Thursday, December 14, 2006





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If you have any questions, wish to write some info or just want to shoot the bull, pleases post them here.

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..





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Catriona said...

I have read all through the blog which is very helpful but need something more specific. I know this is a long way out but I like to plan ahead. Will be arriving in Bangkok from London at 3.15pm 10th September 2008. Want to stay at Ao Toh Ko bungalows on Phi Phi. Thought best bet is to fly to Phuket and will arrive 7.40pm. Will need to overgnight in Phuket. First question can you recommend a convinient place to stay overnight before catching 8.30am ferry to Phi phi?
On our return the flight leaves Bangkok for Sydney at 6.10pm 15th September 2008. Do you think it is reasonable to get 9am ferry from Phi Phi arrive in Phuket 10.30am then Flight from Phuket to Bangkok 1.30pm arrive 2.55pm in time for 6.10 Flight out of Bangkok?

Want to have as much time in Phi phi as possible but not undoo all that relaxing by having to rush around to get to the airport. This is a holiday to recover from our 7 months backpacking RTW as we return to work 17th September 2008.

tezza said...

Hey catriona, I posted a newpaper article I wrote specifically on Ao Toh Koh here just yesterday - have you seen it? I'm gunna add some photos when I can figure how.
Okay, you are a backpacker so you probably won't mind Phuket Backpackers' right in the middle of Phuket town - spotless, free internet, free basic breakfast, good travel desk for your Phi Phi tickets - the free shuttle to the pier will pick you up at the door. Dorms are a bit exxy at 250baht (last March) but overall I thought it pretty good. Check - there is a link in my link list right hand side of the page.

Coming back, there is one point. Sometimes bad weather cancels or delays ferries. It has never happened to me (a cancelled ferry) - but in my August visit the weather was bad and the seas up - the outward ferry took an extra hour.
I reckon I would catch the afternoon ferry the day before, get the free shuttle across to one of the beaches from the pier and check the place out. I suggest Kata Yai, one of the nicer beaches - Poolside Hotel there has ridiculously low prices in low season, gives you a bit of luxury, and the beach nearby at the northern end of Kata is real nice and has some great beachfront budget restaurants against the headland.
If around $aud35 including HUGE buffet breakfast is too much, there are some good budget options you can post for in the beach areas.

Shaz said...

Hi Tezza,

Your blog is really informative and very handy! 4 of us going to Thailand for 5 weeks in Dec..thinking Chang Mai for trek and cookery course, then maybe down to Kho Chang (Andaman) for cilled out Christmas..over to Bottle Beach for New Yrs (full moon) and back to SW coast...know it'll be quiet, but would cashew report be best option do you think in terms of having some other people around? how long would you recommend staying? Any other nearby places/sights you'd recommend? can you fly from Chang Mai to Ranong? any help would be greatle appreciated!!

tezza said...

Hi shaz.
From what I saw on little Chang, Cashew seemed liveliest. Pretty attractive looking place in a nice section of the beach - get to see sunsets.
How long to stay? Well that's an individual call. I moved on after about 4 days because I wanted to check Ko Phayam just to the south and didn't have a lot of time. Phayam is worth the visit - nice island, a bit more active than little Chang.
Last I heard, Ranong airport was not operating, but that was some time back.

tezza said...

Chris the Hat Yao pier is about 35-40 km south of Trang, but the miniubus from the minibus station on the main road north of town center meanders about and takes an hour, give or take. I think it leaves on the hour, but don't hold me to this, and departure times seemed a bit flexible if not many passengers were waiting, or a bus full was available before the departure time.
I have never used Trang airport and don't know how far out of town it is.
I reckon to be safe you will need a taxi from the airport. Not sure of cost.

tezza said...

I just edited an extraneous comment and mangaged to edit Chris' question at the same time.Duh!
From memory, Chris said he was flying into Trang at 11.20 and needed to catch the 1.00pm Lipe ferry out of Hat Yao.
Chris, please repost if I got it wrong.

chriscorbett said...

Thanks Tezza - I'll assume that taxis are readiliy available at the airport and just have to pay the going rate.

BTW Do you know anything about Castaway Resort?....its new and I think on Sunrise beach (might be wrong). Its that a good spot...I want to be able to go out fro a few drinks in the evening without a 20 min hike?

Thanks again

tezza said...

I think that is an excellent location. I just checked the photos on their website - the place is located towards the southern end of Andaman Beach, not too far from the Viewpoint place I stayed at last trip. They actually show one of Viewpoint's twin bays on an early page.
There are a number of bungalow restaurants for a drink along Andaman - the most distant would be Mountain Resort's cool beach level bar at 15 minutes.
The track leading from mid-Andaman across to Pattaya Beach has several places, starting probably less than 10 minutes walk.
Pattaya has the best selection of nice places to hang at night - maybe 15 minutes from your spot.

chriscorbett said...

Great..thanks for the info Tezza.

iamsiam said...

Hi Tezza,

Can you please provide some suggestion on what I should do with my trip. I originally talked to SPB speedboat club and they confirmed that they would run the boat from Lipe to Lanta everyday. Now they changed their mind and only run the boat on even days. Good on them, I planned my trip to travel on odd days!

My plan is to travel to Koh Lipe (4 nights - haven't booked nor paid for.), Koh Bulon (2 nights - booked and paid but I can change dates), Koh Ngai (booked and paid and I can change dates), and then Koh Lanta (booked and paid but I can't change dates).

As mentioned, the problem is I can't change my booking at Koh Lanta and I've already paid for the accommodation so changing my plan is out of question. I was suggested to start my trip at Koh Bulon and travel back to inland before getting on a ferry to Lipe from inland and then go to Koh Ngai after Koh Lipe with TigerLine, I guess. From what I see on Tigerline website, it seems to be such a long trip travelling from Koh Lipe to Koh Ngai using their ferry. Is there any other company/speedboat that I can use apart from SPB speedboat club and Tigerline? What's my option here? Please help I'll be travelling in early Feb'08.


tezza said...

I don't know of any other boat operator between Lipe and Bulon, and then north.
However, why not contact Tigerline and ask if they will drop you at Bulon and then pick you up again to travel north? I know Bulon is not on their schedule, but neither is Ko Laoliang, and the guy who runs the adventure website there says Tigerline will service his island if asked.
Bulon is not really way off a direct route from Lipe to the Trang islands, and if you offer an extra 100 or so, I think they will be happy to oblige.

There used to be a slow ferry from Bulon to Lipe which ceased running last year. It may be worthwhile checking say Poh Bungalow's website on my Lipe page to see if their ferry timetable has this ferry running again. Poh tends to keep this timetable up to date.
Note too that back in the old days people would travel between these islands by longtail. It would now be expensive and I would only do it on calm windless days.

BTW, I reckon Lipe to Ngai on a ferry would be way preferable to the slog back to Pak Bara and then the minibus trip to Trang, the minibus to the Trang coast pier then then the longtail out to Ngai - for which you may have to wait til next morning.And way cheaper.

Natalie said...

Hello..please can you recommend somewhere cheap to stay in the railey beach area and on koh lanta in the long beach area...?


tezza said...

Natalie, in high season Railay is doing it tough for cheap places. You could try Ya Ya on East Railay, and Diamond Cave Resort just a bit further along the beach still has some cheaper bungalows, I believe.
If you walk uphill past the Diamond Cave itself from East Railay, Railay Cabana and Highland are cheaper places.
Adjacent Ton Sai has a much better range and the best value in the area is on Hat Ton Son, but that is about 5km north of Railay.
I give more detail of all these on my Krabi page.
It's years since I stayed on Long Beach but I believe Lanta Palm Beach still has a few of their older bungalows. Nice place.

Village Fox said...


Spent Oct,Nov, and early dec. in thailand and had the time of my life thanks to your blog.... also due to the rnr achieved a miracle and avoiding one op! So many thanks and much luck your way for 2008 - go raibh mile maith agat - a bit of irish!

I am on crutches, and am off again for some more miracles... and seek some advice - koh bulon leh looks great - but may be a bit difficult - ie buying resources for basic bungalows and steep inclines on the island? I spent 6 weeks on lipe - and it was just about what i can handle. Any suggestions - into quiet island life with the option for a few beers in the eve and some food. Also - when does the season on the islands in this area slow down - or is that asking how long is a piece of string with the rate of changes in this part of the world?

Many thanks for any time and info and you should be knighted by the thai tourist board lol.

tezza said...

Thanks for the feedback, fox.
The area around Bulone Resort is quite flat and there are supplies in a little store about 200m west near the schoolhouse and oval. Bulones's bungalows were a bit steep in price, but Schoolhouse Bungalows are good value (but tend to book out) and there are a couple of cheaper places just as you start the steep climb over to the main village areas.
Bulone Resort's food was reasonably priced.
Ko Bulon was not overcrowded in March although there was a bit of pressure on Bulone's bungalows and Schoolhouse. I'm not sure when the peak rush finishes.

I really liked Ko Sukorn Beach Resort - it's flat around this location. Maybe a bit quiet.
Ditto Ko Libong Beach Resort.
Not really anywhere close to buy supplies from outside.

Maybe you could read my Mook page and figure on something there? Charlies has a reasonable shop for supplies.

Further north, you could do a lot worse than Jum.

Tom said...

Thanks for your blog; it is really helpful as we plan our first trip. I've seen mention of private speedboat tranfers to Phi Phi for those who can't make the last/first ferries. We are trying to max our time on Phi Phi and are thinking of trying to get a late afternoon transfer to Phi Phi and/or an early morning return from/to either Phuket or Krabi airports (we can fly into either airport early afternoon, and depart 10:10 am). Can you please advise the names/contact details for any such services and approximate cost and how to book in advance? Thanks in advance for your help.

tezza said...

Tom, I've never personally used one of these, but I typed "Phi Phi speedboats" into google and got 3000+ hits. - some from Phuket and some from Krabi.
I noticed the one I checked - - is a daytourer with an early departure from Phuket which would not suit you, but a search would find an operator who would do the job.
Thorntree poster leightavel (not sure about spelling or CAPITALS) uses an outfit which also includes transfer from Phuket airport so maybe you could PM him/her (it's a husband/wife joint handle). Probably best found by typing Phi Phi into the search engine on Thorntree - they answer lots of questions on this island.

Lizzo said...

Hi Tezza - I read virtually the entire travelfish site and your blog, but I still can't make a decision. My husband and I are going to Thailand in mid-may and I'm nervous about the weather. We only have 6 days. If you were going at this time, to which island would you go - given the following preferences? (not toursity or crowded, beautiful, quiet beach, sunsets, snorkeling options, mid-range comfortable accomodations, some activity) I've been leaning toward Ko Lanta (Klong Nin and south), Sri Lanta Resort or Baan Phu Lae. I've also looked at Ko Ngai and Ko Muk. I just can't decide and since we don't have much time, I want to choose wisely. Or, is the east coast (Ko Pha Ngan) a better bet in May? Thank you so much for your help!! - Liz

tezza said...

Lizzo, the southern Gulf islands are usually drier in May - check my Wet Weather page.
Having said that, the Andaman is still usually okay - the early wet season months are usually a drier than Sept-Oct. And Sept-Oct is usually okay for travel.
If I was doing the Andaman and staying midrange and upper I would pick Ngai because it has more places, is more laid back and the main beach faces east and is sheltered from the prevailing wet season winds. I'm assuming you can't afford Sivalai on Muk - if so, go for it, gorgeous and it faces east too.
If you are budget, Muk has the bigger choice.
On Phangan, Thong Nai Pan is a lovely sheltered beach with accomm of all standards.

missmasala said...

Hi Tezza,

your blog was really useful when i was planning my thai island getaway in december. thanks to you, i found out about laoliang. it's a beautiful island and i recommend it. didn't love sleeping in tents and the food could be a touch better, but the island itself is stunning. good snorkeling, rock climbing etc.

also, we took the ferry from laoliang to ko ngai. (changing boats at the had yao pier) you can take the ferry in either direction from laoliang as long as you have the folks there call and let tigerline know ahead of time. much better than going to the mainland and minibusing. the trip itself is v. nice since you pass quite a few islands along the way.

tezza said...

Thanks for the feedback mm. I gotta get myself to Laoliang.

fishdish said...

Hi Tezza,

Your site and travelfish have been a godsend for information, thanks!

I and a friend will be travelling to Thailand in mid May. After Bangkok, Anghor Wat, Chaing Mai we want to chill for a few days on a beach. I like to snorkel, friend not so much but I think I can convince him to do some, as well as kayak and hike. I am leaning toward Tao, and was looking at staying at Thipwimarn Resort. From what I have read, they are up off the beach. How does one go about getting to some of the other beaches, particularly Mango Bay, any of the eastside beaches, and can you snorkel off Ko Nang Yuan without staying there? Relative costs, recommendations, kayak rental and hiking paths, or other places to stay would be greatly appreciated!

tezza said...

Wow, Thip is a really nice place - yep, it is off the beach, a bit further on along the cliff road from Silver Cliff where I stayed last trip. Great views along here and there will probably be a path down to the water where you can snorkel off the rocks. There is a fringing reef fairly close in along here with reasonable snorkelling.
I wouldn't be surprised if Thip didn't have a boat which could shuttle you across to Nangyuan and up to Mango Bay - if not plentiful boats to Nangyuan leave from Sairree which is the nearest beach (back towards the pier) and from the pier area itself for Nangyuan (quite a lot of daytrippers go across) - and you will be able to charter a boat around to Mango Bay. I think there may also be a track into the latter, but travelfish's map doesn't show it so it is probably a killer slope and surface wise.

If you are keen on trekking, this is the best way to get to the east coast beaches - along the roads which in a lot of cases are just dirt tracks, very steep, lots of nice tropical vegetation, some good viewpoints. I think the longest track is less than 4 km one way. I don't know of any specific trekking tracks.

I'm not sure of rates for hiring stuff, but they won't be expensive.

Other places - well I like Nangyuan Resort itself and the look of Viewpoint, but I don't think these are to the standard of Thip.
I'm not sure about other high end places on Tao.

Hope this helps.

tezza said...

I don't go near a computer when travelling except to email home, and so I won't be monitoring this site until Feb12.
If your questions are for trips after that time, go ahead a post them and I'll answer on return.

Brigitte said...

Hi Tezza,

thanks a lot for your great blog! I hope you had a good time in Thailand and are safely back.
Our trip will begin at the end of this month. I have everything ready besides the hotel in Koh Mook. I had booked the Charlie Beach through Asiarooms, but today I got the information that the beachfront bungalows are not available any more.
So I have to try to find something else for 3 nights (March 7-10).
I am afraid to go there without any reservation. If the beachfront bung. of Charlie Beach are already full (or not available at internet rates, as asiarooms put it), the other resorts might be full too.

