The Best Hotels on Phuket

Updated: November 11, 2017

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The Best Hotels on Phuket

  • Six Senses Yao Noi – Best Luxury Hotel on Phuket
    The views are amazing – it simply doesn’t get better than towering limestone karst formations rising from the powdery turquoise Phang Nga Bay. But the accommodation is equally world class, using materials like bamboo, thatch, and jungle-foliage to create exceedingly private, comfortable, and spacious villas that go far above and beyond most tropical island fantasies. Guests relax in the spa, by their own private pool or on the beach, or take part in any number of adventure activities from SCUBA diving to rock climbing. Hotel phone: +66 76 418 500
    Best Luxury Resort in Phuket
  • Le Meridien Beach Resort – Best Hotel on Karon Beach
    Modern and clean with white linens, wood floors and plenty of large windows to let in the seaside light, this resort is tucked into a private white sand cove. The massive complex is a world unto itself with 10 restaurants, two swimming pools that take up the same amount of space many places dedicate to gardens, and on-site facilities galore from tennis courts and a driving range to a children’s park, mini-golf and trampolines. Some guests never leave but the hotel offers taxi or shuttle services to the shopping and party areas of nearby Karon and Patong beaches. Hotel phone: +66 76 370 100
    Best Luxury Hotel at Karon Beach
  • The Shore at Katathani – Best Hotel on Kata Beach
    Far enough away from the shopping and restaurant haven of Kata Beach to be peaceful, yet close enough to get there on foot, The Shore at Katathani gives you the best of both worlds. Warm-colored woods blended with white and cream décor make the spacious villas feel balanced and calming while views of the blue sea or lush gardens add a sense of luxurious tropical adventure. Relax in the seclusion of the villas’ privacy or socialize and use the many facilities (putting greens, another spa and even more restaurants) of the larger and less exclusive Kathatani Resort next door. Hotel phone: +66 76 330 124
    Best Hotel at Kata Beach
  • Amari Phuket – Best Hotel in Patong
    This 380-room beachfront (and jungle hillside) resort features modern rooms and suites decorated in neutrals with bright accents; large (mostly seaview) windows let in lots of light. Splash around on the resort’s slim white beach or in the busy swimming pool, snorkel off the jetty or walk five minutes to the very bustling Patong beach for larger swathes of sand and a party vibe. Hotel phone: +66 76 340 106
    Best Luxury Hotel at Patong Beach
  • The Pavilions – Best Hotel for Honeymooners on Phuket
    Up on a hill in Phuket’s quiet, lush jungle and blue-sea blessed northwest corner, come here for an intimate romantic escape far from the mini-skirt-clad bar scene of Phuket’s southern beaches. There’s a free shuttle bus down to nearby, mellow, golden-white Layana beach, but this resort is designed as a place you never need to leave, with each villa holding a personal plunge pool; fine dining, spa service and much more are available on-site. Villas are all you’d hope for with bathrooms rivaling the size of the bedrooms, dizzying views over jungle to turquoise waters, and elegant, light-filled modern-Sino style. Hotel phone: +66 76 317 600
    Best Hotel for a Honeymoon in Phuket
  • Millennium Resort Patong – Best Hotel for Shopping
    Shoppers rejoice: this urban resort is located inside the large, modern JungCeylon shopping mall and is steps from Patong beach’s crazy party zone. Don’t expect sea views here – instead windows look out over busy streets and even the pool area is more concrete than garden. Rooms are modern and comfortable with a brown and bright color palette. Hotel phone: +66 76 601 999
    Best Hotel for Shopping in Phuket
  • Centara Grand West Sands Resort – Best Family Hotel
    The resort is attached to a huge water park (the largest in Thailand) with slides, water jets, and a lazy river. It’s clean, well run, and free when you stay at the hotel. Suites are huge and have a full kitchen. Downsides: food is average (walk out to the main road to find some good local restaurants) and the location is a little isolated (though a very short drive to the airport). My recommendation is to stay here for 2 nights and 1 full day at the start or finish of your trip. Kids love it. Hotel phone: +66 76 372 000
    Centara Resort with Water Park for Kids
  • Holiday Inn Resort – Best Value Hotel in Phuket
    Family-friendly resort in the heart of Patong’s restaurant, bar, and beach scene. The hotel has a special wing for families with suites that include dedicated children’s bedroom complete with bright, cartoon-style landscapes painted on the walls, a chest full of toys and beds made to look like mini ships; the children’s bathroom even includes kid-sized bathrobes. Of course there’s also a kid’s club, featuring many activities so the grown-ups can get out to enjoy the spa, nearby shopping, and activities galore. Hotel phone: +66 76 370 200
    Best Inexpensive Hotel in Phuket
  • Mom Tri’s Villa Royale – Best Boutique Hotel
    Mom Tri, one of Thailand’s better known architects, has taken his family home and turned it into Phuket’s most luxury boutique hotel. The location, straddling bustling Kata and quiet Kata Noi beaches couldn’t be better – close to shopping and restaurants or peaceful stretches of sand. The hotel restaurant, Mom Tri’s Kitchen, marries upscale international cuisine and a mile-long wine list with views over the Andaman Sea. Hotel phone: +66 76 333 569
    Best Boutique Hotel with Central Location on Phuket
  • Andaman Seaview Hotel – Best Moderate Hotel
    A good-value resort with a modern-tinged colonial feel, breezy coridoors connecting the 161 guest rooms over four floors. Designer maritime-inspired colors like dusty blue, mint green, and aqua set off wooden four-poster beds and antique-looking ceiling fans. The resort encircles a large pool with plenty of lounging space and busy Karon Beach is a five-minute walk away. It’s a good choice for families and couples not needing too much peace and quiet. Hotel phone: +66 76 398 111
    Good Mid-range hotel on Phuket with good location.
  • Sarojin – Best Hotel in Khao Lak
    Peace and quiet are what you’ll find at this adults-only, Zen haven that takes in beach, mangroves, and coconut plantations. Khao Lak is not in Phuket but is only an hour north of the Phuket International Airport (Karon, Kata, and Patong beaches are about an hour south of the airport so not a big difference) and is much less touristy than the Phuket beaches. Accommodation at Sarojin is in one or two-bedroom “residences,” that include a spacious sitting area, gorgeous naturalistic bathrooms with round bathtubs and private gardens. The pricier options have their own small swimming pools. The spa is surrounded by nature (you may see buffalo meandering through the coconut palms) and is considered one of the best on this coast while the two hotel restaurants – one serving Thai food by a lotus pond and the other offering Mediterranean fare on the resort’s white sand beach – are also divine. Hotel phone: +66 76 427 900
    Best Hotel in Khao Lak

The Best Beaches on Phuket

Many beaches are beautiful but are not good swimming beaches (e.g. Rawai beach). And the monsoon season (June to October) can change even the most tranquil of beaches into a rough, windswept, and uninviting terrain.

