Thursday, December 14, 2006





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Below are comments I transferred off the various threads before I set THE FORUM up - I zapped a dozen from some dude in Costa Rica telling me what a great blog I had, and by the way, would my readers like to buy some great real estate? I think only 50% of his message was sincere. The real estate is probably crummy.

Wang said...
Hey there
read your post, excellent!
got a question here,
as mentioned above,
"In all, I didn’t think it was value - I’ve snorkelled better coral in the Philippines and on Fiji’s barrier islands for a quarter the cost."
mind sorting out the exact spots in Philippines having better coral than Similan?
August 21, 2007 7:23 PM

Sorry for the delay Wang.
I thought the snorkelling at Balicasag Island off Bohol and Pescador Island off Moaboal, Cebu was better (although the latter was too deep for surface snorkellers).
September 6, 2007 12:43 AM

Peter said...
My wife and I are going to Thailand (Andaman sea side) in Early November. I want to get away to a nice, cheap, small island with great water and activities, and Ko Lipe seems to be a good option. Can you tell me about traveling there in Early November? I heard that the boats dont run there until Late Nov, at the earliest...
August 1, 2007 12:52 PM

Pete, I'm not sure what time the ferries start in November. Keep an eye on Poh Bungalow's website and the other Lipe website on my Lipe chapter.
August 2, 2007 4:28 AM

Deano said
Though not Thailand; i can always remember many moons back travelling through Malaysia. Everyday at exactly the same time (think it was about 4pm) it would rain very heavily for about 50 minutes. Everywhere would be flooded, but then that would be it until the same time next day :)
August 5, 2007 11:09 AM

Sam said
I know you have explained it in your web page. But i am travelling to Thailand on the 3rd of October. I have not booked accommodation because no travel agent can give me the answer where is there going to be less rain and more sun at this time of the year?????????
Please help???
August 5, 2007 11:47 PM

Sorry for the delay Sam - October is wet season everywhere usually - anecdotally the southern Gulf islands get more of the rare prolonged wet periods than other places, so might best be avoided. I just got back from a wet season visit where according to statistics and the newspapers it was much wetter than normal, and I got some perfect days, lots of days with one or a few showers but cloud/sun between and two days where it rained more often than not. But these two days were not a write off. Overall I had a great holiday.
September 6, 2007 12:27 AM

Village Fox said
Hoping you could help me out with your expertise on the land of th smiles. I would like to head to Thailand from Early october to mid december - however, its for health reasons - i need use of a pool and the sea for 4 hourse everyday, and massage to strengthen myself... I found a wonderful spa on Ko Samui, was thrilled at the prospect, and not, as an Irish chic put off by the 'rainy' season.
However, having read all that i can find on the climate, I am feeling a little deterred. I picked thailand as i thought it would be warm and well priced for my needs... Any advice on a similar experience in a warmer or expectations for this location is much appreciated...
Many thanks in advance,
September 25, 2007 1:27 PM

Lesley Reid said
i would go to the spa at koh chang instead.i would have prefered the spa on sumui but the climate is better in koh chang and the price the same. if you have health problems then the time spent at the spa most probably make a huge difference.i went last year and did the program and i'm going again this year.
i went to the spa on koh chang instead of koh sumni. if you have health problems then thats where you want to go. same price. i would rather have gone to the spa on koh sumui but i was also worried about the weather as ijust could'nt face anymore grey skies. i went to koh chang last year and the weather was good and the spa fast program is amazing. you mst try it if you can.i'm going again for 3 weeks on the 9th of november
September 28, 2007 12:43 AM

Wow, I have to check these comments more often.
Fer a start, I don't think Chang is any drier than Samui in an average Oct. November, yes.
Secondly, it IS going to be warm in Oct. It is ALWAYS warm in the south.
Rain? Well, Oct is wet, but rain rarely spoils things.

Peter said...
Whole lot of useful info - never been to Bali but going out there in a couple of months.
July 30, 2007 3:27 PM .

Kris said
very usuful site, thx a lot. were in Bali 25yr ago and soon returning to this paradise
August 2, 2007 8:41 AM

Wlklasu said
Hi, thanks for some great info. Me and my fiancee are going to Sanur for Christmas/New Year and are looking for a hotel, just as you described, around the Sinduh area (since our parents will be in the Inna Grand Bali). Can you recommend any cheap/midrange hotel around 1km from their hotel - pricerange 20-25 to 30US$/double room? I've found a few (Gazebo, La Taverna, Irama Beach) but they were all too expensice. Any other you can recommend, preferably by/on beach:) Thanks for any info about this.
August 10, 2007 8:55 PM

wik, sorry I have not replied, have been travelling in Thailand and I avoid computers when travelling.
The only place I can think of which may be cheaper is Alits, very close to the Bali Grand and in the busy little street leading down to the harbour. Lots of atmosphere and good eats places in this street, but not noisy at night. Black sand beach here but 400m walk will get you to the beach at the Grand and 800m to the area around Gazebo

Marcia said...
Stumbled on this blog, Tezza, and remembered seeing some posting of yours on LP or TF or someplace. Glad I stopped to take a look. Very nice exposition of rips. We've just had 4 drownings on Phuket beaches in the past week and a half, and surely this is part of the answer to WHY? (That and people ignoring red flags.)
July 24, 2007 12:58 AM

Hi, I guess you dont need an editor though. thats should do fine. Ko Lanta is awesome and some other small Island I've been too. Never been to the samui yet, but I will one day to see how it goes but sure will be pack with white people :P
ah btw, nice one!

Janne said...
Thanks for this great, informative blog! You've really put some effort to it and it's appreciated :)
February 14, 2007 8:50 PM

Hi there,
Is this you?

Um, no. I believe leightravel is a man and wife team, travel Phi Phi extensively, experts in mid-range plus. I'm a budget travel boy..





«Oldest   ‹Older   401 – 520 of 520
Simrat said...

Hi Tezza, your info. for Koh Phangan helped me have a great holiday in the summer. I am planning a girls getaway for Bali for the end of May now. Really looking to you for suggestions on good budget (backpacker and flashpacker) accommodation in Seminyak and Legian areas. We'll be 5 friends. Would ideally love a place with a pool, but it's not a dealbreaker. Please give me a few good options as I couldn't find a lot of specific names on your blog post. Thanks a ton!

Simrat said...

Hi Tezza, your info. for Koh Phangan helped me have an awesome holiday in the summer. I am now planning a girls getaway to Bali for the end of May. Looking to you for good budget accommodation (backpacker and flashpacker) suggestions for Seminyak and Legian areas. We would ideally love a pool, but it's not a dealbreaker. Please give me a few choices as I could not find specific names on your blog post and could really do with some expert suggestions! Thanks a ton!

Simrat said...

Sorry, accommodation suggestions for Sanur (in addition to Seminyak and Legian - from my prev post) will also be greatly appreciated. Still deciding between Seminyak/Legian and Sanur. I understand the beach is better in Sanur. Which area would you recommend for shopping, walking around, massages, and the cultural "feel" of Bali?

Thank you so much. Don't know how I'd plan my trip without your blog!!

rebeccablogs said...

Hi Tezza

I discovered this wonderful resource while I was actually already in Koh Mook, looking up additional snorkelling spots on the island.
I wish I had known about this blog earlier. What a great job!

Since I returned from the Maldives three years ago, I have been been looking in Asia for similar vacation spots with good snorkelling. I wish I had found your web site when researching, as I have found out the hard way that there is quite a difference between hype and flip tourist gushing vs the actual reality. For example, as you say, snorkelling in Thailand in generally isn't very good. Good snorkelling, for me, has to usually comprise clarity, fish variety, and the last for me is good coral (variety, life and colour). Many places have a variety of fish but not always have good clarity in the water, and few have good coral quality. I am interested in your comparison saying that the east coast Malaysia islands are better than the best in Thailand, which I think you say is in the Surins. I have been to Perhentians and snorkelled off the PIR beach, and find that it is about the same as Koh Rok, with Koh Rok or AoNeang on Koh Kradan being slightly better. I have avoided Redang and Tioman till now and only plan to go this year, mostly because of the fear that I'm going to be disappointed after the overenthusiastic raves from forums and friends. I have also been to Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Perhentian Islands and Bali. I'm glad to find a good level of detail in your blog - I especially like the location mapping and the description of the snorkelling. Since snorkelling is my main focus for vacations, I know from your blog to give Koh Lipe a miss. This is good because it was on my list of possible snorkelling locations still to explore.

I have a questions though - how come you have not done Koh Rok yet, or have I missed a link on your blog? I have read most of it already but will be reading it still. Do you also intend to go to the Sipadan area?

Keep up the good work!

Kiwigirl said...

Hi Tezza,
Thanks for your awesome trip updates! We have been to Koh Ngai, Kradan, Lipe and Rok last December and are heading to Malaysia/Indo this July. Just wondering if you know where the best snorkeling would be? Have been looking at Perhentian Islands for turtles and cheap trips, however we are wondering if you know of any amazing places for beach snorkeling that don't take days to get to as we only have 2 weeks. Thanks!

Jessica said...

Hi Tezza quick question : Ang Thong vs Koh Tao+Koh Nagyuan for snorkelling. Which is better (has better marine life)? It's the first time hubby and I are going to explore these places. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hi Tezza-- Have you heard anything about Coral Gardens Resort on Koh Kradan?

tezza said...

Whoa!! I belatedly found out the forum has moved on to a new page. So I misssed everything on this page, probably too late for your trip. If any of your questions are still current, please post again.

tezza said...

UNKNOWN - if you check back: Coral Garden is a new resort at the far northern end of the main eastern beach - if you have a look at Wonderingstar's TRIP REPORT here you will see their bungalows under construction about 65% down page.

Joint seems a bit exxy and I'm wondering if Kradan can support a second flash joint after SEVEN SEAS?
No mention of a pool which most people in that price range like.
BTW the beach and water depth are not as good at the far northern end, but a short walk to better stuff.

Malc said...

Hi Tezza, if I stay in a tent on Camping beach on Kapas, how close is a restaurant where I can buy meals? Thanks, Malc

tezza said...

Malc - Quimi's is about 1 minute from the main camping area on Kapas. I noticed Rose turned away some outsiders at meal time when she had a full house, but the good news is there are 3 bigger resorts with restaurants less than 5 minutes further east on the next beach. On weekends some guys set up a neat burger etc place on that beach for really budget stuff.

Malc said...

Great, thanks heaps Tezza.

floridapens said...

Hey Tezza,
i was just wondering if I could get an Honest opinion...I'm planning on doing a trip to S.E.Asia next May.I'm doing some trekking in Borneo and Sumatra and am going to be based out of KL...I have a third leg of my trip,either to Andaman Coast Thailand or to take Peramas Lombok to Komodo trip...which would you do?...last year in April I was in Raileh/Phi Phi...loved it for the chill out factor.I have been to Bali/Java/Lombok before and loved that too...but having to take just one of the two in my final phase of an already adventurous trip...which would you say I should plan for?
Thanks in Advance


Julie said...

This is hard. Both are good options at the right time and I don't really prefer one over the other.

