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Projects Abroad News From our Thailand Marine Conservation Project

With the new project-dedicated website now up and running, I feel very proud and privileged to be writing the very first monthly update of the Projects Abroad Marine Conservation Project here in Ao Nang, Thailand.

The project, which has been running since May 2005, has grown over the year and a half since its conception, into an exciting and constructive project benefiting the environment and local communities within the Andaman Sea and Krabi province.

As this is the first monthly update I feel I should recount the fantastic achievements of the past volunteers before beginning to report on the current position of the project. After reviewing the records of the activities of all the volunteers that have passed through Ao Nang since May 2005 to December 2006, the figures speak for themselves as to how valuable your efforts have been.

Over 18,500 mangrove seeds and saplings were planted, helping to rehabilitate four areas of badly degraded mangrove forest, previously cut down for the land to be turned into shrimp farms. 8 tonnes of rubbish were collected between April and December 2006 from six local beaches and islands, helping to keep these beaches free of dangerous, polluting and unsightly debris, and preventing much of it from being washed back into the sea and causing harm to the marine environment. Between May and December 2006, over 600kg of debris were removed from the sea reducing the stress placed on the delicate reef ecosystems and helping to preserve many marine animals that were at risk of becoming entangled in the lost fishing nets and lines.

As well as these vital practical conservation efforts volunteers also contributed by carrying out many Reef Watch surveys of the local reefs, data which was then given to the Phuket Marine Biological Centre for further analysis on the changing conditions of the reefs within the Andaman Sea.

So, 2006 ended on a high note with the volunteers having an afternoon dive, dinner aboard the Navada and then a night dive on Christmas Eve, and two dives on Christmas Day followed by a big roast feast at a local English man’s restaurant. The volunteers then went on a canoe trip through some mangroves and spectacular caves on the 30th before seeing the New Year in at the always friendly and popular drinking hole – the Umbrella Pub in Ao Nang.

And so, on to 2007 – a new year that I’m sure will see the project progressing further as plans developed towards the end of last year are fully implemented, the monitoring and ecosystem rehabilitation programmes continue, and research into new exciting projects gets underway.

I’ll begin with the reef monitoring programme that we began towards the end of November with the four volunteers that were with us at that time. It is a six-week programme that develops volunteers’ marine observation and survey skills alongside crucial buoyancy control so as not to damage the reefs that we are monitoring. Jason, one of the volunteers that completed the full programme just before leaving the project to go on a live-a-board trip to the Similan Islands was very excited that he was going to being able to know the spectacular creatures that he would be seeing at one of the world’s top ten dive sites. Added to this was the volunteers’ satisfaction of completing surveys that were then entered into our database enabling us in the future to compare the condition of the local reefs and the number of marine organisms found from one year to the next.

Alongside the regular monitoring of the reefs that volunteers have been carrying out, there is also the practical side of conservation that is always required. I’m talking of reef salvage of course. Volunteers have made nine salvage dives during the month of January at seven different sites, predominantly around the local islands, such as Koh See and Koh Ya Wa Sam. The total weight of all the debris removed from the reefs amounts to 30.8 kg, and predominantly consists of fishing nets, lines and fish traps, but some of the other interesting items collected were a snorkel, anchor parts, engine parts, a boat lamp, and several lighters. It is always very satisfying coming up to the surface with a bag full of debris that has the potential to entrap fish and other animals, as well as smothering corals and reducing their ability to grow and reproduce. This work will continue unabated, and hopefully through our efforts the reefs will remain cleaner and safer allowing them and their marine inhabitants to prosper healthily.

Moving away from the diving side of the project and on to the crucial coastal conservation work that volunteers carry out for two days each week, I’ll talk about the much-awaited start of our mangrove research project first. Having planted four sites over the last year and a half with various species of mangrove seed or sapling, all of which have seen a satisfactory average survival rate of over 50%, we have set out sights on achieving even better success rates of survival and quicker growth. Consequently we have planned a research programme to test different methods of cultivating mangrove seeds and transplanting the young saplings. We were very kindly given some land for this purpose in late December by the Krabi Mangrove Department and local community of Ban Thung Prasan where we have helped plant several thousand trees in the second half of 2006.

