It is Thailand’s largest island, and its name alone makes many dream: Phuket, located south of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and only separated from the mainland by a narrow waterway, is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Its long, white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and mighty limestone cliffs make the island a true tropical paradise.
History and present
Due to its favorable location on the trade route between China and India and the tin mining industry, Phuket was an important stop for trade travelers from Europe as early as the 19th century. Buildings in the Sino-Portuguese style still characterize the appearance of the provincial capital Phuket Town today.
In the 1980s, the island developed into a tourist magnet and today has an excellent infrastructure. Hotels of all categories, wellness oases and spas invite you to relax, while a large number of restaurants provide culinary enjoyment. Whether traditional markets or modern shopping centers, whether elephant rides, diving or bungee jumping, whether theater and acrobatics in the popular Phuket Fantasea amusement park or well-tended golf courses – Phuket has something for everyone.
Even those who prefer study trips to all-inclusive beach holidays should not miss the island: In the Wat Phra Thong temple complex there is the famous Buddha statue, only half of which protrudes from the earth. The 45-meter-high Big Buddha, an impressive statue made of white marble, sits enthroned on a hill above the island. Another Buddha made of copper, which at least brings it to a proud 12 meters high, is right next to it. The largest temple complex in Phuket is the legendary Wat Chalong in the south of the island, whose history goes back to the beginning of the 19th century.
Romantics will be drawn to Cape Promthep at the southernmost point of Phuket in the evening. In addition to the wonderful sunsets, there is also an impressive view of the turquoise sea and the surrounding islets during the day.
With an area of around 233 km², Ko Samui is the second largest Thai island and today a real tourist magnet. No wonder, given the facts that the small island in the Gulf of Siam has wonderful sandy beaches under towering palm trees and crystal clear, turquoise water. But even if the dream beaches of Ko Samui invite many holidaymakers to relax, active holidaymakers will also get their money’s worth with snorkeling or surfing.
Picture book beaches
If you are on holiday in Ko Samui, you should definitely not miss a visit to Chaweng Beach. The mile-long beach is the longest on the island. 6km of the finest, soft sand paired with crystal clear water literally draws visitors to the island. The Big Buddha Beach on the north coast of Ko Samui is a real insider tip. The coastal bay owes its name to the huge Buddha statue at the foot of the beach, which is an impressive sight, especially at sunset. Away from the hustle and bustle of the island, you can relax even better at Buddha Beach.
A real highlight on Ko Samui is the spectacular waterfall of Na Mueang. With a fall height of over 20 meters, this mighty natural spectacle is definitely worth seeing. The famous rock formations Hin Ta and Hin Yai, also called Grandfather and Grandmother’s Rock, are a popular destination for over one million tourists a year on Ko Samui.
Whether riding an elephant at the Na Mueng waterfall, diving in Chaweng Beach or exploring the hilly interior of the country with an off-road vehicle, Ko Samui has plenty of action to offer. In the countless bars and clubs directly on the beach you can immerse yourself in the island’s nightlife, so that Ko Samui can never appear for long.
Mae Hong Son
Surrounded by a mountain landscape of dense rainforest, in the far north-west of Thailand is the city of Mae Hong Son, with a population of almost 7,000. The “city of fog” is one of the most unspoilt places in Thailand thanks to its remote location near the border with Myanmar. Individual tourists and study travelers appreciate her, not least because of this, as one of the most beautiful.
Buddhist cultural treasures in Mae Hong Son
The tranquil town with its traditional wooden houses is home to a number of temples and monasteries, some of which are built in the Burmese and some in the Lanna style.
Two of them, Wat Chong Klang and Wat Chong Kham, are located directly on the shores of Jong Kham Lake in the south of the city. While Wat Chong Kham, built in 1827, impresses with a huge Buddha statue from neighboring Myanmar, beautiful Burmese stained glass and wood carvings can be found in Wat Chong Klang.
Small cafes and restaurants around the idyllic lake invite you to linger. In the evening, additional food stalls are set up, and then a night market begins, where people from the surrounding mountains sell textiles and souvenirs.
Another important temple complex towers high above the city on Doi Kong Mu Mountain. In the late afternoon, the serpentine-like ascent with its numerous steps is twice as worthwhile, because from up here there is a fantastic view of the sunset.
The highlight in the Wat Phra Non temple at the foot of the same mountain is a reclining Buddha statue 12 meters in length. Another temple, with a covered wooden path leading to the entrance, is directly opposite.
Mae Hong Son Province
National parks with untouched nature and impressive waterfalls characterize the entire area. Those who want to relax can visit the mineral-rich hot springs of Pha Bong or take a dip in the thermal pool of Poo Klon. The beneficial effects of the black mud found here on the skin are valued by locals and tourists alike.