Kayaking

The Salak Kok Kayak Station ( 08 1919 3995 Ban Salak Kok), in a traditional stilt village in the island's southeast, hires kayaks for viewing the mangrove-forested bay. Kayak rental for one hour costs 100B and a 90-minute guided tour is 200B. It also runs a three-hour 'dinner cruise' (1200B per person) where you're guided through the mangroves at sunset while dining on home-cooked food. Nearby a raised concrete walkway wends its way through the mangroves. It's not the most attractive...

Udorn Sunshine Nursery

Ever seen a plant dance If not, this is the place to do it. Originally earning notoriety for producing the first ever orchid made into a perfume, the Udorn Sunshine Nursery ( 0 4224 2475 127 Th Udorn-NongSamrong S 8am-6.30pm), just west of town, has since developed a hybrid of Codariocalyx motorius ohashi leguminosae, which curiously 'dances' to music. The mature gyrant has long oval leaves, plus smaller ones of similar shape. If you sing or talk to the plant in a high-pitched voice (saxophone...

Sleeping

Ranong's hotels don't exactly get your blood racing they are more likely to make it boil. Most offer litde more than bare bones amenities. The places on or near Th Phetkasem (Hwy 4) can be reached from town by sawngthaew 2. Kiwi Orchid ( 0 7783 2812 www.kiwiorchid.com Th Phetkasem r 250B) Right by the bus station - expect late night rumblings - this ramshackle backpacker place boasts plenty of greenery, guitars on the walls of the downstairs caf and heavily tattooed staff. The atmosphere is...

Sleep Tight Dont Let The Karaoke Bite

During the day Kanchanaburi is so peaceful that those floating raft rooms right on the river look the perfect place to be cradled to sleep. And then just when the crickets and frogs might switch on, karaoke dominates the airwaves. It seems that urban Thais de-finefun as leaving noisy Bangkokand going to quiet Kanchanaburi for all-night amplification. On weekdays most of the ruckus booms out of the karaoke restaurants and piers along Th Song Khwae, making the older guesthouses along Soi Rong Hip...

Long Boat Destinations From Chiang

For boats heading upriver, go to the pier in the northwest corner of town. Boats embark daily at 10.30am. Long boats from Chiang Rai leave at times approximate for ideal river conditions. You can charter a boat to Ban Ruammit for 700B or all the way to Tha Ton for 2000B at the pier.

Thailands Green Belt

In a country where more concrete means more success, the western portion of Kanchanaburi Province is a surprising retreat into the wilderness. Save for a few minor towns and villages, most of the landscape is dominated by national parks that have developed little in the way of Thailand's signature hybridisation of resorts and reserves. These are fairly far-flung outings that don't normally appear on a tourist's two-week itinerary and have little in the way of amenities. The entrance fee to all...

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang m

Until recently, only men could see a camera obscura image of the chedi in the Haw Phra Phutthabaht, a small white building behind the chedi. Now everyone can see the shadowy inverted image which is projected via a small hole in the wall onto a white sheet in Wihan Phra Phut admission 20B , which is south of the main chedi. The 13th-century Wihan Phra Phut is the oldest structure in the compound and houses a seated Buddha. The wih an to the north of the chedi, Wihan Nam Taem, was built in the...

Vicinity Of Phanom Rung

To Nakhon i Ratchasima ' Khorat 104 km Phanom Rung M a Historical Park 33 Phanom Rung M a Historical Park 33 count Khao Phra Wihan - in terms of size, atmosphere and the quality of restoration work. The whole complex is surrounded by laterite walls, within which are four lotus-filled reservoirs, each guarded by whimsical five-headed naga. Sandstone galleries and gopura, the latter exquisitely carved, surround five prang. The principal prang could not be rebuilt and the remaining towers, being...

Other Ruins

For those with an insatiable appetite for Khmer ruins, Buriram offers a smorgasbord of lesser-known sites that, taken together, create a picture of the crucial role this region once played in the Khmer empire. Even history buffs will likely find these places of only minor interest, but driving through this rice-growing region offers an unvarnished look at village life and you will surely have an enlightening trip. Note that many roads around here are in terrible shape. At the time of writing,...

Mae Sot To Mae Sariang

Route 105 runs north along the Myanmar border from Mae Sot all the way to Mae Sariang 226km in Mae Hong Son Province. The winding, paved road passes through the small communities of Mae Ramat, Mae Sarit, Ban Tha Song Yang and Ban Sop Ngao Mae Ngao . The thick forest in these parts still has a few stands of teak and the Karen villages continue to use the occasional work elephant. Be prepared to show your passport to Thai border patrols often. If you have your own transport, be sure to stop and...

