Island, almost unknown in the world outside Thailand until about
20 years ago, is one of the most beautiful islands in Asia, and now praised
as the "Pearl of the Andaman Sea". The island is about as large
as Singapore and offers lovely hills and mountains covered with tropical
jungle, coconut and rubber plantations and quiet little villages, as well
as beautiful white sand beaches and warm blue sea water clear enough
for snorkeling and diving.
Beaches & Hotel Areas
The island, now an international tourist resort, has a very large number of accomodation to choose from, from luxury to tourist class - nearly everything can be found. (It is not a place for real budget accommodations.) It is perhaps best to decide first what are your priorities: lots of shops, restaurants, sports facilities, and nightlife in the vicinity or relaxed and quiet surroundings. If it is the former,Patong is probably your best choice. Patong ("banana plantation") ist the most developed beach and has a large number of hotels as well as sports and entertainment facilities. Most hotels are, however, not located directly on the beach and you should not expect a particularly idyllic atmosphere.
The two prettiest beaches are Nai Harn ("lagoon") and Nai Yang ("in the rubber plantation"). Nai Harn, however, is private property of the Meridien Yacht Club (one of the nicest hotels in Thailand, but very expensive) and Nai Yang is part of a National park and with the exception of one hotel, the Pearl Village Resort (also belonging to the luxury category), closed to developers (it is, however, a public beach, and you can visit it and swim there even if you do not stay at the hotel). Bang Tao Beach is a long, yellow sand beach in the north of the island. A number of large first-class hotels have been built there during the past years, most of them, despite their four of five star ratings pretty awful. This is the so-called "Laguna District", because there are a lot of (sometimes smelly) ponds, euphemistically termed lagoons, with shuttle boat services that take guests from one hotel to the other or to the shopping arcade. If you want to stay there, your best choice is probably the Dusit Laguna, as they have a nice large tropical hotel garden and friendly staff.
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