It is next to an area we have previously planted, across a very rickety bridge that many of past volunteers will remember and over a particularly water-logged and muddy subsidiary canal that can be precariously crossed for the most part of the day. However, when we first got there it was overgrown with weeds taller than any of us, so for the first two mangrove days of 2007 we went out with the sickles and hoes to clear the land in preparation for our research. Then two weeks later, the volunteers went out into the very muddy Klong Jilat with small sickles on long bamboo poles and collected over 600 mature propagules (seeds) of Ceriops tagal and 53 of the larger Rhizophora apiculata propagules. The Ceriops tagal were then planted under the different conditions of shade and sunlight, into bags or straight into the ground, and on higher dryer ground or into a more water-logged area that is inundated daily by seawater.

The last of the usual activities carried out by the volunteers is the cleaning of local beaches. Although we’ve only had two clean-ups so far this year at Ao Nam Mao and Andaman Beach, the five volunteers that have been here this month have collected 173 kg of all sorts of rubbish – plastic predominantly, but also a fair amount of glass and metal – that is continuously washed down the rivers or swept ashore by the waves. They even came across a crab trapped in a metal container which was subsequently freed, and a discarded thermometer. As always, it’s not the nicest of jobs but it is very rewarding to see a nice clean beach at the end of the day, so well done volunteers, both past and present.

So, that’s an account of the fantastic contribution the volunteers are making towards marine and coastal conservation in Krabi. These efforts are much appreciated by all that come into contact with our work and activities, so a great thank you to all of you that have devoted time, sweat and sore, blistered hands for the cause. On a final fun note, I’ll mention the live-a-board that the volunteers went on for three days down south to Koh Haa Yai, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang at the end of January. Unfortunately no manta rays or whale sharks were spotted (except, of course, if you count Justine’s fleeting glimpse of a whale shark’s tail), but everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves having seen spectacular reefs and far greater numbers and diversity of fish and other marine species than we see on an everyday basis in Krabi. A well-deserved trip before another work-filled, yet rewarding month ahead – I look forward to reporting on the progress of all the various activities mentioned above.

Find Out About Our Conservation Project in Thailand


Lanta Yai – a Paradise for Your Indulgence


If you are looking for a secluded desert island, with lush green vegetation, pristine beaches and a aqua marine ocean then you don’t have to look to far off the Thai coast. Ko Lanta Yai which is located near the Andaman Islands on the Andaman Sea fit the description of thousands of romantic movie settings and would even make Daniel Defoe re-script “Robinson Crusoe.” Despite being close to the Phi Phi Islands off the west of Thailand the islands are for administrative purposes classified under Krabi Province. It is just a classification though, for once you arrive here all ties with the outside world are severed and all that remains is you and the deep blue ocean.

Despite its miniscule proportions (its only 30 km long and 6 km across), the Lanta Yai Island offers a diverse range of recreational activities to indulge in. It is popular for scuba diving as the rock and coral formations around the island serve as a home for many species of marine life. Experiencing a ride on a traditional Thai Long tail boat is also something no tourists should miss; nothing can beat rowing out to the vast expansive ocean and being so close to nature.

Lanta Yai is mostly frequented by tourists who want to get away from the crowded party oriented beaches of Phuket and are instead searching for a more relaxed, laid back holiday. Due to its popularity among a niche market the island’s are extremely peaceful and non-commercialized; no red light districts or night clubs here!

As described earlier Lanta Yai is not the place to head to if you are looking rollicking nightlife or crowded night clubs. None the less a couple of more laid back night time pursuits can be enjoyed here, the island boasts of a wide variety of restaurants. They can range from banana pancake joints to fully fledged gourmet restaurants; many of them offer breathtaking locations right on the beach itself. A couple of laid back bars and pubs can also be found around the Lanta Yai Harbour and also in most hotels.

Enjoy the comforts of this exquisite paradise while staying at a krabi luxury villa such as Langham Place Koh Lanta which is highly regarded for its unmatched quality and service excellence.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Thailand

Thailand located in South East Asia is a hidden gem for those seeking a vacation destination. Bangkok for instance is popular amongst American’s but there are other places and sights in Thailand to behold. Each region has something new and exciting to offer its visitors. We will be going through some of the different locations and aspects that make Thailand a great vacation get away.

