Phuket is one of the most popular places for an island holiday in Thailand but 10 days in Thailand which is how long most people go for is only just enough to get a taste of what Southern Thailand has to offer. Our one-month Thailand itinerary exploring the beaches and islands of southern Thailand allowed us to thoroughly explore Phuket, Khao Lak, Ao Nang, Railay, Krabi, Koh Lanta, and other islands in the south.
As we traveled during the Rain season we use an extra day at every place to cover the lost days during rain or overcast weather for our photography. In the end, we were still able to get some good photos on our trip and only lost one day in Phi Phi when it was raining all day during our trip. But be aware if you travel during the rainy season, it might be sunny but the ocean will be rough and not so beautiful as during the high season between October and March.
Southern Thailand Itinerary
Phuket – spend more time here if you want to shop, visit attractions and have a choice of lots of beaches and resorts.
Khao Lak – stay longer if you’re looking for a relaxing vibe.
Ao Nang/Railay/Krabi – spend more time here if you like busy tourist towns with lots of cheap eats and well-priced hotels.
Koh Lanta – stay here for a week if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and an island lifestyle.
Phi Phi – spend more time here if you want to party.
We started our trip in Khao Lak a small seaside resort town on the west coast, just north of Phuket, which was decimated during the 2004 Tsunami so it’s great to see its recovery in full swing. Khao Lak is about 1,5 hours from the airport
The best time of year to visit is December to March.
As we travel with a rental car it was easy to go around but you can also rent scooters to go around. Visit White Beach, Khuk Khak, and Memories Beach for stunning white sand and crystal clear water. It is an idyllic place, where the beaches are lined with shady trees, restaurants, and massage stands.
Things to do:
A trip to the Similan Islands is the best thing to do from Khao Lak. Spending a day snorkeling on the rich coral reefs and beautiful National Park beaches out in the Andaman Sea is like a dream come true the fish life is abundant but so are the tourists.
In a new format, Similan and Surin islands are open from October 15, to June 15, to visit the beautiful paradise. Surin Islands is approximately 110 minutes from Thaplamu Pier, Excellent diving, snorkeling, hiking, and fishing are why most travelers come to the Surin Islands. Those hoping to find a quiet place far from tourist traps and urban centers will be delighted with the islands’ relatively untouched settings. For Surin Island, Koh Surin is outstanding with crystal clear water, a view of Ao Khat with the clear green-blue ocean which you can see the sandy bottom. The sea at Surin Island is not very deep but great for snorkeling.
Another landmark of Koh Surin a must-go is Morgan Village which is the highlight of this trip. Morgan Village is a tribe that has been with Surin Island for a long time. And we can still get closer to them and learn the Morgan lifestyle.
Where To Stay In Khao Lak
There are many beautiful beaches to choose from, all lined with upmarket resorts and low-key guesthouses.
Devasom Khao Lak Beach Resort and Villas is a brand new resort found by the water of a natural lagoon to one side and Khaolak’s pristine sunset beach to the other, the 69 spacious sea view guestrooms and beachfront pool villas are ideal for a luxury beachfront getaway. Paying homage to the opulence of the 6th and 7th centuries, the resort’s design is based on the intricate and breathtaking archaic art and architecture of a lost civilization that once flourished here.
The Devasom Khao Lak is a luxury resort in Khao Lak, Phang Nga, Thailand.
The perfect place to relax and unwind. This Resort has the Most Beautiful & Unique Design where we stayed during our trip. “At Devasom, you are invited on a journey to unwind into relaxing luxury and to rewind the senses of time.”
Devasom Khao Lak has fronted the sea and is hugged by a natural lagoon. During high tide, guests can enjoy water activities; during low tide, the clear fresh water discloses small marine lives underneath.
Our next stop was Krabi, as most tourists go directly to Ao Nang and Railay we decided to spend some time in the mangrove forest and jungle of Krabi. There are a few places you can go for a Kayak trip. At Ao Thalane Pier you can book a guided tour around the mangrove. We stayed at Pooltara and there you can just grab a kayak at the property and do a small trip at the mangrove with crystal clear water. It will take about 2 hours round trip at the resort if you kayak slowly.
Pooltara is a basic resort with small bungalows and the greenest pool I have ever seen in my life, and also some bigger rooms, in the morning they served rice soup with some sweets. You can also choose to have breakfast in the bakery as they have their own bakery cafe. We didn't do this but we had lunch there and it was very good they serve Thai and Western food. Just a few minutes from the resort you can find a small village with some supermarkets and some days there was a market.