  • Patong – Located on the white-sanded western coast, Patong is the most famous and most commercial resort. With a broad 3km (2 miles) stretch of sandy beach there is plenty of opportunity for natural shade from trees as well as having parasol-protected sunbeds sited along the entire length. Its sheltered location makes it ideal for all water sports and swimming and so it is popular with families and package holidaymakers. As with all the beaches on the western side, there can be a strong undertow and any red warning flags should be heeded. Patong is also home to tourist shops, an enormous shopping mall, cinemas and a bowling alley. A plethora of day trips and activities can be found, from taking a banana boat ride, snorkelling to renting a jet ski. It can be difficult to escape away from the notorious adult themed night-life with neon lit clubs and bars advertising stripper or transvestite shows. You can find scantily clad transvestites posing for photographs with tourists in many of the side streets in Patong.
  • Freedom – If you are staying in Patong and want to get away from the hustle and bustle then Freedom Beach is a good choice. Even if you did feel like trekking through the kilometre of thick jungle to get there you would not be allowed, as the land surrounding this beach is all privately owned. The only way to access Freedom Beach is by a ten minute boat ride – most leave from from Patong beach. Freedom, undoubtedly, has the best snorkelling on the island and swimming areas are clearly marked and separated from the area where longtail boats arrive and depart. There are also beach volleyball nets and small restaurants along the south end of the beach but with no jet skis or banana boats to disturb the peace, probably the best thing to do is to find a lounger, sit back and relax.
  • Karon – Far less lively and busy than Patong, Karon beach is yet another long expanse of sand, which at its northern end is likened to powder snow. There is little natural shade but there are plenty of sun beds and parasols available. Hotels and restaurants are located on the opposite side of a busy adjacent road; however there are plenty of small stalls selling drinks and snacks. The road is shielded from most of the beach by a bank of sand but it can still be easily heard. All the usual water sports activities are available with some reasonable snorkelling at the southern end. Surfboards are always available although Karon is not renowned for its breakers. It does though have the reputation of being the most dangerous beach.
    If you feel the need to get away from sand, Karon Park is an area a short walk away which provides jogging and cycling paths as well as a large lake with pedalos. For children and ‘young at heart’ adults, Dino Park offers a chance to play crazy golf in a prehistoric atmosphere. Away from the beach, the side streets are home to a small artisan community where you can see painters and craftsmen at work. Karon can be located 5 km south of Patong on the coastal road between Kata and Patong beaches. There are regular bus and songthaew services from Phuket town.
  • Kata – The attractive twin beaches of Kata Yai (Big Kata) and Kata Noi (Little Kata) are situated to the south of Karon Beach. Protected by rocky promontories, swimming and snorkeling is relatively safe here and strong swimmers often head out to Boo Island to the coral reefs. Reputably this is also the best scuba diving area on the island. Set away from the road, both beaches are very peaceful. Kata Yai can feel a little overlooked by two major resorts but the beaches are not private and the sun loungers are available for all to use. It can be difficult to see how to get onto the beach at Kata Noi but access is down to the right and just beyond the Thani wing of the beautiful Katathani Hotel. Buses and songthaews terminate on the headland between the two beaches where, if you don’t feel like the 10-minute walk into either resort, tuk-tuks will happily transport you to your destination. You won’t find a busy nightlife or extensive shopping here but If you are missing the hustle and bustle of Patong or Karon, both are within easy reach, less than 8 km away. Three Beaches Hill (sometimes called Kata or Karon viewpoint) is often busy as it is on many tour itineraries. Located a little south of Kata Noi, it affords an impressive eight-kilometer vista (4.5 miles) of the three south west coast beaches.
  • Maio Khao – On the northwest coast, 39 km from Patong, this 11km beach is set within the Sirinat National Park. The sand here is fairly coarse, but you can walk along it for hours and not see another soul. There are no beach activities on offer here but swimming is allowed. However it is wise to be careful as there is a sharp drop in the ocean floor close to the shore and you can easily get out of your depth. If your idea of fun is plane spotting then this is a good place to be as the proximity of Phuket airport makes it feel as if their landing on the beach is an imminent possibility. Between November and February, turtles arrive to lay their eggs in the warm sands. Numbers have been dwindling over recent years and care has to be taken during this time not to disturb any such activity. The northern side of the beach can be reached from Thepkrassatri Road, just before the Sarasin Bridge. The southern end is best reached from Nai Yang and through the national park (fee payable).
  • Nai Thon – Nai Thon Beach has some of the squeakiest sand on Phuket. It is within the Sirinat National Park and has thus far escaped over-development. The gently sloped beach is ideal for swimming and casuarina trees abound for shelter from the sun. The beach itself is not developed but there are a few restaurants and shops just across the street. There are no organized beach activities and no equipment for hire, but people snorkel and dive among the coral at the both ends of the beach (long tail boats with take you farther offshore for even better snorkeling). Nai Thon is 28 km from Patong, on the road that connects Bang Tao beach and Nai Yan Beach. There is only one road that runs directly along this part of the coast so it is fairly easy to find.
  • Surin – This 1km stretch of beach is famous for its crystal clear water, which makes it a wonderful place to swim. It’s a shame that the snorkeling here is not great although that does not stop people from having a go. With all the major water sports on offer it’s surprising that this beach is as quiet as it is. It feels like it has embraced all that is good about Patong and left behind the bits that are less pleasing. The views are fantastic with plenty of local restaurants. Surin Beach is situated south of Bang Tao and north of Kamala Beach – 14 km from Patong – and is well signposted.
  • Laem Singh – Laem Singh, 7 km north of Patong, on the Patong Surim Road is not easily found. The beach is accessed down a steep, stepped path, fairly comfortable to go down but excruciatingly difficult to climb back up. However it is worth all the effort for this beach is absolutely stunning and one of Phuket’s best for swimming. Many seem to agree as, once a secret cove, it is now one of the best used beaches in the area. Foot massagers ply the beach, jet skis resound along with all the usual paraphernalia associated with a busy beach. When the sun is not shining it returns to it’s natural quiet beauty. Once a month an early evening disco is held, best suited to those who are not looking for peace and tranquility. The restaurants are a little more expensive here but understandable when you consider that their supplies also have to be brought from the hillside above. Parking at the top of the paths is available but scarce so an early arrival at this beach is recommended. 1km to the south is Hat Kamala which is more developed.
  • Nai Harn – On the southernmost tip of Phuket, the waters around Nai Harn are usually calm and crystal clear, except in monsoon season when the waves become huge and thus a haven for surfers. The Samnak Song Buddhist Monastery owns most of its central and southern area and has left it pleasantly underdeveloped. Upscale beachfront and family-friendly resorts dot the area. Nai Harn is divided into three segments, the beach and park, a small village with a few shops, and Nai Harn town. Bike hire and other services can be found in the town and as it is about a twenty-minute walk to and from the beach, many people take that option. Nai Harn is 20km (12.5miles) south of Patong.

