DAY TRIP IN THE THAI ISLANDS: THE PERFECT PLACE TO VISIT
Have you ever visited a place that just blew you away?
As in, literally left you speechless?
If you have, then you’ll know how I felt visiting Hong Island in Thailand’s Krabi province.
When I cut my trip to Railay short by a day to chase sunshine in the Gulf Islands, I knew I’d have to choose between the two day trips I was originally hoping to fit in during my stay in Railay- the ‘four islands’ or Hong Island.
Sure, you could lounge at the gorgeous beaches of Railay. But, taking a day trip to Thai islands in this area was high on my list of things to do because they’re some of the most gorgeous in all of SE Asia.
Ultimately, I chose the Hong Island trip because photos I’d seen from friends who’d visited. Those photos were, in short, exceptional- white, sandy beaches, a secluded lagoon. I knew I had to see it myself.
Arriving in Railay, I checked into my hotel and then wandered down to the walking street (main street in town). There, you’ll find a bunch of tour operators. You could also book through your hotel, but I like to have options.
I visited a few of the booths to get a general sense of tour routes and going rates. In the end, I booked at the booth where I felt people were friendliest- Love Andaman travel.
I would have done a bit more research if I planned on doing the group tours, but since I was after a private long-boat, I figured they’d all be similar experiences.
Group tours to Hong from Railay cost between £30-35 per person. I was told I’d likely be on a boat with 30-40 other people, usually a few long-tails or speed boats that travel together. Nothing could have sounded less appealing, so when I found out it was only £30 more to rent my own boat, I decided to go for it.
I was travelling alone, so this was quite the splurge- but if you’re travelling in a group of people, it may make more sense than doing a crowded group tour.
Really though, the main reason I booked a private tour was because it meant we could leave an hour and a half earlier than all the group tours. I considered this benefit worth it to have quiet moments and flexibility throughout the day.
Travelling from Railay, I met my tour operator on the beach the next morning. Hotel pick-ups aren’t offered because no one drives in Railay- it’s totally walkable.
Climbing into the long-tail, I couldn’t believe my luck- clear skies, sunshine and gentle waves.
It was the perfect day for exploring.
Travelling from Railay to Koh Hong, our first stop, takes an hour by long-tail and 30 minutes by speedboat. The journey from Ao Nang is a bit shorter, but similar.
Pulling up to the floating pier at Koh Hong, I grinned wildly at the powdery beach I could see in front of me. Aqua water sparkled with the rising morning sun to my right, with limestone karats looming in the background.
It was stunning.
So stunning I proceeded to FaceTime anyone I knew would be awake in the US, rationalising it’d be early evening for most of them.
The water at Koh Rong is crystal clear, perfect for snorkeling, swimming or just lounging. In no time at all, I understood why the island has been called the emerald of the coast of Krabi.
Because I was on a private tour, I got to dictate how long we stayed at each location. This proved mega helpful later in the day when it meant I had the flexibility to wait an extra 10-15 minutes for a tour group to depart so I could enjoy a location with relative quiet.
I decided to only stay at Hong Island for an hour, I was keen to get to the lagoon as soon as the tide was high enough for us to float in.
So, an hour later, we set off for the lagoon. The only way to enter Hong Lagoon is by boat, and the tide has to be high enough.
Pulling into the lagoon, you turn a corner of the island, slow down and then gently drift toward the opening, the long tail motor putting softly. It’s reminiscent of waiting for a grand reveal.
And, in the case of Hong Lagoon, the reveal delivers.
Completely sheltered from the wind, the water in the lagoon is calm and smooth. We were one of the first boats in the lagoon, so the first thing I noticed was how serene it was. I’ve heard this isn’t the case later in the day, when there are dozens of boats in the lagoon.
As if the peace isn’t reason enough to visit, the bright emerald green colour of the water was like nothing I’d seen before.
We spent about an hour in the lagoon- I swam for a bit, then watched others relax and enjoy the lagoon as well. It was such a beautiful place to just pause for a moment.
Later in the day, I’ve heard some of the larger tour groups bring kayaks for their guests so it’s possible to have an active experience at the lagoon, pending which provider you book with.
Next up, we visited two other islands in Thanbok Khoranee National Park, which Koh Hong is a part of.
Koh Pak Bia and Lao Lading were both beautiful places to stop for a bit.
In both you can snorkel, and there are a few shaded areas you can nap underneath, or in my case, read a book shaded from the sun.
I enjoyed the unique limestone formations in Koh Pak Bia, and the monkeys swinging about, but the beach is rocky- wear flip flops or water shoes to avoid cutting your feet.
At Lao Lading, which is a sandy beach, you can walk a short jungle path to a smaller beach on the other side of the island. This is neat to check out, but the main beach is best for snorkelling and swimming.
Albeit small, the beach at Lao Lading is pretty much a shallow water snorkelling dream- even sitting in the waves at the shoreline, dozens of fish swam around me.
Both islands also have toilet facilities, as does Koh Hong.
At all four locations, be mindful of jellyfish. I saw so many on the long tail boat ride from Railay to Hong, and several in the waters near Lao Lading.
My tour didn’t include lunch since we got back to Railay at 1:30 pm, but my guide did cut up an entire fresh pineapple for me and provided chilled water.
Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Railay. The timing couldn’t have been better- about half the way back to Railay, I noticed dark storm clouds rolling in. As soon as we hit the beach, the downpour started.
Luckily, I was able to run to a beach bar and wait out the storm with a fresh coconut and good book.
If you’re planning on making a day trip to Hong Island (and nearby islands), don’t forget:
- A dry bag to hold electronics
- Waterproof phone case (personally a fan of the YOSH one)
- Sun screen
- Snacks if you think you’ll get hungry and your tour doesn’t provide lunch. There’s food available on Koh Hong, but since it was our first stop and I’d just had breakfast, I didn’t check out what was on offer
Even writing this post, I’m not over the beauty of Hong Island. Revisiting the photos I took, I can’t believe how lucky I am having been able to visit this gorgeous place as part of a day trip in the Thai islands.
Having visited several Thai islands, I consider Hong to be one of the most beautiful.
A must visit for any trips to the Andaman Islands.
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Have you ever been to Thailand? Did you do a day trip in the Thai islands? Which ones were your favourites?