& MALAYSIAN PENINSULA
Multi-coloured, authentic, aestetic, and loved by many... and justly so!
We've had the fortune to enjoy many islands around the globe. There are indeed many gems. And the islands in Thailand and off Peninsular Malaysia is one of them!
There's the Maldives, the Seychelles, the Pacific islands. All unique, all very beautiful in their own way, and all epitomized as paradise on Earth. We've been to these places, and many others, and we've visited Thailand & Malaysia afterwards. And here's the secret: The Malay-Thai archipelago is all as unique and beautiful.
The Thai islands south of Phuket towards Malaysia, and the islands in the South Chinese Sea all have a deep soul, they are authentic, and they possess an appeal that's very hard to beat. Every time we visit these islands we're completely checkmated: Friendly, funny and open locals; oceans, bays, karst isles, and beaches in wild shapes and colors; superior and affordable sea food, fresh fruits, and some of the best cuisine; Thai massages, hammocks, slow moving time; and still islands to be found that are less developed.
These islands invites for the perfect vacation. And they've provided us with this feeling many times, again and again...
Thailand: Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Phang-Nga bay, Krabi islands, Phi Phi islands,
Koh Lanta, Trang islands (Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Koh Mook), Koh Libong, Koh Sukorn, and the Adang-Koh Lipe Archipelago.
Malaysia: The Perhentians, Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Redang, Pulau Pinang, and Pulau Langkawi.
...during 5 months in the complete archipelago
Our passion for travelling throughout Southeast Asia have led us to Thailand and Malaysia many times, and the more we go there the more we're hooked.
The first time we island-hopped around Thailand we hadn't seen much of great Asia, and we were thrilled. The second time, we must admit that our interpretation developed to be too snobbish, too arrogant: Why go there, when you can go elsewhere along less trodden paths? Why bother seeing something you have to share with so many other tourists... Well, here's why: Try it the other way around and visit 10 exotic island groups around the world. Afterwards then go to the Thai Islands to relax, enjoy the beach life, dive, engage with the locals, and eat well. Just do what you usually do when "island'ing around". You will most likely be very surprised how alluring and enjoyable these beautiful islands really are.
From 1847-1862, ‘the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia’ was published. In this journal, English ethnologist George Earl proposed two names for the islands of South East Asia: Melayunesia or Indunesia. ‘Malayu' derives from Sanskrit and Tamil words which can be translated as ‘land of mountains’. ‘Nesia’ is Greek for islands. The world’s largest archipelago just south of Malaysia ended up using the name Indonesia. However when Malaysia got independence it wasn’t the name referring to its islands that was used, instead a name referring to the unification of three (‘si’) states, the Malaysian Peninsula and the two regions in Borneo, was invented.
During our travels, the Malaysian Peninsula has somehow always been a transit or a short stopover. Once on a travel from Bali to Bangkok. Another time during a circling around the South Chinese Sea. A third time, en-route from Indonesia to the Philippines. And then again, on a fourth trip where we flew in with the Andaman Sea as our primary target. We’ve circumnavigated mountainous Langkawi Island in a rental car, trekked around the tropical Perhentian Islands, and snorkeled along the beautiful coasts of Pulau Lang Tengah and Pulau Redang. In general, Malaysia’s beaches are supreme and the landscapes are beautiful.
Selected pics during our island hopping tours:
Visiting many different koh's, or islands, in the Andaman Sea and the South Chinese Sea
The island-hopping travel experience in Thailand is symbolized by the traditional and iconic long tail boat. The boat is noisy and uncomfortable on longer trips. But at the same time it's beautifully simple and often decorated. It represents the history of canoe-like boat crafting and sea and river travel of Thailand. A speedboat will certainly not give the same feeling as the slower long tail watercraft
We had just arrived on an isolated beach on Koh Adang, and this sweet girl walks up to us and start to chat. She was on her annual holiday and had chosen a beach destination as she wanted to learn how to snorkel. The head scarf and dress was no obstacle at all. Southern Thailand is on the Malay Peninsula and the majority is Muslim.
Our childhood buddies, Troels and Thomas, had been living on the island Koh Tao for almost a year. We wanted to visit them and see how the life as dive instructors unfolds: Early morning SCUBA diving (to make a living), local lunch, kickboxing sessions in the afternoon, motorbike trips to the beach and free diving at dusk, partying in the night time till dawn - and all week long. It was great fun. Most dive instructors can continue for only a few years like this...
Koh Phangan is a jungle-clad island in the Gulf of Thaisland. At most time it's quit. But once a moth several thousand tourists and locals gather at a beach, to engage in the (in)famously Full Moon Party.