Sawadee Trat Yahoo.com

Trat has many cheap hotels housed in traditional wooden buildings on and around Th Thana Charoen. You'll find it hard to spend more even if you want to. Guesthouse owners in Trat are becoming increasingly competitive and you may be met by a scrum at the bus station. There have been reports of travellers being offered air-con rooms, but then having to accept cheaper, more budget accommodation once they were delivered to the guesthouse. Ask the touts to ring their guesthouse for you, and try and...

Ko Tarutao

Most of Ko Tarutao's whopping 152 sq km is covered in dense, old growth jungle that rises sharply up to the park's 713m peak. Mangrove swamps and typically impressive limestone cliffs circle much of the island, and the western coast is lined with quiet white-sand beaches. Tarutao has a sordid history that pardy explains its great state of preservation today. Between 1938 and 1948, more than 3000 Thai criminals and political prisoners were incarcerated here, including interesting inmates like So...

Sights Activities

Logo Cwa Mauritius

Take the steps up the hill near the border to Wat Phra That Doi Wao, west of the main street, for superb views over Mae Sai and Myanmar. This wat was reportedly constructed in memory of a couple of thousand Burmese soldiers who died fighting the KMT here in 1965 you'll hear differing stories around town, including a version wherein the KMT are the heroes . There are also some interesting trails in the cliffs and hills overlooking Mae Sai Guest House and the river. Monkey Island Guesthouse p366...

Longnecked Padaung Villages

Some come to Mae Hong Son with the intent to visit one of the nearby Padaung refugee villages where 'long-neck' women live. The women wear a continuous coil around their necks, and sometimes their limbs, that can weigh up to 22kg but 5kg is most common and stand as tall as 30cm. The neck coils depress the collarbone and rib cage, which makes their necks look unnaturally stretched. A common myth claims if the coils are removed, the women's necks will fall over from atrophy and the women will...

Ao Khlong Prao

About 4km south of Hat Sai Khao, Ao Khlong Prao is developing as the island's luxury hub, but a few affordable places remain. Blue Lagoon Resort g 08 1940 0649 www.koh changcookery.com Ao Khlong Prao r600-1000B E Simple wooden bungalows with private decks sit right above the water, and further back air-con concrete bungalows lie in a shady grove. A wooden walkway leads to the beach. The other reason to come here is to attend a Thai cooking class p259 , so you can be sure the restaurant's food...

Wat Phra That Narai Jaeng Waeng

In vn csafjuai acini uii Jin a About 5km west of town at Ban That, this wat known as Phra That Nawaeng, a contraction of the words Narai Jaeng Waeng has a 10th- to 1 lth-century Khmer prang in the early Bap-uan style. Originally part of a Khmer-Hindu complex, the five-level sandstone prang is missing most of its top, but still features a reclining Vishnu lintel over its northern portico and a dancing Shiva over its eastern one. This is not a particularly evocative temple, but it's the most...

Tofrom The Airport

There are direct international flights to Phuket from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Osaka. All other international flights arrive via Bangkok. Many of these if you are coming from North America or are routed through Tokyo in particular arrive in Bangkok too late to connect with an outgoing domestic flight to Phuket. This means even if you buy tickets directly to Phuket you will likely have to spend one night in Bangkok first - it will likely appear as a layover on your ticket. The good...

Getting There Away

Than Bok, as the locals call it, is near the town of Ao Leuk. The park headquarters is about 1.5km south of Ao Leuk town along Rte 4039. Buses and sawngthaew from Krabi cost 25B and stop on Hwy 4. From here you can walk about 1.3km to the park headquarters or take a motorcycle taxi for 15B. The easiest way to visit the caves is to join a sea-kayaking tour from Krabi or Ao Nang that way you don't have to worry about transportation . To get to Ban Bho Tho from Ao Leuk on your own steam to...

Wat Phra That Nong

The richly adorned chedi at Wat Phra That Nong Bua S daylight hours is an almost exact replica of the Mahabodhi stupa in Bodhgaya, India and a much better copy of the subcontinental original than at Wat Jet Yot in Chiang Mai, which is also purported to be a Mahabodhi reproduction. The jataka reliefs on the outside of the chedi are very good. Two groups of four niches on each side of the four-sided chedi contain Buddhas standing in stylised Gupta or Dvaravati closed-robe poses. It is the only...

Nam Tok Thilawsu

In Amphoe Um Phang you can arrange trips down Mae Nam Mae Klong to Nam Tok Thilawsu and Karen villages - inquire at any guesthouse. Typical three-day excursions include a raft journey along the river from Um Phang to the falls, then a two-day trek from the falls through the Karen villages of Khotha and Palatha, where a 4WD picks up trekkers and returns them to Um Phang 25km from Palatha by road . Some people prefer to spend two days on the river the first night at a cave or hot springs along...