Things to do:
A great place to watch the sunset with some great food for a reasonable price is Khaothong Hill
Some great Thai and Western food is served here.
There are some nice beaches here too if you want to hang out on the beach, but a lot of restaurants and cafes disappear here during covid and get broke so we just go there for a walk sometimes and go back.
Koh Hong trip
At Pooltara you can also book a trip to Koh Hong it will be the cheapest option in Krabi as from this part it's not far to Koh Hong, expect a double price if you leave from other places in Krabi like Ao Nang or Railay beach
Koh Hong, better known as Hong Island, is an island off the coast of Krabi. Hong Island is part of the Than Bok Khorani national park and you can do one of the offered tours from Phuket, Phang Nga, or Ao Nang and Railay to visit this gorgeous island, or like we did just book at Pooltara resort.
The advantage of a trip like this is that you don’t have to wait for more people to fill the rented longtail boat. You can just start your trip right away as it is a private trip
On arrival at Koh Hong, you will be required to pay an additional fee for the national park. This fee is 200 Baht per person and 20 Baht for Thai and in high season it doubled. Eventually, after that, you can straight head to the beach. The beach is separated into two parts by a huge rock. The more beautiful part of it is located between that rock and the big limestone cliffs. Here you can find a small bay where you can have a great swim and some snorkeling. The water is pretty clear and the sand is wonderfully white. Does it get any better?
The Hong Lagoon is another attraction of the Hong Island Tour and so it’s always a part of every excursion. With the longtail boat or speedboat you drive through a narrow rock opening and inside the lagoon, the visitors get surprised with a unique landscape of turquoise water and mighty limestone cliffs. If you like, you can do some snorkeling and swimming here too.
The excursions offered by the local agencies take you to Koh Hong and at least to Koh Lao Lading and Koh Pak Bia for a day or half-day tour. It is a nice tour but also very popular and therefore if you have a change leave at around 08:00 in the morning to avoid the crowd
Hiking Dragon Crest mountain in Khao Ngon Nak Krabi
Dragon Crest mountain offers one of the most epic viewpoints in all of Thailand. The National Park Khao Ngon Nak, aka Dragon Crest Mountain is a stunning 3.7 km hike located in northern Krabi. This hike will indisputably offer some of the most breathtaking views you’ve seen and amazing photo opportunities. But be prepared for the hike, it’s strenuous and takes about 1,5 hours to get to the summit of Dragon Crest Mountain. The best way is to go in the early morning or afternoon around 16:00, after 17:00 you're not allowed to go up anymore as you will not be in time back before dark
Our next stop is Railay Beach in Krabi which is located on the Railay Peninsula of the same name and is certainly one of the most spectacular places in all of Thailand. This paradise is especially famous for its imposing limestone cliffs, which together with the turquoise sea, the tall palm trees, and the powder-sugar fine white sandy beaches conjure up a true picture-postcard setting. In addition, unforgettable activities and incredibly beautiful attractions await you during a visit to Railay Beach. Climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and of course swimming at Thailand’s most beautiful beaches are just some of the best things to do. Although the peninsula is no longer an insider tip, Railay Beach is absolutely legendary and a visit is a real must on any trip to Krabi.
Things to do at Railay Beach
There are really great things to do on a visit to Railay Beach. On the small peninsula, there are no less than 4 beautiful beaches and numerous interesting attractions, and you can also take terrific excursions and enjoy plenty of activities.
Railay Beach is an absolute dream beach in Krabi and certainly one of the most important attractions of the peninsula. The emerald sea and the mighty rock formations conjure up a picture-perfect backdrop here. Due to the fine sand and the hardly existing stones or corals in the water, the sea invites quite wonderfully for bathing. In the evening you can watch spectacular sunsets and in the high season, there are stunning fire shows evenings. Some restaurants and bars are also located directly on the beach and invite guests to enjoy and chill out with a view of the sea.
Phra Nang Beach on Railay is the absolute must-see and actually the dream beach of the region par excellence. Due to its striking stone formations and scenic beauty, it has become one of the most famous beaches in Thailand. Look on the app for the times of tide as during high tide you cant walk to the other side of the beach. The entire beach scenery is like a picture book, and the famous rocky island in the sea adorns all postcards of Krabi. Beautiful is the powder sugar fine light sand beach, where the turquoise blue sea colors invite us to splash, swim and snorkel. Thanks to the tropical trees, you’ll find plenty of pleasant shady spots, and if you like, you can even get a massage right there on the beach overlooking the sea.
