Thailand is equipped with thousands of islands. Travelers lucky enough to visit each one either have too much baht on their hands or too much free time, and exploring each island in its entirety would take ages. Those with only 14 days in this amazing region, however, need to read this first before departing on their journey. Here is all you need to know for two weeks in Southern Thailand.
Travelers can take a bus down south then hop on a ferry to Koh Samui. There are also flights with island transfers to the Lipa Noi Pier on Koh Samui, with companies like Air Asia offering flights that are not too expensive. The travel time is quite long, however, with a flight from Bangkok to the island taking about six hours in total. There is also the Samui Airport on the island, but it is fairly expensive to fly here.
There are a handful of things to see and do on the island of Koh Samui. While Koh Phangan is certainly its livelier neighbor, visitors should at least spend 12 hours on the island before heading to their next destination. Some of the top things visitors need to see include the towering Big Buddha, the temple of Wat Plai Laem, the Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks, Secret Buddha Garden, and the mummified monk found at the temple of Wat Khunaram. After spending the day visiting these attractions, book a boat for first thing in the morning to head to Koh Phangan. A ferry to Koh Phangan from Koh Samui should only cost ฿100 and should leave as early as 8:30 a.m.
The ride from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan should take a little over an hour by boat. Koh Phangan, unlike the first island on our list, has one too many things to see and do. Those visitors arriving early in the morning should rent a scooter and zip around to the top sights which include the Sramanora Waterfall, Haad Than Sadet for a day at the beach, and one of the many viewpoints on the island to catch a sunset. Visitors should be aware of when to visit, as this island is home to the notorious full and half-moon party, two of the largest and most unforgettable parties in the entire world. Those that miss out on these epic endeavors should instead head to Haad Rin after dark, a great spot to dance the night away in the sand.
After a night out on the island, it is time to nurse that hangover at one of Koh Phangan’s coolest attractions: Slip N Fly. Though its name is relatively lame, the amusement park of sorts is not. Slip N Fly is equipped with everything a visitor needs to repair the damages caused by the previous night, with lounge chairs, an onsite restaurant, and a class happy hour starting at 4 p.m. ฿100 cocktails in addition to the three large slides make it one of the most fun spots on the island. Visitors should prepare (as the name suggests) to fly as they take to one of the three slides in the park. Just be sure to stick the tuck right before hitting the water, or you may end up spending the rest of the afternoon nursing a bad landing in addition to a hangover.
Bid farewell to Koh Phangan and head to the last island on our itinerary found on the Gulf of Thailand: Koh Tao. Otherwise known as Turtle Island, this small yet noteworthy island is a bit more isolated than the other two in the Gulf yet still packed with things to see and do. The island was previously only home to marine life, wildlife, and fishermen up until the 1940s before visitors discovered the hidden gem and made it the tourist hotspot it is today. Depending on what time of day visitors arrive, there may be time to make the journey up to a viewpoint on the island to watch as the sun goes down. That being said, visitors will want to take the evening to relax as day six of our itinerary calls for some underwater exploration, which is done best when not suffering from a hangover.
The island of Koh Tao is renowned for its world-class diving instructors and facilities. Whether visitors have never even strapped on a snorkel before or have spent more time under the sea than above it, there is a dive site for everyone surrounding the island. Fun dives allow first-timers to experience Koh Tao’s underwater realm while experienced divers can opt for a more challenging course. The island’s diving is some of the most affordable in the entire world as well, so visitors are not going to shell out one too many baht to explore the island’s surrounding coastline underwater.
After spending a day diving, it is time to see what Koh Tao has to offer land-dwellers. The island is decorated with an overabundance of bays where visitors can spend the day lounging on the beach or taking to the water with a snorkel in tow. The best places to spend the day include Koh Nang Yuan, Shark Bay, Mango Bay, or Tanote Bay. There are also plenty of viewpoints and visitors should make the journey to experience one of the island’s incredible sunsets before taking a night boat to Surat Thani in order to get to their next destination: Phuket. A night boat to Surat Thani in addition to a bus transfer to the island of Phuket should cost visitors under ฿1,000.
After traveling by night boat and minibus to Phuket, visitors will want to rent a motorbike to tool around to some of the best beaches on the island. Depending on where visitors stay, surely Freedom Beach is the best stretch of sand of them all. Despite a small entrance fee, the cost is surely worth the views and privacy this particular beach offers all those bikini-clad visitors. After soaking in the sun for the afternoon, head back to your accommodation, strap on your best after dark outfit, and head for Bangla Road. This stretch of road is seedy yet suitable for all types of traveler, with everything from hole in the wall bars to raunchy strip clubs to choose from. The street never sleeps, so prepare for a long night out on this epic stretch of clubs and bars.
Have a coconut water to cure that hangover and hop on the first ferry to Koh Phi Phi. The journey should take about two hours. The island, which is actually made up of about six islands, is sure to impress even the pickiest of travelers, with bays, viewpoints and beaches so stunning visitors will never want to leave. Because of the movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the island has definitely transformed from a haven of wildlife and locals to an island with one too many backpackers.
However, there are still plenty of ways to escape the onslaught of foreigners if travelers work hard enough to get off the beaten path. Having just arrived from Phuket, visitors should lounge at Tonsai Bay before checking out the main viewpoints on the island for an epic sunset. Some of the viewpoints have entrance fees, so do not forget your wallet. Afterwards, it is time to hit the beach to watch one of Thailand’s biggest claims to fame – the amazing fire shows. Slinky Beach Bar is the most entertaining of them all, with a show that seemingly goes on all night (about 2 a.m.).
The next day, visitors should sort out a snorkeling trip around the island. Maya Bay is perhaps one of the most stunning bays in the entire world to snorkel in, though it tends to get quite crowded by midday. There are boat trips that take visitors to some of Koh Phi Phi’s most coveted spots, including Shark Point, Monkey Beach, and Mosquito Island.
After indulging in too many buckets and snorkeling the island of Koh Phi Phi, it is time to venture to the next island on our itinerary: Koh Lanta. This island is certainly the quietest out of all the others, with few nightlife options but plenty of beaches to choose from. It provides visitors with a nice break from the onslaught of tourists and beaches where you may or may not be its only inhabitants, except for a stray beach dog or two.
The roads on Koh Lanta are less than pristine, so be sure to be careful if a scooter is your choice of transportation. Those looking for some peace and quiet may opt for Bamboo Bay Beach on the west side of the island, while those looking to take to the sea with a snorkel may instead opt for Koh Rok. In addition to beaches, there are plenty of waterfalls that are stunning after the monsoon season but less noteworthy if the island has not experienced rainfall for a while.
Leave Koh Lanta behind and head to the famous Krabi Province. Krabi is renowned for the rising limestone cliffs that protrude out of the crystal-clear water surrounding the area. Ao Nang and Krabi Town are some of the most popular and affordable places to stay, but those with baht to blow should try to book their accommodation option in Railay.
This peninsula is equipped with a penis fertility shrine (yes, you read that right), great rock climbing opportunities, and absolutely awe-worthy stretches of sand. That being said, Railay can be reached by longtail boat for an affordable price if visitors can herd up enough riders and prefer to stay on the mainland. The nightlife is somewhat lacking in Krabi, which is why we only allot one day to explore Railay before leaving Southern Thailand for good. Those visitors with extra time on their hands should definitely make their way to Tha Pom Khlong Song Nam, a national park just outside Krabi Province, equipped with meandering wooden walkways which allow visitors to explore the mangrove trees and emerald water found here.
Krabi is equipped with the Krabi International Airport (KBV) which flies to destinations all over the world. It is about 15 kilometers from Krabi Town.