Time is always one of the biggest barriers when it comes to exploring a new country. The average traveler usually only has about 2 weeks before they have to return to their office cubicle back home, and that is why intricate planning is very important in order to make the most out of your trip abroad. Doing your homework on what you want to see and do is crucial, but I would not recommend booking any day trips while you are still at home as you would be overcharged immensely.
Once you arrive in Phuket you will be bombarded with “special prices” on day trips and island excursions. Most of these trips are heavily overpriced and the Thai people try their best to milk the Farangs (Foreigners) with their steep prices.
Do not book with the first person you meet! You will notice that there are hundreds of travel agencies scattered throughout tourist hotspots, all trying to sell day trips claiming that they are different from the rest. Although some of these trips do vary to some degree, they are still in essence exactly the same. Use this to your advantage.
Say for instance you want to make a trip to James Bond Island. Shop around and go to each agency and ask them what they will charge you for it. Write down the price of each and compare it. Tell each agency that this is what the other is offering you and play them off against each other. It might sound harsh and you might feel like you are exploiting them but I promise you if you don’t do this they will exploit you. If you name the price that you are willing to pay and they say no, just politely say thank you and walk out, chances are very good that they will call you back with a much lower price. The Thai people are friendly and funny, if you treat them with respect and a smile they will be much more willing to help you.
Here are a couple of day trips that I really enjoyed:
Phi Phi Island
This is the obvious choice for most travelers. Although it has become a very touristy area (unpleasantly so at times) it still remains a must-see if you go to Thailand. The spectacular Maya Bay has a beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water. It is just a pity that you can’t really take in the beauty because of the vast amounts of tourist on the beach. Phi Phi Island itself is also beautiful but if you have the time I would much rather spend a night or two there because the island has really cool places to explore (like the viewpoints or the secret beach parties).
Coral Island is not as crowded as the other islands. There isn’t much on the island itself but the snorkeling around the island is pretty cool and the coral is a bit less damaged than that of Phi Phi. After a long day of snorkeling I spent the remainder of my time on the island chilling in a hammock on the beach.
You can do daytrips from Phuket to Krabi by speedboat but I don’t think it is advisable. Krabi is such a beautiful place and it would be sad to only spend a couple of hours there. Rather make a trip out of it and spend a couple of days there. The region has a lot to offer and I will do a separate post about it.
James bond Island, named so because it featured in the James Bond movie; The Man with the Golden Gun, is to the north of Phuket. For this daytrip we left early in the morning by minivan and drove off the island of Phuket to the mainland. From there we took a slow boat in the Phang Nga region to James Bond Island. This trip included the opportunity to kayak around the islands and also into caves that was eerily hidden in the cliff walls of the various islands.