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Places like El Nido / Palawan in Thailand?

Places like El Nido / Palawan in Thailand?

Old Sep 17th, 2022, 10:52 AM
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Places like El Nido / Palawan in Thailand?

My husband and I are traveling to Southeast Asia for 2 weeks. We are interested in seeing Angkor Wat and Chiang Mai and spending time on a beach. We are deciding between going to an island in Thailand or going to El Nido in Palawan, Philippines. Ideally we'd love to go somewhere with scenery like Palawan - dramatic limestone rock formations, beautiful lagoons, turquoise water, with good snorkeling and not a lot of development. Is there anywhere in Thailand that is similar to Palawan? How crowded are places like Koh Samui in December? Is it less crowded at higher end resorts like Six Senses / Banyan Tree? Thank you for weighing in!
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 01:58 PM
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Koh Samui will be extremely crowded in Dec. The time to go there was maybe 25 -30 years ago! I really wouldn’t bother.

The higher end resort like Six Senses & Banyan Tree will of of course be less crowded as long as you stay in the resorts. The highest end places like Aman and Four Seasons will be even less crowded. Indeed you could stay at some of those and not see another guest if that’s what you seek.

For limestone karst scenery you really need to head to the Andaman coast , Phuket etc. though I doubt you would find it as impressive as the Philippines though it would be way more convenient for Angkor and Chiang Mai. If you are happy with pool rather than beach then there are some super luxurious hotels around Chiang Mai.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 04:10 PM
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Thank you so much for weighing in! So it sounds like going to Phuket and staying at a nicer resort is the way to avoid the crowds (but I imagine that you would still run into lots of people by going on boat tours to the different islands and beaches). It also sounds like the scenery isn't as beautiful in Phuket compared to the Philippines. Can you elaborate on that? I've heard that as well but wasn't sure why. Is it because it's more pristine or is it more dramatic scenery and more turquoise water? Better snorkeling? Thank you!
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 05:23 PM
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"because it's more pristine or is it more dramatic scenery and more turquoise water? Better snorkeling? " all of the above! The possible exceptions being turquoise water and beer snorkelling. I dive rather than snorkel and would only do that away from Phuket or Koh Samui. The similan islands or Koh Tao where the weather is clearer and less polluted. Snorkelling near urban or built up areas is generally not good. Haven’t dived in the Philippines so can’t comment but have spoken with friends who found it amazing.

These days I would rather spend time in Malaysia, ( Peninsular &Borneo ) or Indonesia than Thailand. IMO they have better beaches, and better value upscale hotels than Thailand yeast still afford relatively easy access to Cambodia.
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Old Sep 20th, 2022, 11:34 PM
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Thank you! Do you have any suggestions for a beach vacation in Indonesia or Malaysia during end of Dec/early Jan?
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 01:11 AM
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To be frank, I am not a huge fan of beach holidays these days, but when we did it was usually combined with something else, diving , island hopping etc. Two places spring to mind, the Tip of Borneo which had some of the best, most unspoiled and deserted beaches I have ever visited




The downside was that the "hotels" then were huts alongside the beach or in the rainforest. That may have changed.

At the other end of the scale we got married at The Datai on Langkawi, arguably one of the best resort hotels in the world, not long after it first opened. We have returned once for an anniversary and it had got even better. The jungle villas have to be seen to believed. Also on the island is the Four Season, again another very special hotel. The only problem with The Datai is that it has become obscenely expensive (but you never know , there are sometimes bargains to be had at these places!)
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 08:59 AM
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Thank you so much for the tips! We decided to go to El Nido (staying at Cauayan island) after all since that's been on my list for some time. But now I've also added Borneo and Langkawi to the list What a wonderful place to be married!
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