One of the main components of the uber-successful Thailand holiday market is its breathtaking and earth-shattering tropical islands 🏅
The Thailand holiday sector is one of the strongest in the world. As recent news stories are projecting 32 million visitors to Thailand by the end of 2017, it just goes to show no matter what you throw at the Kingdom, it quickly converts into tourist numbers!
In addition, Thailand has over 1,430 small and large islands, and if you don’t know your Samui from your Lanta, here is some invaluable info on the top 10 Thailand holiday island getaways waiting for you to explore their natural beauty 🧔
Koh Yao Islands are located between Phuket and Krabi in the Andaman Sea. It consists of two islands, the Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi 🏅 I reached the island by a speedboat ride that only took 30 minutes; if you are not a speedboat fan, you can ride a ferry that takes around 45 minutes to arrive. I traveled around the island through rented motorbikes and tuk-tuk. Both the islands have apartments, homestays, several luxury resorts, restaurants, and tourist facilities 🧔 I am a big fan of water sports and indulged in lots of kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming. These islands have some of the most pristine beaches, such as Klong Jark beach, which is the longest here; Tha Khao Bay is primarily untouched and remains in its natural condition. Being less developed you will find the beaches not very crowded. Due to local traditions, it is nice to respect them and refrain from drinking in public, and that's why this island has no nightlife or pumping parties; instead, it's a place with serenity and calmness.
Size: 90.3 km²
Known For: beach clubs, resorts, kayaking, snorkeling, beach sunbathing, motorbiking, diving
Popular Attractions: Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort, Six Senses Yao Noi, Koh Yao Noi Town
If you want to experience the ultimate tropical Thailand holiday island, Koh Phangan is a legendary place. Located in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, within close proximity to its big brother, Koh Samui, Phangan left me awestruck and astonished with its beauty. The island is accessed via ferry from either Koh Samui or Surat Thani on the mainland. Koh Phangan is home to the infamous Full Moon Parties 🏅 you have read so much about, which have been written about in major international magazines such as FHM and many more, and I absolutely loved it. The island's holiday scene is mainly about beaches, natural beauty, and total relaxation 🧔
The most popular beaches you should visit are Hat Rin Beach, Bottle Beach, and Ao Thong Nai Pan Beach, an excellent place if you are looking to find a fantastic choice of restaurants and bars. For natural beauty, get over to the mesmerizing Than Sadet Waterfall National Park, which really is a stunning place. Koh Phangan might well be the smallest island of the big-5. Still, when it comes to rest, relaxation, peaceful serenity, and unbridled natural beauty, it is a match for any other island during your Thailand holiday experience. The natural beauty and the party scene at Koh Phangan take it to ninth place on the top 10 island destinations 🧔
Size: 429 km²
Known For: full moon parties, tropical beaches, crystal clear oceans, scuba diving and snorkeling, national parks, breathtaking tropical atmosphere
Popular Attractions: Hat Rin Beach, Ao Thong Nai Pan, Kobra Muay Thai Boxing Stadium, Than Sadet Waterfall National Park
Koh Tao, or turtle island, is part of the Chumphon Archipelago. It is accessible by ferries from Surat Thani, Chumphon, Ko Samui, and Ko Pha-ngan. Whereas I hired a speedboat from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao. This island is a breeding ground for sea turtles. Koh Tao is famous among tourists because of its great diving waters. Tourists flock from all parts of Thailand and the world to enjoy, learn and experience Diving 🏅 This has created competition among the dive shops for cheaper diving gear, and some diving schools have also thrived.
Apart from snorkeling, rock climbing, and boulder climbing, I also tried my hands on a driving lesson and enjoyed it 🧔 There are many affordable restaurants all across the island and some places to stay. My favorites were Casas Del Sol, Nangyuan Island Dive Resort, and some others. The Sairee beach is a 1.7 km long beach on the Southwest side of the island, and the Sae Daeng beach is lovely, just a short scooter ride from the town. Other notable beaches you could take a walk at are Shark Bay, Laem Thian Beach, Chalok Baan Kao bay, Freedom Beach, and other serene beaches.
Size: 21 km²
Known For: scuba diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, turtle nesting sites
Popular Attractions: Sairee west coast beach, Wat Koh Tao, John Suwan Viewpoint, Mango Bay, Love Koh Tao
With a population of barely 6,000, Koh Chang is one of the less inhabited islands in Thailand while actually being the second largest in the Kingdom after Phuket in terms of landmass 🥇 The island is less inhabited because most of it is covered in dense and scenic jungle terrain. Located in the Gulf of Thailand towards Trat, it took me a 4 – 5 hour drive from Pattaya; Ko Chang really is a special place to visit during your Thailand holiday.
