With its eclectic catalogue of romantic escapades — diving with manta rays in the Similans, frolicking in Koh Lipe’s gentle surf, relaxing in a hammock in Phang Nga, kicking back in one of Samui’s health resorts, climbing the karst formations in Krabi, and simple beachcombing in Phuket – Southern Thailand is perfect for a Valentine holiday.
by Katherine Walsh.
Many visitors have experienced a passionate love affair with Southern Thailand, in part because of its beautiful tropical coastline but also because of its ability to cater to everyone: from hippies and hermits to the rich and the famous.
An eclectic catalogue of romantic escapades await in this part of the kingdom: diving with the peaceful manta rays in the Similan Islands, frolicking in Koh Lipe’s gentle surf, relaxing in a hammock in Phang Nga, kicking back in one of Koh Samui’s health resorts, climbing the karst rock formations in Krabi, and simple beachcombing in Phuket.
The South of Thailand never fails in its bid to offer a little bit of something for everyone, and there’s truly nowhere more romantic to spend a Valentine’s getaway – whatever adventure floats your boat.
The jungle-clad islands in southern Thailand are commonly made up of postcard-perfect azure blue sea and powder-white sandy beaches, accompanied by a few swaying palm trees to complete the idealistic scenery.
Thailand’s tourism industry is a major economic contributor, with statistics showing it injected a whopping THB 2.4 trillion to the country’s GDP in 2013 and although official figures are yet to be released, numbers are likely to have risen in both 2014 and 2015. Amazing Thailand, indeed.
But there’s more to Southern Thailand than just its beaches – although they are breathtaking enough that they will knock the skis off even the most dedicated of winter sports lovers! World-class restaurants stand alongside lip-smackingly tasty local eateries, high-end resorts are accompanied by charming-come-rustic lodgings and if you are looking for somewhere to unwind, then check-in to a local spa for a well-earned detoxing break.
Beachside dining in Koh Samui
Valentine’s Day is, by its very nature, a time to celebrate love and romance, and festivities are indeed embraced all over the country. But no one can deny that the South of Thailand – where the scenery oozes a naturally romantic ambience – is the perfect setting for rekindling a deep-rooted romance or stoking the fire of a new one.
Koh Samui attracts more than 1.5 million tourists every year, but how do you avoid the throngs of visitors for a spot of romance? Leave your better half swooning after a private dinner for two on the beach in a flower-adorned sala at places such as the Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa. Lit up by candles and served by a personal waiter, enjoy fine dining at its most romantic.
Needless to mention, Conrad Samui, Sheraton Samui, Vana Belle, Anantara Samui, Centara Grand Krabi, Tongsai Bay, Four Seasons Samui, InterContinental Samui, and many other high-end resorts and boutique properties that now proliferating on the island also have their own Valentine specials for those celebrating the month of love.
Get your adrenalin pumping in Krabi
If a candlelit meal or a day at a spa gets you wriggling in your Nikes with tedium, Krabi is the place to head to inject some adrenalin into your V-Day celebrations.
Offbeat exploits include cycling the paths surrounding the waterfalls at the Phanom Benja National Park, holding hands while cliff jumping in Railay or going on a kayaking expedition in the Ao Thalan Mangrove Forest.
Deep water soloing with Basecamp Tonsai (www.basecamptonsai.com) will get your heart pumping, as will dirt biking in the mountains and a hike up to the Tiger Cave Temple is a great opportunity to take in an awesome view together while exploring each other’s wilder sides.
Sofitel Phokeethra Krabi has a golf course within its ground, and a luxury yacht to take you island hopping. Dusit Thani Krabi, Centara Grand Krabi Beach Resort, Phulay Bay Resort are among the other property worth checking out as a base for your extreme adventure holiday.
Diving in the Similans
Whoever said romance has to be all about flowers, massages, and special dinners has never experienced a diving adventure in the Similan Islands. Companies such as Oktavia Diver Center (www.oktaviadivecenter.com) run liveaboard trips from Khao Lak and with operations in full swing around the Valentine’s period, there’s nothing more romantic than swimming alongside a whale shark.
Why not go all out and forget about the possible embarrassment of proposing on a big screen at a football match or hiding a ring in her favorite dessert and risking a choking incident when you can go under water and do it with the fish? According to Operations Manager Jamie Walsh, diving in the Similans offers one of the “most romantic underwater experiences in the world” and in 2015, two happy bubble blowing couples disembarked off the boat newly engaged.
Beachcombing in Lipe
If you are to heed advice from the likes of travel wizards Lonely Planet or listen to the recommendations on TripAdvisor, then you will already know that any true beach bunny at heart should head to Koh Lipe. There are three main beaches on the island accompanied by many often-private bays scattered along the small island’s coastline and couples can enjoy catching sunrises, sunsets, do some beach combing, a spot of snorkeling or take a leisurely dip in the sea.
Sunset in Phuket
Anyone from honeymooners to long-married couples in Phuket this Valentine’s Day will be spoilt for choice, as beach massages, jungle treks and temple tours cater to everyone’s sense of romantic adventure. But there is a simpler way to inject some romance into your Phuket trip by taking a sunset stroll with your loved one at Promthep Cape. Located on the island’s southernmost tip, this peninsula offers awesome ocean views and is a popular hotspot – so popular in fact that it attracts hundreds of visitors every day armed with cameras to capture the moment. You may not even need to get out of your resort to enjoy a scintillating sunset. Many hotels, such as the Banyan Tree Phuket and Angsana Laguna, offer great vantage points for that romantic time with your special one during sunset.
Phosphorescence in Phang Nga Bay
Nestled between Krabi and Phuket, a trip to Phang Nga Bay should be thrown into the mix and there are a multitude of tours available in the bay for romancing couples,, including cave explorations and sunset cruises. But arguably the most romantic experience here happens after the sun has gone down when the sea begins to sparkle as the phosphorescent plankton glows beneath the water’s surface. Take a kayak out with a tour agency such as Green Andaman Travel (www.greenandamantravel.com) and marvel with some “ooohhs” and “aaahhs” as the plankton glistens each time your oar breaks the surface.
While some romantics will hike through the old rainforests in Khao Sok, others may prefer to link hands while jumping off limestone rock faces in Ao Nang to get their juices flowing. From the well-known tourist magnets such as Phuket and Samui to the better-kept secrets such as Khao Lak and Koh Lipe, southern Thailand is certainly amazing Thailand.