If white sandy beaches and crystal clear water get you excited for taking a vacation, you are going to want to take a look at this list of the 10 best islands in Thailand.
Thailand is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. One of the reasons for it’s popularity is it’s large number of beautiful tropical islands. Some of them are very well known and popular destinations, offering visitors a combination of amazing beaches, accommodation from budget guest houses to five star resorts, and a big selection of things to do – if laying around soaking up the sun isn’t your only wish.
Other islands are small, where visitors are only able to experience the beauty and seclusion as a day trip by boat from nearby cities. These islands offer an unspoiled look into what a remote tropical getaway might be like before the development of resorts take away some of the splendor.
Our Top 10 list of Thailand’s best islands cover only those which have accommodations, whether that be a beach front bungalow or a mega resort. These are the best places to stay and play while on an island holiday in Thailand.
10. Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta Yai, the big island located in the Andaman Sea, has 9 beaches for travelers to relax and soak up the sun. Being a well establish tourist destination in Thailand, visitors will find a wide selection of hotels and beach hotels to choose from. This is a quieter island with the party seeking crowd heading elsewhere.
Known for both it’s white sandy beaches and rugged hills covered in mangroves, Ko Lanta is a laid back island with plenty of activities to keep you busy. Tourists can try their hand at SCUBA diving, snorkeling, kayaking, as well as visiting the Sea-gypsy village and orchid farms.
9. Ko Kut
Ko Kut (also refered to as Koh Kood) is located in the Gulf of Thailand near Cambodia. It is a beautiful island that attracts mainly families and packaged tourists. It is a little more difficult to reach than most islands on the list which is probably part of the reason it hasn’t seen vast commercial development yet.
Ko Kut is a sleepy island with almost no nightlife. It’s also a place for disconnecting from the world. The infrastructure is basic and the electricity is known to regularly drop. There are no banks and only one ATM on the island. Cell service is limited.
8. Ko Tao
The island of Ko Tao is located in the Gulf of Thailand near the more famous Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. This island is best known as a SCUBA diving destination thanks to its vast array of marine life. It is a small island with lots of places to stay from beach side bungalows to higher end resorts. Hiking to the top of Ko Tao’s hills for beautiful view points overlooking the ocean is a highlight of a stay here.
7. Ko Pha Ngan
One of the best known islands on the backpacker trail, Ko Pha Ngan is located in the Gulf of Thailand near Ko Samui. Made famous by the all night Full Moon parties, this is an island for people who like a little sun with their partying. The Haad Rin Beach area is the busiest and overcrowded, but you can get away to other parts of the islands for a little more relaxation. SCUBA, free diving, and many other activities are available to keep you busy.
6. Ko Samet
Less than 3 hours from Bangkok, Ko Samet is a destination getaway for both the locals and the tourists. Located inside a National Park, it is a relaxed island with amazing white sand beaches and clear water. It has limited nightlife and attracts a more laid back crowd. Snorkeling and sitting in the sun are the main activities here.
5. Ko Samui
The largest and best known of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Samui is a very well established beach destination. There are large number of good hotels and resorts, which also means a large number of tourists.
It is highly commercialized, so it won’t feel like a deserted tropical island, but Ko Samui will provide you great beaches and plenty of things to do on your vacation in Thailand. The Big Buddha, snorkeling, diving, sea kayaking, and zip lines are some of the activities on Ko Samui. You can also check out the Mummified monk(don’t ask).
4. Ko Chang
Ko Chang is a popular island in the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand. Called Elephant Island, the animal is not native to the island – it’s due to the shape of the island looking like Elephants’ head. The western side is touristy and quite busy – head on over to the more sleepy eastern side for some rest and relaxation.
There are 9 major beach areas on Ko Chang. White Sand and Lonely Beach being the most popular. Kayaking, jungle trekking, visiting the waterfalls, are all fun things to do on this island.
Phuket is probably the most popular island destination in Thailand. Possessing some great white sand beaches and clear water it is great island to visit. Many hotels and resorts have been built to accommodate the large numbers of tourist visitors that come every year.
Phuket has a lot to do including diving, kayaking, the Big Buddha hill, and plenty of other activities to keep a person busy. It is also a great jumping off point to visit some of the near by islands, such as James Bond island and Ko Kai.
Avoid Patong Beach, unless you are into the nightlife and bars. Try out Kata, Karon, or Surin beach areas.
2. Ko Lipe
Ko Lipe is a small island with just three main beaches. It ranks number two in our list of best islands in Thailand for it’s beautiful beaches and great atmosphere. There are no cars allowed on the island, you can take a long tail boat anywhere you need to go for a small fee.
There are three main beaches – Pattaya, Sunrise, & Sunset beach. The key activities are sunbathing, snorkeling, and SCUBA. You can also make day trips by boat to some of the nearby islands in the Tarutao National Marine Park nature reserve. These islands don’t have any hotels and are wonderful if you want to experience the beauty of an untouched island (along with dozens of other tourists of course).
1. Ko Phi Phi
The island made famous by a shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie The Beach. Ko Phi Phi is a series of islands located in the Andaman Sea. It has beautiful beaches and eye catching scenery. While some of the areas are overdeveloped and crowded, there are still plenty parts of the island that are not, you just need to get away from the crowd.
SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and sunbathing are the key activities here. Beautiful beaches and clear water make this and idyllic getaway destination.
Note: To pretend you are in the movie like Leo, head over to Maya Beach where the film was shot and take in the beautiful isolation. Just don’t look around at the hundreds of other people doing the same thing or it could ruin the moment.