Hi all, we will be in Thailand in January and need to decide where to spend 1 week at the beach. Options are: Koh Chang, Koh Phangan+Koh Tao, or Phi Phi + Koh Lanta.
Please help! We are a couple (30 yrs old) looking for fantastic beaches and sea and some nightlife (bars with music and the like).
#1 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
From a weather perspective, the islands on the west coast (Phi Phi/Lanta) or Koh Change would be the better option. https://www.travelfish.org/weather_fish.php
I was in Koh Tao/Phangan in late Jan 3 2-years ago, and whilst there were some heavy showers it wasn't too bad. But the water was churned up which made snorkelling difficult and/or disappointing.
I don't think Ko Chang can cut it for good beaches and sea (when compared to the others).
Your other two choices can - plus give your other ask of nightlife.
bl's point about the weather is worth taking into account - wet season does statistically extend into January in the southern Gulf - although the fact that late Dec and Jan are high season there indicates it is not a major factor that late in the season (the Andaman can't pull high season prices in its wet season). I'd hesitate to go there in Oct and November for sure.
Will this year see wet season ending early, normally or late? Well the Pacific/Indian Ocean areas are sliding into one of their dry EL NINO periods according to the experts so maybe wet season will be ending early.
Put it this way. If I were you and really really wanted to see Phangan/Tao I wouldn't hesitate for January. Otherwise I reckon Phi Phi/Lanta is a fine option.
Thank you Tezza. I understand the weather issue. Apart from the weather, I would like to know if I should go to Phi Phi or Koh Phangan for the beauty of the place and variety of things to do...We will be missing the full moon party anyway so that it's not into the equation. Apart from the weather, for 1 week stay, which option would you recommend? Thanks!
#4 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
PP and surrounds are visually more spectacular. But Phangan is not shabby and has way more variety of beaches and activities. It has become my favourite island, particularly from the point of view of the laid back beaches on the east and north coasts.
I could fill a week on Phi Phi - but if active could see and do most things in say 4 days. I could spend a month on Phangan and not visit all the places I'd like.
One thing for sure - if you go to Phi Phi don't spend all your time around Ton Sai/Loh Dalum with the occasional trip to Long Beach and daytrip to PP Ley or Mosquito Island. Get across to the east coast beaches. Hike the eastern highland area PAST the first viewpoint (there are 3).
Lanta and Chang have little nightlife. I'd go for Samui which wasn't on your list but it has everything you asked for.
#6 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I've heard bad things about Koh Samui...too crowded, not that beautiful.
I think I will wait till I'm in Thailand to decide where to go, also depending on the weather. If it's bad on the Eastern side, I'll go to Phi Phi. Otherwise I'm probably leaning towards Koh Phangan - Koh Tao for a combination of beauty and things to do.
#7 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
You heard wrong. It has great beaches and has a mix of busy and quiet beaches. Some tourists go to 1 beach then bag a place.
Samui has more things to do than those other islands and Phi Phi is very small and the whole area around the pier called Ton Sai where most of the hotels are is an absolute dive. Far worse than anything on Samui/Phuket. PP being small is only good for a short time.
#8 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
If we decide to go East, we will land in Samui anyway, so we can stay a couple of days and decide if we like it or not. I wanted to do 2 islands anyway. It's still gonna be dependent on the weather though.
#9 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
Why are you worried about weather? January is one of the driest months. Rainy season for Samui is Sept-Dec.
#10 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I know that, but as Busylizzy and Tezza pointed out, January is actually more recommended for the Andaman Sea rather than the Gulf. There are still chances it's gonna rain and the water be not so clear in the Gulf in January.
#11 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
Not really, you are talking about a few mms of rain and averages. Jan is a dry month for the whole of Thailand normally. I never worry about rain because it's rare that it rains more than an hour or 2 a day even in the middle of wet season. I always go wet season because it's normally sunny, beaches are uncrowded and prices are lower. Never had more than half a day of rain in the last decade.
Weather is the least of your concerns.
#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
The rain in itself isn't a big deal.... you might get dumped on for an hour or two, but so what. It's time to hide out in a cafe and enjoy a cold drink. But there was a definite difference in water quality at this time of year - which MAY be an issue if snorkelling is a key feature of your time there. I was frustrated by choppy and murky water at that time of year around KPN and Koh Tao.
