There is room along the Andaman coast for travelers of every persuasion. Island resorts with upscale amenities are situated within walking distance of modest beach bungalows and frugal guest houses. Activities range from lounging in hammocks to surfing, rock-climbing, diving, jungle trekking and sea kayaking.
With a long coastline and a tropical climate, the Andaman Sea is blessed with coral reefs that serve as habitat and breeding grounds for an immense variety of sea life. From the air, the reefs appear around the islands in the form of beautiful, turquoise rings fading into the deep azure sea.
These rings, the coral reefs, provide ideal sites for scuba diving and snorkeling, from the border areas of Burma down to Malaysia. Within this area there are many famous dive spots and destinations for day-trips and liveaboards.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are major sports in this part of the world. The bizarre, but beautiful, limestone formations that dot the coast also extend into the underwater realm, creating the perfect place for colorful coral formations and accompanying marine life.
Another way to enjoy diving in the Andaman is to book a multi-day excursion to outlying islands or reefs on live-aboard boats. The variety of sea life here is staggering, and divers have the entire area to themselves as few run-of-the-mill tourists venture this far from the mainland. SeaBees diving is one of the many dive operators in Khaolak, Phang Nga.
Along the southern stretches of the Andaman Coast, Phuket is the Thai island with the best name recognition. Beaches are backed by a mountainous landscape and an excellent transportation network. For those who can pull themselves away from the coast, Phuket City boasts Sino-Portuguese architecture unlike that found anywhere else in Thailand. Also Phuket City boasts a true Chinatown area where you can find the small Chinese shops offering fantastic food and products.
Second to Phuket in terms of numbers, but just as tantalizing, is Krabi Province. This is where you'll find some of Thailand's most coveted island resorts like those found on Phi Phi or Lanta islands. Krabi is a leader in adventure sports, with soaring limestone cliffs that offer the nimblest climbers unparalleled panoramas of the coast and mountains.
Phang Nga Province is synonymous with Ao Phang Nga National Park and is a world leading eco-tourism destination. Hikers explore caves and pristine coastal forests, while water-goers enjoy snorkeling and kayaking through karst fields and mangrove forests. The jewel of Phang Nga Province is the Similan Islands, one of the world's most sought-after diving destinations.
Ranong is the smallest province along the Andaman Coast, and it's best known for Ko Chang and Koh Payam. These secluded islands have the vast beaches of Phuket with a fraction of the crowds. Easily visited on a weekend trip from Bangkok, Ranong's quiet ambiance is a secret that's getting harder to keep.
From world-class resorts to simple guest houses and bungalows, the Andaman Coast offers tourists all of the time-tested hospitality that has made Thailand such a popular world travel destination. And with access to so many activities unique attractions, it is no wonder that the same visitors return over and again.
On 26 December 2004 a 9.5 magnitude earthquake on the Indian Ocean’s floor unleashed a mammoth tsunami that first swallowed, and then spat out, the usually tranquil green Andaman Sea as a 15m-high raging wave. It flattened entire communities, claimed more than 6000 lives and shattered the region’s tourism industry.
But even the world’s second most powerful earthquake couldn’t shake the Andaman Coast’s super-sized natural beauty. With a face of soaring jagged limestone peaks, jade water for eyes and long sun-kissed golden beaches for legs, this bit of Thailand’s is positively dreamy.