What do you suggest?
The Sivalai is too expensive.
I don't like the bung. in the second row, so Charlie Beach is no alternative.
From what I have read, the Had Farang bung. might be nice, though basic. I don't know what basic means in detail; I would at least want a clean bung. with good toilets.
The other place that seems okay is the old Ko Muk Resort on the other side of the island. But I can't find a website or email-address. Have you got any idea how I can contact them?
Or would you suggest to go there without any reservation and try to find something when we are on spot? (We will be coming from the Thapwarin at Koh Ngai).
I would be VERY grateful for an answer!
Kind regards

tezza said...

Hi briborn.
I reckon the next best alternative to Charlies on Farang would be Sawasdee, most of which are beachfront. None of the other places are.
I don't have contact numbers for this or others - I nearly always walk in. But travelfish is a pretty good source for contact numbers - have you checked his Muk page?
Had Farang Bungalows were a bit tatty but did have attached clean bathrooms, but coming from Tahpwarin which is real nice, you may get a shock.
And having sold out to Central Property, Had Farang may not exist any more. Maybe a question on Thorntree?
In March I persoanlly would be tempted to go unbooked and check around for a suitable place - March is away from peak so there should be a fair few vacancies. You don't mention if you will be carting kids - with kids it may not be too much fun checking for a suitable bungalow.
Rubber Tree on the hillside in from the beach looked pretty nice to me.
Sorry I can't help you very much.

Brigitte said...

Hi Tezza,
thank you for your quick answer! It has been helpful, I know now better where to go and where not... I shall check travelfish for the addresses.
Kind regards

mrsteve said...

Tezza, are your characters Hansuman, Stirrer and Soonay based on real people?

tezza said...

For other readers, steve is referring to characters in my attempt at satire: Stones from the Joker in the Glass House -see index......

Crikey steve, don’t tell TheSchoolMarm you clicked on my site - you will be expelled from the CHATGROUPMAFIA post haste!

“are your characters Hansuman, Stirrer and Soonay based on real people?”
Well yes and no.

Everyone thinks HansumMan is Mr.K.
K himself is convinced - such is his ego, the whole world revolves around him.
HansumMan is actually a compilation of all the hard cases I’ve come across on travel websites and trips. It’s kinda interesting that quite a lot of HansunMan’s dialogue when he is in anti hippie/gap-yearer/budget traveller/package tourist/yada yada mode is a copy&paste of another fringe mafia member, who for some reason became the most hated contributor to Thorntree, even though he gave a heap of genuinely useful travel information, something K never did. K knows a lot about Bangkok bars and hotels, but little else.

Stirrer? If you remember, it was me, Steve259 and a bunch of other guys who’s names I forget (um Axl-Rose, those NewZillund sheep shearers?) who originally stirred the hell out of the mafia re the crap they used to carry on about.
But I never travelled with a redneck/dipstick/hard-case like HansumMan.
I know you have assumed the role of Stirrer, and I thank you for your contribution in reviving issues which certain people would prefer to remain forgotten (at the same time kemosabe, we have something to settle on yer bullshit that I was the guy suggested if people aren’t happy with Thai taxi service they do a runner - it’s gonna be a real interesting beer or 10 when we finally meet in that Manilla bar), but sorry steve, yer aint quite Stirrer. Maybe work on it, baby.

Soonay? Um, Soonay is a complete figment of my imagination. Would you believe that in 10 solo trips to LOS I’ve never hooked up with a local sweeetie?
Nevertheless, I’ve met some delightful girls travelling with other guys, so beautiful and with heaps of personality - and Soonay is a compilation of them.
Actually, Patpong Soonay was a handle I invented back in the old no-log in days of Thorntree. PS used to give the mafia heaps. xxxxx would be boasting about his sexual prowess (other readers - you got no idea how these dipsticks used to carry on) and Patpong Soonay would post in… “Yu big kidder xxxxx, I get call to yur room last week, bring along 25cm cucumber on account you ask sumfing different, and you jump out window! Yu way big sissie.”

So there you have it steve. You aint Stirrer (although if you want to step up to the part, go fer it), HansumMan is a compilation of a number of people, and Soonay is just part of my imagination.

mrsteve said...

Strewth Tez,thanks for that mate. I've been nearly crying myself to sleep worrying that people thought that I WAS Stirrer!
Mind you, it didn't help when you gave me that sig line on TT. Remember? "I like reading mrsteve's stuff etc etc, but I gotta say he is one of the biggest stirrers on the TT"?

Anyway, if not MrK, who did become the most hated contributor on TT?

"Would you believe that in 10 solo trips to LOS I've not been with a local sweetie?" Well, if you say so. (Maybe that photo that MrK posted was really you after all)!

Am planning my next trip now, so which bar in Manila shall we meet up in for that beer or 10?

mrsteve said...

P.S. was unable to log onto your "lightweight pulp-fiction novel", as my computer has caterogized it as "Substance abuse and hate speech"!

tezza said...

Hur hur hur - looks like the net-nanny mrs steve installed on yer computer to stop research on Russian teenage girl sites is an over-achiever.

Morag said...

Thanks for the info Tezza - your site is very helpful. We are a family with 2 kids (10&12)arriving in Phuket in late June for 3 weeks. We have some misgivings about the wet season - we like snorkelling but the visibility and conditions might make that difficult. So we are trying to decide between a sheltered east coast on Andaman side(such as Phi Phi, Koh Yao Noi or near Krabi) or going over to Koh Tao (less rain but further to travel, busier and more expensive).
A lot of rooms will not fit 4 people so we may have to pay for 2 rooms. Our budget is around 2000 baht flashpacker style but if the beach is dirty or too rough we will need a pool. Good cheap food nearby is essential.
Any thoughts most welcome!

tezza said...

Hi Morag, I think you have the trade-off between the Andaman and the southern Gulf in mid-year pretty well worked out - only you can say which has the most net value.
I do think worries about the Andaman mid-year are overstated. Your best option may be the east coast of Phi Phi - that Relax (?) place just north of Ao Toh Koh gets good reports as a flash-packer, and Toh Koh resort itself is pretty neat but a bit down market from the above. Snorkelling off the beach is good all along here.
Railay has good deals low season, including places with pools. I'm sure I saw Sunrise Tropical at around 1000 last low season on one of the booking sites. The beaches are more exposed here but the bungalow places tend to keep them clear of flotsam etc.
Snorkelling off the beach is not great here, but the daytrip snorkelling is okay.

Lizzo said...

Hi Tezza,

My husband and I are going to Thailand in mid-May. We're planning to go to Bangkok (3 nights) Koh Muk (Sivalai for 5 nights) and then to Koh Phi Phi (Paradise Resort for 4 nights). I have couple questions...
1. Is it ridiculous to try and go to Phi Phi in May? Is it even possible to get from Muk to Phi Phi by boat? What would you do? I love the idea of seeing Phi Phi Ley and the Phang Nga bay, etc. Should we just stay around Trang and move to Ngai or Libong?
2. Approx. how much should we budget per day for food and drink? Snorkeling trips to Rok, Kraden and the Waen & Chueak islands?
Thanks for your help!

tezza said...

Lizzo, it aint ridiculous to visit PP in May, but I think a lot of the boats from the Trang islands northwards shut down sometime in April.
This means you will have to go back to the mainland, which will eat at least a day of your precious time getting to PP. Maybe more if you arrive in Krabi too late for the afternoon ferry. I don't even know if they will run an afternoon ferry in low season.
I'd be tempted to hop a longtail from Muk over to Ngai - Thapwarin and it's neighbour (Coconut?) are considerably nicer than Paradise Resort and the beach is a nicer wet season beach.
Note too I have never seen Phang Nga trips offered from PP - Phuket, Railay and of course Phang Nga town all offer these. Plus Khao Lak of all places.
I travel budget and haven't done those trips. Snorkelling trips are usually around 300 but I'm sure I've seen Rok Nok at a lot more.
I usually get by on $us35 a day on EVERTHING once on the ground, but once again that is staying and eating bottom budget.

Lizzo said...

Thanks, Tezza. Is it possible to rent a speedboat from Phi Phi to Ko Muk?

If not, I think we'll just play it by ear - either stay longer on Muk, hop over to Ngai or Libong, or maybe Krabi. I think I'd rather go to Muk than Phi Phi if I had to choose. Although, I'll be sad not to see Phi Phi Ley. Thanks again!

tezza said...

Lizza, I'm sure you will be able to rent a speedboat from PP to Muk or most other places within a few hours. It's just a matter of cost.

DeStress said...

Hi Tezza,

I found your blog really informative.

I am stressed out at work and am taking 2 weeks off (19 March - 3 April) to come to Thailand from the UK. I've never been before and I'm planning to spend most of my time on a quiet beach doing nothing, but I also like nature and walking.

I'm prepared to spend a bit more than the backpacker rates for a nice comfortable place, and also somewhere where I can find the local cuisine (I love spicy food) and get a daily massage too. As I said, I need to de-stress.

I'm torn between 3 places - Ko Maak (near Cambodia), Ko Tao (South Gulf) and Ko Sukorn (Deep South Andaman). Which ones of these do you recommend? Sukorn sounds really nice but concerned about rain in March.

tezza said...

I reckon all 3 islands would fit the bill.
I'm at a bit of a disadvantage because I stay budget, aint a gourmet (all Thai food tastes good to me) and I never worry about massages so don't note which places offer them. But just about any midrange place will.

But one suggestion might be Ao Kao resort on Mak - they are flashpacker and up, have a good restaurant on a lovely not busy beach and there is access to two reasonably nearby restaurants for some variety at Lazy Day and Island Hut. Actually there is another - right next to Ao Kao to the west is a new high end place I didn't get the name of and is not yet on KO

Tao is a great island - busier than the others but some of the east coast and south west bays are laid back.

I wouldn't worry about rain late March on Sukorn - I have spent 3 late March-early Aprils in the Andaman, got lots of sun. This year is a La Nina year and certainly seems a bit wetter in dry season than normal - but I still wouldn't worry.

tezza said...

Oh yeah, keep in mind the sand on Sukorn is grey-brown. Didn't worry me but could upset others.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tezza,

Sorry to ask yet ANOTHER question bout weather!!!! My fiance and I would love to visit Thailand in early September for our honeymoon. Of course, we want the usual - massages, sunshine, quietish beaches, easy access to local markets/eateries. I am freaked out about floods, monsoons etc though... could you please advise the safest place/s to stay (we have about 10 nights), keeping in mind we also have a budget.

Thankyou so much! Ness

tezza said...

Vanessa, statistically and anecdotally the driest beach place to be early Sept is the Southern Gulf - Samui, Phangan, Tao.
Their wet season is usually Oct into Jan.
I have been there once at that time, got lots of sun, some good short storms one day in two.
Ko Samet is said to be reasonably dry most years at that time too.
If I had 10 nights I'd go to the southern Gulf and maybe split my time between Phangan and Tao.

tezza said...

Attention folks - I'll be travelling in Japan until April 1 and will only go near a computer for email. If your questions don't need to be answered before them, go ahead and post them below.

kohnaka said...

For a description of the rainy season on the east coast of Phuket (Phang Nga Bay area) which is not subjected to the strong winds and high seas of the west coast, see

Village Fox said...

Tezza, hope this finds u well... seeking your advice - its the girl on crutches - again... What island would u recommend for last week of march first few weeks of april? Flatness being an issue - also good see with mooring ropes for excercises and reasonable budget (flashpacker?) Thanks once again :)(have done koh - lipe, sokurn, bulon lae, and samui - prefer the quiet rather than the party islands - go raibh maitha gat..

tezza said...

Fox, this reply is a bit late - I have been travelling Japan and avoid computers except to email.
But for a nice laid back island with plenty of good value places to chose from you could do worse than Ko Jum - all the southern half is flat.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tezza,
Your blog has been in my favourites for a few months now. I love reading it because it is like being at the beach behind my desk!
But your blog also caused a little problem, we can't choose between Thailand or Indonesia for our honeymoon this summer! Both sound amazing! We've been to Thailand-mainland and loved it. But July won't be a very good time to be on the islands or for diving I thought. Indonesia ( Lombok/Gilis) will be the right time but tickets are extortiately expensive.
We normaly backpack around the world but want it a little more comfortable this time. Could you shine your light on the matter as your blog caused my confusion? ;-)
Thank you,
take care Nina

tezza said...

Nina, the first thing to note is that the southern Gulf islands - Samui/Phangan/Tao usually have lots of sunshine mid-year - their wet season is different from other Thai areas, normally from Oct into Jan.
Tao is THE diving island for Thailand.
Having said that, Lombok/Gilis are great areas to visit and in dead set dry season in July. Trouble is I've only stayed low budget so can't comment on any of the more upmarket places to stay. I think there is a sublink to Lombok Lovers website on my Lombok page - there are some Gilis residents who contribute and the website owner lives in Kuta Lombok.
Indo is more expensive to access from Australia too, surprising because it is way closer than Thailand. Depending on where you are coming from, it may be worth investigating flying into Singapore or KL and jumping an AirAsia flight to Bali. I don't think any budget carriers fly into Lombok directly.
Note too that the east coast of pensinsula Malaysia has its dry season mid year and Tioman and the Perhentians are great island locations. I'm off to Tioman again in August.

fm2002 said...

Contemplating a trip to Trang and than hopping over to Muuk, Ngai and Krandan next week. Priorities; nice beach, aircon beachfront bungalow, flashpacker budget. Would like to do some snorkeling with my girlfriend that's VERY new to the sport. Maybe also some kayaking. Would appreciate your help on short list of places to stay on each island. Also in what order would be best.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tezza, thnx for the quick reply; I will definately check out your (appreciated)suggestions! Take care and happy travels, Nina

tezza said...

Thanks Nina, have a good trip.

fm, with a flashpacker budget the place most likely on Ngai is Ko Hai Villa - except I am not sure about the aircon. I stayed in the cheapest fan huts.
With low season sliding in it may be worth checking Coco Huts' and Thapwarin's websites to see if they have discounted their prices to flashpacker level.
On Kradan, the only beachfront place is the newly named Kradan Island Resort - the old Ko Kradan Resort which then changed its name to CocoHut resort which is the name on my blog link until I get around to changing it.
Wally's Paradise Lost is inland, and when I was there had no aircon huts. Not sure of what is happening here - a post a few months back said Wally had sold out.
On Muk, a flashpacker budget will get you into Charlies. Note Muk is not noted for snorkelling off the beach, unlike Ngai and Kradan.

Order of visit is a bit tricky. I would be tempted to take advantage of Kradan Island's way discounted transfer from Trang to get me into the area (if they are still offering it) and then transfer to the others via longtail. Note you may be able to transfer between islands via the Tigerline ferry or the Trang island daytrip boats if they are still running. A lot of services close down after high season.

tezza said...

When I was updating the Kradan page I noticed a comment from Click4Gap that Wally hadn't sold out. Good news.
Hell, Click4Gap's message had been there a month - I gotta check individual pages more often!

rezinka said...