Food Menu: The Asian cuisine is quite popular around the world so finding the types of foods you are already familiar with in Thailand won’t be difficult. In fact, this gives visitors a chance to have complete authentic Asian dishes they way they were intended to be prepared. Get your chopsticks out and feast on various dishes often prepared with lots of herbs and spices.

If you would like to keep your preexisting taste buds while you are in Thailand, check with your hotel before you make reservations to see if they provide dishes from your native land. Many hotels cater to visitors coming from specific places and they do cook accordingly.

Cities: There are many cities in Thailand that can serve as vacation getaways. Below is a list of the cities in Thailand.

1. Ayutthaya

2. Bangkok

3. Chantaburi

4. Chiang Mai

5. Chiang Rai

6. Chonburi

7. Chumphon

8. Hat Yai

9. Hua Hin / Cha-am

10. Kamphaengphet

11. Kanchanaburi

12. Khao Lak (Phang Nga)

13. Khao Yai

14. Khon Kaen

15. Koh Chang / Trad

16. Koh Kood / Trad

17. Koh Lanta (Krabi)

18. Koh Mak / Trad

19. Koh Phangan (Suratthani)

20. Koh Phi Phi (Krabi)

21. Koh Samet / Rayong

22. Koh Tao (Suratthani)

23. Krabi

24. Lampang

25. Lamphun

26. Loei

27. Lopburi

28. Mae Hong Son

29. Nakhon Sawan

30. Nakhon Si Thammarat

31. Nakhonratchasima

32. Nakorn Pathom

33. Nan

34. Narathiwat

35. Nonthaburi

36. Pattaya

37. Petchaboon

38. Phitsanuloke

39. Phrae

40. Phuket

41. Prachinburi

42. Prachuab Khiri Khan

43. Ranong

44. Samui

45. Saraburi

46. Satun

47. Songkhla

48. Sukhothai

49. Suratthani

50. Surin

51. Tak

52. Trad

53. Trang

54. Ubonratchathani

55. Udonthani

56. Uthai Thani

57. Uttaradit

Buddhist Temples: There are several Buddhist temples one could stop out when in Thailand. In reality there are over 30,000 ranging in size and splendor. The Marble Temple (Wat Benchamabophit), in Bangkok was beautifully constructed using white marble by King Rama V. Another is the Wat Phra Buddhabat located in the Saraburi Province. This temple has a two-meter footprint enshrined in a mondop from the Buddha. This is a very popular location amongst tourist many of which come to Thailand just to visit and make pilgrimages to Wat Phra Buddhabat.

Language Barriers: The Chinese, Malay, Lao, and Mon-Khmer languages are all commonly spoken throughout Thailand. Bangkok Thai is the predominate language though so make sure you brush up before making your journey. Of course there are always places where English is spoken and is in wide use.

However you may have to go out of your way to find them. Making phone calls, going online and asking directions can be a headache when dealing with language issues. Check with your hotel for language friendly areas in Thailand were your particular language is openly spoken.

Weather Patterns: Be advised and pack accordingly. Thailand has a rainy season that begins in June and goes all the way into October that may include torrential rains. Mountain climbing in places such as Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand or the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon can be difficult if not dangerous to climb during the rainy season. Aside from the rain the rest of the year normally brings mild to hot weather from November to May.

Need To Honeymoon Destination Thailand

The best course of action to take sometimes isn’t clear until you’ve listed and considered your alternatives. The following paragraphs should help clue you in to what the experts think is significant.

Bangkok, the city of angles or ‘Krungthep’,was established in 1782 by King Rama I. The very charm of the city, indeed the whole country, is its antiquity combined with rapid modernisation. Amidst sealed skyscrapers nestle the old pagodas of the many ‘wats’ or temples. Roadside Buddhas ,exist and profilerate, ensuring handy outless for joss-sticks and flower offerings, food and shawls. The more the offerings, the more fervent the prayer of the devotee…

Roadside stalls and shops jostle for space with these Buddhas along with food vendors-on pushcarts, on little stools, on stands, in baskets carried on a pole across the shoulders. Fruit and flower sellers stand at every corner.

