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Things to Do in Southern Thailand and Andaman Coast

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James Bond Island (Ko Khao Phing Kan)
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152 Tours and Activities

This iconic set of islands used to be nothing more than a spot on the map in Ao Phang Nga National Park. But in 1974, when James Bond chose Khao Phing Kan as a hideout in The Man with the Golden Gun, this rarely visited limestone island became a popular destination frequented by travelers on Longtail Boat tours.

Along with the island's new fame came hoards of tourists and potential destruction of the island's natural beauty. So since 1998, it has been forbidden for boats to approach Ko Tapu, the 66 foot (20 m) limestone rock that lies just off the shore, in order to stop the erosion of the limestone and eventual collapse. Travelers love the lush vegetation, rocky cliffs and dark caves that make this pair of islands easy to spot. Most trips offer the opportunity to swim and explore the surrounding waters and hungry visitors can make the most of their excursion by eating lunch at the nearby floating Muslim village.

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Hong Islands (Mu Ko Hong)
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75 Tours and Activities

The southern Thailand province of Krabi is surrounded by surreal rocky islands that poke out of the surrounding turquoise Andaman Sea, including the beautiful group known as the Hong Islands.

A popular day-trip destination from Ao Nang, the Hong Islands are fringed with rainforest and white-sand beaches, with rocky viewpoints and hidden lagoons.

Offshore dives reveals a spectacular underwater world of coral reefs, and if you’re sea-kayaking you can access lovely sea caves.

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Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi)
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105 Tours and Activities

Koh Phi Phi is a group of islands, but most of them are just limestone spires. The only ones of any size are Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Ley. When you come to visit these heavenly islands, you'll be coming into the port on Koh Phi Phi Don.

After the infrastructure here was largely swept away by the 2004 tsunami, it was hoped that rebuilding could take place with more care for the environment and a swing upmarket. But the rush to get the tourist business back on track meant that the island - with all its rash of tourist businesses - remains much the same. Koh Phi Phi Ley has its share of over-touristing too - Maya Beach is where the film The Beach was shot, and it's regularly crowded and littered. Koh Phi Phi Ley is also famous for its bird's nests, which are used in soups.

Despite the islands' commercialization, they remain stunning little patches of paradise - all silken warm waters, limestone pillars and luminous underwater scenery.

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Maya Bay (Maya Beach)
138 Tours and Activities

The stunning Maya Bay became a major tourist attraction after the 2000 film, The Beach, was filmed here. It’s situated within Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands, off the coasts of both Krabi and Phuket on the mainland, and is distinguished by its beautiful white-sand beach sheltered by limestone cliffs on three sides.

There are in fact several beaches here, but most are small and some only exist at low tide. The main beach, where most boats drop passengers just offshore, is a 200-meter long strip of silky white sand. It’s surrounded by clear waters filled with colorful coral and an abundance of exotic fish, making it an absolute haven for snorkelers. Walking inland is also a treat, with a path that winds through lush greenery and reveals some simply spectacular scenery.

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Phang Nga Bay (Ao Phang Nga)
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123 Tours and Activities

Phang Nga Bay is a classic Southeast Asian bay - bright jade water, limestone pinnacles and all. A large part of it has been protected as a national park.

Notable islands in Phang Nga Bay include the so-called James Bond Island (it's featured in The Man with the Golden Gun) and Koh Panyee, where you can visit a fishing community built out on stilts across the water. Bear in mind that this community is a Muslim one, so dress modestly.

You can take tours that will drop you at various beaches to swim and snorkel and take you to James Bond Island and Koh Panyee; you can also canoe.

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Tup Island (Koh Tup)
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53 Tours and Activities
Tup Island (Koh Tup) is one of the most popular offshore islands around Krabi, and is a staple part of the itinerary for most day trips from the mainland. Situated southwest of Ao Nang and between Poda Island and Chicken Island, Tup is smaller than the other islands in the archipelago it belongs to, but its white sands and excellent snorkeling certainly don’t disappoint.
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Ao Thalane (Thalane Bay)
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Krabi is famous for its towering limestone cliffs, idyllic beaches and peaceful mangrove forests, and Ao Thalane (Thalane Bay) represents one of the most beautiful mangrove forests in all of Thailand. On this stretch of coast 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Krabi Town, dense mangroves shroud the karsts and cliffs, hiding caves, small inlets and secluded lagoons.