Hi tezza,
thanks for a great blog and lots of useful info.
I am fully aware that family trips are not exactly your cup of tea but I still hope for some advice from you. We are planning to take our 3 yo to Thailand in Feb/Mar 09 and we would love to spend couple of days/weeks on both coasts. As rather experienced travellers we definitely do want to avoid anything like Phuket or Pattaya. Ko Maak and Lipe seem OK to us. We´ve never been to any of them so we would like to know your opinion or any other ideas. Thanks in advance!

tezza said...

Hi rezinka. Maak and Lipe are real nice islands. I have two reservations;
- you couldn't get 2 islands much further apart, one in the far east near Cambodia - the other in the far south-west near Malaysia. The typical 3yo doesn't travel too well, unless they are loaded into an aircraft (You can fly Trat-Hat Yai or Trang changing at Bangkok).
- Lipe seems to be the flavour of the times. Reports from this high season say it has been very crowded. It has consistently been the 2nd or 3rd most viewed island on my blog. For the first 16 days of this month, when you would think things are slowing for low season (most of Lipe closes down soon) it has only been beaten for views by Phi Phi - 358 hits, Railay/Krabi - 259, then Lipe - 211 easily beating Phangan - 177.
Now I reckon March would be okay, but maybe you would find Feb a bit busy. Even when crowded it would not be a Pattaya or Patong.

Less crowded Andaman islands easier to reach include little Ko Chang, Phayam and Jum. Closer to Lipe are Ngai, Kradan, Libong, Lipe and Bulon Lae.

rezinka said...

Hi tezza,

thanks a lot for your comments! Those have completely cleared the situation. We would definitely fly between those two coasts since that would be the final cherry on our 2 month SE Asia adventure and I assume that we will probably need some relaxation by then:-)). Anyway, now I´m starting to feel more prone to Jum as I´m getting highly positive comments on it.

I´m really happy to have discovered your blog because - as far as I can see - you are THE expert. Good luck and safe journeys! r.

tezza said...

Thanks rezinka, but I reckon there are plenty of people know more than me. But most don't have the time to write it down that I have.
I wish I had more time to actually visit the various places on the blog - I'd like to update each place at least once per year, but family commitments at home make this impossible.
Have a nice trip.

Tony said...

Hey Tezza!

First of all, let me just say that the blog is FANTASTIC. What an amazing harem of gold information!

Im 19 travelling with a mate for 3 months down south starting in indonesia and moving gradually up to bangkok.

We wanna start in Penang, island hopping until krabi/phuket and then eventually end in bangkok through koh samui. Then a flight to visit the paradise of bali.

Do you have any suggested routes or any tips I should take on board?

Feel free to email me at

Thanks for your time, and once again tremendous blogging, highly appreciated!

tezza said...

Tony, if it is not low season the most interesting route IMHO is by various ferries Penang-Langkawi-Lipe-Trang islands-Lanta-Krabi-Phi Phi-Phuket.
If it is low season (roughly mid April into Nov for most places) the Lipe-Lanta ferries will not be running, but it is still possible to visit the Trang island of your choice from the mainland.
If you are not tired of island hopping by this stage, after Phuket or Krabi you can cross the peninsula to Surathani and then island hop Samui-Phangan-Tao, then go to Chumpon and catch a bus/train towards Bangkok.
I won't try to suggest which of these many islands you should visit - read as much from all the sources as you can and see which appeal to you.
In Bali, don't spend more than a few days in Kuta unless you are a party animal. If you can squeeze a few days in to cross to the Gilis, it is not wasted time, although by that stage you may be islanded-out.
If you can spare say a week to cross from Penang to Sumatra, that is not wasted either. I really liked places like Lake Toba, Lake Maninjou, Bukkitinghi and the beaches and islands just south of Padang. I haven't got anything on my blog because it was back in '99.

Cheers, wish I had 3 months to spare for a trip. I envy you.

Tony said...


thanks for the swift response, highly appreciated.

Ive read through the blog and I propose this plan:

Penang-Langkawi-Lipe-Trang islands-Lanta-Phuket-Phi Phi- Krabi-Samui-Phangan.

I am going in June-July this year. I am slightly worried about the weather(but not really), but am more concerned about the Lipe-Lanta travelling part as I've seen (and you've said) that there are no ferries at this time.

Can you explain the mainland route...?

Thanks champ!

tezza said...

Tony, the Lipe-Pak Bara ferry was down to one per week at the height of last wet season. Could be better this year - I'm still getting lots of hits on my Lipe page.
When you arrive in Pak Bara, the dry-season minibuses directly to Trang may not be waiting just up the road from the pier. No problems - get a motorcycle taxi or songthaew the 10km or so into La Ngu - tell them the bus-stop for Trang. Buses run fairly frequently.
I usually use the travel agents down near Trang station to organise my Trang island bookings and connections - I understand there is one at the bus station can do this too.
You can also independently go from the bus station to the departure point for the minibuses and songthaews to the various piers - I indicate where in each island report. If you have to spend a night in Trang (some island boats only depart in the morning) no problems, it is a nice town.
From the Trang islands to Lanta in wet season its easiest to go back to Trang and get one of the minibuses from the station area right onto Lanta via the vehicle punts. Or on a calm day, you could rent a longtail onto Lanta (its not all that far from Ngai, Kradan and Muk) but this would not be cheap.

Nomad said...

Hi Tezza, your site is great and I almost wish I hadn't stumbled upon it.

In a nutshell I was looking for a simple place (island or beach) to completely unwind for a month (July) - I'm a school teacher.

Firstly - rainy season doesn't bother me and I'm not too fussy but my days of seriously roughing it with the travel are long gone. I am a tall person so squeezing into a mini van or taking long bus rides isn't something I'd want either. Would prefer to stay in one place that offered a lot rather than do a lot of different islands and hopping from one to another.

Ideally I'm looking for a nice beach for long morning walks and afternoons to relax upon. Close proximity for snorkelling and occasional day trips for scuba and kayaking as well. Not into the partying day and night but a place to drink a couple cold ones and watch some sattelite sport would be nice, too.

I am sure I could meet all those requirements if I just closed my eyes and picked randomly but I'd rather get some feedback from somneone who knows instead of wondering if I'd made the right decision.

tezza said...

Nomad, I reckon somewhere on the south end of Ko Tao might do the job. Not Chalok Ban Kao, which is a bit built up and busy - maybe Ao Thian just to the east which has ony a few bungalow places and pretty good snorkelling, or Viewpoint or one of the places in the little bays just to the west, which are very laid back locations. Note Viewpoint itself has only a small section of sand - but it is a short walk to other beaches in both directions.
Your morning walk could be across this whole area or even across to one of the more isolated east coast beaches.
Ban Kao would be good for a drink and probably satellite sport - and it is only about 14-20 minutes up to town at the piers for multiples of this.
Kayaks would certainly be on hire along here and Ko Tao is dive central with with heaps of dive shops and just about every bungalow place having an association with a dive operator.
Weather wise, Tao is in that southern Gulf area which is normally drier than other regions in July.

Red Chili said...


Now i have a trouble... I do not have speed boat to Koh Lipe from Langkawi.. We're company trip total 15 person.. I already booking the flight and hotel at Langkawi and paid also... The Telaga Harbour told me that the Imigresen direct border crossing to Ko Lipe from Langkawi already close at 30th April 08...

Red Chili said...

Sorry forgot to let u know when i go is at 17/05/08-20/05/08.....

tezza said...

2 possibilities, chii.
- last year there was one low season ferry and one cargo boat per week to Lipe from Pak Bara - times on my Lipe page. Apparantly that is the deal this year too - recent post form caseyrebecca on TOA:
"There will be a ferry on Friday from Pak Barra to Koh Lipe, returning on Sunday. This, combined with the weekly cargo boat (on which you can hitch a ride), will make Koh Lipe more accessible during the low season, or as the locals call it: green season."
So if the departure days fit, get one of the several fast ferries from Langkawi to Thammalang pier near Satun in Thailand (immigration at the pier) and with 15 people charter a couple of songthhaews or vans to take you direct to Pak Bara which is maybe an hour or a bit less north of Satun.
- 15 people means you could charter a boat direct from Langkawi to Lipe. Just be careful it aint too small and don't set out on one of the rougher days which can occur in low season.

Nomad said...

hi TezzA, thanks for the scoop on Koh Tao. I've also been reading up on the Perhentians and the Gili Islands. Do you have an opinion on either of them..?

tezza said...

Nomad, I'm a fan of both places and the good news is that each is in dry season between now and some time in Oct.
I haven't been to the Perhentians since about '99 so I don't have a page on them, but from recent posts on the travel forums it looks like they are still a pretty good location. Of course, they are the easier to reach from Tao.

I have a page on the Gilis in this blog, so you can get some idea of what I think and check some pics. It is 3 years since I visited so I am desperate to get back there for an update - for latest info Lombok Lovers forum - - is a good source. They have a couple of members who actually live on the Gilis.

Jason said...

I'm thinking of going to Relax Bay on Ko Lanta this winter with a large group and I'm looking for some budget options that are nearby (as it isn't that cheap). Something that would be walkable to Relax Bay. I've heard Nautilus and Lanta Marina Resort are close, is that true? Any suggestions? Thanks.

tezza said...

Jason, I stayed at Relax Bay Tropicana (as it was named) back in 97 - it wasn't expensive then. But yeah, it has moved upmarket since.
On my Lanta page I mention another cheaper place which now shares the bay, but I can't remember its name.
I honestly don't know if it stays open low season or how good it is.

Ditto other places nearby. The southern end of Long Beach is only a 10 minute walk away and there are quite a few nice looking places there. Maybe check travelfish's map or the map on my blog page for places close to Relax Bay. travelfish and similar have prices and reviews and contact numbers so you can find out what good and is open.

Trev said...

Tezza you really know your stuff, I`m impressed.

I`m visiting Thailand for a month June22-July23 2008. I`m budgeting about $1500-1800 Canadian dollars for expenses. I`m not fussy about accomodations or fancy food. I`m willing to spend most of my $ on some good diving. Maybe you can answer some of my questions relating to diving in the rainy season:
1-will i still be able to dive with whale sharks? are around during this time?
2-where are the best spots to dive considering it`s rainy season? are some dive spots shut down during this time?
3-Are the boats to ko sok national park shut down?
4-is diving in surin islands shut down?
5-is there any good wrek, caves, or drift diving?

thanks for your help!

Tennille said...

I want some advice on where in thailand we should go.
We will be in Thailand from August 30 until September 8.
I keep reading and hearing that this is rainy season and that we need to go to certain areas to avoid it, but everyone seems to tell me something different and i have no idea where to go!
We fly into and out of Bangkok and will spend the first and last nights there, but besides that we want to stay in one place with a nice beach where we can swim and do some diving.
Basically we just want a relaxing week before heading back to Australia.
Your help would be much appreciated!!

tezza said...

I'm not a diver (well I've dived a dozen times in Australia, but I'm not qualified) so I cant answer much:
1 Haven't a clue about whale shark season and spots
2 Ko Tao is normally in dry season in July, and is dive central for the southern Gulf.
It is possible to dive elsewhere - there were plenty of divers in Phi Phi last August
3,4,5 Khao Sok is a mountain national park. I assume you mean the Similans National Park islands out of Khao Lak? I think they are closed in low season. ditto Surins. There could be boats from Phuket and Khao Lak despite the islands being closed - there is a sublink on my link list top right of page to Jamies Phuket Blog - Jamie is a dive industry guy - maybe you could contact him (he's also Batfish on LP Thorntree)
Similan-diver (not sure of capitalising or - vrs _) is a LP Thorntree poster dive guy out of Khao Lak who you could PM.
I think Camille in the link list is a dive guy out of Samui who also might be able to answer questions about caves, drift diving etc.

tezza said...

Tenille, the southern Gulf islands of Samui, Phangan and Tao have a different wet season normally from Oct into Jan and so are usually drier than most other places in August/early Sept.
Samui for glitzy resorts, Phangan and Tao for laid back - Toa is best for diving and snorkelling.

If you want to be closer to Bangkok, Samet is said to be drier than most other islands wet season (although I have not visited in August or Sept) - and it sure does have some nice laid back beaches (plus some more active ones if you like to party a bit).

tezza said...

I'M LEAVING ON A TRIP TO THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS IN A FEW HOURS, wont't be back until June 13. So if you have a question that can't wait 'til then to be answered, it may not be such a good idea to post it.
Yachts, islands, beaches, coral, sun - here I come!!!

Khoa said...

Hey Tezza,
Great blog you have here, enjoying it lots.
I have a quick question regarding accommodation on Leela Beach.
I noticed that you didn't like Lighthouse Bungalows, I was wondering why. The pictures on their sit looked quite nice. If you don't mind I would love to hear the difference between their cheap 250 baht and the 600 baht one, is it worth paying more? Also why do you think Leela Beach is better?
Thanks in advance!

Poppy said...

Hi Tezza,

Just a quick question my bf and I are travellin to bejing down to bangkok for 56 days and then doing a tour around thailand for 24 days ending at the end of may in bangkok. we would then like to spend two-threes chilling out and doing our own thing up until mid - end of june. Where would you suggest we go for the best whether? we would like to do snorkelling and rock climbing as well lying down on beaches doin nothing. Thanks in advance, your website is brill btw!!

tezza said...

KHOA, my major objection to Lighthouse was my elcheapo bungalow which was in real sad repair, plus the dangerous stairs in some areas. As I said on the page, the more expensive bungalows looked real nice. But I didn't inspect the inside of one and I don't know if it is worth the asking.
I was first attracted to Lighthouse by a Thorntree post which raved about the place, if that's any help.
I like Leela because it is an attractive uncrowded beach within a short walk of Hat Rin township.

POPPY - best weather midyear is usually Samui/Phangan/Tao which normally has a Oct into Jan wet season.
Samet is said to be drier too, although most other places are normally not too bad with the exception of big Chang and the Ranong islands.
Ko Tao has the best snorkelling of those drier places.
None is a great climbing location, but Railay/Ton Sai in the Andaman usually has enough sunny days to make a holiday okay, and is climb central and uncrowded that time of year.

wez said...

Hi Tezza, fantastic blog. Maybe you can help us. We're heading to Andaman coast around 20th Oct with our 9 yr old son - his 1st backpacking trip. We've only got 2 weeks, but want to visit one or two islands. Our days of out and out roughing it are over, but equally we don't want anywhere too developed and upmarket.
We're looking for good beaches, snorkelling, no crowds but a quiet bar or two, and a comfy bungalow.
We don't mind the rain, but as it's October I guess we'll have to go to an island not too far offshore; thinking maybe south end of Koh Lanta or Koh Bulon Lae (Pansand Resort or similar?).
Any ideas?

tezza said...

