Thai island-hopping is no longer just for backpackers. Far from it. If you're looking to splash out on a luxury break, Thailand has plenty of surprises up its sleeve. Recently, I was lucky enough to take a truly top-notch island-hopping trip through Southern Thailand. It was a whirlwind of deluxe hotels, infinity pools, private yachts, cocktails, massages and fine dining.
Thailand is a 12-hour flight from the UK and there are numerous options for direct flights. From Bangkok or Phuket, it’s only a short domestic flight to Krabi. Deciding when to go is extremely important, as the monsoons tend to hit the Southern Thai islands fairly hard. Generally, the best time to visit is between February and April, when rainfall is at a minimum, and you can almost bank on blue skies.
On arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, I was collected by a private 7 series BMW and taken straight to my hotel for the next couple of nights. If you are planning a trip to Bangkok and would like a similar welcome, we can arrange this for you – just get in touch!
The Siam Kempinski offers a fantastic location with easy access to the Skytrain network (BTS) and the Siam Paragon, packed with boutique shops and restaurants. The hotel is also home to the Michelin-starred restaurant - Sra Bua. This is fine dining at its best and should be on top of any foodie's Thailand wishlist. Tables at the restaurant are in huge demand, so pre-booking would be recommended. We can handle that for you, so feel free to ask.
If you are staying in Bangkok for a couple of days, try spending an afternoon at Divana Spa. It offers various experiences ranging from 1-hour treatments to full spa days, including massages, facials, body scrubs, and holistic treatments. The spa has won numerous awards and it's now regarded as the one of best in Asia. It's a brilliant way to unwind after a long flight and a great addition to any Thailand trip.
After our fantastic stay at The Siam Kempinski, we were taken to the airport for our flight to Trang. Today was the absolute highlight for me, as I achieved a life-long dream - I flew on a private jet! We were dropped off at the private terminal, met by our pilot and boarded our 14-seater Gulfstream G500 to Trang. M-Jets are the biggest private jet company in Thailand and they have a number of different aircraft. If you are looking for something very special indeed, we can arrange a bespoke flight plan for you. Trust me, it's worth it.
On arrival in Trang, we were taken to Bo Hin Farm Stay to explore the mangrove forest in a traditional long-tail boat. This is a great way to experience local life within a real working community village. During the trip, we were lucky enough to lend a hand with their mangrove and sea-grass reforestation project. I loved meeting the local people and I would definitely recommend spending a couple of nights here.
From Trang, it's only a 15-minute speedboat journey to Koh Muk, a beautiful island with a castaway atmosphere. We stayed at The Sivalai Resort, which is a great boutique hotel situated on a sandbank at the end of the island. I would recommend one of the beachfront bungalows here, as they offer wonderful views across the Andaman Sea. In the evening, we took a trip over to Charlie’s beach, which offers the best sunset on the island. If you do make it out to Koh Muk, be sure to book a trip out to Emerald Cave - it's simply gorgeous.
Early the next morning, we were collected by our own private yacht to start exploring the islands. We can recommend itineraries for your island-hopping or you can create your own personal agenda. This is absolutely perfect for travellers looking for private luxury and hoping to see the islands from a different perspective. Our first stop on the 50-person luxury yacht was the tropical island of Koh Kradan.
This island felt far less commercial than other islands, making it ideal for couples looking to escape the crowds. I took the paddleboards that were on-board the yacht and tried my hand at paddle-boarding. The sea was like a mill-pond, so it was a brilliant place to paddleboard for the first time. The visibility of the sea was remarkable. From my paddleboard, I could see all kinds of tropical fish and bright coral.
Koh Kradan has a handful of different hotels. The pick of the bunch is the Sevenseas Resort which is perfect for a secluded island escape. After lunch, we boarded the yacht once more and sailed onto Koh Lanta.
On Koh Lanta, we spent the night at The Pimalai resort, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The Pimalai is, hands down, the best hotel that I have ever stayed in. I slept in one of their hillside villas, with my own infinity pool and fantastic views of the surrounding rainforest.
The Pimalai also has a number of restaurants serving different types of cuisine and a luxury spa which is perfect for an afternoon massage. It really is hard to beat.
Back on the mainland, Krabi has something for everyone’s needs and budgets. Around here, you will find some of the best hotels in Southeast Asia. Without a doubt, the Rayavadee is among the most famous. Situated on the stunning Railay Beach, it's a one-of-a-kind hotel.
One thing you must do during your stay on Railay is watch the sunset from The Grotto. This is an ancient limestone cave on the beach, where they serve light snacks and cocktails while the sun goes down. The hotel also offers a range of non-motorised water sports on the beach, which are free for guests.
Another favourite of mine is The Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra, home to the largest swimming pool in Asia. This is the perfect hotel for families looking for a little luxury. There are a vast number of activities on offer here and the location is very convenient. It's just a short drive to Ao Nang, which has great shopping and restaurants.
Another hotel in Krabi that left a lasting impression is the Shellsea Resort. This is a brand new boutique property that is fantastic for couples who like modern design. The à la carte restaurant is run by an award-winning chef and the food here was delicious.
After our stay in Krabi, it was time to return to the UK. Although there are a number of low-cost options in Asia, we flew back to Bangkok with Bangkok Airways. All passengers flying with Bangkok Airways have access to the lounge, which offers beverages, snacks and unlimited access to their infamous popcorn machine. The onboard service is also exceptional, with light meals included on every flight. If I ever have the opportunity to return to Thailand in the future, I'll choose Bangkok Airways every time!
If you’re interested in visiting Bangkok and the Southern Thai Islands, I can help you arrange every aspect of your trip, from direct or multi-stop flights to transfers, accommodation, tours and tailormade holidays around the country. Just contact me to know more and start planning!