South Thailand is the destination for great beach vacations
plus jungle trekking, caving, kayaking, canoeing, climbing limestone rocks, exploring national parks, sunbathing, scuba diving, surfing, water-ski, quad trek, paragliding, jet ski and a hot nightlife which fulfills any dreams women and men have plus all variants of massage with or without a happy ending.
This is in South East Asia about 2000 km north of the equator, a ideal place not only for great vacation but also for retirement, there are plenty of possibilities. Lots of space is available, only in Phuket it already gets a bit crowded.
It could also be just the right place for retirement.
Therer are two center one is Phuket and the other is Hat Yai with all variants of accommodation, from the cheap apartment to the top luxurious, villas and hotels.
This is very good integrated into the travel routes which means airplane, car and buses. Train is only from Bangkok to Hat Yai, there is no train on the west coast where the island is located. Exploring islands in the Phang Nga Bay and Krabi where they shot a James Bond movie and "The Beach" plus other.
Also Trang has plenty of islands in the Andaman sea. Further south west towards the border to Malaysia is the Tarutao Archipelago with around 50 pristine spots. is absolute hot stuff with countless nightclubs, bars, discos and crossovers at Phuket, Ko Samui, Krabi, Hat Yai and Sadao, Thai girls will turn up the heat on you, trust me ! If you are on the lesbian or gay direction some positive surprises are waiting
Hotels, resorts and any other accommodations
are plenty and the best is to book any room through the internet. If you cant handle this just book it locally that works, there are enough hotels etc except Christmas & New Year.
Also book any trip only locally, there are too many parameter which can go wrong, if you are somewhere go to a local operator and check, do this for at least 3 different one. If anything happen, e.g. they sell you the tour and nobody come don't be shy contact the police they will help you, the crooks (there are lots) are very afraid of the police, when they see them they get very cooperative.
We start at Koh Samui, after comes Koh Phangan and the Ang Thong Archipelago
close by and later we move south and south west where you will get incredible panoramas of this parts and the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, for details just use the menu.
Travel to Koh Samui is easy,
either take the aircraft (check which airport in Bangkok, there are two now) or take the bus from the southern Bangkok bus terminal. There are different price categories but below $ 20,-, a alternative would be to take the train to Surat Thani and from there with the bus. If you like adventure rent a scooter or bike in Bangkok and do it on your own, this is very dangerous, Thailand has one of the highest count on fatal road accidents in the whole world. In any case connections are done very easy, the people have a good routine.
For Koh Phangan
it's the same as for Samui, the difference is at Surat Thani since at the Ferry Terminal at Don Sak there are two ferries.
If you want to make a great island day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park
use a local travel agent. This is a archipelago of around 50 islands, all are uninhabited except the main one. Until a few decades ago a hideout for pirates, after taken over by the Navy and in 1980 it was finally declared a Marine National Park.
At the main beach pictured above is a restaurant open until around 10 pm and 5 bungalows for Baht 500,- / night each. Camping could be done but need to be arranged at the spot. There is a challenging hike / climb upwards from where the pics at the lower right was made. If you intend to get up there use good shoes and if possible gloves since the stones at the last part of the climb are quite rough. Tours are from Koh Samui and Phangan, costs are a bit over Bath 1000,-, more about Thailand islands
Here are the "backbones" of Thai public road travel,
the big one for long haul and the small one for short distance but it is also used for up to around 500km. Actually the difference is not much, mainly in terms of speed and stops . But I recommend don't use this minibuses, why? This small ones starts but usually are circling around for about an hour trying to find more passengers, so the whole speed advantage is already lost before the journey even really starts.
A elephant ride at Samui
a real attraction for the whole family about half hour around Bath 500,-, needs negotiation, it's a interesting experience, no need to be afraid nothing negative will happen.
In Phuket, they want about Baht 900,- per head, when you look into the eyes of of the elephant camp operator you can virtually see the $ sign rotating in his eyes expecting to milk the tourist, better be careful otherwise they milk you merciless, this guys don't know when enough is enough. They count on the effect that the father can hardly say no when the kids want to ride the elephant.
Unfortunately they look at you as a walking ATM machine where they only need to push the button and money comes out. At Krabi e.g. they call the tourists "lame turtle" which the quick locals should milk.
