Thailand is famous around the globe for its tropical islands ranging from party hotspots to exclusive getaways. But out of the hundreds of islands, it can be tricky to know which ones to visit and avoid to suit your interests and type of holiday. Here’s a guide to some of the best spots including where to go forluxury resorts, to experience a thriving backpacker scene and to stay with local families in traditional thai homes.
Phuket: A Backpacker and Flashpacker Paradise
Phuket is one of Thailand’s most famous islands and attracts millions of holidaymakers and travellers each year. Expect to find over 30 pristine beaches with a range of accommodation choices from hostels to luxury resorts. If you’re looking for an active nightlife, a laid-back environment and to be surrounded by other travellers with similar interests, Phuket is for you. Be sure to check out Karon Beach and Patong Beach and make the most of water sports like jet skiing and banana boating.
Something for Everyone in Koh Samui
With kilometre upon kilometre of coastline stretching around the small island, Koh Samui makes the perfect spot for a beach retreat. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing and water sports during the day before heading for sunset cocktails and al fresco dining in some of the beachside bars and restaurants in the evening. But that’s not all that attracts the tourists. The island has a thriving nightlife scene with parties almost every single night of the week. Koh Samui’s spas also offer a different kind of vacation providing the ultimate level of relaxation and recuperation. In short, Koh Samui has something to suit almost every interest and budget andit’s no surprise most visitors instantly fall in love with the island.
Koh Phi Phi Suits the Energetic and Adventurous
Younger tourists typically head to Koh Phi Phi for an action-packed trip. With a range of activities ranging from snorkelling and diving to rock climbing and all-day boat trips, there’s something tokeep energetic visitors entertained. And after an adrenaline-fueled day, the masses head to the late night bars and party until the early hours. Typical crowds on this Thai island tend to be young backpackers and solo travellers, which gives an active vibe and makes it easy to meet people.
Relax on KoSamet
Looking for a quieter retreat on one of Thailand’s most exclusive islands? Head to KoSamet and enjoy the long stretches of white sand beaches, warm crystal clear waters and luxurious resorts along the coastline. Dense jungle filled with all kinds of wildlife including monkeys dominate large parts of the island, which gives it a more secluded and less developed feel. Popular activities are relaxing and enjoying the relative isolation, windsurfing and watching one of Thailand’s most spectacular sunsets.
A Cultural Experience at Ko Yao Noi
Few tourists visit the small Ko Yao Noi located just 30 minutes from bustling Phuket. With a large Muslim community and a refreshing lack of tourism, this island offers a more authentic experience. Compared to its neighbour, this islandfeels worlds apart in the way of culture, experiences and traditions. Don’t expect an active nightlife on Ko Yao Noi but do anticipate a peaceful atmosphere and unspoiled beaches. Anyone who wants a tropical getaway without the crowds and noise will appreciate a few nights here.
Experience the Full Moon Party on KoPha Ngan
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, KoPha Ngan hosts one of the nation’s most famous tourist attractions: The Full Moon Party. Featuring on the bucketlist of several backpackers, the monthly event takes place on the beach where more than 15,000 partygoers join in the fun under the full moon. But apart from the party, the island is also famous its world-class spas and health retreats.
Get off the Beaten Path in KoLipe
KoLipe is one of the Tarutao National Marine Park’s 53 islands forming the small archipelago in the Andaman Sea near the Malaysian border. Getting to this tropical paradise is quite tricky anda decenttourist infrastructure is lacking. But persevere and you’ll be rewarded with some of the country’s best spots for diving and snorkelling. The protected archipelago has a vast coral reef and an abundance of marine life in crystal clear and unpolluted waters. Expect long stretches of empty beaches, indigenous communities and the feeling of being far off the beaten path.
Koh Lanta: An Island Beach Getaway
For a beach retreat, check out Koh Lanta in the Andaman Sea near Krabi. Consisting of a small archipelago, visitors will find isolated coasts, beachside bars, nature reserves and luxurious resorts. Most head to Koh Lanta Yai, the most popular island, which has more resorts and a better infrastructure. Daily activities include relaxing on the beach, visiting Thai fishing villages, spending the day at a spa and just enjoying the surroundings. Families and older tourists tend to make up most of the crowd at Koh Lanta.
Enjoy the Outdoors on Koh Chang
Koh Chang offers a beach retreat with a selection of outdoor activities. The interior is classified as a nature parkand tourists regularly go jungle trekking and wildlife spotting. Head to the beaches fringed with palm trees and dense forest or the famous Had Sai Noi. Other activities include kayaking in the mangroves, visiting fishing villages and exploring the national park.
How to Choose the Best Island
As you can see, Thailand hasplenty of islands that have their own characteristics and flavours. Consider the islands carefully before booking up your dream trip. Whether you want to party all night and meet other backpackers to simply relaxing on a secluded beach, you’ll find it on one of Thailand’s islands.