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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where to go in Thailand

thailand ko phi phi 02Image by FriskoDude via Flickr

Thailand have long been a holiday destination with its sunny weather and long white beaches, and even more so in the last five years. As the country becomes increasingly popular the exploitation by both Thai and Western companies are on the raise, but Thailand still have a few hidden treasures.

As with every holiday, the place you want to visit depends on what you want to do with your time off. If you rather go sightseeing than sunbathing on a deserted island, you might enjoy the hustle and bustle of a town rather than a touristy resort.

These are some of the main destinations in Thailand:

1. Phi Phi Island; the most romantic and beautiful setting must be that of Ko Phi-Phi. Unfortunately, everyone knows it and it can feel very crowded. If you can overlook the crowds and soak in the beauty of this island, it is one of the best places to visit. The sea is lovely and blue, and all the usual water sports are available. You can walk up the mountain to get a view of the entire island and it is absolutely stunning. As it is so popular, it is vital to arrange accommodation prior to arriving, unless you expect to be there very early. It is normally booked out after the first couple if morning ferries arriving.

2. Railay; this is another treasure. The island is situated north of Ko Phi Phi and you get there easily by ferry from Phuket. The island is small and has no roads. You will have to take a long tail boat to get there and then wade in to shore, carrying your suitcase. Once you are settled in you will understand why you came. It is the most beautiful spot and very serene and tranquil. There are plenty of restaurants on the beach and places to enjoy a drink or two.

3. Ko Tarutao; if you like the idea of a deserted island or treading where no one ever trodden before, then take a trip down to Ko Tarutao National Park. You can take a speed boat from the mainland and stay on the island for a few days. There is a basic camp and one restaurant to buy your food. This is the island where they filmed one of the seasons of Survivor.

4. Ko Lipe; a bit further west of Tarutao is the island Lipe. It is not yet an established resort and therefore very low key. The bungalows have their charm and so has the little huts very you can relax and sip on a drink in the evening. There are a few bigger restaurants but apart from that, it's darkness once the sun has set. Often the restaurants will put out tables and chairs on the beach to create an even more beautiful setting. The beach is lovely and you can rent one of the long-tailed boats to go around to the other side of the island. There is a path leading from one side to another and it's nice to take the trip just before sunset.

5. Phuket; the main destination for many of the charter tourists. As Phuket is a big semi-island there are various resorts and places to choose from. The most famous one is Patong, but the smaller beaches such as Kata, Surin or Kamala is a better option if you want to relax and keep it more low key. You can then jump on one of the tuk-tuks and go in to Patong at night and so some shopping.

6. Ko Lanta; this is another island that has become popular lately. The beaches and the sea is not as nice as on the other islands so if you really want to just sunbath, you should perhaps choose another island. However, there are things to enjoy on Lanta too. The elephant trekking trip in the National Park at the southern end of the island is interesting and well worth the trip. The Thai people often drive fast and erratically, but on this island there were broad roads and less traffic than elsewhere. I would therefore recommend this island as a good one for renting a car or a scooter.

7. Bangkok; the capital of Thailand and your starting point if you arrive on a scheduled flight. It is a very polluted city and many tourists do not stop here for too long. If you do decide to stay for a couple of days, visit the Palace, Wat Poh and take a trip on the river.

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