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Baffled by Thailand beach choices...Phuket? Phi Phi? Railay? All? help!

Baffled by Thailand beach choices...Phuket? Phi Phi? Railay? All? help!

Aug 15th, 2008, 09:46 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 33
Baffled by Thailand beach choices...Phuket? Phi Phi? Railay? All? help!

Help! So confused...I'm trying to plan the beach leg of my honeymoon in Thaland, and the more I read, the less I know what to do. Here's the plan so far: 3 nights Bangkok/3 nights Siem Reap/4-5 nights beach(es)/2 nights BKK.

Places I keep wondering about are Karon/Kata on Phuket, Phi Phi, Railay and Ao Nang. Phuket would be the easiest to get to from Siem Reap, I think. It seems like a progressive trip from Phuket to Phi Phi to a Krabi-area beach could be possible, but is that nuts? Should we split our time between a Phuket beach and a Krabi location, and just do a boat tour to Phi Phi? Do I just choose either a Phuket beach or a Krabi beach and forget the other? Should we rent a car?

We'd like a place near a beautiful swimmable beach, of course, but also with locally owned restaurants and small shops in walking distance, and availability of activities (snorkel trips, etc) without people constantly trying to sell us things.

We're not looking for chain restaurants, all-night beach parties, spring break type action either, which makes me think Patong is not for us. We tend to prefer small/boutique hotels to large resorts, and we definitely aren't all-inclusive type travellers. We just want the right combo of beach and Thai beach town accessibility. Is there another good location I haven't considered? (Oh, the trip is in late November, we are in our early 30s, and we aren't looking for super swanky places).

Sorry so long. Thanks again for those of you who answered my earlier post re: Bangkok hotels.

lingerer is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 11:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 888
hello - you are struggling to make the same decisions as we are in terms of location!

in terms of time, unless you are a type who likes to move around a lot, I would stay put in one place and do day trips. (I like to move around a lot so I would probably move if i had 5 days - splitting time 3-2 in two locations but not if I had 4).

From phuket, you can take day trips to phi phi and to phang nga bay - in both you will see the limestone karsts that are typical of krabi also so then it would matter less you were seeing Krabi. the phi phi day trips include snorkelling but there are small islands off kata where you can snorkel also. you can do cruises in the old junk boats, canoe trips into the hongs - plenty to do from here. kata noi i know is a beautiful beach but can't comment on kata/karon - am sure they are lovely.

I think if you were to spend 5 days in one location, then as phi phi and railay are a trip away from the mainland, you might not have as great a choice of daytrips to as wide a variety of places as you would from phuket/krabi mainland but you certainly do have a good choice of snorkelling/diving/rock climbing in both of those locations. However, in my prior pre-children life, we loved phi phi and railay because there are no cars, you get around by longtail boat - it felt cut off and idyllic and in both you will find lots of local restaurants/bars etc. Railay Bay Resort might satisfy your requirement for smaller resort - check out the privacy cottages if they are within your budget.

We didn't enjoy staying on ao nang before - it isn't a beautiful beach imo - although there are plenty of beautiful beaches nearby so I wouldn't stay there again I don't think - although it does satisfy your requirement for there to be local restaurants etc.

If you are like me and like moving around - I wo
Bella_Bluebell is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 11:02 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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oops - hit the post button too early!
I would go for 3 in phuket and 2 in railay/phi phi. Phuket because you can access lots of places to visit and railay/phi phi for a couple of days to kick back and relax on a lovely beach.
Bella_Bluebell is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 05:08 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
If you don't want night life, late partying, and touts trying to see you all sorts of stuff, then do look at staying on Kata Beach. Avoid Patong IMO!

simpsonc510 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 05:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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having recently been in ao nang i do not find this area to be all that great....the beach is ok and so are the shops/restaurants but generally i did not find it to be a place i would want to spend all that much time....

areas of phuket would be perfect if you could find a hotel that suits you...there are many to choose from....as jamesA points out not many of the phuket hotels are directly on the beach but mostly across the street from the beach...

i would not split my time....
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
Perhaps some days on Phuket followed by some on Phi Phi might be close to what you are lookijng for.
Ao Nang was very different 'many' eays ago but is now 'so built up', I agree with others that access to places can sometimes not be easy from some of the best places, Centara Krabi would seem to suit but it's the access to other areas.

