Southern Thailand

Southern Thailand includes many of Thailand's most famous resorts on both the west-facing Andaman Sea coastline, and the east-facing Gulf of Thailand coast south of Chumphon.

Regions

Regions of Southern Thailand
Central Gulf Coast
The beaches of Ko Samui, the full moon parties at Ko Pha Ngan, diving at Ko Tao, the natural splendor of the Ang Thong Marine Park and the Khao Sok National Park.
Northern Andaman Coast
Khao Lak, Similan Islands, Surin Islands and the beautiful limestone rock formations of the Ao Phang Nga National Park.
Phuket
The original Thai paradise island, now very developed but still with a lot of beautiful beaches.
Krabi Province
White sandy beaches, crystal clear water, fascinating coral reefs, caves and waterfalls, as well as numerous islands.
Southern Andaman Coast
Some truly picture-postcard tropical islands in the Ko Tarutao archipelago, as well as the Trang islands.
Southern Gulf Coast
Beautiful beaches and nature, popular among Malaysian travellers. Due to separatist struggles, the three deep southern provinces might be better avoided.

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

Parts of the west coast of Thailand were hit hard by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but all infrastructure has long since been repaired and it takes a careful eye to spot any remaining damage.

Get in

By air

There are international airports in Phuket, Krabi, Hat Yai and on the island Ko Samui, although you are more likely to reach the region by flying to Bangkok and taking a connecting flight.

By boat

The final leg of journeys to most of the islands as well as some of the more isolated coastal spots will be by boat. Long distance boats from near Bangkok are also available.

It is now possible to travel by ferries in hi season (Nov-May) from Phuket and island hop your way down the coast all the way to Malaysia and Indonesia.

This can now be done without ever touching the mainland, Phuket (Thailand) to Padang (Indonesia).

Islands en route:

The Thai portion can be done in a day, although chances are you'll want to stop on some of the islands.

By bus

The region's major cities are served by frequent long distance buses run by both the government and tour operators.

By train

Trains from the north pass through the region en route to Malaysia.

Do

Diving

The reefs around Ko Lipe are largely intact as they have been protected by being within Thailand's oldest marine parks.

Sailing/island hopping

The islands in the southern Gulf of Thailand including the Ang Thong National Marine Park provide a beautiful sailing ground. Island hopping sailing cruises between Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui.

On the west coast you also will be able to find many beautiful sailing areas, like Phang Nga Bay, Similan islands, Phi Phi islands. Some charter companies offering day trips and overnight tours from Phuket to Phang Nga and other islands around Phuket. There are hundreds of islands just in Phang Nga Bay and you will need more than just a day trip to explore them all. The best way to explore this sailing ground is to charter a sailing boat for several weeks.

Eat

Unsurprisingly for a coastal region, seafood features prominently on the menu. Traditional southern Thai food includes milder coconut milk-based curries popularly associated with Thailand: the dry, Malaysian-influenced Penang curry and Indian-influenced massaman (Muslim) curry with potatoes and nuts.

A wide variety of international cuisines is available in the many resort towns, visited by millions of overseas tourists every year and home to many expats. Tourism has also brought migrants from other parts of Thailand, and their food with them.

Stay safe

In 2004, long-simmering resentment in the southernmost Muslim-majority provinces burst into violence in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces. All are off the tourist trail, although the eastern rail line from Hat Yai to Sungai Kolok (gateway to Malaysia's east coast) passes through the area and has been disrupted several times by attacks.

Hat Yai (Thailand's largest city after Bangkok and its Nonthaburi suburbs) in Songkhla has also been hit by a series of bombings, however the main cross-border rail line connecting Hat Yai and Butterworth (on the west coast) has not been affected, and none of the islands or the west coast beaches have been targeted.

In September 2006, three foreigners were killed in bombings in Hat Yai. Some rebel groups have threatened foreigners, but while targets have included hotels, karaoke lounges, and shopping malls, Westerners have not been singled out for attacks.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 11, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.