a quieter place, there are still a good number of bars to enjoy a drink at. Clubs such as Icon stay open past 2AM every night and are popular with the local bar girls when they finish work.
Ranong
Ranong (ระนอง) is the provincial capital of Ranong Province.
 Understand
A small border town with limited tourist influence and hence still quaintly Thai. Border access via boat to Kawthoung in Myanmar allows visas to be renewed.
 Get in
Air Asia has resumed flights from Bangkok. The nearest train station is at Chumphon.
 By bus
Minibuses from Surat Thani cost 180 baht and take around 3 hours. They arrive opposite the main bus station about 1km out of the town centre which is served by motorcycle taxis.
Numerous and relatively frequent full-size buses of various classes connect with Chumphon and Bangkok and all major points inbetween; with Phuket and Krabi via Takua Pa and Khao Lak and other key points in Phang Nga Province (most direct route to Trang and Satun is via Krabi); and with Surat Thani which acts as the gateway to just about everywhere else.
 By boat
Hundreds of longtail boats connect Ranong with Kawthoung in Myanmar, and take about 20 minutes to cross. They can be chartered individually or shared with other travellers and/or locals.
Hourly boats (a little larger, also taking about 20 minutes) ferry gamblers to and from Thahtay Kyun, a small island adjacent to Kawthoung where the Andaman Club [1] casino and golf resort has its own immigration facilities.
 See
Ranong has a few things to see:
Bald Hill
Hot Springs
Ranong Canyon
Waterfalls
However, Ranong's islands is quite specular, especially Ko Phayam and Kam Islands.
 Do
Visa run - is a likely reason to come to Ranong. You can catch a songthaew from the market on the main road. It costs 10 baht to get to Saphan Pla, the fishing port providing the link to Kawthoung (aka Victoria Point), a fishing town in Myanmar. Most songthaews end up here eventually, though some follow a longer route than others. You will either be dropped across the road from the immigration office, or at a small roadside cafe a few metres away. Your first stop is to go the immigration office where you must formally exit Thailand. Get your passport stamped and then head for the pier.
It is likely you will be offered a boat by touts. A longtail boat should cost around 300 baht (return), whether you're on your own or in a group. The price you pay for a boat should be negotiated before you get in. There have been stories of tourists being charged up to 1,000 baht. There is also a big boat which is used by more organised visa runs, and a small-scale trip via longtail usually coordinated by a white haired chap in a gold coloured pickup who hangs around the bus station. Longtails are faster and fewer people mean less waiting time at the various immigration points. The big boat is slower and takes longer because of the number of passports to be checked, but can work out cheaper.
You will need US$10 (in the form of US dollar banknotes) to enter Myanmar and they like the notes to be in top condition, especially with no writing on them. Local touts sell US dollar notes, but at very uncompetitive rates. On weekends the Myanmar authorities also require photocopies of your passport done by a small shop at the immigration office for 10 baht.
The boat will first go to a Thai Immigration checkpoint, and the driver will take your passport to be inspected, then to a Myanmar Immigration checkpoint a few kms later. For some reason they don't need to see your passport there. When you arrive in Kawthoung there will be plenty of touts offering cheap whiskey/cigarettes/guided tours. You must first enter the country by going the immigration office to the left as you exit the short pier. It is here you hand over your $10 and tell them (they have English) that you're a day-tripper. In fact they'll sell you a visa which entitles you to stay for up to 2 weeks. This should be given serious consideration, Kawthoung would be well worth a few days. If you're just staying the day, Myanmar immigration will stamp you in and out in one go so you won't have to go back there again on your way out.
You'll probably be offered Valium and Viagra by touts, and helped towards shops selling cheap alcohol and cigarettes. There is a limit on what can be brought back legally, and the boat may be checked on the return journey. You'll also be offered a one-hour sight-seeing trip on a moped from the touts. At the end of the trip you may be told that the price you agreed was for the moped only and that you need to pay further for the guide himself. It's well worth spending some time in the village even if you're just doing the day trip (have a Myanmar beer!).
After the boat trip back, you must return to the Thai immigration office to formally re-enter the country. You should get a lift with an arranged trip, but it's a 10 baht motorcycle taxi or songthaew ride, or a 10 minute walk.
 Sleep
 Budget
Asia Hotel, Market Street (300 baht)
Bakhla Bar, on Market Street two doors down from the 7-11, opposite the first main right turn. Mattress-on-floor rooms with shared bathrooms at 100-120 baht.
Kiwi Orchid, Yellow building located close to the bus station (behind the tourist information building). 250 baht for a room (double / twin) with fan and shared bathroom.
Sintavee Hotel, on Market Street, 100m north of market. Chinese run and sometimes used for short-time action by the local working girls and their clients. Large double room, private bathroom for 200 baht.
 Mid-range
Royal Princess, 41/144 Tamuang Road, Tambol Kao Nives, Amphur Muang, Ranong 85000 (well signposted), tel: +66 7783 5240-44, (fax: +66 7783 5238) [2] - best hotel in Ranong, with rooms from around 1500 baht.
Satun
Satun (สตูล) is the provincial capital of Satun Province.
 Get in
By car
To travel by car from Malaysia, first take the road from Kangar towards Padang Besar and take a left turn towards Wang Kelian approximately 8 km before reaching Padang Besar. Pass the border checkpoints of Wang Kelian on the Malaysia side and of Wan Pra Chan on the Thailand side. You may want to stop at the morning market at the border area for some fresh fruits and vegetables. Drive pass some scenic mountains on the way to Khuang Don and take a left turn towards Satun town. On the way you will pass by the town of Chalung. The trip from the border check points takes about 90 minutes.
 By boat
Langkawi Ferry [1] has 4 daily services between Langkawi, Malaysia and Satun. No reservations are possible, just show up. The trip takes 1:15 and the fare is 250 baht/RM 25 one-way.
Kuala Perlis Fisherman's Boat - Kuala Perlis situated on Peninsular Malaysia. Gateway to Langkawi, and Satun. No reservations are possible, just show up. Stay a night at Putra Brasmana Hotel and take a trip cruising the Perlis river to the pier. From there, take ferry to Satun. The trip takes 45 minutes and and the fare is 150 baht / RM15 one-way. Feel the different!
 Do
There is not much excitement in the predominantly Muslim populated town of Satun. Most visitors head for the Tarutao National Park ( a group of beautiful islands about 2 hours by ferry ride from the jetty of Tammalang). Tammalang is the southern gateway to Satun (by ferry from Langkawi or from Kuala Perlis).
From Tammalang, the ferry times to the island of Ko Li Pe or Ko Tarutao are ETD 10 am and ETA 4 pm (varies, the ferry may turn up at 5 or 6 pm local time). Check out the island activities at the local tour agent at the Tammalang jetty point. After booking your tour, you may want to head back to Satun to stay the night before the next morning early tour (most likely you would have miss the ferry!).
While in Satun, walk around to discover the quaint attractions of Satun town and enjoy the local food. Local food includes spicy Thai food, Chinese style fare and Malaysian influenced cooking of roti canai. There are a few pubs along the main town street. The only disco in town is about 3 km from the town centre - last visit, there were about 4 customers and 2 sexy dancers for the whole night!
The above ferry trip to the Tarutao National Park islands cost about 1000 Bahts return (you can book the ticket through the agent too). Scuba gear, snorkelling sets are available for rent at the island dive shops. So just bring your suntan lotion and cash (better to change the currency on the mainland - better rates).
Ko Tarutao
Ko Tarutao is one of the 51 islands that belong to the Tarutao National Marine Park in Satun Province.
 Understand
Ko Tarutao is part of Tarutao National Marine Park, whose administration provide a number of facilities for guests to the island, including the following:
  • Restaurant serving good food (45-150 Baht) all day with cold soft drinks, water and canned beer.
  • Toilets and cold showers
  • Fresh water showers near the beach for rinsing off saltwater
  • Small museum/information centre
  • Mini-mart for snack foods, soft drinks and bottled water
  • Internet (2 Baht per minute and slow)
  • There is No ATM facility on the island (the closest is in La-Ngu)
There is a one-time 400 Baht National Park entry fee upon arrival.
 Get in
 By Bus
 From Phuket
Buses labelled "Phuket to Satun" leave at 08:15 and 10.15 (317 Baht), passing through La-Ngu at 3pm and 5pm. Songthaew from La-Ngu bus stop to Pak Bara Pier (20 Baht) get you there at 15:30 and 17:30 - too late for the last ferry (15:00) so plan to stay the night in Pak Bara. Use the afternoon to visit the National Park Office next to the Pak Bara pier and book accommodation on the island, as it is frequently booked out.
 By Boat
 From Pak Bara
Slow ferries (250 Baht one way, 400 Baht return, 1 hour) leave Pak Bara for Ko Tarutao at 10:30 and 15:00, and after dropping passengers at Ko Tarutao continue on to Ko Adang and Ko Lipe. Return tickets can be used any day. Its best to avoid the speedboat (350 Baht one way, 650 Baht return, 30 mins, depart Pak Bara 11:30, depart Ko Tarutao 11:00) as it is almost always running late and the vendors are happy to sell more tickets than the speedboat’s safe capacity (don’t worry – most of the people continue on to the other islands rather than getting off at Tarutao). If the speedboat is a must, some of the travel agents at Pak Bara Pier can be convinced to sell tickets for 200 Baht each way. Either way, don’t be suckered into paying 10 Baht to walk onto the pier – the pier can be accessed without charge via the National Park Office.
 Get out
 By Bus
 From Pak Bara to Hat Yai
Government-run minivans (120 Baht, 2 hours) leave from in front of the pier at Pak Bara for Hat Yai every hour on the hour. Never fear - these are government run mini-buses and thus are not subject to the same tricks of the tourist-focussed mini-buses. Tickets can be purchased from the driver.
 Eat
 Restaurant
The National Park runs and manages a restaurant that provides a considerable range of good quality meals, and is open all day. In addition to meals, cold soft drinks, canned beer and bottled water are availabe from the restaurant
 Mini-Mart
The National Park also runs a small mini-mart for snack foods, soft drinks and bottled water. They do not tend to stock the necessary items to allow for self-catering.
 Sleep
All accommodation on the island is National Park owned and managed, and guests have the choice between bungalow or camping accommodation.
 Bungalows
Bungalow accommodation is 500B per room, which can house up to 4 people. Bungalows have a varying degree of luxuriousness: some are a simple room with 4 beds, some have room divisions and some have outdoor toilets.
 Camping
Tents can be hired from the National Park Office on the island for 150B per night, which includes the cost of the tent site right behind the beach. The tents are not waterproof, fit 2 people without luggage, and are short for anyone over 5’10”. Luggage can be stored in the office to free up space in the tent. Tent sites are 30B per night if you bring your own.
Ko Lipe
Ko Lipe (Thai: เกาะหลีเป๊ะ) is an island in Satun Province, near the Tarutao National Marine Park, on the Andaman (west) coast of the south of Thailand.
 Understand
Ko Lipe is outside of the Tarutao National Park jurisdiction, and as such is exempt from the laws and legislation that protects the rest of the national park. The island is rapidly growing to meet the demands of increase in tourism, and is facing quite a few issues with rubbish and animal conservation.
The island is also home to a resident population of Chao Ley, or Sea Gypsies which live in small villages, predominantly around the far east side of the island near Sunlight Beach.
 Get in
In high season (November-May) there are now 5 locations from which you can take a ferry to Ko Lipe: Pak Bara, Satunno ferry, Langkawi, Ko Lanta and Trang. Some ferries run daily, others run every other day.
In low season (from May until November) there is usually one ferry per week from Pak Bara.
From the north, the most popular route is via Hat Yai, and from there by minibus to Pak Bara or SatunThere is no ferry service from Satun.
From Southern Thailand, there are ferries from Ko Lanta and Trang (in high season only).
From Malaysia, there is a daily ferry from Langkawi; alternatively, transit via Hat Yai as described above.
Ko Lipe has no pier; ferries are met by longtail boats offering transfers to anywhere on Ko Lipe for around 50 baht/person.
 Get around
All of Ko lipe can be covered on foot, although its size at first can be a little deceiving. There are few motorcycles around the island, none of which are for rent. Some paths can be a bit uneven, and there are no sealed paths or roads.
 See
Realistically, there isn't a whole lot of sightseeing to be done on the island.
Hotels on the island can arrange for day trips out to other islands inside the national park (Ko Adang, Ko Khai). A few hotels also organise diving and snorkeling day trips.
 Do
Like the locals, most come to the island to relax and take it easy. There are four main beaches to relax on, Pattaya in the south where most of the foreigners hang out, Sunlight beach on the east near the village, Karma beach which faces the Adang/Lipe channel, and Sunset beach which as the name implies, faces the sunset.
 Diving
The reefs around Ko Lipe are largely intact; the 2004 tsunami had little impact here.
There are several dive shops on the island:
Castaway Divers (Sunrise Beach), +66 (0) 811 707 605, [1].
Chao Ley Dive (Sunlight Beach).
Forra Dive (Sunlight Beach), [2].
Lotus Dive (in the middle of the island) (info@lotusdive.com), [3].
Ocean Pro (Pattaya Beach) (info@oceanprodivers.net), [4]. Canadian owner. Unlike the other dive shops that operate with relatively small longtail boats, this shop has a big boat. 2800 baht for 2 dives, 3200 baht for three dives.
 Eat
A few shops inside of the Chao Ley villages sell food and drinks, however most find themselves eating at the various restaurants attached to the hotels. Fresh Seafood on Pattaya Beach, Jacks Jungle makes some fantastic curries and Jacks Fried Chicken, Asia Resort and Mamas café have excellent local flavours and Mountain Resort has great seafood and an excellent view.
 Drink
There are two bars on the island. Karma bar is located in the north east, just beneath the Mountain Resort, and features chilled music, good cocktails and awesome views of the sunset. The other bar is Jack's (otherwise known as JJ's) which is inland. Occasionally the owners from either will pack up early and move their patrons onto the other.
Karma Bar (info@karmabar.net), [5]. Karma Bar beer 50 baht, cocktails from 150 baht.
 Sleep
Options range from tents for around 200 baht/night to bungalows for 3000 baht or more.
Castaway Resort (Sunrise Beach), +66 (0) 811 707 605 or +66 (0) 831 387 472 (lipe@castaway-resorts.com), [6]. Closed September 1st - October 31st. 2000-3000 baht.
Forra Bamboo Bungalows (Sunlight Beach) (info@forradiving.com), [7].
