Parts of the west coast of Thailand were hit hard by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but all infrastructure has long since been repaired and it takes a careful eye to spot any remaining damage.
It is possible now to travel by ferries in hi season(Nov-May) from Phuket and island hop your way down the coast all the way to Indonesia.
This can now be done without ever touching the mainland, Phuket (Thailand) to Padang (Indonesia).
Islands on rout:
Note:Thai portion can be done in a day.
The reefs around Ko Lipe are largely intact; As they have been protected by being within Thailand's oldest National marine Parks.
Sailing / Island Hopping
The islands in the southern Gulf of Thailand including the Ang thong national marine park provide a beautiful sailing ground. Island Hopping sailing cruises between Koh Tao, Koh Phan gan, Koh Samui and the marine park can be done with Adventure Cruises  ☎ +66 (0) 8727 014 118.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a coastal region, seafood features prominently on the menu. Traditional southern Thai food includes milder coconut-milk based curries popularly associated with Thailand: the dry, Malaysian-influenced Panaeng curry and Indian-influenced Massaman (Muslim) curry with potatoes and nuts.
A wide variety of international cuisines is available in the many resort towns, visited by millions of overseas tourists every year and home to many expats. Tourism has also brought migrants from other parts of Thailand, and their food with them.
In 2004, long-simmering resentment in the southern-most Muslim-majority provinces burst into violence in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces. All are off the beaten tourist trail, although the eastern rail line from Hat Yai to Sungai Kolok (gateway to Malaysia's east coast) passes through the area and has been disrupted several times by attacks.
Hat Yai (Thailand's largest city after Bangkok and its Nonthaburi suburbs) in Songkhla has also been hit by a series of related bombings, however the main cross-border rail line connecting Hat Yai and Butterworth (on the west coast) has not been affected, and none of the islands or the west coast beaches have been targeted.
In September 2006, three foreigners were killed in bombings in Hat Yai. Some rebel groups have threatened foreigners, but while targets have included hotels, karaoke lounges and shopping malls, westerners have not been singled out for attacks.