Excellent day trips from Phuket Island - Thailand

by Andy Burrows
Phuket is named the Jewel of the Andaman. Or is it maybe the prime gem in the crown of Thailand's tourism? However, Phuket is just the core of a spacious wonderful playground. And the other part of the 'crown' is worth discovering, even if the tropical fabulous beaches you're sunbathing on seems so great you never want to get away from them. Phuket sightseeing tours are a must.

Making day trips from Phuket Island is definitely a must when you visit this South East Asian tropical piece of Heaven. Within a few hours ride or trip by boat are several mind-blowing landscapes including the renowned Phi Phi islands, the wonderful Khao Lak coast, the eye-opening Pha Nga Bay, exclusive scuba diving off the Similan islands, and the breathtakingly beautiful karst-scapes of Krabi. There are national parks boasting lush forests, picturesque fishing villages, spectacular waterfalls, crystal clear waters, private tiny islands, pristine mangroves and exclusive beaches to seek out.

Phuket is without a single doubt Thailand's best developed and most popular island, a high standard, jet-set travel destination that has become a very upmarket place during the last decades. If you're travelling to Phuket for your next holiday you'll invariably find yourself based at one of several wonderful bays lined along the West Coast. From this location you can either rent a private car or use the option taking one of the available day trip tours to a destination of your choice. This is highly recommendable and there are both many travel agents and opportunities.

For first time visitors exploring the island itself is absolutely a great idea. There are numerous exciting and splendid beaches. Towards the south from Kamala you'll find a cluster of the best, past the popular and crowded Patong, and onwards to the posh Kata and sweeping Karon. Every beach is worth making a stop for a few hours to sunbath or sample a spicy Thai papaya salad (som tam) for lunch. Keep travelling south and you'll finally reach the untouched Nai Harn beach, a good spot for avoiding the crowds. All beaches on Phuket have their own special ambience.

To reach the island's north takes about a one-hour drive. This area has not been developed and tourists do not dominate the scene. The east coast's mangroves offer an altogether different look of Phuket. While visiting this area you might want to cool off in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park's Bang Phrae Waterfall or drop in on the 'singing gibbons' at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre. Tours to this area of Phuket are very rewarding.

The best scenery can be found offshore, the first thing on you itineraries list should be a trip to Phi Phi. This distinctive craggy island is formed like a butterfly. The island featured in the Hollywood movie The Beach and was world news because of the Tsunami tragedy. Actually there are several islands, and the majority of the available trips stop off for some mind-boggling snorkelling adventures en-route. Food is mostly served once you arrive at Phi Phi Ley's paradisiacal Maya bay. Only campers and park rangers are allowed to spend the night here so you'll have the immaculate beach all to yourself. Phi Phi Don is more dramatic and was drastically overdeveloped before the gigantic Tsunami washed it all away. On a tiny sandwich of coconut palms the resorts are found between two gorgeous bays, with rising to the blue sky karst cliffs all around. Once you've reached this spot you probably not want to make the trip back to Phuket!

Similarly popular and impressive is Pha Nga Bay's unique karst seascape, enjoyed free promotion in the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. Now also known as the James Bond Island, this is a must-see on all trips from Phuket but its all part of a gigantic theatre of pillars, dotting this vast bay and must be ranking as the most photogenic spot in the whole Andaman. Lunch will be served at the idyllic fishing village of Koh Phan Yee, which is positioned in the water on stilts. Don't forget purchasing some souvenirs and stroll around this remarkable community. Kayaking among the karst cliffs and caves is especially rewarding.

If diving is your thing and you have just one opportunity to see the finest, then you may want to join a few days lasting trip to the Similan islands which are located West of Phuket. There is also a protected marine reserve and diving excursions or day trips are the only way to reach the area's unspoilt reefs, or swim in the clear blue ocean. If you do not have a dive certificate, no worries there are plenty of available courses. As an alternative you could take a tour to Hong Island, between Krabi and Phuket and simply enjoy underwater snorkelling and unwind. This unique island boasts a hidden lagoon inside, reachable at low tide only through a cave tunnel.

Renting a car for a drive into the hinterland is also a great option. Phuket is by a short causeway linked to the mainland and after that you have the freedom, roaming the lush isthmus provinces of Southern Thailand. Travel to the north to Khao Lak, to explore a more untouched and wild shoreline, and some fabulous coastal parks. Khao Sok National Park is a bit beyond this with its vast lake, magnificent rainforests and distinctive landscapes. In the park chalets you can even stay overnight. Thai tropical national parks feature fantastic ecosystems full of streams, waterfalls, nature trails, a few animals and varied birdlife.

Even Krabi is a popular tourist destination attracting many visitors, it can conveniently be reached within a 90 minutes drive from Phuket and features some of most distinctive landmarks in the region. But this is a completely other destination!

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