Making for more difficulty is time of year. I would avoid the Perama trip if the prevailing winds had not shifted to the ideal se trade wind period - I'm not an expert on that area's winds and don't know if May is too early.
May in the Andaman can be marginal - in many years wet season is kicking in which can detract from enjoyment. This was certainly the case in my trip just finished - I got a lot of rain and the last two days in Phuket were actually unpleasant with windy conditions thrown in with the downpours.

Note the weather I got on the southern Gulf side was much drier (this is usual until October) and islands like Phangan and Tao can offer anything the Andaman can. Beaches like Mae Had, Thong Nai Pan, Than Sadet, Had Thian, Had Wai Nam, Had Yuan etc on Phangan are way more chill than Railay and Phi PHi. Landscape not as spectacular but not bad at all.

Closer to KL islands like the Perhentians, Kapas, Redang and Tioman are moving in to dry season - these are pretty sweet islands.

tezza said...

I signed in with Lady Tezza's ID. Sorry about that.

floridapens said...

Julie...thanks for the info
After taking a good look at weather conditions Krabi Provence is out...going to do the Perama trip Tezza blogged about I'll do the 5 day 4 night version...wish me luck!!!

floridapens said...

Tezza thats hilarious!!!

slimlinetonic said...

Tezza, I found your site really useful when deciding which island to visit in Thailand. Thought my experience in one of the bays - AOW LEUK - on Koh Tao, might be og interest: Firstly I have to say that the snokellng in this bay is wonderful. It was like being in an aquarium and I dont like swimming out very far! We went there several times during our stay, eating at the restaurant and having drinks at the bar opposite. So my rating is given for the bay itself

WARNING - However there is a man there who is definitely unhinged so do please be aware. You will find mention of him in other forums so my experience is not an isolated case.

On our last day I had finished snokelling but my partner was still in the water. I had a bite of a roll when an older man (I am in my 50s) appeared looming over me, yelling at me, beside himself with rage. He hit me on the head with his knuckles and frog marched off the beach to our motor cycle. He was still yelling at me and threatening to hit me again. Fortunately some other westerners turned up and tried to diffuse the situation. I could not leave as my partner did not know where I was and he had the keys to the scooter. Eventually one of the westerners found him and brought him to me.

The mad man went away for a few moments then returned with a machete to attack him. We managed to get away then but it was a very frightening experience. All I had done was to have had a bite of a roll - we had spent money there and were going to dine there later when our friends joined us and we would not despoil such a beautiful place. His reaction was absolutely irrational. From other furums I read that he attacked someone for having a beach umbrella. So do be careful

tezza said...

Thanks for the information, Slim.
I did have mention of these hassles in the Ao Leuk section on my Ko Tao page. I have just posted a copy of your message there.

Dortemac said...

Think you for a super great Web.
I'm a lad from Denmark (Europe ) Who Found it on the net.
love All your info - very usefull.
Gong to Bali Thist time juli 2012. Fore sure use your Info again.
Jackie (Denmark)

Mike D said...

Hi Tezza,

I was wondering if you could offer some advice as I am just starting to doubt and confuse myself. I am planning a week's escape at the end of June and was originally thinking of Phayam's bungalows but after seeing some photos it does not seem as idyllic.

So now I am thinking Tao to avoid the strong winds. I am looking for a relaxing and tranquil escape away from it all. A book, hammock and beach / jungle.

Is there any where else you could suggest for a mid to flash packer?

Many thanks

tezza said...

I too think Phayam is a bit iffy end of June. The Ranong islands are among the wettest in Thailand.
Tao is a good bet - that area usually has a later wet season starting late Sept early Oct.

Mid to flashpacker on Tao. I'm thinking Ko Nangyuan Dive Resort (non divers welcome) 1km of Tao's north west tip would do the trick. No rainforest walks there though although the short climb to the viewpoint is good value.
Mango Bay Resort has it all except no real beach.
Tanote has the beach plus you can walk the main road up through the rainforest and turn right to the viewpoints - Black Tip Divers is flashpacker into lower midrange.
You might also look into Viewpoint west of Chalok Ban Kao - nice walks to the SW beaches and further into town.

byebyebadman said...

Staying for 3 weeks. Landing in bangkok. Few days there, then up to the North for a week to check out various places. Then down South to hop a few islands, Tao, Phangnan (maybe catch the full-moon party), PhiPhi then head to the Khao Sok National Park for a few days, before heading back to Bangkok for return flight.

All we've pre-booked is our hotel for first few nights in Bangkok, and the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a 3rd night. Other than that we just have a rough plan of the areas we want to visit, a list of recommended accommodation, and details on how to get from A to B to C ect.

I imagine with it being the low season most accommodation can be sorted a few days before arriving, or even just pay on entry. That way it keeps us flexible date-wise, and we get the fun of looking around at various beach huts ect and picking the best. This seems to be confirmed with the little research I've done on line. But I've never been anywhere like Thailand before, so please correct me if I'm being stupid leaving it until we get there.

Also, I'm wary of trusting a long journey train for our final trip back from the islands to Bangkok. I don't want us missing our return flight. So would anyone suggest getting a flight back from the islands? It seems to be about £25 per person one way. How much more expensive and reliable is this compared to the train?


tezza said...

If I wanted to keep things flexible I wouldn't book ahead in low season.
The exception may be Phangan if indeed you decide to hit it around Full Moon Party time - things can get pretty booked up then. However more distant beaches should have some vacancies and nearly all tend to put on transport to the party.

I've never travelled by train in LOS and can't comment from personal experience. Anecdotally the trains don't have a good record for running on time so I wouldn't be trying to cut it too fine on the day of departure.
Flights in LOS are subject to the same variations as elsewhere. The one flight I've taken within LOS - Phuket-Samui return was cancelled on the outward leg because of a crash at Samui airport. I got transferred by coach/ferry and arrived 10 hours late.
I personally always try to be at the town/city of my exit flight the day before unless I am real close.
Note the nearest station to Khao Sok is the one outside of Surathani.

byebyebadman said...

hello, and as usual thanks for the great website....

me and my girlfriend just arrives in thailand, and are hoping to visit the islands for a week or so next week. hoping to do tao, phangnan, phiphi and khao sok. No particular order planned yet.

Only thing is, after looking up some of the resorts/bungalows you recommend highly (moondance, viewpoint, tohko ect) the prices don't seem to add up. From reading your posts I got the idea that a budget price for a double room was in the 400-500naht range, however looking online for those resorts it seems the cheapest rooms are atleast 1500baht? Are we looking at the wrong sites? Am I reading your blog wrong? Or have prices jumped so much in recent years?

Anyway, if you could clear that up, and/or recommend any budget priced resorts on any of those islands near to the beach that would be great, thanks.

(Also does that route of islands sound ok for this time of year, weatherwise)

Also, I'm struggling to browse over here, so if you could copy any reply to that would be brilliant. I'll try by to check here too.

Thanks again, Joe

tezza said...

For the Andaman prices have jumped markedly in recent years, particularly Phi Phi. Toh Koh is a joke these days.
In Phi Phi I'd be looking at Nomad's on Long Beach, Phi Phi Hill if it is opening these days in low season, and places at the edge of town up the hill near the dam and along the nearby viewpoint road. Maybe The Rock in town has rooms as well as its well known dorms.

I haven't been to Tao in recent years. Divers certainly make this island a bit more expensive than many but I reckon right now you should be able to get something for 500 in Moondance's area or at Hing Wong Bay.

Phangan had heaps of places under 500 two months ago - now that low season is in they should be cheaper. Have a look at the places I stayed at on the TRIP REPORTS page. If you can't access that I'd be looking at Longtail at Thong Nai Pan Yai (nice place going down to 380 just after I left), Bamboo on Had Yuan and Plaas at Than Sadet.
Kho Sok will have lots of places under 500 in low season.

Another point is that online prices are often higher than you can get walk in.

Weather wise the southern Gulf should still be well short of its wet season which normally kicks in in October. The Andaman is in wet season but normally you should still get enough sunshine for a good beach holiday.
Khao Sok tends to be wet. But hey, nothing wrong with rain in the rainforest.

Laurie Lam said...

Your blog rocks. Full stop. Just wishing I had stumbled upon your site earlier. If YOU had 2 weeks to spend doing the beach thing (snorkel, kayak, chilax, explore, no partying) and had mid-high range budget in late November early December, where would YOU go? We were originally thinking Railay Beach club then east coast of Phi Phi, but now after reading I'm thinking Phi Phi will be way too crowded (and party scene), so instead maybe Ko Lanta, Trang Islands,or Similan (but is that side OK weather in end Nov?). You definitely seem like you know your stuff and I would happily take your recommendation and quit endless hours of research! Your suggestions greatly appreciated, and again well done on a well written, user friendly blog. Cheers

tezza said...

I reckon Railay and the east coast of Phi Phi would work real well. If you haven't seen the seascape/landscape around Railay and Phi Phi they are a must not miss. btw the east coast of Phi Phi does not get overcrowded - it is too difficult for the yobos from town to access and most resorts are out of their budget range.

At the same time, Lanta and one of the Trang islands would work okay, but they are not as visually striking and are more difficult to access. Note Lanta does not have good snorkelling off the beach (or nearby as Railay does).

I don't think the Similans can cut it while the coral is still in a mess. The place is hard to access, expensive and the accommodation is not up to scratch. Doing the Similans on Poseidon's boat is the only way I'd recommend it.

Normally late November is pretty good in the Andaman - dry season should have arrived or be arriving. The only island region likely to be drier is the eastern Gulf. Big Chang and Kut are nice, have plenty of good standard resorts but don't have good snorkelling off the beach.

Laurie Lam said...

Tezza, thanks for your speedy response. Great to hear East coast of Phi Phi isn't too crowded. We'll stick with our original plan of splitting our time in the south to Railay and East Phi Phi, although the Similans on the Poseidon's boat sounds you have info on that on our blog somewhere...I must have missed that. Our plan was to spend about 3-4 days in and around Chiang Mai first before heading south on the 30th. Weather wise, do you think that is the safest bet, or could we do the south first (prices on railay and phi phi jump up in mid Dec compared to late November) and do Chiang Mai at the end of our stay? Again, your advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Cheers

tezza said...

The Poseidon Trip is just below SIMILANS ISLANDS in the Index, as SIMILANS ISLANDS LIVE-ABOARD.

WHICH AREA FIRST? In theory the later you leave it to visit the Andaman that time of year, the more you are getting into true dry season. In practice I don't think 3 or 4 days makes much difference.

Laurie Lam said...

Thanks again. Taking your advice. Going to book in to do the similan live aboard tour at the end of our stay. After 3-4 days in Chiang Mai, we'll stay at Railay Beach Club for 3 nights, then head over to Phi Phi. I agree with your thoughts re: Relax Beach and will stay there for 2-3 nights, before splashing out a bit and staying either at Holiday Inn or Phi Phi Island Village Resort. Do you have any idea which one may be better...both are similar price and both look great but hard to decipher which is a nicer resort on a nicer beach. And do you know how difficult and time consuming it will be for us to get from Phi Phi to Kao Lak (to do the SImilan live aboard trip) then back up to Bangkok for our flight out? Better to fly to Phuket or Krabi to transfer flights to Bangkok. Again, big thanks.

tezza said...