A few years ago this side of the Island all the tours landed with their longtail boats from 4 island tours but nowadays it looks like they were banned from this side of the Island which makes it even more beautiful. The only disadvantage is that there are no longtail boats anymore selling foods and ice creams on this side so bring your drinks
Tip: The stunning Hotel Rayavadee is one of the best hotels on Railay. The pool is beautiful and of course the exclusive location directly on the dream beach. But it comes with a price
Best day trips from Railay Beach
Railay Beach is a great starting point to explore the most beautiful islands in Krabi via a boat trip. We can recommend the following excursions and day trips in Krabi:
A unique experience is a Krabi 4 Islands Tour, where you can explore several dream islands like Chicken Island and Koh Poda, and do some wonderful snorkeling. If you do a private tour you can ask the captain to go first to Koh Pda as that way you avoid the crowd there and at least you have one good pic with not many people on it.
We booked our trip by Railay Eco tour as they also offer luxury private tours
You can also take a trip to Hong Island a real pearl and one of the most beautiful islands in Krabi. A trip there, if you have time, should not be missed.
Where to Stay
Railay Garden view resort is a beautiful place if you love back to basics, it only has a fan but you always have the breeze from the ocean and beautiful views. We sit here for hours watching the monkeys playing in the trees. Great rooms for a budget price. They also arrange trips to other islands and rock climbing. Railay Garden view resort is a small and quiet resort located on the eastern hillside of Railay. The resort offers fan bungalows that are spread in the garden with a relaxed atmosphere. Only one thing is the long tail boats with their loud engine arrive and leave from this side of the Island so you get a lot of noise from them. If you are a light sleeper this place is not for you as they run too late evening and start again at 05:00
Just a few meters from Railay garden view you can find the best restaurant in Railay as in the main street most serve tourist food and they charge foreigners double prices as Thai people so we didn't like it to eat something there as for me all people are the same no matter their color or where they come from. You just can't charge someone a double price because he is white or black or whatever color or comes from. They also do this in Bangkok at the main tourist attractions they charge people double the price for a bottle of water. For me, it is not done. I also try to avoid private companies that charge different prices.
The government also charges foreigners at least 10 times more in national parks, even foreigners who are living here, and pays tax.
Mabey they have to look at some other countries with the same price level what they do, some countries like South Afrika you pay a double price for national parks and that sounds ok for me as people living there pay more tax then tourist and at least all the money there go to national parks In Thailand, it's different, as in no way it goes to national parks as with that money coming in, you can make stairs from gold and most of the time the stairs are broken here, or the parks not take care well and you can find a lot of rubbish and plastic and the people working just relax together at the entrance
Anyway it's by The last bar easy to find on google maps the best restaurant in Railay
Tip: Directly on the beach is the Railay Village Resort. The hotel delights its guests with two beautiful pools, a brilliant location, and a quiet, well-kept garden.
Another great place to stay right on the beach is the Sand Sea resort and it's also not that expensive. It's a great alternative if you travel with kids or you just want an aircon or didn't like the sound on the other side of the Island at Railay Garden view
Getting to Railay Beach is best possible by boat from Ao Nang or Krabi Town. The peninsula is cut off from the mainland by deep jungle and high limestone cliffs and can thus only be reached from the sea. Longtail boats run several times an hour, and the trip takes about 15 minutes.
It costs around 100-150 baht to get there, and tickets can be bought directly at Ao Nang Pier, Ao Nam Mao Pier, or Krabi Town Pier.
Koh Lanta is my favorite part of Southern Thailand as it’s perfect for relaxing but there’s also heaps to do, and if you have more time from Koh Lanta you can easily travel to the Maldives of Thailand, Koh Lipe. But be aware as during Thai and Chinese holidays the Island is full with tourists so better avoid the holidays, especially Chines new year as it will be too full on a small Island.
How To Get To Koh Lanta
You can either get a private speedboat transfer or a public ferry, or a minibus which you can book everywhere around Krabi or Phi Phi.
We went in our rental car and you have to pass on a small ferry but it takes only 10 minutes to cross, as the other part of Lanta is connected by a bridge.
Where to stay
Most people stay in one of the beach resorts which are pretty nice but you also have a lot of budget options here, it's the cheapest area in Southern Thailand to stay for a while. We stayed in a Fishermen's hut in the old town of Lanta and it cost us about 12 Eur a night. It's basic with no aircon but you always have the breeze from the ocean and a beautiful view. We love it very much here and it's within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. It was the perfect time for me to get some work done on the computer. It had a good wifi connection and we can cook by ourselves with fresh products from the market.