Aromatic cooked rice in leaf or plastic packets are sold even in mini supermarkets, with the smell an intergral part of the atmosphere of Thailand. Seafood predominates-with a rich chilli flavour. Indians and vegetarians need not fear for there are plenty of Indian hotels in the city. In fact an Indian would instantly feel at home, wandering around the crowded city-the people are friendly and one even finds roadside cobblers here, unlike the posh Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. And best of all Indians are glorified as tourists here for they do a lot of shopping and the Thai economy practically rests on tourism.

A honeymoon couple would be advised to go on a pre-booked package with a reputed hotel. Bel Aire Princes is a fabulous hotel, expensive and luxurious. It also serves small variety of Indian food in the evenings. The Indra Regent area has many Indian enteries too. The package ensures a visit to the Wat Arun, the Golden Buddha temple, the Reclining Buddha, the Emerald Buddha and the City Palace. Most of these sights will be familiar to the Indian movie goer, for Bangkok has become a popular movie location.

City tours include a visit to the rose garden, the gem cutting centre and a silk factory.

Thailand is famous for its gemstones and silver jewellery, both certain to bring stars to a bride’s eyes. Chinatown is a lovely area to walk through, filled with flowers and produce. Food is a delight here.

Truthfully, the only difference between you and Honeymoon experts is time. If you’ll invest a little more time in reading, you’ll be that much nearer to expert status when it comes to Honeymoon.

Clothes are cheap as labour costs are low. Thai’mumdee’ silk or tye and dyed silk is a specially, a must-buy for most women. As for readymades, Prathunam Market is a near paradise, a whole busy enclave on Ratchprarop Road. Here are located fashion houses like Armani and Versace. But never mind them, right below their regal noses one can purchase fine imitations, complete with logo, in the open sir stall of Prathunam. The garments are churned out in the closed markets behind with sewing machines busy round the clock. ‘How many do you want?’ asks the friendly shopkeeper when I ask the price of a Boss Shirt. he laughs when I ask for just two, more used to Indians buying in bulk.

A walk along Soi 3,4 and 5 leads to Akbar, and Indian restaurant, serving good Mughlai food. Along the Sois are open air stalls selling handicrafts, clothes, cloisonne, wood masks, blue pottery, the unique metal turquoise painted Thai musician fingurines, watches-all fake, toys,VCDs. All remain open till 11p.m.

Patpong and silom-these are the famous night bazaars of Bangkok, where life begins only after 10p.m. Food-one can eat a variety of Thai food on the pavements or go into the Western food joints, pubs and bars here. Massage parlours have women standing outside, enticing unwary tourists. Heading out of the city is an option to go to Pattaya, a 2hour trip to a beach town. Pattaya is a strange place with a sightly seedy promenade where Indians are not advised to venture after dark. The cabaret show and a trip to Coral Island so it is only worth it if you are into snorkeling and water scooters. Perhaps a place best avoided by the romantic couple. For those with a sun and water fixation, islands like Krabi, Kochi Samui, Phuket, etc. are geared to be ideal resorts. Rafting and canoeing, other than just sunbathing, are sufficient thrills here-with the knowledge that Leonardo di Caprio sunbathed here as an added attraction!

A trip to Kanchanaburi, about 128 kms away, is good for nature lovers and would ensure a less crowded and more romantic scenario. The Death Railway and the Bridge on the River Kwai are, of course, not to be missed here. But the best part of a visit to Thailand is a trip to the Floating Market-about 2 hours away in Ratchaburi. Tours start early in the morning, in order to reach there well before the boats come out. One is put in the water in a long launch for a leisurely ride in the canals for about 1 1/2 hours. Old homes jut above the banks, with daily chores and baths conducted in the streams.

And then suddenly, at a turning, one sees scores of long open boats coming at you, each with one person at the helm, mostly women. And the boats are piled high with produce-hot food, fresh vegetables, etc. Breakfast is served like never before! The boat comes along and jars alongside, the old women boats sturdy enough to ram into each other. business is conducted over the water, and selling and buying has never been so charming. After the ride, the banks lined with handicraft shops entice one to buy cheap blue pottery, pewter and clothes. Romantic keepsakes will not make a deephole in the pocket here.