Wow, you are doing my dream trip. Always fancied the Railay Beach Club and Relax Resort/PP Island Village/Holiday Inn. Not to mention doing the Similans live-aboard again.

Okay, I consider PP Island Village and Loh Bakeo both a step up from Holiday Inn and Laem Thong. The only downside is fewer places nearby for variety - I remember one budget restaurant adjacent Island Village whereas Laem Thong has maybe 6 midrange places.

There are travllers' minibuses go from Krabi where the ferry gets in from Phi Phi to Khao Sok, will be able to drop you off at Poseidon Bungalows (or anywhere else on the Khao Sok strip - you don't have to stay at Poseidon although it is a real nice flashpacker place around Relax Resort standard - and as such tends to get booked out real early).
I reckon your Phi Phi accommodation will be able to book the Krabi-Khao Lak transfer.

Note travellers' minibuses tend to get crowded - for more comfort a taxi or booked car with driver can do the trip and may not be ridiculously too much more expensive if split between a few passengers. I have some hire car firms linked on my Krabi page can give you some idea.

tezza said...



Previous answer I meant travellers' minibuses from Krabi to KHAO LAK (not Khao SOK).

Laurie Lam said...

Good to hear it sounds like it will be a dream trip! SOunds like you make it to Thailand loads, whereas we are leaving 2 small kids at home and likely wont make it back for years, so we figure we want to make it dreamy! Also, it is our 10 year wedding anniversary.

As it will only be for 2 nights, so wont need a ton of variety, we'll do the PP village resort instead of Holiday Inn.

My only concern now is that we have planned to many hotel moves....don't want to feel like we are always on the go (3 days/nights Chiang Mai, 1 day travel CM to Krabi to Railay, 3 days/nights RBC, long boat to PhiPhi and 2 days/nights at Relax then over to PP Village for 2 days/nights, then 1 travel day from Phi Phi to Krabi to Khao Lak, 1 night Poseidon, 2 nights/3 days Similan tour, travel day from Khao Lak to Bangkok, 1 full day/night there before flying home to Canada. In your opinion does it sound like too much moving? Any idea on how much time will be sucked up moving from Krabi to Khao Lak, and from Khao Lak to Bangkok (what is less time....Khao lak to Phuket for flight to Bangkok, or Khao Lak to Krabi)? You (and your brain full of very helpful Thailand info) ROCK!

tezza said...

Family commitments have forced me to cram most of my trips into 3 weeks or less - in which I want to visit as many places as possible in order to keep this site up to date (which is why I love contributions to the READERS' TRIP REPORTS section). As a result I often spend only 2 nights in a location. So no, I personally don't think you are trying to do too many places.

However if you want to eliminate one, Relax Resort and Phi Phi Island Village are <1km apart (although completely different). So you could stay at one only and walk along the rocks (at less than half tide) to spend time at the other. If you don't want to spend 4 days at one of these you could add another day to some other location.

If you catch the first ferry out of Phi Phi to Krabi and arrange to be picked up at the pier, you should be in Khao Lak early/mid-afternoon. The actual minibus trip takes about 3 hours but there will be delays between the pier and minibus departure.

Khao Lak to Phuket airport is the go - about one hour. Also way more Phuket flights particularly discounted ones. Poseidon will drive you down and places in Khao Lak main street advertise cheap car transfers. Going by normal bus is a bit of a hassle because the airport is off the main road into Phuket.

Laurie Lam said...

Tezza, Wicked! All booked as per my above itinerary. One last question....Should I book my internal flights (Bangkon to Chaing Mai, Chaing Mai to Krabi, and Phuket to Bangkok) now, in advance, or wait until there?

Upon return I will post in the Readers Trip Report section.

Logan Oliver said...

Hi Tezza,

awesome blog mate I've been studying it for a few days trying to suss out a bit of a plan. Just wondered if you could give your opinion on a potential itinerary. I have just over 3 weeks in Thailand and will be spending a about 5 nights in Bangkok (2 at the start, 3 at the end) so have just over 2 weeks to visit the islands.

I have booked my first 4 nights on Koh Phangan, but after that I have nothing as of yet. I'm either thinking of then spending the rest of the time on Koh Tao, another beach on Ko Phangan and then Koh Samui, or doing a couple of nights on Koh Tao, then going down to Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi.

In your opinion is it too much hassle (time/logistics/coin) to try and fit all of the places in on the second option? Also I will be travelling in high high season (January) which isn't ideal but is the only time I have available to travel unfortunately.

Any insights will be much appreciated. Logan.

tezza said...

Guys, I'm at Sydney airport 5 minutes from leaving for Indonesia.

1 - If there is no disadvantage in being held to a set schedule I reckon you could book flights before from home. But I'm not an expert at flying in Thailand, rarely do it.
Looking forward to your trip report.

2 - I'm not good at itineraries but if I was on Phangan I'd take the chance to see nearby Tao and Samui.
If I didn't like moving islands I'd simply jump to a new beach on PHangan - there are enough nice different ones to keep a keen person busy for several months.
Will give this more consideration when I return in 3 weeks.

Jessa said...

Hi Tezza. Like everyone's said, awesome blog! Wondering if you could help. Currently in Koh Tao but looking for a more quiet beach now that the full moon crowd have decended (and its a bit too expensive). I'm looking for cheap, beautiful beach, reasonably quiet. I don't need many ammenities but would like wifi so I can update my own blog :)

After that I want to head south to maybe malaysia or for a few weeks, before heading to Oz and NZ, but am unsure of where to start. I'm solo female traveller as from Thursday so want to be safe. I don't like the party scene much as it attracts a lot of the young crowds (i'm 27), but I do like to have a few things such as wifi.

Any help would be massively appreicated. Thanks :)

tezza said...

Jessa, I'm thinking if you don't want to travel off Tao you should mainly look at those south-west beaches like Gul Jea and Sai Nuan.

If you are prepared to jump to the next island, Phangan's Bottle Beach, Than Sadet and the 3 beaches centered by Had Thian east coast will do it nicely.

In Malaysia the east peninsula coast is in dry season right now and places like the Perhentians (maybe avoid Long Beach on the small island for quiet), Redang, Kapas and Tioman will do the trick. Kapas is the nicest island I've visited in recent years.

I don't travel with devices but from what I've seen most locations have wifi these days - to the point where old fashioned dudes like me often have trouble finding internet cafes.

clummzie said...

Just got back from 3 weeks in Malaysia and stayed 1 week in Kapas.

Thanks very much for the recommendation as the island was perfect for our needs and was incredibly quiet due to Ramadam.

JoeD said...

Hi Tezza, need a bit of advice on my up coming Thailand trip. I'm going to Koh Samui on 9th Nov 2012 for a couple of weeks but I had originally planned to come with the g/f. She can't afford it so I'm going solo now, not a problem though. I'm going to chill out, meet some cool peeps, explore, sunbath, swim, eat, drink, do a thai cooking class and also my Open Water diving certificate.

I was thinking 3/4 days in Koh Samui before heading over to Koh Tao to dive. However because it's monsoon season, I'm wondering if its best to change my internal flights and chill out in sunnier climates?

I'd prefer not to mess about changing my flights etc and research where to go on the other side of Thailand. But at the same time I'm slightly concerned the weather might not allow me to do my dive certificate or relax in the sunshine as much as I'd like if there's more chance of it raining on and off.

What are you thoughts? See what happens in Koh Samui or change my flights? If its the later, where do recommend heading off to?

Thanks in advance

tezza said...

This is so difficult. The thing about the southern Gulf is that 65-80% of its wet seasons can be normal (ie enough sunshine for a good beach holiday) but one in every 4 or 5 is a shocker. And these don't occur on a regular basis eg you can get two shockers in two or three years and then none in 5 etc.
Question is, will this year be a shocker?
Well I notice the Australian Meteorology Bureau is saying we are leaving our wet LA NINA period of the last 2/3 years and going into a dry EL NINO. Will Thailand do the same?
For a start, Thailand has certainly been wetter than normal the past couple of years. And maybe the Thai Meteorology Dept is on to this EL NINO thing - they say in the table at the bottom of this page that the southern east coast will have normal to slightly below normal rain this coming November. So it sounds like they don't think it's gonna be a shocker.
Now I don't normally put a lot of faith into long range weather forecasts but I do believe there is something in this EL NINO thing.

Another point is that even in a normal year EARLY November is a bit too soon for the wet season to break in the Andaman. The past few years in the Andaman I got crap weather right into mid December. But maybe that was LA NINA doing her thing.

So on the balance I'd be thinking that sticking with Samui/Tao may be the go. If I really really wanted to see Samui/Tao I'd go regardless of potential weather. This is what I did in my very first visit to Thailand - guess what? I got great weather.

If you want the Andaman, Phi Phi is probably the best bet. Phuket and Khao Lak are the other dive centers. If you want something out of the ordinary, check the dive operation on my Ko Phra Thong page.

Just to complicate things, in most years the wet season breaks earlier in the eastern Gulf - have a look at that table for this year. Ko Chang is not a dive mecca like Tao, Phi Phi and Khao Lak, but has plenty of dive operations.

magdaicez said...

Hello again

I come back to your blog pretty often. Used your helpful information two years ago, while visiting Phangan. I'd appreciate your help about my future trip. I am looking for a beach/bungalows to stay next February, preferably on Andaman side (phuket, krabi range). I've extremally loved Phangan and Logtail beach restort with its beach and looking for something equally good with access to village for boxing and thai massage course. I had been to Lanta 7 years ago and considered this island to revisit. Would you share your experience about this island or other with great beach for kids, but not crowded and comperable to Thong Nai Pan. Kind regards Magda

tezza said...

Magda, the thing that throws me here is "access to boxing and thai massage course" because I'm not into those things and take less notice than what I should.

But Lanta definitely has them.
To get a beach similar to Thong Nai Pan you need to go to the south of the island - Klong Jak and Kantiang Bay have villages nearby. The boxing and massage courses are probably further north but the northern and central beaches are more open and touristy than Thong Nai Pan, although I really like Long Beach.

There's a heap of great beaches elsewhere in the Andaman but different to Thong Nai Pan. The closest in character I can think of is Farang Beach on Ko Muk. The villages are 20 minutes walk away but much more authentic fishing villages than at TNP - not sure about Thai massage courses and boxing.
Thing is, you need a sizable island for that - Phuket would do it but the nice beaches there are different to TNP.
Lipe and Bulon Lae have some nice quiet beaches and interesting villages but are probably too small for your other wants. Maybe not Lipe - Google may help.
Might be worth checking Ko Phayam - Buffalo Bay is a bit more laid back than TNP but nice. 20 minutes walk into the village by the pier.

magdaicez said...

Thanks for info.
I checked Long beach/Lanta and if not tooooo crowded it should be Ok for us. You happened to see for youself Sanctuary (southern end of Long Beach)? There is a lot of accommodation so you might know some of them? I'm looking for a close to the beach and budget place. Magda

tezza said...

Can't remember Sanctuary, but there are some nice places at the south end. One point - the southern 15% does get some rock exposed at low tide but it's not untidy (got a pic on my Lanta page) - all you need to do is walk 200m north for deep water all tides to swim.
I'm leaving in a few minutes for Turkey and Greece - won't be able to reply to any questions for a month (I'm one of those guys avoids the internet except for email when travelling).