For a honeymoon place on Phuket that is not 'over the top' in price and also manages to mix quiet yet with access when you 'do' want to go out is Centara Villas. This is on a hillside at the north end of Karon, the plus points are firstly very good value, villas and pool villas with sea views without having to pay a fortune. Also very couples orientated, not a family place at all. You wave to walk own to the beach but when you get there you are at the quiet north end of Karon, thai food place with beach loungers, the hike back up is fine so long as you are reasonably active. Low season go from about US$75, ocean view 87, top end pool villa with ocean view 149, but that's June to October low season, but even high season under 200 for a sea view villa is "very" good value for Phuket.
You can feel you are 'away from it all' in a tropical style place but 5 minutes into Karon, about 7 mins into Patong if you do want a heavy night out !

There are places around Phang Nga which is just north from Phuket Airport, very quiet but you are well away from the tourist masses, depends how seriously you would be happy to be well away from that.

If you mixed that with Phi Phi that would give you a nice mix.
There are those remote quiet islands way down south but that means going through Krabi, road journey and boat, they are quiet remote.

I am no expert on Bangkok Airways routes from Siem reap but I 'think' when they show a Siem Reap to Phuket yo go through Bangkok anyway.
JamesA is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 33
Thanks all. James A, are the Centara Villas 5 minutes to Karon via taxi or by foot?

Sounds like splitting our time between Phuket/Phi Phi or Phuket/Railay may a decent idea if we do stay 5 nights. I should clarify that I'm not looking for a totally secluded beach or to be completely away from the crowds...when we have spent enough time on the beach, we'd like to be able to easily wander around town and have some cheap good local food (esp. the hubby...he can get a little restless). Nightlife would be a few beers and some more stuff to eat.

I guess to compare it to Mexico, we avoid Cancun and head to Playa del Carmen and Tulum. So the next question...Phi Phi or Railay?

lingerer is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,277
Phi Phi or Raily......

The best parts of Phi Phi to visit are also the quietest. Typically you will have little entertainment and certainly no shops to wander round. Unless of course you stay in or near the Tonsai village area, which I wouldn't recommend. The north east coast and particularly Laem Tong Bay is the best part to visit. Tonsai Bay is accessible anytime by longtail boat but of course it costs. Around 650baht during our last visit. More, if it's after dark. Whatever you do......don't do a day trip to Phi Phi. You WILL be disappointed. Spend at least a couple of nights there.

Raily also is spectacularly beautiful. If you are a beach person then I would try to fit in both.

Ao Nang is not all that great....but then it's not Railay, which is almost like a different planet. Ao Nang is bland....Railay is awesome!

I would cut back on the 5 nights you have allocated for Bangkok and spend more time at the beaches.....which are NOT just like any beach....so long as you choose carefully.

PP Island Village may suit you.
And look at Raily Bay Resort.

Feel free to E-mail if you wish. We make regular visits to this area and know it fairly well.
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 79
Hi I have visited Thailand countless times. If you have the budget can I suggest you hire a yacht and just cruise around the Andaman sea. We did this once and this is how I found Rayavadee, Krabi on Railay beach, where I later came back for my honeymoon. The water is flat and calm and you are never out of sight of an island or two. We stopped at the islands for most meals but slept on the boat.
Anyway, forget Ao Nang, there are much better places to go. Dont spend too long in BKK but do try to visit Ayatthuya which is a few hours drive out of BKK (day trip).
In Siem Reap try to stay at the FCC. Their packages are really good value. Fab place.
hup234 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Did I miss a post that tells when you are going? The time of year makes a difference as far as swimmable beaches. I've been to Phuket during the summer months (the rainy season) and have seen the red flags flying. They indicate strong undercurrents. I doubt you'd want to swim when the red flags are flying.

During the Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb time period, the beaches on Phuket are fantastic! Weather is super as well.

I would not cut down your time in Bangkok. It is an amazing city with lots to see and do. If you happen to arrange for tailoring, you can get started when you first arrive, and then finish up with final fitting right before going home. Just a thought...

Oh... the hotels/resorts on Kata Beach are right on the beach, and not across a street like they are at Karon. Kata is a nice beach.

simpsonc510 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 06:48 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,433
Agree with Leigh (of course)...Phi Phi Island Village sounds just like what you're looking for. You will never see more beautiful beaches (or better water) than on Phi Phi. Just stay away from the main village (PPIV is on the East Side...the only side to stay on if you go there.)

Krabi would be a nice 2nd. IMHO, avoid Phuket.
filmwill is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 03:45 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 51
lingerer - Just read you post from Aug. '08, and you asked all the questions that I just posted, but you got a lot more responses. I would love to know what you ended up doing. We only have four nights and did'nt know how to split it up. Just stay in Phuket and do side trips to Phi Phi and another island? How did you manage your luggage going from island to island, if that's what you did. Were the boats able to accommodate them.

wassala is offline  

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