Loi Krathong Festival

Loi Krathong is one of the most high-spirited festivals that are celebrated nationally in Thailand. People refer to this famous floating lantern festival or float a basket festival as the ‘festival of lights’. Much as it is not an official public holiday in Thailand it is a Buddhist festival that is highly looked forward to and celebrated in Thailand. 

To show you how valued this exuberant festival is, it is also celebrated by few neighbouring places outside Thailand. The only difference is that it goes under different names there. In Sri Lanka, they call it Il Full Moon Poya, in parts of Myanmar, it goes by Tazaungdaing festival while the Cambodians call it Bon Om Touk.

How is the date of the festival of lights determined?

The date of this festival is not fixed. It changes every year. Like most other Buddhist holidays, what usually determines the date is that the festival occurs on the night of the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. Normally as per the Gregorian calendar this infamous festival falls on the month of November every year (or October and November as per the Western calendar). It’s only the dates that keep changing. So typically, the date is announced a month before the festival.

The Thai people will be celebrating Loi Krathong 2021 on the night of Friday, November 19th.

What does the name as well as the festival mean? 

Remember earlier when we mentioned that it’s a floating lantern or float a basket festival? Well, ‘Loi’ means ‘float’ whereas ‘Krathong’ refers to a small basket which is usually adorned with flowers, candles, banana leaves and incense sticks. Hence the ‘float a basket’ festival.

So, the festival is to get rid of misfortunes by floating them away in the baskets. It’s meant to cleanse people’s minds, lighten their souls and give them a fresh start. 

On the evening of the festival, the locals of Thailand meet together to release the Krathongs in to rivers, lakes, and canals as the seek for purification and forgiveness from the Goddess of Water.

The origin of the festival

The festival originated in the oldest Sukhothai Kingdom which goes 800 years back and is related to Lord Buddha and water.

The Loi Krathong Festival originated in the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom which dates back 800 years. It is a festival that is closely associated with water and Lord Buddha. Because it was believed that the people of the Sukhothai Kingdom and the Thai locals today are closely connected to water and rely heavily on agriculture, they had to pay tribute to the river goddess Pra Mae Khongkha and Buddha and show gratitude for the water resources that they had in plenty as well as ask for forgiveness for the water pollution they have caused.

So just like 800 years ago, people are also looking forward to wash away sins of the past year and look forward to a clean state and good fortune the following year. Its all about letting go of past anger and hatred of any form.

Place the festival is celebrated

Much as the Loi Krathong 2021 will celebrated all over Thailand, there are specific places where the festivities happen on a massive scale. If you want to have the full experience here are the places to consider…

  • Sukhothai is considered to be the birth place of the festival. As opposed to other places which celebrate the festival 3 days, here it continues for about five days. Here you will experience floating lights, parades and lively performances, beauty contests as well as almsgiving practice to Buddhist monks.
  • Chiang Mai is one of the best places to fully experience the festival. You have the advantage of enjoying the picturesque views of the sky lanterns, exhibitions, fireworks, colourful parades, and traditional dance performances.
  • What makes Bangkok the other place to consider experiencing the festival is number of ponds and waterways there are to launch the Krathongs. The most popular places to launch the lighted baskets are Asiatique riverside, Wat Saket, Lumpini Park, Chao Phraya River and Benjasiri Park. Get there and enjoy the floating processions and fireworks.
  • Phuket has lots of major beaches so if you don’t mind the large crowds, consider participating Loi Krathong 2021 celebrations here in places like Patong Beach, Nai Harn Lake, Suan Luang Park and Saphan Hin Park.

How long does the festival last?

Usually, it lasts 3 days in most places in Thailand. The place that the celebrations last for 5 days like I mentioned above is at Sukhothai. Preparations as well as decorating for the festival are usually organized about a week before the festival.

Planning for the 2021 festivals?

As per Thai government travel by foreign tourists will begin on October 1st, 2021. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19), only those who have been vaccinated and hold the inoculation certificate will be exempted from quarantine. There may also be some changes to the details of the event. So, contact your travel agency before making any travel plans.

Things to do in Wat Cherngtalay

Wat Cherngtalay

Wat Cherngtalay is the new favourite weekend destination is Phuket.  So, if you are looking for something fresh besides the usual famous places such as Patong, Phromthep Cape or Old town Phuket, then this place is going to be a breath of fresh air that’s for sure. 

Much as the places just mentioned are considered the top-rated tourist destinations in Phuket, the place where most tourists dream of visiting, there are times when one just craves for a new experience because these popular spots can be a bit overwhelming given the massive crowds that you will encounter there.

So, if you are looking for an equally, less overwhelming alternative, then try out Wat Choeng Thale temple. This is a pretty exciting neighbourhood on Phuket’s west coast that is both charming and packed with character. And what makes it the perfect weekend gate away is its seaside location.

The Wat Cherngtalay Temple

This Buddhist temple sits on large grounds with enough buildings there and is located near Laguna Beach on Phuket Island. It is a serene beach so whenever you need some peaceful time, then you should go there – the perfect place to spend those 48 hours of your weekend at the Andaman Sea. So, head on to Wat Cherngtalay if you are looking to rejuvenate and reset your mind from the hustle and bustle of Phuket’s hyper streets and life in general. 

There main attraction here is the Buddhist monument which houses a bone relic of Buddha which is originally from Sri Lanka. The architectural design and artwork on both the outer and inner walls of the temple are to die for. You will find get to see painted murals of intricate scenes of daily Thai life plus interactions of the Buddhist disciples and Buddha. These disciples include the monks and everyday people. The light posts have been crafted with the lights in Buddhist figures hands. Most Thai locals usually come to Wat Choeng Thale temple to make offerings and receive blessings by the monks. There is also an area where one can burn incense sticks.

