Island hopping in Thailand is one of those quintessential tropical getaways. You can satisfy your craving for white sands and sparkling waters on just about any one of the hundreds of islands dotting the coast. So how do you choose which one to visit? Below find some highlights of Thailand’s top island getaways.
If the rest of these listings are no help, keep Ko Lanta in your back pocket. This cluster of tiny islands has accommodation to suit every budget and a wide range of activities to enjoy. From beach bars to fishing villages, Ko Lanta has a little bit of everything. Soak up the sun on an isolated beach, get a traditional Thai massage at a swanky spa, or kayak through a mangrove forest to satisfy your inner sense of adventure.
Dreamy Ko Lipe is ideal for honeymooners. Part of the Tarutao Marine Park, its exclusive resorts are the only interruption to its unparalleled natural beauty. The island is very pedestrian-friendly, so you and your sweetheart can comb the coast from secluded Sunset Beach to the more bar-heavy Pattaya Beach. There are also plenty of typical Thai island day tours available, including diving, snorkeling, and exploring nearby islets.
Ko Pha Ngan
The ultimate in no-holds-barred backpacker culture, Ko Pha-Ngan is famed for its full moon parties. Hat Rin, or Sunrise Beach, hosts monthly revels filled with buckets of booze, drugs, pumping music, and even the occasional fire breather. Those willing to venture off the beach can rally from their hangovers to explore the Khao Ra jungle trails.
Ko Phi Phi
There’s never a dull moment on youthful Ko Phi Phi, making it the perfect energetic escape for solo travelers. Snorkel or dive to discover the world beneath the island’s turquoise waters, get your adrenaline pumping with cliff-jumping, or hop in a traditional long tail boat to Koh Phi Phi Ley by day. By night, make new friends at Ko Phi Phi’s lively beach bars.
One of the largest islands in the area, Ko Samui is typically the first island novice travelers visit. It is filled with five-star resorts and spas, perfect for the luxury lover. Tourism is booming here, making it easy for Westerners to enjoy, but also more crowded. Commercial Chaweng is the center of the island’s characteristically rowdy nightlife. For natural beauty, rent a scooter or join a snorkeling day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park.
For those who absolutely need to get off the beaten path, the Similan Island chain is a dream come true. Sail the Andaman Sea to each of the nine islands in the area, including the largest, Ko Similan. Swim over coral reefs, spot whale sharks, or just relax in your bamboo bungalow. This national park is as close to nature untouched as you can find in Thailand.
Wellness-focused travelers will find Ko Tao’s diving, hiking, and yoga offerings best suited to them. There are dozens of beginner-friendly dive centers ready to guide you through the island’s shallow waters, teeming with marine life. Meanwhile, the Shambhala yoga center and numerous hiking trails provide plenty of active pursuits for the land lubber.