Ultimate Things to Do in Southern Thailand

Jennifer Arnow

Krabi and Trang offer an authentic and laid back Thai experience without the hoards of tourists. These Southwestern Thailand hotspots may be less traveled than better-known (and crowded!) Phuket, but that's all the more reason to make this your next vacation destination.—Jennifer Arnow

Jennifer Arnow

Thailand’s Largest Swimming Pool

Sure the beaches in Thailand are some of the best in the world. But sometimes you just want to relax poolside—Sofitel Krabi's got you covered. Located about 30 minutes from Krabi town, the resort's lagoon-style pool is the largest in Thailand at over 75,000 square feet. The pool also has a section just for kids, a swim-up bar, and direct access via a private entrance for select ground floor suites, which allows guests to swim to the main pool from their terrace.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Tup Island

Sure, Tup Island looks like a lot of the islands you'll find in Southern Thailand, with pristine white sand and surrounded by crystal turquoise water perfect for the day's beach activities. But at low tide, the island reveals a sand bar that connects it to a neighboring island, which you can easily walk across while experiencing the ocean lapping at your feet in two different directions. Accessible by boat from Ao Nang in the Krabi province, Tup Island is not to be missed.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Railay Beach

Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, Railay beach has something for everyone. Located on a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang, the beach is only accessible by boat due to the steep karst rock surrounding it. Longtail boats can bring you right up to the beach, but most arrive through the east side, which allows visitors to experience a stroll through a magnificent and cavernous limestone walkway. Once you arrive, you may need to pick your chin off the floor after taking in a glimpse of the jaw-dropping scenery. There’s also an area for rock climbing if you lose interest in swimming in the pristine ocean. Stop by one of the nearby hotel restaurants to take in the views and a satisfying lunch.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Dim Sum

Trang's cuisine is unique compared with the rest of Thailand, thanks to the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 18th century. Today, this influence is most obvious in Trang's abundance of dim sum restaurants. For the uninitiated, dim sum is usually a breakfast or brunch-time meal consisting of small, bite-sized portioned dishes that are steamed, sautéed, or fried. At Pong O Cha restaurant, hungry diners browse display cases filled with samples of all the delectable dishes on the menu like roasted pork, steamed buns, and shumai. Then they mark down their orders on menu slips that are passed to a cashier. The orders are passed onto waitresses who deliver the food.   

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Emerald Cave

Located on the west side of Koh Mook is the extraordinary Emerald Cave. Accessible only during a calm low tide, visitors swim through a dark craggy tunnel to get to the cave's hidden gem: a secret beach surrounded by lush cliffs and an emerald lagoon.

Insider Tip: Time your visit carefully, as high tide or bad weather will have you stuck waiting on the lagoon side or unable to visit completely.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Trang Night Market

Culinary delights in Trang don't end with dim sum. If you're adventurous (and even if you're not), a trip to the Weekend Night Market is worth your time. Held right in front of the town's train station, this market's purveyors are more than happy to oblige your indulgences. From fresh fruits to crispy fried taro cakes and brightly colored jelly candies shaped like rubber duckies, the market has something for everyone. There's even a stall hawking fresh sushi. Some sellers speak English if you have questions about what's on the menu, and many of the stalls have illustrated signs that communicate the main ingredient. But for the most part, this market is best experienced with an empty stomach and an open mind.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Koh Kradan

One of the more idyllic islands off the coast of Trang is Koh Kradan. This small island is an ideal destination for a day trip due to its tiny size (only a little less than two miles long) and serene setting. It's the perfect location for swimming or relaxing on the white soft sand. Because the island is off-the-beaten-path, you won't run into many other tourists while visiting, which will allow you to pretend this tropical paradise is all yours.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Anantara Si Kao Spa

For a bit of respite from all the sun and outdoor activities, pamper yourself at Anantara Si Kao resort's rejuvenating spa. The tranquil spa has a wide-ranging menu offering beauty treatments and aromatherapies, but the main reason to visit are the massages.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Snorkeling

With water so clear, bright, and inviting, snorkeling in Southern Thailand is a no-brainer. Many hotels will offer excursions to some of the best snorkeling spots just off the nearby islands, such as Koh Kradan and Koh Gai (translated into English it means Chicken Island, named after the unique rock formation that looks like a chicken's head). Your ability to see the colorful and friendly schools of fish that inhabit the oceans here will be dependent on the weather conditions, but a jump into the ocean with snorkeling gear will at least allow you to take in the gorgeous aquatic surroundings as they were meant to be seen.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

Jennifer Arnow

Dining on Koh Mook

Dashing around islands and partaking in ocean activities will work up an appetite. When hunger strikes while you're on a day excursion, head to the Sivalai Beach Resort restaurant on Koh Mook. The food here is just as incredible as the dining room ocean views. Koh Mook is also home to the Emerald Cave, on the other side of the island. You can plan your visit to the cave just before or after this amazing lunch feast.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Thailand Guide

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