SIMILAN ISLANDS (70 kilometers from Phang-nga town, 60 kilometers from the mainland, four hours by boat from Phuket, or two hours by boat from the mainland town of Thap Lamu) is an uninhabited chain of islands off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Declared a national park and a turtle sanctuary for leatherback and Ridley turtles by the Thai government in 1983, these islands are Thailand's premier scuba diving destination. The Surin Islands reportedly have greatest variety of corals while the Similans have the greatest variety of fish.
On the western windward side of the Similans are steep granite cliffs and fairly big surf; on the leeward eastern side are calm waters, forests and beaches. The islands are uninhabited because there is no sheltered anchorage or year-round water supply. The forests contains 180-foot trees filled with land crabs. In the largely undisturbed coral reefs in the crystal clear waters around the islands are orange-and-white clownfish, sea anemones, crown-of-thorn starfish, multicolored crinoids, huge octopuses, shy but deadly sea snakes, and scorpion fish. Biologist say that the Similans have some of the densest fish populations and largest fish in the world because there is little fishing in the area and upwelling currents bring up nutrients from the ocean depths.
The Similan Islands have become quite popular. There are 80 dive boats a week off the islands in the high season. The Similans can be reached from Phuket by Jet Cat ($64 for a day trip arranged through Seatran Travel in Bangkok or Phuket, ☎ 662-249-0241). Visitors can visit the islands on a day trip or sleep over night in $20-per-night two-person tents, huts on stilts, or 100-foot-long temporary lean-to with five sleeping quarters and a tin roof. There are showers and privies.
Similan is a Yawi or Malay word, which means nine or a group of nine islands. Collectively occupying about 32,000 acres of land, the nine islands are (stretching from north to south) are: Koh Bon, Koh Bayu, Koh Similan, Koh Payu, Koh Miang (two adjoining islands), Koh Payan, Koh Payang, and Koh Huyong. The National Parks office is located on Koh Miang. Best time to visit is between November and April.
Similan Islands National Park is a marine national park said to have Nowadays, there is another island which joins the Similan Islands National Park called Ta Chai Island. This island is between Similan Island and Surin Island. There are two possible routes to take around the national park. The first one is the general trip at Paet Island or Similan Island where you can camp overnight. The notable features of this island are the horseshoe-shaped bay and the sailboat-shaped stone. The second possible route is Si Island or Miang Island where the office of the national park is located. You can see the stunning beach and visit the Lan Kha Luang viewpoint. At the viewpoint, the scene is as beautiful as the one from the Hin Ruea Bai Viewpoint at Paet Island. There are resorts and a source of fresh water available for tourists.
There is an island called Nueng Island or Hu Yong Island, where tourists are not allowed to travel. This is the most naturally preserved island in the entire park. The island is reserved for sea turtles which lay their eggs around November to February. You can experience both snorkeling and diving around the national park. The high season of Similad Islands is from November to April. It is stormy during the month of May, so the national park is closed.
Getting to the Similan Islands: The nearest pier is Thup Lamu Pier which is about 20 kilometers from Tagua Pa District. Follow the route no. 4 (Tagua Pa-Tai Muang). Around Ban Kaen, there is a junction on the right, it is about 5 kilometers to the pier. Before reaching the pier you can see the office of Similan Islands National Park on your left. It is a comfortable two hour trip to Similan Island. There are several daily powerboat services available for tourists in high season (November-April). It is 1,500 baht for a roundtrip. It is possible to stay overnight and return the next day. Additionally, you can get there by charter boat. Ask for more information as this service is not available every day. Expect to pay 20,000-40,000 baht to charter a boat if you travel as a group.
Contacts and Accommodation: Camping is available at Paet Island and there is a guest house at Si Island resort with fan or air-conditioner including facilities. Address: 93, Mu 5, Ban Thup Lamu, Phetkasem Road, Lum Kaen Sub District, Tai Muang District, Phang Nga Province, Thailand 82210For more information, you can contact Similan Islands National Park. Tel. 0 7645 3272, 07642 1365 , Office 0 7659 5045, Website: www.dnp.go.th, Tour Service: Medsye Tour 0 7644 3276, 08 1893 8042 / Seatran Travel 0 7621 3510, 0 2240 2572-6.
