10 Best Islands in Thailand

Thailand’s Finest Islands

A visit to Thailand’s best islands can be the highlight of any trip to the kingdom. It’s the perfect way to unwind, with stunning beaches, nodding palms and accommodation within earshot of the gently lapping waves. Thailand has hundreds of islands and it’s true to say there’s something for everyone along the miles of coastline, either in the Andaman Sea to the west or the Gulf of Thailand to the east.

Any list of the best islands in Thailand is bound to be subjective, but these are the places that offer a full range of excellent beaches, plentiful tourist facilities and tropical island vibes. Have a look and see which Thai island suits you best.

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Koh Phi Phi

Like something out of a fairy tale, the Phi Phi Islands are the very essence of exotic beauty: limestone karsts with thick jungle and stunning coves of golden sand. It must be said that Phi Phi Don, the only inhabited island, has seen rampant development in recent years, which does slightly mar the escapist element of the island. However, it also means that there’s more tourist facilities such as restaurants, beach bars and shops. Nightlife on Koh Phi Phi is especially noticeable during the full moon parties, which are particularly popular with the backpacker crowd. Scuba diving around Koh Phi Phi is very popular too, as is a trip to Koh Phi Phi Leh, the famous setting for The Beach, which propelled the island to fame in the year 2000. Read More...

Koh Chang

Koh Chang is one of Thailand’s most challenging islands to reach, but that has helped it retain its natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere. It’s also a huge island (second only to Phuket in size) but welcomes only a fraction of the visitors enjoyed by its more illustrious sibling. The mountainous terrain is also more rugged than most other Thai islands, which makes exploring more challenging and exciting. There are many beaches on Koh Chang, so it’s easy to find your very own patch of tropical heaven. Inland, there are several waterfalls and temples. Read More...

Phuket

For an all-round holiday combining picturesque beaches, convenient transport options and loads of activities, Phuket is hard to beat. The largest island in Thailand, as well as the most popular, Phuket is great for luxury stays, family getaways and there’s plenty of undiscovered spots, too. With its own international airport, even short trips from anywhere in the region are worthwhile. Once night descends, there’s clubs, shows and fancy restaurants to rival many capital cities – certainly it has the best facilities of any Thai island on this list. Read More...

Koh Lanta

Large, spacious and relaxed, Koh Lanta is close to Krabi but has manged to avoid the largescale development seen elsewhere in southern Thailand. This makes it a popular spot for a relaxed family holiday. There are nine separate beaches on Koh Lanta and some secluded spots to enjoy by motorbike. To reach Koh Lanta, you can take the Express Transfer from Krabi Airport, which combines a minivan and speedboat and gets you there in less than two hours. This pleasant combination of convenience and seclusion appeals to many sun seekers. Read More...

Koh Lipe

In the 1990s, Koh Lipe rose to prominence as a far-flung tropical island that has stunning beaches, crystal clear water and seafood taken straight from the fishing boats and onto the grill. Located in the southern Thai Province of Satun, near the Thailand-Malaysia border, it belongs to the Adang-Rawi Archipelago on the outskirts of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Originally only inhabited by Sea Gypsies, rapid development to meet increasing tourism demand has caused some problems with waste management, but the beaches are still some of the finest in Thailand. Koh Lipe is quite famous for snorkelling and scuba diving and its coral reefs are easy to reach as they start just a few metres away from each of the four main beaches. Read More...

Similan Islands

The Similan Islands, in the south of Thailand, are limited in terms of facilities but, if you’re looking for clean and aesthetically beautiful beaches, the Similans are well worth the effort to get there. Protected as a National Marine Park, they are only accessible between October and May and are around 1.5 hours by speedboat from Phuket. The ban on hotels and commercial fishing in the waters around the Similans has kept the aquatic life virtually pristine; they are often touted as one of the finest places for scuba diving and snorkelling in the world. Read More...

Koh Samui

Koh Samui is part of the well-trodden tourist trail, offering excellent facilities, a range of stunning beaches and even some large shopping malls. First-timers to Thailand would probably appreciate how easy everything is in Koh Samui, while those who love beach bars and burning the candle at both ends will love the hustle of Chaweng Beach. Most accommodation on Samui fits into the mid-range category, but you’ll find some incredible five-star resorts located in secluded bays away from the popular eastern coast. Read More...

Koh Samet

Bangkokians favourite weekend getaway is an amazing Thai island in its own right, with several beautiful beaches and plenty of budget accommodation. While the quality of the sand and sea doesn’t quite measure up to the best Thai islands further down south, the convenience of being just a few hours’ drive from Bangkok more than makes up for it. Come nightfall, the beaches of Koh Samet are lined with pubs and parties that get quite packed with a varied mix of Thais and foreigners. Read More...

Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is certainly one of Thailand’s best islands, as well as an island of contradictions. It is home to the country’s biggest beach party, yet has some of the most secluded and pristine spots. It has a very cosmopolitan group of expats living there, yet retains a strong local vibe. Predominantly made up of granite, Koh Phangan is an (almost) unspoilt island with a hilly, lush tropical jungle interior, many idyllic, long white-sand beaches and over 20 nearby dive sites. The main disembarkation points are Thongsala and Haad Rin; two bustling townships which are quite the opposite of all other parts of the island. It’s important to realise that visitor numbers spike around the monthly full moon parties, when accommodation can become scarce and prices rise. Read More...

Koh Tao

If you like lazy days on the beach and a friendly ambiance, Koh Tao could be the perfect little spot for your next trip. One of the main reasons to choose Koh Tao (which means Turtle Island) is because it’s one of the world’s best places for learning to scuba dive. There’s a massive amount of operators there, with instructors from almost every country in the world. The vibrant coral reefs there are home to a wide range of exciting and colourful sea creatures – including turtles, naturally. After a few days on Koh Tao, you will start to feel like a local, such is the small size of the island and warmth of the locals. Read More...

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