Wez, Lanta is real nice but the snorkelling off the beach is not great. Because all beaches face west you can get some rougher conditions on windy days. Sometimes the road into the southern most beaches becomes impassable to all but 4wd in wet season.
Bulon Lae fits the bill real well but check that Pansand is open in October. I think it stays open - there is a sublink to its website on the Bulon page.
Another island which is definitely open with good snorkelling off a very nice and protected east facing beach, some nice midrange places and a few outside bars is Ko Ngai.

Mickey said...

gawd lemme just say im sooo soo excited to be going to phuket this october and i have constructed our itinerary, so here are some questions that can anyone please please help me out:

ok so we'll be staying at patong beach for our first 3 nights, and at phi phi island for 2 nights, i have booked the patong hotel but the phi phi island im not sure, coz its the rainy season and im afraid that ferries would be cancelled and we might get stuck to the island or something like that .. any comments on that?

also we want to go to that phrom thep cape stuff which is soo far from patong, can we ride buses there and if so how long do u think it would take and how bout taxis any estimates?

are there like buses to go to say phuket town or other buses from patong?

does anyone know any cheap and reliable tour company in patong coz we wanna get the phang nga bay tour

do you think that coral island tour is worth doing?

any tips inputs and ideas are welcome : ) super super thanks

tezza said...

Mickey, the Phi Phi ferries are pretty big - it takes real big swell to stop them. Last August I went across in one of the biggest swells for some time - all the boats were running - ours just took it slowly, I think an exta 40 minutes or something.
I rarely book ahead, but because Lady Tezza was with me and I wanted a specific place for her, I did book that trip. Didn't even think about the ferries.
Now if I was going to Ngai and the only way is longtail ferry, yeah - I'd take that into consideration.
However in low season there will be vacancies most places if you don't want to book.
One nice thing about booking is there is often someone at the pier with transport to meet you (or to carry your bags if staying in town - no vehicles)

No easy public transport to Promthep - lots of guys with cars hanging around hotels etc - in low season you should be able to cut a good deal. Not sure how much but for half a day it should be around the same as "limo" from airport to beach.
Hire cars are cheap - traffic is busy but not crazy like some Asian destinations.

Frequent buses from Patong to Phuket town. Buses from Phuket town to Rawai and other places in the south, but from there you would need a taxi to Promthep.

I've found all the small tour counters and travel agents work pretty well. Your hotel will have a travel desk too - usually they will match outside prices after some bargaining.

I haven't been, but people tell me Coral Island is real nice - white sand beach, very sheltered in wet season.

tezza said...


Ines said...

Hi tezza,

first of all I hope you had a great time in Thailand!

I've been traveling to SEA quite a lot in the past and will finally hit the road again in december this year. Planning to do a bit of island hopping over a two weeks period tat includes Christmas / new year. I don't really want to prebook (normally never do) as I love the flexibility, but heard that everything is booked out at christmas, and that I would end up without anywhere to stay...Is this the case in your experience? I was thinking of starting in the deep south at Ko Lipe and making my way up north to Krabi via Ko Lanta. But am completely flexible and always open for ideas! As I am traveling on my own I would like to meet some people, but not into big raves (Had Rin is my nightmare). Spend quite some time on other beaches on Ko Phangan but with the monsoon being late there I thought I'll try the other coast this time:-)

Thanks for any input!


tezza said...

I can't comment from first-hand experience, having never visited around Xmas-New Year.
But going on past posts on the travel forums, it seems that places like Lipe, Phi Phi and Railay have been crowded at that time. Certainly they are the pages that get most hits on my blog.

Maybe fuel prices will impact this year - I have just returned from Tioman and have to say that western tourism was way down on previous August visits.

wez said...


Thanks for the advice. Have checked out Koh Ngai and it sounds just the job. After reading mandysk's rave review we've decided to also try Ko Pu/Jum, maybe Ting Rai.

Is it possible to get ferries from Ko Jum to Ko Ngai (via Ko Lanta??) in late Oct or will we have to go the long way round via Laem Kruat and Pakmeng? Is there a p.m. boat from Ko Lanta so that we can we do it in one day?

tezza said...

In previous years the Krabi-Lanta ferries which drop off and pick up at Jum usually start running in November - as do the Lanta to Trang island daytrip boats, the Tigerline ferry and Lanta-Lipe speedboats, all of which can drop you at Ngai. So unless they start early this year it's the mainland route in October.
Keep an eye on kojumonline which seems to keep up to date with ferry info.
Even in high season most of these boats leave Lanta am - but I have seen suggestions that maybe the speedboat starts at mid-day either from the Lanta end or the Lipe end.

Em said...

Hi Tezza,
My b/f and I are travelling to Asia for the first time in November. We have 4 nights to kill before we join a tour, and we don't really know what we want to do with our time, but we have been deprived of beaches for some time, so we thought and island or beach would be nice.
We fly in to Bangkok airport, and for this portion of the trip will have a budget of around $400 AUD (much less if we can get away with it).
I have been tossing up between Ko Samet and Hua Hin. We are both in our mid-20's, and would like a nice beach, accomm at the beach, maybe some snorkelling and somewhere to have a nice beer and try some thai food.
Can you please suggest somewhere close, easy and cheap to get to from Bangkok?
and is it stretching the friendship to ask you exactly how to get there?

Ines said...

Thanks tezza - I think I will leave the south of thailand out of my trip this time as I don't want to be tied down by reservations, and go at another point in low season instead. Off to Lao and cambodia this time instead!

Happy travelling:)

tezza said...

Enjoy yourself Ines.

EMMA, I haven't stayed at Hua Hin, only travelled thru on a bus - from that and various comments on travel forums I get the idea it is a kind of Thai Miami - lots of high rise, overdevelopment encroaching on the beach etc.

Nearby, two places which have gained positive comments and are ones I have to check some time are Bang Saphan and Bang Krut - much smaller, nice beaches, trad style bungalow places etc. There is some info on the TRAVELFISH forum here - and you could do a search of forums like Lonely Planet Thorntree.

Samet is a real nice location, easily reached from Bangkok, but it aint a great snorkelling island (not sure abt the other places).
I have Samet access details from both Bangkok airport and from Bangkok city on my Samet page. The airport bus terminal is reached by free shuttle from the arrivals terminal - Ecamai (Eastern) bus station for the city is accessed easiest by Sky Train - the Ecamai station is 100m from the bus station.

Hua Hin is probably best accessed by bus from the Southern Bus Station - this is best reaches by taxi from the center although there are buses - can't remember the number. There is a connecting van from the new airport's bus station. Bans Saphan and Krut are accessed via the same buses, but they drop you on the highway from where you have to catch a local songthaew.

You can also catch a train to/near Hua Hin-Saphan-Krut.

Kristy said...

Hey Tezza.. I wanted to ask a variation on "the big kahuna" question: which is the best beach/island if you want beautiful beach for lazing, not too touristy but with really authentic, spicy, cheap local food?

We have one week holidays at the end of September. We are flexible as to which beach/island/country but don't want to spend too much time in transit (coming from Melbourne). Really really need a break so will be spending the entire time on the beach. No travel -just relaxation.

We would ideally like to stay on-the-beach. We don't want to have to be locked into eating the food, drink of the hotel we are staying at.. so ideally the accommodation should be a quick walk/ tuk-tuk to a few good hawker-style food options.

Any ideas would be hugely appreciated!! Thanks SO much for your awesome site!

Julie said...

Wow Kristy, that's a tough one. For a start, I'm not a foody - most things in SE Asia taste real good to me, and I tend to eat at bungalow restaurants. Food hawkers are not real common on the islands.

Next - end of September is sort of on the cusp weather wise for the SE Asian places on this blog - in Thailand the southern Gulf's wet season is cutting in and it's been wet everywhere else for some time, in Bali-Lombok the wet is getting near, ditto east coast peninsula Malaysia.

The driest place that time in Thailand is normally Ko Samet - the 4th beach down fro the north on the east coast, Ao Tubtim/Putsa/Pudsa is a real nice place with two good places to stay and eat, the 3 beaches to the north are livelier with lots of eats joints. Hawker food is scarce but if you walk out thru the National Park gates to the little village you will find some street stalls and lots more restaurants. Any Thai place can do spicey - just tell them because they usually water it down for westerners.
Samet is easily reached from Bangkok if you are coming in by Jetstar from Melbourne.

The other place I'd suggest is Tioman in Malaysia. If you want midrange, Paya is a lovely beach with quite a few dining options. Considerably cheaper is Panuba - you will get your food variety here by walking over the headland to the various places on ABC. No real street hawkers though.

I think the latter will mainly be found at the super touristy places like Patong on Phuket and Chaweng on Samui or the touristy beaches in Bali. Patong aint the nicest beach in the world. I like Chaweng but it is some years since I visited and people say it is now very touristy and somewhat overdone.

tezza said...


KRIStY, Lady Tezza was logged in and I posted under her name - the j in the login looks similar to the t. That's my excuse, anyhow.

Brigit said...

Hi Tezza,
We will be in Thailand/Laos October/November.We will fly from Luang Prabang to Bangkok in the afternoon, stay overnight in Bangkok and the next day we want to go to the beach to relax before we go home. I have read your blog but stil cannot figure out where to go. I prefer Chang but will the weather be nice the. Koh Samet seems nice too. On the other hand I saw that Air Asia flight were pretty cheap now flying to Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani. Can you please help? We want to spent about 1000 Thai baht max on a bungalow and stay on a beach.


tezza said...

BRIGIT, the good thing abt Chang and Samet is that the wet season tends to end sooner on average than most other places. You could maybe check the stats on the Wet Season page and notice how much drier Nov is compared to other locations.
One Thorntree poster who lives in Chang swears wet season always ends with a huge storm in mid Oct. Um, I dunno if it is THAT reliable (he has only lived there one wet season but reckons the locals say it's always like that).

Samet has the advantage of being abt 2 hours closer to Bangkok than Chang, but if Chang floats yer boat, why not check it out?

The Andaman wet season usually starts to end in the first part of November so you should get plenty of sunshine in Krabi and Phuket and similar locations. I'm going to be in the Andaman early Nov - Nov is my favourite month there.

Maybe not Surathani for Samui/Phangan/Tao because Oct-Nov can be real wet there. You can get good weather too, but why risk it with other places being equally attractive and offering the chance of better weather?

1000bah should get you a pretty nice bungalow for what is the end of low season/start of shoulder.

Okay, 3 and a half hours to Samet, 5 and a half to Chang, 2 hours+ to the Krabi or Phuket beaches plus at time airports - only you can balance the pros and cons.

Paranoid Postdoc said...

RE: Gulf vs Andaman in Jan

Tezza, I've been doing mucho research on the LOS and your blog is by far the most informative.

If you were a travel newbie and had only 10 days in southern Thailand in Jan 09, which islands/beaches would you visit?

We're a Canadian couple, early 30s, who want to escape the cold dark Cdn winter and chill out on some fantastic beaches.

We want: sunbathing; swimming; romance; relaxation; scenery; snorkelling; good food.

We don't want: overpriced tourist traps; generic resorts that feel like they could be anywhere; stuffiness; isolation; feeling conspicuous.

Our style and budget is about 3* to 4*.

Many thanks.

tezza said...

"..sunbathing; swimming; romance; relaxation; scenery; snorkelling; good food."
One place meets these is the main beach at Ko Ngai in the Andaman - Coco Huts, Thapwarin and most of other few places there are 3 to 4 star by Thai standards.
10 days would give you time to do another nearby location if you are like me and get bored after a while - Kantiang Bay on Lanta has some nice places (as do a lot of other beaches on Lanta) or you could try the Sivalai on Ko Muk which is 3-4 star by international standards.
I noticed a new spot opening on Kradan soon, not sure if it meets your budget - Seven Seas Resort opening Nov 1 starting at 4500

CC said...

Paranoid Postdoc here - Tezza I looked up your recommendations and they are fantastic - and I hadn't even considered them b4. Thank you very much - much appreciated.

Manuela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manuela said...


I hope someone can help with some suggestions.
My boyfriend and I have visited Thailand for 3 weeks in February this year. We wanted to stay out of the busy areas like Phuket, Phi Phi and Koh Samui. We went for a day-trip to Phi Phi just to check it out, and we hated it. Way too touristic. We couldn't appreciate the beauty of the nature because of the extent to which the place has been exploited. Anyway, we initially planned on checking out few places, but got stuck at our beach bar on Koh Lanta and stayed there for over 2 weeks in the end. Although we like our Airco and safe bungalows with no bugs, we discovered great food away from the resorts (by the road, where all the locals go). Best of both worlds, I'd say :) We also discovered the island into details by bike, had lots of fun checking out all the beaches, restaurants etc.

Anyway, we booked our flights to Thailand for February 2009. This time a full month. After reading everything above, could anyone recommend the area / itinerary to check out? Chilling at the beach is important (cozy hippie-looking bars rather then stiff Western resorts), but we also like to do things, move around. Food is essential, but I guess we can't fail on that one (unless we get stuck in some resort, with nothing else around it). We are not really a traditional backpacking type as we really do like our cozy bed, Airco, we are not particularly relaxed in the company of bugs :) etc., but we don't mind traveling around either (as long as we also get to chill).

Any suggestions? We thought of going back to Krabi area, but I wonder what more is there to see (that has electricity but is not full of tourists). Maybe Trang province, or Ko Chang, or?!? Some friends recommended the north of Kho Phangan, but I wonder if we'll hate it as I suspect the rest of the island is packed. Also, Koh Lanta was quiet enough and reasonably pretty, but we know the scenery can get better than that.

I hope someone has a valuable suggestion or two :)

Many thanks upfront,
Manuela and Steve

Manuela said...

Maybe also useful to mention: we're a couple in early 30s, and we're not into partying :)

tezza said...

Okay, nice non-touristy chilled beach, not too many people, aircon bungalows, a few outside restaurants and traveller type bars, an island big enough to move around, check the scene.

Well, with a month I would suggest doing a combination of islands reasonably close together. 3 which would fit the bill would be Trat's Ko Mak (maybe stay at Ao Khao or another on that beach with aircon), Ko Kut (staying around Ao Khlong Chao which has enough different places to give you variety) and tiny Ko Whai (at Pakarang which is the only resort with aircon as far as I know). A fast speedboat service connects all 3.

In the Trang islands you could combine Ko Ngai, Ko Muk and maybe the new resort on Ko Kradan if it fits your budget.

Ko Payam would fit your wants nicely - quite a few places have aircon. Buffalo Bay is more laid back than the other main beach.
Nearby little Ko Chang is similar to Phayam but more chilled - not too sure which places have aircon but a Google would find them. I'd start at Cashew Resort.

The combination of Lipe and Bulon Lae is a possibility although Lipe can get crowded away from shoulder season.

Manuela said...

Dear Tezza,

You are a hero. Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions. There's still plenty time till our trip, so if you think of any other tips, please give us a shout. For now, it seems like Trat area is what we're looking for, although I also heard nice things about Ko Lipe, Trang, etc.

