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Adventure in Phuket

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Thailand
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Phang Nga Bay
John Gray’s crew cares about you and nature; they speak a decent to exciting English and will tell you a lot about what you are about to see and discover. Boats never get crowded, and food on board is excellent. You’ll be asked to respect Nature around you as much as they do, which means no touching, no loud talking and of course no smoking while you are exploring the famous ‘Hongs’ (enclosed lagoons, usually only accessible through a narrow tunnel when tides permit). They also try to avoid crowded places: a Hong with a hundred canoes in it is not exactly a grand vision of nature at its best. On the way, you will be amazed to see the size and the amount of these fantastic limestone formations rising straight up from the sea and covered with dense vegetation. While moving from one island to another, the crew will throw some chicken bits in the air, and dozens ‘Bramany Kites’ (some Sea Eagles) will flock and dive behind the boat.
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Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute ferryboat ride from either Phuket or Krabi, these picture postcard islands offer the ultimate tropical getaway. Featuring classic tropical beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life, it is paradise perfected. Phi Phi is a group of six islands. The two main islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The larger and inhabited Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores while the smaller uninhabited Phi Phi Leh hosts stunningly beautiful bays and beaches, including the world-famous Maya Bay, which was the set where The Beach (with Leonardo Dicaprio) was filmed.
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Similan Islands
The Similan Islands form a fabulous archipelago in the Andaman Sea, just 120 km north-west of Phuket island. These small islands are so strikingly beautiful; you don’t even need to be an excellent photographer to come back with amazing photos. Most people go there on a day trip tour, but the best way to enjoy the Similan islands is to stay for two days. It’s a little far from Phuket and can be tiring to get there on a speedboat. This way, you’ll have some fabulous beaches almost for yourself in the morning and the evening, and having the beaches for yourself is absolutely priceless. The archipelago consists of 9 islands, but you will only have time to visit 2 or 3. The first is very well known for its iconic landmark made of giant boulders perched at the top of a hill overlooking the incredibly clear water of the bay below. You’ll arrive in the morning and will have just a bit of time to explore it and even climb on top of it, maybe one hour, but do it if you can, the view from up there is worth it! Climbing to the boulders isn’t too hard since steps and ladders have been installed all the way to the top. This will give you a beautiful bird view of the entire bay. The shadow of the boats floating above white sand will give you an idea of how clear the water is.
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Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
Samet Nangshe is a superb panoramic viewpoint in Phang Nga Bay. It’s a little far outside Phuket island, but if you have a car or a big bike, it is worth the drive. From up there, you can admire the fantastic limestone formations of Phang Nga Bay, but it requires a good deal of effort. You need to drive 25 kilometres past the Sarasin bridge that connects Phuket to the mainland, but the drive in the backcountry on Thailand is fantastic. The road is surrounded by trees and palm trees all the way, and when you approach your destination, you are rewarded by the jaw-dropping Nangshe bay which is beautiful, even from the road. There use to be a serious 20 minutes climbing (and in a way there still is), but a pickup truck will be waiting for you to drive you up there regularly. We recommend you to use it. 90 baht is definitely worth the energy saving! Note that if you choose not to use the pickup truck, there is still an entry fee to go up. Once you reach the top, don’t expect a peaceful, solitary hilltop as there is always a little crowd of avid photographers, amateurs and professional. Families and teens are all over the place taking all kinds of creative poses for their selfies. It’s a real Instagram playground.
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Koh Panyi
Koh Panyi (Koh Panyee) is a surprising village almost entirely built on stilts in Phang Nga Bay near the famous James Bond Island. Koh Panyi is a very unusual and exciting site to discover, but it can be hectic, especially at lunchtime because of the many seafood restaurants welcoming all the visitors. The trick is to get there early and be the only visitor in the village! If you want to have Koh Panyi almost for yourself, rent a car and drive early to the Surakul pier in Phang Nga, then rent a longtail boat which will take you there within 20 minutes. It’s not cheap, maybe 1,500 baht, but it is worth it if you want to have a lot of time in front of you to take photos of Koh Panyi with no tourists on them, and most importantly, have a different vision of this very unusual place. Even the boat ride itself is fascinating, gliding through the mangrove and between colossal limestone rocks. Circling the village gives you an excellent idea of its size and shape. You will then disembark at the main piers, where a dozen seafood restaurants get ready for their busy lunchtime.
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Karon Viewpoint
Karon Viewpoint Thai name is Kho Sam Haad, which means ‘The Hill of the Three Beaches’, and once you reach the place, you will see exacly that: three beaches. If this is your first trip to Phuket, you probably will stop a few minutes at this popular and beautiful panoramic landmark to admire the view from the top of the hill. You really can see three magnificent bays from up there. The closest and smallest one is Kata Noi Beach. A bit further is the beautiful Kata Beach with its island ‘Koh Poo’ which means Crab Island, and in the far, the very long Karon Beach. With such a strategic location on the side of the road leading to the famous Promthep Cape, everyone stops for a selfie on their way to Nai Harn. Some visitors rest a bit longer in the shade of the Gazebo to enjoy some drinks or snacks bought at the tiny shops located a few steps down below. Some have a chat with the now well-known reggae guy always hanging there selling some necklaces and accessories.
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