While staying on Phuket or Koh Samui, it's easy to head off on a side trip to explore a little more of the Land of Smiles. Nearby provinces and attractions can be quickly reached by road or by sea.
If you are enjoying the delights of an extended holiday on Phuket or Koh Samui, why not make the most of your exotic location by making a detour to explore the surrounding area?
Road trips are a great way to feast your eyes on the stunning Thai landscape, whether you stick to the coast or delve into the Kingdom’s mountainous interior. Stepping outside main tourist hotspots also offers up a chance to experience more elements of Thai culture and hospitality.
While many travellers prefer the convenience of a flight, hiring a car gives you the freedom to stop off and explore villages and sites of interest along the journey. Here are tropical detours worth adding to the holiday itinerary.
Land and See
Phang Nga is a convenient place to explore if you are staying in Phuket. This coastal province, located on the mainland just across Sarasin Bridge, boasts lush forests and a number of offshore islands including those in the famous Similan and Surin archipelagos, known for their colourful marine life. On land, one of the main attractions in the province is the Heaven and Hell Cave, which is adorned with ancient decorations, including statues of various gods and virtues. If you prefer to stick to exploring outdoor attractions, the Sanong Manora waterfall is one of Phang Nga’s prettiest spots. There is also the option for visitors to book onto jungle tours that include the chance to cruise on a river raft while drinking in the scenery.
If you are a fan of the great outdoors, it would be a shame to miss out on the natural wonders of Khao Sok National Park while you are staying in Phuket. The park covers an area of 738 square kilometres, stretching across several of the Kingdom’s southern provinces. Located around four hours from Phuket, visitors can enjoy a panoply of activities once they arrive in the park. Highlights include jungle safaris through the virgin rainforest and exploring Cheow Lan Lake, the latter renowned for its wildlife and stunning limestone karst topography. Throw in the breathtaking sights of Wing Hin, Bang Hua Rat and Ton Kloi waterfalls, and you have a wonderful weekend mapped out.
Sugar fine beaches, vivid turquoise water and a rainbow of coral reefs make up just a few of Krabi’s natural attractions. This coastal province, just an hour or so drive from Phuket, is predominantly famous for the colossal limestone karsts that rise out of its tranquil bays. Its coastal mangrove forests allow visitors to kayak next to sheer rock faces in perfect serenity, save for the occasional calls of birds and monkeys. Home to a variety of natural treasures, it is no wonder Krabi has become a favourite destination for scuba divers, rock climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
When it comes to beach getaways, Khanom is something of a hidden gem. Situated along the Central Gulf Coast of Thailand, it is a short boat ride and drive away for visitors staying on Koh Samui. Khanom’s main attraction is its rustic charm, and the area remains largely underdeveloped. The best thing about this is long stretches of unspoilt, gleaming white sand, which visitors are free to explore at their leisure. When you have had enough of catching rays and splashing in Khanom’s crystal clear waters, head inland for hiking and mountain biking to nearby waterfalls and caves.
Haven of Tranquility
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan may be well known worldwide for its monthly full moon parties, but it is also a popular getaway for Koh Samui residents looking for the ultimate laid back beach vibe. The stunning waterfalls hidden away in the interior of the island are also some of the best you will see in Southern Thailand. To get the best views, head to Domesila viewpoint, a 15 minute hike from Phaeng waterfall in Phaeng National Park. Beyond party central at Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan is also becoming something of a wellness destination with spas, yoga centres and fasting programmes drawing visitors from around the world in search of physical and spiritual rejuvenation.