The best way to explore Ao Thalane is with paddle in hand. Shaded by the canopy, kayaking through the winding network of mangrove roots gets visitors close to nature, where it’s possible to spot kingfishers, crab-eating Macaques, river otters, herons, monkeys, monitor lizards and snakes. It’s an ideal place to escape the bustle of Ao Nang or Krabi for a day spent surrounded by only the sounds of nature.

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Koh Panyee (Koh Panyi)
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The limestone island of Koh Panyi is home to a floating Muslim fishing village, built on stilts over the water. The village has a mosque and a school, and is home to around 100 families who make their living from fishing.

Seafood restaurants are a big hit here, and market stalls sell souvenirs, T-shirts and postcards.

An overnight stay in a traditional home with a local family, in a room hovering over the water, is a unique Thailand experience.

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More Things to Do in Southern Thailand and Andaman Coast

Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot)

Emerald Cave (Tham Morakot)

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17 Tours and Activities
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Phra Nang Beach (Phranang Beach)

Phra Nang Beach (Phranang Beach)

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45 Tours and Activities

Part of a small peninsula located between Krabi Town and Ao Nang, Phra Nang Beach is one of the most scenic and picturesque beaches in the country. This short but broad strip of sand boasts that classic jaw­dropping beach scenery only found in Thailand, with pure white sand framed by limestone cliffs and lapped by calm waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. This whole area is particularly popular with rock climbers, and even if you don’t join in, it’s fascinating to watch those who do climb up right from the beach. At the southern end of the beach is a giant limestone cliff that contains the famous PrincessCave, said to be the home of a mythical sea princess. Other activities to keep you amused while you admire the scenery include having a massage, enjoying a barbecue, hiking, sunbathing and, of course, going for a swim.

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Railay Beach

Railay Beach

39 Tours and Activities

Railay sits on a peninsula between the busy tourist centers of Krabi and Ao Nang, but because of its fairytale limestone cliffs, it’s only accessible by boat. The four interconnected beaches that make up Railay Beach (West Railay, East Railay, Phra Nang and Tonsai) have a distinctly bohemian, easy-going vibe.

West Railay, where many of the boats from Ao Nang dock, has the talcum powder-soft sand and cerulean waters of any beach bum’s dreams. The craggy limestone formations of East Railay make it one of Thailand’s top rock-climbing destinations, with safety bolts and marked routes covering much of the cliffy area. While advanced climbers will find plenty of challenges at Railay Beach, new climbers can register for “top rope” climbing classes to learn the sport with added safety measures. Both East and West Railay have small promenades lined with shops and restaurants.

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Koh Haa (Koh Ha)

Koh Haa (Koh Ha)

16 Tours and Activities
A tiny, remote cluster of five uninhabited islands some 10 miles off the coast of Koh Lanta in the Thai Andaman hides an underwater paradise. Here, striated granite pinnacles dotted with gnarly trees tower above some of Thailand’s clearest and bluest waters. Koh Haa’s shock of white sand beneath its central, protected cerulean lagoon affords a breathtaking backdrop for some of the best snorkeling and diving in the country. Comprised of northerly Ko Haa Neung, central Koh Haa Sam and southerly Ko Haa Yai, as well as two tiny unnamed pinnacles guarding sentry at the mouth of the lagoon, the underwater landscape is just as rugged as the rocky islets themselves. Protected swim-through caves hide lobster, morays and schools of shimmering fish, while vibrant coral is littered with psychedelic nudibranchs (sea slugs), and drop-offs provide the occasional glimpse of deeper denizens such as sharks. Sixteen recognized dive sites with names such as Lost Pinnacle, The Cathedral, Lionfish Den and
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Ao Nang Beach

Ao Nang Beach

20 Tours and Activities

Luxury beach resorts with pampering garden pools and high-end add-ons attract a jet-set crowd to Ao Nang Beach on the Andaman Sea. Ao Nang is an ideal base for island-hopping trips, sea-kayaking adventures and day tours to local attractions like snake farms, pineapple plantations and hot springs. Diving excursions head off from Ao Nang to nearby Raillay or further afield to Koh Phi Phi. The seafront promenade at Ao Nang is lined with souvenir shops, tailors and restaurants.

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Poda Island (Koh Poda)

Poda Island (Koh Poda)

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Koh Poda, part of a tiny archipelago in Krabi province off the west coast of Thailand, ranks among the most picturesque of the many uninhabited and semi-inhabited islands that line the coast. Longtail boats drop visitors off along a stretch of sugar soft, white sand beach, famous for its clear waters and stunning views off offshore limestone formations. Thanks to its west-facing beach, the area is particularly lovely around sunset.