Mountain Resort (facing the Koh Lipe/Adang channel) (info@mountainresortkohlipe.net), [8].
Songkhla
Songkhla (สงขลา) is the provincial capital of Songkhla Province. The city itself is surrounded by beaches such as Samila (สมิหลา) & Son Awn (สนอ่อน) and also known as 'the great city on two seas'. With the beaches, some historical centres and nice green parks, this place is definetely a good battery recharge point before heading to more lively Hat Yai.
 Understand
Songkhla or Singgora in Malay, was a city of an old Malay Kingdom of Langkasuka with heavy Srivijayan influence. It has been under Thai suzerainty since the 18th century.
Previously a port and a coastal trading post where Indian, Persian and Arabian merchants came to exchange their products, this place was initially named "Sing Lha" after the 2 lion-shape islands at the mouth of the city's lake. Currently, these 2 islands are known to us as Ko Nu (Rat Island) and Ko Maeo (Cat Island).
In the 18th century many Chinese immigrants from Guangdong and Fujian came here. One of them won the bidding for the major tax farm of the province in 1769, thus establishing the Na Songkhla (i.e. 'from Songkla') family as the most wealthy and influential. In 1777 the family also gained political power, when the old governor was dismissed and Luang Inthakhiri (Yiang, Chinese name Wu Rang ()) became the new governor. In 1786 the old governor started an uprising, which was however put down after four months. The post was inherited in the family and held by 8 of his descendends until 1901, when Phraya Wichiankhiri (Chom) was honorably retired as part of the administrative reforms of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab. The family's former home is now used as the Songkhla National Museum.
 Get in
 By bus
The government bus station has relocated to Th Nakhon Nok (ถนนนครนอก), a few metres from Viva Hotel.
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัทขนส่งจำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Songkhla bus terminal daily. The distance is ~984km and normally takes 12.5 hours.
  • 24 seats VIP bus (พิเศษ, piset) costs 1125 baht, departs from Bangkok at 18:00. On the reverse, the departure is at 16:45.
  • 47 seats Class 2 bus (2) costs 563 baht, departs from Bangkok at 08:00, 14:30 and 19:00, Songkhla at 07:30, 11:30 and 14:00.
To/from Chumphon: Class 2 bus (2) costs 290 baht, departs daily.
To/from Nakhon Si Thammarat: Class 2 bus (2) costs 125 baht, departs daily.
To/from Surat Thani: Class 2 bus (2) costs 125 baht, departs daily.
To/from Hatyai: Ordinary buses depart to Hat Yai from Th Ramwithi (ถนนรามวิถี) for 18B. From Hat Yai, you need to catch one at the bus stop along Th Phetkasem (ถนนเพชรเกษม), at the intersection close to Th Montri 1 (ถนนมนตรี 1).
 By minivan
Minivans depart to Hat Yai from the Th Ramwithi (ถนนรามวิถี) for 30B. On the other hand, minivans leave for Yala and Pattani for 90B from southern part of Th Ramwithi (ถนนรามวิถี), at the intersection close to Th Chaimongkol (ถนนชัยมงคล).
 Get around
Songthaew plies around city for 12 baht. Motorcycle taxis did the same for 20B. Expect rates to double at night.
 See
  • Ko Yo (เกาะยอ):
  • Samila beach (แหลมสมิหรา): The most well known place among visitors to Songkhla. The famous golden mermaid statue is located here, sitting on a rock off the coast. East of this statue is cat and rat sculptures. This is a nice, peaceful beach to stroll along, plenty of benches can be found between casuarina trees. Many facilities such as sidewalks, pavilions havce veen added to enhance this place as the main attaraction of Songkhla.
  • Tang Kuan Hill (เขาตังกวน): To reach the top of this forested hill at the northern end of the Songkhla peninsula, take a 30B cable lift or climb 305 steps. The cable lift service is available daily, 08:30 – 18:30. On top of the hill housed the Dhavaravadi style Chedi Luang which was built in the 19th century.
  • City Pillar Shrine
  • Pathammarong Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์พธำมะรงค์): This modern wooden house built in late 80s is the birth place of Thailand's statesman, General Prem Tinsulanonda (เปรม ติณสูลานนท์). Admission is free, open from Tue to Sun, 8:30 - 16:00, close on public holiday. The tourist information center is at the entrance of the museum. Guilded tour to the museum will be given by the tourist information center personnel who will also hand you a copy of useful Songkhla tourist brochure with a useful map inside.
  • Songkhla National Museum [1] (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ สงขลา): Built by Phraya Sunthararak (Net Na Songkhla), the assistant Governor of Songkhla during 1878-1894, this chinese architecutural style building was formerly the residence of the Songkhla Governor. It displays southern folk art and crafts, Thawarawadi and Siwichai artifacts, prehistoric finds, old Thai and Chinese ceramics, art objects of the southern peninsula. Admission is 30B, open from Wednesday to Sunday, 09:00 – 16:00, close on public holiday.
  • Songkhla zoo:
 Buy
Mini golden mermaid statue replica for 20B.
 Eat
  • - Market in front of Songkhla post office
  • - Phatthalung road
  • - Suan Thaokae market
  • - Wachira market
 Drink
  • The Dark Side
  • The Office
  • Corner Bier
  • Patlang Restaurant & Bar
  • Tawee Bar
  • Lamp Bar
 Sleep
 Budget
  • Guest House Romantic
  • Songkhla Guest House
  • Yoma I Guest House
 Mid-range
  • Viva Hotel
Hat Yai
Hat Yai (หาดใหญ่; also Had Yai, Haad Yai, actually pronounced Hut Jai) is the fourth largest city in Thailand and is located in Songkhla Province.
 Get in
 By plane
Taxi rides to Hat Yai city can be found at the airport entrance for which the drivers will ask 250 baht,you also can use the airport taxi which costs 290 baht. A minivan service into the city costs 75 baht. A songthaew runs into town for 10 baht and can be found at the far end of the parking lot. From Phet Kasem road, there is a Highway No. 4135 (Sanambin Panij road) linking to the airport. Car rental is available on arrival from Avis.
 Flights
There are daily flights to/from the new Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on AirAsia, Nok Air / One-Two-Go and Thai Airways), and to Phuket on Nok Air only. Tiger Airways flights to Singapore and Air Asia flights to Kuala Lumpur have been terminated.
From Kuala Lumpur, you can fly with AirAsia to Alor Star on the Malaysian border, and opt for the AirAsia shuttle van that will ferry directly to Hat Yai.
 By train
Hat Yai is on the southern line connecting Bangkok to Butterworth and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
To/from Bangkok: Five trains daily to and from Bangkok. Express trains depart at 16:16, 17:34 and 18:05 while the slower Rapid trains depart at 14:18 and 15:26. Trains go via Surat Thani, Chumphon, Hua Hin etc.
To/from Sungai Kolok: Two trains to Sungai Kolok daily departing at 05:36 and 07:18.
To/from Malaysia: The State Railways of Thailand's [1]International Express leaves Hat Yai for Butterworth near Penang daily at 05:50, going via Padang Besar. In the other direction, trains leave Butterworth at 13:15 and arrive in Hat Yai at 17:30. The train then continues to Bangkok. The Senandung Langkawi operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railways) [2] departs Hat Yai for Kuala Lumpur daily at 14:50, arriving at KL Sentral at 07:36 the next day. Trains from Kuala Lumpur depart at 20:45 and arrive in Hat Yai at 10:20 the next day. The Senandung Langkawi goes via Butterworth and Padang Besar. Please note that Malaysian time is one hour ahead of Thai time. If it is noon in Thailand, it is 13:00 in Malaysia.
 By bus
Hat Yai has a large bus station located near the Diana Department store. Buses can be taken to all major towns in the south of Thailand and up to Bangkok. Depending on the route, different classes of bus are available. These range from local orange coloured buses without air-conditioning to luxurious 24-seater coaches with toilets and reclining seats.
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัทขนส่งจำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Hatyai bus terminal daily. The distance is ~954km and normally takes 12 hours.
  • 24 seats VIP bus (พิเศษ, piset) costs 1065B, departs from Bangkok at 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2000. On the reverse, the departure is at 1600, 1700 and 1800.
  • 32 seats Class 1 B bus (1) costs 828B, departs from Bangkok and Hatyai at 1730.
  • 47 seats Class 2 bus (2) departs from Bangkok at 0700, 1700 and 2145, Hatyai at 0800, 1530 and 1700 for 535B.
To/from Malaysia:
Kuala Lumpur : Konsortium Bas Ekspress Semenanjung, 32, Prachathipat Road, Hat Yai Tel : +66 074 351280 and +66 074 351281 have 5 bus every day which leave Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur, departure at 9:00 am, 9:30 am, 10:00am, noon and 7:00pm, ticket cost around 400 baht and it's a 7 hours journey.
There are two border crossings to choose from, both are easily accessible from Hat Yai.
Dannok: Vans run from Hat Yai right up to the Thai immigration complex in Dannok in Sadao district. Journey time is about one hour and the fare is 55 baht. Vans leave Dannok in front of the 7-11 store on the left side of the street after leaving the immigration complex. Note that the distance between the Thai and Malaysian immigration checkpoints is about 1km, quite a distance to walk in the heat. You can take a motorcycle taxi between the checkpoints.
Padang Besar: Regular buses depart Hat Yai's bus terminal for Padang Besar (only to the Thai side). Journey time is about one hour. If you are crossing to Malaysia immediately, ask to be dropped off right at the gates of the Thai immigration complex before your enter town.
 By minivan
Minivans depart to several locations in southern Thailand from Hat Yai. Where they depart from depends on the destination but the locals will be able to point you in the right direction. They are generally cheap and quicker than the buses but often overcrowded thus making them uncomfortable and dangerous.
 Get around
Songthaews ply fixed routes for a fixed fare but using them requires a little local knowledge or the ability to speak Thai. Tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis are abundant and easy to flag down but fares must be negotiated first otherwise you run the risk of being overcharged. Most journeys around town should not cost any more than 20 baht.
 See
  • Chinese Temples - notably the Kuan Im temple up on the hill behind Hat Yai Municipal Park.
  • The reclining Buddha at Wat Hat Yai Nai.
  • Tone Nga Chang Waterfall.
  • Songkhla Zoo
  • Ko Yo
 Do
Visa Run - If you need to extend your stay in Thailand another 30 days, you can cross the border at Dannok, near Sadao. Getting there from the airport is easy and takes about 2 hours. From the airport walk straight out into the parking lot to the parking lot ring road. You can wait here for a light blue songthaew to take you into town and get dropped off at The Plaza for 13 baht. The ride takes about 20-30 minutes. You can also take an airport taxi into town. At The Plaza, you can find a van waiting just across from the TOT office, which makes regular trips to Dannok. If you can't find it, just say "Sadao" or "Dannok" to people till they point you the right way. The trip is 50 baht, and vans leave once they are full. The trip should take about 1 hour 30 minutes. It will drop you off near the border at Dannok and you can just walk to exit Thailand. You will be approached by motorcycle drivers who will offer to take you to the Malaysian side. Walking takes about 10 minutes, so it could be worth it to pay 20 baht each way if you are in a hurry. If you have time, a stop at the duty free shop is worthwhile. Minivans returning to Hat Yai depart from outside the 7-Eleven store in Dannok.
Thai Massage - No trip to Thailand would be complete without a Thai massage and Hat Yai is one of the places to get them. One good place would be Hai Yai Central Hotel. The rooms are nicely decorated and provide a soothing environment to go with a good massage.
 Buy
Lee Garden Plaza - The most popular mall for Thai teenagers. Restaurants include Sizzler, Swensens, McDonalds and Fuji among others. Shops inside sell books, clothes, mobile phones and souvenirs. There is a multiplex cinema and a games complex which also includes Karaoke booths.
Odean Shopping Mall - Mostly clothes.
Diana Shopping Mall - Clothes, mobile phones, restaurants and a bowling alley.
Tesco Lotus - Located near the Prince of Songkhla University, a large supermarket that sells food, clothes, household items and lots more. There are also a number of restaurants and smaller shops just outside the main supermarket.
Carrefour - Very similar to Tesco Lotus.
Central Department Store - Probably Hat Yai's most upmarket store. Clothes, cosmetics, books, household goods and there is a TOPS food supermarket in the basement.
 Eat
Although not in the same league as Bangkok, there are a lot of different food options on offer in Hat Yai. Typical Thai street food is abundant almost everywhere. Big, international chain restaurants have branches in town offering Japanese and Western food. Ethnic Chinese from Malaysia and Singapore make up the bulk of Hat Yai's tourists so many restaurants and hotels cater primarily for them. Just opposite Lee Gardens (next to the Regency Hotel) you will see a restaurant which spit-roasts suckling pigs every day. Large, open-air seafood restaurants are also popular with Chinese visitors and the quality of seafood available in Hat Yai is good. Behind Regency Hotel and Lee Garden Hotel is a Vermicillin Store with a Teochew speaking lady boss. The store opens from 10pm-6am. Its beside the street Thanon Duangchan. For those who likes to eat pork ribs soup or "Bak Kut Tea", you can find this place called "YA LUN ROU KU CHA" with telephone no. 01-6082829 There is also a large resident Muslim population and some visitors from Malaysia are also Muslim so finding Halal food isn't a problem. Across the street from Lee Garden hotel there are a couple of Muslim restaurants, Hamid restaurant is not too bad. Nice clean and good food. There are several small ones nearby. Certain Chinese are vegetarian and the town has a good selection of small vegetarian restaurants that offer tofu and soy meat substitutes.
 Drink
The beer in Hat Yai is especially reasonable so enjoy a can of beer while you are there. More reasonably priced than what you buy at the Singapore Duty-Free Shops.
Nakorn Nai - A stylish restaurant with free Internet access (WLAN). They serve very tasty western food (Pizza, Pasta, Beef Stroganoff, Breakfast) for reasonable prices.
The Swan - Nice atmosphere with books and 2 TVs with UBC. Jack Coke - 60 baht. A slight British Pub feel. On Thanon Thamnoon Vithi Rd. One block from The Pubb.
Brown Sugar - Just across the street from The Swan, is similar, but with a bit less ambience. Does breakfast. On Thanon Thamnoon Vithi Rd.
The Pubb - Live music, pool upstairs and decent food. Located downtown.
The Post Laser Disc - Proclaims "We are mentioned by Lonley Planet". Air-con and pool. Jack Coke 80 baht. Farang hangout. On Thanon Thamnoon Vithi Rd.