So, what is interesting at the temple? Is there anything in particular to do here that draws visitors to the temple? Well, to be honest, not really. Well, here is how to spend your time in this new favourite weekend destination.

Having mentioned the painted murals above, normally people just come to the temple to walk around, enjoy the interesting and intricate artwork and take photos. It’s also a very serene place for prayer and meditation. That said though, be prepared for some distractions and sounds and the few stray dogs that have made the temple their home and territory. 

Other things to do…

The good thing about this place is the warm waters and smooth sand of the Surin beach. So, if you get tired of the temple, you can always go and take a swim here. There are other water-based activities that you can enjoy here too. Plus, while at Surin beach, you will always find a restaurant along the beach for drinks and lunch.

There are Laguna hotels and resorts near Wat Choeng Thale temple as well as the Canal village. You can take a ferry trip and enjoy the views of the hotels there. And if you are planning stay the night, you will not run out of places to wine and done. The spots to hang around in the evening are the Bampot Kitchen & Bar, Catch Beach Club or the Palm Seaside Restaurant & Lounge  

To get to Wat Cherngtalay, if you are coming from the Heroines Monument, there is a secluded sign post for Surin Beach. Take that road and stay on it for not more than 15 minutes. The temple will be on your right-hand side. There is a parking inside the temple’s grounds just before Cherng Talay Village grounds.

Let the reviews do the talking

With google reviews of like 4.3 out of 5, if you are into enjoying historical places, walking around this Buddhist temples is worth giving it a shot.

Best Islands in the Gulf of Thailand

The Gulf of Thailand Islands has some of the dreamiest and most islands. One thing is that there are hundreds of them. Seeing as they are that many, you might find yourself in wrong one if you are not careful. 

The thing is one man’s meat is another man’s poison. So, if you are a party animal and you find yourself in a quiet and tranquil island, then you with definitely be bored. On the other hand, if you are trying to get away from the mess and the noises of the towns or crowded islands, you definitely don’t want to end up in an island that is a party hub.

The Sensational Gulf of Thailand Islands

One thing we know for sure is that Thailand doesn’t lack gorgeous islands. Since there are many islands in Thailand, how do you choose the best islands in Gulf of Thailand for your next vacation… an island that will suit your needs? Well, here are some of the stunning islands that you can comfortably and confidently add to your bucket list for your next Thailand holiday…

Koh Samui

a birsdeye view of the koh samui islands

If there is an island that has stepped up and matured, its Koh Samui. Before, it used to famous with ravers and backpackers because it was a party hub, hosting full-moon parties and had a lot of cheap huts for accommodation. These days, Koh Samui boasts itself of having some of the best luxury beach resorts and with first-class spas the world over. Just like most of the islands of Thailand, this island also boasts of its crystal-clear water, fresh green forests, ever increasing marine life and its beautiful coral reefs. Besides all that luxury and beauty, this island makes it to this list of Gulf of Thailand Islands to visit because it is second largest island well versed with lots of activities to partake in.

Koh Tao

an aerial view of the fabulous koh tao islands

First off, the beaches on Koh Tao Island are breath-taking and are perfect for swimming and lounging under the sun. That said though, one thing that gives this island its true beauty and worth the visit is what surrounds the waters. If you are not here for swimming or sandbathing, there is plenty to indulge in. 

Also known as the “Turtle Island”, this is the perfect place for explorers who want to explore what is under its crystalline waters. There are plenty of colourful marine life making this island perfect and popular with divers and snorkelers alike. The marine life you will find here include sea turtles, whale sharks, scorpionfish, clownfish, eels, coral, barracuda and grouper. With its warm-shallow waters even first-timers can enjoy the colourful marine life

This is also a place where you can just come and just pose. It’s a place you can spend a whole weekend at. So, if are the one that is looking for a party getaway, then this is the best islands in Gulf of Thailand for you. The nightlife is perfect and hosts full-moon parties. This place is very charming and when you get here, it’s the kind of island that you might not want to leave sooner. 

Koh Phangan

the idylic koh phangan island as seen at sunset from the nearby viewpoint

Now this one is fully perfect for party animals. So, if your perfect vacation involves beach parties that run from Friday through to Sunday, Koh Phangan is the Gulf Island that you need to be heading to for your next Thai vacation. It is famous for its vibrant full moon parties. It is the island that is popular with dreadlocked visitors to Thailand and hardcore party animals. Every night of the week has got some beach party action and enough cocktail bars to cater for the island drinkers. Of all the Gulf of Thailand Islands, this one is for sure Thai’s main party island. It can even host up to 20,000 wild visitors during the peak seasons, dancing away under the starry bright full mooned sky.

Now much as it’s an infamous for its full moon parties does men ‘mean that it doesn’t have natural sites to see. It does have beautiful natural spots which most people who go there solely to party miss out on. If you want a break from the beach party hotspots and cocktail bars you will find unadulterated beaches, waterfalls, green forests and some picturesque coastal rocks to fix your eyes on. So even if you are here to party, don’t miss out on the abundance beauty that Koh Phangan is. With waterfalls and secluded jungle trails, even those seeking some solitude will enjoy their peace. Now you know. 

Koh Samet

koh samet as seen from the nearby viewpoint with the small island formation in the background

IF you are looking for a place to escape away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok town Koh Samet is one of the best islands in Gulf of Thailand to consider and its normally busy on weekends and long holidays. It has a stretch of turquoise blue sea that looks endless and is packed with curved in bays with smooth white sand and coral reefs that are in perfect condition which attracts a wide variety of aquatic life.

The waters here are perfectly clear for snorkelling and diving with lovely beaches for people who just want to swim, soak up the sun or windsurf. The nightlife is also promising with plenty of bars and restaurant. To liven up the nights are the evening fire shows. What we are saying about this island is that there is something for everyone. 