The Thai Islands has waters in many hues of blue and turquoise, dependent on the light and clouds. They represent a natural canvas board with thousands of bluish paintings. Here seen from Tanote Bay on Koh Tao
We had rented some motor bikes to take the tour around Koh Samui Island. It was deadly hot that day and we ended up driving into the lush hills and found this cool rock pool deeper into the jungle north of the Na Muang waterfalls. It was a great surprise and we ended up staying there for several hours
At the smaller village of Bang Rak on Koh Samui a big golden Buddha statue has been raised to greet believers and visitors. It's a very nice sight
This cool fella was checking boat tickets and carrying luggage on one of the many ferries which navigate between islands in the Andaman Sea. His favorite music? Bob Marley, of course - and yes, many of the Thai Islands is also, like many other places, such as the Caribbean, Bob Marley land.
Along the Phang Nga bay in Krabi Province there is a natural system of karst islands and wild water filled canyons and mangroves. It's a vast area and great for day tours or longer expeditions in kayaks. This pictures was taking just after lunch time in the area around Ao Thane
The cave beaches are wild sights and great for rock climbing. We weren't worried about climbing without ropes - if one slipped it was free falling into the water for a refreshing dip and a small swim to the beach
Traveling in SEA, including the islands around Thailand, often allows for enjoying fresh fruit for breakfast, during lunch, at snack time, and during dinner. It's fresh, it's tasty, it's healthy, and it's cheap. Here at a booth in Phang-Nga
We were lucky and had the chance to stroll around this island and its sand bars all by ourselves. Rent a long tail boat and go there early - start at sunrise to beat the crowds.
Just arrived at Railey beach, checked in to the bungalow, dropped the luggage, jumped into swim pants, hiked along a jungle path along the rock peninsula, and found this spot
... before it got world known and crowded by day tourists from Phuket. The bay and its beach is part of the idyllic Phi Phi Islands
We rented a long-tail boat and went there with kids and its great fun. Koh Phi Phi Don has a special beach full of macaque monkeys.
We did a trek across the Phi Phi islands and met a friendly local who climbed a palm tree to get some fresh coconut water to quench our thirst. Loh Moo Beach, a quit and isolated part of the otherwise rather crowded Phi Phi islands
Long Beach in the Phi Phi's is a great stretch for kids and families. The beach is magnificent for playing and swimming, and the resorts serve up cheap and fresh seafood: 3 kg of grilled lobsters for something like 40 USD (year 2015) - Dig in!... bonus info: A rocky isle off the beach is home to several black tipped reef sharks, so bring snorkeling gear
You easily fall in love with this special type of fairytale scenery. We simply are passionate about such views and have traveled widely in Asia to sail, kayak and walk around many of these surreal rock-and-sea landscapes
Rented a boat, bought fruit, water, and a spring roll lunch box, and left early for a snorkeling tour around the Phi Phi islands. SCUBA diving is great fun, but snorkeling allows for getting closer to the fish and can be done for many hours without breaks; further, if one skin dives to get deep, snorkeling builds breath holding capacity, great stamina and will power
The engine is an expensive part of a long tail boat, and these guys was splitting the machine into more than 1,000 parts right on the beach. They had their "office" right at Long Beach, the Phi Phi islands
"Hawaii-like" flower necklaces are decorating the beautiful long tail boats around Thailand. At Nui Bay, the Phi Phi's
On our Thailand trips we have island-hopped all the way from Krabi and the Phi Phi islands down to Koh Lipe and Langkawi in Malaysia, visiting more than 10 different islands along the way. Kantiang Bay on Koh Lanta is a good stopover for a couple of days, offering a good beach in a quiet setting.
Three small islands off the Trang coast line in Southern Thailand offer great tranquility and different islands experiences: Koh Ngai, Koh Mook, and Koh Kradan. We loved this Koh Ngai beach view over the Trang karst islands seascape with the sun setting behind the rocky isle of Koh Chueak
Koh Kradan is a small island along the Andaman coast, which has a extreme ebb tide, where corals and large sandbanks rise from the water at low tide. The local villagers used the sand flats for evening football tournaments and we were invited to join in
The island has no roads, no cars, no hassles. Only a few resorts along a long white, picture-perfect beach. Bring the kids, they'll love it!
Koh Kradan only has a few paths along the beach an then a path crossing the hilly interior and going through the jungle. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the western part of the island. No-ones living there. We made a stop at this deserted beach and played in the water with the kids - one big beach all to ourselves
We can recommend a visit to the less developed Koh Mook in Trang Province. Include a visit to one of the villages, which will provide a chance to observe truly traditional ways of island life.