Pimalay Koh Lanta
If you want to pamper yourself with some luxury Pimalay Koh Lanta is a good option. It's a 5-star resort with beautiful pool villas in the mountains looking out over the ocean and also has beach bungalows. a ‘luxurious island getaway.’ This beachfront resort on Koh Lanta has Thai-styled villas snuggled into a hillside jungle, panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, and a dreamy, secluded vibe. It’s the perfect choice for a luxury getaway
Pimalai is unique in that it’s one of the only luxury resorts on Koh Lanta. It is tucked away on the tree-covered cliffs and overlooks Ba Kantieng Bay near the quiet southwestern end of the island. It has everything you could want in a luxurious island getaway including several incredible restaurants, two infinity pools, and a huge beach practically all to yourself.
The Pimalai has a variety of high-end rooms, suites, and villas for all tastes and budgets of luxury travelers. We stayed in a one-bedroom ocean view pool villa. It came with our own private pool and outdoor lounge area, which separated the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom from the living room.
The Pimalai has four onsite restaurants: Seven Seas Wine Bar, The Banyan Tree Poolside Cafe, Spice and Rice, and Rak Talay. The dining atmosphere ranges from fine dining to casual beachside eatery. Each restaurant offers its own unique dining options and the menus have a nice selection of both Thai and Western dishes.
Thing to do
Our favorite thing to do here was to relax and enjoy the beautiful ocean or just grab a scooter or car and visit the lighthouse of Koh Lanta which has a beautiful white beach and is part of the National park
Renting motorbikes and exploring the island was another great way to spend our time.
From Long Beach, all the way down to the National Park at the southern tip
Alternatively, head on over to Old Town for lunch. It is a beautiful historic wooden town overhanging the ocean and filled with amazing seafood restaurants.
You can also arrange snorkeling trips from here, as well as day trips to Koh Phi Phi.
4 Island tour
The 4 Islands snorkel tour included 4 famous islands, Koh Cheuk, Koh Muk ( The Emerald Cave), Koh Ngai, and Koh Ma. We did this trip 10 years ago and didn't do it this time as during the rainy season some Islands might be closed
Koh Phi Phi
Now, we last visited Koh Phi Phi over 10 years ago, you can do day trips to Koh Phi Phi from Koh Lanta, Krabi, and Phuket. But the best way is to stay a couple of days on the Island
It was certainly a different place with much (over) development occurring in the years since.
The island has become so popular, that in low season it was a struggle getting off the pier and such a contrast to our quiet days on Koh Lanta.
However, the beauty of Koh Phi Phi still remains underneath all of that and it is a wonderful place to visit, if only for a couple of days. This time we rented a car so we just did a day trip but I will give you all the info about our last trip a couple of months ago when we stayed 4 nights.
How To Get To Koh Phi Phi
A ferry from Koh Lanta’s Saladan Pier takes one hour.
From Phuket, Ao Nang Krabi, and Railay beach Krabi there are speedboats and Longtail boats to Koh Phi Phi too. So it's not so hard to get there you can book tickets everywhere
Where To Stay On Koh Phi Phi
The eastern end of Loh Dalum Bay is the party zone so if you are like me, you want to stay as far as possible from that. We were at the western end of the village and could not hear any thumping music. There are some wonderfully remote resorts as you go around the easternmost point on private beaches which would be amazing.
We stayed for 4 days at PP Princes resort which is just a little walk from the pier to the other side of the Island. The room was spacious and have everything you need to stay a couple of days on the Island, we had a room with a balcony overlooking the garden. The PP Princes resort has a beautiful swimming pool looking out over the ocean and also an infinity pool which you can see in one of the pics I made there, very beautiful to watch the sunset here. The rooms were clean and all looked out over the garden, they have also beach villas which are a little bit pricier but have a beautiful look over the ocean. The resort provide also free kayaks to use during your stay so you can explore monkey beach or Nui beach which are 30 minutes kayaking away from the resort.
What To Do On Koh Phi Phi
A long-tail boat trip is the number one thing to experience on Koh Phi Phi. A half or a full-day tour will set you back between 1500 to 3000 THB per boat.
Depending on the weather, the skipper will recommend visiting Koh Phi Phi Lei and Maya Bay (the scene from the movie The Beach), Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Bamboo Island, and Mosquito Island. Choose your activity from snorkeling, diving, or swimming
Ao Nang Krabi
We spent a week in the resort town of Aonang which is an excellent base to explore the Phi Phi islands and is also next door to the stunning Railay beach book the 4 Island tour if you didn't do this at Railay beach. This bustling place is pretty touristy nowadays.
There is a McDonald's, Coffee Club, and Boots all on the waterfront along with fantastic seafood restaurants all vying for space along the top of the beach.
