Whether you want to enjoy the sublime scenery of Phuket or Koh Samui by land or sea, there are plenty of unusual ways to get around the Thai islands.
Magnetic tourist hotspots like Koh Samui and Phuket first established their reputations as top tropical getaways based on the soft sandy beaches, hidden coves and azure lagoons that pepper their coastlines.
Further inland, the rich island environment continues to amaze visitors, with abundant emerald jungle thick with flora and fauna spread like a blanket across hilly terrain.
Even if beach clubs, shops and restaurants are at the top of your vacation agenda, it would be a shame to miss out on the island’s diverse natural attractions.
Below are a few unique ways to see the best that Phuket and Samui have to offer.
If you’re into eco-friendly adventures, then booking onto a kayaking excursion whilst on holiday in Thailand should be at the top of your to-do list. Not only is kayaking considered a greener way to explore the intriguing coves and bays peppered along the Thai coastline, but it also offers the chance to get much closer to nature. Kayaking is particularly popular off Phuket, where the coastal landscape is characterized by a hidden network of karts, caves, tunnels and interior lagoons (known locally as ‘hongs’) that can only be entered by kayak. Sightseeing at a slow pace as you paddle along also gives you the chance to stop and appreciate the natural wonders that would be missed if you were shooting past in a speed boat.
Touch of Luxury
If you prefer to surround yourself in luxury, then chartering a yacht or motor cruiser to explore the coastline of Phuket and Samui is the ideal choice. Chartering your own boat provides the opportunity to visit some of the less developed beaches and bays, far from the crowds of busy beaches like Chaweng or Patong. If you’re an experienced skipper, then it’s perfectly possible to hire a bareboat to explore independently. On the other hand, if you want to lie back and enjoy the fabulous scenery from a few hundred metres off shore without having to lift a finger, it’s best to hire a crewed vessel. The crew will usually include a professional captain, sailing team and cook, so you can cruise and be pampered to your heart’s desire.
For travelers that want an invigorating blast of island wind in their hair as they zoom across the rugged interior; hiring an all terrain vehicle (ATV) is an appealing option. A range of ATV tours are available on Phuket and Koh Samui, which let you wind through dense forest, picturesque coconut and rubber plantations as well as quaint local villages. These tours are not for the faint of heart, as the guide is likely to lead you around hairpin bends on rugged dirt tracks, and even across streams. Some packages include a spot of white water rafting in the itinerary, which is great news for true adrenaline-junkie holiday makers that want to explore the islands in the most thrilling way possible.
Explore the delights of Koh Samui and Phuket from a different angle by climbing up to the forest canopy for the best views. Phuket’s Flying Hanuman zip-line centre takes intrepid explorers right to the heart of the jungle via a network of exhilarating cables and treetop platforms, where they fly along at up to 40 miles per hour between viewing stages. If you’re on Koh Samui, the Secret Falls canopy adventure centre offers a similar experience, and promises an afternoon of fun for all the family. Spectacular views await, along with the chance to explore the island’s exotic green heart.
Once in a Lifetime
If you’re an animal lover; the chances are that you already know Thailand’s most revered national animal is the elephant. Eco-tourism and elephant trekking have become a cornerstone of Thailand’s tourism offerings in recent years, and even though elephants are native to the northern part of the Kingdom, opportunities for trekking with these marvelous creatures still abound in the southern islands. For many travelers, the chance to meet one of these gentle giants close up is an experience in itself – let alone riding through the lush forest on its back. Siam Safari is one of the most popular tours on Phuket, and Jungle Trip by Elephant comes highly recommended on Samui.