Places to visit in the South of Thailand:
Koh Samui is one of the top island destinations in the South of Thailand and is easily accessible. It features beautiful beaches, a wide range of activities, and caters to visitors on any budget.
Koh Samui, is the second most popular island destination in Thailand, roughly 700km south of Bangkok.
It is the third largest island in Thailand and the largest in a group of more than 80 islands that includes the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking paradise and top day trip from Koh Samui. While it is small enough to be circumnavigated in just a couple of hours by motorbike or car, the island features such a variety of beaches and activities that it would be impossible to experience everything in a single visit. However, this was not always the case.
Until the late 20th century, Koh Samui was home to a small community engaged primarily in fishing and harvesting coconuts. There were not even any roads on the island until the early 1970s. However, once foreign visitors discovered this island paradise, lush with tropical forest, fringed with palm tree lined stretches of golden sand, and surrounded by aquamarine water, development quickly followed.
Today the beaches of Chaweng and Lamai are bustling beach towns with fabulous beach resorts, internationally acclaimed restaurants, and world-class nightclubs, activities around Koh Samui include cooking courses, yoga instruction, Muay Thai training, scuba diving, and even golf. While there are a few quieter beaches that are ideal for relaxation, particularly those that feature some of the finest 5-star resorts in the world, and some that exude old world charm, such as Bo Phut, which features converted, old Chinese shop houses, Samui is far from the unspoiled island it was a few decades ago. Nonetheless, Koh Samui has developed into its own style of island paradise, retaining much of its natural beauty while offering nearly every imaginable activity or service for the ultimate beach holiday.
Krabi, a province on the Andaman coast, is almost out of another world, where islands seem to erupt vertically out of the sea and secluded beaches and are only accessible by colourfully adorned long tail boats. The myriad of bays and coves have sheltered pirates, merchants, and sea gypsies for thousands of years and archaeological evidence indicates that Krabi was originally inhabited as early as 25,000 – 35,000 years ago!
With attractions including hot springs, a wildlife sanctuary, sea caves, flourishing coral reefs and exotic marine life, limestone cliffs that draw rock climbing enthusiasts from around the world, and national parks that include the island paradises of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta, one could easily spend weeks in Krabi and leave yearning for more.
If that was not enough, Krabi features some of the most photogenic sunsets in Thailand, often accompanied by spectacular displays of cloud to cloud lightning, that are best enjoyed from a beach side bar or restaurant.
Meanwhile, with all the tourists spread out among various beaches and islands, life goes on in Krabi Town, the somewhat sleepy provincial capital. Surprisingly few tourists spend time in the charming riverside town, whose hilly streets feature a number of cosy cafés and inexpensive and authentic Thai cuisine served at an outdoor, riverside evening market.
Town to most visitors is Ao Nang, a seaside strip of guest houses, hotels, bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops that continues to grow as tourist arrivals increase, now spreading north into Noppharat Thara, whose quiet, shady beach is part of the national park that includes the Phi Phi Islands. Ao Nang is the major launching point for boat trips to nearby islands and the isolated beaches of Phra Nang Cape, where the famous former hippie enclave of Railey Beach is located.