MU KOH SIMILAN NATIONAL PARK
MU KOH SIMILAN NATIONAL PARK embraces Koh Similan, or Koh Paet is the largest island in this group of islands. It has a distinctive horseshoe-shaped bay. The average depth of the water is 60 feet. Underwater is full of rock formations and coral reefs in several shapes and forms such as deer, leaf, brain, and mushroom. The latter one is the most unspoiled coral found in the country. Its soft sandy beach is very beautiful and diving around here will let you see a lot of fishes and coral. To the north, lies a striking large rock formation with astonishing shapes such as boot and Donald Ducks head. The upper part of the beach is an ideal lookout point with a rock of a sailing boat shape.
Koh Ba-ngu is the ninth island of the Similan group of islands. It has a strange feature. Looking from one point, the shape of a skull can be seen. Underwater is as beautiful as a valley full of coral reefs, deep gorge, and various sizes of fish. Koh Huyong, the island offers the whitest and longest beach of all the nine islands. During turtles ’egg laying season, from November to February, there would be tracks on the beach from turtles that come onshore to lay eggs, resembling centipede tracks. Koh Miang is the second largest island among 9 islands after Similan Island. It is where the office of the National Park is located. The island offers a scenic beach which is suitable for camping.
Diving Spots in Mu Koh Similan National Park : There are several diving spots that suit both snorkelling and scuba diving. The famous scuba diving spots including rock formations that lie to the west of Koh Tachai where whale sharks can be seen, Koh Bon, Christmas Point rock formation, Fantasy rock formation, and Ao Kwang En (to the east of Koh Paet), etc. Snorkelling spots are scattered around these nine islands. The interesting points are by the sailing boat rock, Ao Kwang En, and behind Miang Island.
Contacts Fees, Accommodation and Transport Info: Contact: Mu 1, Thap Lamu, Tambon Lam Kaen, Amphoe Thai Mueang, Phang-nga 82120, Tel. 0 7642 1365 or 0 7659 5045, 0 2562 0760 Thap Lamu Pier, located 70 kilometers north of Phang-nga at Amphoe Thai Mueang, is the nearest point to Similan. A boat trip takes around 2 hours. There is no regular boat service for travellers to the island. Boats leaving from Thap Lamu are suitable for group tours and the boat rentals range from 30,000-40,000 baht, depending on various factors. Tourists can contact the travel agents as follows: Medsye Travel and Tours, tel: 0 7644 3276, 0 7644 3340, 08 1893 8042 e-mail: email@example.com, www.similanthailand.com, Jack Similan Travel, tel: 0 7652 2052-3, 08 1402 7705 fax: 0 7652 2053 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jacksimilan.com, Thaplamu Andaman Tour Tel: 0 7644 3411, 08 7265 4747, 08 4187 0011, 08 1892 4646, Phuket Office tel: 0 7627 4430, 08 1788 4458 e-mail: email@example.com, www.toursimilan.com , South Siam Divers Tel: 0 7628 6016-8, fax: 0 7628 6020 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.southsiamdivers.com
It is sometimes possible for individuals to hitch a ride or pay a reasonable fraction of the rental cost on a boat chartered by a group. This method is by no means certain and should be an obtion only for the adventurous who have time to spare. Visitors may contact the park office at Thap Lamu (Tel: 0 7659 5045) for further information. A boat trip from Patong Beach, Phuket takes around four hours. Visitors can contact Seatran Travel Tel: 0 76219391-2. Diving companies in Phuket also organise a three-day trip. Prices range from 9,000 to 25,000 baht, depending on the level of luxury, and include food, and accommodations.
Accommodation: There are bungalows and tents as well as restaurants available on the island. For reservation, contact Mu Koh Similan National Park, tel: 0 2562 0760, www.dnp.go.th Admission Fee: Adult 400 baht and Child 200 baht For more information contact Mu Koh Similan National Park, Mu 1, Thap Lamu, Tambon Lam Kaen, Amphoe Thai Mueang, Phang-nga 82120, tel. 0 7642 1365 or 0 7659 5045. You can also contact the tour operators: Fantastic Similan Travel at tel. 0 7648 5998, 08 6601 1563. Medsine Tour at tel. 0 7648 6268, 08 6089-1777 or visit www.similanthailand.com . Mantapoint at tel. 0 7648 5745, 08 1273 9279. Thaplamu Andaman Tour at tel. 0 7644 3411. A boat trip from Patong Beach, Phuket takes around four hours. Visitors can contact Seatran Travel Tel: 0 76219391-2. Diving companies in Phuket also organise a three-day trip. Prices range from 9,000 to 25,000 baht, depending on the level of luxury, and include food, and accommodations.