Too much choice in the end, we need 4 months for all this :D

Thanks again for your kind help!!!
Manuela and Steve

Carmel said...

Hi Tezza,

My husband and I did quite a bit of travelling in Thailand a decade ago and loved every minute of it! We loved travelling as budget travellers so we were paying about 100 baht a night for bungalows with communal bathrooms or if we were feeling flush we would spend about 250 baht on a beach front bungalow with own bath. One of my fondest memories is of the Bamboo Huts at Ao Tanot on Koh Tao. What a wonderful place. We also really enjoyed a small bungalow operation that we stayed at Thong Nai Pan on Koh Phangan. Anyway I am rambling here :-) But my question to you is ... We are looking at going back to Thailand for just a 2 week holiday in April 2009. We now have a 5 year old boy and we are going to be meeting some friends from Australia there too who have 2 children. My problem is that my Aussie friends want to stay in a resort that has a kids club and everything! I have never travelled this way anywhere in the world and really feel unhappy about doing it this time around especially in Thailand as I have such wonderful memories of our earlier travels and I would hate to taint them with a completely different style of holiday there. I personally would like to go back to Thong Nai Pan. I think the beach there would be fantastic for the little ones. So do you have any recommendations of some accomodation at Thong Nai Pan that is somehow a compromise between our two very different ideas of a holiday? Any help would be very much appreciated.


tezza said...

My problem is I'm mainly a budget traveller - I have limited experience of midrange places in Thailand and none at all on Phangan.
Panvimam at Thong Nai Pan probably has a kids' club but this is an exxy place far removed from your wants. Nice though.
Lonely Planet Thorntree poster girllrig lives at Thong Nai Pan and may be able to help you - perhaps you could send her a personal message on that forum, or post your question on Thorntree or for a bigger audience.

Carmel said...

Thanks Tezza, Yeah I know it is a difficult one but thanks for your reply :-) I will look into your suggestions ta. Cx

tezza said...


Edward said...

How far from Kradan Beach Resort is Seven Seas Resort? I want to know if Kradan Beach Resort is ruined.

tezza said...

Edward, I haven't been past Kradan this year so I can't answer. A guy staying at the same Ko Jum place as me this November was heading for Kradan - I'll try to find his email and ask.

MC Deli said...

Thanks again for the info. Brilliant stuff. See you in Koh Jum for xmas... and new year... and January... and February...

tezza said...

Edward - jimmyc said - " Seven Seas was on the main eastern beach .....north of park headquarters. abutting the 7 seas to 7sea's north was another hotel i think called the Koh Kradan Resort."

So it looks like it is pretty central on the main beach.

tezza said...

Mc ...... I wish.

Igor said...

Hi Tezza,

There's lots of valuable information on this site. These rip currents are really frightening. If you swim when the waves are small or in a closed lagoon does it guarantee you from rip currents?
Can you please advise a place in Thailand which is safe for going January-February?

tezza said...

Igor, I mainly wrote the Rip stuff for WET SEASON visitors. It is then that the exposed beaches on the Andaman and eastern Gulf coasts get big swell and we have reports of drownings.
Jan/Feb sees no or very small waves in most places. You can still get rips in small waves, but they are not strong.
Some of the few places which can get bigger swell in Jan/Feb are the eastern facing coasts on the southern Gulf Islands - Samui/Phangan/Tao. However such swell is not too common.
In coastal lagoons sheltered by fringing reefs you can get tidal currents, but I've never experienced a real stong tidal current off the beach in Thailand. I have on the Trang island snorkelling trips, and on kayaking around Ko Laoliang.

Ruth said...

Hello Tezza
Thanks alot for all the info, really nice. I am comming from cambodia to be 2-3 weeks in Thailand in Feb. First I thought about Ko Chang in Trat, but when I read about Little Ko Chang I am maybe changing mind. I want mainly to relax and to get GOOD Taimassage every day for my tight muscels. Is that possible in Little Ko Chang? I want also to go around and it is nice if it is a few shops not too far or maybe it's just to take the boat into Ranong city? I am travelig solo, is that safe to walk around there after dark, if it is not much electricity (light)? Thanks alot for answering me :-)

Ruth said...

Sorry for 3 times message. I got some problems. I have one more guestion. I am going first to Cambodia. Is it some other plases I could go to that's closer than Ko Chang, Trang? I prefer good, cheap, guiet and beautiful places :-)

tezza said...

Ruth, little Ko Chang has a few basic shops but it aint a shopping destination. I always felt safe walking around after dark, but that's from a guy perspective. From memory lighting of the roads etc is largely non existent.
You can get massages on any Thai island.
Just south of big Ko Chang Trat are 3 islands. Ko Mak is laid back, and Ko Kut and Whai VERY laid back. I have a page on each, last visiting nearly a year ago. Whai has NO shops except for small sections at two of the 3 resorts.

raya said...

Dear Tezza,

I was really impressed from your blog. After hours of reading about thai isalands this is the best and an eccelent source of information.

Me & my husband are comin to Thiland for a 10 days vacation. After visiting Samoi and not liking it at all - We R looking 4 an exotic and authentic island,small quiet beaches with green crystal water - good for swimming and not shaloow at low tide, fine thai food nearby - we like to eat at local village restaurants and markets, and some activity around. At the begining I thought about PhiPhi but after reading the blog and as much as I could select from the enormeous information you gave there, I thought about going to Lanta.
My Plan is to fligh from Bangkok to Krabi. Next day to go to Ton Sai Bay By ferry for 2 days and then a ferry to lanta fron railei. Then stay at Lanta 5 days and return with the ferry to Kraby .
Do you think Lanta is right? Can you recommand a nice place to stay on the beach - bungallo with ac , hot water, toilet, pool. We can pay up to 3500B per night.



tezza said...

Raya, I think your idea of Lanta is a good one. One trouble is that I don't have a lot of experience of midrange places. Lanta Palm Beach where I stayed last trip was a pretty nice place in a great position - BUT no pool.
Lanta Palace where I stayed trip before had a nice little beachfront pool and the better bungalows looked pretty okay apart from being a bit close together.
Kantiang Bay is lovely, has a more intimate village area and a range of midrange and high end joints - maybe you could do a search and find one with a pool.

Phi Phi aint out of the question. Laem Tong on the laid back east coast has a handful of nice midrangers, some with pools, and has a small fishing village which is less commercial than many Lanta areas. LEIGHTAVEL is an expert on this area - there is a sublink to their website towards the bottom of my Lanta page.

tezza said...

Ummm - that link's a bit hard to find on the page.

raya said...

Dear Tazza,

Thanks for your replay. I didnt mention but we r comin to Thailand next week.
Tha beach at phiphi (laem tang)
is far from the village and the resorts are "heavy western" and expensive.
We r looking for something simple, authentic, with ac and no bugs, beach front or close to . We can skip the pool if the beach is nice.
Tha most important is that the island will have nice beach, some local restos and market (I am really into food and drinks)and some nice bar with drinks and music. We will have 7 nights and r comng from Bnagkok.
I know that I am asking the same question but I am so confused and since we didnt travel for 3 years (keds...)It must be perfect.

Do you think we need to reserve the hotel in advance?


Pease help!

tezza said...

Sorry Raya, your 3500baht a night threw me - that will get really high end places - way above simple.
I can't really give you a definitive place - for a start you mention qualities I don't look for like a market and bars with music - and secondly, I'm not sure any place meets all your requirements.
Lanta Palm Beach has the nice beach, plenty of nearby restaurants, bars with music - but rather than a village here the locals have more a ribbon development along the main road. And I don't know where the market is - probably in Saladan abt 3km north.
Kantiang Bay has the nice beach, a concentrated little village but I don't know about your other wants.
Maybe you could consider Bulon Lae - stay in Bulon Resort or Pansand. Nice beach. Tiny village that side of island and bigger one over the hill. A variety of restaurants. Not sure abt bars and music. There would have to be a small market, probably in the bigger village.
Or Lipe. Stay at Mountain Resort - walk 10 minutes around the beach for the fishing village and the beginning of the track across to Pattaya Beach - village and track has lots of restaurants/bars - Pattaya beach even more including mats/tables on sand and candle-light at night. Andaman Resort's aircon bungalows closer to village as are Castaway. The village would have to have some kind of market.
How about top-end? Check the Sivalae on Muk - 10 minutes walk to the rather big fishing village. This has one or two very authentic Muslim restaurants. Free resort bikes mean you can fang over to Farang Beach on the other side in 5 minutes for some more restaurants, Brian's bar etc. Or ride north of the village to Ko Muk Resort and neighbours for some variety of dining. Muk has the fabulous Emerald Cave and daytrips to Kradan and Ngai.
Even though crowds are down this year according to posts - Id book these places.

tezza said...

Raya- forgot to add that Mountain Resort on Lipe has its own Karma Bar down at beach level, which can get a real nice atmosphere around sunset/early pm.
Mountain is tops for views.
I realise all these places are a stetch fom Bangkok, but I can't think of any of the nicer beaches on Samet's east coast that have a village etc.
There's got to be somewhere on big Chang but I don't know enough about all the beaches. Bang Bao's pier area has a lot of what you want, there is a village and those bungalows on stilts near the pier have attracted good reports. But this is in the middle of the bay and I'm not sure how good the ocean beach west of the bay is.

u-man said...

Hello Tezza

Great blog! Straight forward!

I was wondering about the safety of belongings like money and documents in Lipeh,Tarutao,Adang. Are there safeboxes in the resorts? Would you trust it?
Planing to visit these soon and will be looking for the cheapest bungalows or maybe even tent.
appreciate any tip you might have.

Thanks. Keep it up

tezza said...

Few cheaper places have safeboxes in the bungalows/rooms. Some have safe-keeping at reception - not sure how good this is - often it is a lockable drawer rather than a safe. I've used such facilities a few times, not had problems. But that doesn't mean there can't be.

Otherwise I always carry my passport/ticktets with me, and divide my money so that I have most with me and a few big notes deposited somewhere hard to find back in the bungalow.
I've never had a bungalow broken into in Thailand but perhaps I've been lucky.
I never have valuables in any baggage which goes into the underbus luggage section of coaches - too many bad stories here.
Not sure if reception at the National Park HQs on Adang and Tarutao have safe-keeping.

Jane said... name is Melvin..thank God i stumbled upon this blog...soo much useful info!! :) My family and i(5 of us) will be heading to bali on the 6th to 8th March...could anyone gimme a list of must visit places (that can be completed in 2 days) and some good places for accomodation??Thank you very much..

tezza said...

Wow Melvin, 2 days isn't much time.
For some good suggestions on must sees check SIAP SANKUR'S input starting about 65% down the Bali Page - particularly 1 and 7 which you can easily do by hiring a car and driver each day.
Tintimani volcano is not mentioned, but it can be accessed from either trip.
Note that there are links to 2 good Bali websites - and balitravelforum just above SIAP'S stuff - good places to ask your questions to Bali regulars.

It's tough rec somewhere to stay - there are thousands of hotels in all price ranges. A very good value one in central Kuta close to shopping, restaurants, the beach, the airport etc which gets good reviews on TRIPADVISOR is MASA INN - but you can go way up on luxury etc from this. However with only 2 days you won't be spending much time in your hotel.

MC Deli said...

Hi - we just got off Koh Jum after most of the last 2 months there. We were so happy there. I will pass some info in case it is useful.

We liked Ao Si (middle) beach the best. Only three resorts; Ao Si (that you, Mr Tezz, liked), Jungle Hill (similar jungle vibe to Ao Si) and Sun Smile. We got a front rower at Sun Smile for 380b and we loved it. Great concrete construction, good nets on the windows, clean enough (though, given how well they are built they have the potential to look even better), good furniture (we love hooks! - though some rooms don't have the wardrobe) - but what you get at Sun Smile is a jaw-dropping sea and sunset view from every balcony (except 108 where the sunset is obscured by trees). And of course Ao Si beach is very, very quiet and great for swimming in front of Sun Smile at all times. The Sun Smile kitchen is not the most exciting but it is clean, well organised (a change from previous years we understand) the basics are consistent and cheap (50/60 baht basic rice/noodle dishes). And we loved the family.

The other main consideration was that there are only a few resorts along the stretch of beaches on Koh Jum's West coast that actually have great beach - that is not filled with longtails or rocky. Sun Smile has a great stretch - as do New and Joy Bungalow. Some places that are very nice (like the expensive Oon Lee) are let down by the rocky beach.

We checked on nearly every bungalow outfit on the island - and based in the prices we were given and guessing what we could negotiate, we thought the standard at Sun Smile was great value (though they ask for 700 front row and 500 back row in peak season - and don't book through an agent as they put 200 on top). New, Joy and Bo Daeng get return customers and it is easy to see why - nice atmosphere, good beach, and the bonus of being nearer the bigger village. That said Ban Ting Rai, the middle village, is just out back of Sun Smile with 4 shops and a few small (local) places to eat.

We couldn't really see the attraction of going all the way to Luboa beach (far North) - there were a lot of scooters on the beach, it was mostly rocky, the accomodation didn't seem great value, and, if you want quiet, it is not really any quieter than the quiet places on the other beaches -just far more remote. Ting Rai beach was a bit busier because Ting Rai Bay resort seemed to be very busy. Golden Pearl beach is noisy because there are quite a few longtails but Seasons there is the place to go if you are a Nordic family!

The one issue there would be the coming of electricity. The cable has made its way from Phi Phi to Jum and is now somewhere between Siboya and the mainland. The locals are expecting the hook up in Oct/Nov. Some resort owners are preparing for some kind of boom along with maybe a younger crowd. I really can't see it. OK, there might be some kind of overflow from Phi Phi if that gets more crowded with airconditioned package tourists, and yes, Jum is precariously position between Lanta and Krabi (how I despise that ferry!). But my guess is that, given that Jum doesn't have the picture postcard white sand and karst rocks, and that there is recession in the western world, next year will be even quieter than this, and any bungalow who fits a couple of A/C units to test the water will ne up regretting it.

Er.. that's it and we have 10 days to check Ko Phayam - thanks again for your great blogging

tezza said...

Thanks for the feedback Mac. Good to get info on Ao Si - I'll paste your stuff onto the Jum page where it is more likely to be seen by people thinking of visiting.
If you have time, please give us a report on Phayam - it's a bit over a year since I visited.

nami said...

hi tezza,

thank you so much for your amazing blog! i really appreciate all the helpful information you have on here.

my fiance and i are planning a honeymoon to thailand in july and wanted to see what recommendations you had. we'd like to stay in one place with good snorkeling and then move to another place that is secluded/romantic/beautiful beach and have the two places within reasonable distance from each other (1-2hrs by car/bus)...unless of course you have a recommendation for one place that has it all!

we liked the way aleenta in phuket ( looked, but we're uncertain about the weather during july. any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated!!!

tezza said...

