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Island research December..

Posted by mtbakerstu on 16/6/2018 at 19:39

Researching islands as the second stage of a two and a half week trip to Thailand in December.

Honestly, I'm finding it a bit daunting trying to find the right island combination that would provide some degree of beachside serenity, combined with easy walking reach to a social atmosphere. It seems June might be a little late in the game to make accommodation reservations as some of the middle range places recommended on the Travelfish site here appear booked in the areas I've researched.

I was considering Ko Lanta as a home base, and venturing out from there (also looking for scuba sites), but wanted to open the forum door here to if anyone has any a suggestions as I try to map out an itinerary.

Don't mean to inundate the forum with newbie questions, but thanks in advance for any suggestions/insights regarding your favorite island experiences for December.

Mtbakerstu

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Posted by amnicoll on 17/6/2018 at 06:47

In December I would look to the Andaman coast or Koh Chang

I would be surprised if everything was booked this far ahead unless you are talking Christmas/new year

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 17/6/2018 at 09:35

Thanks Amnicoll. Yes, I've isolated the Andaman coast as where I want to go, now just trying to dial into what island or islands I want to stay on for a blend of seclusion with some social engagement, and scuba.

I'm looking at 12/22 - 12/29, so yes Christmas is in play.

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Posted by DLuek on 18/6/2018 at 01:16 TF writer

You are looking at one of the busiest weeks of the year on every island in Thailand -- expect to see room rates that are the highest of the year. When you first said that everything is booked, I was thinking it's because a lot of properties don't take reservations (at least through Booking.com etc.) that far in advance. While that's true, popular spots do get booked up for that week well in advance. But there are plenty of small resorts that would most likely not be available on booking sites six months ahead of time (many are not on booking sites at all). For those types of places you're often best off trying to reserve via a Facebook message or email, or you could just call.

As for which island on the Andaman side, here are a few ideas:

Ko Phayam / Ko Chang Noi: I'm putting these first because you mentioned the more "esoteric" side of things in the other thread. These are the northernmost islands in Thailand's Andaman Sea, with Burma in view. They're both quite laid back... Phayam is the more popular of the two, with some good bars and restaurants and around 25 places to stay, mostly with 24-hour electricity. Chang Noi is more rustic, with limited electricity and only basic beach shacks for accommodation. Phayam has a couple of diving outfits (they can pick up on Chang Noi too) and this area hosts some excellent diving options, including Ko Surin / Richilieu Rock to the south, and from here it's also possible to hit dive sites up in Burma's Mergui Archipelago. These sorts of trips can also be arranged at diving outfits in nearby Ranong town.

Ko Jum: Jum (aka Ko Pu) sits between Ko Lanta and Ko Si Boya on the Krabi province coast and is similar to Phayam in some ways... Big enough to explore with mellow nightlife and some long beaches that, while perhaps not the best in Thailand, are pretty good, plus a lot of cheap accommodation and diving possibilities through a small outfit. Diving from here you'd be on a fairly small boat hitting a lot of the same sites that are commonly reached from Lanta or the Railay / Ao Nang area: Ko Haa, the Bida islands, Hin Daeng / Muang, sites around Ko Phi Phi, etc.

Ko Lanta: One of the most active Thai islands diving wise after Ko Tao and has lots to see and do. It's quite touristy in the north but gets more spread out in the south -- beaches like Khlong Nin and Khlong Jak are beautiful. The east coast is also worth a day trip; you might like a couple of the villages over there.

Ko Lipe: I almost didn't mention Lipe because it's a small island that will be mobbed at Christmas time. But it's worth keeping in mind as the main diving island of Thailand's far southern Andaman, with at least seven outfits offering dive trips around the Ko Adang archipelago and beyond.

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 18/6/2018 at 20:52

Dluek, thanks for the paragraphical breakdown and suggestions. Fantastic, tons to plumb here. Ko Phayam sounds like it could be the ticket.

Regarding Ko Lanta, and the southern, more spread out parts you mentioned - do these areas have a good number of bars / restaurants / etc, or will I be heading north to find social activity? If the latter, what's the best way to manage that? Via a scooter rental perhaps? How do folks tend to get around the island if they haven't rented cars? Thanks again!

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Posted by amnicoll on 19/6/2018 at 04:54

If you rent a scooter make sure that you have insurance that covers using motorbikes (Some will in the small print insist you have a motor bike license) and best if you are an experienced rider

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 19/6/2018 at 19:08

Roger that, thanks amnicoll!

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Posted by DLuek on 21/6/2018 at 01:53 TF writer

On Lanta, all beaches from the far north to about halfway down the west coast have some nightlife. I like Khlong Nin because geographically it's convenient -- halfway down the west coast, near the cross-island road, before the hills start -- and it has a good selection of places to stay and hang out in. It's also a beautiful beach and the scene more laid back than the beaches further north, with no large-scale resorts. A bit north of that is Khlong Khong, which has a younger party / hippie scene.

South of Khlong Nin, the beaches do get quieter and while you'll always find some shirtless Thai Rasta dude slinging cocktails out of a shack, far southern beaches like Khlong Jak and Ao Kantiang are more secluded and reached via some hilly terrain. There's budget accommodation on Khlong Jak and Ao Mai Pai, but at Ao Kantiang it's mainly midrange to luxury places attracting families and honeymooners.

Getting around it's either motorbike / bicycle rental or "taxis" that come in a few varieties: roofed sidecar motorbikes, little bug-like tuk tuks (the kind with four wheels like in Phuket) and drivers offering their own regular cars or pick-ups. They're all expensive, relative to Thailand in general. I've always rented a motorbike to explore Lanta and it's an enjoyable island to ride around if you're experienced on a bike. (Following on what amnicoll said, I wouldn't recommend it unless you get an international motorcycle license and have checked to make sure motorcycle / scooter is not an exclusion in your travel insurance.)

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 21/6/2018 at 14:08

Thanks Dluek. I'll look into Khlong Nin.

Thanks Everyone for all the fantastic input for not only this post, but my adventure plans in the North as well. I'll be sure to keep everyone abreast of the choices I make, as I want to be helpful to others like you have been to me.

Mtbakerstu

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Posted by amnicoll on 22/6/2018 at 05:23

have a great trip

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 27/6/2018 at 20:47

Thanks amnicoll! Psyched. I'll be sure to post updates as my plans fill in.

-mtbakerstu

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 27/6/2018 at 22:36

Dluek (based on your hotel reviews) or Anyone Else with insight into making hotel reservations on the Islands-

Do you think it's generally OK to book directly with a hotel's website, (especially for TravelFish recommended places), or is there oversight value in booking through Booking.Com, Agoda, Etc to have some degree of protection from overbooking or other issues that might arise with an accommodation.

Thanks,

Mtbakerstu

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Posted by DLuek on 27/6/2018 at 22:59 TF writer

I'd say it's "generally OK" to book through a hotel website, or Agoda/Booking etc.
Either way, contacting the property a month before your arrival to re-confirm your reservation would help to dispel any worries you may have.

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Posted by mtbakerstu on 28/6/2018 at 14:04

Thanks Dluek. Sound advice, will check a month in advance for the dispelling. :D

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