PHI PHI (45 minutes by boat from Phuket, also accessible by boat from Krabi) is one of the world's most beautiful islands, although in recent years it has become spoiled somewhat by the hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit the relatively small island every year.What makes Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) so incredible are the vegetation covered- limestone formations that rise up hundreds of feet from the beaches. Inside these formations are caves where bird's nests are harvested by men who climb to the cave's ceiling on flimsy vines and bamboo scaffolding. The most awesome of these is Rimau cave.
One of Phi Phi's premier attractions is a splendid beach, often shown in tourist brochures, that is a 200-meter-wide strip of sand separated by the sea on boh sides. In front of the beach is a bay with calm clear water. Behind it is another bay with calm clear water. Phi Phi has some good restaurants and its own transvestite sex cabaret. Damage to the reef and the island has to brought about limits on day travelers.
Abby Goodnough wrote in the New York Times, “Miles out in the Andaman Sea, this place of craggy limestone cliffs, whitest sand and crystalline lagoons had become the ultimate Thai getaway spot for travelers from around the world. Phi Phi's largest and only inhabited island is a dumbell-shaped jewel famed for its pair of hourglass beaches on its east and west that are separated by just 200 meters (yards) of land. Between them lay a haphazard village packed with restaurants, flophouses, photolabs, internet cafes and trinket shops. For years it has drawn hoardes of backpackers, who soak up the sun on pristine white-sand beaches, snorkel or dive the islands' azure waters or trek into the national marine park to scale limestone cliffs and dip in lagoons.[Source: Abby Goodnough, New York Times, January 11, 2005]
Koh Phi Phi is the collective name for a small archipelago in Krabi Province just an hour boat ride from Phuket. Known as the 'jewels of the Andaman Sea', there are six islands in Mu Koh Phi Phi-Nopparathara National Park: Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Ley, Bamboo Island , Yung Island , Bida Nok, and Bida Nai. Only Phi Phi Don is inhabited; all others are undeveloped and protected by their National Park status and are frequently visited as day trips from Phuket, Krabi, and Phi Phi On. Phi Phi Ley is perhaps the most picturesque island. It almost all sheer cliffs, peppered here and there with caves occupied by bird nest swiftlets. Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley was featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach . Maya Bay was a suitable choice as it epitomizes the stunning beauty of these islands: a bay of pellucid aquamarine water surrounded by towering limestone cliffs that harbors an arcing, white sand beach.
The waters surrounding the Phi Phi Islands are filled with exotic marine life, including docile leopard sharks, and snorkeling and diving day trips rival lounging on the beach as top activities on Koh Phi Phi.Koh Phi Phi also features a vibrant nightlife, with Tonsai Beach containing dozens of beach bars and restaurants and lively Tonsai Village consisting of a maze of shops, bars, and restaurants. Smaller beaches around the island are alternatively ideal for honeymooners, families, those on a budget, and those looking for the ultimate luxury resort retreat. There are both five-star resorts and budget beach bungalows; and both raucous nightlife and secluded isolation, depending on which beach you choose to stay at.
The best time to visit Koh Phi Phi is between the months of November and April when the weather is more temperate and the rains are less frequent. In the low season visitors can expect discounted room rates. In the peak season (around Christmas and New Years) it is recommended that you book your room in advance. If you plan to scuba dive, make sure your scuba diving instructor is fully accredited.
PHI PHI TOURISM, HOTELS AND TRANSPORT
Tourist Office and Website: Uttarakit Road , Amphoe Mueang, Krabi 81000, 0 7562 2163, 0 7562 2164. Warning: 1) Don’t go to the beach to walk or swim alone at night. 2) Don’t purchase or consume any illegal drugs. 3) Don’t go topless on the beach if you are woman and don’t walk around shirtless if you are a man unless you are at the beach; please respect Thai values regarding appropriate attire.
