Thailand’s south — it’s synonymous with culture, great food and relaxation. We’ve picked out some of the best spots to disconnect and unwind.
Thailand’s islands are not off the tourist trail, for decades droves of backpackers as well as discerning luxury-minded travellers have been flocking to the region.
That being said, it’s easy to find a quiet place and, whether you are into fine dining, adventure sports or relaxing on a beach, there is something in the region for everyone.
Here are a few spots that are worth checking out.
Mu Ko Ang Thong
Talk about picturesque, few places in the world rival the beauty of this sparsely populated group of islands. Located in the Gulf of Thailand near Ko Samui, the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is an island group comprising 42 islands.
A boat tour through the islands is incredible, and of particular note is Ko Wua Talap. This island has a cave, which the intrepid can explore, as well as two pristine beaches. There is also a seafront restaurant, although expect a no-frills, but authentic, experience.
This island chain is easily reached from the popular destination of Ko Samui and is certainly worth at least a day trip.
This peninsula, many think of Railay as an island but it’s technically not, is a mix of stunning beaches punctuated by striking limestone cliffs rising from the sea. Think sheer cliffs dropping hundreds of feet into the light blue waters of the Andaman Sea.
Travellers can swim right up to — and sometimes underneath — the limestone monoliths and the beaches here are pristine. Railay is more built-up than Ko Wua Talap, so finding restaurants and accommodation shouldn’t be difficult.
Alternatively, the island is easily accessible from the ever-popular town of Krabi, so taking a journey out to see it is a breeze. Make sure to spend some time exploring the Jurassic-Esq landscape — you won’t be disappointed you did.
Not only is Ko Tao beautiful above the water, but adventurers will also be pleased to hear that the diving here is stunning. Travellers can swim with bull sharks or visit Val Tao Bay — where turtles and other marine animals call the striking underwater structures home.
Several dive shops offer PADI training if you would like to get into the sport.
If you don’t dive, don’t worry. There are kilometres of uninterrupted beaches with resorts, bars and restaurants to relax for a while in paradise. Several high-speed ferries are available from various neighbouring resort destinations, including Ko Samui.
If you are looking for remote, Ko Lipe is the place for you. It falls just outside the jurisdiction of a national park in Southwest Thailand — therefore, it is relatively undeveloped, but it still has suitable accommodation.
The beaches are the real draw here. Kilometres of uninterrupted, white sand fading into crystal clear water. Pattaya Beach is popular as is Sunset Beach for, well, sunsets.
For the more adventurous, the island has several dive sites including the Yong Hua shipwreck site. Kayaking and snorkelling are popular for those who don’t dive but want to get their feet wet.
Overall, southern Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world for good reason. However, just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s spoiled. Use these islands as a jumping-off point to explore Thailand’s south, it is as breathtaking as it is memorable.