The islands of Thailand’s Andaman Coast have plenty to offer those with an adventurous, fun-loving agenda in mind. Here are 10 highlights recommended by influencer (and party lover) Thatraveller Holly O’Sullivan.
1. Take the Plunge at LUB D’s Pool Party and party on down Bangla Rd in Phuket
LUB D hotel’s famous pool party is a good place to kick off an island-hopping Thailand adventure. A popular hub for backpackers, it is a great place to meet people that you’ll likely run across again on your Thailand travels.
From here, dive deep into Phuket’s nightlife on Bangla Road, which transforms by night into one big hectic walking street. There are bars of all shapes and flavours, some a little more risqué, some just like your classic Aussie pub.
2. Cocktails & rock climbing at Railay Beach, Krabi
Surrounded by high limestone cliffs, Railay Beach is only accessible by boat – the best way to get here is on a traditional long tail boat. The cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world, so if you’re feeling active, head for the cliffs, or if you’d rather chill out, head for one of the beautiful white sandy beaches or grab a frozen cocktail at one of the beach-side reggae bars.
3. Go on a Bar Crawl on Phi Phi Island
Off the coast of Phuket, Ko Phi Phi may be a small island, but it’s big on nightlife. The island is a popular meetup place for backpackers, with beach bars, fire shows and plenty of free-pouring. Start your evening in town with a tasty Thai dinner and cocktails and bar-hop your way down the alleyways towards the beach.
4. Swim through an Emerald Cave on a 4-Islands tour in Ko Lanta
A 4-Islands tour from Ko Lanta takes in the islets of Ko Muk, Ko Kradan, Ko Cheuk and Ko Ngai. The tour starts on a high on the island of Ko Muk, as you float through the enchanting Morakot (Emerald) Cave into a secret hidden bay, a white sandy beach shaded by rainforest canopy. From this enchanted cave, it’s on to more island hopping the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches of Ko Kradan, Ko Cheuk and Ko Ngai.
5. See the famous Beach at Maya Bay, Phi Phi
While you may not have heard of Phi Phi Island, you’ve probably heard of ‘The Beach’, made famous in the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Maya Beach itself is closed to tourists for an indefinite period of rehabilitation but until it is reopened you can explore the bay by boat.
6. Hike up to Ko Phi Phi Viewpoints
If you’re looking to exert yourself beyond the cocktail bars and white sandy beaches of Ko Phi Phi, spend a day hiking the Viewpoints. There are three viewpoints to hike to, which can be climbed in succession. If you want to see all three at a relaxed pace, you’ll want to allocate an entire day for this activity. The hike to the top can be tough, but the reward, the panoramic views from the summit make it well worth the trek.
7. Take part in a Muay Thai Boxing Comp on Ko Phi Phi
On Ko Phi Phi there’s a dedicated Muay Thai boxing bar where you can compete against each other and win prizes. If you’re not the competitive type, simply take in a few games over a beer or two. The Thai combat sport is also known as the ‘Art of 8 Limbs’ as it uses a combination of fists, elbows, knees and shins. The sport can be traced back to the 18th century but it became more popular in the late 20-21st century when introduced to the wider world.
Every major city in Thailand has Muay Thai venues, and if you don’t just happen to stumble across one while walking down the street, the bars advertise by driving vans around each day announcing the time and place.
8. Climb 1237 Steps up to the Tiger Temple (Wat Tham Suea), Krabi
1237 steps in the heat of the Thai tropics is not easy, but worth it to see the views at the peak, over Krabi’s mountainous landscape. The temple complex is a maze of natural caves, with the main temple atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the town below. The starting point for this walk is an experience in itself, as you pick your way through some cheeky resident monkeys. From here it’s mainly uphill, but the trail flattens out every so often, and there’s plenty of space at each corner to take a break in the shade.
Note: As a place of worship it is respectful (and required) to be modestly dressed. If you are wearing shorts you can rent a sarong at the entrance.
9. Relax in Krabi’s Emerald Pools and Hot Springs
The mineral-infused water of Krabi’s Hot Springs is said to have healing qualities, and they certainly provide a relaxing tranquil atmosphere, under a shady rainforest canopy. Make your way through a sequence of small pools of varying temperatures, gradually cooler as you make your way from the top down.
A trip to the nearby stunning Emerald Pool, in the Thung Teao Forest National Park, is worth it simply for the photo opportunity. A 2.7 km trail takes you through beautiful virgin rainforest before reaching the crystal-clear lake for a refreshing dip.
10. Eat your way through Thailand at Krabi’s night markets.
There are two daily night markets in Krabi Town. The first (and best) is opposite City Hotel on Soi 10 Maharat Road, with excellent street food stalls serving everything from pad thai to catfish curry, salads, soups and sweets. It’s also a good place to buy fresh fruit.
The second night market is more like an open air food court. A series of small restaurants with plastic tables and chairs on Khong Kha Road, next to the old Chao Fah pier. Between them, they serve a huge variety of dishes, and you can mix and match and sit down at any available table to feast.