Carly said...

Hi Tezza
My family and I are looking for an island holiday for 5 days in early-mid October, ideally somewhere close to Singapore but if we have fly somewhere from there will consider. Do you have recommendations for this time do year as it looks like its raining everywhere half decent? ! We have been looking at Bintan simply as its easy to get to and fro Singapore and has a calm beach good for young children but wondering if anywhere in Thailand is not raining at this time of year? Is Tioman also risky? We are mid-budget travellers and like calm beaches. ko Phangan is our favourite but we will lose too long getting there and back from Singapore and likely to be raining I think?! Your advice would be great! Thanks Carly

tezza said...

Carly, just got home from Turkey/Greece - hope this reply is not too late for you.
I did a free Singapore trip out of Changi airport on Monday - the guide said it is one of the best times to be in Singapore on account the hottest time of year has passed and wet season does not hit until the end of October. Seeing Bintan is only a few km away, the same should apply.
Similarly, Tioman is not much further from Singapore and should be okay if wet season is not early.

Dirk Schmidt said...

Hey mate, great blog! Going to Thailand for two weeks in the beginning of december with my girl. We're not sure where we want to spend our time and was hoping you could help with that.

Had a trip there last year too. Loved Phi Phi (the town, the scenery, monkey beach, the east coast), loved Lipe almost as much (Viewpoint beach was spectacular, found it through your blog!). Lanta was too boring for my taste (but was fun checking out the island on a scooter. Saw the whole place in a day). Ended up spending a day in Patong as well, that place was so bad it was actually funny...

We want to go to different places this time, but I'm not sure we'll find somewhere as good as Phi Phi. We're thinking perhaps Railay for a chunk of our trip (perhaps try some climbing, how's the snorkling there btw?). Perhaps a couple of days in the rainforest of Kao Sok (you can swim there right?), maybe checking out the Similians for a day or two. Phang Nga Bay also looks interesting. Hell, we might even catch a flight to Chiang Mai and spend our first week in the north.

Help us please! Perhaps you've got a feel for what kind of things we like, but you're the expert here. Which places and for how long would you recommend for us? There seems to be a lot of options when it comes to super laid back islands, but we want to be around young people and to have a couple of restaurants to choose from. Seems the only places that fit that description are PP, Railay, Lipe to some extent (and perhaps Ko Pha Ngan?).

Thanks dude! You rock

tezza said...

"we want to be around young people and to have a couple of restaurants to choose from. Seems the only places that fit that description are PP, Railay, Lipe to some extent (and perhaps Ko Pha Ngan?)."

No, lots of others. Your choice of Railay is a good one although I'd base myself on adjacent Ton Sai, the climbers' beach for best interaction with young people.
Snorkelling off the beaches in the Railay area is not great but it is pretty good by Thai standards on the popular 3 and 5 (just offshore) island tours that every visitor should do.

You are right - Phangan has plenty of beaches with your wants - to keep it simple I'd be sticking to places close to Had Rin unless it was Full Moon Party time.

Nearby Ko Tao also does it - probably the Sairree area is your best bet.

At Khao Sok the travellers' village just outside the main national park attracts plenty of young people and has lots of restaurants. There are a couple of swimming holes in the area.
The lakes area is great for a swim - but if you stay overnight the mix of people is a matter of luck although the trips seem more popular with younger people.

The Similans camping areas have a mix of all ages.

Phang Nga Bay is worth it for the landscape - the mix of people depends on your particular trip. If you stay overnight on Ko Panyi you may find you are the only westerners.

I haven't been to Chiang Mai.

The amount of time you spend at each is an individual call. Because I want to cover lots of places in a short time (family commitments keep my visits relatively short) I often only spend 2 full days at a particular location and am super active in getting around. Others prefer to sit back and take their time.

choc_brownie said...

Hi Tezza, I would like to take a day tour from Phang Nga as you described in your blog. HOwever so far I am not very lucky in finding half-decent accomodation. Could you recommend any accomodation in Phang Nga?

tezza said...

Depends on your definition of "half decent". The only place I've stayed in Phang Nga town is the Ratangapong Hotel - a basic Thai standard place. Okay but nothing flash - many people would think it a bit grotty.

Got to be careful with the Accommodation booking sites like Agoda - when you specify Phang Nga town they show hotels from all over the very big Phang Nga province - hell, Ko Phra Thong is maybe 6 hours away!
Even Trip Advisor has Greenview Resort which is just south of Kuraburi - maybe 4 hours minimum.

One suggestion is to just lob up, go to Mr Kean's office at the bus station and let him find you some good accommodation. Unless it is some Thai public holiday I can't see the place being booked out.
I wonder if Mr Kean is online these days - Google is your friend.

Another is to do your daytrip out of Phuket - heaps of nice places to stay there and everyone offers a Phang Nga Bay daytrip.
So do places in Khao Lak, but that is getting to be a bit of a stretch transport-wise for one day.
Plenty of Phang Nga bay trips out of Krabi too, but they mainly concentrate on the eastern bay islands.

Riikka said...

Hi Tezza! You are absolutely cool! I just read that you are gonna go to Ko Lanta in december '12. Ill be also there. Can we meet?!

tezza said...

Jeez Rikka - Lady Tezzza took one look at your pic and said NO!

Seriously though, I aint cool, I’m the reclusive antisocial type favours anonymity. Like Stewart, the convenor of owes me a beer and free travelfish t-shirts, but I never take up his offer to visit when I am in Bali. And I’m a sucker for free beer and t-shirts.
However you may spot me at Lanta or Jum, Ngai and Kradan. I’m the disreputable looking dude mothers shield their teenaged daughters from. Look for the cross between Saddam Hussein and Australian serial killer Ivan Milat – in 3 dollar Bali board shorts, a long-sleeved shirt despite 35 degrees Celsius, plus a battered Aussie bush hat. And if the hat is off, a buzz cut. Strewth, Saddam Hussein with a buzz cut!
Do you blame those mothers?

Anyway, not too many people look like that, so if you are game, step up and say hello

floridapens said...

Tezza that's pretty freaking hilarious!!!

Riikka I'll gladly meet up with you any time :P

Tanya Canam said...

Hi! I read all your accounts of little Koh Chang. I'd always been interested in it but have never visited in my few Thailand visits. I have heard lots of accounts of sand fleas and always wondered if it was true or a fable to keep the masses away. I did notice, however, that even Lonely Planet Islands and Beaches mentions them. What is your account of this? Thanks!

bastawa said...

hi Tezza! great blog! after reading your posts i've decided to visit Kapas in March 2013. i hope i won't regret:) i was also wondering about Tioman or Redang (less preferably) as my second destination. What do you think about Tioman vs Redang? I need quiet nice place to stay with my wife and 5 year old daughter. Thanks!

tezza said...

TANYA - in 3 visits to little Chang and 3 to its near neighbour Ko Phayam I have not experienced sand fly problems. But that does not say they are always absent - I do believe they are seasonal on many islands and maybe I missed their times. But I have not heard any long term residnets complaining about them.
Tip from the owners of Rimba resort on Malaysia's Sibu island - coat yourself with coconut oil to dissuade the little devils. They also reckon if you can elevate yourself above the sand on say a sun lounge you will be pretty safe.
Personally I would not let any rumours of sand flies stop me visiting these islands.

tezza said...

BASTAWA - if you are after a pretty and quiet island, Kapas is fairly hard to beat (although the locals like it on weekends).
The problem with Tioman from Kapas is that it is a long way down the coast and then a long way out to sea - you are going to blow a whole day getting there unless you can afford to fly via KL. Redang on the other hand is very close to Kapas to the north and not very far out to sea (although not as close to the mainland as Kapas).
Budget can play a part - Redang is a bit short of low budget joints. At peak it certainly is busier than Tioman but March usually sees the resorts offering good early bird discounts which suggests it is not real busy. The Kelang beaches are the places for quiet although the two prettier southen ones are a bit isolated from other Redang areas. If you can afford big dollars the Berjaya Resort does this too.
If budget is very important the Perhentians are also considerably closer to Kapas than Tioman.

bastawa said...

Hi Tezza thanks a lot for the info! yes i prefer low budget:) we don't need anything fancy only quiet and clean place to stay. Last two years we've been on Koh Lipe and Koh Tarutao. We liked Koh Lipe especially because of clean water and kayaking but there were way too many noisy longboats. it seemed like all days they were mawing grass. We loved Tarutao for it's nature and bicycle trips and I thought Tioman would be similar to Tarutao.
So We arrive in Singapore, we'll take night train to Wakaf Bharu and then bus south to Kuala Terenganu. After week or so on Kapas i was thinking about visiting Taman Negaraand then going south to Tioman. Or as you suggest we can go back north to Perhentian and take train back to Singapore. Anyway we have 25 days to spend in Malaysia and the only confirmed stay at Qimi Chalets.

tezza said...

I reckon you have thought well about your itinerary seeing you are entering and leaving via Singapore.

Taman Nagara is a natural stop heading south from Kapas to Tioman. Going back to Redang or the Perhentians would see too much of your route repeated. So Tioman is the go on the way back to Singapore.

Note Tioman aint too like Taratao - for a start there is a lot more accommodation both budget and better. And bicycling is restricted - if you are on ABC you can ride the 2km to the southern headland, carry your bike up/down the steps (not hard) and do another 2/3 km to the hill before Berjaya. But crossing the divide to Juara by bicycle is a major/major effort even for the very/very fit. If you are based on Juara, you can ride about 3km between the north end of Juara main and the south end of of Juara south.
However Tioman has excellent rainforests and walking tracks, every bit as good as Taratao.
Being so far offshore the water is as clear as Lipe. And the coral is as good (note however I don't know what the current period of global warming has done to Tioman's coral).
And Malaysian small boats tend to use outboard motors which these days hum softly rather than maw loudly.

btw - any shots and captions you can send in (lajolla22@ would be welcome as a READER'S TRIP REPORT - I find it impossible to get back to places soon enough to keep things up to date.

Say hello to Rose at Qimi for me - not that she'll remember me - I tend to keep a low profile.

Have a good trip.

kon1cz said...

Dear Tezza, we are planning to stay on Lanta over Christmas and New Years. We would like to have the quieter way of holidaying over these days.

We are currently figuring out where to sleep from the 26th December till 3rd of January or so. We are actually on a tight budget. After all, we realized that it might be quite expensive to get one of these nice beach bungalows. Nevertheless, do you have a good recommendation maybe? We are quite flexible location wise, in the worst case we would be also willing to pay a small premium (although this would mean that I needed to work for two days... I'm a freelancer).

I appreciate any help.


PS: It has been said several times, but in this case there should not be any diminishing marginal returns in doing it one more time: awesome page you got here!

Super Fly said...


A friend suggested your website. I am taking my first trip to Thailand and I am exicted. I leave Thursday, 12/20/2012 and will be there for two weeks. The five days will be spent in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and the rest will be spent at Koh Phang for the FMP and NYE. We plan to island hop from Sumai and Tao between those days. Then spend the last 4 days near Phi Phi and that area.