Brass Monkey - Upstairs disco with pool table. Next to Brown Sugar.
Deep Wonder - Street side and downstair bar. Live music. Across from The Pubb.
Co Art - A cafe-style place to hang-out in the evening / night. There is a live band almost every day with international well-known cover-songs.
The Corazon
Acoustic
The West Side Saloon
Paragon located at Hansa Plaza
 Sleep
Travel agents around town can nearly always give better rates for hotel rooms compared to dealing directly with the hotel. Hat Yai has an abundance of accommodation. Tourism in Hat Yai consists mainly of the weekend trade from Malaysia and Singapore. Accommodation can be found very easily mid-week but hotels in the centre of town tend to get booked up for the weekends and Malaysian and Singaporean public holidays.
 Budget
Asian Hotel. Basic facilities, is one of the older bigger hotels several decades back. Walking distance from Lee Garden.
HOK CHIN HIN; not far from the train station; turn the second left, ca 100 metres. Cheap, basic,friendly (no bed bugs.) Don't be put off by the noodle man!!!!
 Mid-range
Golden Crown Plaza Hotel, 42-43 Niphatuthit 3. Opened in 2007. The standard rooms are very nice and confortable. 850 baht.
Lee Garden Plaza Hotel (above The Plaza). 33 floors with magnificent panoramic view of the city from the buffet restaurant on the top floor, and a large swimming pool and fitness centre on the 12th floor. 1050 baht including breakfast.
Siam City Hotel, 25-35 Niphatutit 2 Road, 074-353-111/30. Decent city views. Mini fridge. Feels 30 years old. No English TV channels. 855 baht.
 Stay safe
As the largest city in the South, Had Yai and its airport have been targeted several times by violence. A series of bombings in September 2006 that specifically targeted restaurants and shopping centers popular with visitors (and locals) killed two tourists. There were another 7 bombs in May 2007 in Hat Yai which killed one person.
Padang Besar (Songkhla)
Padang Besar (Thai: ปาดังเบซาร์. Also spelled Padangbesar, Padangbezar and Padangbasar) is a border town in the south of Songkhla province in southern Thailand.
Padang Besar is the only direct rail link between Malaysia and Thailand. It also has a road crossing between the two countries which is a lot less busy than the more direct Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam crossing.
The town on the Malaysian side of the border, in Perlis, is also called Padang Besar. Malaysians usually refer to the town on the Thai side as "Pekan Siam" or "Siamese Town".
Slightly bigger and a lot more ramshackle and sleazy looking than its Malaysian counterpart, Thailand's Padang Besar is often busy with Malaysians crossing the border for shopping and to indulge in the freewheeling entertainment which Thai border towns are infamous for.
 Get in
 By train
The Thai side of Padang Besar has a small railway station which should not be confused with the Padang Besar station on the Malaysian side where all Thai and Malaysian immigration formalities are carried out. The station is on the right side of the road leaving town towards Hat Yai. The following are departures from the Thai Padang Besar station, hence the times are all Thai time.
Both Keretapi Tanah Melayu's Senandung Langkawi express between Kuala Lumpur and Hat Yai and the State Railways of Thailand's International Express between Bangkok and Butterworth in Penang stop for a short while before proceeding to or after coming from Malaysia. The Senandung Langkawi departs for Hat Yai at 08:45 and for Kuala Lumpur at 15:45. The International Express leaves Padang Besar for Bangkok at 16:30 and for Butterworth at 07:20.
Note that Malaysia is one hour ahead of Thailand. When it is noon in Thailand, it is 13:00 in Malaysia.
 By bus
To/from Hat Yai: Regular local buses link Padang Besar and Hat Yai via Sadao. Journey time is about one hour. Buses leave from the main town square. The bus can also be caught on the main road right outside the Thai immigration complex. Wait on the opposite side of the road for Hat Yai-bound buses.
To/from Malaysia: There are no direct buses. From Hat Yai, get off the bus at the Thai immigration complex and walk or take a motorcycle taxi (20 baht or RM2 should be enough). If you choose to walk, remember that the two immigration checkpoints are several hundred metres apart. There is a duty free shopping complex in between the checkpoints on Malaysia territory.
 By road
Padang Besar is located about 50km south of Hat Yai. Coming from Hat Yai, you will have to turn right (west) at Sadao town. To get to the Malaysian town of Padang Besar, leave town on the road to Hat Yai and the Thai immigration checkpoint is about 1km away on the right.
Sadao
Sadao (Thai: สะเดา) is the name of a small town and district in Songkhla Province in Southern Thailand, on the border with Malaysia.
The actual border is located at Dannok town 10km south of Sadao town and about 60km from Hat Yai. Thai immigration formalities (which is officially called the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint) used to be conducted at Sadao town but has since moved to Dannok just before the border gate into Malaysia. The town on the Malaysian side is Bukit Kayu Hitam.
This road crossing is the busiest between Thailand and Malaysia as both Thailand's National Highway 4 which runs all the way to Bangkok via Hat Yai and Malaysia's North-South Expressway which spans the length of the peninsular to Johor Bahru via Kuala Lumpur start from this crossing. Most long distance buses between Malaysia and Thailand use this crossing.
Sadao town is the capital of Sadao district. It is basically a junction town where people heading to Padang Besar turn off National Highway 4.
Dannok, which used to be just a few shops clinging on to both sides of the highway just before the border gate, has grown tremendously over the last few years, mostly fed by people crossing the border in search of sleaze and shopping. On both sides of the highway many little lanes lined with karaoke bars and nightclubs, with scantily-dressed bargirls sitting outside.
 Get in
 By minibus
In Dannok, vans leave from in front of 7-Eleven to Hat Yai via Sadao town when full. Takes one hour and you can ask to be dropped off anywhere in Hat Yai. The fare is 50 baht, after 11pm you probably won't get a ride for less than 100 baht. In Hat Yai, the van leaves from The Plaza, just across from the TOT offices.
 By taxi
A taxi to Hat Yai is about 200 baht.
 By road
Sadao and Dannok are on National Highway 4. Dannok is about 60km or one hour south of Hat Yai. You can drive right up to the immigration checkpoint.
 From Malaysia
You can drive, walk or catch a regular taxi or motorcycle taxi travel between the Bukit Kayu Hitam checkpoint and Dannok. There is a distance of about 1km between the two checkpoints and walking in the heat can be a little uncomfortable. In between the two checkpoints is the huge Duty Free shopping complex, located in Malaysian territory. See the Bukit Kayu Hitam page for connections from or to Malaysian cities.
 Get around
Motorcycle taxis are plentiful and charge RM2 or 20 Bahts in Danok.
 See
Danok has nothing much to see or do in the day time! More of a night life town!
 Do
A growing nightlife is developing due to Malaysian border crossers looking for a good time. There are lots of hostess and go-go bars to be found.
 Buy
The shops in Dannok are interesting enough to look around and many Malaysians come here to stock up with things from mangoes to bras. The variety is certainly more interesting than in Malaysia and prices are much cheaper.
Many also shop at the Duty Free Shopping Complex which is actually located in Malaysian territory between the Thai and Malaysian immigration checkpoints. See the Bukit Kayu Hitam for details.
 Eat
Danok has 2 nice restaurants both with man made lakes. One has a fishing pond and the other has a beautiful view! Ask the hotels or motorcycle taxis for location as it is out of the main town area but the meal at the lake view restaurant is worth the travel!
 Drink
This small town is a heaven in terms of drinking places, from pubs, clubs & even a Disco called Paragon. Turn into any lane and inroad & you're bound to find a place to get a drink! Be careful though as this town is virtually a cowboy town with very little presence of police, therefore try to stay out of trouble!
 Sleep
Oscar hotel, main street of Danok, about 200 metres away from Malaysia-Thai custom border. Walk in rate is RM90 (Nov 2007). Very strategic location in Danok.
Surat Thani (province)
Surat Thani Province is on the east coast of Southern Thailand, and shares borders with Chumphon Province, Krabi Province, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Phang Nga Province and Ranong Province, as well as Myanmar and the Gulf of Thailand.
 Learn
 Buddhist meditation
Suan Mokkh, Ampoe Chaiya, Surat Thani Province 84110 (50km north of Surat Thani). Fax: fax:+66 77 431-597 [1]. Founded by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu to offer a place for the pure practice of the Buddha Dhamma. The monastery holds retreats with English instruction from the 1st to 11th of every month. Registration is held on the day prior to the start of the retreat (i.e. the last day of the preceding month), and no prior reservations are accepted - participants are accepted on a first come first serve basis. Retreats are free, though there is a 1500 baht charge for meals.
Surat Thani
Surat Thani (สุราษฎร์ธานี) is the provincial capital of Surat Thani Province.
 Understand
Surat Thani is a gateway to the islands of Thailand's eastern coast: Ko Samui, Ko Tao (great for scuba diving), and Ko Pha Ngan and also the natural beauty of the Khao Sok National Park. Though large it has a low density of 7-Elevens and so on. There are many Chinese temples. There are also many good restaurants and bars in this city which normally go unnoticed by foreign visitors.
 Get in
 By plane
Surat Thani Airport (IATA: URT | ICAO: VTSB) is about 20 km west of the city in Phunphin district. AirAsia and Thai Airways operate daily flights to/from Bangkok.
 By train
The Surat Thani train station, despite its name, is located in Phunphin, about 12km west of the town center. Most comfortable are the overnight trains from Bangkok, which arrive in early morning. There are always many who try to catch the tourists and sell them trips to Surat or the islands directly - usually the most aggressive sellers are the most expensive. However, it's not a big problem to reach a 'Surat Thani City' from Phunphin - 'Surathani' railway station - by municipal bus (departure every 30 mins) from the train station building. It costs only 20 baht. Taxis from Phunphin to Surat City are around 150-200 baht.
 By bus
The new bus terminal is located a bit outside the city, however if you plan to go directly into the city it's usually possible to ask for a stop before. The old bus terminal in the middle of city is now only frequented by the some private buses, which are however much more risky than the government buses. If coming from Phuket, endeavour to catch an express bus rather than the local service which picks up and drops off passengers along the entire route, as the latter takes about 6 hours to reach Surat Thani.
 By boat
You can take the ferry from any of the islands nearby, taking about an hour. There is food on board and movies as well.
 Get around
When you get off the ferry there is a bus ride included with the trip (note the strange system of paper tickets combined with circular stickers that you stick on your shirt). It is a 45 minute bus ride down backroads from the ferry terminal to Surat Thani. More than one ferry terminal services Surat Thani.
 See
Being here is different than for most cities, as the residents here are used to seeing foreigners but don't bother with trying to sell things to foreigners for a living. Most tourists here are just passing through to the islands, as there are no real attractions within the city.
A popular place for picnic as well as for sports is Ko Lamphu, a small car-free island in the river Tapi, connected by bridge to the city at the city pillar shrine. A nice view is the riverfront, built as a promenade. In the evening hours there are also some food stalls there, however the night market concentrates at a sidestreet next to Wat Sai.
There are several Buddhist as well as Chinese temples within the city, however none really notable. To the north is the Roman Catholic St.Raphael Cathedral, actually a small wooden church.
Outside the city, there is a monkey training centre near by in Kanchanadit. The hill Khao Taphet south of the city offers a great view over the city, as well as a the Si Surat chedi as some billboards with the animals living in that non-hunting area. Further south is the Khun Thale swamp, a nice small lake but without any further attractions.
 Do
60 km north of Surat Thani is a small town called Chaiya, which gives a good representation of what small town life used to be like in Southern Thailand. It is one of the oldest towns in Thailand - dating to the 8th and 10th centuries. This was during the Srivijaya empire (~200 - 1400).
Halfway between Phuket and Surat Thani but still within the province of Surat Thani is the town Ban Takhun. There is little to do here but this is a very convenient stopping point for people on the way to Phuket, Khao Sok National Park and the Rajjaprabha Dam. Tourist information is available behind the bus shelter opposite the Takhun Temple at both the Pet Shop and the Ice Shop next door where the owners can speak English. The Pet Shop Girl also has cold drinks and English language books for sale.
At the Rajjaprabha Dam there is a beautiful view point which looks out onto the reservoir and the ring of limestone mountains surrounding it. There are refreshments and basic Thai food available there. Unless accommodation has already been booked visitors are not allowed to stay overnight and are required to leave by 7pm. Accommodation is available either on raft houses (ask at the pier) out on the reservoir or in hotels near the view point.
 Buy
The motorway heading north from Surat Thani to Chaiya and Chumphon is lined with dozens of little stalls selling the famous Chaiya Salted Eggs. These duck eggs are a delicacy not to be missed and can be either boiled or fried as with normal eggs.
 Eat
The night market has some great food vendors. Particularly the rotis at the western end.
Next to the Sahathai department store there is a Pizza Company outlet and a Swensens for expensive ice-cream.
There's a restaurant called *Lucky*. It was the only time in a 6 months stay that we were disrespected by the locals. The food was also horrible and the owners were very rude. This Restaurant was one of the most famous in Surat Thani many years ago but has declined rapidly in recent years and persisten rumours of drug addiction and abuse have driven customers away.
On Chalok Rat Road opposite the large outdoor Popeye Restaurant is a cosy little pub called Earth Zone and it is owned by Suk and Pooy. The pub is beautifully decorated with an outdoor area which is surrounded by plants and trees and the interior is decorated with water features and Khmer-style statues. Pooy boasts an impressive menu with an extensive vegetarian section using a special Chinese mushroom, she also cooks up the usual Thai-style meat and fish dishes and some Western favourites. Suk takes care of the drinks and ambiance with beer, whisky, cocktails and a wide selection of Western music. The Earth Zone is open between the hours of 6pm and 12am.
 Drink
Lamoon is a pub situated on Amphur Road and is run by Kai who recently returned to Surat after spending many years in Switzerland. He is fluent in both English and German and has created a beautiful beer garden which also has some indoor seating. The food isn't the best but the surroundings, the atmosphere and the clientele more than make up for that. Friday night parties with lucky numbers and drinking games are a regular occurrance as are (fortunately very short) acoustic performances by a local American teacher.
 Sleep
 Budget
Chayo Bar is on the riverfront, opposite Ban Don Pier where the night boats leave for the islands. Free accommodation in a limited number of rooms, but do not expect anything special: mattress-on-floor rooms, fans and shared bathrooms. Run by Chayo and Toto who will look after you well but do not suffer fools gladly. Also serves food. **Chayo and Toto have since moved due the the rising rents near the pier. Their new shop is on Talad Mai Road near the entrance Talad Kaset 2 Bus Station.**
Ban Don Hotel is a place for really cheap and clean rooms, but for ~250 baht, don't expect anything fancy. Most rooms don't have air-con or hot water and the entrance is through a shady looking restaurant. But, if you're looking for a place just to stay a night while passing through, it's pretty good for the price. Located close to Ban Don Road and Na Mueang Road.