Doi Muser Hilltribe Cultural Center

N u ciiiai u a ii a c fr a i ri 7 c till a t i ii a fi o ci y i u o At the top of the mountain before you descend into Mae Sot is this small research and cultural centre 0 0 5551 2131,0 5551 3614 Km 28Th Tak-Mae Sot bungalows 200-700B where you can visit for the day, or spend the night. Here they grow and sell crops such as tea, coffee, fruits and flowers. Call ahead to find out about seeing a cultural performance. The temperature can go as low as 4 C in the winter. During November and...

Pattaya Vice

Pattaya's notoriety for sex tourism revolves around the agglomeration of discos, outdoor 'beer bars' and go-go clubs making up Pattaya's red-light district at the southern end of the beach. Known as 'the village', the area attracts a large number of prostitutes, including kathoey trans-vestites , who pose as female hookers and ply their trade among the droves of farang Western sex tourists. There is also a prominent gay sex-for-sale scene in Pattaya, especially at nearby Hat Dongtan. This...

Around Trat Beaches

The sliver of Trat Province that extends southeast along the Cambodian border is fringed by several Gulf of Thailand beaches. Hat Sai Si Ngoen Silver Sand Beach lies just north of the Km 41 marker off Hwy 3. Nearby, at the Km 42 marker, is Hat Sai Kaew Crystal Sand Beach and at the Km 48 marker, HatThapThim also known as Hat Lan they're OK to walk along the water's edge or picnic in the shade of casuarina and eucalyptus trees. The only place for accommodation here is the Sun Sapha Kachat Thai...

Detour Islands Around Phuket

There are several islands off the coast of Phuket that make for quieter, more romantic getaways. Ko Heh also known as Coral Island and sometimes spelled Ko Hae is a few kilometres south of Ao Chalong. It's a good spot for diving and snorkelling the coral is beautiful if you don't plan on going further out to sea, although jet skis and other pleasure craft can be an annoyance. The island gets lots of day-trippers from Phuket, but at night it's pretty quiet. Coral Island Resort g 0 7628 1060 fax...

Around Khon Kaen Chonabot

Chiang Yun Khon Kaen Thailand

This small town located 55km southwest of Khon Kaen is one of Thailand's most successful silk villages. The easiest place to see the fabrics is at Sala Mai Thai Thai Silk Pavilion no roman-script sign 0 4328 6160 donations appreciated S 8am-5pm , a resource centre for the local silk industry on the campus of Khon Kaen Industrial amp Community Education College. There are a couple of traditional northeastern wooden houses with looms and other artefacts ask the staff to unlock them , plus an...

Letongkhu To Sangkhlaburi

From Ban Mae Khlong Mai, just a few kilometres north of Um Phang via the highway to Mae Sot, a graded dirt road Rte 1167 heads southwest along the border to Beung Kleung sometimes spelt Peung Kleung - a Karen, Burmese, Indo-Burmese, Talaku and Thai trading village where buffalo carts are more common than motorcycles. The picturesque setting among spiky peaks and cliffs is worth the trip even if you go no further. Impressive Nam Tok Ekaratcha is an hour's walk away. Sawngthaew from Um Phang...

Hin Pholeung Diving

Sailboards, boogie boards, inner tubes and snorkelling equipment can all be rented on the beaches at Hat Sai Kaew, Ao Hin Khok and Ao Phai. Dive operators run trips to nearby sites the best diving is at Hin Pholeung, halfway between Ko Samet and Ko Chang. This isolated spot is well away from destructive boat traffic and has two towering underwater rock pinnacles with excellent visibility up to 30m . Here you can spot large pelagics like manta rays, barracuda, sharks and, if you're lucky, whale...

BUDGET

Jai Restaurant amp Bungalow go 7642 0390 Th Phetkasem r 350-500B Shack up at Jai's if you don't need air-con or other frills to survive, and are just looking for a cheap place to lay your head. A thatched, leafy eatery serves tasty local fare in front the bungalows are out back. Happy Lagoon go 7642 3408 bungalows 600B E The best part about Happy Lagoon is the fabulous old-fashioned bar. The garden area is also great full of tucked-away benches and gnarled old trees. Just a short hop from the...

Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife Forest Reserve

This mountain range, in the northern interior of the island, protects 23 sq km of rainforest evergreen monsoon forest . There are nice jungle hikes in this reserve and a couple of waterfalls, Ton Sai and Bang Pae. The falls are best seen in the rainy season between June and November in the dry months they slow to a trickle. Because of its royal status, the reserve is better protected than the average Thai national park. A German botanist, Dr Darr, discovered a rare and unique species of palm in...