WELCOME TO THAILAND
Or should we say, welcome to Paradise. Thailand is blessed with some of the world’s most-enviable beaches and a myriad of off shore islands ensuring your holiday will be filled with watersports, hammocks and sunset strolls along the water’s edge. Some areas are super-vibey while others offer a more serene experience.
A QUICK GUIDE TO THE MOST POPULAR SPOTS…
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is undeniably the country’s most popular beach destination. With a vibrant nightlife, bustling market stalls, a family atmosphere or romantic seclusion. This island paradise offers a vast selection of hotels, and the beaches supply every kind of vibe! Head to Patong Beach if you feel like a party or being active. Kata and Karon Beaches are great for families and couples. The range of activities available is fantastic; canoeing, hiking, white water rafting, scooter hire and best of all – diving and snorkelling.
Phi Phi Island is located 2 hours by ferry from Phuket (some resorts also offer a speedboat service). You’ll be collected from the ferry by long-tail boat and taken to your resort; all of which are located in the north of the island, a quieter area, for that true getaway experience. Phi Phi is nature at its best; towering limestone cliffs shelter white, sandy beaches leading to aquamarine bays filled with marine life; perfect for diving and snorkelling or simply taking it easy and letting the stress of modern life slip away. There are no roads on Phi Phi so once you settle into your resort your only mode of transport is a longtail boat (and some haggling with a local for the right price!). Make sure that you won’t need an ATM!
Krabi is a 2 hour overland trip from Phuket through countryside terrain and local villages. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! Krabi’s sheer limestone cliffs will welcome you to where over 130 islands rise majestically from the sea, and secluded beaches are accessible only by colourfully adorned long-tail boats. Krabi is about getting out and exploring nature - sea caves, exotic marine life, rock climbing, beautiful National Parks, hot spring waterfalls, the spectacular turquoise waters of the Emerald Pool and Tiger Cave – a cliff monastery in a jungle valley.
Khao Lak is on Thailand’s mainland west coast, an hour north of Phuket and stretches along the Andaman coastline. It is a less crowded tourist destination close to the Phang-Nga area’s rugged natural beauty. There are a couple of towns and and beautiful white-sand beaches – all scattered along a 24 kms stretch so it never feels too busy. For travellers who like their holidays less frenetic the easy going local feel of Khao Lak is perfect. There are a variety of good local restaurants and of course great shopping easily reached from most resorts by taxi and Khao Lak has its own night market for late-night snacks and shopping.
Nature lovers can soak up the slower pace and go hiking around Chong Fah’s waterfalls or explore the Kho Sok National Park which is around 2 hours drive, home to elephant sanctuaries, one of the oldest rainforests in the world and floating camps so is a delight for anyone with a love for the outdoors. For keen snorkellers and divers, the Surin and Similan Islands are some of the best places to dive in Thailand and are just two hours from Khao Lak by boat. The islands form part of a protected national marine park and are open between 15 October and 15 May annually.
Thailand’s tropical climate has three main seasons:
Hot: March to June
Rainy: July to October
Cool: November to February
Average temperatures range from 20°C to 35°C
The monsoon season in the Andaman Sea (West coast/Phuket and surrounds) is from approximately May to October. The monsoon rains are generally short and heavy, clearing quickly and days of constant rain are rare.
The national language is Thai, although English is widely spoken in Phuket, Krabi & Phi Phi.
The currency is the Thai Baht which is better for bargaining and shopping in markets. US Dollars, Pounds and Euros are accepted at hotels.
A service charge is already included in all prices. Tips, in general, are not mandatory, and you should only give them if you are really content with the service offered. Waiters, bellboys, porters, restroom attendants and taxi drivers will happily accept loose change.
5 hours ahead of South Africa.
Thailand brags of many festivals throughout the year; one of the most famous being the Songkran Festival in mid-April which washes away all the bad spirits and celebrates the traditional Thai New Year. Basically, Songkran is all about getting wet, so be prepared to be squirted with ice water!
WHAT TO WEAR
Light, cool clothes are sensible. Shorts (except knee length walking shorts), sleeveless shirts, tank tops and other beach-style attire are considered inappropriate dress when not actually at the beach or in a resort area.
It is important to show respect for the Thai Royal Family. Revealing attire is not allowed in religious shrines. Do not climb over or sit on Buddha monuments. Do not touch or give anything directly to a Buddhist monk if you are a woman. Thais greet each other by pressing their palms together called ‘wai’. It is rude to touch people on their head or point your feet at people or an object.
The electric current is 220 volts AC (50 cycles) and the majority of electrical outlets take a round, two-pronged slim plug.
Visitors do not require vaccinations unless coming from or passing through a designated contaminated area. Drink only bottled water and avoid ice unless you know is made from bottled or boiled water. Be cautious when eating from food vendors on the street.
WHAT TO PACK