Phuong Nguyen

In Southern Thailand, the provinces of Phuket and Krabi lie on opposite sides of a pretty bay in the Andaman Sea. Visitors to the “Land of Golden Pagodas” flock to this region to enjoy seaside holiday resorts, white sand beaches, and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Crystal clear sea at Railay Beach - Krabi Province

The sunny and breezy Andaman Sea

A Vietnamese folk saying states that: “Even old ladies hit the beach in March”. This stems from the fact that the waters of the East Sea are perfect for bathing and fishing in March. However the seas from the Strait of Malacca through the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea are at their most idyllic from the end of the rainy season in November until April or May.

Thai people make things convenient for tourists by hosting boat tours to many well-known locations. They also offer a wide variety of water transport options, from luxurious cruise ships to speed boats to small wooden canoes. We chose a tour from Phuket to Krabi that stopped by Phi Phi Island, home to breathtaking beaches and exciting dive sites.

Turquoise water in Maya Bay

During our two-day trip we decided to spend the night on peaceful Phi Phi Island so as to enjoy its scenery both at dawn and at sunset, instead of just swinging by for an afternoon stop en route to Krabi. Our resort had a café and restaurant facing the windy seafront. Watching the brilliant sun reflecting on the shiny and gentle waves,  we felt our souls heal and our worries wash away along with the stresses of urban life. We sat in silence, our eyes fixed on the fading sun as it gradually retreated behind the western horizon, its dazzling glow replaced by a tender beauty. The blinding golden light shifted to pale pink mixed with patches of transparent purple like thin veils, before the final rays of light were obscured behind the gray mountain ranges in a hazy twilight, and finally disappeared. Stillness prevailed until joyous jazzy tunes escaped from a nearby pub, and we awoke from our pleasant dream. Life was good. Some fleeting moments are the sweetest of all.

A monkey in Krabi’s forests

Ko means “island” in Thai, and tourists will appreciate the inherent beauty of paradise islands like Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phi Le, Ko Lanta, and Ko Lon, as well as the locals’ tourism services. The Thais are blessed with bright smiles, which they use to charm visitors. They are also adept at creating tour options for different customer segments, from good-value backpacking trips to more deluxe experiences. On that note, Thai cuisine is simply splendid. The dishes we tried at night markets were plentiful and included spicy tom yum (hot and sour seafood soup), light and refreshing som tam (green papaya salad with sesarmid crabs), fried hu tiu noodles, and creamy green chicken curry. Hardly any foreign visitors, especially those from Vietnam, would complain about Thai food, which is both appetizing and affordable.

A colorful painting of local life

Arriving in Phuket at the beginning of spring we decided to spend one whole day exploring Phuket’s Old Town, a historic complex in the heart of Phuket Island. To this day, Phuket’s Old Town retains its exquisite buildings that blend elements of Chinese and European colonial architecture. This area is full of excitement and activity.

Tourists on Phuket Island

Our tuk-tuk driver let us in on an interesting piece of trivia: if one wishes to hear the sound of firecrackers, one should visit Wat Chalong Temple. The best-known temple in Phuket Province, it was built during the reign of Rama II at the end of the 19th century. The temple’s main tower is located on a high hill that offers panoramic views. Its top floor houses sacred relics, while various paintings depict the life of Buddha in the main hall. Visitors to Wat Chalong can light firecrackers in the pagoda’s yard. According to our driver, Thai merchants often light firecrackers here to fend off bad luck. For Vietnamese tourists, the pops and bangs of firecrackers bring back memories of the 1980s, when firecrackers were part of our celebrations on New Year’s Eve.

A nature reserve on Phuket
As our tour of daily life in Phuket came to an end, we reached Patong as night fell. This is the island’s liveliest entertainment zone, with fancy restaurants, lively bars, colorful street shows, bustling night markets full of crowded stalls, and swarms of passers-by. If life is like a painting, Patong at night is the boldest patch of color, revealing the artist’s creativity. It is truly a multidimensional artwork with layers of intertwined meaning.