The best weather is usually in the southern Gulf in midyear, although most of the Andaman is normally okay for a holiday. This is my copy and paste answer for that time of year:

In June/July normally all Thailand except the southern Gulf is in monsoon. The southern Gulf (Samui and neighbours plus adjacent mainland coast) usual wet season is Oct into Jan. I have had some great holidays there mid year - lots of sunshine, a few good storms.

June/July is normally not the worst of the wet season most other places - Sept and OCt tend to be wetter. I know one Phuket expat says the real wet season does not start until sometime in late July or even later. I have had good holidays both midyear and in August in the Andaman. Usually plenty of sunshine, one or more showers/storms per day, quite a few days with no rain or rain only at night, prolonged rainy periods not real common.

"Anywhere I should avoid?".

Well the eastern Gulf around Trat/big Ko Chang is often REAL wet in June - the AVERAGE is over 900mm for the month - I'd hate to be there in a wetter than normal June. For comparison, I think London averages something in the 400s for a YEAR. Nevertheless I've seen plenty of posts from Chang in mid-year talking of good holidays - looks like they still get a fair bit of sunshine, but when it rains it REALLY rains.
I've also seen a number of posts talking of PEOPLE DROWNING in big surf on Chang. All the main beaches face east into the prevailing winds - when these blow hard for a few days you can get big surf with dangerous rip currents, so take care. Maybe you could read my TIPS ON NOT DROWNING PAGE here
The Ranong area is also extra wet at around 700mm. I think the tourist attractions there,Ko Phayam and little Ko Chang Andaman side largely close down in the wet season.

BTW, the central Gulf, Ko Samet, Pattaya and Bangkok often get less rain than most areas besides the southern Gulf in June/July.

I just had a look at Aleenta - sure does look nice. Note it isn't on Phuket island, but on the mainland just north. I don't know this stretch of coast until Khao Lak, but it is nice around Lak and Google Earth makes Aleenta's stretch look similar, as do the pix on the website.
Note that the Phuket - Lak mainland coast is not know for snorkelling. I noticed a headland south of the hotel in the pix - usually there is a bit of coral and fish in such areas. In July some days will have waves/currents which will make such areas a no-go, other days the swell will be probably benign.

I don't know any other place has good snorkelling within 1-2 hours of that area in low season - the Similan Islands are closed down.
The best combination of good snorkelling and nice hotels in the Andaman are at Ko Ngai - even better at Ko Kradan where a new super expensive hotel has opened up. But these islands are a bit of a hassle to access in midyear.
If you did go there your second stop could be one of the many nice places on nearby Lanta.

Once again, the best weather is in the southern Gulf. A place with good snorkelling, spectacular landscape and okay accommodation is Ko Nangyuan. There is a shot on my WHICH ISLAND page and more info, and a sublink on my TAO page.
You could combine this with a stay at one of the nice hotels on Samui or Phangan. For a beach meets your description on Samui check - actually Samui Yacht Club on the same beach gets even better reviews.
You can fly onto Samui and go up to Tao/Nangyuan by ferry or speedboat.

alric said...

thank for all the info, btu I still have a question
From Lanta to Tarutao is it worth taking the boat to Lipe first, or should I take the bus to trang then the boat?
I want some beautiful beaches,snorkelling and quiet.
I'd really appreciate a good map page so I can see at a glance where all the islands are, preferably with boat routes shown.Otherwise it gets too confusing
It looks like the phuket-lanta minibus is as shown on their website now, but I can't be sure. I turned up today and had to wait 30 minutes for the 11.30
There were only 4 people on it most of the way and it cost 189bt from the big bus station.

tezza said...

alric, this site shows most of the ferry routes - it doesn't quite have Lanta in it but you can find the Lanta map by navigating the site

It also doesn't show Tigerline's route but if you click on the Tigerline sublink on my Lipe page you will find a schematic with the route.

Is it worth taking the boat to Lipe? Well yeah, some of the beaches you ask for are on Ko Ngai and Ko Laoliang on the way down, the beaches at Viewpoint, Mountain Resort and Porn on Lipe are nice and adjacent Ko Adang is gorgeous.
It will cost more - maybe a lot more if you stop off on the way down to Lipe/Adang.

MC Deli said...

Hi again, a couple of things about Jum and Phayam but first a question- will I be able toget mobile phone reception on (little) Koh Chang? (I have a big call to deal with you see).

Extras on Koh Jum - quick reminder to anyone on a budget that it is much cheaper to get off the bus (if coming from Trang) or songtaew (if from Krabi) at Nea Klong on the highway just 6km from Krabi. There is a nice market there and you walk just a few metres down the turning to the coast to the songtaew to Laem Kruat, the tiny port that handles all the local longtails to Koh Jum and Siboya. At Laem Kruat boats from different piers go to Koh Jum village, Mu Tu pier and Ko Pu village. It is a 50 baht mototaxi per person to any of the resorts from any of the three piers, once on Koh Jum. So ask around for the next boat. Obvious exception if you want to stay right next to Koh Jum village it is a bit daft to go to Ko Pu in the North.

Same when leaving Koh Jum. You can hirea private speedboat (one couple paid 8000 baht to go to Phi Phi), you can get your resort's longtail to take you to the Lanta-Krabi ferry and pay 400 baht. Or you can pay 170 baht to go the local way (50 mototaxi, 50 longtail to Laem Kruat, 50 st to Nua Klong, 20 st to Krabi).

We expected Koh Phayam to be very quiet. Buffalo bay still was quiet but Ao Yai beach had some pumping bars - and we ended up right next to one. On Phayam there was quite a curious mix of expats, long termers, older european couples, the odd family, young singles and alternative types. This may be the Thailand of your dreams - especially if you like a bit of juggling and the odd 3am rave up. Last week (we were there two weeks) it was still OK for me. The gorgeous sweep of sand never feels crowded. The atmosphere was very nice, and most of the resorts are spread ot enough that they out of earshot of the pumping bars. It seems inevitable that it will change. The busy 'strip' that runs from the 'middle road'; with BBQ bar one side (pretty loud random music every evening), continues with Smile Hut (bungalows very close together- don't be fooled by the promo pictures), Bamboo Bungalows (very good quality but busy restaurant but some ace bungalows at the front), Phayam Beach resort (new place that has only been able to put up tents), Joker bar (cheap huts), and South Star Bar; can feel pretty busy - much busier than I was expecting. Mostly because of the music policy. One night Phayam Beach has live music, the next South Star turns up the reggae until 2am, then Joker has a promo - it seems to be spiralling louder. After one big South Star party there were complaints from other resorts but I wonder if reallythe other owners would like the placetogeta party party reputation. Monkey Bar is just opening on another part of the island and two new more upmarket big concrete bungalow places are about to be completed in the Northern half of Ao Yai beach - so the place is changing.

We stayed in Coconut Beach (next to South Star Bar). We got a front rower for 400 (bamboo) though they mostly have bigger concrete jobs at the front. We got pretty annoyed by the noise but (apart from the one big night) no one else seemed to notice - the better built concrete bungalows on the seem to keep out any late night bass rumble. We had thought about staying at Aow Yai, next down the beach, but our impression was that it was a bit of a mess.

Maybe the quiet of Koh Jum had made expect too much quiet. Anyway Ao Yai beach is stunning. The waves are gorgeous. The chance to join really friendly volleyball games was nice. A bonus was the stretch of shops just up the 'middle road'. Pratsai was a tiny restaurant serving big and delicious curries for 60b - all fresh veg and they cook anything to order all much much cheaper than any of the resorts. A few stores down was a good library (15b day per book) with regular acoustic music. And lastly there was a new (ish) farang-owned minimarket.

The LP's description of a 'more sociable crowd' on Phayam is apt. I can really see the attraction if you want to meet people, learn to juggle, perfect your German, have access to ex-pat goodies but be away from big crowds. I'm joking a bit but it was a great atmosphere. I just worry that next year it might start to get a bit overbearing for people who like it quieter and want the unadulterated sounds of the waves.

Koh Phayam transport tip - at the Phayam pier just outside Ranong there is a racket going on where people in big shiny new trucks charge farang 50b to get back to Ranong. The songtaew is only 15. The say there are no songtaews or it is far to walk. These people are not taxi drivers earning a living. They are opportunists in flash new cars ripping of tourists by lying to them. From the Phayam pier the songtaews are a 200m walk from the mainroad clearly singposted Phaym Pier. And, if the on the return journey, the tide is low and you are dropped off the boat at the fishing boat dock. There is a songtaew queue just 150m up the road. We felt like right idiots driving in the shiny SUVs past them - after being lied to.

Thanks again for the great blog. And please excuse my space bar - another victim of onlinegaming I think!

tezza said...

Great update Mac!
Once again I'll paste yer stuff onto the Phayam and Jum pages where prospective visitors are more likely to see them.

claire said...

Hi Tezza,

Thanks for all the great information here - we couldn't plan our trips to SE Asia without it!

Just wondering whether you had any thoughts on where to visit in and around Bali. Am going for two weeks at the start of May and looking for some quality beach time as well as a bit of adventure.

In addition, thought you might be interested to hear that my partner and I visited Wally on Ko Kradan in May last year. He has no plans to sell up (as I'm sure you know by now!) and was in the process of building a couple of new bunglows - one of which was earmarked to be a dorm. Wally seemed in fair spirits but was walking with a stick most of the time.

As for Kradan Beach Resort - it looked like it needed to raise its game to me. Budget-mid range rooms were pretty basic and a bit run-down and the staff seemed fairly disinterested...

tezza said...

Hi claire, thanks for the update on Wally and Kradan - I'll c&p them onto the Kradan page.

I reckon all the beach places I mention on my Bali and Gili pages are worth checking - except Dreamland is apparently ruined for budget travellers.
The best travellers'/backpackers' beach places IMHO are Nusa Lembongan, Padangbai, Amed and the Bukit Peninsula away from Dreamland. I'm spending a bit of time on the Bukit in my upcoming trip - here's a couple of links - some more flahspacker than backpacker:



Thomas Homestay -

Balangan -

I'm also going to spend some time at a nice coastal place I haven't visited for 15 years - Candidasa near Padangbai - plus hop on Perama's cruise between Lombok and Flores, which sure is adventure.

Have you seen this excellent Bali forum?
VERY detailed knowledge there.

Georgie said...

Hey Mr T - great blog; but i do want to ask you a couple of specific questions : we arrive in Karabi 6 April - shelling out major coin for good hotel (we have the 8yo in tow + we are looking for a pamper after working too hard for too many months) anyhoo can you give me your top 5 for must/see/do things in this area? The 8yo is asking about elephants; can we see them in the Karabi area? The treks all look more North to me - anything you can advise will be much appreciated....

tezza said...

Georgie - all my trips to Krabi have been bottom budget, so I haven't done a lot of the more expensive MUST SEES in the area.

On my budget the 3 and 5 island snorkelling trips are a definite (on ANY budget IMHO). I usually then content myself to hiking between the beaches, climbing up to the viewpoint between Phra Nang and east railay (no place for an 8yo), and lots of swimming/sunning.

But with extra funds I would be keen on one of the daytrips to Phi Phi and/or the fabulously scenic Phang Na Bay (may be advertised as James Bond Island trips).

There are also some good hinterland trips - there is a section about 75% down my Krabi page starting with ....

SOME OTHER HINTERLAND ATTRACTIONS.....baanthai gave this info :
Khlong Thom - Hot springs are 90 baht for farangs and well worth it. Very good. About 43 degrees I believe. The crystal lagoon wasnt cheap at 200 baht but it's also a great place for a swim.KT is about...

Not sure about elephants, but the Thais are so enterprising in meeting traveller wants that I wouldn't be surprised if there was place offering this in the area now. Google should find it.

Hope this helps. If you have time, please send an update and I'll post it to the page. Don't get much feedback from the more upmarket aspect.
Have a good time.

j said...

just wanting to pick your brains about koh phangan.. which beach do you consider to be the nicest? clear waters with fish swimming up close to you for feeding..

also do you know of any bungalows that are on the sand and that you can open up the windows and walk out into the water.

tezza said...

j - I can't say which is BEST. But IMHO Thong Nai Pan, Hat Sadet, Bottle Beach and Hat Mae are real nice - and people tell me Hat Salat (Salad) is also. Thong Nai Pan is the busiest of these.

Some of the beaches on the lower east coast I've seen from boats like Ao Thian look great too!

My experience of fish swimming up to you is that this will happen anywhere if you have some bread etc for them.

I can't think of any bungalows ON the sand - but all these beaches have bungalows beachfront behind the sand. I can't think of names for all (I prefer headland bungalows) but google for Bottle Beach 1 - Than Sadet - and Cookie's on Salad. Maybe etc can help you with others. I did see another resort on Salad with absolute beachfront bungalows.

If you are going after August I should have updates - I'm going to spend some time on Salad and Sadet that month.

Alex said...

Hi Tezza. Very lovely blog. It almost inspires me to want to set up one for Indonesia having been here 15 years, and coincidentally, where you are now... I could've given you some tips too... Possibly still can...

Wanted to request your advice for a 2 week trip I'm taking to Thailand with wife & 2 kids (6 & 3 yrs). Flights booked but no idea where to go. Drawn to the Koh Chang, Kood, Maak area but willing to change plans based on your advice. Arrive on 13 June. Budget mid-range. Need beachy, kid fun. Would be grateful for any tips you could throw our way.



tezza said...

Hi Alex, got back from Indo yesterday - great trip, will soon have new pages up on Labuanbajo - Seraya and Kawana Islands West Flores, Perama's Sailing trip Flores - Komodo - Lombok, the Bukit Peninsula and Candidasa on Bali and updates to the general Bali and Gilis pages.

The Chang - Maak - Kood area is great but June often sees this area as the wettest in Thailand, and ferries to Kood at least are down to one or two per week.

Although it is only a relatively short distance further west, Ko Samet is normally one of the drier islands at this time - for mid range I'd be looking at Tub Tim Resort or if you want a slightly livelier beach, Samed Villa.

If you are prepared to travel further from the Bangkok area, the southern Gulf islands are even drier in a normal year - their wet season usually doesn't kick off until Oct.
On Phangan there are some nice midrangers on Thong Nai Pan, and you may consider checking Bottle Beach One's website for laid back and Cookies on Hat Salad for a slightly livelier place.
Neighbouring Ko Toh has places like Ko Nangyuan Resort and Viewpoint among many possibilites.
Samui gets bad press for overdone - but there are still some nice laidback bays - google for Thonkian which has 3 midrangers which get good reviews.
Samui can be flown onto from Bangkok and probably has the biggest range of kid type activities - although I am no expert in keeping kids happy if they get bored with the beach, swimming, snorkelling, trekking and just relaxing.

B said...

Hey Tezza I just wanted to say thanks, I've been using your information going back about 5 years ago when I found it on Gordon's tales of asia site.

I used again recently to plan my trip to Lanta. My wife is very grateful, that was her favorite place she's been so far.

I'm using your Bali write-ups now to plan a trip in July.

