Outside magazine, May 1994
Phuket is renowned for its white beaches, turquoise waters, and abundant seafood, but after a few days of basking in mind-altered bliss, paddling around Phangnga Bay's sea stacks in an inflatable kayak might be just the eco-twist on paradise you've been looking for.
GETTING THERE. Thai Airways International (800-223-1813), United (800-538-2929), Northwest (800-447-4747), and Delta (800-241-4141) fly to Bangkok from cities on the West Coast for around $1,000 round-trip. Since all flights arrive in the late evening, an overnight stay in Bangkok is unavoidable. Thai Airways has hourly flights from Bangkok to Phuket, from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. ($157 round-trip). For a more picturesque trip south, take the 11-hour express train to Surat Thani, a bargain at $30 round-trip. From there, catch a connecting bus to Phuket.
OUTFITTERS. Sea Canoe Thailand, original
host to the wonderful world of Phangnga Bay hongs, runs guided day trips from Phuket and Krabi for $100, including lunch. Threeand six-day escorted expeditions (with a shuttle boat for the kayaks) cost $500 and $900 respectively; three days of guided paddling at "Kayak Camp" on Sabai Island, in the midst of the best sea stacks, costs $280. Sea Canoe also runs multiday trips along Ko Phangan across the Malay Peninsula from Phangnga Bay, and starting this summer in Halong Bay, Vietnam. For information call Sea Canoe at 800-846-3333.
READINGS. The two most comprehensive guidebooks to Thailand are ILonely Planet's Thailand: A Travel Survival Kit ($17.95) and Moon Publications's Thailand Handbook ($16.95). For a brief history of the region and a discussion of current politics and demographics, read David Wyatt's Thailand: A True Story (Yale University Press, $16)