Our starting point is PHUKET, renowned internationally as a world-class holiday destination second to none. Phuket has it all: beautiful beaches, a pulsating night life, luscious food in superb restaurants, great shopping, top-notch golf, and enough other leisure activities and sports to fill up a month. You'll also be happy to know that Phuket is fully recovered from the Dec. '04 tsunami.
Days 1 & 2:
I can think of no better place to recuperate from jet-lag than Phuket. While you are acclimating to the new time zone, there are a multitude of leisure activities you can partake in. It might be a good idea to finally learn how to scuba dive in one of Phuket's numerous diving schools, because once you become certified, there will be several more opportunities for diving later on in this tour.
Our first destination is KRABI, my personal favorite vacation spot in all of Asia. Whenever I find extra time, I'm off to Krabi like a shot. It's a very special and rare place of extreme natural beauty with an atmosphere of relaxation unique in this world.
After a morning drive around Phang-Nga Bay and its magnificent karst scenery––nature gone mad––we wind our way through small farming communities to a half-moon beach. There we catch a longtail boat ride for a mouth-gaping ride to our chosen resort. Our water course takes us around a massive promontory rising straight out of the ocean, and then we arrive in what I can only describe as HEAVEN on Earth. Krabi's Phra Nang Beach, is considered to be, after Tahiti's Bora-Bora, merely the second-most beautiful in the world. Our lodging is a bungalow resort tucked between two towering cliffs. Feel the pressures of the outside world melt away in this most laid-back of atmospheres. Sunsets are always a virtuoso performance. Krabi also happens to be rock climbing Mecca and instructors are available to teach you the ropes. If you don't want to climb, just watching the climbers is endlessly fascinating. Sea canoes are available and they are a marvelous way to explore the karst-strewn Andaman Sea waters. Scuba diving here is also quite good. I can go on and on about Krabi, but I'd rather you discover its many charms yourself.
Day 3 & 4:
KOH LANTA is our next stop. It takes two ferries to get to this island, and the second crossing will certainly be a surprise. Lanta is at the beginning stages of commercial development. We encourage you to ride your bikes around Lanta on your own to investigate this little visited tropical isle. A picturesque Sea Gypsy settlement sits at the southern tip. Good diving and snorkeling spots are nearby; the surf a short shuffle away from your bedroom.
Our lodging is a quaint seaside bungalow resort on a secluded stretch of sand.
Day 5 & 6:
A bird sanctuary and several interesting Buddhist temples line today's route. We dare not dally too long as we head northwards along the coast to Suratthani and catch a vehicle ferry to infamous KOH SAMUI, an island where hedonism has developed to the highest level.
A pleasant road encircles this substantial isle, perfect for a day ride if you can possibly uproot yourself from the sugar-sand beach. Try to ration your energy because for two nights we call Koh Samui home. Their full moon parties take over from where the Roman debaucheries left off.
A morning ferry ride takes us back to the mainland. We will hug the hug the Gulf of Thailand on our way north to RANONG, a large fishing port. Our lodging for the night is hotel built right on top of a hot spring. Thermal-heated water is directed into everyone's room into an extra-large bathtub, and an immersion in these waters will do wonders for a saddle-sore body. Another outstanding seafood feast is scheduled for this evening.
Next morning we take a boat trip to the southernmost town in Burma, Victoria Point, and enter a world unlike any you have experienced. A few hours wandering around the streets and markets here will be an unforgettable experience, as will the longtail boat ride there and back.
Day 8 & 9:
We spend the last two days in Thailand's largest, contiguous, undisturbed rainforest area, KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK. A stunning road leads us there and the area is laced with abandoned mountain pathways begging to be explored.
Our 1st night's nest is up in a well-appointed tree house built high in the virgin jungle's tree canopy. Soak up the ambience of this unique resort and hike one of the park's excellent, self-guided nature walks.
The next day we shift base to a huge reservoir and sleep in rustic floating bungalows. Never will you witness more dramatic or beautiful scenery then on the boat cruise to the bungalows. Achingly beautiful gibbon love songs float across the waters every morning. Hornbills and eagles soar lazily above. Totally quiet. Totally untouched. A truly magical place.
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