Accommodation: Because of its relatively small size and stunning beauty, accommodation on Koh Phi Phi is more expensive than in many parts of Thailand. Most accommodation options are mid-range and up, although there are still a few charming budget resorts here and there on the island. High demand is also a factor, as the islands are incredibly popular places to visit; those arriving without pre-booked accommodation often spend much of their first day wandering from hotel to hotel looking for a vacancy. The high season, which lasts from October/November until May, is the busiest and most expensive time in regards to accommodation.That said, Koh Phi Phi has a number of different beaches on which to find accommodation. The largest resorts are mostly located on Tonsai and Loh Dalum, though there are expansive five-star resorts occupying prime beaches elsewhere on the island. Long Beach features a wide variety of lodging options not far from the action, including family friendly and more reasonably priced resorts.
Getting Around in Koh Phi Phi: As there are no roads on Koh Phi Phi the only ways to get around the island are walking or hiring a boat, either a long-tail boat or speedboat. Most visitors staying in Tonsai, Loh Dalam, and Long Beach can walk around and between the beaches, the former two connected via proper walkways, while those staying in Loh Lana and Loh Ba Kao can walk between the two beaches via jungle path. Otherwise, the only way to get around is by hiring a long-tail boat for a one way/round-trip journey or a half/full day beach and/or island hopping excursion. Long-tail boat drivers typically hang out in the shade near the top of the beach not far from their boats. Simply walk up to them and say you need a ride.
Getting to Phi Phi: Getting to Koh Phi Phi is relatively straightforward. Visitors must first travel to Phuket or Krabi and then get aboard one of several ferries that service the island. Both Phuket and Krabi have international airports serviced by both domestic and international air carriers. Phuket and Krabi are both major bus destinations as well, so it’s not difficult to get to either Phuket or Krabi (Krabi Town or Ao Nang Beach) via bus and it’s simple to get to Koh Phi Phi by ferry once there.
By Air: The only direct air service to Koh Phi Phi is via seaplane from Phuket Airport. The sea planes land off the coast of Laem Thong near the northern tip of the island and transportation to Tonsai, if required, is about 30 minutes by long-tail boat. Otherwise, the nearest airports to Koh Phi Phi are in Phuket and Krabi, both of which have international airports serviced by multiple air carriers, domestic and international. From either airport it is not difficult to arrange ground transportation to the respective ports, where visitors can easily get ferry service to Koh Phi Phi unless arriving in the evening after boats have stopped for the day.
PHANG NGA is a province equally renowned for its beautiful land, spectacular bay, and amazing islands. Not to be confused with Koh Phangan, the island in the Gulf of Thailand, Phang Nga province lies on the Andaman coast on the Thai mainland immediately north of Phuket. ; Phang Nga national parks feature magnificent scenery with immensely different attractions.Most famous is Phang Nga Bay National Park, a geological wonder filled with islets, sunken caverns, and startling rock formations rising vertically out of the sea. Phang Nga's Andaman coast offers equally stunning national parks of a different kind; the island groups of Surin and Similan are renowned for their beautiful, unspoiled beaches and spectacular underwater scenery, attracting divers from around the world. On the Phang Nga mainland, Khao Lak features a coastal park full of rare birds, exotic mammals, and scenic waterfalls, as well as many luxury and budget hotels along the spectacular coast that was devastated by the 2004 Tsunami but has since been completely rebuilt. Tourist Office and Website: Phetkasem Road, Mueang District, Phang-Nga 82000, 0 7641 1586, 0 7641 1720, 0 7641 3515, 0 7641 4482. Accommodation: The accommodation options in Phang Nga are arguably greater than any other province in Thailand, including camping, live aboard dive boats and luxury schooners, village home stays, budget beach bungalows, boutique resorts, and luxurious five-star hotels.
Getting Around in Phang Nga: By Rental Car: The best way to get around Phang Nga is in a rental car. The attractions around the province are quite spread out, even around Khao Lak, which covers an enormous stretch of coastline. Cars can be rented in Phuket or Krabi. That said, it is possible to get around the more densely populated areas via songtaew, pickup trucks with benches in the rear, that pick up and drop off passengers at any location along a fixed route. Motorbike-taxis can also be found in the town areas and are convenient for very short distances.