If going about the city on one’s own-the MRT or the lovely little tuktuk (autolike vehicle) driven merrily with scant regard for rules are safe methods of transport and cheap. In the throng of Bangkok’s traffic which turns to five packed lanes on an expressway, the tuktuk is sure to make rapid headway. And for that shopping stroll, the only way to cross the road is to do as the Thais do- hold up you hand to stop the flow and sash across.

With so many spots so soaked in romance,Bangkok is a great honeymoon destination-with a little extra honey making further lovely spots within one’s reach. Best to avoid the place in April though, when the heat touches a sizzling 42, fizzling out romance!

If you’ve picked some pointers about Honeymoon that you can put into action, then by all means, do so. You won’t really be able to gain any benefits from your new knowledge if you don’t use it. http://www.rabbitresort.com

Best international destinations for the US dollar

As the US dollar getting weaker against the Euro , planning a vacation in Europe would be very costly and you wont get value for your dollar,comparing to planning a vacation in Asia. The dollar still holding up well against most major Asian currency though not as strong as before but is still worth to travel to many parts of Asia to explore the many different cultures and taking in many gorgeous sights like the seven wonders of Asia.They are the great wall of China , Forbidden city , Mount Everest , Taj Mahal , Angkor Wat etc. China with a long history would be interesting to visit as you get to track up the great wall of China and airfare nowadays from the United States to China is reasonably cheap if you book early. Less then 500 US dollars just to travel to China. If ancient or historical sights dont interest you as you want a relaxing summer holiday with lots of sunshine , beaches , spa or massage to relax your mind and soul and lift your spirit then Thailand or Bali will be an ideal destinations.

With many gorgeous beaches to choose in Thailand like Phuket ,koh Samui ,Krabi and Phi Phi island or Hua Hin for golf. The white sandy beaches of Thailand are the main reason many tourist come to visit and also they get the value for their dollars. You get to renew your body and soul with the many spa resorts in Thailand or if sun bathing to get a good tan or playing water sports , tennis appeal to you , you may do so and it doesnt cost much to participate in all these sports. Also you get to taste Thai food which is one of the well known crusine in Asia. This vacation will be one of the best deal and value for your US dollar.

Another relaxing vacation by the beach will be Bali in Indonesia. This island has everything to offer to tourists. The beautiful sandy beach , tropical rain forests , beautiful temples and palaces , towering volcanoes , gorgeous golf courses. You can also enjoy all the relaxing massage and spa or try surfing against the waves , tanning and sipping cocktails and enjoying Indonesian crusine. The exchange rate between the Indonesian Rupiah and the US dollar allow

tourists to get value for their lodging and food in Bali. You enjoy great food , inexpensive hotel rooms , massages and spa and entertainment at very reasonable cost.

Taking into all this Asian cultures , sights and sound and places to explore and yet wont make you spend alot of money , currently the best deal for your US dollar.

Travel destinations in Thailand

Krabi! Its a very good place to visit! Cheap and very important not too crowded like Phuket and Bangkok…

I had been there twice and I really love the peace and beautiful beaches and islands =)

The place I stayed at is in Krabi town which is far more cheaper than at Aonang beach where most are beach resorts…

The place that I stayed in is called "Chan cha lay" very nice little place which only cost me about USD10 per night for a fan room, double bed and very nice decoration… the room is cool enough with the ceiling fan… but the bathroom is really great for such a price… you will be very very surprised how great it is! Ask for room number 1 which I stayed in for the two times I been there… Don’t go for the backpackers room cause I think its small and the price difference with this double room is not too far apart… =)

I rented a motorcycle for only about USD4 for a day (24hours) very very cheap and great way to get around =) you do not need a licence for it just your passport as deposit. Its safe to let them keep the passport =) but choose the rent from a shop not from any road side offers which who knows may not be there the next day! =P

There is a nice place in town for dinner, local food very cheap and nice =) every night one of the road converts into stretch of food stalls…

For island hopping, go to "chicken island" very beautiful, extremely clear waters and you can even walk from one island to the other during low tide =) You can rent a whole boat for about USD13 to get you round a few islands from Aonang beach =)

Thailand as a Tour Destination

Thinking of Thailand as a tour destination? Think exotic, oriental, majestic and more!

