Which Thai Islands Should You Visit?
Thailand has a deserved reputation as one of the world’s most incredible destinations. Whether you’re on a solo trip through Asia, an ultra-romantic honeymoon or a fun-packed family adventure, this country will deliver.
Perhaps the most iconic of Thailand’s destinations are its amazing islands. Dotted close the mainland, there are literally hundreds of options available to you – the biggest challenge is choosing where to go. Here, Dakota Murphey gives you seven of Thailand’s most popular and beautiful islands, and why it’s a good idea to put each one of them on your itinerary.
With five-star resorts, world-class restaurants and decadent spas lining the peaceful golden beachfront, you would be forgiven for thinking that Koh Samui was the preserve of the rich and famous. But this stunning attracts just as many backpackers as it does luxurious holidaymakers. Despite the island being very much geared for tourists, there’s still something authentic that you don’t find in many beach resort destinations.
If you’re thinking of staying put for a couple of weeks, Koh Samui has enough intrigue and activities to keep you entertained. And if you’re island hopping, this palm tree lined paradise makes for a wonderful introduction to the country.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and undoubtedly one of its most popular destinations too. Trying to pin down Phuket into one category or another is almost impossible, as you can find everything here from ultra-popular beaches heaving, seemingly, with tourists from every country on Earth, to much more relaxed towns with stunning temples and monuments to visit.
What’s common across the island, however, is a fun-loving attitude. Visit Patong to indulge in some raucous Thai nightlife or take a ferry up to the famous James Bond Island where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed.
But just because Phuket seems hedonistic and carefree, it doesn’t mean that you can abandon common sense. Be aware of issues such as the beaches with strong currents and be sure to get the correct jabs before you go. Coming down with an illness is not the way that you want to be spending your time in Phuket.
Koh Pha Ngan
Famous for its monthly Full Moon Party at Haad Rin, Koh Pha Ngan has been making efforts in recent years to reinvent itself. The party is still something that’s definitely worth experiencing; the night features a mix of music styles through to the morning with revellers descending in their thousands to be a part of each event. Away from the hullaballoo you’ll discover everything from rugged mountains to some of the best diving and watersports spots in the country.
Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands were thrust into the limelight and put on the map thanks to their role as the backdrop for the classic backpacker movie The Beach. Its flourishing popularity means it’s no longer the untouched paradise depicted on film, but this group of islands is still stunning and a boat tour taking you to the different destinations in the area is an unforgettable experience. The images of the looming limestone karsts and traditional longboats are some of the most iconic in Thailand.
Compared to many of Thailand’s favourite destinations, Koh Lanta has a truly peaceful and chilled out atmosphere. The island draws on a cultural mix of Buddhism and Islam, and there’s the chance to visit ancient temples. Adventurers and animal lovers will find their heaven here; there are beautiful, pristine beaches and excellent opportunities for spotting birds and reptiles.
Koh Yao Yai
You might have heard of Koh Yao – it’s actually two Thai Islands, both of which are truly beautiful. Koh Yao Noi is the more developed and visited of the two, while Koh Yao Yai offers the kind of tranquillity and deserted beaches that you might not image were still possible in a destination as popular as Thailand. Go kayaking, hiking or snorkelling here for your own unique Thai experience.
Backpackers love Koh Tao – it has a reputation for being the best place in the country to get PADI certified. So if you’re into scuba diving or just snorkelling, you need to add it your island. If you’ve had your fill of the water, then why not make good use of the mountainous terrain. Hike up to various viewpoints and you can enjoy some gorgeous panoramic views.