1YoT: The Andaman Coast

For our last week in Thailand, we headed south, to some of the most spectacular tropics in the world (and the most spectacular affordable tropics in the world): the Andaman Coast. This coastline, where Thailand meets the Andaman Sea, is one of Thailand’s greatest attractions. Tourists flock here, movies shoot here, and the infrastructure has been built up for everything, making this place one of the most visited but least authentic destinations in the world.

There are several popular resort locations on the Andaman Coast, the most notable of which are Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, and Koh Phi Phi. All are non-authentic party destinations (if you want an authentic beach experience, you have to go Cambodia, for tourism has taken over all of Thailand’s coasts), with Lonely Planet breaking them down as follows:

  • Phuket (the main city/island) – 9/10 ie drink so much you don’t remember the previous night
  • Koh Phi Phi – 10/10 ie drink so much you don’t even want to remember the previous night
  • Krabi – 8/10 ie go out and get drunk
  • Koh Lanta – 7/10 ie go out and drink

Inna and I chose Koh Lanta.

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To get to Koh Lanta, we flew into Phuket, then took a ferry to our island. Here is the view from Phuket.

Our ferry stopped by Koh Phi Phi on our way to Koh Lanta. Pretty much all the college-aged kids got off here.

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And we’ve made it! To our resort on Koh Lanta, right on the coast.

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Of course, lots of places have coasts, but few are as gorgeous as here.

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It took us most of the day to get to our resort, but we did arrive in time for sunset. It was gorgeous.

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By day the water was even more gorgeous. It was also crystal clear, super-clean, incredibly warm, and a joy to swim in.

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First thing we did after arriving in Koh Lanta was book a dive excursion for Inna. But the trips she wanted weren’t available for a couple days, leaving us with our first day free. So we visited Lanta Animal Welfare, a non-profit animal shelter that has done an amazing job controlling the cat and dog population on the island. Through their work (spaying, neutering, and vaccinating animals, and also educating locals) they’ve reduced the stray population by 90%.

Here are some of the strays we met, mostly dogs but also some cats. Most of these animals will be adopted by Europeans, from countries that I guess don’t have their own stray population to adopt from?

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After Inna and I got our fill playing with puppies, we went back to our resort. It was low tide now, revealing a giant tidepool!

Like Coconut Beach, the tidepools here weren’t the best, at least not compared to California. But the pools did have some sealife, and we enjoyed what we saw.

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Even better than the sealife were the views of the coast…

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The next day was Inna’s dive day, which we will cover in another post (coming soon!). While Inna went diving, I went on a snorkel excursion to Koh Rok, the top snorkeling destination on the Andaman coast, which puts it in the running for top snorkeling destination in the entire world.

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Since Inna took our GoPro, I don’t have any snorkeling photos to show. But I did take this picture of the water I snorkeled in. It was so warm and calm and clear, like glass; it was the best snorkeling since the Great Barrier Reef, maybe even better.

As for the sealife I saw, it was mostly reef and really cool fish. There was one unique animal I saw however: a sea snake! And not even in the reef, I saw him out in the open, swimming in the water. Seeing him was incredible but also pretty freaky, so I kept my distance until he swam away.

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In addition to snorkeling, we also had time to explore the island. Look at this secluded beach I found!

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The hike around the island had lot of elevation gain, and provided views like this.

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A view that of course I was going to take a picture in front of…

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Finally, here’s one more picture of Koh Rok. The beautiful trees, crystal clear water, white sand beach… minus all the people, this was the closest to that idealistic perfect version of paradise of anywhere I’ve ever been.

After our scuba diving/snorkeling day, Inna dove again while I relaxed at our resort, sleeping and swimming and writing on this blog. That second day was actually our last full day at Koh Lanta, but before we leave, how about we show what the island looked like at night.

At this point, while we may have Koh Lanta, we are not yet done on the Andaman Coast. This is because we gave ourselves a couple nights on Phuket, but only Phuket island, not the city, for we are not party animals. Here we are at our nearest village, a quaint little (unnamed?) town that reminded us of Tamarindo.

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For our full day on Phuket Island, Inna wanted to go diving for a third time (that is how good the diving was here), this time to a location we thought would be easier to get to from here. Unfortunately, for several reasons, most significant of which was a taxi racket, she wasn’t able to do that. So instead, we simply went to the beach, Naithon Beach to be exact.

Naithon Beach very unique, in that it was warm, clean, calm, and beautiful, and yet you really can’t spend more than five or ten minutes in the water. This is because the water was filled with microscopic jellyfish (a sign said they were less than one millimeter in length), and after a couple minutes with them, the stinging becomes too much.

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So, our Phuket experience didn’t involve diving, nor did it involve much swimming (there’s a reason the party scene isn’t located on this portion of the island), but in addition to the quaint, charming village, there was an additional reason this was a great final stop in Thailand: street food! There wasn’t any street food on Koh Lanta, at least none that we found, but we found some here. And man, was it good.

With this, we sadly come to the end of our Thailand visit, a visit that exceeded all expectations, and that was true despite us knowing Thailand is major tourist destination. Thailand has it all, nature, history, culture, food, attractions, relaxation, and it is all provided by friendly people for incredibly cheap. There’s a reason why Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations in the world: it is amazing!

Oh, and one more thing, we may be leaving Thailand but we still have one more post before we’re done with this country for good. I’m talking about Inna’s Koh Lanta dives, so don’t forget to check them out.

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