To get to the Similan Islands from the Khao Lak area, Thap Lamu Pier is located 70 kilometers north of Phang Nga town at Amphoe Thai Mueang. A boat trip by speedboat takes around 2 hours. However, there is no regular boat services to the Similan Islands; boats are only available through group tours or via private boat rental, the latter of which can cost upwards of 30,000-40,000 baht. Jack Similan Travel(www.jacksimilan.com), Thaplamu Andaman Tour (www.toursimilan.com), and South Siam Divers (www.southsiamdivers.com) are several companies that can arrange for you to book passage on a boat to the islands, even if you are planning to camp on one of the islands.
A boat trip from Patong Beach, Phuket takes around four hours. These are typically day trips or multi-day live-aboards for snorkelers and scuba divers. To get to the Surin Islands there is ferry that leaves the dock on Highway No.4, six kilometers north of Kuraburi town, between Takua Pa and Kapoe. The ferry takes around 4 hours to get to the islands.
Getting to Phang Nga: Because of its location, bordering both Phuket and Krabi provinces, it’s quite easy to get to Phang Nga from either destination. Day trips to Phang Nga’s national parks depart Phuket and Krabi frequently. As the attractions around Phang Nga are so widespread, the best way to explore the area is with a rental car or with an organized tour. By Train: There is no direct train to Phang Nga. The State Railways of Thailand operates daily train services between Bangkok and Surat Thani. Visitors can get to Phang Nga by getting off at the Surat Thani Railway Station and then transferring to a bus for another two hours. For more information call Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong Railway Station at tel. 1690, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th
By Car: From Bangkok there are two driving routes to Phang Nga, which is located 788 kilometers from Bangkok, an approximately 12 hour drive. 1: Take Highway No. 4 through the provinces of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, and Ranong directly to Phang Nga. 2: Take Highway No.4 to Chumphon and then Highway No. 41 to Amphoe Tha Chang, turning right onto Highway No. 401. Keep driving to Amphoe Ban Ta Khun (about 50 kilometers) and then take Highway No. 415 for the final 30 kilometers to Phang Nga town. Visitors traveling from Phuket should use Highway No. 402, over the Sarasin Bridge. Highway No.4 north (left) leads towards Khao Lak, while Highway No.4 “south” (right, but still in a northerly direction) leads to Phang Nga town. Both Khao Lak and Phang Nga town are around 90 kilometers from Phuket, a journey of around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
By Bus: There are daily bus services from Bangkok to Phang Nga departing in the morning and evening. Traveling time is around 12 hours. For more information call the Southern Bus Terminal at tel. 0 2435 1199-200 or the Phang Nga Bus Terminal at tel: 0 7641 2300, 0 7641 2014 or visit www.transport.co.th . By Air: The nearest airport to Phan Nga is Phuket, which is serviced by numerous Thai and international carriers from destinations within Thailand and abroad. From Phuket, visitors can take a bus, rent a car, or take a taxi (around 1200 baht) to Phang Nga, around 90 kilometers away. It is also possible to fly to Krabi, where it is then possible to rent a car or get mini-bus transportation to Phang Nga, an approximately 2 hour trip.
PHANGNGA BAY (60 kilometers from Phuket) is famous for its karst landscape with spectacular limestone formations. Similar to Guilin in China and Halong Bay in Vietnam, it features rock pinacles of all shapes and sizes, set in a beautiful calm water bay. There are also hidden lakes, flooded caves and white sand beaches. The approach to the bay is on river estuary lined by mangroves. Some Sea Gypsies still live on one of the many islands in the bay.
Phang Nga Bay is extremely sheltered and therefore ideal for expeditions on sea kayak that explore the many fascinating caverns and islands throughout the bay. The most famous place in the bay is James Bond Island, a cylindrical rock pinnacle that rises straight out of the sea and the island headquarters for the villain in the 1974 Roger Moore, 007 film, Man with the Golden Gun . Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai feature laid back communities that allow for cultural home stay experiences. The most the spectacular karst scenery that is found through out the north of the bay. Among the other places visited by the boat tours are Tham Lawt (a large water cave), Ko Khao Tapu (Nail Mountain Island), Ko Phing (Leaning Island), Tham Naga and Khao Khian (drawing Cave, containing cave murals).
Boat Trips to Phangnga Bay can be arranged from Phuket or from the pier north of the bay on the road between Phuket and Krabi. Trips are also available in engine-powered quasi-junks and long-tailed boats. Small boats are better than large ones; they pass close by the formations and cruise through caves so that the cave roof skims right above your head.