Tropical fish are visible in the waters just off the beach, but just a little further out a coral reef rings much of the island, providing excellent snorkeling opportunities for those who can pull themselves from the beach. While the island does have a single guesthouse, most visitors come on a day trip from nearby Ao Nang.

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Chalong Big Buddha

Chalong Big Buddha

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111 Tours and Activities

Built on a patch of virgin rainforest high above Phuket City and visible from most vantage points, the serene - and very, very, big - Chalong Big Buddha will wow you even from a distance. Close up, it's quite overwhelming.

The giant statue was built by donations - visitors who donated were allowed to choose how their money would be spent. Also donated was the white marble that covers the sculpture, giving it a tranquil white glow.

There is another Buddha statue on the site, a smaller brass one - it stands a mere 12 meters (36 feet). The Big Buddha is 45 m (147 ft) and its lap is 25 m (82 ft) wide at the base. The smaller Buddha is dedicated to the Queen of Thailand, the larger to the King. Climb to the Buddha's feet to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and magnificent views.

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Emerald Pool (Sa Morakot)

Emerald Pool (Sa Morakot)

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36 Tours and Activities

Originating from a warm stream in the lowland forest of Khao Nor Juji, the Emerald Pool (or Sa Morakot) is a hot spring located within the Khao Pra­Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary in Krabi. The dazzling Emerald Pool is 115 long, 214 meters wide, and deep enough to swim in (although, due to the high levels of calcium carbonate, visitors should avoid swallowing any water while doing so). The color of the water varies according to the reflection of the sunlight at different times of the day. To experience the most intense emerald hue, visit at dawn or as early in the morning as possible. There are three nature trails that lead to the Emerald Pool. The first is a direct 800­ meter path from the main entrance. The second is via ‘Thung Tieo­Sa Morakot’, which is around 1400 meters long and and more challenging, but is ideal for birdwatchers and nature lovers. The third method is the longest at just under three kilometers, and is a scenic nature trail through the forest.

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Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea)

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea)

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31 Tours and Activities
The Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea) is a spiritual center in Krabi and also offers one of the best views in town. The temple is famous for its 1,237 steps, which lead up to the historic Buddhist monument. While the climb is not for the faint of heart, the spectacular views from the top make the effort worthwhile.
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Phuket Old Town

Phuket Old Town

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While a lot of Phuket may be all neon and tanning lotion, there are some parts of town that give you a flavor of what once was. Stroll the streets of Old Phuket Town and you can go back to the days when it was dubbed 'Junk Ceylon' and made a fortune out of tin. The architecture from that time is based on other colonial forms in places like Malay and Singapore. 'Shophouses' are the signature construction, with their narrow fronts, long sides and internal courtyards. Latticed windows are another feature of the area. There are a few old villas scattered around, some of which are museums which are open to the public, some of which can be viewed from outside. Soi Romanee is of interest as the former red light district.

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Ao Phang Nga National Park

Ao Phang Nga National Park

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92 Tours and Activities

More than 40 islands dot the green-blue waters of Ao Phang Nga National Park near Phuket. Their distinct limestone cliffs, unique sea life and close proximity to one another have made this natural escape one of the most popular Longtail boat trips in all of Thailand.

Ko Kan—also known as James Bond Island—Ko Phanak and Ko Hong are some of the regular stops on these memorable excursions. Travelers can coast over the mostly calm waters and see the spot where James Bond his out in The Man with the Golden Gun, or explore the caves of Lod Yai and Lod Lek. In addition to dozens of distinct and beautiful islands, travelers will pass through mangrove forests, where it’s easy to spot kingfishers, blue winged leafbirds and some of Thailand’s other unique wildlife.

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Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong

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There are 29 Buddhist temples on the island of Phuket, but Wat Chalong is the most elaborate and important. It is dedicated to two abbots who used their medical skills and authority to assist during the Tin Miner's Rebellion of the 19th century.

The building is large and impressive, but the main interest of the temple for visitors is its history. There are numerous stories that have grown up about its abbots and their magical qualities. Statues of the abbots inside the monastery are covered in gold leaf. Thai tourists visit here in great numbers, often to make decisions or receive lucky numbers. You can do as they do, but be sure to make a donation, and dress modestly.

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