How to Choose the Best Islands to Visit in Thailand?
A perfect Thailand tour should consist of a trip to Bangkok, an exploration of at least one island, and several days to go deep into the forests in the north. The island tour is an important part not to be missed in Thailand. However, there are hundreds of islands spread across the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. How to choose the best islands to visit in Thailand?
Should you concentrate on the west coast? Are the east coast islands more beautiful? Do you have time to tour both sides of the Thai peninsula? Here comes a list of the best 8 islands to visit in Thailand, suited for every type of visitor, party animals, backpackers, honeymooners, families, etc.
Facts to Consider to Choose the Best Islands to Visit in Thailand
Weather Differs on the West and East Coast
No island trip is fun in the pouring rain. Weather plays a crucial role when it comes to island or beach tour.
In Thailand, the weather on the west or east coast is different. The west coast is hot most of the year and the winter months turn to be more favorable. While the weather of the east coast is good all year round and October and November encounter the heaviest rainfall.
Travel Time Determines How Further you Can Go
Fully touring the Thai islands requires much time. And it takes time to get to the island by flights, bus rides, or ferries, or a combination of all three.
If you have only one week long, you'd better choose an island with easier access from the mainland. If you have a longer vacation, that'll give your plenty of time to the more remote places to have an off the beaten path exploration.
Choose the Island Suiting your Vacation Needs
Each of the Thai islands has its own special vibe. Some are busy with parties, some are quiet for honeymooners, some are perfect for kids, and some are backpackers' dreamland, etc. So you need to figure out which island suits your vacation needs.
8 Best Islands to Visit in Thailand
Koh Lanta - A Place of Quiet and Peace
Lying on the Andaman coast, Koh Lanta is an island in Krabi Province famous for its coral-fringed beaches, mangroves and rainforests. Although close to Phuket, the island is much quieter and less touristy, not a party destination.
Koh Lanta is a place of quiet and peace.
The island of Koh Lanta has plenty of beaches and bays to offer, and Long Beach is arguably the best one, with a long strip of soft sands stretching into deep blue water, perfect for swimming lovers. The beach has a long coastline of 4 kilometers, so you can always find a lonely place for serenity.
Getting There: You can take a plane from Bangkok to Krabi International Airport and then get to Koh Lanta by bus or minivan from Krabi. Phuket is also a nice base to get to Koh Lanta. Ferry between Koh Lanta and Phuket is available.
Koh Lipe - Tiny Island for Romantics and Honeymooners
Visible from the west side of Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe is a tiny island on the Andaman coast of Thailand, featured with white beaches and blue water that is more striking in person than in photos.
Koh Lipe is a tiny island for romantics and honeymooners.
Koh Lipe shapes like an “L”, consisting of three main beaches, Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Sunset Beach. Pattaya is the main resort and nightlife center. The sunrise and sunset over the Sunrise Beach and Sunset Beach are gorgeous!
Getting There: Fly from Bangkok to Hat Yai Airport which is the nearest airport to Koh Lipe. Then take a shuttle bus to Pak Bara and from here catch a ferry to Koh Lipe.
Phi Phi Islands - Boat Tour for Beautiful Limestone Rocks
On the Andaman coast, Phi Phi Islands is an island group between Phuket and Koh Lanta. The island is known for its beautiful jungle scenery and jagged limestone rock formations, very photogenic.
Phi Phi Islands is energized. It is home to hundreds of high-end resorts and is busy with visitors especially in the high season. Many long-tail boats anchor off the coast, waiting for you to enjoy a boat tour to explore the amazing limestone rock formations.
Phi Phi Islands are perfet for explore by boat tours.
Getting There: You can fly to Krabi and then take a ferry or speed boat to Phi Phi Islands. Alternatively, fly to Phuket first, followed by a ferry or speed boat ride to Phi Phi Islands.
Phuket - Highly Developed Beach Resort
Located on the Andaman Sea of the west coast of Thailand, Phuket is the most well-known of all the Thai islands. It’s not a destination for quiet and pristine beaches.
The Sarasin Bridge connects Phuket to the mainland, making the island easy to reach, highly developed, and crowded with tourists. If nightclubs, shopping, fitness, tourist-oriented activities, and umbrellas on the beach are what you are looking for, then Phuket is your place.
Getting There: One-hour flights are available from Bangkok to Phuket International Airport. To finally get to the island, there are bus, train and car options to choose from.
Koh Yao Islands - A Place to Explore by Scooter
Situated between Phuket and Krabi, Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai are a pair of islands in the middle of Phang Nga Bay. The smaller one of Koh Yao Noi is more developed, while the larger Koh Yao Yai is more pristine.
Both of the two islands are not party spots. Most people tour the Koh Yao Islands by scooter. The islands are so quiet that at night you can hear nothing but the sounds of breeze rustling palm tree fronds and the nightly chorus of cicadas.
Lam Haad beach on the island of Koh Yao Yai is stunningly beautiful at low tide. You can take a walk over the sandbank that is created by the low tide.
Explore Koh Yao Yai by a scooter.
Getting There: Koh Yao Islands are easy to reach by longtail or speed boat from Phuket or Krabi.
Similan Islands - Island Hopping and Scuba Diving
Similan Islands are an archipelago of 11 islands lying in the Andaman Sea, covered with dense forests and surrounded by clear waters in which abundant marine animals are living.
Currently, only Islands 4 and 8 are open to tourists. At least one night overstay here is recommended as the sunset is incredibly fabulous. Except for beaches and sunsets, it’s also one of the best scuba diving destinations in Asia, offering warm and clear waters with visibility up to 20 to 30 meters.
Getting There: Drive an hour north of Phuket to Khao Lok and then from there take a two-hour boat ride to the Similan Islands.
Koh Samui - Busy Island with the Crowds
Koh Samui is the second largest island located in the Gulf of Thailand on the east coast of the Thai peninsula. It's a busy island featured with an international airport, large resorts, nightclubs, and crowded beaches.
Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand.
With plenty of parties, Chaweng and Lamai are the two busiest beaches on the island of Koh Samui. However, Koh Samui is large enough to find peaceful sites, for example, Ban Tai Beach, Tong Yang Beach, etc.
Getting There: Koh Samui airport is well-connected, so you can take flights to Koh Samui. Alternatively, you can travel to the island by a combination of bus/train and ferry.
Koh Phangan - Carnival at the Full Moon Party
Seating in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is famous for its monthly Full Moon Party on the southern beach of Haad Rin. At the party, you can expect buckets of booze, flaming fire jump ropes, and plenty of pumping music, which make people revel till dawn.
In addition to full moon parties, there are half-moon parties, jungle parties, and black moon parties held each month, too. If you head away from Haad Rin to the western side of the island, you can find some beautiful beaches like Secret Beach and Bottle Beach, ideal for relaxation.
Getting There: Koh Phangan is accessible from Koh Samui by ferry.
The island trip is an important part in all Thailand tours and now you should know how to choose the best island to visit in Thailand.
For those who prefer complete supporting facilities covering fine hotels, nightclubs, and water activities, Phuket and Koh Samui are the most famous two islands. Koh Phangan is where the trending Full Moon Parties are held.
If you are seeking a place of serenity, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe and Koh Yao Islands are the right choices. Similan Islands is a great destination for scuba diving lovers. And Phi Phi Islands is famous for the limestone rocks jutting out of the blue waters.