Koh Chang 

koh chang seen from the mountains nearby at sunset

Koh Chang is the third largest island in Thailand which located near the Cambodian border. Compared to the other islands that I have mentioned above, it is a more polite and modest island. This is one of the Gulf of Thailand Islands that has both beautiful beaches and rugged mountains at the centre of the island. Much as it’s also covered with thick jungles of rain forests, it has charming moonlit waterfalls that are great for postcard-worthy selfies. Let me not forget the long white sandy beaches. In case you plan to spend the night, they have a wide variety of accommodation and entertainment options to choose from. With all this in one place, it makes this a very versatile island.

So, whether you are going for the beach life, a bohemian beach bar experience, more local vibe or some romantic experience, you will find it all lumped up here.

Now that you are all caught up, choose the gulf island that will give you the experience you are looking for. 

The Best Phuket Daily Tours

Top 10 Phuket Daily Tours

What are the best daily tours of Phuket? The good thing about Phuket is that there is a lot of things and places to explore. Most of these places are easily accessible. Some thought might require one to engage the services of boats or bus rides. So, for such trips, some planning needs to be done before doing the tours.

Phuket is located amid the world’s most stunning scenery. There are lavish limestone peaks that pop from the bright green Andaman Sea. They also appear in the dense jungles and on land which make Phuket one of the perfect places in Asia that has very great options for day tours.

The famous day tours ones are multi-island boat tours. During these tours you can enjoy the rides in the clear waters in a speedboat or traditional longtail as you feast your eyes on the archipelagos.

Some of the best rated Phuket day trip tours are in Phang Nga Bay which at times also incorporate Phi Phi and Similan Islands which are nearby. At Phang Nga Bay lies a distinguished pinnacle which gained its fame through a James Bond film. The Similan Islands are perfect for diving. All these islands attract lots of tourists.

Besides visiting the beaches and island hoping, Phuket daily tours sometimes include visits to Big Buddha, Chalong Temples and the old streets of Phuket Town. If you are one that loves exploring nature, there are some tours that offer eco adventures to places like Khao Sok National Park where one can see elephants, canoe in the SoK River, take nature walks through the jungle and see monkeys, gibbons, tigers and bears.

Popular Daily Tours of Phuket 

Let’s check out some of the best day trip tours that you need to consider when you visit the Island. 

Phang Nga Bay

When in Phuket, a tour to Phang Nga Bay is a must do. The place is fantastic. The tour can ger pretty busy here and the place is big. There are lots of limestone formations jutting above the waters. The more common island here is the one commonly known as James Bond Island which got its name after a huge pinnacle was featured in the 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Most boat tours make a stopover for lunch at the Muslim fishing village of Koh Panyee. There is swimming at Naka Island and kayaking. Leave early if you plan to enjoy any of these Phuket Daily Tours peacefully.

Phi Phi Islands

There are six beautiful islands here with dramatic limestone karst formations that jut above the emerald waters. Some of the popular spots here on a phi phi island boat tour are Maya Bay which was made popular when the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Beach’ was filmed there. Koh Phi Phi Don is the other one, packed with resorts. Snorkeling is popular Laem Thong and you can see macaques of Monkey Beach.

Similan Islands

These small islands have beautiful archipelago in the Andaman Sea making the very stunning and this is one of the daily tours of Phuket where you don’t need a professional photographer to take stunning photos. Much as most people prefer day trip tours, a 2-day trip is more ideal as it’s a bit far from Phuket town. That way you can have the morning to enjoy the beaches. At the Similan Islands you can also climb the giant boulders and do some snorkeling. 

Khao Sok National Park

Located 150 km from Phuket, the park is parked with lush greens vegetation, waterfalls, dark blue lakes and waterfalls popping in the planet’s old rainforest. Nature lovers will definitely have a blast here as they enjoy the Sok River, lakes, elephants, kayaking, canoeing and exploring the caves full of bats and many other and many other animals and bird species. 

Coral Island

The locals call it Koh Hae, and its located 6km southeast of Phuket. The place is perfect for snorkelers and beach enthusiasts. You will the Long Beach and Banana Beach with a long stretch of soft, white sand. The people who come for Phuket daily tours to the Coral Island generally feed fish and kayak too. 

Racha Islands

These two islands, Racha Yai and Racha Noi lure big crowds. Racha Yai is the most popular and has a horseshoe-shaped bay and luxury villa-style resort called The Racha. There is a bay, Ao Siam that’s quieter with people snorkelling, swimming and basking. Much as Racha Noi has no tourist infrastructure, it’s perfect for diving.

Khao Lak

With silky golden-sand beaches Khao Lak was affected by the 2004 tsunami. It has been refurbished now and has many upscale resorts and is perfect for families. One of top things to do on such daily tours of Phuket is basking on the beaches lined with lined with coconut palms and rustic cafés. There is a beautiful backdrop of green mountains. It also has 3 national parks to explore as well as bamboo rafting trips.

Mu Ko Similan National Park

This Park hosts eleven uninhabited islands. Its perfect for experienced divers and those who want to get away from the crowded islands. The scenery is stunning so when taking a Similan Islands tour, you can pop in there. It has beautiful turquoise water, smooth granite boulders on the shows and has hiking trails. In the sea are sharks and other fish. Go when the waters are calmer as the winds can get choppy. 

Koh Yao Yai

This is one of the Phuket daily tours that you take a longtail boat. Its oozes a traditional Thai ambience and has quiet, secluded white-sand beaches, Loh Paret and Laem Had which are great for swimming. What gives it the local feel are the rubber plantations, rice fields and coconut trees with the most popular modes of transport being motorbikes and bikes.

Koh Yao Noi

This is a sister island to Koh Yao Yai but it’s slightly more developed. An hour away from Phuket by long tail boat, you get to enjoy the view of Phang Nga Bay. Locals live a traditional life farming and fishing. Visitors come to get away from crowds, learn the local culture and relax on the beaches.