Kayaking in Phangnga Bay is very popular these days. The Sea Canoe company pioneered kayaking trips in Phang-Nga Bay. Kayaking paddle among the spectacular islands and wander into caves. Particularly amazing are “hongs”—open-to-the sky caves—with walls cloaked in jungle, created when sink holes or caves collapse. About 20 or so companies offer kayak trips. Sea Canoe is more expensive than the others but goes the extra mile to make sure the environment is treated with respect and local people are paid reasonably well. Sometimes more than 1,000 kayakers a day are set loose in the bay and some of them are not so respectful. Some leave behind graffiti and broke off stalactites. An effort is being to clamp down on rowdiness and limit the number of kayaks.
PHANG NGA BAY NATIONAL PARK
PHANG NGA BAY NATIONAL PARK covers a total area of approximately 250,000 rai. Also known as Ao Phang Nga National Park, it is Thailand’s second marine national park where most of the area is sea water and islands of limestone mountains. Declared a ntional park in 1981, it is also the home of mangrove forest and a breeding area of marine animals. December to April is the best time to visit the park whereas May to October is the period of heavy rainfalls and strong waves.
Ko Panyi is a small island with a plain of approximately 1 rai and 200 houses. Most of the dwellers are Thai Muslims, earning their living by fishing and selling souvenirs and food to visitors. There is a school and public health centre, as well. Ko Phanak is a beautiful island with stalactite and stalagmite caves and a small tiered waterfall inside.
Khao Phing Kan is an island on the beach that derives its name from the fact that a stone mountain split in two and the smaller part slid down, so that its base was buried into the soil while the top parts still lean against each other. The scenery behind Khao Phing Kan is very picturesque with “Khao Tapu”, otherwise known as “James Bond Island” is seen in the sea in the background, looking like a nail – Tapu – stuck into the water. Admission for climbing Khao Phing Kan is 200 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for children. Khao Ma Chu is on the way to Ko Panyi and looks similar to a dog, with a head, body, and a hairy tail.
Khao Khian or Rock Paintings is on the way to Ko Panyi and houses rock paintings on the cliff of various animals believed to have been painted by sailors who moored their ships here to take shelter from the monsoon. According to the Fine Arts Department, the paintings are at least 3,000 years old. Tham Lot is a mountain similar to Ko Thalu. The opening of the cave is approximately 50 meters wide and 40 meters high, through which a small boat can sail to the other end of the cave. There are weird stalactites on the cave’s ceiling. Ko Hong features undulated hills hugging the sea, looking like a large chamber with 2 doors and housing beautiful coral reefs.
Like Railay, the beach of Pranang can only be reached by boat, and is similarly popular for swimming and rock climbing. Pranang Cave, which often lends its name to the beach, is a small but memorable cave, shrouded in mythology and mystery. The stalactites and stalagmites are one outstanding feature. Ao Pranang is a beautiful, 600 m long beach, blessed with pure, white sands. It is quite a hot spot, and is sure not to disappoint sun lovers.
Hours, Fees, Contact, Accommodation and Transport Info: Open everyday from 8:00am -5:00pm. Contact: 80 Mu 1 Tambon Ko Panyi, Amphoe Mueang Phang-nga, Phang-nga 82000, Tel. 0 2562 0760. Ao Phang-nga National Park is situated 12 kilometers from Phang-nga town. Travel 8 kilometers from the town via Highway No. 4, then turn left into Highway No. 4114 and continue for 4 kilometers to the Ao Phang-nga National Park’s headquarters where visitors can obtain tourist information. The trip can also be made by riding a local bus from Phang-nga town. Several tour operators in Phang-nga and Phuket organise a day trip to Phang-nga Bay.
