Located on Thailand’s Andaman Coast, Krabi and Phuket are two of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations. If you’re planning to visit either destination and looking for ideas for day trips, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also included some suggestions if you’re staying in Khao Lak to the north of Phuket. Shown here in no particular order is our pick of some of the best day trips on the Andaman Coast.
1) Hong Islands
This collection of islands is one of the many highlights of the Andaman Coast. In Thai, the word ‘hong‘ means ‘room’ and when you visit the eponymous main island you discover why it’s given that name. The room in question is actually a hidden bay that slowly reveals itself as you enter the chamber by boat.
On the opposite side of Hong Island, a nature trail and viewpoint offer panoramic views of the beaches below and the other nearby islands. A typical day tour from Krabi or Phuket will also include stops at other islands including Ko Lao Lading.
2) Phang Nga Bay
One of the best-known attractions in the region, Phang Nga Bay is not to be missed. This is where iconic scenes from the classic 1970s movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, were filmed. The island where Bond and Scaramanga faced off is Ko Khao Ping Gan with the needle-shaped limestone karst of Khao Tapu jutting out of the sea in the background. Ko Khao Ping Gan is now nicknamed ‘James Bond Island’ and features on tour itineraries from Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak.
Phang Nga Bay is also the location of the floating village of Ko Panyee. A village was first established here by nomadic fishermen at the end of the 18th century. While tourism now brings additional revenue to the village, fishing remains the main source of income for islanders. Ko Panyee is home to a mosque, school and even a floating football pitch.
3) Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
For an alternative view of Phang Nga Bay, travel to the viewpoint at Samet Nangshe on the mainland. Although you can visit on a day trip, there is also the option to stay here overnight to make the most of the sublime sunset and sunrise views.
4) Kayaking at Ao Thalane or Phang Nga
If you’re staying in Krabi, you can explore the coastline at Ao Thalane by kayak. After undergoing a full training session and safety briefing, you’ll cruise through mangrove forests, caves, quiet lagoons, and explore Tham Bok Korani National Park. With this eco-friendly form of adventure, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife you may otherwise miss in a faster and noisier boat.
Staying in Phuket on your holiday? Check out what’s on offer from the award-winning John Gray Sea Canoes. This well-established business gives visitors the chance to see the serene beauty of Phang Nga Bay from another perspective and avoid the crowds.
5) Live Like Locals in Phuket
If you’re holidaying in Phuket, spend some time away from the beach to experience local life. Under the Live Like Locals initiative you will be welcomed to local communities and be able to learn about the culture, traditions and lifestyle of the people who have lived in Phuket for many generations. Live Like Locals is an excellent example of community-based tourism that benefits local people and tourists.
6) Local life on Ko Klang
If you’re staying in Krabi, you can also experience local life thanks to the wonders of community-based tourism. From Krabi Town, make the short boat trip across the estuary to the island of Ko Klang. Villagers on the island run an excellent responsible tourism project that enables visitors to learn about the traditional way of life on Ko Klang.
If you like to travel by yourself, you can catch the boat from Krabi Town and arrange a tour independently when you arrive on Ko Klang. Alternatively, make all the arrangements through a responsible tour operator such as Local Alike, Andaman Discoveries or Krabi Eco Cycle.
7) Local life at Laem Sak
The opportunity to experience local life is one of the many benefits of travel. And in Thailand there is growing appreciation of community-based tourism. Communities like Laem Sak in Krabi province who were recognised for their achievements at the Responsible Thailand Awards 2022.
The Tourism Community Enterprise at Krabi’s Laem Sak district comprises 10 villages and more than 400 members. The enterprise encourages the community to protect the marine ecosystem and mangroves. This in turn enables tourists to visit and learn about local life in this multi-cultural community. Although we’ve included it as a day trip, it’s even more rewarding if you stay overnight in the area and go early morning fishing or island-hopping with your local guides.
8) Phi Phi Islands
A boat tour of the Phi Phi Islands is undoubtedly one of the most popular day trips from Krabi or Phuket. The scenery is spectacular, but the popularity of the islands and ease of access from Phuket and Krabi does mean some tours can get busy.
The most famous spot in the islands, Maya Bay, has taken steps to reduce over-tourism with a limit on daily visitor numbers and boats no longer allowed to land directly on the famous beach.
9) Similan Islands
Located in the Andaman Sea close to Khao Lak, the Similan Islands are a group of islands which are part of the protected Mu Ko Surin National Park.
