Thailand is famous throughout the world as a holiday destination, advertised in every travel agency with all-inclusive packages, also known and truly, as a place of amusement for males around the globe, brothels, full-moon parties, cheap shopping cost, counterfeit trademarks, etc.
All this is not at all Thailand.
There are not too hidden places that allow you to see this magnificent country as it is, or perhaps unfortunately, it was. Among the many places full of charm and that still maintain the spirit of Thai life there are these three islands, Ko Jum, Ko Libong and Ko Phayam, all bathed by the beautiful Andaman sea, but light years away from the clamor of Ko Phi Phi and Phuket.
In these places you can immerse yourself in the Thai climate, observe the life in the fishing villages, wrapped in a silence to which we Westerners are not used to, especially in locations by the sea.
Spending whole days on deserted beaches or strolling along the paths that wind through palm trees and casuarinas, eating fresh fish on the terrace of some seaside restaurant, watching the women cleaning vegetables, smiling children playing merrily, losing, as often happens, the total track of time and finding out that the most comfortable thing there is in the world is simply to remain seated with feet dangling in the water or to take a rest on a hammock tied between palm trees.
Or you can spend some time talking to the locals, proud of their land but curious to know something of ours, without bothering to see who knows what or to do who knows what kind of activities, rediscovering the pleasure of calm and understanding the deep meaning of the word peace.
To enjoy all of these things it is not necessary to be an Indiana Jones or rather, we only have to open up, soul and mind to the world around us, forgetting for a while, where we are from to focus on where we are, the Thai people are very helpful and courteous, the local food is delicious, the Thai music soporific so, just surrender ourselves to them.
Let’s start with Ko Jum, located just south of Krabi, although very close to the coast being little developed for tourism and not much frequented, fortunately. The only way to reach it is to take the ferry from Krabi that goes to Ko Lanta asking to be left in Ko Jum, you will be picked up in the open sea with a long tail boat that will take you to the island, however, you will have to pay the entire route as if you were going to Lanta.
As soon as you land in Ko Jum it will not take you long to understand you have arrived in a wonderful place, approaching by boat you have the feeling that the island is deserted and once on the beach the feeling remains, the few bungalows, are hidden in the vegetation, all very cheap, excellent quality-price the Smaile and the Joi bungalows, although the most beautiful is the Freedom in the southern tip of the island with the rooms on the trees.
Walking twenty minutes inland, a comfortable road will take you to the fishing village of Ban Ko Jum, beautiful as much as desolate.
Staying on this island you will be away from everything and everyone, to spend the evenings getting acquainted with quiet travelers from who knows where in the world while sipping something cool by candlelight.
My favourite places in Ko Jum are Bungalow Uza Beach Resort (double room from €19) and the Golden Perl Beach hotel, settlend on the beach in such an amazing and peaceful setting.
Now we will go down to Ko Libong in Trang district, in winter, the best period to visit Thailand. Ko Libong can be reached directly by boat from Krabi, but the most economical as well as attractive solution is to go down south to Trang by bus from Krabi, once there you must take a sawngthaew to Hat Yao (80 baht), from here depart ferries to Ko Lipe.
For going to Libong you will have to contact a long tail driver, and negotiate the passage, or, if you choose the resort to go to, the passage will be included in the price of the room. If you have the time, in Hat Yao there is a completely deserted bay of indescribable beauty.
From the small village walk towards the Sinchai resort (where you must absolutely not stay, the worst ever seen in Thailand), once you reach the beach go right, passing under the great limestone wall covered with vegetation, go forward in the shallows for about fifty meters, with the low tide there is also a suggestive passage in the cave, the spectacle that awaits you will be unforgettable.
Ko Libong is a rather large island, you can stay in it for a couple of days of complete relaxation and for longer periods, and renting a boat with other travelers, make great excursions to Ko Kradan and KoNgai two islands among the most beautiful in the Andaman, immersed in the most clear sea of Thailand and therefore also very expensive.
Try to find a bungalow on the west coast, the sunset here is magnificent, the Libong beach Resort has good rooms and an excellent cuisine, here also, the fishing village is worth a visit, (from behind the Dugong, an hour’s walk in the jungle but you can hitch a ride on one of the many scooters in transit) the very long and tottering pier is a thrill just to walk over, the peace of this place is disarming, during low tide, the landscape is really suggestive, as far as the eye can see, a panorama of edge of the world, all wrapped in an eerie silence.
In the sea surrounding the island lives the Dugong, a funny-looking marine cetacean in danger of extinction, you can spot it in the shallows while, tirelessly, it digs in the sand in search of food.
Finally, here we are at Ko Phayam.
This time, from Krabi, you’ll have to go back up towards the north with an adventurous journey by bus to Ranong, marine frontier town along the border with Burma, or, from Bangkok travel down to Chumphon and from there up to Ranong, always on the bus, the most economical means of transport, especially if you travel at night, which will save you one night in hotel.
Once reached the picturesque port of Ranong, embark on one of the boats that depart twice a day for Ko Phayam and the nearby Ko Chang, not to be confused with the homonymous but bigger island at the border with Cambodia to the east of the Gulf of Thailand.
Ko Phayam is an enchanting island, where you do not need to do things by the clock, you will eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are sleepy, discovering the lost pleasure of living slowly. There are beautiful sandy beaches throughout the entire island, not to miss the wonderful Buffalo Bay.
You will find accommodations to suit all budgets, do not be hasty, you can also go around the island on foot, rather than with a scooter, taking it easy to look for your accommodation; there are some charming ones. Then one thing you must absolutely do is to hire a long tail boat with the driver ( haggle over the price, no more than 800 baht for four people) and go around the island, a really beautiful experience, crystal clear waters, coral reefs, small coves inhabited only by the locals.
The bungalows I loved here is the Coffee and Resort, in typical thai desing and a wonderful garden for only 21€ for a bungalow!
All this and more offer these three Jewels of the Andaman sea, and just as attractive, is that all this can be done at low cost, Thailand can be expensive for those looking for Europe, but for those looking for the real Thailand, the cost will not be too much.
Know that a fifteen-twenty days vacation that allows to see these three islands can cost around 400 €, including shiftings, per week staying in good accommodations for double travelers.
For a double prices range from 300-400 baht for the more basic solutions, while with a budget of 800 baht, very comfortable rooms can be found, but you can also spend less if you have a good adaptability spirit and not necessitate of a hot shower every night, in any case, the cold water is warm throughout Thailand. The shiftings, if done by government buses or trains are very cheap, just think that for the stretch by train from Bangkok to Trang in southern Thaliand, the ticket in second class costs less than 500 baht ( approx. €12) duration 15 hours, the same route by bus costs 600 baht (approx. €15) duration 13 hours.