 Mid-range
Southern Star Hotel - 650 baht a night, many travel agents willing to show high class hotels and places to travel to.
 Splurge
The Diamond Plaza hotel is the best hotel in town.
 Get out
Most travellers in Surat Thani are on their way to or from the islands:
  • Ko Samui - backpacker paradise gone upmarket
  • Ko Tao - popular diving spot and a good place to get certified
Ko Pha Ngan
Ko Pha Ngan (เกาะพะง้น, pronounced KOH pa-nGan) is an island off the eastern Gulf coast of Thailand, halfway between the islands of Ko Samui and Ko Tao. It is known as a land of coconut trees and, above all, the world famous full moon parties.
 Destinations
  • Thong Sala - the island's "capital" and main ferry port
  • Haad Rin (Hat Rin) - site of the famous Full Moon Party
  • Thong Nai Pan - scenic area on the north-eastern part of the island that includes the neighboring beach resorts of Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai and Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi
  • Haad Chao Phao - beautiful beach fringed by a vibrant coral reef, on the western part of the island
  • Haad Yao - long white sand beach just north of Had Chao Phao, slightly more developed with more beach bars and restaurants
  • Haad Salad - an idyllic cove with several high-end resorts on the north-western part of the island
  • Haad Mae Had - wide sandy beach joined to Koh Ma by a sand spit, which is a National Marine Park with some of the best diving and snorkelling on Pha Ngan; there is also a small village and a variety of resorts, restaurants and bars
 Get in
 By plane
The closest airport is Ko Samui (USM) which has frequent flights from Bangkok and Phuket, daily flights from U-Tapao and Singapore, and several direct flights each week from Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur. Transportation to the ferry dock is easy to find at the airport. Ferries depart several times a day with the last one around dusk.
The next nearest airport is Surat Thani (URT) on the mainland.
 By boat
From Ko Samui: There are at least 3 ferries a day from Ko Samui's "Big Buddha" pier directly to Haad Rin. Ferries also leave from Nathon and Maenam piers to Thong Sala several times a day.
 By bus and boat
The best way in by bus is by Governmnent Bus to the Na Dan ferry piers: these are the most direct, quickest, reliable, safest, and hassle-free services. Tickets for these services can be bought at Government Bus Terminals.
Buses also arrive in Surat Thani, capital of Surat Thani Province, from where passengers are inexorably swept up in the machine that will, several buses and at least one ferry later, spit you out on the rusty pier of Thong Sala.
Buses originating from Khao San Road (or others with travel agent sold tickets) are notorious for thefts from passenger luggage and should be avoided at all costs. Under no circumstances should passengers on Khao San Road buses leave valuables in bags that will go in the luggage stowage areas, even if the bags can be locked; consider it inevitable that every bag will be opened while the bus is in motion.
 By train, boat and bus
Overnight train from Bangkok is an interesting option. Trains arrive in Surat Thani or Chumphon, and from there you can transfer by bus and then boat. Combined train-bus-boat tickets can be bought direct from the official Advance Booking Counter at Hualamphong station in Bangkok, although sometimes train get late, and your boat is already gone and you have to pay extra for the next boat. Thus joint ticket is not the best choice.
 Get around
 By motorcycle
100-125cc motorbikes can be hired from around 150 baht/day; larger capacity models cost 300-1000 baht/day. Foreigners may be required to leave their passport as a deposit.
Some rental shops overcharge for every scratch or dent. They don't fix, but rather replace the whole part - so note damages to the bike on the rental contract. Be aware that your passport may be held against you until you pay the exorbitant repair cost.
Avoid riding at sundown, when the bugs are out en masse, and result in brief periods of riding blind, while you desperately try to clear your corneas. Try not to go home with a 'KPN tattoo' - this can either result from your tender-skinned body sliding along a bitumen road at high speed with few clothes on, or from the inside of your leg touching too hot exhaust pipe of the moped.
Care is needed if attempting to go over the notorious Haad Rin hills, the roads at the eastern side of the island, and north of Haad Yao. Especially the "Hill of Tears" (first steep ascend from Thong Sala towards Haad Rin) needs caution - use low gear only and rather have your passenger walk, than bruised up.
Drunk driving in the West is illegal - in Ko Pha Ngan it's suicidal. Better to sit in the back of a taxi than hitting one head on at night, or end up in hospital.
Wear a helmet, avoid riding in flip-flops and stay within your limits. The slower you drive, the less it's gonna hurt.
It is also possible to rent small Suzuki jeeps, however you will find that you can circuit the island in a day.
 By songthaew
Songthaew pick-up truck taxis criss-cross the island for around 50 baht a ride, or 100 baht for the less accessible destination of Thong Nai Pan.
 By boat
Boats cruise the bays with your snorkeling gear until somewhere takes your fancy. The round-the-island 6-hour boat trip is a great way to see some of the best beaches in the island, for around 500 baht/day.
 See
  • Visit the beautiful waterfalls and lookouts in the interior of the island.
  • The herbal sauna at Wat Pho is a great relief after long party nights. It's near the 7/11 branch in Baan Thai, on the south-western side of the island. Don't forget to leave a donation, always wear a sarong (over your bikini) - remember that you are on temple-territory and locals find nudity offensive. This is not a European sauna, sitting naked will get you into trouble.
  • If you're into fire, you'll find spinners and twirlers on many of the beaches, teachers abund and poi are easy to find.
  • Vist Ko Mae off the north-west coast of Ko Pha Ngan.
 Do
Full Moon Party - if you're after party heaven you can't do better than Haad Rin, an expanded village of beach bars, cheap chicken burgers, and low cut figure-hugging outfits. It is most popular one night a month - the night of the Full Moon Party. Every bar is hopping, the beaches packed with trance, dance, buckets, and various other suspicious substances. However, if the sight of thousands of bottles and other trash repulses you, make sure you leave the beach area before the sun comes up, or grab a garbage bag and help tidy up a little. If you're not on Ko Pha Ngan during the full moon, don't worry: there are other parties to be had, including Half Moon (2 times a month), Black Moon, Jungle Parties, as well as the Shiva Moon party. There is always something to do in Ko Pha Ngan.
Archery can be attempted at the "First Bow and Arrow Archery" close to Chaloklum on the road to Thongsala. Four archers can have a go at the same time, people are very friendly (German spoken during high season) and helpful.
Hiking can be done all around the island. There is a trail that leads between Haad Rin and Haad Tien, which many enjoy however the route can become difficult to discern, and bringing enough water is necessary.
Muay Thai gyms such as "Jungle Gym" in Haad Rin and Thong Sala Muay Thai offering training and work out facilities, as well as camps such as "Horizon" located in Haad Tien (east) which is an intensive training camp. There are also frequent matches in Thong Sala and Haad Rin for spectators who don't want to learn the sport.
Yoga is offered at multiple locations including Agama Yoga, which is located in the northwest of the island, and has month long intensive courses.
 Buy
Both Thong Sala and Haad Rin sell pretty much anything you can think of, and probably some things you don't need at all. You can try to bargain, but realistically, the prices are set. You may get a deal every now and again, but it's the exception to the rule. Remember that you're in a tourist area and that prices usually are above the level of for say Bangkok.
Main purchases you will find on Ko Pha Ngan include hammocks (check out "Hammock Home" in Thong Sala) as well as some of the local artists works. Most of the clothing is of the variety that you will find in Bangkok, but generally it is a bit more expensive, as it has been imported to the island for sale.
 Eat
For an authentic experience (and cheaper than the well-decorated cafe/restaurants by Haad Rin beach), look at the more modest cafes where you might see some Thais eating.
The best area for authentic cheap eats is definitely Thong Sala, the main town on the island.
Peppercorn, Srithanu. Good place for salads and steaks.
 Drink
Sheesha (Chaloklam). A classy take on the Thai bar, definitely worth a look.
The Livin' Room. Sip cocktails while you enjoy air-con & movies on a 5m screen, with your own private phone to order drinks & food.
 Sleep
There is more to Ko Pha Ngan than the full moon party and Haad Rin, so don't be afraid to venture out to other beaches. You can still get to the party from just about everywhere.
The decent rooms tend to run out a few days before the full moon party, and throughout the peak season (December-February). If you have a short vacation or like to have a soft landing, you might want to book a room in advance.
If you decide to test your luck, try to arrive as early in the day as possible to have the most time and options for accommodations.
For a cheap bungalow, literally moments from white beaches (but no surf whatsoever), turn left from Thong Sala and you will pass strings of quiet bays, each with one or more 'resorts', featuring a bar, a restaurant, rooms and bungalows, and a few dozen laid back tourists and travelers for company. Try Haad Yao, Haad Son, or any of the others along the same strip.
For the North of the island, Chaloklum, Ko Ma & Bottle Beach are popular.
Thong Nai Pan (Noi and Yai) is to the Northeast and is more remote, but is well worth the bumpy drive through the forest. It is a pair of particularly beautiful and relaxing beaches with plenty of accommodation, restaurants, and nightlife.
 Stay safe
Yes, the Full Moon Party (as well as others) is full of drugs, but these days it's also full of plainclothes policemen out to bust you. Be very careful if you intend to consume illicit drugs. Roadblocks are common, particularly in the week before the FMP between Thong Sala and Haad Rin. Thai police have also been known to force urine tests. Remember that the Thais have harsh penalties for drug offences and the police are working to meet their "quota". Be aware that you may NOT be able to bail yourself out of trouble - especially if you get transferred to Surat Thani - and that bribing Thai police will at least cut a deep hole into your travel budget, if it is possible at all. Do not keep drugs on you, in your room, or on your vehicle.
If you plan to drink at a party, make sure you have reliable transportation set up beforehand. The roads here are nothing to mess with, and too many people try to drive home because they don't have a taxi waiting. If nothing else, find a safe corner and sleep it off before you head home.
It's not a good idea to accept drinks or food from strangers, there are reported incidents of spiked drinks (from both: locals and "fellow" travellers). There have been reports of LSD buckets foisted on unsuspecting partyers in Haad Rin. Drugged drinks are often and unfortunately followed up by robbery, sexual harassment, or even (gang) rapes. Best idea is to afford your own drinks and stay with your friends.
On closer inspection of the buckets sold, most liquor bottles are unsealed; thus there is unsurity about the true contents of every bottle. This may be why so many people get sick.
However a local clubowner states "we use the small bottles for the buckets and it is cheaper and easier for us to re-use the small bottles. The local stockists always run out of small bottles so we often replace the contents with that from a larger bottle of the same liquor (some clubs use cheaper liquor - ask POLITELY at the bar for original liquor and be prepared to pay more for original liquor). The hangovers come from dehydration - most kids drink buckets all night then party in the morning sun on alcohol - best advise is drink water regularly - even at night as its hot and sweaty!"
So before buying a bucket, check the seal of the bottle and politely ask what's in it if you are worried. Apart from that, remember the fact that buckets can be VERY strong and unpredictable. If you intend to get drunk, try to have solid food beforehand, or you might "lose it" very fast.
It's advisable to leave all valuables in a safety deposit box or at your guesthouse owner's hands instead of taking them to the party.
Wear shoes or sandals to avoid injury from broken bottles or burning cigarettes.
If you're averse to getting knocked on the head with flaming batons, then don't venture too close to the Fire Poi swingers on the beach, as skillful as they may be, the fire sometimes gets out of hand and hit nearby tourists. "Fire Skipping Rope / Jump through Fire Hoop" are dangerous games provided a few of the beach bars, take care of participating in these games, especiaslly if you are drunk!
If you plan to leave the island the day after the Full Moon Party, be aware that the boats are usually packed with other tourists who have the same idea. Make sure you're not getting on an overloaded boat. Same applies to taxi-boats before and after the FMP. The Thai frequently overload their longtail boats and lost luggage is at your own expense. Rather get off, reclaim your money and wait for the next one.
There are many good places to stay in Ko Pha Ngan, if you want to stay close to the action, but not TOO close you may choose the resorts on the "sunset side" of Haad Rin. You can stay just about anywhere on the island and still get to the Full Moon Party, so don't be afraid to venture away from Haad Rin, which is the most developed and least Thai beach of them all. There are aver 30 coves and baches on the island, each with it's own distinct qualities. Check out local information to find which beach suits you.
Try to WALK AWAY from every potential conflict with locals. You will stand no chance and it's a surefire way to get hospitalized. Also try not to get inappropriately rowdy or swear at the beach bar staff. In April 2007 an Israeli tourist got stabbed to death right on the dancefloor in one of the bars on Haad Rin beach - violence is frequent. The locals will not help you in a fight and will in fact gang up on you whether you are right or wrong, and "fellow" travellers will do their best to stay out of it, too. If you find yourself seriously aimed for, LEAVE THE PLACE IMMEDIATELY and don't come back the same night. Thais who lose their temper usually are back to normal the next day. Be friendly and smile - you're on a holiday! Everything is best done with a smile here as this is Thai culture.
 Get out
  • Sail Rock - popular diving destination, mid-way between Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao
Pha Ngan / Thong Sala
Thong Sala is the main port and largest settlement on Ko Pha Ngan.
 Get in
There are various ferries from Mae Nam on Ko Samui. The catamaran departs at noon, takes 20 minutes and costs 250 baht.
At Thong Sala there are taxis and pick up trucks waiting to take passengers around the island, holding up signs with the destinations. Price is a fixed 100 baht/person.
 Eat
Thong Sala has a night market which consists of multiple food carts ranging from ready made curry stalls, made-to-order restaurant carts, noodle carts, chicken vendors, and desserts such as Thai confections and banana rotee (pancakes).
Also, along the road near Thong Sala, you will see many "BBQ" restaurants advertising "all you can eat" for about 99 baht. This is a great way to eat, and it is economical as well as delicious.
During the day, food carts can be found throughout Thong Sala. Great food cart items include Som Tam, the tasty spicy papaya salad, pad Thai, and chicken vendors.
Jumunjy, TongSala. Beautifuly decorated bar/restaurant with an excellent menu.
Me'n'u (3 km outside Thongsala on the west coast road to Haad Yao at Hin Kong). Modern European cuisine in a sublime tranquil location.