Phuket Hotels with Private Pools

Resort on the beach with private pool in Phuket

The Pool Villa with Sea View at The Shore At Katathani on Kata Beach.

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70 Questions and Comments

  1. Amanpuri, Trisara, vs Sri Panwa in Phuket

    Hi Dave! So debating between: Amanpuri, Trisara, or Sri Panwa? We want 5 star, beautiful beach, and would love to have access to shops and restaurants….thanks! Dana

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      All of these are good 4.5 star hotels with nice amenities, grounds, and pools. But none are on a great beach or are an easy walk to a wide range of shops and restaurants. Of the 3, The Amanpuri has the most within walking distance but it’s still nothing compared to being on Karon or Kata beaches (which are the locations I would recommend for you).

  2. Phuket Hotel with Pool and Beach Access

    I could really really use some help. I’m coming to Phuket for my 10 yr. anniversary arriving around 11:30 am on Tuesday, 3/14 and leaving for Bangkok on Sunday early afternoon on 3/19. I need help picking a hotel. I’ve made many reservations only to change them when I read more reviews, or find a better price, etc. I’ve been booked at Novotel Phuket pool suite but cancelled after I read about the sewage smell getting to the beach & saw pictures, then I booked at the Pavilions Phuket – I really liked this one; it was $113,000 for the 5 nights and loved the pool; but, then I found Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa and they offered a lovely pool suite as well and so I cancelled Pavilions and booked there. for only $50,000 bhats. But, here is where my thinking is now. My husband and I have never been to Asia and I chose Thailand because I wanted culture from those indigenous to the area and those who travel here. I’m not really trying to be isolated like the pavilions would do nor do I think I want to be very very far away (40-45) from the “happenings” When I reflect, having a pool isn’t the most important thing – I just installed one at home. Below is the order of priority of what I would say is really most important to me for Phuket. Please can you make some recommendations, please – I’m so tired of reading reviews.
    1. Hotel – good/strong AC/ clean and modern feel. Would be ideal to have a suite; but, could do a bit smaller
    2. Beach – I want access to a really nice calm beach for swimming – I love to swim and it’s my favorite thing to do. I’d really like access to beach chairs/umbrellas. Would love to have a hotel on the beach or provides a shuttle to it. I’d say this trumps all else except #1. So if I have to be away a bit more but get a great beach I’ll pay the $ for taxis.
    3. Not in the center of things; but, being 20 minutes away or so seems so much better than 40-45 minutes. We are from the US and go to the Caribbean all the time to relax. So we’re looking for some R&R if we want; but, want to experience things. But, if there is no place with a nice beach. I’d go a little further out.
    4. I’d love to find something less expensive like Dream Resort; but, can go much higher if I get the must haves. Thank you so much for any recommendations you can provide.
    Konika Bell

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      It’s hard to beat The Shore at Katathani which meets all your criteria.

  3. Walkable Beach Town with Nightlife over Christmas and New Years

    Wow, David – very impressive feedback and detail to Thailand culture and scenery!

    I am asking for a close male friend, who is traveling from Melbourne, Australia to Thailand for the first time. He will be there over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so about 2 weeks all together. Young professional, early 30’s, enjoys night life, good food, and definitely safety; preferably walking distance to such related. I am seeking lodging suggestions and areas within a reasonable budget.

    I am excited to hear from you!

    Best,
    Heather

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Karon and Kata beaches are both good choices with shopping, restaurants, non-crazy nightlife, and great beaches. Horizon Karon Beach Resort is a moderately priced hotel that is walking distance from both Karon and Kata beaches so makes a good compromise.

  4. Transportation from Phuket Airport

    Hi Dave

    What does a taxi cost from Phuket airport to Patong, Kata, and Karon beaches? Are they easy to get? (Haven’t decided where to stay yet.)

    Thanks Dave, appreciate your help and love your blog.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Yes, taxis are very easy to get. Just walk out the door from arrivals and turn right. There’s a kiosk there that arranges taxis with official prices (no meter).

      I took this picture last year of taxi fares around Phuket (from the airport):
      Taxi fares from Phuket airport to different beaches and hotels.

  5. Where To Go in Thailand Late October / Early November

    Hey Dave

    First of all great blog! My mom and I are going to Thaïland at the end of october. First we visit Bangkok a couple of days, then go to Pattaya (Jomtien) and then would like to go to a/some Thaï island(s). Which islands (and beaches, resorts,…) would you recommend, weather-wise, at the end of October/beginning of November? We’re looking for a relaxing vacation with good and sunny weather, good food, experience thai culture ( the cooking, markets, visiting temples, nature, Thai style resort,…) so not the loud parties but also not totally isolated. Have done a lot of reading on your blog and internet and still it’s hard to decide where to go to and to avoid rain as much as possible.

    Thanks in advance.

    Emily

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      October is a wet month pretty much everywhere in the south. Koh Samet island (not too far from Pattaya) is drier than the islands in the south and has a nice vibe though perhaps not everything you’re looking for. If you had to choose between the west coast (Phuket) and east coast (Koh Samui) in late October/early November then the west coast will likely be drier.

  6. Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lok in November

    Hi David! First of all, the information you provide is amazing, thank you so much! Me and my bf (in our 30s) are looking to visit Thailand end of November. We cannot make a decision regarding our itinerary so I was wondering if you could have a look and help us decide. We are very active, we love walking, good restaurants, shops etc. We definitely don’t enjoy crowdy places like Bangla Road but we are not very keen on secluded beaches or islands either. Because it’s my birthday we are looking for a bit of luxury at some point too. ITINERARY NO 1: Bangkok for 3 days (@either Lebua or Peninsula), fly to Krabi stay in Ao Nang for 2 nights to visit 4 islands and Railey (Vogue resort), 2 nights Phi Phi Island (is it possible to rent long tail boat to go to Maya Bay very early in the morning? we are considering either Holiday Inn or Village Resort), last 4 nights Phuket (maybe Centara Grand?). Is it worth staying in Phi Phi or would we be better off just sticking to Krabi and Phuket & just doing sunrise tour with Simba sea tours (you get to Maya Bay before all the tourist arrive). ITINERARY NO 2: Bangkok 3 nights, Khao Lak 3 nights (Haven Resort, any thoughts regarding beach, restaurant etc?) From Khao Lak maybe one day tour to Khao Sok CHeow Lan Lake), then Phuket for 5 nights (TRIPS planned: sunrise pPi Phi tour, Hongs by starlight, James Bond island etc) – it would mean however we skip krabi….Also quick question about hotels in Phuket, which one would you opt for: CENTARA GRAND room witha spa bath or Mom Tris Villa in Kata?