That's odd. I've done a number of snorkelling trips in low season and water was clear. Unless there's been bad weather in the last 48 hours water quality is normally good. Jan is a dry month so it would be unusual for any storm.
#14 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
December I recommend you can go to Phi Phi and Koh Lanta are better
the beach really nice it's worth to visit this time.
#15 RiniRabbit has been a member since 31/7/2012. Posts: 78
I've talked to other people that told me the same thing about the Gulf: rain is not an issue but the water is, as busylizzy pointed out. I don't want to risk it, as I do want to go snorkeling (and not diving). Someone suggested me Koh Samet over Phi Phi for 1 week. What do you guys think about that one? I've also heard Koh Lanta is very quiet and rather boring...it's hard to tell because everyone has his own opinion, but I'd like to hear other comments on Lanta from people that have been there and also on Samet. Thanks!
#16 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
Samet is fairly boring too and lots of mossies. If it was me I would choose Chang or Krabi mainland. You can do loads of tours from Krabi if that's what you want. Chang is laidback and a big island. Both places have irish type bars and some have music.
#17 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Who are these other people you have talked to? How many times have they been to Thailand. I'd be reluctant to take much advice from someone who's only been there once or twice.
#18 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Actually, I've got the infos from a friend of mine who's a tour operator in Thailand. He is not trying to sell me anything so there's no reason for him to lie and I think he has good infos. He told me the problem is not the rain but the water, and he suggested Samet as a good option. About Chang, all I read is that it's nice but the beaches can't compare to Phi Phi and the rest. A far as beaches and nightlife, would you recommend Phi Phi over Samet? I'm not looking for crazy parties, just nice sposts to spend the night, and definitely not irish pubs either. I have plenty of those at home!
#19 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
Samet has laid back beach bars. Phi Phi has a real pisshead bar culture and it's seriously overdeveloped around Ton Sai where most of the bars are.
Phi Phi crowd tends to be youngish. 18-26yos pretending to be cool.
White Sands beach on Chang is pretty nice and it's big. The beaches on Phi Phi are small.
The best beach IMO in the Phang Nga area is at Ko Hong. One of the best beaches I've been to in the world. Stunning white sand and there's good snorkelling 5m off shore where the fish come up to you. You have to do a tour to get there (closest spot is Krabi)
South of Koh Chang there's another stunning beach on a national park island which you also visit on a tour - forget the name of it but snorkelling tours go here.
I didn't really like Samet. I spent 3 nights there and was a bit bored with it. Beaches look ok but mossies are dreadful there. You get eaten alive at dusk. There's some nice restaurants on the beaches and some ok off shore snorkelling but the resorts are ordinary for the prices and there's little to do. I won't be going back and am suprised that someone would recommend it unless they haven't been to many other islands.
#20 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Samet is a nice island with a beach for everyone. But it does not have good snorkelling.
Neither does Chang off the beach but there is okay snorkelling on the daytrips to the islands south.
Lanta is a big island with once again a beach for all tastes. But it too does not have good snorkelling off the beach. There is good stuff on the daytrips to the Trang islands.
Phi Phi does have good snorkelling off the beach (Long Beach and all along the east coast) and good snorkelling on the daytrips. It's easy to avoid the ragers - just don't spend much time around Ton Sai/Loh Dalum.
Thank you Tezza. After all my researching, I think I may stick to Phi Phi. There are ways to avoid the crowds, apparently.
#23 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
Enjoy it. If you get bored head over to Krabi. I don't think I could last more than 3 days on PP.
#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Does anyone know anything about this place: PP Long Beach Resort?
I found it on tripadvisor but can't find any website of the place.
#25 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
Well I've found that link too before asking, but that's not the structure website!!! Tells the price and nothing more.
#27 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
4 resorts on that link and it seems the same owners, there's photos on there as well so you get the idea. Not every resort has a full on website with great detail.
#28 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Another question. If we go to Phi Phi, we'll land in Phuket or Krabi, and I was thinking about staying in either place a bit as well instead of spending 7 days on Phi Phi. Which one would you recommend? I've heard many bad things about Phuket, but I researched too and comes up it's actually a very beautiful place, you just have to move out of the most crowded spots. Do you agree on that? Which place would you pick and why? Again, we are looking for great beaches and some nightlife. Thanks!
#29 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33
krabi easily. i much prefer to stay in krabi and see the islands from there.
#30 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148