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Southeast Asia

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Island hopping

Posted by somtam2000 on 24/7/2018 at 06:13 admin

From this week’s newsletter:

We often see itinerary enquiries pop in that read like they were spat out of an island random name generator. Stuff like: “I'm going to be in Thailand for two weeks and plan to go to Ko Lipe, Ko Tarutao, Ko Bulon Lae, Ko Muk, Ko Kradan, Ko Ngai, Ko Lanta, Ko Jum, Ko Pha Ngan, both Ko Changs and maybe Ko Samet, but I'm struggling to figure out the best way to fit them in and how to sensibly order it. Can you help?”

Yes, I can. You shouldn’t, and you can’t.

This isn’t only the case with Thailand of course—anywhere with clusters of islands has its fair share of punters wanting to go island hopping.

But the question begs, should you?

There is no hard and fast answer. After all, there is no “right” way to travel, but here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

The clock is ticking
Moving islands, even if the next island is 30 minutes away by boat, means you’re going to lose more than that 30 minutes. You’ll need to pack up, check out (generally by 10:00), head to the pier, buy a ticket, jump on the boat, float across, get off the boat, arrange transport to wherever you’re heading, find a room and check-in (generally after 14:00) then unpack, settle in and walk down to the beach—from where you can gaze across the water to where you were six hours ago!

A beach is a beach is a beach right?
Wrong. Not all beaches are made equal. Thailand (for example) has spectacularly beautiful beaches, spectacular beaches and beautiful beaches (okay and plenty of crappy ones too), but if you have limited time, giving up a day of travel to get to a different stretch of sand which you have read is even more beautiful might not be the best use of your limited time.

Each island is different
Yes, of course, every island is different, and each will have a different vibe to it (to a degree). But, like the beaches, the differences can often be quite subtle and if your main concern is just improving that tan, does it matter if you are on Phuket or Ko Phayam? Take an honest appraisal of your own interests and organise you trip accordingly.

Switch beach not island
While this will still necessitate the whole check-in, check-out time suck, moving from one side of the island to the other (should) take far less time and still can deliver a massive change in experience. Especially on larger islands like Ko Chang, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Lanta, moving along the coast even just a few bays can deliver an entirely different experience—without needing to leave the island.

Break up the trip
Last but not least, if you are going to island hop, slow down, smell the coffee and experience some of what the mainland has to offer! If you are moving from Thailand’s Gulf islands to the Andaman coast islands, why not break the trip at Khao Sok National Park? Moving up to the east coast islands, try spending a night or two in Prachuap Khiri Khan or Chanthaburi. Hopping to the far southwest? Overnight (at least) at Trang.

Most importantly, pick the right island for you. Do your research—Thailand has more than 30 islands that are at least semi-popular with travellers. So read up, let your fingers do the walking, and score yourself some extra beach time at the right strip of sand for you.

Happy planning.


#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,065

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