Distant yes, but not aloof
Khao Lak is enjoying a revival. A booming tourist destination in Takua Pa district of Phangnga Province on the Andaman coast, it faced the mammoth task of restoring its tourism industry after being battered by the deadly tsunami in 2004.
Distant yes, but not aloof
Ban Klong Rua is an amazing place. The remote jungle village in Chumphon is without electricity and virtually every other basic infrastructure, but the simple lifestyle of villagers and their beautiful nature were a fitting diversion for a city slick like myself.
Hat Yai - Talay Noi
Today's route is the last leg of our journey around Songkhla Lake. We'll start from Hat Yai, the business centre of Songkhla Province, 30 kilometres or so southwest of the provincial capital where we stopped last week.
Ko Yoe - Songkhla
Starting from Khao Noi Fort in Singha Nakhon district where we ended last week's journey, drive south along Highway 408 and you'll soon find the northern section of Tinsulanonda Bridge. Yes, go across the big bridge.
Pak Phanang - Singha Nakhon
Well, our route today is in the South where the no-vote ballot was overwhelmingly more popular than the election candidates. It's the first leg of our journey around Songkhla Lake.
Unseen Surat Thani
In a remote corner of Surat Thani, villagers invite tourists to come and share their modest lifestyle.
Like most villages in Thailand, Ban Tham Phueng is rather quiet. It nestles among lush vegetable farms, fruit orchards, rubber and oil palm plantations. What makes this village unique is its easy atmosphere and the warmth with which it welcomes tourists.
Chang Klang - Lan Saka
Nakhon Si Thammarat may not rank high as a holiday destination. But that's not because it lacks places to wow visitors.The truth is, this southern province is rich with overlooked gems. And today's route is just a peek at Nakhon Si Thammarat's tourism treasure trove.
Phuket - Phangnga Bay
Our route today starts from Phuket. There're plenty of car rental services on this popular resort island so you don't need to drive your own car all the way there. (Make sure they give you a good machine, though.)
Sampling local delicacy
Visiting Krabi, try the food that locals eat. If you can take spicy food, one of the popular dishes is Kanom Jeen (Thai vermicelli) served with yellow curry and fresh seasonal vegetables.
Setting the tone
Krabi Tourism Association to promote alternative travel routes opened following consultation with local people and organisations in order to make tourism sustainable.
Nopparat Thara - Khao Phanom Bencha
Today we'll resume our tour of Krabi, starting from Thap Khaek where we had ended the second leg before we strayed to Chumphon last week. I didn't tell you back then that on the 6024, a few kilometres before Thap Khaek, there's a minor road that allows you to reach Nopparat Thara Beach without having to return to Highway 4034. This shortcut is right next to Wat Khlong Son. Yes, that's where today's route begins.
Khlong Thom - Lanta
Let's start from Khlong Thom, less than 50 kilometres south of Krabi town. To reach Namtok Ron and Sa Morakot (A1 and A2, respectively) you have to first take Highway 4038 from Khlong Thom and then turn right onto Rural Highway 4021.
Pathiu - Ban Krut
We'll start our journey from Pathiu Town, Chumphon Province. From there, take Highway 3201 to Wat Don Takhien and then take Rural Highway 4004 along the coast (you can't see the sea at this point, though - the trees are pretty dense). Soon the bridge that goes over Khlong Bang Son, Point A1, will come into sight.
The sand dunes were only a few minutes drive from Bang Berd farm. Driving south on a small local road for a while, we crossed into Chumphon and found ourselves surrounded by dunes large and small in various shapes and forms. We were in Ban Nam Phu. I parked by a sign that read, "The most prominent sand dune in Thailand", and off we went to admire the dunes.
Ao Luk - Thap Khaek
Today we'll proceed with our tour of Krabi, starting from the town of Ao Luk where we ended the first leg last Thursday. Before you leave this nice little town, make sure you drop by at the Than Bok Khoranee National Park first.
Ban Ta Khun - Ao Luk
We'll begin from Ban Ta Khun, the midway point on Highway 401 between Surat Thani on the Gulf side of the peninsula to Takua Pa on the Andaman coast. Ban Ta Khun is also the gateway to Rajjaprapa Dam, today's Point A, which is 12 kilometres off the highway.
Chumphon - Thung Wua Laen
Starting from Chumphon town, first drive east along Highway 4001 to Tha Yang Bridge which runs across a river teeming with tour boats that ply between Chumphon and Ko Tao. Once you're on the bridge, you're already on another road, the 4119. (The "minor road" on the left-hand side just before the bridge was actually the 4001 veering east. Unless you check the kilometre markers you might have the impression that you're still on the same road.)
Ranong - Phato
Our Point A, Phu Khao Ya (Grass Hills), is about 10 kilometres from the town. Along the way you'll see signs on the roadside inviting you to a number of natural springs. However, if you've already been to those famous ones at the Raksa Warin Park featured in last week's column, don't waste your time with these springs.
Duty-free outlets await local tourists
It's not unusual for foreign tourists to shop at duty-free shops in Thailand, while Thais can only do that when travelling abroad.
Khao Fa Chi - Ranong
Today we're still in Ranong Province. At the foothill of Khao Fa Chi where we ended last week's journey, there's a small town on the bank of La-un River. This place, which during the World War II served as the terminal of the Chumphon-Khao Fa Chi railway that no longer exists, is where we'll begin today's drive.
Trang has a unique dining tradition. Hang around in its tea shops and you will realise how seriously people take their meals.
Pathomphon - Khao Fa Chi
Our starting point is the Pathomphon Intersection near Chumphon. There're several gas stations and restaurants in this area so it's not a bad idea to have your tank and stomach filled up here.
Wither Khao Lak, flourish Khok Kloy
What's in a name? Considerable profit, especially if resort promoters include a little poetic license to spice their promotions. A year ago Khao Lak was a name that generated huge profits for both the local and overseas tourism business.
Phuket... the other side
The legacy of tin miners and early European settlers is still visible in Pearl of the Andaman
Fine dining, temples and tunnel hideout
This is the third of a three-part series covering Thailand 's trouble-plagued far-southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. For a traveller willing to accept the risk of touring an area with heightened security concerns, the writer finds more than enough to fill a few postcards.
Compass points to success
Regattas, boat charters and the tax waiver on yachts herald the coming of age of marine tourism on the Andaman coast.
Beach Queen' beauty pageant to lure tourists back to Phuket
Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) plans to organise the Beach Queen Beauty Contest 2005 in Phuket and Krabi in order to bolster tourism along the west coast. THAI president Kanok Abhiradee said that due to the tourism slump and low season, THAI had been appointed by the government to help revive Andaman Sea tourism.
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