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Phi Phi Island Covid-19 Travel Report

Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand. Understand Aerial photo of Ko Phi Phi Don The named islands are: Ko Phi Phi Don. The largest and only populated island.  Ko Phi Phi Leh. A smaller island to the south, popularised when parts of the movie The Beach were filmed […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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The Sea Angel ferries are quite nice with big flat screen TVs and refreshments. These are sold online as first class ferries.

The ferries run by Chao Koh group, particularly the smallest “Pichamon IV” are often overcrowded and appear to be very poorly maintained, which does not inspire confidence. The ferries run by PP Family are larger and seem more suited to the task.

The ferries run by Phi Phi Cruiser may take a little longer but they include a movie, complimentary breakfast (if taking the morning crossing) and complimentary beverage service. For an additional fee, you can purchase a “VIP ticket” which also includes snorkelling and a buffet lunch on Phi Phi Don.

Other tour vessels visit the island from several Phuket-based resorts, usually on day trips. The price for a speedboat from Rawai Beach was quoted at 15,000 Thai Baht return (or one way) for up to 6 people. There are many speedboats operating directly from the beach but it may be best to book the day before as most seem to be away on trips during the day. Speedboats can also be chartered from other nearby locations, but at a very high price.

By all-inclusive tours from Phi Phi Island

There are many speedboat tours of Phi Phi island for people staying on Phi Phi Island. Speedboats are generally small for groups of 4 -12 people. They can be more flexible with the time you wish to depart and also the length of time you can take. Organised tours usually cover mask, snorkel, fins, life jacket, tour guide, Coke, water, lunch, fruit. Small speedboats from 1,600 Thai Baht per person.

Private companies providing small group tours are few:

  • 7.738667798.77031571 Arida Speedboats (Arida Speedboats) (Next to Phi Phi Island Hospital.). Daily 08:00-21:00. Small group trips depart from the meeting point at Siam UK Travel & Tours. 1,600 Thai Baht. (updated Jan 2016)

By all-inclusive tour from Phuket

Agencies selling all-inclusive day trips from Phuket are all over Patong town, and most everywhere else on Phuket Island. Typical is a lengthier “half-day” hour tour via speedboat negotiated to 1,400 Thai Baht/person (down from the pamphlet’s printed price of 3,000 Thai Baht). The tour includes 6 stops, a buffet lunch on Phi Phi Don, snorkel usage, and minibus transport to and from the Patong Beach hotel. This offering seems incredibly common, and one should be able to find similar deals sold anywhere on Phuket that tourists frequent.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The lower end priced speedboat tours (what most people book, including the above description) take approximately 30-35 passengers per 2 engine speedboat and 50-60 passengers on 3 engine speedboats.
  • The higher-end tours take up to 18 passengers on 2 engine speedboats.
  • Tour desks will tell you anything to get your money. It would be best to contact the tour company directly to check prices/services, though 99.9% of tourists go through agencies.

Private companies providing small group tours are few:

  • Aloha Ocean Adventures. Small group tours departing from Chalong Pier, close to the Kata, Karon, and Patong areas.
  • Simba Sea Trips. Small group trips departing from Royal Phuket Marina.
  • La Moet Phuket. Small group trips and private charter tours departing from Chalong Pier.

By bus

As Ko Phi Phi is an island, the bus will get you close but you’ll still need to cross by boat or plane at the end. Buses from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Tel. +66 2 4351199) to Krabi take about 12 hours and depart as follows:

  • VIP bus: 07:20 (1,055 Thai Baht)
  • First class bus: 19:00 (680 Thai Baht)
  • Second class bus: 07:30, 19:00, 19:30, 21:00 (378 Thai Baht)

Shuttle buses run between Krabi airport and Phuket airport several times a day. There are also regular buses that make the 2 hour run.

There are buses to Krabi from every provincial town in the south.

By car

From Bangkok:

  • Take Hwy 4, passing Phetchaburi–Prachuap Khiri Khan–Chumphon–Ranong–Phang Nga-Krabi. The total distance is 946 km.
  • Travel Hwy 4 to Hwy 41 at Chumphon via Lang Suan-Chaiya-Surat Thani. Proceed towards Wiang Sa, change to Hwy 4035 for Baan Ao Luek, and switch back to Hwy 4 again to Krabi. This route is 814 km.
  • From Phuket: Take Hwy 402 and Hwy 4. The total distance is 176 km.

By train

The nearest train station to Krabi is in Trang Province which is 1.5-2 hours drive south of Krabi. If you are going south from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, et al. you will use the station at Surat Thani.

Get around

Phi Phi is supposed to have no motorised transport, though there are a few motorcycles with sidecars, usually used for goods and construction material transport. Transport on land is by foot or bicycle, but in the populated areas of Ton Sai, nowhere is more than about a ten minutes walk from anywhere else. Longtail boats sail between all beaches. On Phi Phi Don, you can also walk to any beach. From Ton Sai to Long Beach, expect to pay 40 Thai Baht/person in the afternoon, at least 80 Thai Baht at night. To have a complete boat to yourself, expect to pay at least 100 Thai Baht.