Very reliable info, much appreciated.


Mark said...

Awesome awesome site my friend- 10 out of 10!!!
Just a quick one.
I'd like to surprise my wife with a 2 week getaway to the Thai islands circa October. Relatively easy to get to, the usual great beach and some nightlife scenario.
Weather is most likely the issue- hence my email.
Your expert thoughts much appreciated!!!


tezza said...

Thanks Brian.

Mark, October is tricky because wet season is usually going everywhere.
In early Oct you may find the Samui/Phangan/Tao area the best, because its wet season is usually from Oct into Jan and may not have kicked in fully.
Late Oct often sees the eastern Gulf islands of big Chang, Wai, Mak and Kut the best bet because wet season tends to end earlier in the far east.
Nearby Samet tends to be drier just about any time than most places.

For great beach and nightlife - Chaweng on Samui, White Sand on big Chang (could be a bit quiet - definite low season), Tub Tim/Ao Pudsa on Samet (nightlife nearby beaches) and maybe Thong Nai Pan on Phangan (could be a bit quiet and nightlife is limited a bit).

If you decide White Sand, please read the DON'T DROWN page. The other beaches are on sheltered lee coasts.

anneliesep said...

Hi Tezza, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!! VERY happy that I stumbled upon this blog. Can I request a little bit of assistance...

My boyfriend and I are attending a wedding in Chiang Mai at the end of November 09. After the wedding, we're planning to fly south for 8 days island time (30 Nov - 7 Dec). My boyfriends brother will be joining us, so there'll be three of us in our late 20s.

I was lucky enough to backpack around Thailand 10 years ago now and loved it, but think things have changed a lot now. Loved Krabi and Phi Phi back then, but want to avoid the big tourist scene now.

Our wish list is sun, beautiful beaches, good budget accom, but my BF is pretty hyperactive (like a big kid), so we need lots of activities not just the island beach relaxation. The ideal would be beach front bungalows, good snorkeling, kayaking, boat rides etc and a super setting for a sunset beverage or two with a bit of atmosphere.

After reading your fab blog, these places have attracted my attention: Ngai, Kadran (particularly Wally!), Emerald Cave, Jum, Phayam, Lipe.

I understand that we can't get to all of these in 8 days and fly back to Bangkok for an evening flight, wish we had longer! What kind of itinerary do you think is possible to make the most of our time? Could you also suggest some good accom and should we book?

Many, many thanks for any suggestions.

Cheers A

anneliesep said...

Hi again, I forgot to mention that other suggestions for island visits are welcomed! Could you advise the best airport to fly into ?

Thanks again.

tezza said...

Anne - all those locations except Lipe I regard as laid back - at first glance maybe not the best for the hyperactive. Then again, I'm just about always on the go when I visit any island, so they should be able to offer enough to keep your boyfriend happy.

- has all your wants. I'd combine it with maybe a couple of days on adjacent Adang or more distant Tarutao.
Your airports are Hat Yai or Trang. If I was using Trang I'd maybe spend a few days on Ko Laoliang for climbing, kayaking, snorkelling, fishing - using Tigerline ferry as the link between Trang and Lipe.
Porn is a good Lipe budget joint and has nice sunsets. PP Mountain Resort is a step up - but faces north.

NGAI and KRADAN are an obvious combination and should have enough activities and daytrips to keep your boyfriend happy. Do Emerald Cave as a daytrip from either.
Paradise Beach Resort is the only one has sunsets on Ngai. No Kradan resorts face east or are surrounded by jungle but you could carry a beer or 10 over from Wally's to nearby Sunset Beach and enjoy.
Trang is your airport.

JUM does not have good snorkelling but otherwise has enough hiking and cycling to keep bf busy - but a nearby combination destination which does have good snorkelling and your other requirements is the relaxed way less visited east coast of Phi Phi. Lots of good places to stay on both islands - the ones I have used and write about on the pages are not shabby.
Krabi for Jum and Krabi or Phuket for Phi Phi are your airports.

PHAYAM again has enough to keep you busy. A nearby combination island is Little Ko Chang. Note these are not great snorkelling islands. Lots of good accomm including the ones I used. Check the maps if sunsets are important.
The airport is Ranong - but last high season only 2 flights per week.
Phuket airport is some distance, but you could do a Similans or Surins trip for snorkellng on the way. Maybe check the Poseidon overnight snorkelling trip report on the SNORKELLING PAGE.
Note the Ranong Islands are REAL WET in a normal wet season and the Surins and Similans are closed.
Your other destinations are okay in wet season but Tigerline does not run and Laoliang is closed.

anneliesep said...

Thanks Tezza that's great info for me to crack on with! I've just been reading about Laoliang and it looks perfect. I noticed that they have a package tour, not normally our thing. Do you know if you can stay there without having to do a package trip?

tezza said...

Certainly can.
There are 2 Laoliang websites towards the bottom of the page.
One is for Thai tourists - they prefer packages.
The second is for Farangs - when I just looked it was down for rebuilding, but one of the owners has personal contact details for people wanting info:

Michael is very approachable. Tell him tezza said hullo.

One thing, I wouldn't spend a full 8 days at Laoliang - but I get restless after seeing everything an island offers. Being small Laoliang does not need huge amounts of time for this.
But for climbers wanting to try the full range of climbs and for people just wanting to kick back and relax in an uncrowded seldom visited place, 8 days would be fine.

neilmo said...

hi T
Incredibly comprehensive review of thai islands etc but are you able to offer any opinions on the andaman islands (India)?. Looking for a chilled island break in feb/march next year, can you suggest locations?....also any tips on getting there from thailand?
many thanks

tezza said...

I've never been to India's Andaman Islands. I've seen questions like yours on travel forums and from memory there are no boats or flights - you have to access via India!!

neilmo said...

bugger....thanks anyway

Anonymous said...

Hello McDeli and Tezza,
I liked the comments about Sun Smiles and Ao Si beach, but I can't see any pictures of the inside of the cottages. I will be needing a 'not too cozy' double room, that is, for two people who would prefer to sleep separately but will take a wide double bed ok. What do the beds in Sun Smiles look like? And for that matter at Ao Si Bungalows?
Thanks for any advice.

tezza said...

Tito, I haven't seen the inside of any of the bungalows on Ao Si.
I'm not real confident McDeli will reply - this forum does not get the traffic of a TRAVELFISH or THORN TREE.
You could try using the resort contact numbers on Kojum Online - there is a sublink on my Jum page.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tezza. I know those forums, but I enjoy the quality and civility of the posts here. I will try writing/calling some of the places and ask for a picture of a room if they can send one; I fear that telephone communication may be hard on such a specific matter.

Anonymous said...

Update on Ko Kradan Paradise Lost phone.
I just spoke to Wally today and made a reservation. To reach him from the United States, you dial 011-66 as usual, and then 89-5872409. I could not connect using 9, 09 or 089 as a prefix. Finally succeeded with 89.

Jason said...

Hi Tezza. I love your blog. I can't believe you've collected so much info about Thailand's beaches in one place. Anyway, I'm in my early thirties and planning to retire early and move to Thailand with my family in a couple of years. I'm not rich by any means, just tired of the rat race and should have $1,500 USD (maximum) or so to live on each month. I've read through many of your posts, but I'm looking for something specific, so maybe you can point me in the right direction. I want to retire to a place either at the beach or within 45 minutes of the beach. We are devout Christians and do not want to live somewhere where we'll be seeing any speedos, topless women or nudists, which I guess narrows out most of the popular tourist spots and desolate islands. I'd also like to stay away from the bar scene and known prostitute hangouts. A decent hospital, drinkable water and a good internet connection would be nice, as well as access to some modern conveniences and shopping. My family's safety is also very important to me, so I'd like to live in a safe place that's not going downhill. We don't mind living in a place with few tourists. Also, a place that's too tiny would probably get old quick, so I guess it can't be a tiny island. Something like Chiang Mai or better yet, Chiang Rai, but near the ocean would be good, but I know that doesn't exist. Also, I don't won't to be directly in the path of any future tsunamis, so if its on the Andaman side, it would have to be in a sheltered bay or on the east side of the island or something. I don't want to live in a very expensive area and don't want to be next door to any full moon parties. So far, the only place I've found that might vaguely match up with what I'm looking for are Prachuap Khiri Khan, which although I've heard good things about, the only photos I can find of it don't look very appealing. Brown sand, gray water (including Ao Manao Beach), and lack of coconut trees. Chanthaburi or Ko Mak seem possible, but don't exactly match up either. I don't know enough about Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Kao Yao, Kao Yao Yai or Ko Tarutao (not the tsunami side), but the non-touristy parts might be possibilities. In my mind, something like Ko Phangan, but without the tourist and parties would be perfect, but I know thats not possible. Turquoise water and a decent beach would be nice, if possible. Hope I don't sound too picky, but this is a big move, and i want to make sure I think it through thoroughly, and if anybody knows the answer, its probably you. So, what places or places do you recommend I check out? Any recommendations you have for me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

tezza said...

TITO - thanks. I'll put your info as an update on the Kradan page for other Stateside readers.

JASON - you have me beat. All the places on my blog will attract bikiniied and topless women plus guys with speedos. And quite a few of nicer, less touisty will not meet your need for closeness to hospitals and being a bit small.

You mention quite a few places I haven't visited so I can't comment on them - except it would be a good idea to avoid the South East. The voilent separatists down there don't seem to like anyone, least of all devout Christian farangs.

Thais are pretty conservative in beach wear, although the speedo look is growing with some guys. So maybe you could stay somewhere in/near Krabi town and beach it at Noppharet Thara north of Ao Nang which is largely a Thai picnic beach. Nai Yang in the quiet part of northern Phuket is similar. Phuket fills the bill for hospitals, services and not being too small.
Apparently few farang tourist make it to the fishing villages north and south of Chumpon on the Gulf north west of Tao - and the beaches here are suposed to be very nice, plus there are some off-shore islands. It's an area I want to see soon.
The north of Yao Yai has some nice beaches, only one bungalow joint right now, is heavily Muslim meaning modest dress and friendly people. All Phuket's facilities and services are close.

Fiesta Saurus Rex said...


I'm visiting Indonesia starting in Feb 2010 (probably staying for two months or more).

I am looking forward to avoiding highly touristy areas, so thanks so much for your information.

I was wondering what the appropriate swim wear is for ladies like myself. I don't want to offend - and I'll likely be places like Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi (in otehr words not Bali).

Final question - and a little far fetched - I'm always a bit nervous starting a solo trip to a new country (I've traveled southeast asia before but not Indonesia) so would anyone you know be around Indonesia at the begining of March? hahah

tezza said...

I havent had too much experience of those places you mention - most of my travel has been in Bali and Lombok. But certainly in the areas of West Flores I visited, western ladies in bikinis on the resort beaches were common. Don't think I saw topless. A question on Lonely Planet Thorntree may get better answers.
I don't know anyone who will be in Indo in March, but once again Thorn Tree may be the go - there is a TRAVELLING COMPANIONS branch.
I've always found it easy to hook up with others for a few days or more when travelling Indo or Thailand.

ericande said...

After some hours of fruitless research on tripadvisor I stumbled across your blog and it's been a great help. My fiance and I are taking our honeymoon next September from approximately the 6th to the 24th. We'll be going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai then Phuket and we want to spend the last 4-6 nights on an island. Looking at your weather page I've ruled out Ko Chang and nearby islands and I think we're pretty much set on Samui, Phangan or Tao. We're looking for something with a quiet beach, options for food besides the resort and activities to do such as diving, hiking, kayaking (preferably through jungle and rivers rather than open ocean) and possibly rock climbing or mountain biking. I do plan on renting a motorcycle wherever we go so we should be able to get around easily.

I know you don't have too much experience at resorts but we are looking to stay in a nice place (up to 12,000 baht a night.) I've found resorts on Samui and Phangan that should be great but not sure if any on Tao look that excellent (very mixed reviews.)

I think I'm leaning towards Ko Phangan. But I'm having trouble seeing what kind of activities there are to do on the islands besides diving or boat trips. We're in our mid-twenties if that matters for your recommendations.


tezza said...

I've done some good hikes on Phangan - from Had Sadet to Thong Nai Pan and from Had Salad both north and south.
Next trip I'm going to try Bottle Beach to Tong Nai Pan and Bottle Beach to Coral Beach - and maybe the east coast jungle track from Had Rin to Ao Thian.

It's also a good island to mountain bike - some well-surfaced scenic roads in the western half. The eastern dirt roads into the mountains and down to the beaches north of Had Rin are killers for steepness and roughness.

Be careful motorcycling these. I advise avoiding them unless you are experienced.

None of the southern Gulf islands are known for rock climbing - what you need is Krabi/Ton Sai (but the weather is usually not as good in September). And there are no good river or mangrove areas for kayaking - but every beach has kayaks and there is often no or little ocean swell.
The best area for kayaking is Phang Nga Bay north of Krabi. There is some kayaking around the Krabi wetlands too.

ericande said...

Thanks. The kayaking through forests in Ko Chang looked great but with 2ft of rain in an average September, we'll skip that!

Ko Phangan it is. I know there lots of motorcycle accidents with tourists in Thailand but I have quite a bit of experience, best way to see places in my experience.

Now I just have to figure out if the Rasananda or Santhiya is best for us...

mammaMia said...

hi tezza..need your expert there any low-mid budget hotels at phi phi that offers scenic view + not too far from the nite life (minus the noisy part + no boat ride)..any ideas???...thanx

tezza said...

For low budget try Rock Climbing Bungalows and its neighbours down the far western end of Ton Sai beach by the headland - turn left of the ferry pier. 10 minutes walk up to town and parties etc - a real nice part of this generally not so nice beach.

Further out - the cheaper bungalows at Phi Phi Hill. Easiest to get to town by boat but can walk in about 30-40 minutes - need a torch at night.

Now "MID BUDGET" depends on your definition. If you mean around $us65-75 you could try Bay View and View Point - the latter is closest to town. Plus Paradise Resort and Paradise Pearl on Long Beach.
If lower, maybe the more expensive bungalows at PP Hill, Viking just west of Long Beach and the very few beachfront bungalows at Long Beach Bungalows.

Now there are probably some budget and semi budget places in the higher Soi Viewpoint area of Ton Sai with views and quiet, but this is an area I don't know well. TRAVELFISH has a good description of this, particular the pay version of their PP Guide - very inexpensive.

JFrench said...

Hey Tezza,

Great blog, really appreciate the effort you go to.

I am wondering if I show up to Ko Tao in high season (27 Dec to 2 Jan), what are the chances of finding a place? Will I find anything, or is it unlikely?

Thanks Tezza,

tezza said...

I've never been on Tao at peak peak, but I've seen lots of reports saying it does get very crowded. I reckon you will be able to find SOMETHING, but it may require quite a lot of searching, which aint fun when you don't know an island. Hell, it aint fun when you DO know the place.

Thomas said...

