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Picking the right beach spot

Picking the right beach spot

Old Sep 18, 16, 2:09 pm
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Picking the right beach spot

First A little background. We are a couple in mid 40's no kids looking for great beaches, natural beauty, food and culture. This will be not only our first trip to Thailand, but our first to Asia. Planning for Feb of 2018 so I have six months to figure this out so I can book our award tickets 11 months in advance. I already have the miles (280k) with AA for 2 RT in C so I have options there with One World. I will just pay cash for all the shorter hops once we of in Thailand as I hear that is pretty cheap. Sorry, this is not really a miles/award related post just trying to give you that to flesh this out as far what my thinking so far in case I am in error. This is the biggest, most foreign undertaking I have ever done in travel planning.


The trip's basic structure so far is: We plan to fly into BKK for 3-4 days and explore there first. Next we are considering a couple of days in Chang Mai. Then we want to find a really nice stretch of white sand to relax as well as take a day trip to explore some of Thailand's other beautiful smaller islands. I hear Phi Phi is overrun but something in that vein would be an ideal day trip. Lastly I am thinking of finishing this trip with a couple days on Singapore and flying back home out of there. We plan to spend 2 weeks plus 2 days for flying there and back so really 16 days which would include our transit from BNA.

First I started looking at Phuket, but then I read I was 30 years too late. I have read its overrun and now only sad old men and prostitutes go there? I do not know what to believe having never been there especially after seeing the pictures of some gorgeous resorts in Phuket. We don't want a loud party scene, or to be sharing our beach with 100's other people, but by that same token we are not looking for a Robinson Crusoe experience. We do not really have an interest in nightlife or prostitutes

Something along the lines of a nice 4 star hotel with a great beach and a few others things we can do in the area like a boat excursion. I am thinking $150-300 USD a night range. I might go a little higher for something really nice. This being our first trip to Asia, and only english speakers, I do not want to make this too complicated. Making transit relatively easy from airports to resorts is a big plus. Do I want Krabi, Ko Lanta, Trang or something else?

Lastly FWIW and to give you an idea of what we like. We just spent 2 weeks on Kauai that is kind of our speed. We also 2 years ago immensely enjoyed Anguilla's spectacular beaches and food. So its really about the natural scenery and nice resorts having stayed at St Regis Princeville and Cap Juluca. Please help me my head hurts....

Last edited by 1readyset2go; Sep 18, 16 at 2:27 pm
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Old Sep 20, 16, 8:25 am
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180 views and not one response to help me pick which area of Thailand to spend our beach time or give any input at all?
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Old Sep 20, 16, 4:44 pm
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Originally Posted by 1readyset2go View Post


First I started looking at Phuket, but then I read I was 30 years too late. I have read its overrun and now only sad old men and prostitutes go there?
Wow.

You shouldn't read Thaivisa, bunch of mad ex pats, only complaining. Never happy.

I went to Phuket for the first time this year in April. Loved it. I didn't go to any place besides areas around my hotel. I've stayed close to the airport because plane spotting is one thing I like to do.
Very quiet beaches, not many people around. However, I would think that resorts north of Mai Khao beach would be ideal for you.
Otherwise I would aim for very south of the island.
My girlfriend was happy with the place.

We are going back to Phuket in 3 weeks. Staying again at Nai Yang beach area. This time in nicer hotel (private pool villa for $70 a night, 50 meters from the beach). During high season it goes for ~$200 a night.

Too crowded for you? I loved it. Couple of people here and there, and nobody is bothering you. Short walking distance to your hotel and local food carts / restaurants.









And 180 views but no replay. It's because that sometimes you will ask some question here and people get angry at you just for asking. For that reason people don't post here a lot.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 1:16 am
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Originally Posted by bwiadca View Post
Is that an SU aircraft? Not a route I would have guessed; although I admit that I'm anything but familiar with SU's route system.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 4:43 am
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Yes, that's Aeroflot A330. They fly once a day to Phuket from Moscow using A330 or B777-300. Besides that, you have about about 5 other daily flights from Russia to Phuket.
I guess thats because Egypt and Turkey are out of the picture for Russian tourists, Thailand became important destination.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by bwiadca View Post
Wow.