Wheelbarrows are used to transport goods, including your luggage if you like. Expect free transport from the pier to your room, but not necessarily in the opposite direction.

The most common ways to get around on Ko Phi Phi are by foot and by longtail. As with most everything in an area like this, the price for longtail boats is a negotiation. Take some foam earplugs for the longtail boat rides. It’s a fun ride but the engines are loud and after 45 minutes it can get to you. Negotiating for longtail boats is usually done according to where you want to go and how many hours you want the trip to last. As an example, 1,200 Thai Baht for a 6-hour outing to Ko Phi Phi Leh and Ton Sai Bay from the Holiday Inn Resort.

See

Phi Phi Don

This island is the largest of the 6 Phi Phi islands and consists of two main sections. It is on Ton Sai where the original inhabitants settled and is now the site of most accommodations. Phi Phi Don is quite stunning and has earned the title of one of the most fantastic islands in the world. Nowadays though, with development, the beaches have paid the price, so they’re not quite as spectacular as they were in the past.

  • Fire Show. There are several highly skilled and entertaining fire shows held nightly at several venues on the island, including at Carlito’s, Apache Bar, Hippies, Carpe Diem, and The Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar on Loh Dalum.
  • Hin Khao Beach. This beach is extremely quiet and can only be reached on foot.
  • Laem Thong. At the very north of the island. A lovely, quiet beach with exhilarating scenery. Accommodation at Laem Thong is pricey.
  • Lanti Beach. Next door to Yao Beach, Lanti Beach is very similar in many regards with its great scenery and coral reefs. You can get there on foot.
  • Monkey Beach. Accessible by foot or by renting a canoe, or be lazy and charter a longtail. Be careful as the monkeys can sometimes be aggressive. Some tourists report attacks and local hospitals caution about rabies. (You should not feed wildlife).
  • Ton Sai Bay. Ao Ton Sai is where most of the action is, be it restaurants, bars, hotels, or guesthouses. Most tourists stay at Ton Sai Bay because of the convenience. Even though it isn’t the most beautiful place on Phi Phi, it is still impressive.
  • Tsunami Memorial Garden (By the Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar). A beautiful place for quiet contemplation and paying one’s respects to the victims of the tragedy.
  • Viewpoint. Walk up to the viewpoint, 186 m above sea level (a very steep walk of between 10–25 min, depending on your fitness), to get a breathtaking view of the entire island, particularly at dawn or sunset (bring a torch). You will be surprised at how narrow the sand strip is between the two main parts of the island.
  • Yao Beach. Yao Beach, just south of Ton Sai, offers visitors some fantastic views, scenery, and coral reefs for snorkelling and scuba diving. This small place is packed out, however, with places to stay and so some people complain that it has been overdeveloped. You can get there either by walking from Ton Sai or taking a longtail boat.

Phi Phi Leh

The second largest of the Phi Phi Islands is extremely beautiful, and near-pristine, but is uninhabited because it is a national park.

  • Loh Samah Bay. A bay on the west coast of the island. It is U-shaped with a large rock in the middle. There is a very small beach and small caves at the end of a very narrow gorge. There is also a hole in the rock, accessible from the water only, that leads to the gorge behind Maya Bay Beach. It is a very short stroll to go from Loh Samah Bay to Maya Bay this way, but be careful depending on the tide and waves. Going through the hole can be a bit challenging depending on your level of fitness and there are rocks beneath the surface.
  • Maya Bay. Maya Bay has arguably Phi Phi’s most fantastic beach and was the location for the movie The Beach (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) in 1998. The bay also has hard coral and colourful reef fish which makes it a favourite spot for snorkellers and first-time divers. There is also a jump spot (~20 m) in one of the creeks behind the beach, and some climbing is possible on the cliff just next to it. You can take a longtail boat to Maya Beach for about 1,500 Thai Baht for half a day. It is recommended that you arrive at Maya Bay before 08:00, when the place can still be enjoyed in solitude. From 09:00 on, hoards of speedboats with tourists on package tours arrive from Phuket. Another thing to think about when coming to Maya Bay is the time of year. During the high-season (Oct-May) you will feel like you are at Disneyland, but during the off-season it could be slightly better. Park rangers enforce a national park entry fee of 200 Thai Baht/person. If you are travelling with a tour group, it will be included in the price of your trip. The park police will only attempt to charge you the park entrance fee if you turn up on a longtail boat. A mid-afternoon departure (15:00) is best. You get to catch the sunset as you leave Maya Beach (you can’t see the sunset on the beach).
  • Phaya Naak Cave. Cave with prehistoric paintings and edible-nest swiftlets.
  • Pi Ley. Pi Ley is a large inlet on Koh Phi Phi Ley in-between Phaya Naak Cave and Loh Samah. The whole inlet is surrounded by vertical cliffs. The sea is shallow near the mouth and the depths of the inlet are reached by going over the coral reef at its entrance. At the back of the inlet is a large 100m wide pool that is about 5-8 m deep. (updated Dec 2015)

Other islands

  • Ko Pai (Bamboo Island). Not far from Ko Yung is Ko Pai. On the north and east sides of the island are sandy beaches. At low tide the coral is very close to the surface which makes it quite difficult for snorkelling.
  • Ko Yung. This island just north of Ko Phi Phi Don has a rocky beach and some coral.