    Eliza

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      One thing to keep in mind is that the sea can still be rough in November (though it’s usually pretty good by late November) – so the bigger the boat the better (big ferries run on most of these routes but I wouldn’t want to be on a long tail for anything other than Railay). I love Railay so I’d probably go with your itinerary #1. Mom Tris definitely has more character than Centara Grand (though it’s still very nice). Both Holiday Inn and Village Resort are nice though Village Resort is walking distance to Tonsai which is nice.

  7. Phuket Resort in October

    Hi David
    We are travelling to Phuket in October for two weeks. We know it is low season and we are likely to get some rain. The first week we are staying with friends but for the second need a hotel. I have been looking at the Outrigger Laguna Beach resort and the Sunwing as my son is also coming with us. Do you know either of these hotels? Also with the sea being quite rough at this time have I chosen the right part of the island to stay at? I am also presuming that not all boat trips will be available and we may not be able to snorkel. Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.
    Thanks

    Lesley Harrison

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Personally, I would go with the Sunwing in Kamala (there is also one in Bang Tao – not sure which one you were asking about). All of these hotels will be quiet in low season but the Sunwing Kamala has the most around it and close to Patong for shopping, if that interests you. I doubt you’ll be snorkeling in October but all of these hotels have great pools for kids.

  8. Lively Place for New Years

    Hi David. My boyfriend and I are planning on heading back to Thailand again for New Years eve (leaving london 27th December) and hope to stay for around 10 nights. Last year, we did 1 night bangkok / 3 nights phi phi island (for NYE celebrations), 3 nights in Koh Lanta and then 3 nights in Chiang Mai. This time, we want to explore Phuket, Khao Lak and maybe somewhere else. We would like to be somewhere lively for NYE so would probably look to fly from Bangkok and see Phuket first. What would you suggest in your expert opinion?! We love taking boat trips out for snorkelling (we are not divers though), and appreciate good food and somewhere with some night life (although we dont like it Phi Phi crazy every night)!!

    MJ

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Patong is a little crazy at New Years. Kata and Karon a bit more mellow but still lots going on and plenty of friendly activity (and fireworks) along the beach. Many day trips to surrounding islands can be booked from Karon and Kata.

  9. Phuket Weather in July

    Hi Dave,
    Great site! Very helpful.
    I would like though to check with you what you would recommend to do in low season in Phuket. We have bought tickets to Phuket from 9th till 15th July. As we read that it would be quite rainy we were thinking whether it’s not a good idea to stay only 4 nights in Phuket and after that head to Bangkok for 2 nights. Do you think this is worthy doing? We are concerned whether we would have enough things to do in Phuket, we would like to do some sightseeing and travel around the islands but we are unsecure about the weather.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      It is low season and can there will likely be some rain but (unless you have some very bad luck) I think you’d be fine for a 6 day trip and find plenty to do. Boat travel to other islands can be delayed or cancelled but the weather is often good for sitting by the pool and enjoying the sun. That said, I love Bangkok so trading two days on Phuket for two in Bangkok I think is a pretty good idea.

  10. Quiet Beach Locations on Phuket

    Hi, we are a couple in our early twenties. We have about 7-10 days to spend in the Phuket area. This is our first time in Thailand. We’d like to stay at places with clear quiet waters, good food nearby, not a partying area, more authentic style resorts, beautiful views. Simple Thai food at the hotel/s would be a plus. We don’t mind traveling from place to place. Would probably like to see Koh Phi Phi and Ralay beaches but also stay at a more secluded and quiet bungalow place.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Calm quiet waters are becoming a rare thing in Phuket and a lot of your experience will depend on when you will be traveling. If you are traveling in high season, most beach areas will be busy. Koh Phi Phi and Railay are definitely worth going to but there as well, pretty much no matter where you go, there will be plenty of other people. On Phuket your best options are to keep to the beaches from Hat Surin and north from there. On Hat Surin the most exclusive and private resort is the Amanpuri which ticks all your boxes but it is also one of the most expensive resorts on the island. Heading north, try the beautiful Dewa Phuket (less expensive than the Amanpuri), a very mellow boutique resort that’s right next to the pristine beaches of Sirinat National Park. This resort is a great choice if it’s in your price range.

      Another idea in the quiet and authentic category would be to head to the very nearby Ko Yao Islands. The very expensive and yet absolutely dreamy Six Senses Resort on Koh Yao Noi has some of the best views in Thailand and feels very private. However it is isolated from daily island life so you won’t get much local culture. Santhiya on even more quiet Ko Yao Yai is built in traditional Thai style and also has some of the finest views imaginable.

  11. Which Island for Beaches, Nature, Nightlife, and Good Food

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for this blog, really useful information here!

    A group of us – 4 girlfriends (early thirties) – can not make up our minds which islands to choose. Tickets are booked for 8-18 of December. What would you recommend for a mix of amazing beaches, nature adventures, good night, and food scene? We don’t mind island hoping at all.

    Thanks in Advance!

    Gina

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      With ten days you’re not going to have time to go too many places but that’s OK since a lot of Thai Islands have what you’re after. I’d start with maybe two nights on Phuket. Patong has the craziest nightlife by far, but it can be busy (too busy for some) and kind of gritty. If you want to tone it down a notch, Kata is a good choice. Both of these Phuket areas have beautiful beaches and tons of food options. Then go to Ko Phi Phi, one of the most beautiful islands in the country, where serious nightlife is on offer but you can also hike, scuba dive, or take cooking classes. The island is small so a night or two will probably be enough. It’s a bit of a trek, but I think you guys would really like spending a few days in Ko Lipe in the far south. The beaches and scenery there are spectacular, there’s great, fun, beach-style nightlife and seafood barbecues on the beach. You can catch a Tigerline Ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lipe that takes you through all the Trang Islands so you get to see the whole coast. The trip takes about 6 hours each way. At the end you may want to stay one more night on Phuket at whatever beach you didn’t try the first time.

