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Krabi Thailand

K2AoNangLOiThe lush Krabi Province in Thailand is filled with natural attractions such as the tropical jungles, soft coral sand beaches and idyllic islands begging an island-hopping "discovery tour". Our jet boat excursion started soon after my group's arrival at the Krabi airport and our quick transfer to Ao Nang (www.aonang.com).

Island hopping via a speed boat is the thing to do at Ao Nang. The very scenic national park at Phang Nga Bay consists of over 40 limestone peaks rising dramatically from the blue water of the Adaman. Mangroves and cliffs abound and these tiny islands with caves and sand beaches offer a picturesque spot to anchor and swim or snorkel. Some even have numerous stalactites and stalagmites, such as Hat Rai Le, to visit.

We pulled our speed boat into the soft sandy beach and made our way to the cave past several sunbathers and a few beach vendors selling a variety of fruit and other food items. We walked past the long stalactites below the cliff and noticed a mountain climber testing his gear on the ceiling of the undercut outcropping among the stalactites. We walked further to find another 6 or 7 rock climbers clinging to ropes positioned along the side of a cliff just past our departure point.

K4HatReiLeLOi K3HatReiLeLOiSome very picturesque islands in the area are separated by a shallow "saddle" of crystal clear water at low tide and become connected at high tide. Chicken Island or Koh Kai is a bizarre rock formation which resembles the head of a chicken. Other tall limestone isles have shapes in different Karst forms, but they all have excellent snorkeling and swimming around them. I enjoyed an hour or so of viewing the exotic marine life and soft corals through my dive mask while visiting one of the great reefs there.

Fauna and flora are often unique to Thailand and kayaking is one very popular way to explore the lovely islands and their coves. Paddle through twisting channels or cuts and venture into the darkness far underneath huge rock formations. Back in Krabi, I stayed at the very comfortable Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort (www.sheraton.com/krabi) which K5KohRokLOihas the best breakfast buffet in the country I believe. Time was limited unfortunately because this is a resort that begged our use and enjoyment.

On the following day, we visited Lanta Noi and Lanta Yai islands and their major district town of Ko Lanta. The unique island area has many beautiful landscapes, spectacular coral reefs and tropical mangrove forests. The large island with two primary highways and few other roads is lined with white sand beaches on the western shoreline and tiny limestone islands off the eastern side.

We traveled by van along a small paved road and took two ferry rides to arrive on the island where we visited a quaint fishing village. During our tour, we saw more long-tailed boats against the shoreline than I knew ever existed. On Ko Lanta K6KoLantaLOithat night and the next, I stayed at the Rawi Warin Resort & Spa (www.rawiwarin.com), which had several nice rooms and villas (with private courtyards) surrounding a large, beautiful meandering garden pond.

On the following day, we took a boat trip to the soft powder sand of Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai, two sister islands a few hundred feet apart. The snorkeling and swimming off the beaches is very nice and our group enjoyed it for almost an hour. One highlight that noon was enjoying the sweet ice cold watermelon that our boat captain had brought along to top off our picnic lunch. On one day, a member of our group went diving in the beautiful waters of the Phi Phi Islands K7KoLantaLOiwhich lie just west of Ko Lanta.

This is one of the most beautiful areas of Thailand and one you should not miss. For more information, contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand (http://www.tourismthailand.org/) at phone +66 02 250 5500 or email center@tat.or.th.


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