Phuket City Tour

Lately, the city has become fascinating with several historical style streets, ancient Sino-Portuguese mansions – both refurbished and some run down. You can visit local markets and Thai temples. The picturesque streets have shops and small cafes. Its a great exploration experience when the weather isn’t great for the each and you can walk from landmark to landmark as its small.

 

Tachai Island – a Divers Dream

Tachai Island – A divers dream

Koh Tachai is an island in the famous Similan national park in south-west Thailand. The park is popular with tourists and divers – who will still have access to a few dive sites in the area. The place is amazingly full of rocks covered in beautiful corals. Currents are a bit strong and is highly recommended if you are a diver. There are lots of beautiful photography areas.

The shallow waters fringing Tachai have little interest to the many Similan liveaboards that visit the island. Off the south of the island is one of the best dive sites and the dive boats tend to dock there. This means quiet, secluded locations to conduct snorkel activities. The Tachai island is also an important aggregation site for migrating Manta rays which are sometimes spotted off the northern point of the island. If you know where to go, there is a chance to detect other larger marine creatures. In the quieter areas you will sometimes spot reef sharks. A scary thought, but these sharks are afraid of people and pose absolutely no danger.

A Thai Rangers’ camp with basic facilities like toilets and a restaurant allows tourists to enjoy some least amount of comfort. Most of the visitors to Koh Tachai stay on and off the beach to sunbath, swim and snorkel, while the most adventurous try to reach the viewpoint on the west coast of the island that can be reached via a steep path located toward the northern end of the beach.

There are two amazing dive sites at Tachai island, the plateau to the south and the eastern reef. Off the eastern coast, the sheltered shallow waters make for good night dives. Most liveaboards will tether here for the night.

Tachai plateau

It is about 1km southeast of the island. It is named so because it is ringed by a ridge-like coral plateau crowned with hard corals, scattered boulders, sloping from 12 – 35 m to the sandy bottom.  Some of the boulders to the west have formed swim throughs and to the east many smaller rocks covered in sea whips and hard corals. It is best to pay close attention to a dive master’s guide as Koh Tachai island plateau can be challenging at times although the swim-throughs provide shelter from the strong currents. This site is for the experienced diver. Towards the end of the dive, you may see coral-eating Hawksbill turtles, groups of batfish or even the banded sea snake.

Tachai pinnacle 

This is usually done as a drift dive. The strong currents enable the barracudas, sharks etc. to hunt easily for smaller prey. Whether there are current or slack tides, this dive site can be a magical place to find large and small marine life and is often listed as a favorite among the dive professionals. Early morning dives can waken you up from your slumber quite quickly as it can sometimes be a feeding frenzy and you may not know where to look as there are so many fish. Visibility varies on the month and the amount of plankton in the water, between 10-30m. Small frogfish and nudibranch are known to grace these waters.

How to get to the island

The easiest way to get to Tachai island is on a Thailand liveaboard trip to the Similan or Surin Islands, which will depart from either Phuket or Khao Lak. It is worth checking what port you prefer to depart from. Khao Lak is about 100km north of Phuket and can be reached overland. There are international flights into Phuket and / or domestic flights from Bangkok to Phuket. Reachable from Khao Lak in one hour you may find other day boats in the area.

Is Maya Bay open in 2021?

Is Maya Bay open? Maya Bay, which is the most recognizable landmark within the Phi Phi Islands, is one of the most popular and gorgeous beaches in the world. It acquired its fame after the movie by Danny Boyle, “The Beach”, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed there in the year 2000. After the movie was launched, the beach could bring over 5000 tourists every day. 

October 2021 Update

It has been announced that Maya Bay is opening from January 2022! The exciting news was announced by Thai authorities recently, and means tourists can yet again return to this idyllic location. To protect the highly sought destination from further damage (and hence forced closures), the number of visitors to the bay will be limited. According to CNN there will be only 8 speedboats able to dock at any one time. Visits will be capped to one hour, and at any one time there will be a maximum of 300 people allowed. Opening hours of Maya Bay will be between 10am and 4pm.

Why did Maya Bay close?

The movie “The Beach” elevated the status and popularity of Maya Bay as well as the Thai tourism industry as a whole, increasing Maya Bay tours. That said though, such popularity also came with its disadvantages. With lots of tourists visiting the bay for like 19 years, the beach eventually became damaged as it could not sustain the massive tourism.

It was unfortunate when Maya Bay closed temporarily because that severe damage to the bay’s environment. A lot of the coral as well as plants died because of that drastic rise in visitors. So, the Thai authorities were forced to close it to allow for the recovery of the ecology. 

Delays in reopening 

The initial plan was that the bay be closed from 2018 to October 2018. Those few months wouldn’t have been enough for complete rejuvenation of the bay and the park. The marine required more time to recover from the pollution and littering that had been done for years by tourists and boats. The coral on the other hand grows about a centimetre in a year so for the bay to become fully restored, it will take a number of years. Luckily that temporary closure has brought about some positive results. People have started sighting blacktip reef sharks swimming at the bay. 

So can you visit Maya Bay in 2021? 

Is Maya Bay open to the public in 2021 as it had been expected? First off, one of the things that Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat advised the department of National parks in Thailand is that once the bay reopens, it would be prudent to limit the number of visitors and probably ban boats from anchoring at the bay waters.

The proposition is that the visitors access the bay from Loh Samah Bay and trek through Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. There are also plans underway to construct a new Pier on Phi Phi Lee to be the drop off and pick up spot for visitors.

One of things that may have really helped when Maya Bay closed was the COVID-19 travel restrictions to as tourism dropped. As it seems, the bay is still closed. Unfortunately, seeing as the locals heavily rely on the tourism industry, the closure has really put a strain on their livelihoods. Wattana Rerngsamut, head of the local tourism association is proposing a public hearing so that the local people can resume their normal way of earning their living through Maya Bay tours.