Ao Nang is Krabi’s most popular destination — a beach town that’s home to a wide range of resorts and hotels, restaurants, and bars. While Ao Nang’s beaches aren’t the best in Krabi, its big selection of tours and attractions make it a convenient and exciting place to stay.
Longtail boats ferry visitors between Ao Nang and nearby Railay Beach frequently, making this somewhat crowded beach town a great base for exploring the area. Ao Nang’s selection of hotels is the most diverse in Krabi Province, with five-star resorts and budget hostels.
Since it’s a short distance from Krabi Airport compared to the region’s other destinations, you will probably pass through Ao Nang even if you’re staying elsewhere in Krabi.
Main Areas of Interest in Ao Nang
Ao Nang Beach Ao Nang is a small town, with most attractions clustered around the beach. Ao Nang Beach is the area’s most popular beach, home to soft sand and relatively clear water. You’ll find the majority of Ao Nang’s restaurants and nightlife along the beachfront area. Longtail boat operators can be found at both ends of Ao Nang Beach, offering trips to Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach, and other destinations in the area. Most longtail boats won’t leave the beach until they’re at least 80% full, meaning you could wait quite a while in low season.
Nopparat Thara Beach Located north of Ao Nang, Nopparat Thara Beach is a quiet and peaceful beach that’s home to several of Ao Nang’s hotels and resorts. Nopparat Thara Beach is a good choice for day trips and dinners, although the beach’s strong tide makes it far from ideal for swimming.
Tubkaek Beach Located about 30 minutes from Ao Nang by car, Tubkaek Beach offers a quieter and more peaceful experience than the two beaches in Ao Nang itself. Used as a filming location for The Hangover 2, Tubkaek Beach is a great day trip destination close to Ao Nang.
Where To Stay In Ao Nang
We stayed at Whalecome Aonang as it is just perfectly located and not expensive near the main street and 2 minutes to the beach. They have small bungalows in a tropical garden and a pool. They can arrange trips for you to Phi Phi, 4 Island trips, etc all for a cheaper price than you find in most shops on the streets.
If you travel by yourself you will pass the Emerald pool on your way to Koh Lanta or when you travel back. It's a great visit as I have never seen water so blue like this and it's a lovely easy hike in the jungle. In the blue pool, you can't swim but in the emerald pool, you can take a dip in the crystal clear water pond. To enjoy a different slice of nature, taking a day trip to Emerald Pool is a fun way to experience Krabi’s lush interior and tropical rainforests. Situated in the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park, the Emerald Pool is a firm favorite among hikers, explorers, hot spring bathers, and wildlife enthusiasts. What really makes this freshwater pool so unique is its inviting turquoise-colored waters. It’s safe to swim in the pool, and since the water is surprisingly warm, one could easily spend hours relaxing here. You can explore by yourself or book a tour
The last days of our trip we spent in Phannga right on the beach located a short distance from the Airport, Phuket, and Khao Lak. It's also a great place to go for a trip to Phangnga bay to watch the sunrise or soft light during sunset or go for a day trip to James Bond Island
Where to stay
Aleenta, Phuket's best-kept secret. We end our trip with some luxury at our own pool villa just a few steps from the beach with lots of privacy. From the moment you arrive at Aleenta Phuket, you get the feeling you’re somewhere special. The water garden that runs under the walkways, the beautiful villas with private pools, and the divine beach on your doorstep it’s a pocket of paradise
Located on the sunset side of the Andaman Sea and the pristine Natai Beach, the 5 Star Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa in Phang Nga is just 25 minutes north of Phuket International Airport, a short distance away from Khao Lak, Blue Canyon Golf Course, and the picturesque Phang Nga Bay. The concept of "all suites, all private" is delivered in luxury suites and villas, that come with plenty of private space. Aleenta's luxury resort accommodation ranges in sizes from 80sqm for the smallest suites to up to 4-bedroom beachfront Grand Villas.
The 40-room luxury boutique Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa offers a high level of comfort in a quiet, somewhat isolated location on Khok Kloi’s Natai beach. The resort’s minimalist, low-rise white-cubed exterior looks almost Mediterranean, and rooms are similarly chic. While there's little in the immediate area, making it is ideal for those looking to escape Phuket's loud nightlife scene. The landscaped grounds are beautiful, and the beach has sofa-style seating, along with bean bags and parasols. Breakfast gets particularly good reviews; the same is true of the food at the Natai and Edge restaurants, the latter of which has impressive sea and pool views
Phuket’s no longer the untamed paradise it was, but a place like Aleenta proves that, if you pick your spot properly, you can still get that old desert-island feeling.