  12. 2 Weeks in Thailand – Which Islands?

    Great site Dave, we are flying into Phuket around April 10th and staying for 2 weeks. I like to be dynamic when I travel, so I have zero rooms/resorts booked. I was roughly looking at flying in and staying around Pansea Beach for the first couple days to decompress from the flight and travel. Then head south-east, maybe PhiPhi for a day and then over to Ko Lanta. First time to Thailand (just me and my GF – 32 years old). Looking for mild/light crowds and great beaches with good food close. Can you recommend a few places to check out, or a decent pathway to head. I have no issues 2 days here, 2 days there. Just looking for a little advice from a seasoned traveler.

    Adam

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Pansea beach is a great choice for decompressing and both resorts there are top-notch. Both The Surin or The Amanpuri take in the best of the Pansea. Continuing on, you’ll probably want to stay at least overnight on Phi Phi and for mid-level crowds, you’d be best off looking for a place on the quieter east side of the island. Tonsai and most of the west side can get really loud and crazy. If you want to stay out all night however, it’s one of the wilder party spots in Thailand. The east coast is more for resort goers and still sees plenty of people but you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep. Zeavola resort has the one of the better locations and lovely villas in the jungle, plus you can arrange for them to pick you up and drop you off at the ferry so that won’t cut too much into your stay.

      Lots of people love Koh Lanta and it has tons of beaches but many areas can get busy (though never as loud and busy as Koh Phi Phi). Also, scenery wise, this is very different from Phi Phi since the island is flat and the sea isn’t as blue. La Laanta on Ao Mai Pai would be a good choice for you. It’s young, modern, and hip. The beach is not busy but is white and the water is especially clear here. The Castaway Restaurant is good but you’ll have to rent scooters or hire transport to get you to other eating places.

      Railay Beach is one of the most beautiful areas in this area and all the resorts are walking distance to the restaurants and low-key bars. Plus there is a lot to do from snorkeling to rock climbing. In April it shouldn’t be too busy. The Rayavadee is the best resort at Railay (it’s on one of the best beaches in the country). For something cheaper try Railay Beach Club is a solid second choice. It’s on great beach too and you can easily walk to Rayavadee’s beach.

      With two weeks you’ll have plenty of time to visit the Trang Islands, which get less traffic than the other places but are equally beautiful with high limestone karst formations everywhere, fantastic white sand beaches, snorkelling, and blue waters. You can island hop as you please. Ko Muk is the busiest while Ko Ngai is the smallest and Ko Kradan has seen the most recent development. All have a mix of authentic Thai and more upscale European eating options. The Anantara Si Kao on Cheng Leng Beach on the mainland is one of the more luxurious choices in the area and they offer plenty of excursions to the islands so you could start there and take a day trip to figure out where/which island you want to go to next.

  13. Los Angeles to Thailand with Young Children

    I’m so glad that I found this site! We are a family of 4 (babies will be 25 months old & 9 months old). We’re heading to Chiang Mai for 4 days (June 26-29) for a work conference and then we will do personal travel. We can really go anywhere and do anything at all so that’s what’s making the planning so dificult. Research has been taking HOURS and I am desperate for advice. I want to maximize the visit and see as much as possible (cover a large area), but at the same I have to be conscious about having 2 babies with jetlag!

    Total trip can be about 10-14 days.

    Here are a few of my questions:
    1. From Los Angeles, should we fly into Chiang Mai directly, or via Bangkok?
    2. After my conference in Chiang Mai, where should we go? South to Surat Thani? Phuket? Other? Should we go N to Luang Probang, Laos? Any family friendly hotels that you recommend in any of those places? I do prefer to be in the “middle of it all” and not somewhere too remote.

    Michele

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      1. I don’t believe there are any direct flights from LA to either Bangkok or Chiang Mai. So, it’s 2 flights minimum so you might as well fly to Chiang Mai instead of adding another leg by stopping in Bangkok. The only caveat is that you’ll spend a little more going directly to Chiang Mai. The cheapest flights (by far) are to Bangkok and even when you add in the cost of another flight it will still be cheaper to fly through Bangkok (assuming you find a cheap flight to Chaing Mai with a Thai carrier like Air Asia).
      2. You don’t say what your interests are so it’s hard to recommend but if you want beach time then go to Koh Samui or Phuket. If you want something more cultural then Laos. The beach destinations are certainly easier with kids, but ease doesn’t always have to be the most important factor.

  14. Best Islands near Phuket

    We fly into Phuket airport and plan to spend 3 days there. But then want to head to 1 or 2 other islands nearby. What are the best islands on the west coast for beaches, swimming, interesting locations, and good food?

    Kate

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      1. Although it’s not an island, Railay is a peninsula that feels like an island and it has some of the best to offer for what you’re looking for. It’s known for its rock climbing but it also has some of the best beaches in the country that are great for swimming and are overwhelmingly scenic due to the towering limestone all around. There are some walks, interesting shrines and one coast coast of mangroves. Day trips go to some fantastic snorkeling spots or you can rent kayaks and paddle around. You’ll find every type of food in Railay from mom and pop Thai places to chic dining at the more upscale resorts. The fastest way to get there from Phuket is by high speed ferry that takes a little over two hours.

      2. Ko Phi Phi is an easy hop from Phuket on a high speed ferry (about two hours). It’s considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world and it’s hard to argue with that statement. The beaches are bright white, the water is nearly fluorescent blue and the limestone mountains are covered in stunning green jungle. Take your pick of swimming beaches and tons of restaurants and there’s even a great cooking school here – Pum’s. Unless you’re really into partying however, I’d recommend not staying in or around Tonsai Beach, as it’s often swarming with a very young drinking crowd and has pounding bass to the wee hours of the morning. Beaches like Laem Thong or Hat Yao (the latter is the much busier choice).

      3. Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi are the closest islands to Phuket and oddly enough, the least “discovered.” These islands are very interesting thanks both to their laid back white beaches and to the friendly local Muslim fishing culture which differs from what you’ll find on Phuket. The main village of Ko Yao Noi has some authentic street food and all the resorts have decent to very good restaurants. The beaches on Ko Yao Noi in particular receded at low tide so you can only swim at high tide. The best swimming beach is Hat Chonglard on Ko Yao Noi near the Thwison Beach Resort.