You shouldn't read Thaivisa, bunch of mad ex pats, only complaining. Never happy.

I went to Phuket for the first time this year in April. Loved it. I didn't go to any place besides areas around my hotel. I've stayed close to the airport because plane spotting is one thing I like to do.
Very quiet beaches, not many people around. However, I would think that resorts north of Mai Khao beach would be ideal for you.
Otherwise I would aim for very south of the island.
My girlfriend was happy with the place.










And 180 views but no replay. It's because that sometimes you will ask some question here and people get angry at you just for asking. For that reason people don't post here a lot.
Thanks for the advice. The comment about sad old men and prostitutes was something I read right here on FT a while back when I first thought about going. That plan changed to Kauai (just got back) but now it is defiantly a go for Feb 2018. I will do some looking at the places you suggested.

The picture looks nice. My kind of crowd!
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Old Sep 21, 16, 12:05 pm
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Just chiming in since you're wondering why there are so few replies....

Your budget is WAY outside my limits, so I can't comment on basically any of your questions. I'm more of a $20-$30 a night kinda guy.

Last time I was in Phuket was a little over 10 years ago (pre-tsunami), so take my advice with a bucket of salt. I think most of the nightlife stuff you're trying to avoid is mostly centered around Bangla road in Patong.

I know there exist some super fancy resorts on beaches in Phuket. I know some are located dozens of kilometers away from Phuket.

Booking award flights 11 months in advance isn't really necessary (I'm not a OneWorld award user, so maybe I'm wrong) but if the options you want are available, then book them.

I can also tell you that there are direct nonstop flights from Chiang Mai to Phuket and Phuket to Singapore.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by CrazyInteg View Post
Just chiming in since you're wondering why there are so few replies....

Your budget is WAY outside my limits, so I can't comment on basically any of your questions. I'm more of a $20-$30 a night kinda guy.

Last time I was in Phuket was a little over 10 years ago (pre-tsunami), so take my advice with a bucket of salt. I think most of the nightlife stuff you're trying to avoid is mostly centered around Bangla road in Patong.

I know there exist some super fancy resorts on beaches in Phuket. I know some are located dozens of kilometers away from Phuket.

Booking award flights 11 months in advance isn't really necessary (I'm not a OneWorld award user, so maybe I'm wrong) but if the options you want are available, then book them.

I can also tell you that there are direct nonstop flights from Chiang Mai to Phuket and Phuket to Singapore.
That's good to know about the non stops inside Thailand.

As for the other flights, I only have a little experience booking an AA award, but none with OW, all the folks in the AA forum complain a lot about availability for C and F international awards. So that is what my thinking was based on.

Peace and quiet at a 4 or 5* with lovely beach is foremost for this segment of the trip. Second is being able to be close enough to some really nice islands that we could day trip to via speed boat. The JW Mai Khoa and Anantara look like they might fit the bill. I really appreciate everyones feedback. It has been overwhelming a bit trying to wrap my head around all the ins and outs of a very foreign country.
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Old Sep 21, 16, 1:30 pm
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i just got back sunday from thailand. i stayed at andara resort in kamala. super nice resort. all of the night life and prostitutes are in patong so you can stay in other parts of phuket and be isolated from it. kamala is a 10-15 minute taxi away if you want to check it out. i did a boat tour to phi phi island and some monkey island. i think kamala is good because its not too far from the airport either. taxi was like 700 baht
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Old Sep 21, 16, 9:01 pm
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I'll be Simon Cowell here and break the bad news: Phuket is ruined. Just. Too. Many. People. Period. Enough for traffic backups on the roads. You can cocoon at pricey places with cove beaches like the Kardashians, but without the Thai-ness angle you might as well go to Cancun.

My visits, as reference, were 1995, 2004 months before the tsunami, and 2015. By 2015 the Phi Phi tours had Maya Bay so crowded that nearly all the sand space was either people or parked boats. You can go in low season, but it's more monsoonal than other parts of the country and seas may be too rough for the boat tours.

