Beaches and Islands

Beaches and Islands

Relax on the beach beside the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, or enjoy some of the world's most fantastic scuba adventures among the islands of the Andaman Sea. Thailand is one of the best, most reasonably priced places for a seaside vacation. There are hundreds of beaches to choose from. From the tropical paradise of a bungalow on Ko Samet off the coast of Rayong province, only a few hours from Bangkok by comfortable air conditioned bus, to the luxurious resort developments on Phuket Island, just a short flight from Bangkok, you can have the best vacation of your life. More remote venues, such as the lovely and unspoiled Ko Ngai in the Andaman off the coast of Trang, make it possible to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life without spending a fortune.
Most visitors choose to come after the rainy season ends in late October and before the hot season starts in April. But even during the peak of the monsoon season in September it usually only rains for an hour or so in the afternoon, and the rest of the time you can indulge in the water sport of your choice, or just lay in a hammock and chill out.
Islands in the Gulf, like Ko Chang, are great for a family excursion. Backpackers will love the wild parties on Phangan Island off the coast of Surat Thani. For scuba enthusiasts, exotic Ko Tao is not to be missed. Single travelers may prefer the uninhibited nightlife of Pattaya Beach. Whatever your holiday preference, Thailand's beaches and islands can provide the precise combination of excitement, exotic locales, recreation, entertainment and leisure that you desire.

Mu Ko Similan National Park

The park offers extraordinary underwater sightseeing at depths ranging from two to 30 m and it also embraces powdery sand beaches, huge, smooth granite rock formations which plunge into the sea and form seamounts, rock reefs and dive-troughs.

Similan Archipelago National Park consists of a group of 9 petite islands and covers an area of about 130 square kilometers or 80,000 rai. Situated 50 km off the west coast of Phangnga amidst the Andaman Sea, it was designated as a national park on September 1, 1982.

Sometimes, Ko Similan is referred as Ko Kao, or Nine Islands as the nine of them also has the number as a nickname. Actually, similan is corrupted from the Malay word "sembilan" for nine. From the north to the south, the archipelago comprises Ko Bon, Ko Ba Ngu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (actually two islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, Ko Ku Yong. They are just petite islands and most of them are uninhabited except for park officials and occasional tourist groups.

Mu Ko Similan has been appraised by Skin-Diving Magazine of the USA as among ten loveliest places in the world. The Similans are also regarded as mainly deep water diving. Their reputation is deserved because of the great beauty of nature discovered on the islands and extensive surrounding coral gardens underwater. The islands are undeveloped and unspoiled. A considerable variety of species of fish, crustaceans, and other marine life flourish. The water in the area is as clear as a glass and excellent for diving.

Aside from the beautiful natural setting, thirty-two species of birds including resident birds: the Brahminy kite as well as white-breasted waterhen and migratory species of the pintail snipe, gray wagtail, cattle egret, watercock and the roseate tern are to be found on the nine islands. Some of the beautiful islands include:

Similan Island:The largest island among Similan archipelago has the largest granite outcrop shaped like a horseshoe in the north. One can reach the top to see an extensive panorama of the sea. Ko Similan is excellent location for hiking and snorkeling. It encompasses a long curving bay with powdery sandy beaches and wonderful underwater scenery. The water is shallow and beneath the waters coral reefs and colorful fishes abound. Spiny lobsters in rock crevices and sea fans and plume worms can be found in a small bay on the west.

Miang Island: Miang Island is the second largest island of the archipelago; actually, it is two islands connected. The park office and guesthouses of the Similan Marine National Park are located on the island. Ko Miang is eminent for its beautiful beaches and colorful coral gardens. Scuba gear is not necessary as Ko Miang is perfect for snorkeling and the best location is at the channel between Ko Miang and Ko Payu.

Ba Ngu or Hua Ka Lok Island: The seventh island in the Mu Ko Similan chain is a rocky island with a strange feature of a skull shape. It is famous for its incredible underwater scenery with colorful fishes, grass and coral reefs. In association with the youngest princess of the present monarch and the Thai navy, an extra effort at environmental protection is made here, and a sea turtle preserve is operated on the island. Ko Ba Ngu is a place where you can see turtles laying their eggs on the white sandy beach.
Hu Yong Island: Ko Hu Yong is notable for having the longest white sandy beach in Similan Archipelago. Sea turtles come up to lay their eggs on the beach from November to February.

Exactly the same as elsewhere in the Andaman Sea, it is recommended to visit during December to May as the weather is good and the sea is clearest. To get to the park, one can take a boat trip from the pier in Tambon Thap Lamu, Amphoe Takua Pa or from the pier in Amphoe Khura Buri. The trip takes about three hours. Or one can take a boat trip from a pier in Amphoe Kuraburi which also takes about three hours to get to the archipelago.

Festival And Events

Bo Sang Umbrella Festival
At this festival, Bo Sang Village holds a demonstration and sale of various items made of sa paper, especially umbrellas. Besides, there are cultural shows, parades and handicrafts competition.

Flower Festival

This event occurs during the period when Chiang Mai's temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom. The festivities include colourful floral floats, parades, traditional dancing shows and a beauty contest.
Songkran Festival (13 - 15 April)

The celebrations of this festival in Chiang Mai has become more and more famous each year. The traditional events include merit-making at temples, cultural shows, dancing shows, a beauty contest and parade and good-natured water throwing. One significant event is the procession of highly revered Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha image through the streets of Chiang Mai for people to sprinkle water at as a form of worship

Lantern Festival & Loi Krathong Festival
This old festival held on the full moon night of November is said to be the most charming of all in Thailand. In Chiang Mai, a procession of floats with beautiful maidens sitting on goes through the city to the bank of the Mae Ping River, where hundreds of people assembling to float their banana-leaf containers (krathong) decorated with flowers and candles onto the river to worship the Goddess of Water. Moreover, Lanna-style hot-air lanterns are launched which are believed to help rid the locals of troubles and are also taken to decorate houses and streets.
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