A trip to Ao Phang-Nga National Park takes around three hours, with a half-day tour arrangeable. Admission fee is 200 baht. Boat Cruises in Ao Phang Nga is available from various piers, as follows: 1) Customs Checkpoint Pier, near the Phang Nga Bay Resort, boats of different sizes are available. Contact Khun Han Karaket at Tel. 08 1894 1499. Boat for 1 - 8 persons 1,200 Baht. Boat for 8 - 20 persons 2,000 Baht. Boat for 20 - 40 persons 4,500 Baht The cruise takes about 3 - 4 hours. 2) Surakun or Kasom Pier, Amphoe Takua Thung, provides boats for rent of different sizes. Boat for 1 - 10 persons 1,200 Baht. Boat for 1 - 20 persons 1,500 Baht. Boat for 1 - 30 persons 1,600 Baht. For more information call: Kiatjaroenchai 1 at tel. 0 7649 6475, 08 1677 5971, Kiatjaroenchai 2 at tel. 0 7649 6342, 08 1676 2906, Raan Pol at tel. 0 7649 6381, 08 6691 4802. Or contact the following businesses: Sayan Tour at tel. 0 7643 0348 3) Ao Phang Nga National Park Pier provides boats of many sizes. Boat for 2 - 6 persons 1,000 Baht. Boat for 7 - 12 persons 1,500 Baht. Boat for 35 - 45 persons 4,500 Baht The Cruise takes about 3 - 4 hours. For more information call 0 7641 1136, 0 7641 2188. Note: Boat rental rates are changeable.
Accommodation: The Park provides 8 bungalows for visitors. For 4 persons 700 Baht For 8 persons 1,000 Baht. For 10 - 12 persons 1,200 Baht. For 15 Persons 1,500 Baht In case visitors bring their own tents, a fee of 20 Baht each will be charged for showering. For further details, please contact the Ao Phang Nga National Park, 80 Mu 1 Tambon Ko Panyi, Amphoe Mueang Phang Nga, Phang Nga 82000, Tel. 0 7641 1136, 0 7641 2188, or National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department Tel. 0 2562 0760, or visit www.dnp.go.th. The Phang-Nga Bay Resort near the Tha Dan pier offers comfortable accommodation.
KHAO LUK (75 kilometers north of Phuket) was devasted by the tsunami. Most of the European who died in the tragedy were on Khao Luk and nearly half of all the people that died in Thailand in the disatser died there. Khao Luk is known for being quieter and oriented more for families than Phuket. The number hotel rooms increased by a rate of 50 percent a year starting in 2001 and reached 6,000 in 2004. Khao Lak has a wide sandy beach studded with rocks of different sizes. The atmosphere is relaxing and suitable for swimming. It is a nice place to admire the setting sun. It is also a location of many hotels and resorts with designs of accommodation and landscapes that blend harmoniously with the seaside ambience: serene and shady with pine trees and coconut groves on the beach. Its intact nature is gaining popularity among Thai as well as foreign visitors. Opposite the entrance to the Park is situated Chaopho Khao Lak Shrine, which is much revered by villagers. Hat Khao Lak. Contact: Phetkasem Road, Tambon Bang Muang, Amphoe Takuapa, Phang Nga, Tel. 0 7562 2163. See Separate Articles on the 2004 Tsunami factsanddetails.com
Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park (80 kilometers north of Phuket) was established in 1991 and covers a total area of 78,125 rai. Bordering the Andaman Sea, it features seaside cliffs, beaches, estuaries and undulating 1000-meter-high mountains including Khao Lak, Khao Saeng Thong, Khao Mai Kaeo, and Khao Plai Bang. Wildlife seen here includes Malayan tapir, tiger, Sumatran serow, monkey, langur, deer, barking deer, great argus pheasant, hornbill, woodpecker, bulbul, and hill myna. There are two main trails: five -kilometer-long and seven -kilometers-long Namtok Ton Chong Fa Nature Trails, taking about 2 and 5 hours, respectively. There are nature interpretation signs along the steep routes. A guide is needed.
The mountains are covered with evergreen forests where several species of flora can be found such as Yang – Dipterocarpus alatus, Phayom – Shorea roxburghii, Malacca teak, Bunnak – Mesua ferria, Takhian Thong – Hopea odorata, Krabak – Anisoptera costata, etc. The highest mountaintop is about 1,077 meters above sea level and is the watershed of the province’s major rivers including the Phang-nga and Takua Pa. Accommodation and tents are available. For further details, please contact the Khao Lak – Lam Ru National Park, Mu 7 Tambon Khuekkhak, Amphoe Takua Pa, Phang-nga 82110, Tel. 0 7648 5414, 0 7648 5243 or National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok Office: Tel. 0 2562 0760 or visit www.dnp.go.th.
Text Sources: Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.
Last updated May 2014