Do

  • Bird Watching. The best time of the year for bird watching is from Jan-Apr. Many rare birds are to be seen there: gurneys, finfoots, big-winged brown kingfishers, egrets, bitterns, and herons.
  • Camping, ✉ phil@mayabaycamping.com. Camping in Maya Bay.
  • Cliff Jumping. Cliff jumping is fairly new to Ton Sai Bay. There are cliffs from 6-16 m that are ideal for cliff jumping due to the depth of water below. Organized tours can be found at Ton Sai, but be careful. Jumping can result in ruptured ears and back injuries.

Diving

There are many dive shops on Ton Sai Bay within walking distance of each other. They can organize all diving and accommodations. Expect to pay the same everywhere. A PADI open water course is 13,800 Thai Baht, with SSI being 900 Thai Baht less. There are a few different trips offered by Phi Phi dive operators, the typical trip is a two-tank local dive in the Phi Phi Marine Park which will run about 2,500 Thai Baht, or 2,000 Thai Baht if you bring your own gear. They also do 2-3 tank trips to the King Cruiser wreck with your follow-up dives at both Shark Point and Anemone Reef. This trip usually runs between 3,200-3,900 Thai Baht depending on the number of dives you do. Further away, Hin Daeng has some of the steepest drops in Thailand (over 60 m) as well as being the place you are most likely to see manta rays and whale sharks, and can be a great dive trip, but it only runs if sea conditions are good.

  • Dive Thailand (on Long Beach).
  • Long Beach Divers (on Long Beach). UK-run.
  • Sea Bees Diving (Sea Bees Diving), Laemtong Beach, Phi Phi Island, Krabi, 100/435 Moo 5, Chalermprakiet Rama 9, Rassada, Muang Phuket , ✉ info@sea-bees.com. 8am – 6pm. The Sea Bees dive centre on Koh Phi Phi is at the Holiday Inn Resort, on the northern part of the island called Laem Tong Beach. This beautiful white sandy beach is considered to be the most beautiful beach on Koh Phi Phi Islandand is part of the Had Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park where you will find an oasis of tranquillity, and is close from Phuket and Krabi. (updated Mar 2015)

Dive sites

  • Anemone Reef Between Ko Phi Phi and Phuket, a massive limestone pinnacle which soars 30 m from the seabed to just 4 m beneath the surface. The site is well known for the abundance of anemones that cling to every surface while attracting enormous schools of fish. Different types of fish to be seen include: tropicals, snappers, groupers and colorful clown fish, along with larger game-fish like tuna and barracuda as well as the occasional leopard shark.
  • Garang Heng Garang Heng is a small submerged reef just east of Phi Phi Leh. A healthy reef with anemones, soft corals, and an abundance of leopard sharks.
  • Hin Daeng and Hin Muang From Ko Phi Phi, it is possible to dive Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, world-class dive sites, for around 5,500 Thai Baht. See Diving in Thailand.
  • Hin Dot These submerged pinnacles, often called Chimney Rock, are just to the south of Phi Phi Don. The formation drops to a depth of 30 m and has several coral shelves for exploration upon your gradual ascent. Nurse sharks can occasionally be found here.
  • Hin Pae This is a relatively shallow dive site, 10–15 m deep. Its shallow depth offers excellent snorkelling. Its soft and hard coral provide shelter for a rich variety of coral fish. Crabs, lobsters, angelfish, groupers, snappers, and surgeon fish are also residents of this area.
  • King Cruiser Wreck A popular site off Ko Phi Phi and Phuket is King Cruiser, remnants of a passenger ship which sunk in 1997 after it hit the Anemone Reef.
  • Ko Bida Nai Just up from Bida Nok is Bida Nai. Like its sister island, it is a good place for diving with good chance of black tip reef sharks sighting.
  • Ko Bida Nok Besides an abundance of pretty coral, this island is home to plentiful marine life including: leopard sharks, turtles and moray eels. This island is popular with divers.
  • Shark Point (Hin Bida) Shark Point is a marine sanctuary with a reef that made up of three pinnacles, the largest of which actually breaks the surface, appearing as a barren rock outcropping. The reef is home to a delightful abundance of tropical, colourful soft corals and vibrant sea fans that decorate the limestone pinnacles.
  • Shark Point Phuket Another submerged reef very close to Anemone Reef and often dived together with Anemone Reef and King Cruiser Wreck as part of a 3 dive package from Ko Phi Phi.
  • Wang Long This site is well known for its underwater cave systems and is only recommended for experienced divers. The caves tunnel into the rock face in two places and open out into a larger cave where surfacing is possible.
  • Loh Samah Bay The bay is popular for night-time divers. It has a sandy bottom with oysters and clams and patches of brain coral for nocturnal reef critters to hide amongst. There is a spectacular 15 m deep canyon just wide enough for single file swimming on the east side.