 Drink
Amsterdam Bar (high on a hill, north of Thong Sala). Amazing sunset views, and sometimes hosts a "warm up" party to the Full Moon a few days in advance.
 Sleep
Weangthai. Cheap air-con rooms and fan bungalows, swimming pool, and access to the beach.
 Get out
  • Haad Rin (Hat Rin) - site of the famous Full Moon Party
Pha Ngan / Haad Rin
Haad Rin is on the island of Ko Pha Ngan off the coast of Thailand. Most famous for their Full Moon Party.
 Eat
Casanostra, located near the 7 Eleven. Real home made Italian food.
Kingfisher. Good breakfast, fresh seafood and grilled steaks and big burgers.
 Drink
If you're after party heaven you can't do better than Haad Rin. It is most popular one night a month - the night of the Full Moon Party. Every bar is hopping, the beaches packed with trance, dance, buckets, and various other suspicious substances. However, if the sight of thousands of bottles and other trash repulses you, make sure you leave the beach area before the sun comes up, or grab a garbage bag and help tidy up a little.
Cactus Bar. A busy place that tends to play R'n'B.
Drop Inn Bar at the top end of Haad Rin is one the biggest bars on the beach. Cocktails are cheap, they have plenty of beach seating and great fire shows. Music is generally commercial Rnb mixed in with house.
Mellow Mountain. Built into the side of a cliff. After a precarious ascent up the stairs, expect to find 'special shakes' and a very chilled out, laid back atmosphere - perfect if you want to escape the bustle of the beach party.
Vinyl Club is more for dancing to techno, but serves drinks as well. Right next door is Zoom Bar which offers more of the same.
 Sleep
Anywhere up to a week before a Half-Moon or Full-Moon party, the hotels in Haad Rin and the immediate surrounding areas get booked out as the population around the beach swells, with the more comfortable places being taken first. If you're planning to visit about this time, look into staying outside of Haad Rin, and taxi in and out, rooms on the other side of the island are not only cheaper but also much quieter.
 Stay safe
Be very careful where you sleep and store your belongings if you're going for the Full Moon Party, as every month at this time many people have their bungalows broken into and valuables stolen. There are safety deposit boxes available at many resorts and in the town itself, but there are also reports of theft from some of these. Try find somewhere where you can at least use your own padlock, or stay at one of the higher end resorts if you can afford it. Alternatively, consider not staying at Ko Pha Ngan - you can get a boat over to the party from Ko Samui. If you do have stuff stolen, expect a long line queuing to report thefts at the police station the next day, and to have to pay for a report if you need one for your insurance.
It might be a great night out, but it's not so great in the morning when you find yourself with no money and no passport...
Pha Ngan / Thong Nai Pan
Thong Nai Pan (or just TNP among backpackers) is an area on the northeastern tip of Ko Pha Ngan that includes the two beach resorts of Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai and Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi. They are maybe the most secluded but yet developed beaches on the island.
 Understand
Yai means "large", and it's the larger and more developed of the two beaches. Noi means "small", and the beach here is about half the size of Yai. The two are a 15-minute hike apart from each other.
 Get in
To get to either of the Thong Nai Pan beaches, you first need to make your way to Ko Pha Ngan; see the article for details.
Once at the island's harbor of Thong Sala, there will be one or more taxi/pick up truck drivers waiting, holding up signs with the destination. Price is a fixed 150 baht/person. Note that some taxis don't go to both beaches so check for the Noi/Yai extension on their signs. Since the beaches are less traveled and quite a ride, sometimes you'll have to wait for the next boat or even the boat after that because the driver won't drive up and down for just 1 or 2 passengers. Once they do take off, the trip is about half an hour.
Since you've chosen this destination you're unlikely to be in a hurry. But if, for some reason you are and you are a little bit more adventurous, then catch a quick ride to the town (or even walk, out the harbor take a left on the main street till the round about). Here you can rent a typical Thai 125 cc motorcycle. But be aware that the road to these northern beaches is mainly unpaved and with really steep slopes, (see picture). So after one or two hours of rain, this trip can be a dangerous one for the less experienced drivers. It's about 15 km (10 mi) and it will take you around 50 minutes to drive.
 See
  • The sunrise, day after day.
  • Also try to catch a glimpse of the huge, harmless lizards that are unique to this area.
 Do
  • Take a walk from the one beach to the next.
  • Follow the track by the waterfall.
  • Bring some good books
  • Yoga classes and retreats- ask at Thai Terrace Bungalows.
  • Get a massage from Lee on Yai Beach.
 Buy
There is really not much to buy. There are, however, 3 ATM's within crawling distance of each other in the financial district of Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi. Also in Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi you'll find a pharmacy which also sells second hand books. Don't expect much of it but when you have decided to stay one extra week in this little paradise, it might come in handy.
There are now two ATMs on the main street of Thong Nai Pan Yai.
 Eat
Fresh, deliciously steamed or grilled fish. Available at a few places, usually advertising the fish by having them on display on ice in front of the restaurant.
 Noi Beach
  • Ban Pong for good Thai and foreign food.
  • Que Pasa for not too bad Mexican.
  • Rasta Baby for decent Thai and foreign food.
 Yai Beach
  • Boozy's Deli for excellent fresh steaks, pasta, and Israeli food.
  • Chai Ya Bar & Restaurant for Thai and European food.
  • Under Sky Restaurant has excellent seafood and traditional Thai dishes.
 Drink
All places in town are very much alike; i.e. open bamboo constructions with cold beer in the fridge, Western music on the stereo and a very relaxed atmosphere. Also on the beach you can find a couple of these bars. Some of them being part of a guest house they close between 10 and 11 PM. Others can stay open til around 2am.
 Noi Beach
  • I Sea Bar on the beach
  • Flip Flop Pharmacy (very touristy) on the beach
  • Hideaway Bar in the village on Friday nights.
 Yai Beach
  • Yai Bar on the beach
  • Nu Bar has Ladies' nights Wed. and Sun.
  • Makkar Bar for chilling, art and music.
  • Chillout Bar for pool, football on TV, and cocktails.
 Sleep
There are guest houses of different ranges all along the beach plus a couple of hidden places in the village. Prices for a bungalow at the beach range, depending on the season, from 200 to 1200 baht. So drop your bags at one of the bars and start picking out the ones you'll like best. At both ends of the Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi there are some classy resorts in the splurge range. Accommodation is cheaper on Yai beach.
The village rooms will give you a more local experience so don't be afraid to go back from the beach a bit.
 Yai Beach
On Yai Beach, backpacker bungalows can be had for 300-800b/night at the following:
Paradise Garden Resort
Thai Terrace Bungalows
Dolphin Bungalows
Nice Beach Resort
Starlight Bungalows
The rest of the beach is quickly moving upscale.
Havana Beach Resort. The top end hotel on this beach.
 Elsewhere
Panviman Resort, on the headland between the two beaches.
 Contact
There are several Internet cafés charging steep prices for Thai standards of 3 baht/minute. There is also Wi-Fi available on both beaches (Ban Pong on Noi Beach, Indian Bar on Yai Beach) for around 150b/hr. so bring your laptop.
Pha Ngan / Haad Chao Phao
Haad Chao Phao is in Ko Pha Ngan.
 Get in
Located on the west coast of Pha Ngan, easily accessible via road or sea.
 See
A beautiful undiscovered bay fringed by palm trees, with wonderful sunset views.
 Do
  • Lay on the beach.
  • Snorkel and dive on the vibrant, colourful coral reef.
  • Walk to the local lake for a swim.
  • Walk up to another bay such as Haad Yao.
 Eat
Village Green Restaurant, Pub and Bungalows - great Thai and European food in a stunning Thai house.
 Drink
Pirate Bar set in its own little cove.
Seaflower Beach Bar in the cen
Ko Nang Yuan
 Understand
Ko Nang Yuan is a small island very close to Ko Tao. It is famous for its diving spots and its great snorkeling beach (where fish can be fed by hand). Many day trippers come from Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui.
 Get in
The only option is by boat. There are two types of boat available:
  • Long boat taxi from Ko Tao. This is likely to set you back 100 baht each way, though it may be possible to get a return trip for 100 baht total. Snorkeling day trips from Ko Tao start (including round trip boat fare) start at 250 baht.
It is also possible to come here for a snorkeling day trip from Ko Samui for about 1200 baht, though this is questionable value considering that whilst the trip may take the whole day you are likely to spend only an hour here. If you are really interested in visiting here stay at least one night on Ko Tao.
Note that visitors to Ko Nang Yuan island must pay a 100 baht fee (waived if you stay on the island).
Note also that plastic bottles and cans are banned from the island. As water and soda in glass bottles cannot be purchased in Ko Tao it effectively means that liquid refreshments must be purchased at the restaurant on the island (at wildly inflated prices).
 Get around
The island is so tiny, the only way to get around is by walking.
 Do
Snorkeling and diving!
Easy Divers (Tel: +66 (0) 77-456798) has an office on the island (as well as on Ko Tao and Ko Samui). Doing dives or courses with them you get a discount on your Nang Yuan Resort accommodation.
 Eat
There is only one restaurant which is part of the Nang Yuan resort. It has a selection of Thai and Western food. One of the best dishes on the menu is the BBQ fish.
Note that the restaurant takes full advantage of its monopoly status on the island. Prices for food are 3-4 times what you will pay on Ko Tao, and the wait staff make it clear that they are doing you a favour by serving you. If you stay on the island for lunch it is likely to be cheaper (and the food is better) to get a return boat taxi to Ko Tao and have lunch there.
 Sleep
The only accommodation on the island is the Nang Yuan Diving Resort [1]. The island is very beautiful and is well worth it if you really want to "get away from it all". A few things to consider if you want to stay here though:
  • The cheaper rooms, especially in peak times, will fill up well in advance. Book early if you really want to stay here.
  • When considering the cost, factor in the markup for food (4x vs. Ko Tao) and drink (> 10x for equivalent volume water vs. Ko Tao).
  • Many rooms may require a significant hike up the mountain on narrow stairs.
  • Rooms do not have telephones (i.e.you need to walk to reception if you have a problem, and of course no "room service").
  • There is zero nightlife on Ko Nang Yuan (And it is not feasible/possible to travel to Ko Tao at night).
  • Whilst all rooms have a TV, only a couple of rooms actually allow viewing of any television channels. In the evening, the best you can do is rent a DVD from reception (free).
Ko Samui
Ko Samui (เกาะสมุย) [1], often called just Samui (สมุย) is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, some 700km south of Bangkok and about 80km from the eastern coastline of southern Thailand.
 Districts
Ko Samui is all in all a fairly big place. The most popular and commercialised beaches are Chaweng and Lamai, while the northern beaches and their adjacent villages of Mae Nam, Bophut, Bang Ruk (Big Buddha) and Choeng Mon are more peaceful choices, and the west coast beaches are still (comparatively) quiet.
Clockwise from Nathon on the west coast, the main beaches are:
  • Nathon - Samui's port and administrative center, but with little to attract the tourist
  • Mae Nam - a quiet and beautiful beach on the northern coast
  • Bophut - known for its Fisherman's Village, laid-back but growing fast
  • Bang Ruk - at the northeastern tip, home of the Big Buddha
  • Chaweng - the largest and most-developed beach, with a curious mix of luxury hotels and backpacker guesthouses and a hopping nightlife
  • Lamai - Samui's "second" beach south of Chaweng, more backpackery than Chaweng
  • South Coast - the small beaches of Ban Hua Thanon, Na Khai, Laem Set, Bang Kao and Thong Krut
 Understand
An island of great natural beauty and variety, Samui is home to about 40,000 full-time inhabitants, 90% of whom are Buddhist. The palm fringed shoreline and coconut and fruit cultivation of the coastal lowlands rise to a central granite massive, the slopes of which are cloaked in virgin rainforest.
At 247km² Samui is the largest island in an archipelago of over 80 (mostly uninhabited) islands which form the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking and snorkeling paradise. At 25km long and 21km wide, Samui is big enough for serious exploration by the adventurous and fit, but can be circumnavigated in just a couple of hours by motorbike or car.
Tourism has long since overtaken coconut farming and fishing as the main sources of income. The latter are still practiced though to a lesser extent and the pleasant aroma of charring coconuts can still be smelled on many parts of the island. Many of the fish on local restaurant and hotel dining room tables come from the surrounding Gulf of Thailand's warm waters, although increasing amounts are imported from elsewhere as demand outstrips supply.
 Get in
Samui Airport departure taxes. A 300 baht surcharge is levied on domestic departures, as well as the 500 baht surcharge on international departures. If you fly via Bangkok to an international destination the tax is only 200 baht as the Bangkok international departure tax is already included in your ticket ex Bangkok. These charges are not included in the ticket price.
 By plane
Ko Samui Airport (USM) is a private airport originally built by Bangkok Airways, which is still the main operator and was for a long time the only airline with services to Ko Samui from Thailand. They have near-hourly departures to/from Bangkok; tickets are expensive by Thai standards, with advance bookings costing 2000-3500 baht, while a walk-in booking may be twice as much. There are also daily flights to/from Phuket for 2200 baht, U-Tapao, and Singapore; four direct flights a week from Chiang Mai (but no direct flights in the opposite direction); and twice weekly flights to/from Hong Kong.
In addition to Bangkok Air, Ko Samui is served two flights a day from Bangkok on Thai (starting February 2008) as well as by Berjaya Air from Kuala Lumpur and Firefly from Penang, both in Malaysia.
Visa-on-Arrival and Visa-Free entry is available at Samui Airport for some nationalities - see Thailand for more information.
Ground transportation from the airport is readily available. A seat in a minibus for the 20-minute ride to Chaweng costing 100 baht/person; a faster taxi will cost 150-300 baht. Be sure to negotiate the rate to your destination before you get into the taxi since many drivers refuse to use their meters. Recently a regular shuttle bus service was introduced that uses listed prices and allows internet booking and payment - Samui Shuttle.
A cheaper but less convenient option is to fly to Surat Thani or Chumphon and connect by road and then ferry.
 By boat
Numerous ferry services direct from mainland Surat Thani include an express boat (3 departures daily, taking around 3 hours and costing 150 baht) and slow night boats (taking 6-7 hours). Call operator Songserm Travel (252 9654 in Bangkok) for the latest schedules, which vary according to the season.
There are also regular speedboats and ferries to Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao.