Thailand’s boundaries stretch to neighboring regions of Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. The exciting Eastern city of Thailand offers immense scope for sea, air and road travel, the holiday plan usually dependent on a tourist’s budget. Its four main regions, namely North, Central Plain or the Chao Phraya River Basin, North East (Korat Plateau) and South Peninsula live up to the true meaning of ‘thai,’ literally meaning free and denoting the same in its multicultural diversity that happily coexists with its diverse inhabitants.

Agriculturally rich, with paddy fields dotted landscape that make room for heritage palaces and famous temples alike, modern Thailand comes as a pleasant surprise for the global traveler: natural beauty of many beaches and islands, innumerable shopping bargains and vibrant festivities of carnivals and shopping centers that offer wide variety in local foods and gourmet cuisine, exotic hill – tribe villages and ancient ruins all contribute to Thailand’s cosmopolitan air as a tour destination.

Thailand as a tour destination: its many exciting activities and pleasures.

Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand with the King of Thailand revered as the supreme monarch and also the patron of all religions embraced by the people. Thus, Thailand has religious tolerance woven into its social fabric and respects people of all races. This multiculturalism makes Thailand a hot favorite as a tour destination for the global traveler with add-on visits to nearby cities like Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth and other major southern Thai towns being part of an avid tourist’s list. Places of tourist interest in Thailand include Phuket, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Koh Chang and Koh Samet while provinces like Krabi, Koh Libong, Koh Hai provides great photographic memoirs of Thailand as a tour destination.

Eco Tourism in Koh Lanta, Krabi


Fads come and go, but some essentials remain as legacy. Eco tourism is one such concept that’s gaining a strong foothold among many tourists and this is with good reason. The complete concept behind eco tourism is to minimize human impact, build environmental awareness and respect your natural surroundings. Koh Lanta contributes to this concept with Koh Lanta Yai, a primary eco tourism destination island in Thailand.


Secluded and offering a lush environment, Koh Lanta is excellent for escaping from the party-goers on other Thai beaches. Eco tourism in Koh Lanta, Krabi is gradually gaining significance and this attracts plenty of visitors every year. Unlike Phuket, which is the Thai tourism capital, Koh Lanta is still understated at present.


Many promote eco tourism in Koh Lanta, Krabi by claiming the islands are virtually undiscovered, but this is not true. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the beaches, and resorts and bungalows are scattered across the western coast. However, as you go further along, this reduces and you do find isolated locations. Koh Lanta is a lot less commercialized, unlike Phuket and nearby Koh Phi Phi. The main features of eco tourism in Koh Lanta, Kabri include deep sea diving, coastal explorations and lush forests. Koh Lanta is especially popular among Swedish tourists and this fact alone has contributed to the many Swedish cuisine outlets in the islands.


Speaking of eco tourism in Koh Lanta, Kabri, one can’t avoid mentioning the consequences of environmental exploitation. While there are laws and regulations to restrict such activity, some coastal exploitation has been reported in Koh Lanta. This doesn’t effect eco tourism in any direct way, but tourists must keep in mind that the environment is important and the whole charm of Koh Lanta is expressed through its beautiful environment.


Experiencing eco tourism in Koh Lanta, Kabri won’t be fulfilled without spending a few days at one of the Krabi luxury villas. The Langham Place Koh Lanta is an excellent option, but if you need something a little less luxurious, you can still find such a resort among the many Krabi luxury villas.

Post tsunami: Phi Phi revisited two years on

Although living in Thailand for some time, I finally only got to Phi Phi island two weeks before the Tsunami hit. At the time I had no idea what this lovely island in Krabi province, not far from Phuket, was about to experience. But when I saw how rampant and haphazard development had ruined the island it might have sounded like a good joke. Yeah right, what this place needs is something like a Tsunami to wipe it clean. Well that’s exactly what it got and, without disrespect to those who perished or lost everything, I witnessed a much more beautiful Phi Phi when I returned 18 months later.