Sailing and cruising

Krabi has plenty of anchorages, usually deserted and all so beautiful. There are many charter sailing boats available and some even offer “join-in” day trips for two or more people. Phi Phi offers a variety of ways for sailing and cruising. Longtails can be hired for sunset tours and island excursions. They can be found on any beach.

  • DragonHeart (at the Deaf Gecko on Nice Beach), ✉ info@dragonheartthailand.com. Daily sunset and snorkel tours. Tour Phi Phi Leh and cruise into the sunset. Climbing, slacklining, weddings.

Snorkelling

There are two rocks within swimming distance of Long Beach known as “Shark Point” where harmless blacktip reef sharks can be seen. Many dive schools take snorkellers on their dive boats, but expect to see only a hint of the underwater marvels visible to scuba divers. The snorkelling off Bamboo and Mosquito Islands is quite good although the reefs are a long way below you at high tide. If you arrive on Bamboo Island in a longtail boat you will be asked to pay 200 Thai Baht/person to stay on the beach, or 400 Thai Baht/person to stay on the beach and further afield. Always ask for the ticket. With it, you do not have to pay 400 Thai Baht/person, just the 200 Thai Baht/person.

  • The Adventure Club. Runs “Shark Watch” snorkelling trips to Shark Point that guarantee a sighting of sharks.
  • Paradise Diving (at Paradise Resort in the middle of Long Beach). Will point you in the right direction to the black tip reef shark’s habitat metres from the sandy shore.

Buy

Most stuff is brought in by boat, so most things are less original and more expensive than on the mainland. However, there are a few shops that manufacture their goods on the island. Prices for commodities vary widely between shops.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

Southern Thailand

Khao Lak Covid-19 Travel Report

Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a 20 km long strip of coastal resorts in Phang Nga Province on the Andaman Sea beaches of Southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, the Khao Lak region was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4,000 fatalities, more […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a 20 km long strip of coastal resorts in Phang Nga Province on the Andaman Sea beaches of Southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, the Khao Lak region was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4,000 fatalities, more than 3,000 more who were never accounted for, and thousands who were injured. It has since made an impressive recovery and is once again a popular tourism destination. Unlike Phuket, the many resorts in the Khao Lak area cater mainly to families and those looking for peace, quiet, and nature.

Understand

Khao Lak is a ~20 km stretch of lovely beaches along the Andaman Sea coastline set against a backdrop of jungle-covered mountains. The region is dotted with numerous resorts and tourist facilities.

The name “Khao Lak” translates as “Lak Mountain”. The mountain is the centerpiece of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park.The headland formed as the mountain plunges into the sea near the southern end of the Khao Lak roughly marks the southern boundary of the Khao Lak region.

The attractions of Khao Lak are impressive and many, but they are not flashy. The expanses of lovely uncrowded parks, mountains, roads, and beaches, relatively unspoiled nature, easy access to great off-shore diving, accommodations ranging from luxury to basic, and an infrastructure that supports tourism, but not at the expense of local customs or the Thai way of life, appeal to an increasing number of visitors.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Khao Lak

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Compared with a place like Patong, Khao Lak can seem boring, especially during low season (Apr-Nov). If jet skis (forbidden in Khao Lak) or exotic nightlife and its associated attractions are the reason you’ve come to Thailand, Khao Lak is probably not the place for you. On the other hand, it’s an excellent vacation spot for people seeking to get off the treadmill, for family getaways, and for nature-lovers.

Films

Released in early-2013, The Impossible, a Spanish production (Spanish title: Lo Imposible), recounts the events of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Filmed on location in Khao Lak at the Orchid Beach Resort, it is the story of a family caught up in the events of 26 Dec 2004 and its aftermath. Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor, the film incorporates stunning special effects recreating the tragic events of that day and the weeks following. Many Khao Lak residents participated in the filming as consultants or as extras.

Orientation, addresses, and navigation

The entire Khao Lak region straddles Phetkasem Road (ถนนเพชรเกษม, also Petchkasem Road or Thailand Route 4 (ทางหลวงแผ่นดินหมายเลข4), one of the four major highways in Thailand. At 1,274 km, it is the longest highway in Thailand, stretching from Bangkok to the Malaysian border.

The centre of the Khao Lak area is 37 km north of the Sarasin Bridge, gateway to Ko Phuket, 76 km north of Phuket International Airport, and 106 km north of Phuket City.

Driving north from Phuket, at km803 you will see a sign for Ban Khao Lak, a small village of little interest. Then, after climbing over Lak Mountain on a curvy road, you will descend into Bang La On, de facto heart of the Khao Lak region.

Khao Lak is laid out like a long strip mall. Early settlement patterns resulted in three population centres spaced out along the beaches. Since the 2004 tsunami, development in low-lying areas has tended to gravitate away from the beach, nearer to the highway.

The region hosts many resorts, scattered chiefly among three main urban areas, all containing businesses identifying themselves as “Khao Lak”. This can be confusing to visitors and it is useful to distinguish between the settlements.

