With countless Thai islands to choose from, picking a destination can be extremely difficult. Many visitors put together an itinerary and island hop, but where to start when there are simply so many fantastic locations to choose? Luckily for you, we have whittled down our list to five of Thailand’s most coveted islands. Prepare to be transported to a world of untouched beaches, unique culture and different ethnic influences.
The palm-fringed beaches are some of the most visited throughout all of Thailand’s islands. Over the years it has somewhat transformed from a backpackers’ destination to a luxury beach resort destination. However, there is still a happy medium that opposite ends of the spectrum can enjoy.
Ko Samui’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world and there is no denying that a day on the shore or in the ocean is time well spent. However, a visit to Big Buddha is a highly recommended cultural excursion. The religious site is incredibly vibrant and unlike many of South East Asia’s more traditional temples, making it a welcome break from the coastal antics.
One of the 51 islands making up the Tarutao Marine National Park archipelago, Ka Tarutao is one of the most unspoiled island in all of Thailand. The island is home to the park’s headquarters, making it an obvious stop for those who want to explore the untouched regions.
Translated from Malay, Tarutao means old, mysterious and primitive. With gnarly cliffs, dense rainforest and a reputation for criminals, beats and the supernatural, it seems Ko Tarutao lives up to its name. During the 1930s and 1940s, 3,000 prisoners were sent to the island and you can explore the prison ruins and learn of the island’s harrowing past.
However, if the flora and fauna is more your cup of tea, trek the mountains and come across macaques, mouse deer and wild pigs.
Near the Malaysian border is the island of Ko Lipe. The L-shaped spit of land belongs to the Adang-Rawi archipelago and was originally inhabited by Sea Gypsiesm the Chao Ley people. They gave Ko Lipe its name, which means Paper Island.
Ko Lipe has three main beaches; Sunset Beach in the west, Sunrise beach in the east, and Pattaya Beach in the south. All of the coastal regions are famous for snorkelling and scuba diving due to the beautiful reefs which are just a stone’s throw from the shore.
Over the past few years, Ko Lipe has undergone development. Although this means the island is tourist-filled during the peak season, it means that there are countless restaurants to indulge in delicious Thai cuisine. On the Rocks, Lekka Lipe, La Luna and Mama Pappaya are all popular eateries on the island.
Named after the Samet trees which grow on the Island in abundance, Ko Samet is a perfect holiday escape. It is just a three-hour drive and ferry journey from Bangkok so expect tourist areas to be busy on the weekends and much quieter in the week, particularly during the off-season between March and October when rain is more likely.
Most of Ko Samet is protected due to it being part of the Kaho Laem Ya – My Ko Samet National Park. This means the island is unbelievably clean and unspoilt, making it an attractive choice for expats, Thai nationals and holidaymakers alike.
Many who visit Ko Samet, dot between the beautiful islands of Thailand. If budgets allow, many travellers ensure private luxury yacht charter is an incredible way to enjoy South East Asia’s oceans and enjoy as many of Thailand’s islands as you wish.
Ko Pha Ngan
Thailand’s most famous Full Moon Party takes place on Ko Pha Ngan’s Hat Rin beach. The celebrations attract up to 30,000 revellers at New Years. However, the rest of the year providers holidaymakers with a bohemian Thai island; a perfect location to laze in a hammock amongst the plentiful coconut trees.
Many visitors comment that the remote Hat Thong Nai Pan Noi is a peaceful haven and not dissimilar to Ko Samui. This area of the island is particularly popular with families due to the all-inclusive resorts, private beaches and countless things to do.