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; try for a room at Burasari, at Patong Beach, if you like boutique properties; go for JW Marriott, on Mai Khao Beach, if you want somewhere away from it all; or stay at the sprawling Banyan Tree Phuket, if you crave the sort of spa villas that appeal to jet-setters.
Make dinner reservations for 6pm at Baan Rim Pa, above Patong Beach, and then feast on authentic Thai dishes and soak up the sunset while plotting a week's island hopping.
Day 2: Phuket -- Time for some serious rest and relaxation. Give yourself a day on the beach of your choice or by the pool, snacking from the pool bar or passing vendors on the beach. Read a novel, take a snooze, or terrorize everyone by screaming around the bay on a jet ski.
In the evening, if you have kids in tow, sign up for the dinner and show at Phuket Fantasea, on Kamala Beach. If not, check out the Phuket Playhouse cabaret show, in Patong, accompanied by dinner and cocktails.
Day 3: More of Phuket -- Today you'll explore the island by car (and driver if necessary). Begin in the southwest corner at Kata Beach and drive up the west coast, pausing at every beach (Karon, Patong, Kamala, etc.) and rating them all. See if any score higher than Nai Thon, near the northern end of the west coast.
Stop in at the JW Marriott, on Mai Khao Beach, for lunch at any of their restaurants, before heading inland to look at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, located in the northeast corner of the island. Head back south through the center of the island, pausing at Thalang to admire the Heroines' Monument, and, if time allows, Wat Phra Thong.
Park up in Phuket Town and take a stroll around the colonnaded streets of Sino-Portuguese houses before dining at Ka Jok See. The after-dinner dance might make you ready for bed, but if you want more, head for Bangna Road, at Patong Beach, and find a perch in Scruffy Murphy's or some similar joint.
Day 4: 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.
After a boat ride of a couple of hours, in which time you should see plenty of karst outcrops of the kind that typify Phang Nga Bay, 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 holidaymakers. 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, spruce yourself up and treat yourself to a meal to remember at The Boathouse Wine & Grill, on Kata Beach.
Day 5: Phuket to Ko Samui -- Hop on 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.
If it's peace and quiet you're after, book into the Six Senses Hideaway, 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 the Centara Grand Beach Resort, which is right 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 if you feel restless. 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 Samui -- There are three 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, snake and monkey shows, waterfalls, and elephants. The second alternative is to sign up for a tour of the Ang Thong Marine National Park, an area of astounding beauty, where you get to paddle a kayak through turquoise waters and scramble to the top of a hill for a breathtaking view.
The third choice is to indulge in a spa treatment, either in your resort or at Tamarind Springs, at the northern end of Lamai Beach.
However you spend the day, treat yourself to a celebratory meal in the evening, at Betelnut, on Chaweng Beach -- a taste that will linger long after you have left the island. If you still have energy to burn, make for the Green Mango, where you'll run into hundreds of other party-minded people.
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.