From south to north the population centres are:

  • Bang La On
  • Bang Niang
  • Khuk Khak

Bang La On

Bang La On is the most tourist-oriented of the three main Khao Lak towns.

Stretching from km795 to km797, Bang La On is mistakenly called Khao Lak by most visitors. It has many shops, bars, restaurants and banks. Any given group of store fronts seems to consist of a souvenir shop, a tailor shop, a dive shop, a massage parlour, an eyewear shop, and a restaurant. Strolling along the short main town centre in the evening can be quite pleasant as there are pavements.

If you are travelling by bus and tell the conductor you are going to “Khao Lak”, Bang La On is where you will be let off the bus, near the Nang Thong Supermarket. This may be far from your intended destination, so try to be more specific if you are not staying near there.

Just south of the supermarket, Nang Thong Road leads to the town’s beach, Nang Thong.

Webcam: Just north of the Nang Thong Supermarket are the offices of Khao Lak Land Discovery, a local tour organiser. Their webcam is mounted on the roof of their building. It shows you a segment of Rte 4, roughly in the centre of Bang La On. Camera’s angle of view is to the southeast.

Bang Niang

A couple of kilometres north of Bang La On is Bang Niang. Bang Niang is more “Thai” and less “tourist” than Bang La On. The 7-Eleven at km793.3 roughly marks the town centre.

Bang Niang is not much to look at, but is home to the intermittent outdoor market (“talat nat” ตลาดนัด) that takes place in the centre of the town just south of the 7-Eleven on M-W-Sa, from roughly 13:00 until dark. You will find the market area dusty on dry days and muddy on wet days, so dress down for a visit.

Bang Niang is, increasingly, a centre of Khao Lak’s nightlife as it is home to a significant number of the area’s most popular bars, discos, and cabarets.

Bang Niang Beach can be accessed by turning towards the sea at the 7-Eleven shop in town centre.

Khuk Khak

Heading north again from Bang Niang, a couple of kilometres will bring you to Khuk Khak. It is even more Thai and less farang than Bang Niang and is the regional centre for things like hardware, paint, kitchen equipment, etc., i.e., all the infrastructural ingredients that keep the resorts running.

It has the daily “fresh market” (“talat sot” ตลาดสด) and the area’s only real, albeit tiny, bus station.

Khuk Khak Beach can be reached by turning at the signpost just south of km790 or, better, turning at the JW Marriott Hotel sign (km789.1) and following the signs to the hotel, then proceeding past it to the beach.

North of Khuk Khak are Pakarang Beach and Pakarang Cape (km787), Pakweep Beach (km784), and Bang Sak Beach (km780). The latter beach is just ~18 km south of Takua Pa.

Pakarang Beach is a beautiful and quiet beach overlooking Cape Pakarang and Andaman Sea beyond. During the high season (November to February), as well as parts of the low season, meals can be bought from nearby food outlets and consumed in the series of huts that have been constructed close to the shore. The setting provides a perfect meditative antidote all year round to the bustle of the Khao Lak area in general.

Navigating Khao Lak can be confusing to visitors because many businesses use their mailing addresses in ads and a mailing address can be very misleading. Almost the entire Khao Lak region (except Ban Khao Lak itself) is located in the Khuk Khak Sub-district of the Takua Pa District of Phang Nga Province. Mailing addresses in the area include both the district and sub-district. Thus a typical address will read: “Moo 3/15, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga”. This would lead visitors to think that the business is in Khuk Khak. In reality, the business could be located in Bang La On or Bang Niang or Khuk Khak or anywhere else in the Khuk Khak Sub-district. The mailing address is of absolutely no help in finding the business. Be careful when reading tourist brochures as many businesses do not go to the trouble of telling you their physical location.

Climate & Weather

The climate of the Khao Lak region is under the influence of two monsoon winds of a seasonal nature: a southwest monsoon and a northeast monsoon. The southwest monsoon starts in April when a stream of warm moist air from the Indian Ocean moves inland resulting in significant rain. It peaks in October, Khao Lak’s wettest month. Subsequent months, under the influence of prevailing northeast winds, are much drier.

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Southern Thailand

Ko Lanta Covid-19 Travel Report

Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches. Contents 1 Understand 1.1 Orientation 1.2 Climate 1.3 Culture 2 Get in 2.1 By air 2.2 By passenger van 2.3 By car 2.4 By boat […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Ko Lanta (เกาะลันตา) is an island off the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. Like many other destinations in Krabi Province, it is known for its diving and long white beaches.

Understand

Ko Lanta consists of several islands, the two largest of which are Ko Lanta Noi (เกาะลันตาน้อย, “Small Lanta Island”) and Ko Lanta Yai (เกาะลันตาใหญ่, “Big Lanta Island”). However, Ko Lanta Yai is where all the tourist action is, so this article will refer to it simply as “Ko Lanta”.

Ko Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It’s popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing. However, there are plenty of bars and the longer term stayers are friendly and know how to party. It is also popular with families with young children, and of course, with divers. Ko Lanta can provide a party if you know where to look.