      4. Koh Lanta would be the lowest on the list of nearby islands if you’re hoping to swim, since most beaches there have murkier waters. The beaches are nice and sandy and you can wander in for a dip, but it is a little disappointing if you’ve grown used to clear, blue sea. Your best bet for a good swimming beach is in the far south at Ao Mai Pai. Koh Lanta is a much more flat island and fun to explore however and there is fantastic food all over the place. Time for Lime is a great cooking school that doubles as an animal rescue center (so you’d only want to go here if you really love dogs). Renting a car or a motorbike is a good idea, especially if you stay at Ao Mai Pai. The same high speed ferries go from Ko Phi Phi to Koh Lanta (1.5 hours) or you can leave from Phuket and transfer ferries in Ko PhiPhi for Koh Lanta.

  15. Koh Samui and Phuket Transportation

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for sharing your views and providing some helpful information about Phuket and Ko Samui. Based on your recommendations we are going to stay at the Hansar in Ko Samui for a few days over easter (really looking forward to it) but then we go to Phuket before heading back to KL. I’ve looked at flight options and for 5 adults it’s a total 17,000 THB for a one way air ticket from USM to HKT which is quite expensive. Can you please suggest some reasonable alternatives with contact information? For example I read about taking a VIP bus from Ko Samui to Phuket instead of an air conditioned bus but cannot find any further info on this. A road journey is 6hrs as opposed to 1hr by air but factor in airport check in and baggage it’s more than 3 if not 4 in total so it would appear to be a viable alternative unless road journeys are a ‘bad idea’ i.e. unsafe! Thanks in advance for your help.

    Shuma

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Yes, flights out of Samui are notoriously expensive but if you book early (months in advance) there are often good discounts available.

      Bus and boat to Phuket is a good safe option, albeit a more time consuming and less luxurious one. Once you’re on Koh Samui you’ll find bus and boat combo tickets to Phuket being sold on every corner. Count on the journey taking at least eight hours including the boat trip from Samui to the mainland (Surat Thani). The most frustrating part of the trip is waiting with hundreds of other tourists once you get off the boat, to get herded onto the air-con buses going in many directions all over Thailand. The wait here can be hot, dull and frustrating. The most popular boat is the high speed Lomprayah Ferry.

      The one-way price per person is 700THB but if you’re willing to go on a slower boat, you can probably find a cheaper alternative once you’re on Samui. You could also theoretically get a boat to the mainland then find a local bus connection from there. That would mean carting your luggage around in the hot sun and it will almost definitely add hours to your travel time, but it would be adventurous!

  16. Honeymoon in Thailand

    Hi Dave,
    Really liked your options but i’m still confused.
    My husband and I are taking finally our honeymoon (after 2 years) so we’re planning to go in late May, how is the weather in those days? The plan is staying 3-4 days in Bangkok and then go to the beach. I’ve seen all the beaches and i can’t decide! we’re looking for the best beach, white sand, and beautiful water. After Bangkok we don’t care about nightlife, shopping or big crowds, we just want to lay on the beach or the pool, so which beach/island do you recommend?
    Also a resort no more than $200/night and great views (or maybe a pool).
    I really want to take a tour to Phi Phi Island (yes, because of “The Beach”) but I saw they have Maya beach, Phi Phi and more tours, which one is the best? So I supose we need a resort closer enough to take that tour (or you don’t recommend that tour?)
    Thank you so much, i know you could help me with this.

    Ps.
    In Bangkok do you think 3 days are enough to go to the floating market, Emerald Budha and an elephant tour? or there’s something that we can not miss in our stay?

    Ana

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      3 days is plenty to see the sights of Bangkok (for most people, it’s a huge city so you could easily spend more but 3 will likely be perfect). For beaches and islands there are so many but take a look at Koh Lanta (quiet, great beaches), Kata and Karon beaches (more trendy with lots of restaurants and some nightlife), and Khao Lak (great beach, a nice mix of Thai culture and tourist amenities). If you’re interested in Phi Phi then I would visit for 2 or 3 nights but I wouldn’t do a tour as then you’re there at the busiest and least attractive times.

      1. Ana

        Thank you so much, you’ve been very helpful. I’m going to look at those islands.
        Thanks again!

  17. Which island in Thailand?

    Hi Dave,

    I am planning a trip to Thailand in April for a couple of days. I’m having a hard time deciding which island I should stay at. I’m looking for somewhere that has a really nice beach (preferably with white sand and blue water that’s swimmable) and also easy access to entertainment and activities (i.e: elephant trekking, gun range, etc.) Not really looking forward to a crazy night life as I will be heading to Bangkok later on during the trip.

    Tips on which hotels to stay at will be helpful as well.

    Thank you.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      The weather in April is great on all the Thai islands so that shouldn’t be a worry. No islands have good elephant trekking (for that you need to go to northern Thailand) and I don’t think Thailand is known for its gun ranges. Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Lanta, and Phuket would all make great choices for beautiful swimmable beaches.

  18. Which Side of Thailand?

    Hi Dave, some sound advice on here, me and my partner are currently in Chiang Mai and seen everything we wanted to see! We are now torn whether to decide to go to the southeast or southwest of the islands! For example Ko Samui, Koh Tao side or Phuket, Phi Phi, and Krabi side? We like places with a bit of nightlife but like to chill on pretty beaches! Like boat trips, exploring, and culture too! My partner is interested in doing a dive – I’m a keen on snorkeling and maybe a dive if can build myself up to it?
    Many thanks
    Myles

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Both coasts have what you’re looking for. The west lends itself more to day trips and short outings – there is just more coastline and little islands to explore. Both sides have good diving though the west has more choice of dive spots. Beaches are great in both areas though a little more relaxed and less touristy on the east coast. Nightlife has a funner vibe in Koh Samui than in Phuket. I tend to think the food is better on Koh Samui than in Phuket.

  19. Romantic Resort on Beach

    Hi Dave. My fiance and I are planning on visiting Thailand for the first time in June – probably staying around a week. We’re looking for a romantic, resort-style, beach-adjacent place to stay and from the research we’ve done it just looks like there are so many available options. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    David

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “resort-style” but take a look at Katathani Phuket Beach Resort if you want a large resort with multiple pools. If you want something more boutiquey and romantic then look at its sister hotel, The Shore at Katathani. Both have beachfront locations.

