Phuket is known for its beautiful beach, lively night markets or exciting parties at Bangla Road. However, if you are bored of the typical Phuket holiday, Phuket also has some neighbouring islands that you can visit for a change of scenery. Each island has its own charm and beauty that you have to discover, and here are some of the beautiful islands you can hop around from Phuket.
Krabi Island: Diversity in Thailand’s landscape
Krabi is blessed with a beautiful, diverse landscape, not only white sand beaches with clear turquoise water but also mountains, caves and forest. One of the natural beauty that many tourists love is Thung Teao Forest Natural Park that is well-known for its crystal clear pool — the Emerald Pool. You can peacefully swim in the pool surrounded by the thick jungle. If you like to see some man-made wonder, Wat Tham Sua offers you a unique experience of a temple in a cave. While the 1000 steps to the cave may make you think twice, your effort to reach the top will be paid off with an astounding 360-degree view of the Andaman Sea. Adrenaline junkies can enjoy themselves scaling plenty of limestone rocks in Krabi — there are lots of climbing schools offering different packages for beginners too!
Royal Nakara Ao Nang is a nice place to stay as it is close to the Ao Nang Beach.
Phang Nga Bay: Perfect for nature lovers
Ko Tapu / CC BY 2.0 / Carrie Kellenberger
Phang Nga Bay is possibly the most lovely bay in around Phuket and is also known by the name Ao Phang Nga National Park. A typical tour around Phang Nga Bay will bring you through various limestone formation, hidden beaches, caves and lakes. In front of the ever-popular James Bond Island stood a stunning rock formation called Ko Tapu, which was the symbol of Phang Nga Bay. The James Bond Island, as its name suggests, became famous after its appearance on James Bond: The Man with The Golden Gun.
You can stay at Koh Yao Chukit Dachanan Resort at Ko Yao Noi, the nearest island to Phang Nga Bay.
Phi Phi Islands: Superstar of Thailand’s Islands
Phi Phi Islands is a collection of six islands of different sizes, excellent for travellers with various budgets. Many budget travellers love to visit the main island Phi Phi Don for its vibrant nightlife and wallet-friendly lifestyle.
The other main island, Phi Phi Leh, is off towards the northeast direction and is a favourite spot for honeymoons. It is no surprise because Phi Phi Leh is more serene as compared to Phi Phi Don. Also, it has plenty of resorts for couples to spend their intimate moments together. Fans of Leonardo DiCaprio may recognise Maya Bay, the main attraction of Phi Phi Islands as it appeared in his movie, The Beach. The beauty of this bay is well covered by 100-m tall cliffs on three sides, giving only one entry point to the bay. To avoid the maddening crowd, visit this bay early in the morning or very late in the evening.
Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort, as its name suggests, will help you relax with the wonderful coastal view and its proximity to nature.
Ko Panyi: Preserved culture with a view
CC BY-SA 2.0 / john collier
Another local experience you will probably love is the visit to Ko Panyi, a Muslim fishing village built on stilts. You can even opt for an overnight stay at Ko Panyi overnight to immerse yourself in the locals’ tradition and way of life. In this village, you can feast on fresh seafood at a reasonable price with a spectacular view of the Andaman Sea. The island is rich in heritage and culture, offering something different from the typical island around the Phuket area.
Racha Islands: A paradise for divers
CC BY 2.0 / Phuket@photographer.net
Racha Islands is the gem in Phuket that many divers will quickly fall in love with. Racha Noi is more suitable for advanced divers due to its strong currents and depth, while beginners will enjoy diving at Racha Yai. Racha Yai waters hide plenty gorgeous reefs and cool wrecks with good visibility range once you hit the 20-metre mark. While Racha Noi poses more challenge to our diving experience, it also gives you a different breathtaking view underwater. Its big boulders underwater make it an ideal heaven for bigger fishes, and it is more likely to chance upon manta rays and whale sharks here.
You may want to stay in Phuket instead for a cheaper yet pleasant stay, such as The Windmill Phuket Hotel at Rawa, the southern tip of Phuket.
You may want to consider ‘hotel-hopping’ while you are hopping between islands around Phuket. Nevertheless, if you want to only do a 1 or 2-day island hopping around Phuket, The Elysium Residence at Chalong is a great option. Its clean minimalistic room will guarantee you a good night sleep during the whole trip.
If you happen to visit Phang Nga Bay during the Loy Krathong festival, some tour companies have a special package for you. You will get to learn making Krathong, and you can release the floating lanterns on the water. It’s time to explore Thailand islands beyond Phuket!