Not so many first-time holidaymakers make it this way, but I did and encountered some fantastic coastal roads, picture-postcard beaches such as White Sand Beach and Klong Prao, and incredible natural wonders such as Mu Ko Chang National Park and Klong Plu Waterfall 🧔 With lots of hiking trails, coral reefs, and a laid-back tropical environment, Ko Chang has a feel and atmosphere that is like no other island in Thailand. There are also lots of bars, international restaurants and lots of shops, so it's not like being in the middle of the Amazon or anything like that. You can visit the island by taking the 45-minute ferry ride from Trat, which is 80 THB per person one-way, or 120 THB for a round-trip ticket.
Size: 429 km²
Known For: lovely beaches, hilly coastal road, dense jungle vegetation, a short ferry ride from the mainland, as being elephant island
Popular Attractions: White Sand Beach, Klong Prao Beach, Mu Ko Chang National Park, Kai Bae Viewpoint, Klong Plu Waterfall
Koh Lipe is a small island situated in the Strait of Malacca. It is located 73 km from the mainland in the Andaman sea. Koh Lipe is accessible by ferry or speed boat to and from nearby islands, and just as before, I preferred a speedboat to reach the island. This island is known for sandy beaches, such as Pattaya beach that also has nightlife going on 🥇 and a partying atmosphere that was one of my best experiences. The Sunrise and Sunset beaches are more of romantic nature where you and your lover can sit on the sandy beach looking at the sun go down. The accommodation and transportation are affordable 🧔 Visitors can enjoy their meals at many restaurants all across Koh Lipe. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the main activities. I came across 25 species of fish while snorkeling in the reefs of Koh Lipe.
Size: 1.6 km²
Known For: Scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boat trips to other islands partying
Popular Attractions: Koh Lipe Walking Street, Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, Koh Adang, Koh Lipe Viewpoint
I always feel that one of the most underappreciated and less talked about islands, Koh Lanta, doesn't get the kudos it deserves as a jaw-dropping tropical Thailand island holiday destination 🥇 Many people do not realize that Koh Lanta is actually the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang and is located in the South of Thailand. Combining both Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi, the island is mainly epitomized by its most popular beaches, such as Klong Nin Beach and Long Beach.
The island was once the primary domain of the sea-gypsies. It evolved into a popular holiday island for backpackers and lots of Scandinavians. They used to frequent the island in their droves. The island is becoming a bit more commercial in this day and age but is still a fantastic place to visit. Suppose you are a fan of natural beauty and wildlife. In that case, you really cannot afford to miss the luscious Mu Koh National Park or the Lanta Animal Welfare Center. When you are looking for one of the most laid-back tropical Thailand holiday experiences, not many can match Koh Lanta for its serenity 🧔
Size: 339.8 km²
Known For: laid-back atmosphere, peaceful serenity, stunning beaches, cool beach clubs
Popular Attractions: Klong Nin Beach, Long Beach, Lanta Old Town, Mu Koh National Park, Khao Mai Cave
Phi Phi is a six-island group between Phuket and the strait of Malacca. This island chain is part of the Hat Nopparat Thara-Ko Phi Phi National Park. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations and is accessible through a ferry ride from Phuket, Koh Lanta, and Krabi. I reached Koh Phi Phi from Phuket by taking a ferry ride. The restaurants, beaches, bays, and nightlife entertainment on Koh Phi Phi attract many day visitors. With activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and more, I had a lot to do in this small but stunningly beautiful place. Koh Phi Phi has pristine bays such as the Maya Bay, made famous by a hit movie "The Beach." The Loh Ba Gao is a peaceful and scenic bay on the way to Phi Phi Don 🏅. Rentee Bay is on the eastern side of the island and can be reached by an adventurous hike or a boat ride. The beaches of Koh Phi Phi are something to admire and are the crown jewel of these Islands.
