Krabi and Trang offer an authentic and laid back Thai experience without the hoards of tourists. These Southwestern Thailand hotspots may be less traveled than better-known (and crowded!) Phuket, but that's all the more reason to make this your next vacation destination.
Thailand's Largest Swimming Pool
Sure the beaches in Thailand are some of the best in the world. But sometimes you just want to relax poolside—Sofitel Krabi's got you covered. Located about 30 minutes from Krabi town, the resort's lagoon-style pool is the largest in Thailand at over 75,000 square feet. The pool also has a section just for kids, a swim-up bar, and direct access via a private entrance for select ground floor suites, which allows guests to swim to the main pool from their terrace.
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Sure, Tup Island looks like a lot of the islands you'll find in Southern Thailand, with pristine white sand and surrounded by crystal turquoise water perfect for the day's beach activities. But at low tide, the island reveals a sand bar that connects it to a neighboring island, which you can easily walk across while experiencing the ocean lapping at your feet in two different directions. Accessible by boat from Ao Nang in the Krabi province, Tup Island is not to be missed.
Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, Railay beach has something for everyone. Located on a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang, the beach is only accessible by boat due to the steep karst rock surrounding it. Longtail boats can bring you right up to the beach, but most arrive through the east side, which allows visitors to experience a stroll through a magnificent and cavernous limestone walkway. Once you arrive, you may need to pick your chin off the floor after taking in a glimpse of the jaw-dropping scenery. There’s also an area for rock climbing if you lose interest in swimming in the pristine ocean. Stop by one of the nearby hotel restaurants to take in the views and a satisfying lunch.
Trang's cuisine is unique compared with the rest of Thailand, thanks to the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 18th century. Today, this influence is most obvious in Trang's abundance of dim sum restaurants. For the uninitiated, dim sum is usually a breakfast or brunch-time meal consisting of small, bite-sized portioned dishes that are steamed, sautéed, or fried. At Pong O Cha restaurant, hungry diners browse display cases filled with samples of all the delectable dishes on the menu like roasted pork, steamed buns, and shumai. Then they mark down their orders on menu slips that are passed to a cashier. The orders are passed onto waitresses who deliver the food.
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Located on the west side of Koh Mook is the extraordinary Emerald Cave. Accessible only during a calm low tide, visitors swim through a dark craggy tunnel to get to the cave's hidden gem: a secret beach surrounded by lush cliffs and an emerald lagoon. Time your visit carefully, as high tide or bad weather will have you stuck waiting on the lagoon side or unable to visit completely.
For the rest of the best things to do in southern Thailand, like the culinary adventure that is the Trang Night Market, visit Fodor's.