Top Five Islands to Enjoy a Relaxing Thailand Trip
Posted on 30/01/2018 5:58:50
Well known for its party islands, Thailand is a getaway location for any kind of traveler. From the stunning beaches of Koh Samui to the full-moon party island of Koh Phangan, there are places for all kinds of travelers in Thailand. While you may think that you cannot go wrong when choosing which island to head to for your ideal break, there are a number of islands you will want to avoid if your ideal holiday is to relax and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the Land of Smiles.
There is no problem with finding a true paradise island in Thailand, the problem comes in working out which paradise island will suit your tastes. Many of the islands in the Andaman Sea to the west of Thailand have a big “party” reputation, but all of them have those quieter places to visit, and the parties only really happen in the peak season for young tourists. On the other side of the isthmus, in the Gulf of Thailand, there are fewer islands with less of that clubbing reputation than other places.
To know which are the best places to go for a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere, there are five top islands where you can enjoy the sun, sand, sea, and culture of Thailand without the interruptions of partygoers. Islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui are hotspots of tourism, and have been over commercialized in recent years, making them the perfect place for the partygoers that descend on Thailand every summer. Koh Phangan, while a nice place to visit, is only good for relaxation in the off season, as the peak season sees a huge number of tourists visiting the island, and the summer Full Moon Party, held every year, brings hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists to the islands for drinking, partying, and outrageous revelry.
Ko Phi Phi Islands
Before the Indian Ocean Tsunami that hit the coast of Thailand in December 2004, Ko Phi Phi Don was one of the most unspoiled islands in the Andaman Sea. A thriving island resort run by Thai locals and the largest of the Ko Phi Phi island group, the island was an idyllic paradise for relaxation where customer service came second to none. However, with several non-Thai investors helping to rebuild the resorts, the island has become more tourist-oriented, and less atmospheric. However, good building regulations have limited the height of the hotels so that the new developments do not spoil the island’s spectacular views. The off-season is the best time to enjoy the island without too many crowds, and if the peak season is your preferred time to visit, then the north and west of the island are still unspoiled and you can relax and get the peace and service you require.
Not far to the south is the small islet of Ko Phi Phi Leh, which was the shooting location for the hit DiCaprio movie, “The Beach”, and which is still a relatively popular tourist spot for those who remember the movie. Maya Bay is the more tourist-oriented beach, but to the north lies the rarely-visited Pileh Lagoon, which makes for a great place to relax and get away from the rigors of civilization for a while. The surrounding waters also contain several unnamed islands, some of which are little more than dramatic rock formations sticking up out of the ocean. However, the beaches on these small islets are the place to go for some relaxing swimming in the crystal-clear waters.
Relatively unknown for tourism, the small island of Koh Ngai, one of the Trang Islands off the coast of the Chao Mai National Park, has long sandy beaches and beautiful azure waters that will make you want to never leave. There is no nightlife on the island, and the only buildings are the small resorts that are dedicated to making happy tourists. With only sandy beaches and peaceful locations, it is one of the most idyllic islands in Thailand, although there is little in the way of low-cost accommodation, though the neighboring islands of Ko Muk, Ko Lanta, and Ko Kradan cater to lower budget travelers.
Beautiful beaches surround the island, and the best is said to be the “Paradise Beach” to the west of the island, and the surrounding islets provide some of Thailand’s best snorkeling and diving spots. Shallow waters reveal long coral reefs that are home to thousands of different species of marine life. The downside is that the resort staff in much of the island is made up of migrant workers, and the clientele are mostly foreign tourists. You could be forgiven for forgetting you were in Thailand, were it not for the Thai flags strung on all the longtail boats around the shores.
This beautiful island off the west coast of Thailand is one of the most stunning places in Asia, and it was once just a luscious backwater island that few people visited. Now, the island is a getaway location for both European and Asian tourists, and is fast becoming more commercially oriented. Plans are underway to build a bridge to span the 600 meter distance between the island and the mainland, which will undoubtedly increase the tourist population of the island in the peak season. For now, the island is still a calm and relaxing place in most parts of the south and southwest, where major tourist resorts and hotels have not yet reached.
Transportation is good on the island, with a well-paved road running north to south. The atmosphere in the Old Town still shows old Thai culture, and the flatness of the island makes it good for cycling exploration. One of the best and most relaxing spots to visit is the Khlong Chak Waterfall, in the south of the island. Only accessible by a 2km hike, the waterfall itself is a tranquil place with few visitors, even at the peak of the tourist season.
While it may be a backpacker’s party paradise these days, there are plenty of places to stay and visit where you will not see the noisy crowds of partying youngsters at all. A small island, the party crowds tend to stay on the western side of the island, around Mae Haad Pier areas, and along the edge of the bay. Head off to the east and north of the island and you are unlikely to be disturbed in your relaxations.
There are few resorts outside the main town of Koh Tao, and the best way to find them is to ask the locals. Many of the staff in the party areas come from the outlying parts of this small island, and know of the smaller, locally-run resorts that will show you the traditional way of Thai customer service and hospitality.
On the south coast, you will find the area dotted with villas along the palm-fringed beaches, as well as numerous coral reefs that are famed for their whale sharks and rays. A popular spot with snorkelers and divers, Koh Tao is also a breeding island for green turtles, and some of its eastern beaches may be off limits in the egg-laying season.
Definitely the best of the islands to visit during the low season for Thai tourism, Koh Lipe has many beautiful beaches, and everything is within easy walking distance. Known as Thailand’s “secret island”, Koh Lipe is often referred to as the “Maldives of Thailand”. The surrounding waters are clear and clean, and the beaches are straight out of an artist’s image of paradise.
Koh Lipe has some of the most friendly locals in Thailand, and the food is cheap and tasty, consisting of only local foods in most of the eating houses and restaurants. A small, L-shaped island, Koh Lipe is located off the coast of Satun Province of Thailand, close to the border with Malaysia. The island was originally only inhabited by Thai Sea Gypsies, known locally as the Chao Ley, who gave the island its unique name, which means Paper Island.
The island has three main beaches, Sunrise Beach (in the east), Sunset Beach (in the west), and Pattaya Beach in the south. The waters around the island are popular with snorkelers and scuba divers as the coral reefs start just a few meters from the shores of the island’s beaches. Around 25 percent of the world’s tropical fish can be found in the waters around the island, and the coconut fringed beaches are the perfect place to relax and unwind from the rigors of the busy rat race.
Accommodation on the island varies a lot, and you can find everything from four-star resorts to bamboo and thatch bungalows. Majority of the higher class resorts can be found around the more popular Pattaya Beach, the longest of the island’s three main beaches. Sunrise Beach, known as Haad Chao Ley, is a narrow strip of pristine white sand set against a shallow bay of turquoise waters. It is protected from the monsoons due to its location on the island, and is ideal for off-season tourists. Haad Pramong (Sunset Beach) is more of a laid-back place to stay, with bamboo huts that give it a distinctive hippie backpacker feel, without the noisy backpackers.