10 Highlights of Southern Thailand (Andaman Coast)

 10 Highlights of Southern Thailand (Andaman Coast)
Idyllic islands and a scenic shoreline combine to make Thailand’s Andaman Coast a memorable holiday location. This is a region which, similar to the opposite Gulf Coast, has a broad appeal. The Andaman coastline is home to two of the country’s best-known resort areas with Phuket and Krabi attracting visitors from around the world. Although these are the two most popular tourist locations, this region of Thailand has plenty of other options to suit all types of holiday-makers. Those seeking solitude should consider the lovely Trang islands, Ko Yao or the relaxed Tarutao Marine Park. Khao Lak and Ko Lanta are ideal for family holidays and party people will enjoy Phi Phi. Shown here (in no particular order of preference) are 10 of the best destinations on the Andaman Coast.

1) Phuket
Thailand’s biggest and most developed island is a solid choice for a first time visit to Thailand. There is a huge choice of accommodation on the island covering all budgets while Phuket’s airport makes for convenient connections to a number of locations within Thailand and further afield. The busiest beach area of Patong can divide opinion and won’t appeal to everybody, but there is so much more to Phuket than Patong. If you prefer quieter locations, head instead to any of the island’s other west coast beaches. Wherever you choose to stay, do make time for a trip inland to see the historic Phuket Old Town district.

2) Krabi
The Krabi area, particularly Ao Nang, has seen more development in recent years as more people discover the charms of this southern province. Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach remain as beautiful as ever while those seeking quieter beaches should head to Klong Muang or Tubkaak Beach. With amazing scenery, emerald seas and classic beaches, you can’t go too far wrong with a holiday in Krabi. And when you add in the delightful provincial capital of Krabi Town and a number of cultural attractions, it’s easy to see why this part of Thailand is such a firm favourite with so many visitors.  

3) Khao Lak
Located just to the north of Phuket, the Khao Lak area has always been a popular destination with Scandinavian tourists, but often gets overlooked by visitors from the UK and Ireland. The long beaches and relaxed environment of Khao Lak make this area ideal for family holidays or anybody seeking a quiet escape without being too isolated.

4) Similan Islands and Surin Islands
Experienced divers rate the waters around the Similan Islands as some of the best in South-East Asia with species including moray eels, leopard sharks and sea turtles often spotted here. It’s easy to arrange a snorkelling day trip from Phuket or Khao Lak although serious divers should take the opportunity to join a live-aboard boat to really see the best of the marine life. And to the north of the Similan Islands are the Surin Islands which offer yet more opportunities for divers and snorkelers.

5) Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta is a a great option for a laid-back holiday. The island is quiet without being boring, and is relatively straightforward to reach from either Krabi or Phuket. An excellent choice if you are travelling with family or as a couple, Ko Lanta is definitely one to consider.

6) Trang Islands
Considering the ample charms of the Trang Islands, it’s still a surprise that this chain of islands remains so low-key. Perhaps the reason is because to reach them involves a little bit more effort compared to some of Thailand’s better known islands and beach resorts. That may put off some people, but for others simply adds to the appeal of these gorgeous islands in the Andaman Sea.

7) Tarutao National Marine Park
For anybody looking to really get off the tourist trail, the Tarutao National Marine Park is the place to head. For adventurous travellers, the large island of Ko Tarutao offers basic, but comfortable accommodation in National Park bungalows or tents. At the other end of the scale, diminutive Ko Lipe offers some luxurious beachfront properties to enjoy the sea breezes and those incredible Andaman sunsets.

8) Ranong
Another of Thailand’s emerging destinations, Ranong has plenty to offer adventurous travellers. The provincial capital of Ranong Town is a charming base to explore the lovely offshore islands of Ko Phayam and Ko Chang (not to be confused with the bigger Ko Chang island on Thailand’s east coast).

9) Phi Phi Islands
There is no denying the beauty of the Phi Phi islands which have been a magnet for travellers for years and rose to even more prominence after Leonardo DiCaprio strutted his stuff against the backdrop of Maya Bay in the movie, ‘The Beach’. First-time visitors are often surprised how busy the centre of Phi Phi can get, but it is possible to escape the crowds at luxury resorts like Zeavola or Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort.

10) Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai
For those who think Phuket is too commercial and Phi Phi too crowded, the wonderful Ko Yao Islands are likely to tick all the right boxes. The twin islands of Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai offer a charming island stay and despite their proximity to both Krabi and Phuket, they remain relatively untouched by tourism.