Lomprayah offers a combined bus/high speed catamaran ferry service from Bangkok to Ko Samui which takes about 11 hours and costs around 850 baht (1000 baht in the opposite direction). The bus pauses in Hua Hin and then stops at Chumphon where it connects with the ferry, which calls at Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan on its way to Ko Samui. The buses and ferry are air-con and very comfortable.
From Surat Thani train station, combined bus/ferry services to Ko Samui cost 200-300 baht - some entail a 60 minute bus ride followed by a 90 minute ferry crossing, others a 30 minute bus ride but longer on the ferry. Tickets are sold by numerous agents who meet each train.
 Get around
As on many islands in Thailand, small motorbikes are available for rental. Compared to other nearby islands, Samui's road systems is very developed and there are plenty of taxis cruising about, although it's a challenge to get them to use their meters.
Pickup trucks (songthaews) also serve as group taxis. Hail one on any major road with a wave or yell, negotiate a fare, and sit down on the bench in the back.
 See
The reason why people come to Samui is, quite simply, the beaches which remain stunning after decades of development, helped in no small part by a height restriction on new buildings.
Other than lying on the beach with a cold beer in hand and ogling at the babes and hunks sauntering past, there isn't all that much to see on the island. A certain pair of rocks on Lamai amuses some visitors, Bang Rak has a large but nondescript Buddha statue, and there are some waterfalls (notably Na Muang) of minor interest.
 Do
The usual panoply of watersports are available, including plenty of dive shops, but most diving is done either in the nearby Angthong Marine National Park or Ko Tao as the visibility around Samui's sandy beaches tends to be poor. You can book diving day trips at dive shops, most of which are based in Chaweng. The dive boats tend to leave from the pier at Bophut.
Sailing is beginning to become more popular in Samui being led by the success of the Ko Samui Regatta and the continued popularity of the day crusies and sunset cruises aboard the 52 foot sailing catamaran Kia Ora. The major hindrance to sailing in Ko Samui is the lack of a marina to provide safe mooring, the support infrastructure and services. There have been many rumours about marina construction being imminent but nothing has yet been done. So when you get to Samui, expect to find it hard to locate a suitable provider and also expect to either clamber over rickety wooden jetties or be ferried out on the tender dinghy – all adding to the wonderful Thai style sailing adventure.
Santiburi Samui Country Club boasts the only 18 hole golf course on the island. Located inland from Mae Nam, the neighbouring town to Bophut, the challenging mountain-side and high valley fairways offer stunning views of the bay area and distant Ko Pha Ngan. Golf carts are compulsory, to prevent the exhaustion of players otherwise following the steeply rising and falling fairways. Large greens offer some compensation to players distracted by the fabulous views and lush tropical setting. The clubhouse includes locker rooms, dining, conferencing rooms as well as a driving range, practice green and shop.
Kayaking is a great way to see the Angthong Marine National Park. Look for a credible tour operator when on the island.
There is a nice natural pool at the top of the Na Muang waterfall 2. It's about 30 minutes steep hike from the point where the road ends. There are also some elephant ride businesses, that can take you to the bottom of the waterfall.
Shooting you can visit the Samui shooting range and fire various 9mm and revolver pistols and even the famous AK-47. Turn up and shoot - prices are quite steep around 1000 baht for a magazine of ammo but it does make for a memorable experience and is suitable for small groups.
Bungy Jump situated on the Reggae Street side of Chaweng lake.
Tiger Zoo and Tropical Bird Show - south of Hua Thanon
 Eat
Samui is well known for its coconuts, which are available everywhere and quite tasty. Being an island, seafood is generally a good choice, although in high season demand often exceeds local supply. The larger beaches have a number of international restaurants as well (often run by Thai-farang couples), with Bophut having a particularly good reputation.
Dual pricing is regrettably common: some restaurants have two menus, one for tourists and the other for Thai people, at about 1/4 of the foreigner prices. Main courses in a standard, low-key Thai restaurant should be under 100 baht (except some seafood dishes), so if prices seem unreasonably steep, head elsewhere.
 Drink
There are innumerable options for a drink, ranging from the loud and brash tourist pubs and girlie bars of Chaweng to the candle-lit romantic bars of Bophut. Figure on 80 baht for a local beer (Singha, Tiger, Chang, Heineken) and up to twice as much for any import.
Wine is especially expensive, usually over 2,000 baht per bottle.
 Sleep
With an estimated 60,000 rooms accommodation is basically not a problem, and the most difficult decision will be picking a suitable beach. Head for Chaweng or Lamai if you want nightlife, Mae Nam or the South Coast for a quieter beach experience, or Bophut for a good compromise.
 Buy
Tailor-made suit for next-to-nothing (2500+ baht for good quality).
Sarongs and other tropical souvenirs.
 Stay safe
Motorbikes are somewhat risky, but jeeps, trucks, and other cars for rent are readily available at very reasonable rates, and are considerably safer. If you must use a motorbike always wear a helmet and never drive drunk; the roads are hazardous with many large potholes. After a good time drinking in the party areas of Chaweng, Bophut, and Lamai, taxis are readily available to take you home.
A recent development has been the appearance of Quad Bikes to rent for use on the roads. These do not appear to be registered for road use so care should be taken as they may not be insured.
Be careful about beaches in night time as crime often occurs there.
Samui / Mae Nam
Mae Nam is a district in Ko Samui, Thailand.
 Understand
Mae Nam is known for it's 7km stretch of beach. The beach has white sand and is lined by coconut trees. The sea is typically calm, however there is a moderate drift and the water is not usually clear. Mae Nam actually means river, 'mae' meaning mother and 'nam' water.
 Get in
A songthaew from Chaweng (50 to 100 baht) or Nathon (50 baht) is the cheapest option. Easy to find as the busy ring road stretches through Mae Nam.
 Get around
Songthaew or hired motorbikes are the usual options.
 See
The sunset from the east end of the beaches are quite pretty.
 Do
Chill out on the beach, there's a nearby karting on the main road towards Bophut.
 Buy
There's a couple of market-shops near the 7-11 in the centre.
 Eat
Mister Pu - delightfully named restaurant on east end of Mae Nam. Barbeque meat on your own table, all you can eat for 89 baht.
Oncle Noi - Thai family owned restaurant on the main street. Very good and very cheap food, often full in the early evening.
Snack Stop - near the 7-11 by the main cross roads. Italian and Thai cuisine, plus a big vegetarian selection.
 Drink
There's a few relaxed beach bars with reclining beach beds. For nightlife head on to Chaweng.
 Sleep
There is usually a gentle breeze in Mae Nam so air con is not an essential.
Rainbow Bungalows is on the eastern end of the beach. Prices from 300 baht for fan rooms to 700 baht for air con.
Shangrilah Beach Bungalows at the western corner of Mae Nam. Beach shacks are only meters from the water, beach has 3 lines of coconut palms, absolutely quiet. Simple fan huts 300 baht.
Samui / Bophut
Bophut is a beach village located on the northern coast of Ko Samui, Thailand. Confusingly, Bophut is also a large administrative and postal district (Amphong), even encompassing Chaweng. A Bophut address therefore, is no guarantee that it is located in or around the village.
 Understand
One of the few places on Samui that retains some of the island's original Thai-Chinese atmosphere, Bophut has recently experiencing a boom with new hotels and guesthouses sprouting up at a frantic pace. The traditional core of Bophut, known as the Fisherman's Village, is on the east side of the beach while the new developments are to the west. However, unlike in Chaweng to the south, there has been a conscious effort to dissuade the more commercial elements of Thai nightlife from setting up shop and instead aiming for couples and young families.
Although there is some new construction, the beach road, which runs through the village retains much of its charm. Old Chinese shop-houses crowd the narrow street, many with sympathetic conversions to modern use as restaurants and cafés. The beach itself encompasses some 2km of white sandy shoreline fringed by coconut palms and the calm waters of the bay make this a popular spot for playing or relaxing.
 Get in
Bophut is just 5 minutes away from the airport by bus or taxi. Many ferries from Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao dock at the small pier in eastern Bophut.
 See & Do
Activities on Bophut are pretty much limited to the beach, which is quite narrow and drops off rapidly. Bophut is famed for its sunsets, fine restaurants, numerous pubs and complete absence of girly bars.
 Buy
There are a number of minimarts and souvenir shops in the Village, including a few moderately interesting Chinese-themed boutiques.
 Eat
Bophut has a reputation for being one of the best places to eat on Samui. The village boasts many fine restaurants offering a wide choice of specialty cuisines in addition to a wealth of Thai dishes. French, Italian, BBQ, Indian and seafood outlets predominate, but there are several pubs and two bakeries offering standard European style snacks and typical British and Australian pub grub. Currently some 30 bars and restaurants are located in little more than 700m of village street. All the places below are clustered in the Fisherman's Village within easy walking distance of each other.
Villa Bianca, tel. 077 245 041. Generally regarded as the best Italian restaurant on the island. True to the name, it's decorated with a stark white color scheme that stands out from the crowd, but the beachside tables are popular (book in advance!). Fairly pricy, figure on B500 per head with a glass of wine.
La Sirene, 65/1 Moo 1, tel. 077 425 301. A French-Thai restaurant with good seafood. Same price range as Villa Bianca.
Happy Elephant, in the Village, is a popular Thai seafood joint with an extensive menu. You can pick and choose your dinner and the cooking style from today's catch. Most fish B50 per 100 grams, so figure on a few hundred baht per head to stuff yourself. Live music some evenings.
Starfish and Coffee. Despite the odd name, this is an almost exaggeratedly romantic beachside restaurant with reclining divans, flickering oil lamps and yards of red plush. Unfortunately the rather dull food isn't quite up to the same standards, so you might just want to pop in for a drink instead.
 Drink
Frog & Gecko (tel. 077 425 248), next to The Lodge, is a relaxed beachside Anglo-American pub with cold beer and great BLTs. Musically stuck in the 70s, but packed on Wednesdays for their quiz night.
The Pub is on the main road, beach side, between the Frog & Gecko and The Beatles bar, a little closer to the Beatles. A nice place to grab a pint and watch some football or cricket unless there is Rugby being shown as that takes precedence here! A good place to find folks from the UK. Only serves food during lunch, but offers some imports at a good price.
Billabong is close to The Pub, on the beach side on they way to Frog & Gecko, this is an Australian pub, also a nice place to watch football or cricket. Good food, but not for vegetarians.
Beatles Bar On the main drag, close to the pier. An old teak shophouse, tastefully and comfortably renovated. Music as you would expect from the name, plus some cool jazz, cocktails quite cheap plus good snack food. Staff charming and very friendly.
 Sleep
Recently constructed luxury hotels have found their way to Bophut's western end of the village, but there are plenty of midprice options.
The Lodge, 91/1 Moo 1, tel. 077 427 565. An elegantly decorated little hotel right on the beach in the Fisherman's Village, with great views of Ko Pha Ngan and the setting sun from every room. Air-con, fan, hot water, minibar, satellite TV. Standard rooms B1500 per night.
Eden Bungalows, 91/1 Moo 1 (across the road from The Lodge), tel. 077 427 645, [1]. Lacks the beach views but makes up for it with a small pool and a delightful garden. Standard bungalow B1190-1990 depending on the season, caters particularly to French speakers.
Zazen Boutique Resort and Spa, 177 Moo 1, tel. 077 425 085, [2]. At the far western end of the beach and recently renovated with half-elegant, half-tacky pan-Asian decor, all flower-draped Ganesha statues, yin-yang mosaics and staff gliding about in designer silk. Beachside location, pool, massage in the gardens, great bar, all in all a steal with rates starting at B2190 (although beachside deluxes cost nearly twice that).
Baan Bophut, 6/9 Moo 1, tel. 077 245733, [3]. A small, family run hotel right on Bophut Beach. All ten beachside rooms have views of Bophut Bay and Ko Pha Ngan. Furnished in a contemporary SE Asian style, the hotel boasts of the comfiest beds on the island. All rooms have air-con and the usual 3/4 star amenities, some have Wifi. Families are welcome but very small children are not encouraged (the pool & verandahs could be dangerous for unsupervised small children). A continental breakfast is included.
The Waterfront [4]. At the far eastern end of the beach, this is a lovely little resort run by a British couple. All rooms have waterfront view and include breakfast. The resort offers a very family friendly style for both children and adults, and the proprietors make you feel right at home, and so do the other guests. A short walk from Fisherman's Village for restaurants and bars.
World Resort Samui. Thai style bungalows provide comfortable accommodation in a tranquil setting.Room rates range from 1,550 baht onwards.
Lawana Resort and Hotel. Located on Bo Phut Beach, Lawana has a range of private bungalows and rooms. The resort has pool and jacuzzi and the South China Sea is a few metres away. There is an openair beach front restaurant. Rates are from 2,400 baht upwards.
Samui / Choeng Mon
Choeng Mon is located on the north coast of Ko Samui, between Chaweng and Mae Nam.
 Understand
Located eastwards past the airport turnoff is Choeng Mon. Choeng Mon is made up of a series of bays featuring white sandy beaches. Although only about 15 minutes north of Chaweng and 5 minutes from Big Buddha, the intervening coastline has kept the beaches quiet and the waters clean.
Choeng Mon beach is a small but magnificent bay, it features wide sandy beaches with a rock formation on one side and a small island you can paddle out to on the other.
It's is very family friendly area, and being dominated by a handful of three to five star resorts, relatively upmarket; inexpensive accommodation is virtually non-existent.
 Do
Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and relaxing are the main activities.
Searobin Dive Center, tel. +66-1-535-7768, [1] (Imperial Boat House) offers a full range of PADI training courses - personal attention - dive in small groups on a good selection of boats.
 Buy
The nearest shopping districts are at Chaweng and Mae Nam.
 Eat
There are a number of quaint restaurants and cafés throughout the area. The beach itself has many restaurants and offers a beautiful night view over the bay; it doesn't usually get to busy but has music, cocktails and reclining beach beds.
The resorts attract more of the foreign clientel, a fact which is reflected in the food and entertainment offered in the resort's restaurants. Thus the Thai cuisine served won't be too spicy. However, do expect traditional Thai dancing and numerous Filipino bands expertly playing covers of Western pop standards.
 Drink
The nightlife is relaxed, best bet is to have a drink on the beach based restaurants.
 Sleep
The budget end starts at about 700 baht for a small fan beach bungalow, this would be about 30 metres from the beach.
Thongsai Bay, tel. +66-23818774 [2] is a five star resort offering beach front suites, cottages, and villas. The resort is situated on a private beach, so you'll have the bay to yourself, and offers a variety of activities, a spa, and plenty of different restaurants to choose from.
