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BEACHES


Khao Lak is a top dive base and growing beach resort for the UK market just an hour north of Phuket


Gateway to Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan. RISING MAE NAM: An up-and-coming beach resort with backpacker bungalows and five-star hotels, plus decent windsurfing and island views. QUIET CHOENG MON: Home to some secluded luxury resorts like Tong Sai Bay and has a more mature slant. HANDY BIG BUDDHA: Budget-slanted Bang Rak is nicknamed after its giant gold statue. It’s close to both the airport and Chaweng’s nightlife. ATMOSPHERIC HUA THANON: Quiet spot with a Muslim village, fish market and pretty boats, backpacker accommodation and Centara Villas Samui.





PAIRING UP Twin Koh Samui with Koh Tao, a top spot for learner divers. It’s also a base for day trips to Koh Pha Ngan which has a hilly, undeveloped jungle interior surrounded by white sand beaches


surrounded by three national parks. Quality accommodation options include honeymoon favourite The Sarojin and the chic Casa de La Flora.


KOH LANTA Popular Long Beach has a big choice of lively restaurants and bars. The rest of the island’s beaches are very quiet and family friendly.


KHAO LAK


A top dive base and the fasting-growing beach resort in Thailand for the UK market. Just an hour north of Phuket, Khao Lak has sweeping white sand


PHUKET PARTY PATONG: All-round favourite, with watersports, eateries, shopping, nightlife, dive operations and tour companies on hand for day trips and excursions. HANDY KARON: A white sand stretch of beach near Patong, developed but quieter, especially at its North end. FAMILY-FOCUSED KATA: Coconut tree-lined and good for swimming, favoured by families and surfers, some nightlife but a further step removed from Patong. LOW-KEY KAMALA: A quiet, chill-out option,


HOW TO HOP


Take a day or half-day trip by longtail or motorboat. Snorkel equipment and lunch are usually provided


Ferries ply popular routes to a timetable. Some do not operate in the low season


Charter a sailing boat with crew, or without. UK specialist Sunsail has Phuket, Samui and Koh Chang bases. G Adventures sells a catamaran holiday


Serious divers can stay on boats booked through UK operators near remoter spots like the Similan and Surin Islands off Phuket and Khao Lak


TWO OF A KIND Pair Krabi with Koh Lanta, the popular getaway with a national park interior and coast which includes honeymoon favourite Pimalai


Take a swanky Destination Air seaplane from Phuket to popular islands like Phi Phi and Lanta


near FantaSea cultural park with a Muslim fishing village and basking water buffalo. LUXURY SURIN: High-end hotels like mega-resort Laguna Phuket and The Chedi, plus luxury restaurants, a golf course and a villagey atmosphere. LESSER-KNOWN NAI THON: Little developed, reached by a scenic drive, with rocky coves to explore by longtail boat. NORTHERLY NAI YANG: Casuarina tree- shaded beach close to the airport.


KRABI EXCURSION CENTRE AO NANG: Krabi’s main base. Not the prettiest stretch but has the most hotels, restaurants, longtails and excursion possibilities. SCENIC RAILAY AND PHRA NANG: Karst scenery, soft sand, top rock-climbing and a cave shrine, five minutes by longtail boat from Ao Nang. A handful of hotels include the luxury Rayavadee. NATURAL NOPPARAT THARA: Quiet, national park-backed beach between Ao Nang and Krabi Town. Phi Phi ferries depart nearby.


TRANG


A chilled-out version of Phuket or Krabi with its own island-hopping scene. Relatively untrodden by Western tourists but with an Amari hotel, Chinese restaurants and cafes.


7


combines well with... Trang


Koh Kraden and Koh Muk, perfect islands for snorkelling and exploring deserted beaches





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