The thing is, Maya Bay used to generate about 400 million Baht a year. Much as tourism is a large part of Thailand’s economy as well as for the locals, the ecosystem usually suffers in the process. So, this strain on the ecosystem didn’t really come as a surprise. Maya Bay isn’t the first beach to be closed in the region and it probably won’t be the last either because of excessive tourism.

The thing is, tourism and nature have to compliment one another. So, Thailand authorities are doing their best to strike a balance between preserving nature and tourism. That is why May Bay closed. But the thing is, locals don’t really understand how to conserve the environment and they are not very happy about the closure of the beach.

Top officials are contemplating reopening this famous beach in the country because they have realized that the reopening will give the country’s tourism industry the boost that it requires. The proposal is to limit the number of visitors to say 350 a day. Before the final go-ahead of the reopening is given, the government is consulting environmental experts.

Cause for Optimism 

Is Maya Bay open or opening anytime soon? The thing is, since its closure Maya Bay has recovered tremendously. Conservationists’ efforts have really paid off. The coral nurseries that they planted really thrived in the undisturbed waters during the closure. The fish population has also increased by like 200% in comparison to 2018 and seabirds like egrets and herons have come back to the bay. Much as the beach still remains closed to visitors and boats forbidden from entering the protected turquoise waters of the bay, it’s the hope of both the locals and the Thai authorities that they will open soon and Maya Bay tours resume. 

Golf in Phuket

Golfing in Phuket

If you are planning to golf in Phuket, then you need to know which the best golf courses are because they have very beautiful golf courses. The main issue is which one to golf at. You will definitely be spoilt for choice. 

One thing that makes the golf courses on the island great is that they are designed in a way that gives one a great golfing experience as you enjoy the tropical climate of the island and unique scenery. 

The thing that makes Phuket the best destination for golfing when on holiday is that they have world-class golf courses. Believe me when I say, Phuket is a golfers’ paradise. The golf courses are well manicured. To add more effect to their beauty are the waters and the tropical trees. Most of the golf courses are near hotels so if it’s a family holiday, you don’t have to worry. They can bask on the beach or by the swimming pools. Your only worry should be where to play golf in Phuket?

Luxurious and top-notch customer service come with the golf packages. The standards are set very high. The green grass and vegetation are super green and the holes offer the well needed challenge for experienced players. Some of the ones that are on our list of the best golf courses have hosted world championships and international competitions. So, if you are a golfer on holiday, then Phuket will offer you a memorable golfing experience. 

Check out our best 7 golf courses and choose one that will suit you best.

Red Mountain Golf Club

If you are wondering about where to play golf in Phuket and are looking for the best of the best, the Red Mountain Golf Club has been rated by the people who have played here as Phuket’s number 1 golf course when asked to pick which one was the best course they have played in. Why? The scenery is just breath-taking with the most unique layouts in Thailand. One thing you have to know is that it is also the be the most expensive. But if you can afford it, the golfing experience you will get here is worth every penny and the view alone is breath-taking. The name came from the fact that the course meanders between hills, lakes and ponds.

Blue Canyon Country Club – Canyon Course

This one is a famous championship golf course that hosted the prestigious Johnnie Walker Classic twice where the infamous golfer Tiger Woods won. It is the one of the best golf courses and it has the best layout in Phuket. If you are looking for a challenging course then this will be great for you.

Much as it has the best layout, the conditions aren’t always great. So better check it out first before making a booking.

Blue Canyon Country Club – Lakes Course

The Blue Canyon Country Club, Lakes Course is a sister course to the challenging Blue Canyon Country Club – Canyon Course. This one is the easier one and is perfect for players of all levels. So, if say you are new to golfing and are wondering where to play golf in Phuket you should consider this course. That said though it is also has enough challenges for average golfers too. Compared to the Canyon Course, this one is always in good condition. As the name goes, it has plenty of water hazards, canyons, and ponds. You will also have to avoid some rubber trees when playing.

Laguna Golf Phuket

This is the most popular resort golf course. It is located in the middle of Laguna hotel and resort complex near Bangtao beach. Initially it was quite boring and flat but after some remodelled and re-designed it now provides golfers the much-needed challenge for golfers of all levels with enough bumps and hollows.

It’s not a very long course and its main defence are the strategically sited bunkers and water hazards and the newly shaped greens which have plenty of bumps and hollows which makes putting a challenge. The course has superb facilities and friendly staff.

Phuket Country Club

This is one of the oldest best golf courses in Phuket. Compared to the newer ones, it is pretty short but tremendously popular to both locals and visitors alike and very ideal for experienced handicappers. Initially people used to walk but these days they have buggy tracks for buggies. The landscape is varied – flat mid-section, undulating fairways and with holes closer to the jungle.

Mission Hills Golf Club 

This one was designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. It is that is the only golf course that has holes beside the sea.  As picturesque as the course is, this can be a bit of a disadvantage during strong winds. There is a fabulous clubhouse with facilities that will meet your expectation. The maintenance of the course has been a challenge and drainage poor during heavy rains. Its best to check its condition before playing.

Loch Palm Golf Club 

If you are looking for where to play golf in Phuket in the easiest way possible. The course is situated in a valley overlooked by jungle-covered hills. There is a huge lake surrounded by the first few holes. Once you are through with the first holes or can avoid them, things get easier. Most holes aren’t so exhilarating but they are exciting enough for most local golfers.

Phra Nang Cave Beach

Phra Nang Cave Beach

Phra Nang Cave Beach is one of the beaches that is set against a backdrop of beautiful limestone cliffs – perfect background for taking pictures. They also provide some good shade from the sun. For those people who don’t like the crowd this is the perfect beach to hang out in as it is a secluded cave beach.