Hey Tezza! I am a bit overwhelmed to say the least. I am a Thailand regular but always the Gulf side. I am "doing" New Year's in Thailand and I have a chance for accommodation in Phi Phi or Lipe. I read you say that for a first timer Phi Phi would be the choice. I have been to neither place and would love a cool place with a nice party vibe or laid back and chill. Both will be full I am sure but I will click away some pics and enjoy the sun. Is it easy to get to a nice "less crowded" beach on Phi Phi? I am staying near the village. I am trying to read as much as I can But I have Hong Kong to plan also and you seem to be the most level headed.I keep running across the "skip the islands" nazis. thanks.

jff said...

Hey tezza! First things first, I must thank you for your extremely great job and invaluable info. Now that we have set this straight, I need your help. I am planning a trip to Thailand this December. I got almost everything more or less planned, but the beach part. I intend to leave Bangkok on 23/12 and return on 26/12, so not having much time to spend, I am a bit divided to where should I go. I have been reading a lot and came down to Koh Samet or Koh Chang (the big one). Since I don't have that much time to spend I was worried that Koh Chang would be a bit far off...
I would like to know your opinion on where should I go (other suggestions are welcome). I am not looking after some over crowded party-crazed beach, just some nice place to chill (doesn't have to be deserted either) on a budget not that big. And should I book early? I don't mind knocking on some doors looking for a place to stay, but being right on christmas, I don't want to end up in a place paying big bucks. Thanks for your help.

tezza said...

Wow, just got back from a visit to Langkawi, Ko Lipe and Ko Bulon to find a whole bunch of unanswered questions on account I stay away from computers as much as possible when travelling. Okay, some of this may be too late:

THOMAS - if you are staying near the village on PP the unexpectedly nice western end of Ton Sai beach against the headland is usually not crowded.
The beaches between the village and Long Beach can be fairly laid back too.
East coast beaches are uncrowded but require quite a steep walk from the village and the longtail guys charge a bomb to turn the corner east of Long Beach. It takes 10 minutes to walk over to Ao Pooh and Ao Modee from Long Beach.

JFF - Samet is 3 hours closer to Bangkok than Chang. I'd be looking at Ao Pudsa or Candlelight beach to fit your asks. I reckon that period could be busy so if you can book ahead - yeah, go for it.
If you go to Chang, click my link for Bang Bao Cliff Cottage at Bang Bao. The area around RockSand on the quieter part of White Sand Beach may be worth a look.

jsl said...

Firstly thank you so much for all the effort in putting up the info and extra effort in updating. i have been reading alot to plan a short holiday in south thailand islands next week.
-should trust availability calendars on kohlipethailand dotcom? most seem to be full.
-i'm trying to get intouch with the newer Paradise Cottage Resort on Pattaya beach. How can i get it? They dont seem to have a website.
-should i go with varin?
thanks in advance

tezza said... is a booking site - I reckon they would be doing themselves out of business showing full occupancy if there were vacancies

- I haven't any contact # for Paradise - they do feature on the above website but I don't know where on Pattaya they are located

- in that Varin is easily bookable online, is in a great section of the beach and has fantastic breakfasts included in the price, you could do worse. But the cheaper bungalows are not great for the price.

jsl said...

thanks for reply tezza. i think varin it is!
if nobody hasnt suggested, may be you could consider expanding the width of your content frame (via free blogger themes) so there is less scrolling required.
have a good one!

Lars-Jørgen Kristiansen said...

This blog is great lots of great info!

Were leaving for Thailand at the end of this month. Gonna stay 3 weeks. Have got the first week booked on Railay beach. Was thinking maybe Koh Jum and Phi Phi for the other weeks. Do you recon we should book in advance for these places? Or would it be plenty of good accomodation available at that time?

tezza said...

L-J, Phi Phi is usually pretty busy at that time. Dunno about this year with Financial Crisis etc but all signs are that the travel scene has picked up from last year.

If I was travelling alone and didn't know Phi-Phi I think I would rely on the touts at the pier or on the ferries or the booking agent at the land end of the pier to find a place. But if I had people in tow or wanted a specific joint, I'd book ahead.

The problem with Jum is that accommodation is spread out along the coast and you need to know which of the 3 (or sometimes 2) ferry-stop points to jump into waiting longtails and ideally into the longtail for your resort.
Once again touts on the ferries are a good source.
North (Luboa) Beach and Golden Pearl probably have the closest cluster of accommodation places to easily walk between in search of a bungalow.

Ishwar said...

Hi..thanks for the wonderful info.. however i wanna ask if it is ok to go tioman around 20 feb and also how to go from berjaya to paya ?? also if jet ski is available ??

tezza said...

Berjaya stays open all year, and I think quite a few other places would be opening up around the end of February. Maybe you could contact Paya and ask. The guy who runs this site will probably be able to help you too.

I walked from Berjaya to Paya but there are plenty of water taxis to take you plus 3 or 4 ferries shuttling along the coast before heading back to the mainland.

tezza said...

Jet skis - well Berjaya will have them.

Diana said...

Your blog has been super helpful! I'm going to Thailand for the second time in April (we were in Phuket last year). We are trying to decide on a beach for the tail end of April 18-25. I can't decide between Khao Lak and Koh Phangan. I would like a nice quiet beach w/ some beach bars/restaurants, swimming, and blue water. I've been looking at pictures of Khao Lak and the beaches don't look all that great...are they just bad pictures in poor lighting? And I was concerned about water levels in Haad Yao Koh Phangan in April, I hear it's pretty low? Your advice is appreciated!! Diana

tezza said...

Must just be bad pix and poor lighting - the beaches at Lak are real nice.

The low tide thing in low season for the Gulf islands has been exaggerated IMHO.
Someone put a scientific report up with a complicated explanation and statistics - apparently the difference with other parts of the year is only a matter of a few centimetres.

I reckon it is a case of some LP/Rough Guide researcher going there on a Spring Tide day (one of those twice monthly periods coinciding with full moon and no moon) when high tide is higher than normal and low tide is lower than normal - often by way more than a few cm. He/she was blown away by how low the tide was and thought this was an every day thing.

I've been on the west coast of Phangan in such periods and yeah, the beaches do get shallow for a few hours around lowest tide, but for the rest of the time are fine. Note that low tide gets an hour later each day so that if it is low tide at 11am when you arrive on Monday it is going to be low tide at roughly 5pm the following Sunday.

Diana said...

Thanks for the the tough question: If you had to pick one Khao Lak/Similan/Surin OR Koh Phangan/Koh Tao/Ang Thong to go to in late April, which would you pick? Thanks again for your help!

Brzooziu said...

Dear Tezza,
together with mywife we are going to Ko Lipe for 2 days. We are thinking about Blue Tribes Resort, Jack's JUngle or Sanom Beach Resort. Have you seen them? WHich one would you recomend? thanks in advance ;-)

Brzooziu said...

The 4th one we take to consider is Varin Beach Resort. Maybe you can also compare it to other 3, thaks ;-)

tezza said...

Diana, if I wanted two islands with a good mix of budget and better beach destinations plus a nice NP area for a daytrip I'd do Tao/Phangan/Ang Thong.

If I wanted a quieter beach destination with a greater proportion of umpmarket places plus 2 national park places to stay at with also the best coral in Thailand I'd do Lak, Similans, Surins.

tezza said...

Brz - I have a shot of Sanom on my Lipe page. Nice trad bungalows on an attractive quiet little beach only 10 minutes from the action on Pattaya. My sort of place.

Jacks is isolated and non-beach although only 5 minutes walk to Sunset Beach. Could be noisy on party nights.

Blue Tribes is in a good postion on Pattaya - don't know anything about the resort.

Varin - as I suggested on my Lipe page, great position, great buffet brekkas, cheaper bungalows not as good as they should be for the price.

Rachael said...

Hi Tezza, its Rachael from Bulone here! Sorry to use the forum for this but just wanted to let you know that lonely planet have closed down my thorntree account so I can no longer pick up PM's :( I did send you one a few days ago to confirm that the link was fine - hope you got it! Thanks! Rachael

kyb21 said...

Excellent detailed report and reviews, Tezza!
My sister and I would very much like to stay at Viewpoint Resort bungalows, but we can't find any contact info other than a phone #. I'm still trying to figure out how to dial it. Looks like it might be a cell phone #:
(083) 193 3362
Even the site has no mention of Viewpoint. How did you book?

My sis and I are looking for two beds as well. We're not too keen on sharing a bed. Any idea if Viewpoint has any two bed bungalows?

Thanks in advance for any feedback, and keep up the wonderful reports. We've used your info and advice throughout are Thailand travel planning.


tezza said...

Rachael! Why did they do that? Not spamming surely - I push my blog harder than you promoted yours.

Anyway, your stuff is getting to people thru the TRIP REPORTS.

I did get that PM. Note I now have your LANTA report up. Couldn't shorten it much! And I should get BULON LAE up soon.

If you want to contact me, will do the trick.

Thanks again for all your input.

tezza said...

KYB. When travelling without Lady Tezza I rarely book ahead. Didn't with Viewpoint.
Would you believe I went by there again in December just gone, bought a beer and forgot to ask the guy his phone #?
That's nothing, I asked the girl at Bila Beach her #, and then lost it!! shows Viewpoints # as Mobile:+66 (0)8 - don't think that will work! Maybe email Pooh's, tell them you were reading their excellent website and ask them what Viewpoint's # is.

I don't know if they have bungalows with 2 singles at Viewpoint. Most places do. But the huge king sized bed in my bung would keep people well apart.

I think most people do as I did and walk-in at Viewpoint without booking. If they are booked out or don't have 2 singles that new Varin 2 is about 400m north in a good area, has a big range of near new trad style bungalows.

Reet said...

Hi Tezza

As a fellow Thailand addictee I just love love love your blog page! Great work... I am trying out a different area of Ko Phangan this coming trip and was hoping you might be able to help me...

We are stuck between getting a beach bungalow from either Mai Pen Rai or JS Huts.. did you see either of these beach bungalows and what did you think of JS Huts?

Heaps of reviews on MPR bungalows but only review I can find on JS is Travelfish... I find travelfish to be pretty spot on with their review of any place but the lack of other reviews worries me slightly!!

Also is there any type of nightlife on this beach? Just looking for drinks in the sand with fellow travellers.. too old for the full moon party shenanigans but do like to have a few drinks to the backdrop of some funky music of a night

Reet :-)

tezza said...

Yeah, I stayed at Mai Pen Rai this past August - got a fair bit of info and some pix on the second Phangan page here

Real nice place - I was really taken by the rock bungalows. Maybe a bit expensive compared to a lot of other Phangan places.

JS Huts are on the lower headland to the inland side of MPR's rock bungalows - they also (like MPR) have some beach bungalows. I didn't get to look inside.

MPR's funky restaurant attracted a mellow crowd of travellers at night for what you describe.
I should imagine some of the other restaurants on the beach/headland may do the same. Didn't check.

Note the New Phangan Tree House is 5 minutes walk away on the adjacent Thong Reng Beach - seemed to be attracting the same type of people as the old Ko Chang Tree House they used to run.

sim2064 said...

Hi Tezza,

Thanks for this great blog. Great source for us first time visitors to Thailand. Since you have so much knowledge about the islands, I thought I would reach out to you. Your advice would be much appreciated!

We will be visiting Thailand for a week at the end of March. We will visit Bangkok for 3 days and then would like to spend the other 4 days in Phuket & Ko Phi Phi.

In both Phuket & Ko Phi Phi we would like to stay in up-scale (3 star or 4 star) resorts, away from the crowds but not in completely isolated parts of the islands :) I know you probably get questions like these a lot! Keeping this in mind, where would you recommend we stay? Some type of beach bungalow, private cabin type lodging would be ideal.

Also, is it easy to purchase ferry tickets on the day of travel from Phuket to Phi Phi or should I book them in advance? From Ko Phi Phi, we would like to go to Singapore. What is the best way to travel from there? Would we have to take a ferry back to Phuket and fly to Singapore from there? I have also heard of ferries ( that go from Phi Phi to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia (from where we can catch a train to Singapore). Which would be the better option, flight or ferry?

Thanks again for all your help!

tezza said...

The best hotels in Phi Phi are on the isolated east coast.
However on which fits you ask is Phi Phi the Beach Resort with real nice bungalows on a steep hillside overlooking Long Beach which is the nicest beach with easy access to town.
Another which is downmarket a bit is Bay View closer to town.

I am not an expert on Phuket hotels - there are thousands! But I reckon Cape Panwa Hotel would fit your ask. I stayed in the slightly cheaper The Bay which was good value but the beach is not as good. And there are no individual cabins.
I have also stayed at the Naithonburi on nice Naithon Beach close to the airport, but this is a bit isolated from the busy parts of Phuket. Hotel type rooms only here.

You can purchase ferry tickets on the day of travel from your hotel's travel desk - the price should include free transfer to the pier.

Tegerline island-hops all the way to Langkawi in north-west Malaysia from where there are several flights per day to Singapore.
Or you can jump another ferry to Penang and fly (or train from nearby Butterworth).
But unless you want to stay over at some of the islands on the way I would not recommend it - Tigerline boats are noisy, can be bumpy and unless you sit up on top where it can get windy and spray-ey not to mention sun-burny, the views are limited.

I'd go back to Phuket - or if you want to see somewhere new, go to Krabi which is about the same distance from Phi Phi. Krabi airport is closer to the pier but only one or two flights per day to Singapore - heaps from Phuket.

swayinghammock said...

Hi Tezza, brilliant blog.

At one point you say to book well in advance for the Langkawi speedboat. I will arrive on Lipe from Tarutao and stay four nights. If I book the Langkawi speedboat as soon as I get to Lipe, is that far enough in advance?

Thanks, Malcolm

tezza said...

Normally yep.
But look, on our return trip a group of Thai ladies had the boat booked out completely when we tried to get tickets 3 days in advance - who knows how far they booked ahead (maybe their agent had done it when they planned the trip)? Luckily there were enough subsequent extras to warrant the operators putting another boat on.
Thing is if you know what date you want why not book thru the Telaga Harbour website?

Now if you want to leave the date flexible there are a couple of points in your favour - that weekend we came back was a Thai holiday weekend so busy busy, plus high season has finished now - plus Tigerline may now be running across to Langkawi (check their webiste). Tigerline is so big it would never be booked out.
And if all else fails you can do the long way - big ferry to Satun, taxi etc ot Pak Bara and ferry/speedboat to Lipe.

swayinghammock said...

Thanks Tezza. I had wondered about booking directly with the Telaga website. If you think it's trustworthy I'll do that.

tezza said...

Yes, it worked okay for us. On the trip OVER to Lipe from Langkawi we actually rang up from our hotel the day before - the speedboat people asked us to use the website to make our booking and print out a ticket.
BTW, the boat was reasonably full on the OVER trip, but I don't know if others had booked before or after us.

tezza said...

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