Thai beaches?
October 13, 2009 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Thailand beaches in November: Krabi or Phuket or Ko Samui?

I'm traveling to Thailand in early November, and I have 4-5 days allotted for beach time. I'm looking for someplace that is beautiful and not super-touristy.

The three places I listed are just the three places with direct flights from Bangkok. I'm leaning towards Krabi. I haven't heard anything good about Phuket and Ko Samui is supposed to be rainy in November.

posted by smackfu to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The monsoon is on the east (Ko Samui) side IIRC, so plan on visiting the west. Both Phuket and Krabi are super-touristy but there are islands off Krabi accessible by small boat.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:36 AM on October 13, 2009

Is there a 'none of the above' option?

Neither is great but Ko Phi Phi was wonderful although my memories are pre-tsunami so things may well have changed a fair it. That said you might struggle to get there and back in your allotted time.

Ko Samet is going to be your best bet - it's popular with Bangkok Thais and less farag-tastic than the options you've suggested.
posted by dmt at 6:53 AM on October 13, 2009

Krabi is awesome. Go rock climbing if you decide on that destination.

The touristy spots in Thailand are nothing like touristy spots in the U.S. or Europe -- it's not like you'll be in on the beach with thousands of other people, where it would be tough to put down a beach towel. It's all very laid back. The "touristy" beaches in Thailand have little kids selling sodas and beers on the beach, maybe a guy grilling stuff or a lady selling coconut milk rice inside a piece of bamboo. Maybe there will be some folks selling sarongs and stuff...

P.s. - on the walk to the 'back' beach in Krabi (not the one where the boats come in and where you can watch sunsets), there are monkeys. Fun!
posted by zpousman at 7:03 AM on October 13, 2009

Response by poster: Is there a 'none of the above' option?

Well, these are the places I can easily fly to, but I can travel from any of these on to somewhere else.
posted by smackfu at 7:07 AM on October 13, 2009

Phuket is touristy. I was there last November, early to mid month, and the weather was fantastic. But, yeah, touristy.
posted by smorange at 7:13 AM on October 13, 2009

Koh Lipe is not flyable (required a 2hour boat ride), but in December of last year it was not overrun with tourists. We had an absolute blast the 5 days we were there.
posted by tip120 at 7:24 AM on October 13, 2009

If you want something "less touristy" you need to go to islands that you can't fly to directly.

I enjoyed Koh Samui - the beach was beautiful and uncrowded. On the streets of the island, though, it's a bit nuts - Indian guys grabbing you by the arm trying to pull you into their store so they can sell you suits and restaurant hustlers trying to do the same thing to sell you dinner. I didn't mind it, but yes, touristy.

Koh Phangan is less touristy (no hustlers, really) and is a quick ferry ride from Koh Samui.

Koh Tao, which I have not been to, is even less touristy, and a great spot for scuba diving. It's a bit of a longer ferry ride from Koh Samui.

Still, it's not the time of year to visit the east coast islands. Not sure what to tell you - Twinbrook8 has it right.
posted by MillMan at 7:26 AM on October 13, 2009

Don't go to Phuket. My wife and I went, and it was very, very touristy, as well as pretty damn expensive. We did a cooking class in Phuket which we enjoyed, but every other vaguely enjoyable moment was spent outside of Phuket. In our opinion, Kuta in Bali was 100 times better, and we avoid Kuta when we go to Bali. It was our first time in Thailand, and as a result, it put any return trips to Thailand pretty far down the list of places to go.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:09 AM on October 13, 2009

Krabi was one of my favourite places in all of Southeast Asia. Mostly because I love food, and there was plenty of great food there (in Krabi Town). There is no actual beach (swimmable at least) in Krabi Town, but Railay beach (seconding the rock climbing, great fun) and Ao Nang both have beaches. Railay's was nicer, if I had to choose.

I also spent some time on Koh Lanta (accessible by boat or car+ferry), which had the nicest sunsets. The place I stayed didn't have the greatest beach, but I think there are better beaches further down the coast.

I also did a boat tour, and we ended up at an island called Ko Hai. A very small quiet island, with a great beach. I think I'll try and stay there the next time I go.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:40 AM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

zpousman has it. Krabi is less touristy than Phuket. I think you should avoid Phuket.
posted by nihraguk at 9:13 AM on October 13, 2009

Koh Lipe is not flyable (required a 2hour boat ride), but in December of last year it was not overrun with tourists. We had an absolute blast the 5 days we were there.

Koh Lipe really is your best bet for both weather and tourist numbers. You can fly to Hat Yai on Air Asia for cheap, and then grab a minibus from there to the port in Pak Barra.
posted by gman at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2009

Best answer: I would go to Krabi and stay at Railay. You can do a day trip to Koh Phi Phi if you like from there. I suggest that from the airport, you go to Ao Nang to take the boat to Railay. Shorter trip than going from Krabi town.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:54 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I loved Phuket - but mind you I stayed here. The beach was beautiful.
The Patong area is pretty horrible, but there's a hell of a lot more to do in Phuket than hang out in Patong.

Koh Samui was OK, but I wouldn't go there for a beach holiday - there are better places.
Friends of mine who live in Thailand say that Hua Hin is nice (2 hours from Bangkok).
posted by awfurby at 10:40 PM on October 13, 2009

Response by poster: I ended up in Railay. Gave Ko Lipe some serious thought but ended up not doing it.

Railay was very nice and very chill. The beaches are excellent. The relatively difficulty in getting there (only by longtail) makes it a bit less touristy. Not everyone wants to wade in to shore with their luggage. Mostly couples and singles, barely any families. No cars and barely any motorbikes. Not even a 7-11! Much better than Ao Nang which is very touristy.

Given that, it wouldn't surprise me if Railay was charmless in a few years. The new places that I saw being built are very posh and they are replacing most of the low-end bungalows. Railay East may turn into resorts from end-to-end which would ruin it. And if they ever build a pier...
posted by smackfu at 7:13 AM on November 23, 2009

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