The beach is located south of Railay Peninsula. There are three other beaches in this peninsula but of the four this one has the cleanest, clearest and calmest waters. The sand is also soft and Phra Nang Beach is perfect for swimming as well as just relaxing as you enjoy the stunning view of Krabi. You can also see the views of Poda, Chicken and Tub Islands from a distance.

What’s great about this cave beach?

Phra Nang Cave Beach bordered by bright green seas on all sides. The beach is a stretch of about 450 meters. The sand is white and very soft for just relaxing as you enjoy the shallow, calm as you soak up the sun.

There is a lot that you can do here. Besides the relaxing and swimming in the shallow waters, travellers as well as locals enjoy other activities such as swimming, snorkelling, and rock climbing. Most people walk to an island called Happy Island which is a great snorkelling spot. There are also the caves to explore.

The locals normally visit Phra Nang Beach mainly because of the Princess Cave (Tham Phra Nang Nok). This is because the cave is apparently home to a Goddess of fertility. There are lots of penis statues. Locals come here to present offerings like flowers and incense.

If you want to experience Thai cuisine, this beach won’t disappoint you because there are many long tail boats anchored at the shores which serve various foods and snacks. And if you want the view of the entire beach, there is off-beat route which leads to amazing viewpoints.

What to watch out for…

When you visit here, expect lots of monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Knowing how cheeky monkeys are, you need to be careful with your things and food as they have a reputation of snatching things from visitors’ hands.

The other thing you need to beware of at Phra Nang Cave Beach is that most of the times, the bay has small jellyfish so swimming or paddling becomes a challenge. Oh! There are no toilets either making it hard to visit for an entire day.

Where to stay…

If you are planning to spend the night, the only accommodation available here is a luxurious 5-star beach resort called the Rayavadee Resort. The hotel is perfect and is located at the perfect spot. It is perfect for a romantic getaway, honeymooners and wedding venue. So, seeing as it’s a 5-star resort, you definitely have to have money to afford a stay here.

The other options available near Phra Nang Beach at the Railay beach.  Much as these hotels have a tropical feel, they still exude the atmosphere of a local village.

How to get there

There are longtail boats from Ao Nang which go directly to the beach. The ride takes between 10 and 15 minutes. If you are coming from West Railay you may have to walk to East Railay and walk along the beach towards Rayavadee Resort up to the beach.

Lampi Waterfall

Lampi Waterfall Khao Lak

Lampi Waterfall Khao Lak is surrounded by a very beautiful mountain side with several waterfalls around it and a breathtaking countryside. Between July and December is the best time to explore the waterfalls since this is the rainy season and the waterfalls will be the biggest.

Sunlight adorns this waterfall that is located 30 minutes south of Khao Lak. It is one of the most popular waterfalls in Thailand. It is located within the Khao Lam Pi – Hat Thai Mueang National Park. It is a 3 level waterfall with the main pool directly accessible from the car park after a couple of minutes’ walk. By the car park you’ll find a café/restaurant as well as a rudimentary souvenir shop.

The water in the Lampi waterfall is refreshingly (or bone chilling) cold. It is certainly colder than the average Thai shower. The waterfall is quite impressive with multiple levels of cascades tumbling out of the jungle. The hills to the east of Lampi Waterfall Khao Lak are about 500m high, almost the same as the highest point in Phuket.

The Lampi Waterfall Khao Lak is great for swimming. The main pool is wide and deep, perfect for swimming around. Nearby you can also go and explore the Thai Mueang beach which has nice restaurants along the beach. The beach drops quickly so beware as the pool will be very deep. While the flowing water looks calm, you may not feel the same peace when you try to swim in the main pool because of its depth. There is also a 1 km nature trail which follows the stream to its peak. Meals, drinks, and souvenirs can be purchased at several small stalls near the waterfall.

Entry to Lampi Waterfall

Entry to the Hat Thai Mueang National Park is about 100 baht per person. There are plenty of awesome tours, day trips and excursions to do at Lampi Waterfall Khao Lak.  Nevertheless, the most beautiful part is located near the parking lot and so this waterfall is also suitable for those, who do not really don’t like hiking. You can visit this waterfall on your own (taxi, scooter) or with a guided waterfall tour from Khao Lak. For hiking lovers, Khao Lampi Nature Trail is a 2.1 kilometer loop trail located near Thai Mueang, Phang Nga, Thailand that features Lampi waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.

Samui or Phuket

Samui vs Phuket

Samui vs Phuket? This must be the question on your mind if this is your first time visiting on of the infamous beach holiday counties in the world; Thailand. I have been back and forth on the internet looking for information about these two holiday destination, it can get a little confusing that’s for sure especially with the loads of information highlighting the best of both worlds. Now between the two islands, which one is really better than the other?

The thing with trying to choose between Phuket or Samui is its not like making choices between two fruits, say orange and banana. The thing with these two islands is that they are both stunning. So, when it comes to trying to make a choice, then you need to go with your preference. Ask yourself, what you want to experience while on your holiday.

So, Samui Island or Phuket Island where should you really go? Well let’s hope that this article will assist you in making that choice.

The overview of both Samui and Phuket

Phuket

If you are looking for a more developed holiday destination as you head on to Thailand, then Phuket is your best bet. You will have more things and activities to engage in as well as more spots to visit. If you are looking for a shopping experience, Phuket is the choice. First off, they have several modern malls and shopping options.

Between Samui vs Phuket, you will experience better dining experiences and there is more history and culture to learn a lot about. Let me not forget to mention the Phuket Old Town which is perfect for exploration, despite the age of the visitor.

You can do a lot of island-hoping in Phuket too. There are marinas where you can go there and charter a yacht that can shuttle you from the most popular islands like Similan Island and Phi Phi Island. You can even get your own private charters since there are 4 marinas here.