There are eight beaches around the island, and all of them are famous among tourists. Some of them are the long beach, three Tonsai beaches, Loh Dalum beach, and Phak Nam beach. The night parties at Tonsai village, Loh Dalum beach, and Phi Phi reggae bar make the island life through the night and create a festive environment, and I enjoyed them to my fullest. Koh Phi Phi is also famous for its dining scene. My favorite restaurants here are Mama Resto 🧔, Anna's Restaurant, Aroy Kaffeine, and many more. For staying, there are many resorts; some of them are Zeavola(my choice of stay), Phi Phi Cocoa Beach, Phi Phi Relax Beach, Phi Phi Mountain Beach, Phi Phi Phu Chalet, and many more resorts. The beautiful beaches and the partying environment makes Koh Phi Phi the fourth-best Island destination 🧔
Size: 12.25 km²
Known For: late-night parties, snorkeling, scuba diving, sandy beaches, and dreamy bays
Popular Attractions: Phi Phi Reggae Bar, Loh Dalum Beach, Tonsai Bay, Phi Phi Viewpoint, Bamboo Island, Maya Bay, Long Beach
I was looking for somewhere nearly as beautiful as Phuket but is more geared to mid-range travelers while still retaining its tropical charms; Koh Samui Island 🏅 was what I was looking for. Situated in the dreamy blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, within close proximity to many excellent dive sites, this cosmopolitan island is the fourth largest in Thailand. It is definitely one of the most popular with younger travelers and the backpacking scene. However, it still has many 5-star options.
From stunning Koh Samui villa rentals and quaint beachside bungalows to some of the most prominent 5-star hotel chains in the world, Samui has something for everyone. The most popular tourist areas are Chaweng Beach, BoPhut Beach, Maenam Beach, and Lamai Beach. From the hustle and bustle of Fisherman's Village with its myriad of shops, bars, and restaurants, to stunning waterfalls such as Hin Lad 🧔, to breathtaking temples such as Wat Plai Laem, a Thailand holiday on Koh Samui is something special to me!
Size: 228.7 km²
Known For: stunning beaches, laid-back beach clubs, dance club-inspired nightlife, full moon parties, national parks
Popular Attractions: Chaweng Beach, Wat Plai Laem, Fisherman's Village, Big Buddha Temple, Hin Lad Waterfall
84 Km northwest of Phuket lies the archipelago of Similan Islands 🥇. It is accessible from Tab Lamu, Ko Lanta, Phuket, and Ranong via boat ride. Similan Islands are the best-known islands in Thailand due to their white sandy beaches meeting the turquoise blue waters and green forest backdrops. And I was awestruck 🧔 as I reached there. Similan has a total of 9 small islands from north to south and lots of beach fronts and blue waters that attract divers from all across the world.
Make sure to visit this place in the dry season because, during the monsoon season, boat rides can not happen due to bad weather conditions. However, suppose you plan on staying here for a couple of days. In that case, you have to be on a liveaboard boat trip from Phuket because night stays on the island have been banned to preserve the natural environment. Similan Island is nothing short of heaven on earth and it has been the second-best Island destination in Thailand 🧔
Size: 26 km²
Known For: white sandy beaches, diving, snorkeling, picturesque sceneries, yacht tours
Popular Attractions: Similan Island Park, 9 Similan Islands
Did you know that Phuket 🏆 is approximately the same size as Singapore? Doesn't seem right, does it? It really is surprising, but Phuket is actually the largest island in Thailand. I spent many days exploring this stunning place, and it had it all. Phuket is situated in the dreamy waters of the Andaman Ocean in Southern Thailand. It is the jewel in the crown of the Thailand holiday island scene. Not only does Phuket still have stunning beaches such as Nai Harn and Nai Yang, but it is also famous for its international-style mentality and high-end holidaymakers. The most popular holiday destinations in Phuket at Patong Beach are home to Bangla Road and other popular areas such as Kata, Karon, Kamala, Surin, and Nai Harn, all located along the Western coastline. With some amazing beach clubs, a stunning selection of eateries from low-cost Thai restaurants to exceptional fine-dining establishments, international shopping centers such as Central Festival and Jungceylon.
Phuket literally has everything for the modern holidaymaker of today; who are always looking for more! and this makes it the best Island destination in Thailand 🧔
Size: 576 km²
Known For: stunning beaches, world-class infrastructure, 5-star resorts, and high-end clientele
Popular Attractions: Beaches, Phuket Fantasea Theme Park, Big Buddha Mountain, Phuket. Aquarium, Splash Jungle Water Park, Blue Canyon Country Club Golf
The natural beauty of Thailand is like an open book. These Top 10 Holiday Island Destinations in Thailand are one of the chapters. So make sure you don't miss these Island destinations that I have shared my experience of to make your tour unforgettable 🧔
Until next time I am back with another of my travel experiences. Keep exploring the beauty of Thailand 🧔
Guinness Bear EN
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