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Tarutao but then how far north?

Posted by mnemeth on 11/1/2012 at 16:13

Hi. We're 2 adults and a 3-year old spending 8 nights on the islands. We like nature/beauty and don't like crowds/over-commercialization. We're starting with Ko Tarutao (which I'm most excited about). Maybe then to Bulon, Jum and fly out of Krabi? (maybe stop at Railay or day-trip to Phi Phi) I know that would be a few long ferry rides and we've learned in the past that doing too much can be worth it or can be exhausting, but that's why I'm asking -- is it worth going up north? On the positive, my son likes boats/transportation/moving around, and we're leaving our big luggage in Bangkok. Any advice you have is appreciated.

1. We're thinking of flying into Langkawi and staying the night before embarking -- it seems like the shorter/easier transportation (vs flying into Hat Yai) is worth the hassle of going through customs. True?

2. How far north is it worth going after Tarutao? I'd stay at Tarutao the whole time but the morning we wake with snakes in the cabin the wife will want to leave. Bulon? Trang islands? Jum? We don't care what airport we fly out of; Hat Yai, Trang or Krabi.

3. We're good hikers but my wife thinks it might be irresponsible to bring a 3 year old to Tarutao. I'm thinking that if we're careful (no bushwhacking - sheesh, wife doesn't want to even go hiking off that main road, watch where we walk, know there's sand flies, aggressive monkeys and all types of poisonous snakes and sea snakes )… then we should be fine. Is that true? I know one will see snakes all over but how many of you have woken with snakes in your cabin (I read one report) or have had a problem with them (other than seeing them everywhere)?

We like hiking/walking, good food, clear water. I like snorkeling but can forgo that for shallow water. Kid likes making sandcastles, exploring, anything. It seems we can do that on most of the islands so it might come down to finishing the trip with a splurge at secluded/great accommodation…which the wife will like.

I liked Tao a lot (even though I had money stolen from my wallet while snorkeling) -- stayed on the remote side at Hing Wong, which was perfect for me. My wife really liked Hat Yao beach on Phangan (10 years ago) , which I hear has been built up a lot since then.

I know that one answer might be Lanta and while I'm sure its an excellent place to live and visit, especially for families, for some reason it hasn't appealed to us -- maybe too conservative?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Posted by idreamofdurian on 12/1/2012 at 05:08 TF writer

Tarutao is *beautiful* - ever since we visited 4 years ago the boyfriend and I keep talking about going back!

While the island does have some rough terrain, the grounds around the park office / restaurant / bungalows is sandy so it's pretty easy walking (even for a toddler). The bungalows are reasonably solid and while you'll definitely have some gecko roommates I wouldn't worry much about snakes in the room.

Since it's quite nearby, you might want to check out Koh Adang. It's another national-parks island which has kept development under control (the complete opposite of Koh Lipe which is 10 minutes away by longtail boat).

I haven't explored the islands north of there much, with the exception of Phuket (which obviously isn't what you're looking for!) .

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Posted by mnemeth on 12/1/2012 at 12:45

Thanks kindly for that Idreamofdurian! That's one vote for staying down south -- exploring Adang and maybe some of the other surrounding islands (other than Lipe). And the Tarutao information is comforting too. From what I've read it is our style but my wife got a bit freaked about waking up with a poisonous snake in the cabin. Hope you get back soon! Cheers.

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Posted by guava_girl on 12/1/2012 at 20:02

The islands in Phang Nga and Ranong are also beautiful and not at all built up.

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Posted by mnemeth on 14/1/2012 at 13:37

Thanks Guava Girl! Both look great; Phang Nga looks the most reachable from Tarutao.

Is it worth going up that far (7 hour ferry ride) when there seems to be pretty good islands in the Tarutao area? Is the vibe/geography that different up there? Seems that most people start from Phuket/Phang Nga or Krabi and go south.

Also; IDreamOfDurian (and Tezza's website) has me wondering if we should spend more time on Adang then Taruato.

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Posted by Tilapia on 14/1/2012 at 15:33

Koh Jum is terrific. Long, wide, clean beach which is excellent for walking along. The water is great for swimming, and the views at sunset across to Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh are first class. A couple of nice little villages. Extremely quiet at night. Fun to reach, too. I'd take it over Lanta in a second if development is a concern.

From Jum you can arrange snorkeling trips in longtail boats with some of the other guests that will take you around Phi Phi Leh, and over to Phi Phi for lunch if you ask. That way you can see it quickly and then get the heck out and back to the peace and quiet of Koh Jum!

I'd also throw Koh Si Boya into the mix, but the beach isn't the greatest for hanging around on. Si Boya Bungalows are tough to beat, though, especially for the price. The people running the place are fantastic, though, and they do a great job of keeping the place in order.

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Posted by mnemeth on 15/1/2012 at 17:17

Thanks Tilapia! It does look like a really great choice but Tiger Line's website (which today was taken offline by their ISP, so hope all's well with them) says that its a 6 hour Ferry ride from Lipe to Jum. Is that worth it? The area that Jum would give us access to looks stunning -- I'd love to take a boat around northern Phang Nga bay,which Tezza's website says is even more stand-out than Phi Phi or Railey, though our access (size of boat we'd be allowed in) may be limited because of our 3-year old. We might skip Bulon if we go up to Jum; making our sweet spots Tarutao area and Jum area. Just want to be sure its worth that much transport. I'm also going to research a land route (train might be interesting) but would prefer to stay on the water.


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Posted by mnemeth on 16/1/2012 at 18:51

I'm answering some of my own questions but still not sure we should go up north or stay down south:
- TigerLine's fine
- Train's cool but timing-wise would have to arrive in Krabi and go north to south instead if we went that route. Doubt we will.
- Some want everyone to be shh about Koh Jum/Pu - great vibe/island. Looks like an old school Thai island with beauty, proximity to more greatness and local Thai people. No, not white sand beaches but whatever.
- Phang Nga Bay canoe tours will accept our 3 year old. If he was 2, he'd be free on some of them.
- We can deal with the 5.5 hour ferry ride.

But still -- is it worth it? If we go to Jum, I think we'd need to skip Bulon. One day in Jum/Pu would be spent cruising Phang Nga Bay. Another MAYBE to Phi Phi and that leaves not much time on Jum/Pu.

So Option 1:
1 Night in Langkawi or near Pak Bara
Ko Tarutao (2 nights)
Adang (1 night)
Ferry to Jum, 4 Nights in Jum

Or Option 2:
1 Night in Langkawi or near Pak Bara
Ko Tarutao (2 nights)
Adang (1-2 nights)
Bulon and or nearby (3-4 nights)

Maybe it comes down to the greatness of Phang Nga bay (Option 1) winning out over the less hectic Option 2?

I don't know. I do feel lucky to have this choice but...Anyone?

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Posted by mnemeth on 16/1/2012 at 20:54

Ok this is starting to look like my personal diary....or worse, a psychologist that just repeats what I say back to me for review....(Thanks DoctorTravelfish!)

Follow along as our trip planning evolves....oh the days of just going somewhere and figuring it out there.

Anyway, assuming that we DO want to go 'up north', and it looks like Phang Nga area IS very different and worth it, then we should START up north and exit from the south. That way the longer day trips (tiring to the wife who just wants to sit and chill) are at the front and the more spontaneous exploring of Tarutao ends the trip.

Sounding like a better plan? Doctor, you there?

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