Tourists watch the very popular sunset cruises. For those who love the party scene, there will be no much confusion about Phuket or Samui because there are over-water all night parties.

Koh Samui

One thing makes Samui different from Phuket is that there are more beach clubs there and lesser bars. If you are one who loves street food, then Samui is lined with them every corner of the island. That said, it means that there are lesser shopping malls. You will find more restaurants on the beach and lesser dining spots in the main parts of towns.

There are no marinas at Samui. Like I said, depending on what you want to experience, the choice between Samui Island or Phuket Island can be quite easy. Now it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy chartered yacht hare. There are fewer options but there are options alright. You can charter a private yacht and still and move around Samui in style.

Compared to Phuket, Samui has more water-based adventurous activities to partake in with it being popular for having the best diving spots in Thailand. Phuket’s adventurous activities are more land-based.

The islands may differ a bit but if you are still wondering between Samui vs Phuket, one thing I can tell you for sure is that both islands have great places to visit. Seeing as both are surrounded by waters, you will definitely find something to do if you are one that enjoys water sports and other water activities. Hiking and trekking on both islands are options too. As for martial arts fanatics, there are Muay Thai events to keep your self busy with. Both islands offer cooking classes and great Thai cuisine experiences.

So let us analyse these two islands further based on what you can find here and activities…

Beaches

Phuket or Samui – which island has the best beaches?

There are more beaches in Phuket, with more family friendly options to choose from. Basically, there is something for everyone. The beaches have different atmospheres. For instance, Mai Khao Beach is more secluded compared to the party atmosphere of Patong Beach.

On the other hand, at Koh Samui, there are lesser beaches. But much as they are lesser than Phuket, the beaches at Samui are better in quality with softer and whiter sand and clearer, calmer waters. There are more bars and clubs on beaches. So, if you are traveling with kids, Phuket’s beaches will be much better for you.

Accommodation spots

Between Samui Island or Phuket Island, Phuket has by far the largest and hotel industry. There are more than 1200 properties. Do you want 5-star beachfront resorts or do you prefer simple guesthouses. The variety here is amazing and even if you are traveling on a budget, you will something. Seeing as the hotel industry is booming, there is definitely lots of competition which makes accommodation here pretty affordable even during high season.

The accommodation scene in Samui is that it has more beachfront properties, hence more beachfront resorts. Most of the hotels will be found on beaches.

That said, both islands have plenty of private villas.

Cuisine

Comparing Samui vs Phuket in terms of flavours, there has been lots of multicultural influences over the years in Phuket so the cuisine here is more colourful and more flavourful. But if you prefer travelling like a local, Patong or Kamala will offer you the real tastes of Thai cuisine.

Samui on the other hand offers more convenient eating and dining experience. There is a main street of restaurants behind the beach with restaurants offering foods from all over the world. So, when you are there, even if you don’t fancy the Thai options, you should be able to find more palatable and conventional options without having to look for them too far.

Culture

If you are looking for the cultural spots, between Phuket or Samui, Phuket is a better option. As mentioned earlier, there are lots of spots that are rich in history and culture. With places like the Old Town to Big Buddha, you will have a great experience learning the culture of the Thai people by exploring their museums and temples.

Samui on the other has more unique – some you might even call bizarre sites. In Samui has the most unique cultural spots in the whole of Thailand. Places to focus on are Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks that are surprisingly shaped as genitalia. The other place to check out is the mummified monk of Wat Khunaram,

Weather

One thing that you may not have to worry about when deciding which one of these two islands to visit is the weather. Both have warm weather all-year-round. The best ties to visit both islands are the months of April to August.

That said though, Koh Samui gets more monsoon season compared to Phuket. Expect rains between September and November and in Phuket from September to October (not too big a difference though.)

Whichever island you choose, Samui Island or Phuket Island, we hope that this article has assisted you in visiting the best one that will suit your holiday needs. Activity wise, Phuket is better and more family oriented with options for all ages. Samui is more suited for couples with more relaxed taste.

In conclusion, they are both great. The decision relies on you and your taste.

Wat Phra Nang Sang Temple

Wat Phra Nang Sang Temple

Constructed more than 500 years ago, the Wat Phra Nang Sang Temple is the oldest Thai temple in Phuket. Much as it is said that the temple dates back over 500 years, one cannot really say with certainty that this is its real age because there have been some renovations and rebuilding that has been done over the centuries. So, it will be more accurate to say that it has been on the grounds that it’s perched on for more than 500 years.

Most people claim that this temple is quirky.  This quirky temple was constructed when at the time, the main city of Phuket was Cherngtalay in Thalang. The quirky bit comes from the fact that it looks like its forever under construction with unfinished buildings that no one is making an effort to complete.

Stories behind Phra Nang Sang temple

There are various stories that have come up about why the Wat Phra Nang Sang Temple was constructed.  One of them claims that some powerful ruler from southern Thailand built this temple for his wife. The other says that it was built to honour a princess who had been sentenced to be executed. Sadly, she was innocent. She had just been framed. Because of her innocence, she oozed white blood which showed people how pure she was. Because of that myth, the temple also goes by the name, Wat Luad Khao which translates to ‘White Blood Temple’.

Here is more… When the Burmese invaded Phuket in 1785, the people who fought them off were led by two sisters. The people of Phuket gathered at front of the temple to watch the battle. Every year in the month of March, this battle is celebrated at the Phuket Heroines Festival that is held in Thalang.

What you will find at Phra Nang Sang temple

The temple grounds have quite a number of main buildings. Most of the buildings are decorated with lots of elaborate ornaments, surrounded by lots of statues of various origins hence they don’t have a similar theme. However, most of the things you will find here have been influenced by a mixture of Chinese and Thai mythology.