There are plenty of not so nice things going on in the country, in general stay away from from Tuk-Tuk, Minibus drivers and from Jet Sky operators, it gets physical very quick.
The later rent you this stuff and after show you some scratches and if you don't pay for this immediately it gets physical, that's the same with many car and motorbike rentals, this negative things happen every day.
The Isthmus of Kra
After leaving "this drops in the ocean" and coming back to Surat Town a decision has to be made, either moving south west through the countryside to Phuket or via the coast and Ranong.
For this it needs to get a bit back to Chumphon in the north but it's definitely worth it, passing the Isthmus which is the narrowest piece of land between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific is for sure very interesting.
Ranong is the biggest harbor on the west coast
and the gateway to south Myanmar but its a bit complicated with the visa because at Kawthaung side foreigners can only stay within the city limits, no way out and when coming back to Thailand the immigration issues 2 week visa only.
Kawthaung in Myanmar, here is the landing jetty for Burma and plenty of fishing vessels are optically very interesting.
There are several islands, a bit off the Andaman Coast with small resorts in a very idyllic setting one of them is Koh Phayam, 35 Km from Ranong and opposite Burmese St. Matthew's Island, only 10 km long, 5 km wide and a population of around 500 people, a ideal getaway, read more.
The main purpose on the tourist map is the destination for the visa run between the two country and for Thai buying tax free items. There are continuous attempts in particular by wikipedia to put some sexy travel attributes to it but this are only lies launched by the usual people who just try to talk bad about others.
Ranong province is the least populated in the country
and with foreigners mainly known for the visa run. It receives most rain because of the clouds from the Indian Ocean get stuck on the hills of the coast all the way down to Khao Lak, from here to Phuket it's almost exactly 300 km over a very good two lane road.
There are plenty of good hotels and resorts around it is also a stronghold of the Thai Muslim population with plenty of Mosques around.
The people live in a very natural world
with a morning bath in the river and belive in ghosts and spirits, although Buddhism is the main religion the archaic beliefs are still very lively.
The evidence to this are spirit houses in front of every normal house, but not only there also at factories, malls and practically very construction they are somewhere.
In the deep south near the Malaysian border
Insurgency in the South, everything could be just fine but as we know, every paradise has its snakes, here it is the Islam insurgent problem although it is only on local level at the border with Malaysia and has social and religious background, the preferred targets for the Muslim mob are Buddhist Monks and local children, such as temple boys and teachers.
Tourism is smooth and usually never effected by the political problems in Bangkok such as the airport blockade and the continuous fighting between the two main groups, the "red shirts" and "yellow shirts" but this categories have nothing to do with the traditional reds in Europe or elsewhere.
For certain good reasons there is some concern on security since from time to time bombs explode and people get killed for different reasons one is religious but this is only a front end. Muslims try to establish their own state but as it looks the whole has a big component of a criminal level, especial smuggling and under this cover of the insurgency plenty of gangsters are operating.
A other reason has a administrative background, the government agencies in Bangkok forcefully took lot of land away from the local people in the very southern Thai provinces along the Malaysian border in the past since the land people owned is usually not secured be land deeds, this is a rather new procedure and many unscrupulous criminals tried with tricks to grab land from the locals. A similar situation was after the Tsunami when certain people tried to grab land from others who lived there but had no papers.
There is also still a unsolved dispute between Thailand and Saudi Arabia on a grand theft of jewelry from a Thai worker years ago in the house of the now Saudi King. Saudi Arabia is a major supplier of funds to the southern Thai rebels via welfare organizations.
That is the basic setting and some terrorism and insurgency has again erupted out of this. Smaller problems have been on all the time. But by all means there is no civil war and the problem is only at the southernmost provinces bordering directly to Malaysia, no spillover to any other part in the country.
In the present conflict and terrorism its only small group of criminals and some Islamist supported by other Muslims on the Malaysian side and partly financed by circles in Saudi Arabia. This small groups actually make all this violence in the conflict and sometimes they experience revenge from Thai military and other people who naturally don't step aside when their friends get killed. No such problem was spilled into the rest of the country, the most north the conflict spread was Hat Yai a very popular tourist and recreational destination.