  20. Destination for Family with Good Value Hotel

    Hi Dave – We are a family of 4 traveling from NZ and meeting with a family of 5 from Denmark and plus two grandparents from Denmark joining us as well. We are 11 in total – we’ll be meeting up in July for 2 weeks. We stayed in Phuket 2 years ago in February all of us at two different resorts 1 week at each (Vijitt and Indigo Pearl) and loved it (this was a treat from a grandparent). This time we are all paying our own way and therefore need quality (but not luxury), we want accommodation that is resort styled and includes breakfast – we like to eat at the beach cafes in the evenings mostly. A swimming pool we feel with the young kids is a must. We like to snorkel a bit, walk in parks, beaches, hang out with the kids, eat!, get massages, explore local history and towns, do yoga, relax and definitely not do elephants and too many temples (although I personally love them!) ! We like to be on the ‘mainland’ – so not Koh Samui etc – and prefer not to do extra flights – eg – flying directly into Phuket and then getting a taxi (not another flight) was fantastic. Do you have weather/activities and accommodation etc recommendations for us please. Many thanks – your blog is great.

    Juliet

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Khao Lak is a wonderful beach town and a good alternative to the more touristy Phuket. It’s an hour north of the Phuket airport (not much more than the taxi ride to Karon or Kata beaches).

      In Khao Lak Nangthong Bay Resort has a great beach front location, nice kid-friendly pool, and is an easy walk to lots of shops and restaurants. The hotel is very good value and has nice bungalows and family apartments.

  21. Where To Go in Thailand for First Time

    Thank you so much for your blog, simply amazing! I am trying to plan a trip for this upcoming April (first week). Honestly I am finding it hard to get information or “real” suggestions, except for your blog. I wish I had more time to visit but I only have about 8 days total, I’m flying from the US. I definitely want beaches, but what else would you suggest is a “must?” I love local, real food, sleeper trains, (non sexual) massage. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much again for your blog.
    Elizabeth

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      My 3 favorite places in Thailand are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. You probably don’t have time to do all 3 so maybe just Bangkok and Koh Samui. Be sure to do a bike tour in or around Bangkok and a cooking course in Bangkok (more choices) or Koh Samui. The overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani (and then bus and ferry to Koh Samui) is a great experience. Bangkok has the best food in the country but Koh Samui is pretty great too and both have plenty of massage places.

  22. Beach That is Easy to Get To

    Hi David, first time Thailand visitors here, 2 adults and 2 children (16,8) we have 7 nights in Karon and then 3 spare nights at the end to visit somewhere different. Looking through your post and wondering is it easy to get to Krabi or Railay beach or is there somewhere else easy to visit and then to fly out of Phuket?
    Thanks in advance and for info provided.

    Jody

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      It’s very easy to fly to Krabi, taxi and boat to Railay, boat to Phuket, then flight home.

  23. Great Beach with Restaurants at Night

    Hi Dave,

    I went to Koh Samui 2 years ago and absolutely loved it, we stayed at the Amari Palm Reef and just loved how the beach transformed in the evening with the little bars and restaurants, sitting on bean bags at 2-3 in the morning just a few feet from the ocean . The only thing I would change is the beach right at the hotel as the water was not so clear as you see in the photos and a lot of coral. Can you tell me if there is another beach in Koh Samui with the same vibe in the evening but a nicer beach.
    Margaret Maclean

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      That stretch of beach in North Chaweng has the highest density of nighttime restaurants along the beach. So, while every beach has some night time activity any beach will be quieter than that area. But good places to look would be on Bophut, South Chaweng, Choeng Mon (right around Imperial Boat House), and Chaweng Noi.

  24. Booking Phuket Taxi in Advance

    Hi Dave
    Just reading your column which is very helpful. Only trouble I am having is inputting Mr Tum’s Tel number into my phone as I will contact him when I am in Phuket next month.
    Kind regards
    Julie Phillips

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      This website might help you make the call with the correct code.

    2. Julie

      Thank you!

  25. Koh Lanta or Koh Samui

    Dave, Happy New Year and thanks for all this great info. Quick piece of advice as we’re really on the fence. My wife and I will be travelling over from Bali in Mid February and essentially have 1 week in Thailand. We went to Phi Phi about 10 yrs ago but wondering which side is best to do this time. I’m super interested in Koh Lanta but also have some friends travelling through Samui at the same time.

    We’re in our mid 30’s (no kids) and looking for a fairly high end beach resort or classic stilt huts with crystal blue water, amazing sand, and some good diving too (tho we will of just been diving in the Gili islands so not integral). If you were in our shoes would you hit the gulf and maybe do Saumi and Ko Tao or head straight south to Krabi and do Lanta and surrounding area?

    Appreciate any advice. Thx.

    ps Tarutao National Park looks amazing but might be a bit hard to get to….

    Chris

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Both have great weather in February so there’s nothing to worry about there. I love Koh Samui’s mix of things to do, great restaurants, and wonderful beaches so I’m going to recommend Samui. Koh Lanta does have even better beaches but is much quieter. So, I’d let your preference for nightlife and restaurant scene be the main factor. Day trips from Samui to Koh Tao for diving are easy to arrange.

  26. Good Beach Hotels near Phuket Airport

    Hello Dave,

    We will be staying in Phuket for 2 nights before flying out from the airport. Any recommendations on where to stay near Phuket Airport? We are looking for a nice beach, close (ish) to airport, and good walking/shopping/restaurants nearby.

    Thank you!
    DK

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Two nice beach towns near the airport are Nai Yang and Naithon. Nai Yang has more restaurants and bars (though still quiet). Naithon has a nicer beach. The Nai Yang hotels are about 7 minutes from the airport. The Naithon hotels are 15 minutes from the airport.

      Nai Yang Hotels near Airport
      Indigo Pearl
      Dewa Phuket

      Naithon Hotels near Airport
      Pullman Phuket Arcadia

      If you have kids then you have to stay at the Centara which has a huge water park (largest in Thailand) connected to the hotel. Though this hotel appears to be directly beside the airport the road to get there winds around the runway to the east and it takes 12 to 15 minutes to get here from the airport.
      Centara Grand West Sands Resort

  27. Day Trips from Chiang Mai and Koh Samui

    Hi Dave,

    This is a great resource! Wondering if you could please help me with planning a trip to Thailand for 11 days in early August with my boyfriend. We are thinking: fly into and out of Bangkok for 2 days total, fly up to Chiang Mai for 4, and then to Koh Sumai for 5.

    Are there any day trips that you would recommend from Chiang Mai or Koh Sumai? We want to make the best of our trip, but try to limit the number of cities. Any recommended hotels in these areas or tips to avoid tourist traps? We’re also active people who get bored pretty easily, so would love to hear about activities you have done in these areas that we can take advantage of.

    Thanks so much for your help! Your site is great!
    Morgan

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      There are many great day trips from Chiang Mai – the Measa Elephant Camp being the highlight. Great day trips from Koh Samui include kayaking through Ang Thong National Park and diving or snorkeling trips to Koh Tao.