Some of the islands can be visited on a day trip from Khao Lak or Phuket, but it’s good to see that others remain off-limits to protect marine life. Ko Similan is the biggest island in the group and a great location for snorkelling and diving.
10) Surin Islands
The Surin Islands are another excellent location for diving and snorkelling. Like the Similan Islands, the Surin Islands also benefit from National Park status. But unlike the Similans, one of the islands here, Ko Surin Tai, is inhabited.
Ko Surin Tai is home to the Moken community. Sometimes referred to as ‘Chao Leh’ (People of the Sea), the Moken are renowned for their affinity with the sea and were living here long before the area was designated a National Park.
11) Ko Yao Noi
The twin islands of Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai are well worth spending at least a few nights on. But if you have limited time, a day trip from Phuket to Ko Yao Noi is a good introduction to the quiet charm of these islands.
The beaches of Ko Yao Noi might not be as attractive as those found on nearby Phuket, but the views of Phang Nga Bay are sublime. With relatively few tourists opting to stay here, Ko Yao Noi has a very different atmosphere to Phuket. Organised day trips from Phuket will include a ride across by longtail boat and the chance to cycle along Ko Yao Noi’s quiet rural roads through villages and rubber-tree plantations.
12) Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a final home for working elephants. The sanctuary follows the same hands-off model championed by Lek Chailert founder of Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai and Save Elephant Foundation.
Located in the north-east of the island, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offers a number of visitor experiences. This includes the 600 metre-long canopy walkway where you can observe rescued elephants as they roam freely in the jungle below.
13) Phang Nga Elephant Park
Phang Nga Elephant Park is a small, family-owned elephant centre near Khao Lak. The park is smaller than Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and adopts a more intimate approach that enables visitors to get closer to the elephants.
As with the sanctuary on Phuket, visitors to Phang Nga Elephant Park can rest assured this is an ethical facility that looks after the animals, their mahouts, and the people who visit. Transfers are included from Khao Lak, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi and Khao Sok.
14) Phuket Old Town
If you’re staying on any of Phuket’s beaches, drag yourself away from the sand to spend at least half a day exploring the delightful Phuket Old Town. While Thailand’s largest island is now famous as a tourist destination, that wasn’t always the case. Long before the advent of tourism, Phuket’s wealth came from the tin mining industry and maritime trade.
Phuket’s tin mining industry flourished during the 1800s and attracted European and Chinese merchants. A number of the original buildings built by those traders can still be seen in the historic Phuket Old Town district. Admire the Sino-Portuguese architecture as you wander around the Old Town. You’ll also find colourful street art, charming boutiques and quaint cafes. Not to mention a fabulous food scene, some lively cocktail bars and atmospheric live music venues. Time your visit to Phuket Town for a Sunday afternoon or evening and you can also take in the excellent Walking Street Market that sets up along Thalang Road.
15) Takua Pa Old Town
If you’re staying in the Khao Lak area, a trip to Takua Pa is a good alternative to Phuket Old Town. Just as they did in Phuket, Chinese and European merchants migrated here to make money from the area’s tin mining industry.
The Sino-Portuguese buildings the merchants built remain in situ and, as with Phuket, many people in this area of Thailand have Chinese heritage. If you visit on a Sunday afternoon in the high season months (November-April), you can also visit the Takua Pa Walking Street in the Old Town area.
16) Little Amazon, Takua Pa
A trip to Takua Pa Old Town can be combined with a visit to the ‘Little Amazon’. This stretch of waterways and mangrove forests might lack the scale of the real Amazon, but it’s a fun place for people of all ages to explore with the opportunity to witness an array of wildlife in the treetops including birds, monkeys and snakes.
17) Khao Sok National Park
Make the trip inland to visit the stunning Khao Sok National Park. Ideally, this is an area to spend at least a night or two at somewhere like Elephant Hills or Anurak Community Lodge, but you can still see some of the main highlights on a day trip.
The scenery at Khao Sok is spectacular with vertiginous limestone mountains and lush forest. A typical day trip will include a longtail boat ride along Cheow Larn Lake and a visit to Ratchaprapa Dam.
For more ideas of what to see and do on the Andaman Coast near Krabi and Phuket, check out these links:
- Discover another side to Phuket
- Sample the gastronomic delights of Phuket
- 20 Phuket street foods and where to find them
- Get sporty in Phuket
- Dive into paradise on the Andaman Coast
- Khao Sok National Park
- 10 reasons to add Krabi to your Thailand itinerary
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