We have our flights booked from Bangkok to Surat Trani for FMP and NYE, we wanted to book these as we see trains are hard to come by at peak season and we didn't want to miss FMP and be stranded in Bangkok.

My question is...we are not seeing rooms available online for Koh Phang. I wanted to know what the chances my friend and I can just show up and find a place near or by Haad Rin?? The only places I see require 7 nights minimum and some cost $500 US or more!!!!

What is your suggestions and do you think we have a realistic chance of finding rooms on Koh Phang?

Thank you!

tezza said...

Wow Konrad, that is a real busy time on any of the Thai islands and leaving it this late to find a joint makes things hard.

I just put your dates into and of their 108 hotels on Lanta only 14 had vacancies - only one at less than 1500 baht per night - Jetty place in Saladan near the pier at roughly 1200 per night.
Going upmarket, the best value for a beachside joint with vacancies seemed to be Nakara on Long Beach, but you are looking at something like 3000 baht a night.

Could you get a place from the touts at the pier or on the ferry? Well I've never visited at this time, but I reckon a few places may be available - but you may be a bit shocked at the price eg Ban Phu Lae resort on Bamboo Bay had some second row backpacker style joints at 1200 when I called by - but I didn't think to ask whether they have a Christmas-New Year loading or in fact any vacancies at that time.

tezza said...

Wow, that will be one party period at Had Rin. I notice they have a Christmas Party on the 25th, FMP on the 28th and New Year Party on the 31st.

I have never been on Phangan in the festive season so I can't say for sure, but I reckon there will be vacancies available SOMEWHERE.
Take advantage of touts on the ferries and arrivals pier. A lot of the various beaches' transport guys meeting the ferries will whip out a phone and ask around their destination for vacancies.
You don't have to be at or near Had Rin - transport runs from all around the island to the party and a lot of the other beaches are sweet.

Unfortunately a lot of places insist on multi-night bookings at party time but I have seen joints that don't.

If you want to go searching yourself for a vacant joint near Had Rin, maybe catching a longtail the short distance to Had Yuan (the east coast one) is worth while. This beach has quite a lot of budget accommodation along the southern headland walkway, more on the northern headland and more on easily walked to (but not with a pack) Hads Thian and Thong Reng further north.
Note a lot of people stay on Samui at Party time and commute to Phangan. Just beware of overloaded speedboats.
Ko Tao is a bit too distant to commute to the party.

Chelsea Farthing said...


I will be traveling in late March. I am definitely interested in going to LaoLiang. If I have time to go to one other island/beach, what would you think is the best and/or easiest to travel to/or from laoLiang?

tezza said...

The closest islands to Laoliang are Libong and Sukorn. Both are nice islands but don't have the good beaches/relatively good snorkelling of Kradan or Ngai which are the two next closest.

I'm told TIGERLINE does not call in to Laoliang these days - I'm assuming Laoliang transport is via Hat Yao on the mainland south-west of Trang. If this is the case, Libong is easiest to access - only 10-15 minutes by public longtail ferry from adjacent the Hat Yao pier.
Getting to Kradan and Ngai isn't too difficult from Hat Yao - simply pick up the TIGERLINE service.

I just read on Trip Advisor that one couple organised their own longtail from Hat Yao to Laoliang at 2500 baht - one hour. Not inexpensive, I'm sure I could cut a better deal.
If you have to do the same, a later transfer DIRECT to Libong which is very close to Had Yao pier should cost no more.
Ko Sukorn is closer to Laoliang so should cost less.
A longtail direct from Laoliang to Kradan would maybe add 40 minutes - and I'm not a fan of longish longtail trips although March usually sees less choppy seas than early in high season.

A small request - my Loaliang page is about the oldest non-updated on my site. I'm a budget traveller and I can't see myself getting back there any time soon (I was in the area early Dec and will be again in March). If you have the time, could you send in a few lines about the island I could publish on the Laoliang page? It doesn't have to have any pix as on the TRIP REPORT pages. If this is possible, I'd be extremely grateful.

Effe said...

Thanks for the great site with such an extensive info!
I have a phobia for snakes. What are my chances to go to Thai and not to see one?

Ginny Myers said...

I'm sorry if this posts twice.... I don't think the first attempt worked as it made me create a google account.... But here goes attempt two.
I am arriving in Phuket on the 8th March with my boyfriend. We have booked three nights in Patong beach despite hearing bad things, we just need recovery time after 7 months farm work in OZ! We have 6 and a bit weeks in Thailand altogether.
We have a rough plan I need your honest opinion on please..... :)
We thought the first three weeks doing the islands near phuket as far south as Lanta, we had first planned on going as far down as Langkawi but are worried for timing.
Do you think we could go further south than Lanta comfortably in that time? We want to make the most of our time but don't want to be constantly travelling.
In weeks 4-6 we would want to go to the southern gulf islands and see them, before heading up to Bangkok to fly home. We had originally looked at flights from Pinang/Langkawi to samui but it worked out too expensive.
Does this sound like a plausible rough itinerary?!
Thank you so much!

tezza said...

EFFE - I see snakes about one in every 4 trips to Thailand, and I think I spend more time hiking in the bush than the average visitor.
Most of the snakes I have seen are harmless green tree snakes - I have only seen on cobra, and that was a baby slithering down a culvert on Ko Kut.
Compare this to Australia, where I see quite dangerous snakes in the area surrounding my house almost daily in summer.
Snakes are non-aggressive and only present a danger when cornered. It is just a matter of keeping your eyes open so this will not accidentally happen.

tezza said...

Wow, I really envy you having 6 and a half weeks to check the islands. The most I've had in dozens of trips is 5 weeks on my first visit, and 2 of those were in Malaysia.

First of all, I don't think you are trying to fit too much in. I personally would try more places in the first 3 week on the Andaman side, but it depends on the individuals (some people just want to find somewhere nice and sit back and relax for a long time - I get bored after maybe 3 days, more for a big island where I can change beaches) and on how many places you want to check near Phuket (if you want to fit Yao Yai, Yao Noi, Coral Island, Racha, Ko Panyi, Jum on top of the usual suspects of Phi Phi, Krabi and Lanta, that would fill most of 3 weeks).

I'd personally try to get one or more Trang islands in and maybe Ko Lipe.
Note TIGERLINE probably has the fastest transfer Lipe to the southern Gulf island - they ferry you to Hat Yao near Trang, van you to Don Sak past Surathani and load you into a public ferry for Samui or Phangan - this will take much of the day, but quicker than doing it by public transport.

2 and a half weeks in the southern Gulf and back to Bangkok sounds good.

Don't beat yourself up about Patong. This is a place which has something for everyone and is a good first base off the aircraft. And it is a fair bit closer the airport than my favourite of the big 3:Kata.

Chelsea Farthing said...

Thanks for the response.

I was able to get in touch with Laoliang and they told me that they have daily ferry transfers out of Ao Nang and Trang to the island. Thinking I might just go back to Railay after my stay on LL since the ferry is right there.

I will be sure to send you some updated information once I return in April.

Your blogs have been very helpful!

tezza said...

Thanks Chelsea, any info would be great.

The transfer out of Trang is one I expected would be offered, but that one out of Ao Nang is real interesting. If it's no trouble and you end up doing that one direction or the other, please include details when you report back.

Tehri Travel Wisdom said...

hey tezza, thanks for all the great info - i've been spending hours and hours tonight pouring through it!

i am planning a trip to SEA this year, and was thinking about spending time in ko tao for some diving and getting healthy and strong again. i am not sure when i will leave yet though.

i want to do a lot of diving, and would like to have a bit of community around that, as well as other options to stay healthy while i am there with a gym and good food, etc. not sure about ko Tao anymore though, as it seems like the costs are rising as compared to how it used to be when i first heard about it a few years ago. what other islands are similar to Ko Tao like this? any thoughts on cambodia or burma?


tezza said...

Haven't visited Cambo and Burma.

Yep, Tao is getting expensive - more so than its immediately neighbour - but so too is the Andaman and this is where the other key diving spots are: Phi Phi, Phuket and Khao Lak. I don't think these places have the same diver vibe/community as Tao. Note that wet season kicks in Andaman side usually some time in Aril thru to some time in November - whereas Tao is usually some time in September thru to early Jan.

I don't know of any gyms on Tao but there would almost be sure to be at least one - Tao has pretty complete services these days.

bastawa said...

hi Tezza!
just got back from holidays in Malaysia, thanks for your blog and your comments i had great holidays! Kapas Qimi chalets were very nice i stayed there 8nights. and later we went to Perhentians for over 2 weeks. we didn't go to Tiomand, because the weather was still not that great in the south. It turned out this year monsum was very late. actually when we arrived to Kuala Terengganu we hade to wait extra day for transfer to Kapas because of ruff sea. but later weather was great except couple of rainy days.
i used your blog on perhentians as guide for trekking. we stayed in flora bay and i must say off beach snorkeling was the best from whole Perhentian besar (we tried all other beaches). like you wrote the beach was most beautiful at PIR we were there 3 times and one day there was lots of baby coral in the water so it wasn't fun to swim.
anyway we are super happy and we like islands so much that we gave up Taman Negara and we gave up Singapore on return back. thanks again for your info!

tezza said...

Sounds like a great trip - glad my info was of some use. said...

Interesting place, would love to visit

Ruth said...

I am going to Thailand in the midle of November for 12 days. I mainly want to get massage for mye muscleproblems. I wanted very much to go to Little Koh Chang, but I am worried it wouln`t be any massageplaces were it`s not many tourist. Is that true? I have been to Phuket a few times, Hua Hin, Kao Lak, Krabi, Ao Nang, Railey beach, Koh Lanta, Phi Phi, Koh Chang and Koh Kut. I want to go to a new place. I will be flying in from Vietnam. I want a guiet place, white beaches, nature, jungle, but not so isolated that it`s no reastaurants or shops. I hate parties and load music. I want cheap bungalows on the beach :)Do you have any suggestians? Thanks for a very, very informative blog.

tezza said...

Ruth, I have just returned from a visit during which I spent a few days at THE SANCTUARY on Had Thian, Ko Phangan.
Thian and its easily accessed neighbours Had Yuan and Had Wai Nam have become my favourite area in Thailand.
The Sanctuary specialises in yoga, massage and remedial activities plus personal development. A lot of it is new age stuff and I'm no new-ager but there is no pressure to join in (I did do one free meditation session) and the place has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere plus one of the most atmospheric restaurants in Thailand and a huge variety of accommodation (more expensive than average for the area but comparable to Andaman accommodaton and there is a dorm for bucks down people). Downsides include slightly more expensive food than normal (but tastier and with more variety than normal), no beachfront accommodation and nearby Guy's Bar having a Friday night dance party.

But there are other quieter places to stay in this area. WAI NAM HUT would meet all your requirements (except variety of restaurants) - they have yoga courses and probably do massage as well.
For more restaueants Had Thian's BEAM is only 10 minutes walk away, THE SANCTUARY another 5 and Had Yuan's excellent BAMBOO HUT another 10.

I'm going to do a TRIP REPORT as soon as possible but it could take a few weeks to formulate and post - I have a lot of other things to do on homecoming. Maybe you could check what I already have on the area on the PHANGAN PART 2 page.
And Google THE SANCTUARY'S web page.