Ko Lanta is a little less well-known than Ko Phi Phi, which has become more commercialised and corporate, but it is hardly undiscovered: the several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows, although the farther down the island you venture, the less this is true. And even when the island is at it fullest, there will be a quiet place for you to relax – the beaches are never full. Ko Lanta is especially popular with Swedish tourists: although the “tourist language” is English as it is in most places in Thailand, and you will find menus and so on are translated into English, expect the poolside language to be Swedish much of the time. However, there are still many English and Irish bars and restaurants.

Ko Lanta was hit by the tsunami in December 2004, which killed 20 people, but virtually all businesses are now operating normally again.

Visit our Resort Partners on Ko Lanta

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Orientation

The main island is 6 km wide and over 30 km long, and approximately 70 km from Krabi Town. The island has 9 attractive white sandy beaches and splendid scenery. Off the coast are more than 70 small islands and plenty with forest, coral reefs and sea life. The geography of the island is typically mangroves, coral rimmed beaches and rugged tree-covered hills.

A paved road runs along the beaches from the northern part of the island almost all the way to the southern tip. The last 8 km leading to the headquarters of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park in the south are quite hilly and aren’t yet paved so can become quite tricky to negotiate if it rains. The landscape is dominated by a series of mountains covered with rainforest. To the east is an old settlement.

Ban Saladan (near Saladan pier, approximately 3 km from Klong Dao Beach) — is the tourist centre of Ko Lanta. Facilities include inexpensive and easy to find transport, diving trips, banking and shopping.

Climate

Weather in the region is tropical and there are two basic monsoons:

During the months of November – April the island experiences the dry monsoon, northeasterly prevailing winds come overland and bring dry air. Temperatures rise during March/April and it get’s quite arid and dusty on the island after many months of no rain.

May – October is the wet monsoon season, where southwesterly winds bring wetter weather from the indian ocean. Around April the season changes and the increase in rain helps revitalise the island to its tropical lushness, everything regrows and the cool wet spells brings relief from the heat of the dry season.

Temperatures during the year average 25ºC to 32ºC (77ºF to 89.6ºF) and the yearly rainfall averages 2569 mm. Unlike in say Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily and quickly over short periods. The sea stays at a warm 29°C all year round.

Culture

Krabi and Ko Lanta are a melange of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Most of the people speak with a thick southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.

With this kind of mixture, Krabi is always celebrating something be it part of Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition.

The unique lifestyle of the Chao-Le (sea-gypsy) in Ko Lanta particularly is well-worth seeing, a life-style that has been almost completely unaffected by the booming tourism on the island.

Get in

By air

The nearest airports are Krabi, Trang and Phuket. Krabi and Trang have direct road and boat connections to Ko Lanta, and are the best options if you’re only visiting Ko Lanta. Flying into Phuket is a better option if you’re intending to spend time in Phuket and nearby islands, or, since Phuket has many more international flights, if you don’t want to have to organize a domestic flight to Krabi or Trang from Bangkok. As an alternative to Bangkok, there are daily flights to Krabi directly to and from Singapore, as well as Kuala Lumpur.

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There is scheduled van service from Krabi Airport taking roughly 2.5 hours, 250 Thai Baht if prearranged and 400-500 Thai Baht if arranging it at the airport (2016). When going back to the airport from the island, van can be booked via any tourist office for 250-300 Thai Baht, departs every round hour in the morning.

Private vans and taxis can be chartered to Ko Lanta for about 2,000 Thai Baht per vehicle (2,500 Thai Baht if you are going to the south end of Ko Lanta).

Air Asia and Nok Air have a special “Island Transfer” offering that includes a flight from Bangkok to Krabi, surface transport to the port, and a ferry to Ko Lanta. It can all be booked at their websites for additional price: Air Asia 470 Thai Baht, Nok Air 900 Thai Baht (2016).

Alternative to passenger van is an express transfer – the quickest albeit much more expensive way to get from Krabi Airport (2,045 Thai Baht per person) and Phuket Airport (3,350 Baht per person) to Ko Lanta. It is a combination of minivan and speedboat travel. If you arrive early you will not have to wait for the ferry and if you arrive late at these airports you can still arrive on Ko Lanta the same day. From Krabi airport a 45 minute air conditioned minivan to the first car ferry port. You then go on board the speedboat which then takes you on a stunning boat ride across the water along the coastline of Ko Lanta. The journey takes around 15 minutes depending on weather and conditions. You will arrive directly in Saladan (alternately written as Sala Dan) on Ko Lanta, where you are then transferred to your hotel by car. That means the total journey time should be 1.5 to 2 hours. This eliminates the waiting time at the car ferry and also if you are going from Ko Lanta to one of these airports allows you more time to enjoy your visit.

By passenger van

There is a minivan service that runs between Krabi Town and Ko Lanta, However it must be booked in advance through your hotel or someone local, the cost is 400 Thai Baht per person. Book early as it fills up quickly. It will pickup and drop off at the airport. You should factor in 3-4 hours to get from Ko Lanta to the airport, since the minivan will pickup and drop off other people along the way.