On my first visit to Phi Phi Island on a day trip from Phuket I was appalled. I should have been impressed by the tower cliffs and white sandy beaches which were so perfect by natural design that it seemed man himself had deliberately engineered it for our own leisure purposes. I didn’t notice the sheer karst that were impossible to even build a hiking trail on let alone a hotel, I was too taken in by what I didn’t like. I should have been marvelling at how cleverly nature had left a beautiful flat stretch in the middle for us to come and build resorts on, indeed I had seen it all already from the many aerial pictures, including the equally pretty beach on the other side, just 500m away. But in reality it wasn’t like my imagined image. Online guide to Phuket

We alighted at the ferry pier in Ton Sai bay and to reach Lo Dalam bay on the other side, we where funnelled into a crowded and ugly mass of rampant over development. Huge holiday crowds from Phuket were all trying to squeeze themselves into a narrow, smelly lane lined with dive shops, internet cafes, swimwear boutiques, 7-elevens, trinket sellers, you name it – a tourist gauntlet that was anything but paradise. Music blared from bars, trash lay around everywhere and the sun failed to penetrate this poor, sandy lane at all. Beautiful Phi Phi? I was stunned.

Well, to be fair, it was just three weeks before the tsunami when the peak season in Thailand was in full swing and everyone wanted to be on Phi Phi, including all the day trippers, and locals from Krabi town looking to make a living. I had long suspected this island’s popularity would have done this. When I emerged at the other bay, I did see a lovely seascape and beautiful beach, even if it was crowded. A beautiful beach full of people enjoying themselves is still beautiful I guess.

At the time I, and I suppose no one else, imagined just what was about to happen to the this masssive tourist magnet. For starters, there was nowhere to run, where would the tens of thousands on that day have gone to escape two huge sandwiching waves? It’s a macabre thing to imagine, other than to dream it up to wash away the sinful development I was so disgusted with, but it didn’t cross my mind. I was thinking things like ‘which restaurant for lunch’, ‘how much to hire a lounger’, ‘where to rent a kayak’, ‘what a sexy suntanned body she has’ and so on.

These things are all gone now. Almost everything is gone. When I returned during a trip to Southern Thailand in May 2006 I could barely recognise the place. I had come to see what should be accurately described in a travel guide on Krabi province and the Andaman sea near Phuket, and I was lost for words. There was a island still, with some remaining coconut trees and two lovely beaches which could be seen from side to the other. But everything that had been inbetween was gone, and I found myself walking along a grassy-edged sandy path that I realised was once the lane which so disgusted me. Here, finally was my ‘idea’ of Phi Phi. Full guide to Phi Phi island http://www.1stopkrabi.com

I was so gripped by the total lack of buildings, lack of anything really, save for a few surviving coconut palms. I even had difficulty placing ‘that lane’. Gone were the internet cafés, the 7-Eleven, the bikini boutique and the ‘fissst’ sound of diving regulators. Gone were all the people and shop keepers and tanned carefree holidaymakers.

So, in a mean kind of way nature had taken revenge and reclaimed the natural beauty of Phi Phi. It had reverted the island it looked like 20 years ago before the tourists arrived in Thailand. Reconstruction had been slow in the ensuing 18 months due to beauracracy and perhaps a nagging sense among the authorities not to let it all happen again. There were a few buildings, a small market area, the odd dive shop and a couple of internet cafés, with some guesthouses tucked away nearer the high ground and one or two proper hotels had been re-built.

Lo Dalam bay was as beautiful as ever, only this time it was uncrowded and peaceful in its natural appearance. The big old Banyan tree that still stood at the end of the lane and beneath it grilled fresh seafood on a makeshift barbecue was served on little wooden stools. A few temporary backpacker style A-frames were erected further along the beach, and a few rustic bars played the usual Bob Marley classics. It was admittedly low season and a few people were enjoying an exclusive experience on Phi Phi.

Other places on the Thailand coast have recovered. Phuket, from where all the day trippers come, has been completely rebuilt since the Tsunami. It too was very much trashed at greater expense and damage, but it has rebuilt itself and gone back to being a tourism magnet. Read more about Phuket: http://www.1stopphuket.com

Xcellent Day Trips From Huket Sland Hailand

Phuket is named the Jewel of the Andaman. Or is it maybe the prime gem in the crown of Thailands tourism? However, Phuket is just the core of a spacious wonderful playground. And the other part of the crown is worth discovering, even if the tropical fabulous beaches youre sunbathing on seems so great you never want to get away from them. Phuket sightseeing tours are a must.