The central building at the Wat Phra Nang Sang Temple has a more traditional style, excessively ornamented with gold. Red is the main colour of the building. It also has a lot of paintings that somehow tell a story of Lord Buddha’s life and major historical events.

As you move further through the complex, you will find a human size stature of a police man next to a lion and a tiger. The policeman statue doesn’t have an arm. So, if you are the type to draw conclusions then you will probably think these concrete figures are telling a story of how a cop’s arm was eaten by the lion or tiger.

On the grounds of the temple are statues of Thao Sri Sunthon and Thao Thep Kassatri. There is a larger statue at the Heroines Monument which is located on the main road between Phuket City and the airport. As you drive from Phuket airport, you can see the front part of the temple from the road.

As you go behind the red and gold building at Wat Phra Nang Sang Temple grounds, you will find another building that looks totally different in terms of its style. The gates of the building are guarded by god warriors armed with automatic weapons. There is also a small reclining Buddha which is way smaller compared to the huge one that can be found at Wat Sri Sunthon, towards the south of Thalang area. There are also two Buddha heads made from tin.

A temple with such diverse attractions is definitely worth a visit.

Best areas to stay in Phuket

Is it your first time in Thailand? Then you definitely want to know what are the best areas to stay in Phuket. Lots of questions must be running through your mind. You are probably wondering which hotel to book or which beach has the best resorts to stay at. So many questions… So many places to choose from.

If Phuket is your next holiday destination, then the place you will choose to stay at will definitely impact on your holiday experience. There are lots of beaches and hotels. Each one of them have their own distinct ambiance. So, if the plan to have a blast in Phuket, then you need to choose one that will suit your needs, preferences and personality. So don’t rush your search for places to stay in Phuket because this can make or break your holiday.

Now it all depends on what you plan to get out of your holiday. Is it a family holiday? Do you want to party all night or you are looking for a good escape away from the crowds? Are you just there to laze around on the beach or you want places where you can easily go snorkeling? The great thing about Phuket is that you will always find a place that is suitable for whatever activities you plan to engage in.

This is why we are bringing you this comprehensive guide so that it can help you choose the best areas to stay in Phuket based on your preferences. We will highlight the main destinations for you. So, lets dive in. Remember when choosing, to select a place that suits the kind of traveler that you are based on the facilities provided, together with the ambiance.

For Family and Couples

North or South Patong

This is one of the busiest and most commercialized places to stay in Phuket. For people who plan to shop, there are lots of places to venture to. Plus, if you get tired of shopping they also have plenty of bars and restaurants.

Much as it is a lively place, it is ideal if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life without sacrificing on the comfort that the city life has to offer.

There is Patong beach which is just a trek away. And if you are looking for places to stay in Phuket that are surrounded with beautiful beaches, North or South Patong is ideal.  You will have accessibility to fantastic beaches such as Kata, Karon, Kamala and the Laem Sing beach.

It gets crowded though because tourists love the place. But one can survive. The hotels we recommend that are affordable are Sea Sun and Sans Resort and Spa, The Bliss Hotel. For the high-end best areas to stay in Patong, try the Nap Patong Hotel or Kalima Resort & Spa.

For Singles and Party People

Central Patong

For the party hoppers, this is the place to be. It’s the busiest spot in Phuket and the centre of all nightlife in Phuket. The Patong beach is quite close too and is near the craziest street, Bangla Road which is also the party hub of the island. During the day, the street is pretty polite and dramatically transforms at night. Cheap liquor, blasting music, neon-lit bars, you’ll get it all here. Plus, if you are looking for some adult entertainment, you will get it here too. So, if partying is your thing, you will have enough clubs to do your party hopping.

The Swiss Palm Beach Hotel and Patong Beach Hotel are our affordable hotel options. For the premium spots, The Millennium Resort and the Holiday Inn Resort are the options we’d go for.

For couples, families and honeymooners

Karon and Kata Beach

Here, there is the beautiful golden sands of Karon or Kata Beach to feast your eyes on. The places you will find here are pretty polished and there is plenty to do on Karon Beach. The resorts, bars and restaurants are plush. Kata is the smaller beach here. What makes it beautiful is that the beach is lined with palm trees. Don’t get us started on the crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches.

So, if you are looking for places to stay in Phuket with a serene ambiance, but not too far from the city, head on to Karon and Kata. The nightlife is a bit laid back, the beach bars are fantastic and you can just laze around with your drink as you enjoy some mellow tunes in the background. You can also do some good shopping here.

If you want value for your money, go to Hotel De Karon or Best Western Phuket Ocean Resort. For the high-end options stay at Karon Sea Sands Resort or Centara Karon Resort.

For History and Culture Lovers

Phuket Old Town

Phuket old town is full of historical European architecture. The streets have Sino-Portuguese buildings, shops and cafes and the buildings are certainly old-fashioned and highly photo-worthy. If you are looking for best areas to stay in Phuket away from the urban setting life, Phuket Old Town is where you should be heading. The place is famous for night markets selling clothes and souvenirs. Musicians and performers entertain shoppers.

For hotels, the affordable ones are the Memory at On On Hotel or Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel Phuket.

For Luxury and Privacy

Bang Tao Beach 

If you are looking for places to stay in Phuket that are on the high end, then Bang Tao is the place for you and it has Bang Tao beach, a beautiful beach that is lesser known. The white sand stretches 6 km and you can lounge on sunbeds and under umbrellas.

The reason you would want to stay here is because the place offers both luxury as well as complete isolation from the busy city. You can get very luxurious high-end villas with private pools which cover a large area of the Bang Tao beach. Here, full room service will be provided.

It’s far from the city so there isn’t really much to do here other than enjoy your hotel stay or lounge at the beach.

The luxurious places that we recommend for your stay are Banyan Tree Phuket and the Dusit Thani Laguna Pool Villa for luxury and elegance.