Vans going to Ao Nang cost 450 Thai Baht (2016), 3 hours, number of vans greatly varies during a year.

By car

The distance from Bangkok to Krabi is approx 950 km or about 12 hr by car.

  • Route 1: Phetburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon-Phang Nga-Krabi = 946 km.
  • Route 2: Phetburi-Prachuap Khiri Khan-Chumphon (Hwy 41) to Chaiya (Surat Thani)-Krabi (Viangsra) – Hwy 4035 – Krabi (Ao Luk) and along Hwy 4 again = 814 km.

Ko Lanta does not have roads connecting it directly to the mainland, but is served by car ferries. Take Rte 4206 off Hwy 4 about 20 km southeast of Krabi airport. Drive to the end of the road, where there is a car ferry from Baan Hua Hin to Ko Lanta Noi. From the pier here, turn right and follow the “ferry” signs to the second car ferry to Ko Lanta Yai. Ferries operate 07:00-22:00.

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Southern Thailand

Ko Phayam Covid-19 Travel Report

Ko Phayam is an island in Ranong Province, Thailand. Contents 1 Understand 2 Get in 2.1 Ferries 3 Get around 4 See 5 Do 6 Buy 7 Eat 8 Drink 9 Where to stay in Ko Phayam 10 Go next Understand Ko Phayam is the second largest Andaman Sea island off the coast of Ranong […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Ko Phayam is an island in Ranong Province, Thailand.

Understand

Ko Phayam is the second largest Andaman Sea island off the coast of Ranong Province (Ko Chang, about 4 km distant, is the largest). It lies about 33 km from the mouth of the Ranong River. It is inhabited by about 160 families.

For those who want to get away from it all, Ko Phayam is reminiscent of what Ko Samui was like 30 years ago before the airport and hotel developments.

Ao Yai is the largest bay on the west coast, about 3 km long and 300 m wide, with a grey sand beach.

Ko Phayam is widely thought to be one of the most beautiful Thai islands.

Stay with our Hotel Partners on Ko Phayam

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Get in

Flight service from Bangkok (BKK) to Ranong Airport (UNN) and back daily via Happy Air and from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) to Ranong and back daily via Nok Air.

Ko Phayam is just over 30 km from Ranong, about 2 hours from the mainland’s Phayam Pier by slow boat, 30-40 minutes by speed boat. The slow boat leaves at 09:00 and 14:00 from the mainland and the same on the return journey. Speed boats depart at different and more frequent schedules (not in low season).

Ferries

From Ranong to Ko Phayam:

  • Slow boat: 09:30, 14:00 (200 Thai Baht)
  • Speed boat: 10:00, 14:30 (350 Thai Baht)

From Ko Phayam to Ranong:

  • Slow boat: 08:30, 14:00 (200 Thai Baht)
  • Speed boat: 09:00, 10:00, 13:30 (350 Thai Baht)

Get around

Ko Phayam has no roads suitable for automobiles, thus motorbikes are the chief means of transport. Tourists hire motorbikes at the pier and ride along the road to the resorts. No cars on this island. Motorbikes and scooters can be rented at Phayam Cottage Internet Shop near the main arrival ferry pier as well as many other places. The price is roughly 150-200 Thai Baht per day unless heavily booked. Petrol costs 40-50 Thai Baht per litre. If you rent a motorbike don’t drive it on the beach. There are rumours that you can get fined 5,000 Thai Baht because of fine print on the rental agreement. It is also environmentally irresponsible..

Motorbike taxi drivers will be waiting as you step off the pier and can be found around the island, differentiated by their blue or red vests. Maps of the island near the pier are colour coded, showing you what the fixed price is to get to certain areas. 70 Thai Baht from the pier to Ao Yai. Ask your guesthouse to call a taxi bike if you are at the quieter end of the island; otherwise, you may wait longer than you would wish.

See

There two major beaches/bays, Ao Yai and Ao Kao Kwai (Buffalo Bay). There are many other beautiful beaches, some of them long like Ao Yai, the largest. The ferry pier area is vibrant with restaurants, a few Internet and other shops, and places to settle into a lounge chair or hammock and enjoy a cold drink or two.

Do

In the northwest is Ao Kao Kwai, a quieter beach where the sea is a bit clearer and less polluted. The beach has a more intimate feel, unlike the larger beaches which have more people and more activity although these are still relatively tranquil.

Take yoga or batik courses at PP Land Beach Resort or visit the art shop at Heaven Beach Resort & Art.

If you feel like exploring underwater, a few boats offer dive and snorkelling cruises around the infamous Richelieu Rock, Surin islands and Similan islands, and will pick you up at The Smiling Seahorse. Aladdin Dive Safari offers liveaboard diving from Ko Phayam to the Surin- and Similan Islands and to the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar (Burma). You can also join a a round trip starting from Ko Phayam and dive all the whole west coast up to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang in southern Thailand. Check out as well the diving and snorkeling day trips from Aladdin Dive Safari to Richelieu Rock and the Surin Islands, with pickup at Ko Phayam.

Buy

Locally grown cashew nuts.