Making day trips from Phuket Island is definitely a must when you visit this South East Asian tropical piece of Heaven. Within a few hours ride or trip by boat are several mind-blowing landscapes including the renowned Phi Phi islands, the wonderful Khao Lak coast, the eye-opening Pha Nga Bay, exclusive scuba diving off the Similan islands, and the breathtakingly beautiful karst-scapes of Krabi. There are national parks boasting lush forests, picturesque fishing villages, spectacular waterfalls, crystal clear waters, private tiny islands, pristine mangroves and exclusive beaches to seek out.

Phuket is without a single doubt Thailands best developed and most popular island, a high standard, jet-set travel destination that has become a very upmarket place during the last decades. If youre travelling to Phuket for your next holiday youll invariably find yourself based at one of several wonderful bays lined along the West Coast. From this location you can either rent a private car or use the option taking one of the available day trip tours to a destination of your choice. This is highly recommendable and there are both many travel agents and opportunities.

For first time visitors exploring the island itself is absolutely a great idea. There are numerous exciting and splendid beaches. Towards the south from Kamala youll find a cluster of the best, past the popular and crowded Patong, and onwards to the posh Kata and sweeping Karon. Every beach is worth making a stop for a few hours to sunbath or sample a spicy Thai papaya salad (som tam) for lunch. Keep travelling south and youll finally reach the untouched Nai Harn beach, a good spot for avoiding the crowds. All beaches on Phuket have their own special ambience.

To reach the islands north takes about a one-hour drive. This area has not been developed and tourists do not dominate the scene. The east coasts mangroves offer an altogether different look of Phuket. While visiting this area you might want to cool off in Khao Phra Thaeo National Parks Bang Phrae Waterfall or drop in on the singing gibbons at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre. Tours to this area of Phuket are very rewarding.

The best scenery can be found offshore, the first thing on you itineraries list should be a trip to Phi Phi. This distinctive craggy island is formed like a butterfly. The island featured in the Hollywood movie The Beach and was world news because of the Tsunami tragedy. Actually there are several islands, and the majority of the available trips stop off for some mind-boggling snorkelling adventures en-route. Food is mostly served once you arrive at Phi Phi Leys paradisiacal Maya bay. Only campers and park rangers are allowed to spend the night here so youll have the immaculate beach all to yourself. Phi Phi Don is more dramatic and was drastically overdeveloped before the gigantic Tsunami washed it all away. On a tiny sandwich of coconut palms the resorts are found between two gorgeous bays, with rising to the blue sky karst cliffs all around. Once youve reached this spot you probably not want to make the trip back to Phuket!

Similarly popular and impressive is Pha Nga Bays unique karst seascape, enjoyed free promotion in the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. Now also known as the James Bond Island, this is a must-see on all trips from Phuket but its all part of a gigantic theatre of pillars, dotting this vast bay and must be ranking as the most photogenic spot in the whole Andaman. Lunch will be served at the idyllic fishing village of Koh Phan Yee, which is positioned in the water on stilts. Dont forget purchasing some souvenirs and stroll around this remarkable community. Kayaking among the karst cliffs and caves is especially rewarding.

If diving is your thing and you have just one opportunity to see the finest, then you may want to join a few days lasting trip to the Similan islands which are located West of Phuket. There is also a protected marine reserve and diving excursions or day trips are the only way to reach the areas unspoilt reefs, or swim in the clear blue ocean. If you do not have a dive certificate, no worries there are plenty of available courses. As an alternative you could take a tour to Hong Island, between Krabi and Phuket and simply enjoy underwater snorkelling and unwind. This unique island boasts a hidden lagoon inside, reachable at low tide only through a cave tunnel.

Renting a car for a drive into the hinterland is also a great option. Phuket is by a short causeway linked to the mainland and after that you have the freedom, roaming the lush isthmus provinces of Southern Thailand. Travel to the north to Khao Lak, to explore a more untouched and wild shoreline, and some fabulous coastal parks. Khao Sok National Park is a bit beyond this with its vast lake, magnificent rainforests and distinctive landscapes. In the park chalets you can even stay overnight. Thai tropical national parks feature fantastic ecosystems full of streams, waterfalls, nature trails, a few animals and varied birdlife.

Even Krabi is a popular tourist destination attracting many visitors, it can conveniently be reached within a 90 minutes drive from Phuket and features some of most distinctive landmarks in the region. But this is a completely other destination!