One Caveat - Ko Phangan is at the height of its wet season in November**. Normally this is no worry but on about one year in 5 it is really wet.
**creates a low season with heavily discounted accommodation.

Okay, the Andaman is usually starting to enter its dry season by mid November. Thing about massage is that just about every beach has it. But I'm not a seeker of massage and have not recorded the details - maybe you could do a Google for resorts offering massage and spa activities in the Andaman.
There would be massage on little Ko Chang but I'm not sure where. Ditto on neighbouring Ko Phayam.
But I reckon there would be a choice on Ko Lipe which you don't mention as already visited. For cheap huts on a white beach check VIEWPOINT on south Sunrise Beach extension and PORN on Sunset beach.
Also Google KO MUK CHARLIE to see whether it offers massage. CHARLIE is a bit expensive but check my Muk page for cheaper Farang Beach accommodation.

5starchikita said...

HI, thanks you for your fantastic blog which has helped me narrow down the island i want to stay on (Koh Lanta) in order to do a tour which will visit Koh Mook aka emerald cave. What id like to know is how much does a tour from this island to that one cost and does it cover some other beautiful places in the same tour? Where do i go to organise the tour? I will be coming in the first week of November 2013 via taxi boat from Phuket (, is this a quick method of travel and reliable?).

I really love to snorkel and im thinking a visit to Similan Islands would also be pretty awesome. Would i be best to do a tour from Phuket to this island?

Thanks so much for your help in advance :D

tezza said...

The Trang islands daytrip tours are available all around Tao - every accommodation place, many restaurants and bars and most travel agents will be able to book you a trip. Cost varies according to whether it is by small longtail boat as are many from the central or southern beaches, the bigger Petpalin daytrip boat or a number of speedboat operators. I haven't done the full trip for a long time but I'm thinking the first 2 might be in the vicinity of 1100/1500 respectively. Google will find the speedboat operators' prices.
The good thing is all these trips do a multi-stop routine, visiting either Ko Ngai or Ko Kradan - often both. The itinerary will be on display before booking. Most apart from some longtail tours include free pickup/drop at your accommodation.

I've used Tigerline a number of times and it hasn't let me down. It is much faster than the alternative slow public ferries out of Phuket via Phi Phi. If you sit in the aircon cabin, the front section is much quieter. Up top can get a bit wet with spray - but coming into Phi Phi is spectacular from up there.

The Similan daytrip from Phuket is very popular. I always advise spending some time on the Similans but if this is impossible and you don't mind a very full day (the departure pier is a hell of a way from Phuket and the islands a long way from the pier although the big speedboats are fast)the trip is worthwhile.
You can do a shorter trip by staying overnight in Khao Lak.
Note the Similan coral was pretty ordinary last time I visited but for non-hardcore snorkellers the underwater scene is probably pretty good. The beaches and landscape are really nice.
If you find fitting this daytrip in is difficult, take consolation in the fact that last I checked the snorkelling off Ko Kradan's southern beach was much better than the Similans, and Kradan's/Ngai's main eastern beaches are arguably nicer.

5starchikita said...

Thanks for that information Tezza. Perhaps i am better off just spending some extra time on Koh Lanta rather than wasting valuable holiday time getting to the Similans by vehicle and boat. It sounds like unless i stayed on a near by island i wouldnt get much time there on a day tour.

Now im on the hunt for some accommodation in Koh Lanta. Your blog about the best beaches there was great, now i will have to hunt it down again :)

On a slightly different topic, i will be spending some time in Phuket (Patong) and would like to find out if there is a website that tells you what events are on for night life? I will be there at Halloween and have found out about one event that sounds fantastic but i want to see what else is on offer. Im not a big partier (i will probably only party for one night of my trip) so id like to find something worth while haha.

Oh and are there any parts of the beach in Patong that you can enjoy without getting hassled every 5mins by hawkers (i dont mind them to be honest but when its constant it can ruin the relaxation). When i was in Vietnam i found a place in Nha Trang called the Louisiana Brew House where you could rent a chair outside on the beach and not be bothered at all. The Hawkers were not aloud to come onto that section of the beach for some reason. They had security ensuring this was the case as well.

tezza said...

Google should be able to find some Halloween activities. Plus search for the Phuket Post English language newspaper which is pretty good. Up the top right of this page in the link list is Jamie's Phuket Blog - Jamie welcomes email questions.

I've found beach hawkers in Thailand including Phuket pretty low key compared to say Bali (haven't been to Vietnam) - the Thai people tend to display their wares as they pass but will not hassle you unless you ask them over.
Having said that, the quietest beaches are on the Tri Trang peninsula south of the main Patong Beach - check my Patong page.

Simrat said...

Hi Tezza, your help with my planning for Koh Phangan 2 years ago was tremendously appreciated. I had the best time visiting your recommended beaches and stayed at the bungalows at Bottle Beach. Coming back for more help, this time with Phi Phi.

Going with another female friend for 2 nights at the end of November. Basically looking to chill in an area that is not excessively party crazy but not dead either. A nice vibrant beach scene wouldn't hurt. What we really care about is the beach and the view from the bungalows/resort we stay at.

Main priority is to have a nice white sand beach. Looking at flashpacker-mid range places. Have shortlisted the following and would love your input on what would be good in terms of location, beach quality, night scene, decent food (in/around the resort), etc.
1. Paradise Resort
2. Toh Ko Beach Resort
3. Rantee Beach Cliff Resort
4. Relax Beach Resort
5. Viking Nature Resort
6. Phi Phi The Beach Resort

Budget - THB 2,500-4,500 per night (I know it's a broad range but it captures all of the resorts listed above).

Would love your input. Thank you so much!

Julie said...

"Basically looking to chill in an area that is not excessively party crazy but not dead either."
This cuts out all those nice isolated beaches on the east coast - so Toh Koh, Relax and to a lesser extent Rantee are out (Rantee has a number of resorts which can give a bit of variety).
I reckon Long Beach best meets your asks, so Paradise and The Beach Resort are good bets. Note Paradise Pearl is as good as Paradise. View wise you could end up with a non-front rower at Paradise and Pearl - nearly all The Beach's bungalows have views because they are built on a steep hillside.
Viking on its own little beach next to Long Beach is good in that you can easily walk to Long Beach. Many of the more expensive bungalows have views but it is possible to get one which looks at the rainforest instead of the coast.

tezza said...

Oops, I've been doing a Trip Report on Julie's Japan blog - forgot to sign out!

Frank said...

Hi Tezza,

I'm planing a 3-week-trip from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for summer 2014. Because of the rainy season I like to focus on the east side. My trip plan is like this:
- Bangkok
- Ko Tao
- Ko Phangan
- Nakhon Si Thammarat
- Kota Bharu
- Marang
- Pulau Kapas
- Cameron Highlands
- Kuala Lumpur

How difficult is it to arrange tranfers, especially Nakhon to Kota Bharu, Kota Bharu to Marang and Marang to Cameron Highlands, the other transfers should not be a problem,I think. Or what other trip plan would you recommend?

Thanks in advance


tezza said...

Your overall trip plan seems pretty good - I'd personally try to fit some time on one of the other southern Gulf islands while there, but your timing may not allow this.

I've not done Nakhorn to KB but one time I travelled the other way on a bus going up the coast from the border to Surathani. I reckon you will have no problem finding a bus going from Nakhorn to Sungai Kolok on the border. There will be buses and taxis from the Malaysian side into KB.
Cheapest way to Marang (for Kapas right?) is to get one of the big coaches from KB bus station heading south. The main road bus stop is not a great distance from Marang pier. There are also plenty of taxis in KB - I'd be thinking of around the rm120 mark to Marang, give or take. btw I don't think KB is anything to rave about - a taxi from the border would probably be not be much more because it takes a more direct route. I found in the past plenty of taxis on the Malaysian side of the border.

Never been to Cameron Highlands - not sure of best route from Marang but the Malaysian bus system is very inclusive, efficient and inexpensive. People running Kapas resorts will have suggestions.

On to KL - sure to be heaps of buses from a major destination like CH.

tezza said...

Oops, just noticed you do have a second SOUTHERN Gulf island - please ignore that part of the above.

LeidBack said...

Hi Tezza. Great blog. I have an open itinerary from march 8th to march 23rd. I am considering 6days in Tokyo and 8 days in Thailand do you have any suggestions? I will be traveling alone and have a lot of Hilton points to expend, although I realize the big chains aren't the best way to experience new cultures.

This will also be my first trip outside U.S. other than one night in Dubai. The only thing set in stone is southeast Asia and the dates, must be visa on arrival friendly also. Thanks in advance!

tezza said...

I’m no good at itineraries, but 6 days in Tokyo would give you time to see most of the local attractions and do a couple of daytrips to nearby places like the Mt Fuji area or Nikko areas. Better still, spend a few of those 6 nights in one of those areas. I assume you have read the sections on them in Julie’s Japan blog accessed via the index.
6 days would not make the purchase of a JR rail pass value – check the Tobu Railways and Odakyu Railways websites for their very good value rail/bus/feature-entry tickets from Tokyo into the areas.

8 days for all Thailand is limited but given this time restriction I’d be checking out Bangkok for a few days, seeing an up-country area (Kanchanaburi near Bangkok is one of my favourites but many people prefer to fly up north) and then some time in the islands. One good thing about March is that it should still be dry season in all areas. Which island depends on what your interests are.

Visa restrictions depend on the nationality of incoming passengers – the relative govt department websites of Japan and Thailand will tell you. I don’t think these countries are very restrictive.

Japan and particularly Thailand have lots of good value accommodation so it might be better to save your Hilton points for a country where costs are higher.

StarLight said...

Hi and thanks so much for this detailed blog and for taking the time to reply to everyone's comments!!

I've read some of your blog and travelfish too but just need a bit of help.

My question is this. I'm a solo female traveller looking to get away from a bit of winter for about 2 weeks on a last minute holiday to thailand, as I keep getting ill and need some sun! But I need to choose where!

I've been to thailand before and while I hated Phi Phi (well snorkelling was amazing but nightlife so tacky) I really loved Ko Phayam (Was in the latter about 3 years ago).

It was maybe a little too quiet at Ko Phayam when I went last but it was just the beginning of their season I think Nov/Dec as it was just starting to liven up a little as we left. I think it is more busy and built up now than it was.

I also spent some time in Ton Sai which I liked and many nice people but did find the climbers a bit cliquey and I would like to try somewhere new.

What I want:
A backpacker laid back kind of vibe,
Start with some really chilled out days at the beach,
but then to be in a place that is not party central, still quite relaxed but does have a few things going on in the eve. Also to be in a relatively safe place, not that I am too worried about this.

I'm very tempted to go back to Ko Phayam (seems with Buffalo bay and Ao Yai I can have both very calm and slightly less calm.) But the only thing putting me off is its a bit long to get there, and also its not the cheapest there due to remote location and I think prices may have been going up a bit these 3 years.

If I did do this I would fly to Bangkok, stay a night, then fly to Ranong, in time for the ferry to Phayam. this would mean staying a few days at the end in bangkok so its not too rushed and I don't miss my plane! but I would enjoy that, I really like that crazy city!

