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Islands in the Andaman Sea

Thailand's long west coast overlooks the Andaman Sea, stretching 894 kilometres from Ranong province in the north to Satun province in the south. The tourism centre of the region is Phuket with other fascinating islands including Ko Phi Phi, Ko Tarutao, Surin and Similan.

In the Andaman three marine parks - Ko Similan, Ko Surin, and Ko Tarutao - there are protected coral reefs of staggering beauty. Charter dive boats operate from Phuket, Thailand's largest island and leading beach resort. Sea canoe tours explore the fabulous grottoes and caverns beneath the kharst islands scattered across Phangnga Bay. Patong, Surin, Kata, Koron, Nai Han - Phuket's wellpreserved beaches - attract four million vacationers a year. Phuket's "green" hotel resorts have won acclaim from the international tourism industry. South of Phuket, Krabi is famous for the pristine beaches of Ko Lanta and the jagged limestone isthmus of Phra Nang.

Ko Phi Phi

This is a small group of very beautiful islands about 40 kilometres from Krabi province. Here the water is crystalclear, with breathtaking views below the surface of the bay. Phi Phi Don is the larger island with bungalow accommodation.

Activities : This is a place where you can relax, swim or sail, and Phi Phi Lae is one of the best locations in the region for scuba diving.

Getting there and accommodation : Ferries leave from Krabi Pier and Ao Chalong in Phuket every morning. On Phi Phi Don there are bungalows for rent and a scuba diving instruction centre.

Similan and Surin island

Part of Phangnga province, this island group is the closest to Burmese waters and forms part of a marine national park with forests, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and spectacular underwater sights.

Activities : Swimming, sun bathing, scuba diving and bird watching. There are coral reefs in deep sea and shallow waters.

Getting there and accommodation : The best time to visit Similan and Surin is between December and April. It takes four to six hours in the ferry from Phuket to Similan and Surin can be reached from Kuraburi Pier in Phangnga province. There are beach houses for rent on both islands and these can be reserved in advance by contacting the Ocean National Park, Royal Forestry Department in Bangkok on telephone 579-0529 or 579-4842.

Thrutao Archipelago

The largest archipelago in the Andaman Sea, 22 kilometres from the coast, with 51 islands and a national park, Tarutao, was once a detention centre for criminals and political prisoners. It is now the headquarters of the national park providing lodgings for tourists. The beaches here are beautiful, quiet and peaceful. Ko Adang and Ko Rawi, which are 40 kilometres from the coast, also have beautiful beaches, crystalclear waters and rock formations.

Activities : Apart from being a wonderful place to take a rest, there is also good swimming, sun bathing, scuba diving to the coral reefs, trekking and bird watching, especially on Tarutao.

Getting there and Accommodation : After travelling to Satun province you then continue your journey to Pak Bara Pier in Langu district where ferries leave daily for Tarutao and, on some days to Adang. For lodgings, you should contact the National Park Office, Royal Forestry Department in Bangkok on telephone number 570-0529 or 579-4842.

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