Across on the other side of the peninsula, the Andaman coast boasts even more exhilarating scenery and the finest coral reefs in the country, in particular around the spectacular Ko Similan island chain, which ranks as one of the best dive sites in the world. The largest Andaman coast island, Phuket, is one of Thailand's top tourist destinations and is graced with a dozen fine beaches, though several of these have been over-developed with a glut of high-rises and tacky nightlife.

Phuket was one of many places along the Andaman coast to suffer extensive damage in the December 2004 tsunami, but regeneration along the entire coastline has been relatively swift, and few first-time visitors will notice the effects. Ko Phi Phi was particularly badly hit, but tourists have returned in droves to rekindle the island's party atmosphere, and to enjoy the coral-rich sea and breathtakingly beautiful limestone cliffs that characterize the coastline of all the islands in Krabi province. The island of Ko Lanta has a more understated charm and is a popular destination for both families and backpackers. Inland attractions generally pale in comparison to the coastal splendours, but the rainforests of Khao Sok National Park are a notable exception.