Samui is also ruined. I noticed a big difference between 1995 and 1998, but both are nothing compared to today. Same problem as Phuket, i.e. development so rampant and uncontrolled that it's past a point of no return. Krabi may be reaching that point as well. Ko Samet in 2014 was also a bit depressing compared to 1992.

There's a second tier with Ko Chang and Ko Lanta at the top of the bill (both large enough for tourist-weekly mini-mags, a bad sign), and the lesser islands in Trang and Trat provinces seem to be where it's at now for people seeking something maybe like Samui of 40 years ago. It's much harder to find in Thailand than it was. Myanmar or places like Phu Quoc in Vietnam might be worth checking out, and some of the spots in Malaysia like the Perhentians are also beautiful but with fewer people.

It's hard to see all those beach postcards everywhere in Thailand without wanting to go check it out, and on my early trips I emphasized the beach spots. More recently, though, I've shifted more of that to other countries and tend to favor the north and northeast more in Thailand.

But I concede that much depends on point-of-view, and the glass can be half-full more easily if not burdened with the memory of how things were. I've done almost 50 trips that have included Thailand since 1992, and lately it seems like the first days of any trip there are filled with observations of this or that being ruined, or not what it was (especially having been there for the 1997-2001 "golden age")
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Old Sep 22, 16, 2:56 am
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Originally Posted by RustyC View Post
I'll be Simon Cowell here and break the bad news: Phuket is ruined. Just. Too. Many. People. Period. Enough for traffic backups on the roads.
Ruined in specific ways. The beaches and roads are overcrowded and overdeveloped for sure.

The food is still incredible however it's not concentrated and not so accessible to tourists, excepting in Phuket town. It's also not readily apparent where the good stuff is if you don't speak Thai and/or don't know any locals.
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Old Sep 22, 16, 7:01 am
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We do not mind staying on property the whole time except for a boat excursion. We can get great Thai food and culture at our other stops in the country. It sounds like if we choose Phuket or Krabi that is what we will have to do and I am ok with that. This part of the trip is to relax and unwind (lay on the beach and pool) after we have explored BKK and CM, so I was hoping to keep it simple/easy by finding a nice resort in Thailand and its only 4 days of the whole trip.

This is proving harder than I thought. Maybe I should look in the same region but outside Thailand? Langkawi maybe a better choice, but will be a little harder to get to?

While searching last night for a place that hopefully fit what we wanted in Thailand I came across The Racha which seems the most promising so far. Any thoughts on it?

I am also considering a couple of the Anatara properties they all look pretty nice.

Layana on Koh Lanta looks good but I am wondering if it might be a bit hard to get to?

Rayavadee looks great but probably a little more than I want to spend.

Or I could just hang my head in shame, redeem a bunch of Marriott points, and stay an American hotel, and not one I am particulaly fond of at that...sigh

Last edited by 1readyset2go; Sep 22, 16 at 7:28 am
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Old Sep 23, 16, 8:00 am
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I would go straight to the beach and slide the days in Bangkok to the end of your stay, BKK-SIN back to back. I've often been still jet lagging my first few days in Bangkok. It's much better to be in beach mode adjusting.
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Old Sep 23, 16, 11:10 am
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I guess you're going to get a range of answers.

Given what you said, I'd suggest Koh Samui or Khao Lak. Phuket might not be the same is it once was, but since you weren't there you won't notice too much. I've been there many times and it's fine (plus convenient to fly to). I'd propose the Nai Harn area, which has one of the nicest beaches, is more remote, and has a nice feel. My main complaint about phuket is that it seems to cost more for transportation and restaurants, but you can rent a car or use grab taxi.
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Old Sep 26, 16, 8:38 am
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Originally Posted by BigE View Post
I guess you're going to get a range of answers.

Given what you said, I'd suggest Koh Samui or Khao Lak. Phuket might not be the same is it once was, but since you weren't there you won't notice too much. I've been there many times and it's fine (plus convenient to fly to).
I agree with this. I've had a few friends that went to Phuket on their first trip to Asia, and they really enjoyed it. The spirit is still alive, however for people that went 10-20-30 years ago, it would probably be very different (I say "probably" because I haven't gone back, so my knowledge comes from forum posts like this thread).
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