      The Hansar in Bophut is probably my favorite hotel on Koh Samui (though there are many phenomenal ones). In Chiang Mai I love the Anantara and the Four Seasons (a bit out of town but enchanting and close to some of the elephant camps).

  28. Beach Chairs on Phuket

    Hi Dave

    Are there any beaches in Phuket that still have sunbeds? I hear they have taken them all away & I don’t fancy lying on the sand. I have also heard that most of the beach bars have gone too. Is this correct?

    Many thanks

    Elaine Scully

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      There are no beach chairs on Phuket and most selling of food and drink has been banned – though it’s allowed on hotel property. Beach mats and umbrellas are allowed. Many beach bars have been dismantled. There are a few still running (or reconstructed) but they are back from the beach a bit.

  29. Koh Samui in August with Kids

    Hi David,
    I have spent hours surfing on the internet trying to get some info until I came across your blog. My plan is to go on vacation during the 1st 2 weeks in August (possibility to extend the stay) with my 2 children (4 yrs /13 yrs) and husband but to my understanding August seems to be a rainy season. I wouldn’t want to disappoint them having to end up swimming in the pool. I would want to have at least a few relaxing days at the beach and do some snorkling and then go elsewhere maybe for one week to go shopping, walk around, visit temples, sightseeing, and end the vacation maybe with the last few days at the beach. My husband prefers to have some options during the evenings i.e. restaurants /bars where you can easily go with children of course. Samui seems to be a good place to go during the peak season (August). Where else would you recommend to go? Would you really recommend to travel to Thailand during August? I am sorry if you feel like you are repeating yourself but unfortunately I do not have much personal time to get all the info. Your time and valuable knowledge would really be a great help. Thank you!
    Clelia

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      August usually has good beach weather on Koh Samui. Lots of good places to eat. It’s great for families.

  30. Where To Go with Kids

    Thank you for sharing with us your wisdom.

    We are planning to come to Thailand with two kids 5 + 7 for about 30 days, on a budget…

    It seems accommodation on small islands is expensive or difficult to get to or not much to do with kids. So beaches on the mainland Thailand look like a great idea. How would you split the time between the different beach location or is it all about the same? Budgetwise we are hoping for 50USD per night, is it possible? We like local simple places with a pool and can do without big resorts.

    We have been in Thailand before having kids, and more than once, what concerns me now a bit is how to deal with local cheating or trying to cheat you? I love Thailand, it’s a paradise, but Phuket and that area… how do you deal with kids there? Is it safe?

    Many thanks again!
    Roy

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Mae Nam on Koh Samui is a great town for families – small, walkable, still plenty of restaurants, and the beach is great. It also has many affordable accommodations. That would be my first choice for an inexpensive base on a longer trip. Phuket is nice but does have a seedier side in Patong (though that’s easy to avoid by staying in Kata or Karon) and is much more expensive. Thais are generally friendly and honest – but you need to negotiate on things like taxis and market clothing. If you just take the first price they offer then yeah, it can seem like you’re being ripped off but that’s because you’re not playing the game right. I consider the beach areas of Thailand to be very safe – but of course there are incidents everywhere that occur. As with every country, your greatest risk is a car accident.

      1. Trip from Cambodia to Thailand

        Thanks Dave, will definitely look into Mae Nam on Koh Samui!

        What are your thoughts about Ko Samet, Ko Chung, Ko Kut area? We are looking to combine the trip together with Cambodia. So we would start at SR, fly to PP and then somehow magically go west into Thailand towards that area, then fly out from Bangkok. What do you think, is that a good idea? Have you done the overland transition between Thailand and Cambodia? We actually got a month for it all so time is not an issue, what concerns me is the travel with the kids, as you say car accidents is the worst risk.

        1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

          That’s a wonderful route and it all sounds like a great plan. That said, I would skip the Ko Samet area as the islands down south are far superior and when you have as much time as you do, you might as well get down to KS or KPN.

  31. 2 Weeks in Thailand: Beaches, Elephants, and Kayaking

    Hi Dave,

    What a great source of information, thank you!

    We are planning on going to Thailand in July/August of next year for maximum 2 weeks. We are both keen on beaches, beautiful scenery and some partying; I’d like to kayak and prefer locations that are less touristy to have some solitude. We were first looking at Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, but now we are tempted by Ko Lanta and the Krabi area. Where would you recommend?

    My friend would possibly like to ride on an elephant and check out tiger temples, though with recent articles I’ve read I’m not so sure we would be comfortable with those situations. Do you have any inside knowledge with regards to that and the treatment of the animals?

    Thanks for your help!

    Gareth

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      The Chiang Mai area is best for animal sanctuaries and elephant rides. Most are reputable and well run (though there are exceptions). The places in the south and on the islands are not as good and generally do not place as much emphasis on good animal treatment. Krabi and area do have great kayaking but you can have rough seas at that time of year. Weather is usually better on the Koh Samui side in July and August (and the seas calmer). Ang Thong Marine Park near Koh Samui is a great day trip for kayaking. The beaches in all of those areas (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi, and Koh Lanta) are wonderful.

  32. Krabi Airport to Koh Lanta

    Hi David – We are flying into Krabi and staying in Ko Lanta.
    Do you know the best way to transfer from the airport to Ko Lanta and how much should we expect to pay? Many thanks!
    Kirsty

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      You can go to the taxi stand at the Krabi airport and hire a taxi (ferry included) to Koh Lanta. It will cost from 2500 baht to 3000 baht (depending where on the island you’re going) and take about 2 hours. There’s also a shared mini-van option that costs about 500 baht but can be a hassle to arrange (sometimes you have to go into Krabi Town).

  33. Koh Samui/Phangang or Krabi/Railay

    Hi Dave,
    We used your guide in Santorini for our honeymoon and it made planning for our trip last June so much easier, so thanks for that!
    We are now planning a trip next summer around SE Asia. We will be arriving in Thailand from Bali the first week of June and staying for 6 nights. We love adventure, but we also love to just relax on the beach. We don’t like the major touristy spots (hence we stayed in Imerovigli, not Oia in Santorini) and definitely want a tru Thai experience. We would be willing to stay in 1 place for 6 nights or experience 2 places for 3 nights a piece. Would you recommend we do Koh Samui/Koh Phangan or Krabi/Railey? Open to suggestions and thanks in advance!
    Hutton Beckcom

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Hotels + Travel

      Sad to say, that real Thai experiences are hard to find on the islands. For more cultural/local restaurants spend time in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. That said, I do prefer Koh Samui and Koh Phangan to the west coast and the Thai food is better too. Weather in June also tends to be better on the east coast (Koh Samui) than the west coast.

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