Eat

  • Ao Yai Seafood (On the road to Ao Yai (Long Beach)). Some of the best seafood available and all freshly caught from the fishermen on the island. Their yellow curried crab or tamarind prawns are especially worth a try.
  • Blue Sky. Maybe the most beautiful place to eat at the pier.
  • Cha-Chai Home (Down the main road to Ao Yai (Long Beach) on the corner of the road to Buffalo Bay). A large selection of teas, fresh coffees and shakes. They have an extensive and original vegetarian and vegan menu with Thai, Western. and fusion dishes, including homemade bread, cakes, soya milk, muesli and pizzas, plus curries and other Thai dishes. They offer mock meat alternatives, burgers, sausage sandwiches, ginger chicken or tamarind fish, for vegans, vegetarians and non-vegetarians. If you have a sweet tooth, they have Thai pancakes, Western crepes or a cake of the day. Additionally, they have a library with books in many languages for rent, exchange or sale; and a gift shop with original art, postcards, teas. Free Wi-Fi with one of the fastest connections on the island. There is a selection of table games, as well as a children’s corner for families. Bicycles and motorbikes for rent. Leave plenty of time for your meal as sometimes you wait for the fresh, homemade food.
  • Home Me (In the village on the road leading away from the pier up to the hospital). Has some great cakes and bread homemade by the owner. Pi Fen, who has more than 20 years baking experience. The menu includes Thai and Western dishes and is a nice small restaurant for breakfast or lunch, especially if you are making a trip to or from Ranong.
  • Paceluce (Snack bar Italiano), Ao Kao Kwai North (Next to Chomjam Resort). closes 17:00. Small Italian family restaurant serving pasta, salads, bruschetti, sandwiches, real coffee, shakes and crepes, all made with fresh ingredients.
  • Phayam Cabana (At the far end of Buffalo Bay). Great Thai food and is well-worth the trip. They have a large restaurant on the seafront with a beautiful view of the ocean and mangroves. Jimmy’s cooking is among the best on the island, especially tom yum gung and chicken massaman curry.

Drink

There are many bars and restaurants on the island with quite a few German-speaking guests. Now Scandinavians are starting to discover Ko Phayam.

The island’s official drink is Thai Sangsom rum with fresh Ko Phayam coconut milk.

Some places refill water bottles (roughly 5 Thai Baht per litre). A smart thing to do instead of buying new plastic bottles.

The local village is generally a quiet area, but has a couple of late-night bars.

Where to stay in Ko Phayam

  • Chomjan Resort (On Ao Khao Kwai on the west side of Ko Phayam). A good place for relaxing and enjoying the environment. The rooms are private and comfortable, and each bungalow comes with fan. Excellent facilities, including a Thai restaurant with great Thai cuisine.
  • Coconut Beach Resort (Coconut Bungalows), 14 Moo 1, Ao Yai (Down Ao Yai Beach, past South Star Bar, before Ao Yai Bungalows. Around 500 m down from the taxi stop.). Check-in: All day, check-out: 12:00. The bungalows are well-fitted out, if a little rustic, and the food at the bar is fantastic. The family that run the resort provide a warm welcome and excellent service. A beautiful location directly on the beach. 300-1,000 Thai Baht.
  • Contact Bungalows. Has unsecure bungalows for 200 Thai Baht (double bed, mosquito net, sit-down toilet, shower) and 300 Thai Baht. Near a rocky beach. Serves food (60+ Thai Baht). 200-300 Thai Baht.
  • Heaven Beach Resort & Art (In the middle of Buffalo Bay). A small luxury resort on Ao Kai Kwai Beach. 50 m2 bungalows with hot/cold open air showers, spacious porches and a cosy restaurant on the beach. The same owners as PP Land Beach Resort, so customers of Heaven Beach are allowed to use all the PP Land facilities. Excellent cocktails and a good Western/Thai menu. It has a great laid back feel and is perfect for watching the sunset or enjoying a delicious lunch on the beach while children play with the toys provided.
  • PP Land Beach Beach Resort. A small resort run by Paul from Belgium and Pearl from Thailand. All bungalows are built to Western standards in an old cashew garden, next to a 300 m private beach. There is free Wi-Fi and a swimming pool and they organise boat tours for customers. The restaurant is open all day and on the rooftop terrace they have a pool table.
  • Sabai Sabai Bungalows. A charming place with an informal, friendly atmosphere. Has 8 simple, but stylish, themed (e.g., India, Africa, Cuba) beachfront bungalows. Also a restaurant serving sociable family-style meals, a cool lounge area showing movies and sports, an abundance of hammocks in which to relax, and a small sailing boat and a kayak for its customers. The Coconut Bar and the comfy hammock-filled Shisha Lounge are also both on-premises, and the establishment hosts beach parties fortnightly. 200-500 Thai Baht.

Go next

  • Boats go from Ko Phayam to Ko Chang some weekdays at 16:00. Boats do not sail on Saturday to Sunday.
  • Buses from Ranong bus station to Chumphon, Khao Lak, and Phuket, seven times a day. (Phuket Town: ~6 hours, 240 Thai Baht)

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