BUT the alternative is to perhaps fly to krabi and first go to Ko Jum for some really chilled days, then head I think to koh lanta for a bit more liveliness. (but I'm a little worried it might be too much developed or too party!) Or some other nearby islands?

Or somewhere else completely? eg Koh Tao side of things?

I haven't booked my flight yet but looking to leave in about a weeks time and I can fly into various thai airports, bangkok, phuket, krabi, even surat thani.

ps as for accommodation, I'm happy with beach/bamboo huts but perhaps not the most basic or run down kind, somewhere in the middle - clean, decent bed with a private bathroom.


StarLight said...

sorry for the essay before! I've booked flights to Bangkok, decided to try Koh phayam again, hoping bangkok elections situation will be all good!

If you have any news about that or handy info about Koh phayam not already on your blog then do let me know, cheers!

tezza said...

Sorry I missed your first post - went away for a few days child/dog minding (3 of each!) and got delayed longer than I thought.
I reckon your idea of Phayam again is fine - it certainly will be more lively later in the season. If you have time, you might enjoy a few nights on neighbouring litte Ko Chang. A sweet spot.
I can't give you any updates on Phayam as I haven't visited for a while - hey maybe you could send in a TRIP REPORT? Just 4 or 5 pix with captions (send to would do the trick. But I understand if pressure on your time when back home is too much - I'm always in a flat spin when I return.
Sadly I have no insight into how the mess in Bangkok will go.
Cheers, enjoy your trip.

StarLight said...

Hi, thanks for your reply, excited to be going to Koh Phayam again :) Yes I will try to do a trip report for the site! I've booked flexible flights bangkok - ranong in case I have to change those but hopefully all will be good, I'll let you know how it went!

Raha Safahrat said...

Hi Tezza
I love your site, it's been really helpful. So much info but you're funny too!!
I'm planning on spending two weeks with my boyfriend in Malaysia at the end of May. We are looking for gorgeous beaches, crystal clear water, soft powdery sand where we can swim and do some snorkelling too. It would be good to have some places perhaps for a gentle hike or to explore kayaking. We deffo want to avoid the crowds, but it doesn't have to be completely secluded! No need for partying but it would be good to have some nice places to eat or have a drink in the evening. Not asking for much I know ;-)

Due to the weather, I'm thinking the east coast islands would be best. Maybe Kapas, Redang and Perhentians. What do you think? Could we do all three in 2 weeks? How can we travel between them? Or are they so similar that we should focus just on one or two of those?

In terms of accommodation too what would you recommend? I'd say my boyfriend is cool with the basics but I'm a bit past the backpacking experience..So mid range would be great :-)

Sorry for all the questions!! Thanks again for all your help with planning so far.

tezza said...

Lady Tezza also tells me I'm funny - but I think she has a slightly different definition of "funny".

Another delayed answer; more child/dog minding out of town. Sorry.

I think the weather is right for the east coast at the end of May. You have enough time for all 3 islands although if you decide to spend time on both Perhentians it may be at the expense of either Redang or Kapas.
Redang has the bigger range of mid-range places and the main beach is gorgeous. But it certainly is a busier beach - at least later in the season when I have seen it. I notice Redang places often offer attractive early bird special prices.
Kapas is easier to access, has more beaches and veery nice beaches but the only place which gets near mid-range is Turtle Valley. Although the new aircon chalets at Kapas Coral Beach Resort looked pretty nice to me and this beach seems to have the perfect mix of laid-back and social.
Water quality and snorkelling tend to be equal at both although snorkelling off the beach is best at Kapas.
For places on Redang and Perhentians I reckon any of those I stayed at would do the trick althoug Awana and The Bay were maybe a step down.
I think hiking and kayaking would be roughly equal between Kapas and Redang.

Unknown said...


I have two questions that I would love your help with.

I am flying into Langkawi in early March. The flight lands at 1:30pm and I was hoping to be NOT on Langkawi that night. Question 1 is: are there ferries not listed on the internet? Could I potentially get from Langkawi to Ko Bulon Leh or Ko Ngai that same day? Hire a longtail? Get to Satun and hire a longtail from there? Or am I better off biting the bullet and staying on Langkawi until the morning?

Second question is the always-welcome "Which island?" Have been to Kradan, which I loved. Looking for a similar aesthetic but maybe a touch more vibrant - small restaurants, maybe a bar. Am thinking Ko Bulon or Ko Ngai. Lipe looks a bit full-on. Anyone been to both and have a preference?

tezza said...

First of all - a big apology for the delayed answer. I have been travelling in Thailand these past 3 weeks and forgot to post this fact onto the INTRO sticky. I stay away from the web when travelling except to email home.

Um - I doubt there are any Langkawi into Thailand ferries that Google can't find. You could catch one of the regular Langkawi to Satun ferries, make your way to Pak Bara and charter a longtail out to Bulon Lae and arrive before nightfall but I don't know how cost effective this last bit is. (btw the Satun pier at Thammalang is too far from any of the islands to make a longtail a goer. I don't know that Langkawi offers small boat transfers into Thailand: Lipe is closest - well actually Tarutao is closer but doesn't have any immigration facilities. Neither does Bulon Lae).
I think you would be looking at an extra 3 hours or so to get to one of the longtail departure points for Ngai via Trang so that may not work too well off the aircraft.

Ngai is similar to Kradan and probably a touch more vibrant. Bulon Lae is a nice laid back island but is unlike most others I can think of. Lipe DOES have some laid back areas. Ko Muk is a kind of combination of all.

RetroMama said...

Hi, this is a great blog! I am struggling to decide which Malaysian island to visit. We are backpackers with a young child, so low budget but no dorms. Up to R160 absolute max, would prefer closer to R100. We,re looking for somewhere quiet and laid back , and although we,d rather avoid party places, we dont want anywhere toonstuffy and middle-aged. Nice beach with nice powdery soft sand and shallow water for my bubba. Not into diving, but mat do some snorkeling, but its certainly not a priority. We,re stuck between the perhentians, kapas, tioman and maybe redang. We want somewhere that,s not too difficult to get to from the mainland. You're the expert, so is there anywhere that comes to mind? Any suggestion would be most welcome as I,m going round in circles and driving myself nuts!!

tezza said...

First of all a big apology for the tardy answer - been super busy since I got home and forgot THE FORUM.
I reckon Kapas would fit the bill. It is easiest to access from the mainland, not busy away from Malaysian holidays and weekends, doesn't attract the older crowd, has the powdery white sand, clear water, some nice shallow areas off the beach and okay snorkelling.
Having said that, parts of all the other places satisfy most of those asks too.

Gill said...


You are single handedly challenging Trip Advisor for lower Southeast Asia supremacy. Thank you for the detailed and nuanced insight. I almost feel guilty asking for some tips, considering how much info you already put up.

Here's the scenario:

* Arriving to Bangkok Area (Aug 3 to 6/7) --> Chiang Mai and North (Aug7/8 to 12/13) --> Beachtime???? --> Bangkok (Aug 21&22)

My girlfriend are looking for an island/coast area that prioritizes physical beauty (sea, karsts, jungle, caves) and the option to go both beach bungalow or mid-price villas ($40-65/night). From my research it seems that the spots below offer a nice balance and have good beaches facing east to minimize "wet" season syndrome:

*Ao Nang/South Railay with trips around the area.
*Trang area with focus on Ko Muk/Libong/Lanta.

For some reason Ko Tao/Samui just seems like there's less flexibility and the rep of Samui is so intimidating in terms of crowds and nonsense.

Open to your recommendations and if there is a final kicker, whichever area has best food options.
Thanks so much.
- Gill

Patrick Baldwin said...

Hi Tezza!!! I'm in desperate need of advice on a 2 week Thailand honeymoon. The first half will certainly be Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I want the second half to be island hopping. Please, please provide an island hopping recommendation for 6-7 days!!! East or West? Which islands? There is so much information and so many differing opinions my head is going to explode and I may have a nervous breakdown. Please help! We want beautiful, gorgeous islands as well as partying. Please help! Also, the time of year is negotiable we're open for suggestions!

tezza said...

OOPS - been travelling in Spain for over a month and forgot to put a notice on this board. Many apologies.

Gill, for "physical beauty (sea, karsts, jungle, caves) and the option to go both beach bungalow or mid-price villas ($40-65/night)" I reckon Railay or the Trang islands of Kradan or Ngai would fit the bill. One caveat is that it is wet season that side, but I have travelled often in wet season and have always had plenty of sun and a good holiday.
For your kicker - I think you are likely to find better food choices at Railay or nearby Ao Nang. But I'm no gourmet - give me a club sandwich and I think I'm king.
It is drier on the Samui/Tao side, but yeah, the landscape isn't as good. If the weather worries you, the east coast of Phangan is probably the go - Thong Nai Pan has the other variety you are after and the landscape isn't bad.

Wow, your question is almost too open. As you suggest, there are so many options.
Okay, somewhere romantic with the option of partying. Maybe Viking resort on Phi Phi (flashpacker/lower midrange) going into town for partying - and then you could island hop to one or more of Lanta, Jum. Railay. This is a late Nov into May option for that area's dry season.
For the other part of the year - a near Had Rin resort (going into that town for for the partying). I reckon Sanctuary Resort at Had Tien is pretty romantic and their more expensive bungalows are pretty nice. Nothing wrong with their cheaper ones too.
You could then coastal-hop up to Thong Nai Pan for a quieter Had Rin type experience or to Bottle Beach for total cool, and then if time allows on to one of the beaches at Ko Tao. Ko Nangyuan is totally romantic but some of the cheaper beaches on mainland Tao are pretty nice.

Petra Miholova said...

Hello Tezza,

We really love your pages. What a great job. We visited Surin Islands twice (Dec and Jan). We did that after the bleach but still liked it very much. Nice and quiet place (2nd beach)to spend family holiday. Our son (2years) could be running or swimming in a shade any time of the day. This year we would like to do something very similar but in March or April. What do you think of the weather? Or we were thinking if there is any other place similar to this? It does not have to be only Thailand. Perhaps is there anything like this somewhere else? Most important is shade most of the day, quiet place, not expensive with own tent, nice and with not a troublesome access as we would be travelling with 2 kids this time:-) And some snorkelling nearby would be great. As one would be babysitting and the other swimming.
Your suggestion would be very helpfull.
Take care,
Petra and Marek

tezza said...

Wow, I've been checking this page for months, no questions and then all of a sudden this somewhat dated one appears. Maybe Google Blogger has issues. Maybe it's me.
Belatedly: March in the Andaman usually has good dry season weather.
My Surins expert ATV recently contacted and said the coral and fish are no better and there are fewer regulars this yeaar.
I think Ko Rok out of Trang/Lanta is as nice as the Surins, plenty of shade and had the best coral and fish I've seen in Thailand when I visited last Nov/Dec. See my report via THE INDEX.
Access out of Lanta is much the same - via speedboat. I think you can organise cheaper slower transport out of Trang.

Kim Schafer said...

Hi, i hope you still check these posts? 4 of us are researching going to Phi Phi for a week, 2 of us have been there before. i have 2 questions i hope you can help. one, my hubby thinks it would be nice to stay at the west end of town (a place called Twin With A Fan in Paradise !) even the name scares me. i prefer the look of Viking myself, even before i read your Excellent blog. can you give me some info on the far West side of the peer accommodation - any other info. it looks noisy to me - i will hate that. and , 2 , - to estimate a budget, i cannot find a price for a kayak hire !! if you can help please. Great Blog!! Thank you

tezza said...

