But enough about the north. The first time I traveled to Thailand I wanted to head south and get my white butt on a beach, so that's exactly where we'll head now. Let's start in Krabi, which is in my opinion the most beautiful of Thailand's "accessible" coastal provinces (more about why I chose that word in a second).
One reason I love Krabi is that you don't need to go onto an island to find amazing beaches. You do need to take a boat (Railay Beach is separated from more popular Ao Nang by a limestone karst that's impassable by road), but it's a quick and cheap one. Likewise, this mainland province is home to an impressive spiritual attraction (the huge Buddha at Wat Tham Suea, which you can only access via an exhilarating 1,200-step climb) and breathtaking nature, in the form of the Sa Morakot Emerald Pool.
Of course, plenty of amazing islands are in easy reach of Krabi, from underrated Koh Lanta, to ubiquitous Koh Phi Phi, to overrated Phuket, to some of the islands you've never heard of, which I'm actually going to mention in the next section.