Vacationing in an exotic destination such as Thailand should coincide with a visit to multiple locations. The country simply offers too much to do and see to spend your entire vacation in one location. I made this mistake during my first trip, mainly because I did not do enough research before going. The other mistake some first time travelers make is to indeed visit more than one location, but spend too much time on the road or sea traveling from one place to another.
If you are heading this way, here is the perfect route you could follow to get the most out of your vacation and see as many places and islands as possible with the least amount of travel time, all within 14 days.
Phuket has an international airport, so start your trip in the Andaman Ocean by booking 4 nights hotel accommodation in Phuket. At the same time, make sure your resort is centrally located so it will be quick and easy to navigate your way to island attractions. Patong or Karon beach will be perfect. Attractions in Phuket you should not miss include jungle elephant safaris, the Phuket Fantasea which is south east Asia’s own Disney Land, scuba and snorkeling, a visit to Khao Sok National Park and at least a few hours in Soi Bangla, Phuket’s main nightlife strip. Do go with an open mind though.
From Phuket you can reach the renowned Phi Phi Islands with a mere two hour boat trip which cost no more than a few hundred Thai Baht. Phi Phi is very small and two nights here should be more than enough, meaning you will spend one full day and two half days. During your full day, sign up for a day’s sightseeing excursions which include other smaller islands and a visit to Maya Bay, location of the movie The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Snorkeling in this Bay is the stuff dreams are made of.
From Phi Phi, you can within another two hours boat trip reach the most scenic region in all of Thailand namely Krabi. Krabi is known for it’s lime stone formations jutting from a clear and placid ocean. Krabi is on the mainland, but a multitude of small islands lay scattered close to Krabi’s shores. These include amongst others James Bond Island, Koh Phanyi, a village built over the water which serves as a market during the day and Phan Nga Bay which feature quint villages, lime stone caverns that can be explore by kayak and amazing snorkel and scuba excursions. Three nights in a beach resort in Krabi should leave enough time for the adventure which awaits.
The next leg will see the most time on the road and sea, approximately 5 to 6 hours. From Krabi, a few hundred Baht will get you to Surat Thani and Don Sak Pier by mini van. This is one of two departure points to get to islands in the Gulf of Thailand. At Don Sak you can purchase a ferry ticket to Koh Samui. Flying 45 minutes from Krabi to Samui is another option, but much more expensive and of course you see much more if you travel by road. From Don Sak, the ferry travel time to Koh Samui is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes (This is included in the total travel time of 5 to 6 hours). Four nights in a Koh Samui resort will allow you enough time to also visit Koh Tao, Thailand’s premier snorkel and scuba destination, during an organized day trip. On the same trip you can visit Koh Nangyuan, Thailand’s most beautiful and smallest island. Within a 45 minute boat ride is Koh Phangan which host the monthly full moon party seeing thousands of revelers gather on Haadrin Beach. Other attractions on Samui include visiting waterfalls, visiting the amazing Angthong Marine Park which consist of more than 40 scattered islands, all of which are un-in habitat. Koh Samui also has a vibrant nightlife.
From Samui, a quick one hour flight takes you to Bangkok. Two nights in Bangkok will allow enough time to visit most of the city attractions including the Royal palace, The famous floating markets, an array of Buddha images and statues including the emerald and reclining Buddha, and of course a endless selection of markets at which to shop at bargain prices. The biggest of these is the Chatuchak week-end market.
Five islands visited, a stop for 3 days in Krabi and two days exploring Bangkok all in fifteen days and the best part of all is the cost. Unless you will be staying in expensive hotels in Phuket, krabi or one of the other destinations, the entire trip per person, all transport, food and comfortable and recommended accommodation included, need not cost more than 1 500 US$.