Hi Kim, sorry abt not checking this section more frequently - there has been no question for months and so I've got a bit slack.

I checked TWIN WITH A FAN IN PARADISE - seems it is one of the places adjacent the old dam site in the EAST part of town - I think a property which has been there for some time but has been renamed.
If I'm going to stay in town, this is my favorite area. However I don't think it is as good as VIKING, but then I'm a VIKING kind of guy.
And yeah, you can get a bit of noise up around the dam which drifts up from the party venues along the beach, but I have never thought this a serious problem. The area around the dam is quiet in itself, unless someone has set up a disco etc since I last visited - not too likely: it's not the best location for a disco, bar or pub.

A suggestion - why not split your week 4 days/3days between THE DAM and VIKING?

Can't help you with cost of kayak hire. Never done it.

magdaicez said...

Dear Tezza
Love the site! Great job! I plan to visit Thailand this November and looking for beach for first timers I will bring:) I love Phangan which would be my choice normally, but not for November ??We will Travel from Khao Sok, so the place should be within reasonable acces. I considered Khao Lak, Phayam, phuket, krabi neighbourhood doesnt matter. The problem is people Want to stay at white powdery beach with crystal water without hords of people and or ruining their budget. I had been to Lanta already Khao Lak and they are not to compare to Phangan. Is the bufflo bay bay beach phayam close to Phangan beaches. Best phuket and Krabi beaches are extremally crowded. I didnt like Lanta Long beach somehow, as well Khao Laks Bang Niang, we've been to in the past. Help please ..

tezza said...

Sorry for the delayed response - been travelling in Bali and I stay away from computers when travelling.
I agree that you are more likely to get rain etc at Phangan around November than most other times.
You ask for a "white powdery beach with crystal water without hords of people and or ruining their budget."...easily accessed from Khao Sok. The whitest most powdery beaches with clear water are the 3 main camping beaches at the Similans and Surins. But they do tend to be popular with both over-nighters and day trippers and I'm not sure what your attitude is to camping. National Park Bungalows are available at or near most of the camping beachesthe beaches, but don't tend to be great value. Maybe if shared, cost becomes more reasonable.
Buffalo Bay's beach from memory is pretty white in the unwet sections (flat profile means a lot is wet by the tide). I don't think you will find the water super clear - you need to be further away from coastal rivers for this.
I remember some of the mid-north and northern west coast beaches on Ko Koh Khao were pretty white and certainly uncrowded - but this island is a bit of a mystery and I can't recall a definite spot to recommend a resort or similar.
Hope you find somewhere nice.

tezza said...


Christophe Smee said...

Hello Tezza, I hope you are enjoying North Queensland? I'm more than glad to see that you are still active! Amazing work and dedication :) So maximum respect to you. I'm sure you've advised me in the past....

I will be travelling to Thailand for 3 weeks - leaving the UK on 22nd July. Could you/anybody please give me some info on the best place(s) to visit during the end of July/early August for decent weather, nice beach, low budget, not too busy.

I've been fortunate enough to have been able to visit Thailand and many other countries in SEA countless times over the years. I even spent around a year and a half living and working in Viet Nam, so I do realise it will be the wet season. I would usually visit an Island on the Andaman coast for what I'm looking for, yet I know they will be WET WET WET! From the information I'm aware of, Hua Hin would be the safest bet weather wise.. Yet, after having researched a little, it seems a bit too busy/expensive for what I'm looking for. Also, the beach doesn't seem to be too great, and I really enjoy swimming in the Ocean.

I'm just looking for somewhere away from any crowds with the best chance of good weather. I've visited some of the islands in the Gulf (Samui, Phan Gan, Tao, Samet) and was hoping to try somewhere new. My favourite place that I've visited on my travels has to be Koh Phayam in Ranong Province, which ironically, is the wettest place of all during the rainy season.

I enjoy travelling around, so I do't expect to be spending the whole 3 weeks in one place.

Any help much appreciated.

Many thanks.


Fish said...

Hello Tezza

I am going to be in Thailand in August. We are planning on going to Pai, Chang Mai, Koh Samui, Koh Pangan, Ko Tau, Krabi, Phi Phi, Phuket, Bangkok in that order.

First, do you feel that is a good plan, two days at each place, except 3 days in Pai and Chang Mai.

Second, do you recommend staying at any one place longer and skipping another place.

Lastly, I love adventures, less partying and staying at the beach all day. Any recommendations? Where are there safe adventures, hiking, waterfall jumping, kayaking, nature, etc. Thank you for you help.

tezza said...


Wow CHRIS, missed your departure date. Nevertheless the following may help:
The southern Gulf tends to miss much of the mid year rain - its true wet season usually runs late Sept into Jan. One of my favourite locations this time of year is on one of the many small less visited beaches on the east coast of Phangan. Plenty of good value accommodation to pick from there.
Note too that the relative dryness continues down the east coast of Malaysian and you can find good value accommodation on the islands like the Perhentians, Kapas and the Tioman.
Bali and islands to its east also enjoy a mid year dry season. No shortage of quiet, value places there.
Note I don't think the Andaman is a write off. I've spent many wet season days on Phuket and too its south - always had enough sunshine for a good beach holiday, never lost a full day to rain. But yeah, I think the NORTH Andaman is a bit more risky.

FISH - hopefully this info will reach you before departure:
I assume your itinerary is based on being a first time visitor who wants to see as much of the country's touristy attractions as possible. If so, I reckon it is pretty good.
Many people will tell you you have too many places and too little time in each. However as a visitor who has always had limited time and wanted to see as much as possible, I've found 2 days in one location can give a pretty good idea of the place, PROVIDING you are very active.
One caveat - some of your locations are pretty widespread: have you factored in travelling time? Often you will lose the best part of the day getting from one to another.
Places you could bypass? - well the Andaman places will take a bit of time reaching from the southern Gulf and are in wet season August, but if you read my answer to CHRIS immediately above, that is no reason to defer a visit, particularly if you haven't seen these places.
I think you will be able to find your wanted adventure stuff in all these locations.

David said...

Hi Tezza -

Holy crap, your site is awesome. I've spent a couple hours reading up here and in some other places for our trip, and have finally narrowed our island choices down. We'll be in Chiang Mai for a few days then Bangkok for a long weekend, and then have from December 5th-10th to hop some islands. We are price flexible and would prefer to pay a little extra for a flight when it would get us 4-5 more hours at our location. Currently we're hoping to hop from Koh Phi Phi (5-6th) to Koh Lanta (7th-8th) to Koh Lipe (9th-10th). My questions: 1) easiest / fastest way to Phi Phi from Bangkok - should we fly to Phuket and ferry to Phi Phi or is there a faster way? 2) Can we book a multi-stop tip with Tiger Line Ferry between those 3 locations? 3) Is there a way to find the approximate travel times (or ferry time tables) between the locations? 4) I need to get to Kuala Lumpur from Koh Lipe - would the best bet be to ferry to Langkawi and then catch a flight to KL? Thanks very much in advance!

tezza said...


1) I think flying to Phuket or Krabi and then jumping a ferry for Phi Phi would be about the same. Ferry trip and cost abt equal.Advantage of Phuket is more flights, possibly cheaper. Advantage of Krabi - airport closer to pier - maybe 40 mins tops whereas Phuket may be 90 mins in the morning peak. I'm assuming you are flying in from Bangkok the same day - needs to be an early flight, ferries from both places start early - around 0830-0900 from memory.
btw I always arrive in Phuket the night before the ferry. But if you are pressed for time....
2) One of my TRIP REPORT contributors said she used a multi-stop TIGERLINE ticket although I've never been able to find reference on the website. But I haven't looked for a few years.
3) Google will come up with TIGERLINE'S schedule and pricing plus other ferries. ANDAMAN ISLAND HOPPING was always a good source of ferry info. I'm sure there are links to these websites on my various island pages
4) Yeah I think the best way to reach KL from Lipe would be via Langkawi. An alternative would be ferry into Pak Bara, minibus to Hat Yai, taxi to airport (out of town although the minibus may call in) and flight to KL. Latter probably cheaper but longer.

The overall strategy of your plan is a bit iffy - trouble is just getting to the next island will take a half day (or the best part of a full one in the case of Lanta-Lipe) which doesn't leave you a lot of time on the island itself.
I'd be tempted to fly into Krabi, grab the shuttle to Ao Nang and longtail it across to Railay. Given an early flight this will get you on the beach by mid-day.
Next, grab the direct ferry from Ao Nang (which also picks up off Railay if you are staying there in this busy period) to either Phi Phi or Lanta, then the TIGERLINE on to Lipe.
Or to have even more time to spend at a place, do Krabi-Lanta-Phi Phi then back to Phuket to fly to KL. Lipe is nice but it takes a hell of a time to get there.

Andrei Markov said...

Hi Tezza, brilliant blog.
I read with interest your posts.
The information here is useful for thousands of travelers.

My name is Andrei Markov-Andro.
I am a modest blogger with interests mainly in the areas of kayaking, snorkeling, trekking and camping.

I'm writing to you for a little help or a little co-operation.
I'm doing a search engine for beaches.
The name of the project is "BeachRankings".

BeachRankings is:
- A system for precise evaluation of any beach using 15 criteria;
- A database with detailed information on beaches worldwide;
- An engine for effectively filtering beaches by location and criteria.

The project is still at an early stage of development.
It has full functionality as a search engine.
The problem is that the database is very small.
If it can be filled with several thousand beaches, it will be useful for many people.
With only a few clicks, they will be able to find the desired beach.

I keep the quality of the beaches evaluations.
I am afraid at least in the opening stage to open the database for the general public. For example, for different large facebook groups.
Looking for contact with competent bloggers like you.
Together with competent bloggers like you, we can make a relatively large and quality database.
Any competent blogger who give ratings to a beach, can put a link to his or her post.
Everyone benefits from this cooperation.

The system is convenient for comparative analysis.
At any number of beaches. By any number of criteria - from 2 to 15.
A useful tool for writing articles.
I hope it is useful to you personally.
Thank you in advance if you decide to respond to my request.

With respect:
/Andrei Markov/

tezza said...

Sorry for the delay answering – was travelling offline for a long time and on return have been so busy I haven’t even had a chance to update my blog.

I’m afraid it’s this LACK OF TIME which prevents me contributing to your interesting project.

- I would not feel competent ranking beaches against criteria without revisiting them. At 72 this won’t happen for many and my memory is a bit hazy on hundreds of earlier beach visits.
- Some criteria would downgrade beaches I like: for instance my 2 favourite beaches have VERY DIFFICULT ACCESS and I’m sure “ACCESS” is one of your criteria.
- Sometimes I realise my findings may not be all that reliable. For instance I was completely underwhelmed by HAMEO BEACH on MAUI despite guide-book raves. Later I saw some world beach expert had rated it in his TOP 10 World Beaches. TOP 10! So maybe my visit late on a not so nice day did not show it at its best.

Despite not contributing, I wish you well with your project and wait with interest to see it once online.

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