One of the most exciting parts about moving to a part of the world I’d never visited before is the amount of travel I have the chance to do in the region and within my adopted country. From Bangkok it is relatively easy to travel around Southeast Asia and within Thailand. Head north to places like Kanchanaburi, Khao Yai, Ayutthaya, and Chiang Mai to get closer to nature, visit cultural sites and experience rich northern cuisine. Go south and you’re in for a completely different experiences. The beaches are the draw, but there is so much more to do.
Living in the US, I got such a kick out of seeing the vast spectrum of communities spread across the landscape. Even when I studied in Madrid for a summer in college, I remember how thrilling it was to visit cities in the many various regions of Spain. Now I get the chance to see just as many parts of Thailand with my family.
We have been fortunate to travel to many parts of Thailand in the relatively short time that we’ve been here. The North has a distinct terrain, climate and culture from the South that leaves you with different, but equally warm impressions of the whole country. However, my love affair with Thailand was cemented by my visits to the South – particularly Krabi and Koh Yao Noi – for five key reasons.
1: The place is a bonafide paradise
- I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a beach vacation. For me, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city – which I love, but can be draining over long periods. At the beach, it is so easy to fall into long bouts of relaxation. The sand and sea therapy alone does wonders for my soul. I always return to the concrete jungle feeling inspired and rejuvenated. Thailand especially has some of the most idyllic destinations in the world, but don’t take my word for it. Do a quick IG hashtag search and tell me you aren’t obsessed.
2: It’s a short, affordable trip from Bangkok – like really short
- It’s much shorter than a flight from NYC to Miami. The plane ticket is also incredibly affordable, so it’s super easy to justify a quick trip to just about any part of Southern Thailand. Thailand has lovely areas that don’t require a flight from Bangkok, but you’re in for much longer travel times – particularly if you’re traveling by car (because, traffic).
3: Party animals, families, adventurers, the zen-set, if you are heading to Southern Thailand it’s an area that literally everyone can enjoy.
- Phuket alone has several distinct neighborhoods depending on the kind of vacation you’re trying to have (see a breakdown here). You can visit multiple times and see something new because there’s culture, adventure, and tranquility abundantly available.
- My travels took me to Krabi twice (specifically Railei Beach Club on Railay Beach) with my family and close friends and family who visited. It was the kind of comfortable, simple living that makes a vacation with your children genuinely relaxing. It was almost magical to pass the time lounging at the beach in the morning, amusing ourselves close to our accommodations, then feasting on a fantastic home-cooked meal. There’s also hiking trails and rock climbing for folks looking for more active amusements on vacation.
- Another place that I had an opportunity to visit was Koh Yao Noi with gal pals visiting from the U.S. The island and resort were not only the ultimate chill spot; we were also able to find a range of activities from cooking classes to yoga around the island community. We rented motorbikes to get around the island, watched epic sunsets over cocktails and ate so much great seafood.
4: Getting around the various islands is simple so you don’t have to choose just one place to stay
- Most areas have many services offering half and full day trips around the Phi Phi Islands. Each island is a unique gem and is so beautiful to see, but over tourism is having an effect. One super famous island saw 2,000 to 4,000 tourists on more than 200 boats per day before closing it to tourism (according to Nikkei Asian Review). It’s fantastic that more people are able to afford travel and see more parts of the world, but it’s apparently having an impact on local ecosystems. At least the effects can be reversed, it seems.
- Just want to commute to one island to spend the day? Taking a shorter speedboat ferry or the slower longboats is fun and exciting. It becomes easy to begin thinking about getting used to this way of living. It just doesn’t seem to run very late; plan accordingly.
5: It’s a great place to visit during the dry season or rainy season
- The rainy season months in Thailand (between May and November, generally) do get frequent showers. From what I have experienced, the downpour lasts about an hour or two each day. If that’s manageable, then you’re in for some significant hotel and home rental deals. Brush up on your card games or get a Thai massage to take advantage of some indoor time. A collection of national parks are also a great alternative to the beach.
There are honestly so many great things about Southern Thailand. I’m impressed I could narrow it down to five. What do you love about Southern Thailand?