Samui / Chaweng
Chaweng is a beach on the east coast of Ko Samui, Thailand.
 Understand
The largest and most popular of Samui's beaches, Chaweng is usually divided into three sections: North Chaweng, Central Chaweng, and Chaweng Noi (Little Chaweng) around a headland to the south. Chaweng Beach is longest beach located on Samui Island's east coast. The beach is beautiful here, and local developers are finally cleaning up some of the trashy area on the island. It attracts many young travelers and families alike, and remains good value for the money.
The beach is approximately 7 km long, with powdery white sand. It is bordered by emerald-blue waters and a coral reef where waves break, leaving the bay quite peaceful. Not far from the beach, there are two small islands near the reef. After swimming, you can explore the nearest one by walking through shallow water or go for snorkeling and kayaking at the second island which is further out and larger.
The central part of the beach is a bit more crowded than the quieter north. Many vendors pass by offering beverages, fruit, ice cream and local Thai food for the more daring. A variety of local crafts and Thai souvenirs are also available.
The beach itself is usually accessed through the hotels, as there are no beach roads to disturb the peacefulness of the area. It is very relaxing but noticeably more touristy during the high season. The water is clean, with usual temperatures between 25-28 degrees Celsius.
Parallel to the beach, clustered in the middle of the strip, lies Samui's greatest concentration of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and of course, fast food and convenience stores.
 Get in
Chaweng is just a few minutes from the airport. Taxis are readily available or book a transfer with your hotel.
 Do
Most Samui dive shops are based in Chaweng and can arrange trips to Ko Tao and the Angthong National Marine Park.
Bobby's Dive World, tel. +66-77414221, [1]. One of many operators, with quality Scubapro gear. Figure on 9000 baht for a PADI Open Water Diver course (although you'll want to pony a few thousand extra for doing your dives outside Samui!) or 2700 baht for a two-dive trip to Ko Tao (plus 500 baht gear rental).
Searobin Dive Center, tel. +66-1-535-7768, [2] offers a full range of PADI training courses - personal attention - dive in small groups on a good selection of boats.
 Buy
Bargaining is always possible when it comes to souvenir and souvenir-like products. Even when a price is indicated a discount up to 50% might be available. As many shops and the often cheaper market stalls sell mostly the similar products ask at several places to get an idea of what is a reasonable price before starting haggling for the product you really want.
There are lots of souvenir shops around town. It is not uncommon for the shopkeepers to ask 5 times the normal tourist price particularly in the central areas.
The clothes sold here can often be found at Khao San Road in Bangkok for a lower price.
 Eat
Ninja, across the street from Baan Samui Resort and Chaweng Buri Resort. A nice family owned traditional Thai place with very reasonable prices. Don't expect a fancy interior, but very tasty food at cheap prices.
Sea Food Centre, about half a kilometre inland from Coco Blues Bar is a set of about 5 sea food restaurants. Whole fried snapper about 240 baht, try fried red snapper in chilli sauce.
 Drink
Green Mango Club and Disco, [3]. Samui's main nightclub, the main tourist spot.
Sweet Soul. Lively dance venue in Soi Mango.
Reggae Pub. Chaweng institution, but don't be fooled by the name: some nights are more techno than Marley, however this area does tend to be more laid back.
Bar Asia, Soi Reggae. Nice staff and owner, with a nice crowd. Tuesday pool competition brings a large and fun crowd.
The PFC, Soi Reggae, [4]. Sports bar dedicated to all things Portsmouth, shows most televised sports with up to 3 games simultaneously
Bar Solo. Large mainly outdoor club that opens 2am till sunrise, has 2 dance floors and about 6 pool tables.
 Sleep
 Budget
Chaweng Pearl Cabana, north side of the beach, has some of the cheapest rooms in Chaweng. A double or twin with a fan will run you 400 while a similar place with air conditioning costs about 500. This place is a dump and the staff are very, very unfriendly. Be prepared to argue with them about things like sheets and towels. Some rooms do not have working lights, fans, showers, etc. You are much better going a bit farther down the beach and paying 500 or so for a place.
The Cock and Pullet in south-central Chaweng is a nice bar with clean rooms and communal bathroom/shower above, built mid-late 2006. 400 baht for small two-bed room with a fan and bedside table.
 Mid-range
Lakeside Residence [5] Located in the heart of Chaweng beach where many restaurants, popular pubs, bars, and shopping places are situated. One minute walk to the entertainment and bargain shopping area, 5 minutes away from the Airport by car and 2 minutes (About 100 Meter) walk to Chaweng Beach.
 Get out
Your guesthouse and many other places in town can rent you a motorbike for between 150 to 200 baht a day to head around the island on your own. Bicycles are a bit harder to come buy but are also available for about 100 baht per day. As the traffic is left-sided you should be very careful (and wear a helmet) while driving even if you are familiar with driving on the left, other road users might not. Accidents, sometimes with fatalities, are too common despite the light traffic.
Travel Agencies can sell you bus tickets with pick-up from your hotel and including the ferry to many destinations in Thailand such as Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi. Booking the same tickets in Nathon or for trains at the Surat Thani station works out to be significantly cheaper sometimes.
Samui / Lamai
Lamai is a beach on the east coast of Ko Samui, Thailand.
 Orientation
The southern third of the beach has the widest strip of sand, is the best for swimming, and has the most nearby eating and drinking and shopping options. To the north, the water doesn't get deep enough for swimming until you're quite some distance out, and the further north you go, the narrower and quieter the beach becomes, eventually becoming rocky towards the headland.
There is a significant number of girlie bars along the main street as well as in some side streets. They are most prevalent in the southern part of town, while the northern part is virtually free of them.
 Get in
Minibus transfers between Lamai and Samui Airport cost about 150 baht/person; a private taxi charter costs around 300-400 baht.
A minibus from the ferry terminal sets you back 100 baht.
 See
Grandfather and Grandmother stones (Hin Ta and Hin Yai) - two stone formations nearby each other - one looking like an erect penis, the other looking like a vagina, hence their names. Located south-west of Lamai Beach, just off the 4169 ring road. There are many souvenir stands there, but most notable is the special candy which visitors can try for free - don't hesitate, it's worth a taste.
There are regular Mua Thai fights either in the local stadium or the one in Chaweng. Look out for the flyers for current dates.
 Do
Take a swim in the Gulf of Thailand. The beach is wide and has nice sand.
 Buy
Bargaining is always possible when it comes to souvenir and souvenir-like products. Even when a price is indicated a discount up to 50% might be available. As many shops and the often cheaper market stalls sell mostly the similar products ask at several places to get an idea of what is a reasonable price before starting haggling for the product you really want.
There are lots of souvenir shops lined up in the main street. It is not uncommon for the shopkeepers to ask 5 times the normal tourist price.
The clothes sold here can often be found at Khao San Road in Bangkok for a lower price.
 Eat
Kamalaya [1] has three eateries: Soma Restaurant, Amrita Cafe, and Alchemy Bar.
Kokomiko - Thai / International restaurant on the ring road between Lamai and Hinta Hinyai opposite the DTAC tower. Serves quality food since 13 years and is well known by the expat community. Homemade Spaetzle, Gulash, Schnitzel & Steaks and the best Thai dishes are available.
Krua Mapraw - Thai restaurant on the ring road across from the IT Complex on the way to Chaweng. They serve rice and noodle dishes, soups and seafood for reasonable prices, starting at 25 baht.
The Spa - on the right side, on the Lamai to Chaweng road. The restaurant is hidden by the hotel building. Go there along a small path on the right side. The setting is very nice, located right at the beach. The food is among the best on the island. You get health and healthy food in all styles, e.g. Thai, pasta, salads, seafood, burgers, etc. at reasonable prices.
 Drink
Dublin Castle No hassle, care free pub. Good food and cheap drink. Live folk and popular mainstream music from local Thai band. Live sport on TV. Pool table. Ideal place to start a night.
Bauhaus Foam Party (obviously, for foam fun)
Eagle Pub (live rock music)
Pocahontas Bar (to get a break from the hello sexy man rat race)
Churchill's. The English ex-pat pub. Good for a bite as well.
Queensland Pub. The Aussie ex-pat pub. Also good for a bite.
 Sleep
Baan Family Hotel[2]
Kamalaya[3]
Samui Beach Resort[4] has bungalows on the beach.
Sea Breeze Inn (Southern end of Lamai). Not the cheapest but probably the best deal overall on Lamai, it's still in the budget category. Rooms vary from huts with fans to modern suites with AC. Decent restaurant and bar. Nice deck hangout area. Right on the beach. Lots of stuff short walking distance away.
T&T House, 124/7 M.3 Hat Lami (Southern end of Lamai). One of the cheaper deals with decent rooms, though not at the beach. The reception is at the T&T supermarket. From 250 baht for a bungalow with private bathroom.
Utopia[5]
Varinda Garden Resort 82/3 M.3 Maret, has a great hillside (not on the beach) location that's pleasantly away from the drone of the commercial area, with views of the whole bay from their pool and tower seats, excellent kitchen and wrap-around supports - like massages, mopeds, taxi to airports, and endless tropical garden surprises around the bungalows.
 Contact
Internet cafes are plentiful and typically also offer international calls, fax services and flight confirmation. The connection and speed is generally good. Expect to pay 60 baht/h for internet in the central locations.
Ko Tao
Ko Tao (เกาะเต่า), literally Turtle Island, is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in the south of Thailand.
 Understand
Ko Tao is a great place for divers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Ko Samui and want more than the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan. Ko Tao is a great place to learn how to dive. There are hardly any currents and you have to travel in a boat for at least an hour to find depths deeper than 40 meters.
 Get in
The only option is by boat.
If you're coming from the south, you can take a ferry from Surat Thani (around 3 hours) on the mainland, or from Ko Samui (1.5 hours) or Ko Pha Ngan (1 hour). If you're taking a boat from Surat Thani, one possibility might be an overnight ferry - depart around 23:00 and arrive in the morning, about 06:00 (subject to changes). It's advisable to arrive early to grab a mattress as most are formerly cargo boats, so facilities are basic.
If you're coming from the north, you can catch a ferry from Chumphon. Numerous agents sell tickets for a variety of boats of varying size and speed. The fastest takes about 90 minutes, the slowest almost 5 hours.
You can also day trip on diving charters from Ko Samui. Many have high speed boats that can make the trip to Ko Tao in about an hour.
Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran is probably the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Ko Tao. They run twice a day from Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Chumphon. They also have online booking - useful for checking availability at peak times and all their boats have air conditioning and movies for all passengers.
 Get around
There is only one road on the entire island. There are usually plenty of taxi cars available on both Sairee village and Mae Haad.
You can rent bicycles and motorcycles at a few places on Sairee Beach, Mae Haad, and Chalok. Be careful if you rent a motorbike as the dirt roads can get dangerous.
 See
Take a bike around the island. Shark Bay is a good place to go snorkeling for the day (don't worry too much about sharks, they are only small black-tip reef sharks).
However, to see the best places, go by foot as some are inaccessible to motorists.
 Do
 Scuba diving
Scuba diving is still the biggest attraction on Ko Tao. Diving in Ko Tao is easy, fun, and you can see turtles, stingrays, barracudas, lots of small fish, reef sharks, and there is a very small chance of seeing a whale shark.
At Chumphon Pinnacle(advanced divers only) you are likely to see juvenile bull sharks which have, until recently, been misidentified as grey reef sharks. Don't worry, the bulls are curious but not aggressive and for many years literally thousands of people have dived this site without a single shark related incident. To see interactive dive site maps for Ko Tao please click here.[1]
Nearly any time of the year except November is good diving weather in Ko Tao and visibility can exceed 40 meters. Average visibility is around 15-20 meters. In November visibility is reduced and the seas are choppy, but diving is good by the standards of many other destinations.
It is possible and perfectly comfortable to swim and dive without a wetsuit year round. However, as with most diving, a wetsuit is recommended to help reduce risk of cuts or injury. Avoid contact with coral reefs!
 Dive shops
There are a huge number of dive operators on the island, many offering budget accommodation (sometimes described as "free" accommodation, but this is not really true as you will usually get a discount if you stay elsewhere). Currently (2006) the price for PADI open water certification including the new PADI training manual, professional instruction, rental equipment, boat dives, and certification is around 10,000 baht; insurance and basic accommodation may also be included. Shop around as not all shops teach the course in the same way. Look for experienced dive instructors instead of a low price.
A common method for teaching new divers is to train in a pool first by being taught about 20 basic skills before being taken out into the open water. Others will instead take you to a secluded beach so you will see fish and coral from the start and you might be able to squeeze in a short extra dive in this way, depending on your group and instructor. Some shops have a private pier, some shops depart with a longtail from the beach, and some use the public pier, where you will have to climb some other boats. Ask if this matters to you. Most important: Find out maximum number of dive students in a group, and make sure you get an instructor who speaks your language if you are not absolutely sure about your english. These are the little things that will make the difference between an OK course and a great one.
Coral Grand Divers & Resort [2]. Located in a much quieter area than the other dive shops, at the far end of the beach, the hotel is more upmarket than most on the island although the 'free' rooms are still basic. Operates 2 dive boats plus a speed boat.
Crystal Dive Resort [3]. One of only a handful of career development centres in Thailand. Every student level course and specialists in divemaster and instructor training.
Divepoint (on the waterfront in Mae Haad) [4]. Divepoint has probably the nicest dive boat on the island, big enough that you won't have to carry your gear to and from it. PADI and SSI. (closed during Nov & Dec 2007)
Davy Jones Locker Diving Resort (dive resort on Sairee Beach) [5]. Small groups, experienced instructors and quality instruction. PADI, BSAC & SSI courses. Wreck diving by high speed RIB. Offers one-year internships for aspiring divemasters.
Easy Divers [6]. Fantastic PADI dive shop with really experienced instructors. Professional and fun with great accommodation.
IDC Ko Tao [7]. Instructor development courses (IDC's) run every month by English PADI course director Matt Bolton.
Koh Tao Instructor Course [8]. Divemaster and PADI instructor courses.
Master Divers (Mae Haad) [9]. Good safety record and well placed for divers that may want to progress on to technical diving.
Phoenix Divers (Sairee Beach) [10]. Good boats, new gear and multilingual Western and Thai staff.
Sairee Hut (Sairee Beach) [11]. Small but good, on the beach.
Seashell Dive Center [12]. Wonderful place with helpful multilingual staff, good boats and gear. No free accommodation. Located on Sairee Beach.
