attractions
Attractiions in Phangnga Province, Thailand - Surin Islands
Mu Koh Surin National Park
Mu Koh Surin National Park This group of five islands close to the marine boundary between Burma and Thailand in Khuraburi has so far been little visited because of its distance from the coast and the absence of any commercial activity or permanent population other than Sea Gypsies on the islands, all of which are a protected area. The shallow channel between the two principal islands - about two meters at high tide-has one of the most remarkable panoplies of coral reef life to be found anywhere. Scuba gear is by no means necessary to get a good look at the reefs, a mere snorkel and mask is sufficient, making this a perfect destination for those who would like to have the experience of diving but have no time for a scuba course.

Accommodation at the National Park are Spartan, but the modest inconvenience of roughing it will be amply rewarded by the experience supplied.
The Five Islands
are Koh Surin Neua, Koh Surin Tai, Koh Ri, Koh Kai, and Koh Klang. The two large islands, Surin Nua and Surin Tai (which mean, respectively, north and south) have ten bays in which coral gardens are found.
The best known are:
Ao Mae Yai:
The largest, with still waters and peaceful breezes. Ao Mae Yai
Ao Luk
Which is on the southeast shore of Koh Surin Nua. Luk means deep, and this bay is so deep that the water turns a dark green. In the shallows of the bay, however, are some impressive corals.

The Singh (or Lion) tribe of Chao Lay (Sea Gypsies) have a settlement on Koh Surin Tai. These nomadic sea people continue in this modern age a very primitive way of life; time, for example, appears to be a vague concept as none of them knows his own age, nor can count beyond the digits on his fingers. On the other hand, they are quite skilled in their own ways, able to hew an ocean-going boat using only the most basic tools, catch fish by hand, and are famous for their talents as deep divers without benefit of scuba tanks. On the fifteenth night of the third lunar month they perform a religious rite similar to the Thai festival of Loy Krathong, a propitiation ceremony in which small models of the larger Chao lay craft are set adrift on the waves.
Travel to Mu Koh Surin National Park
can be initiated from several different points:
From Khuraburi Pier, Ban Hin Lad. To reach Ban Hin Lahd, take the road (located at km. 110 on the Ranong-Takua Pa Highway) which splits from the main road at Ban Hin Lad School. Travel onward to the pier about 1 km. After embarking, travel to the islands takes 4-5 hours. Make a reservation for the boat trip in advance from the National Park Office Tel. 076 491 477 to 8, 076 595 068.
- From Thap Lamu Pier in Thai Muang District.  Travel time is 4-5 hours.
- From Kaper Pier in Ranong Province, or contact the Janson Tara Hotel which has boats leaving from Chan Damri Beach for trips to the Surins.

surin One reason why the Surins are still so beautiful is that they are rather out of the way. There is no regular boat service for travelers to the islands. Boats leaving from Khuraburi Pier are suitable for group tours, and cost in the range of 8,000 to 15,000 Baht to rent, depending on various factors. The situation at Thap Lamu is similar. It is sometimes possible for individuals to hitch a ride or pay a reasonable fraction of the rental cost on a boat chartered by a group. This method is by no means certain and should be an option only for the adventurous who have time to spare.

Perhaps the best way for individual travelers to visit the Surins is to join a dive trip out of Phuket that includes the islands on the itinerary. This typically lasts 4 or 5 days and includes visits to the Similans, the Richelieu Rocks (regarded by some as the very best dive site on Thailand's west coast), and Koh Ta Chai, a small island south of the Surins with notably good diving. Price for such a trip is 8,000 Baht and up, depending on the level of luxury, and includes meals, accommodations, equipment, and transportation. Contact one of the many dive shops in Phuket for further details.

The National Park is closed for visitors during the rain season from 16 May - 15 November
For those wishing to stay on the Surins
surin Basic accommodation are available at a very modest price in the National Park. For details (and information for individual travelers about joining a group to the islands) contact the Visitor's Center (076) 491378. Information about weather conditions and current numbers of visitors can sometimes be obtained from the Park Office located on the islands by calling (076) 419028-9; phone service to these isolated islands is, however, problematic.

- Weather conditions can also be investigated by dialing the Weather Forecasting Service in Bangkok, Tel. 02 399 4566, 02 260 1502
- Weather on the islands is best from November to April
Interesting attractions on Koh Surin Tai include:
Ao Tao, situated to the east of the island.
The bay is home to numerous sea turtles and magnificent coral reefs. Ao Phakkat, situated to the south of Koh Surin Tai. It is where unspoilt coral reefs can be seen. Koh Khai
Ko Klang or Koh Pachumba
Ko Klang or Koh Pachumba has a scenic bay called Ao Mangkon. The bay is teeming with splendid coral reefs and many schools of various kinds of fish.
Koh Khai or Koh Torilla
Koh Khai or Koh Torilla situated to the south of Koh Surin Tai. On the eastern side of the island there is a long stretch of unspoilt and picturesque coral reef. Snorkelling is the most recommended activity here.

 

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