1-Week Island-Hopping Tour
This itinerary offers a glimpse at three of Thailand's most lauded beach destinations -- Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, and Ko Samui. If you like what you see, you may be tempted to stay longer than suggested here -- but don't overstay your visa!
Day 1: Bangkok to Phuket -- A short flight and transfer from Bangkok will bring you to Phuket, which has lodgings that range from luxurious resorts to simple motels. Make dinner reservations for 6pm at Suay and feast on authentic southern Thai dishes.
Day 2: Phuket -- Today you’ll explore the island by car (and driver if necessary) and hit up the island’s top beaches, like Karon and Kamala. Stop off somewhere with scenic views, such as On the Rock on Karon Beach, for a lazy lunch. From here head to the island’s northeast to visit the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, the only reputable elephant sanctuary down south, where you can bathe and feed them.
As dusk falls, park up in Phuket Town and take a stroll around the colonnaded streets of Sino-Portuguese houses before dining at Ka Jok See. If you’re not ready for bed yet, head for Dibuk House and for creative cocktails or Catch Beach Club for DJs and dancing on the sand.
Day 3: Day Trip to Ko Phi Phi -- Just about every tour operator on Phuket runs day trips to Ko Phi Phi, so check the schedule of a few and sign up for one that appeals (there’s not much difference one to the next).
After a boat ride of a couple of hours, in which time you should see plenty of karst outcrops of the kind that typifies Phang Nga Bay. If it is open (parts have been closed for a few months each year to help with environmental protection), you’ll probably be taken to Phi Phi Leh first (the smaller, uninhabited island), where you’ll have the chance to snorkel and explore Maya Bay, made famous by the movie The Beach.
From here you’ll go to Phi Phi Don, which, depending on the season, might be heaving with vacationers. Lunch is usually included in these day trips, and a clamber up to the viewpoint over the back-to-back horseshoe bays brings a sight to treasure. Once back on Phuket, treat yourself to a meal to remember at Acqua, on Kalim Beach.
Day 4: Phuket to Koh Samui -- Hop a flight from Phuket to Ko Samui, and you’ll be able to compare the sand and sea color at Thailand’s two most popular beach destinations. The fun begins at Samui airport, where you’ll feel like you’ve landed in Disneyland in an open-air airport with perfectly manicured gardens.
If it’s peace and quiet you’re after, book into the Six Senses Samui, in the northeast corner of the island, where you can be sure nobody will disturb you except your personal butler. If you’re more into partying, go for something in the heart of the action on Chaweng Beach.
Spend the rest of the day relaxing and settling into your resort, which will have plenty of activities on offer. Dine at your chosen resort as well, and get a sound night’s sleep before the last full day of this tour.
Day 6: Ko Samu -- There are two attractive options for today, from which you’ll have to choose just one. The first is to hire a car (with driver if necessary) to explore the island’s ring road. Along the way, you can take in such sights as phallic rocks, mummified monks, and waterfalls. The second alternative is to sign up for a tour of the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a cluster of rugged islands where you get to paddle a kayak through turquoise waters and scramble to the top of a hill for a breathtaking view.
However you spend the day, treat yourself to a celebratory meal in the evening, at Dining on the Rocks. If you still have energy, check out Chaweng’s coolest bar CoCo Tam’s which is home to strong rum cocktails and the island’s best fire show.
Day 7: Ko Samui to Bangkok -- Put on your best white shirt to show off your suntan, take a cab to the airport, and zip back to Bangkok.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.