New Way Dive Center [13]. One of the oldest and most reputable dive shops, catering for a wide range of languages and senses of humour. Accommodation available. Located in Sairee Village.
If you're not into scuba diving, many operators arrange snorkeling trips around the island. Ask your accommodation about a tour. Long-tail boat and a driver can be chartered for about 1500-2000 baht/day including snorkeling gear.
 Dive sites
Sail Rock - one of the more famous Scuba diving sites in the Ko Samui archipelago. It is an iceberg shaped pinnacle that rises from the sandy sea floor at 40 metres and rises 15 metres above the surface. It is a suitable dive site for all levels of diver, from Discover Scuba up. Its surface consists of small patches of hard and soft coral. Common fauna that may be seen include barracuda, batfish, jacks, occasional whale sharks, and many other species of tropical fish. The currents can vary considerably, but generally are mid to strong. Visibility is usually in the 10-30 metre range. For more advanced divers, there is a vertical 'swim through' on the northwest side of the rock. Commonly called "The Chimney", it begins at a depth of 18 metres and exits the rock again at depths of 12 and 6 metres. There are no associated fees as yet with diving Sail Rock.
 Other activities
Over the last couple of years more and more non divers have discovered the beauty of this island with its secluded little bays and unspoiled mountain ridges. Due to this, and the increasing amount of small upmarket resorts and villas nestled in the hillsides there are nowadays a lot more activities available, including rock climbing, paint-ball jungle games (temporarily closed, reopens in December 2007), mini golf or bowling in Mae Haad, massage and yoga courses, and cooking courses.
Watersports include wake boarding, water skiing, sumo tube, wind surfing, and sailing lessons.
Hike to one of the secluded bays on the northern and eastern side of the island? On the 2 hour walk through the jungle to Mango Bay you will hardly meet any people. And when you're there-well, the snorkeling is good too. Or do the same trip with a dirt bike or ATV (but not recommended for inexperienced riders).
Island Cruises [14] - day and sunset cruises, private charters and Ang Thong Marine Park safaris.
Muay Thai - for those looking for a serious workout the Thai boxing stadium in Sairee offers Muay Thai courses and if that's not enough the Monsoon Gym is conveniently located alongside.
Queens Cabaret - regular nightly cabaret act with extravagant costumes and good humoured showgirls.
Good Time Adventures [15] - all manner of rock based activities, overnight hikes and even good old fashioned pub crawls around the bars of the island.
 Eat
A huge selection of Thai food is available, including lots of sea food. Barbecue fish is one of the local favourites. As a large portion of the population seem to be expats, you will find plenty of other cuisines too.
Thai food is cheapest, with July 2007 prices ranging from 45 baht for stuff-on-rice through to 250 baht for a nice hunk of fresh barbecue fish at a decent restaurant. 25 baht would get you a fresh banana pancake, and 60 baht a bowl of porridge with honey at a budget resort's restaurant. 200-300 baht would get you a bowl of freshly made Italian pasta, and 160-200 baht for pizza. Fresh fruit juices are available at many stalls for 20-30 baht.
El Toro Restaurant (between Ban's and AC BAR). Great Tex-Mex, Pizza and Thai food.
Playhouse. Groovy restaurant/bar/nightclub with great Mediterranean food and free Wi-Fi.
Thipwimarn Restaurant (at the north of the island). Wonderful sunset views and a "higher class" feel - but the prices are not much different from the rest of the island.
Papas Tapas (Sairee village), 077 457 020. Excellent casual fine dining restaurant for those wishing to indulge in fine wines and dining - quality reflected by prices - reservations recommended.
 Drink
When you get a break from diving, there are a few bars on the island. The bars on the island rotate nights, so the best bet is to ask someone working at dive shop which bar will be crowded that night or check the posters. Many start off the evening at the Lotus Bar, located at the northern end of Sairee, and after it closes at 1am, make a pilgrimage down towards whichever club is open for the rest of the evening at the southern end of Sairee.
Fizz Beach Bar and Lounge (on Sairee Beach). Well worth a visit.
Java Juice (behind the Ko Tao Physicians Clinic). Fresh juices and free Wi-Fi.
MOOV, Sairee Beach (Opposite InTouch Resort) (moov@project-32.com). 4pm-2am. An enchanting haven at the beginning of Sairee Beach - where imagination, playfulness and soulful tunes unite. Check for funky daytime events and monthly parties.
 Sleep
You can usually find accommodation at the pier when you arrive. However, during peak times it is worth booking ahead unless you want to sleep on the beach or spend the night in one of the more expensive lodgings. If you are thinking of booking accommodation online before you arrive, make sure you book with the actual resort or a trustworthy booking site as there are numerous fake sites for several well known Ko Tao resorts appearing on the Internet. (All links below are genuine.)
During busy periods, most resorts with dive outfits will not want you to stay unless you are diving at least every second day with them. If you don't want to stay with your dive operator and use their free accommodation, ask for a discount (although they will probably just give it to you without asking - competition is stiff!)
In March 2006, 400 baht/night would get you a room for two with a fan, 24 hour electricity, and a hole in the floor right on the beach. Prices generally go up with quality and features such as a fridge or air conditioning. The swankier bungalows may go for around 1200 baht/night.
Chalok Bay is nice and quiet but you won't get a sunset view - plus you will have to pay 50 baht each time for taxis or motorbikes if you want a bit of night life in the evening. Sairee beach is where the action is but many people complain when staying there about the noise from the parties at the beach bars till the early hours. It can be cheaper and easier to stay near Mae Haad beach and do the 5 min walk over to Sairee when you want to go out.
Charm Churee Villa [16]. A boutique resort located in the quiet Jansom Bay. Their beach front villas are some of the best accommodation on Ko Tao, while the Panorama Rooms offer great views of the spectacular Jansom. Snorkeling is very good, lots of fishes and some nice coral close to ther beach. Recommended for families with young children.
Coral Grand Resort [17]
Jamahkiri Spa & Resort [18]
Ko Tao Resort (formerly Ko Tao Cottage) [19]
Thipwimarn Resort [20]. Stunning.
View cliff Resort [21]
Villa Jivarah - private villa
Villa Lipanaa - private villa
 Stay safe
The number one way to stay safe on Ko Tao is to not drink and drive. Motorbike accidents are very common, especially when driven under the influence, on the wrong side of the road, in the dark.
Should you be unfortunate enough to need medical attention then there are numerous clinics on the island. The largest clinic is in Sairee.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong Marine Park is a fascinating archipelago of 60 or so islands to the north west of Ko Samui.
 Understand
Most of the islands are close to each other making a breathtaking panorama sailing around the park. All the islands are of different sizes and shapes. Most of them are covered with tropical forests and named after their distinguishing geography, a kind of descriptive appellation, such as 'Sleeping Cow Island' and 'Three Pillar Island'.
 Landscape
Angthong, translates as 'golden bowl', occupies almost 250 sq km and includes 50 sq km of limestone islands and karsts topography which rise from the sea as dramatic rock cliffs and bizarre rock formations. Caves, hidden lagoons and white sand beaches are there to be explored and snorkeling among the shallow coral gardens makes a popular and fascinating day trip.
Ang Thong National Marine Park is a protected nature area consisting of over 40 islands, and is famous for its natural beauty. All of the islands are uninhabited and undeveloped except for one. This island, Ko Paluay, is inhabited by sea-gypsies who still earn a living from fishing.
 Flora and fauna
The woods in this national park can be classified as dry evergreen forest, beach forest and limestone forest. Dry evergreen forests are found in larger islands like Wuatalab, Paluay and Samsao. Beach forests are lighter woods found in small stretches along the beaches and the shoulders. Limestone forests are found on limestone mountains with thin soil layer. Plants are smaller.
Larger animals do not thrive on these islands as they are small and dominated mostly by steep limestone mountains, with only few lightly to moderately slanted plains. Sixteen species of mammals like otters, langurs, crab-eating monkeys, hogs, silver haired bats, dolphins and whales are found.
Other inhabitants are at least 54 species of birds, including Little Herons, Brahminy Kites, Common Sandpipers, Oriental Pied Hornbills, Drongoes and Hill Mynas. 14 species of reptiles are found like ground lizards, iguanas, Green turtles, Hawksbill turtles, phytons and cobras.
Only five species of amphibious animals like Common Asian Toads, Tiger frogs, Rugose frogs, Grass frogs and Tree frogs.
The waters of the national park are home to Butterfly fish, Angel fish, Parrot fish, Blue-Spotted fantail rays, Blacktip reef sharks, snappers groupers, sea slugs, blue swimming crabs, sea fans, sea whips, giant clams, oysters and coral.
The park serves as well as breding ground for mackerels.
 Get in
Access to the Marine Park is controlled, but there are several Samui based boat rental and kayak operators who are licenced carriers, catering to both independent visitors and in organized kayaking/camping trips.
From Ko Tao Island Cruisesis doing a 4 day live aboard to Ang Thong.
 Fees/Permits
Entrance fee to the marine park: Normally not included in the tour fee unless otherwise specified, 400 baht/person, 200 baht for kids under 12 years old. Thai nationals pay 80 baht.
 Get around
The most common transport are tour boats taking 40-50 people, with lunch on board. Or else you can take speedboat tours which also provide a snorkeling program. It gets you to the archipelago faster. The best way is to put together a group of friends to hire a boat and explore the islands and beaches in your own time.
Most tours go to the Park's Visitor Center for lunch and kayaking. The Visitor Center is visited by most tour operators, making it very crowded. This applies for the time from about 10am to 4pm. Before and after it's a totally secluded place with almost nobody around.
 See
Ko Mae Ko (Mother Island) is a must to visit. Here, an emerald seawater lake in the middle of the island is encircled on all sides by limestone cliffs, but linked by an underground tunnel connecting with the sea. Reaching the lake entails a strenuous climb of 40 minutes or so, but is rewarded with a spectacular view across the whole park.
 Do
Caves in many of the islands have intriguing rock formations. Visit one for an awesome experience. The beaches are surrounded with excellent coral reefs which make for perfect swimming and snorkeling. Hundreds of beaches here in the archipelago are deserted. Get a boat and find your own secret beach away from the crowds.
Other popular sites are Ko Sam Sao (Tripod Island) with an extensive coral reef and Wua Talap Island or 'sleeping cow'. It takes some effort to climb up the steep 430m hill to a viewpoint offering great scenery of the entire archipelago and the mainland.
 Drink
The Park headquarters offer two "bars" that sell beer. And by bar, this usually means a cooler full of beer. But when sitting on the beach watching the sun set, it beats most bars and clubs fairly easily.
 Sleep
The park headquarters are located on Ko Sam Sao (Tripod Island), which has basic bungalow accommodation.
 Backcountry
Probably one of the best hikes in Thailand. In the National Park headquarters there is a path leading up the side of the rocks. This will take maybe 25-30 minutes to walk up, and well worth it. With a breathtaking view of all the Ang Thong islands, the end result of the hike is well worth it. Beware though, the hike is very steep in some sections and offer questionable ropes to hang on to. But this hike will justify the trip to Ang Thong alone.
Trang
 Get in
 By plane
There is one short (60-90 minute) flight every morning from Bangkok to Trang operated by Nok Air (Thai Airways and PB Airways no longer offer service to Trang).
 By train
There are two daily trains from Bangkok to Trang:
Express - departs Bangkok 17:05, arrives Trang 07:35
Rapid - departs Bangkok 18:20, arrives Trang 10:11
 By bus
Minibuses from the Satun boat terminal (where the boats from Langkawi arrive) to Trang charge 300 baht/person.
 See
Mainland: Temples, caves & waterfalls Discover old buddhist temples hidden in caves, the primary rainforest in Trang province, take a bath in the many pools formed by the crystall clear waterfalls in the jungle here
Andamansea and islands Explore the very beautiful tropical islands off Trang with its unspoiled pristine beaches by boat
Snorceling trips Enjoy the fascinating underwaterworld in Trang province with its beautiful corals and marinelife, just under the oceansurface in front of the beaches of Trang islands
Scuba diving around Trang If you would like to explore more of the Trang sea than by snorcelling, we'll connect you to one of the world best divesites, just here off the Trang coast
There is alos a botanical garden 11km outside Trang which has around 12km of trails to virgin Rain forest.
 Eat
Khao Fang - from the train station, go left, then 2nd(?) right up a small street, restaurant is on the left about 1/4th of the way up, opposite a tall (5-6 storey) hotel. Sign (blue and white) is only in Thai. Best food in Trang and some of the best in Thailand (and cheap). Food can be very hot, ask them to cool it down. Rosie and Nida are the sisters that run it, hopefully they'll keep it going. Eat lots, especially sumtam, tom yum goong, larp pla dook (catfish), everything else. Leave a big tip!
NIGHT MARKET - The lively night market of Trang has food stalls with excellent local food.
WUNDERBAR Restaurant & Tours- WUNDERBAR Restaurant & Tours has been the very first place in Trang to cater to locals, expats, tourists and travellers. The German owner settled down in Trang in 1990, a time when there was no tourism in Trang at all. A couple of years later the first foreign travellers arrived in Trang to explore this wonderful destination with its beautiful islands on one side and the jungle covered mountains, waterfalls and caves on the other side. So WUNDERBAR was created to lend those travellers a helping hand to discover Trang province since almost none of the locals could speak any english, ...but we knew already about every place of interest in Trang province. Since then they change the menu in the restaurant frequently to meet all the locals, expats and travellers expectations and tastes. The place has a huge selection on European Cheese and German Weissbier.
Yala
Yala (ยะลา) is the provincial capital of Yala Province.
 Get in
 By bus
To/from Bangkok: Air-con buses by The Transport Co. Ltd (บริษัทขนส่งจำกัด (บขส.), bor-kor-sor) run between Bangkok southern bus terminal (สายใต้, sai-tai) and Yala bus terminal daily. The distance is ~1089km and normally takes 14 hours.
  • 24 seats VIP bus (พิเศษ, piset) costs 1215 baht, departs from Bangkok at 17:30. On the reverse, the departure is at 14:00.
  • 32 seats Class 1 B bus (1) costs 914 baht, departs from Bangkok at 19:00 and Yala at 15:30.
  • 40 seats Class 1 C bus (1) costs 783 baht, departs from Bangkok at 17:00 and Yala at 16:30.
  • 47 seats Class 2 bus (2) costs 609 baht, departs from Bangkok at 14:00 and 18:00, Yala at 12:30 and 14:30.
© Wikitravel, 01.2008.
Текст взят с сайта Wikitravel.org


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