Thailand is surrounded by hundreds of islands and it can be a challenge to choose the best options when you have limited time. The Thai islands are perfect for the beach and island-hoppers, along with strong sun and idyllic-looking landscapes. You’ll find a variety of options, from spots for a party to those that work great for relaxation. Unless you are living in Thailand for a considerable amount of time, then it can be difficult to determine which islands are worth your time. Here are a list of the country’s best options.
This is the second-largest island in Thailand and is also known as a large marine park. Ko Chang is located in the east of Thailand in the province of Trang. Along with a new airport, this also serves as the starting point for many travelers on their island-hopping itinerary. Ko Chang is popularly known for its sandy beaches, stunning rainforests, coral reefs, and wildlife. It’s also one of the less-touristed spots compared to some of the other Thai islands.
Ko Phi Phi
This small archipelago is located in the Krabi Province of Southern Thailand. It is also the largest island in the Krabi Province and also the only island with permanent inhabitants in the area. Although the actual beach of Ko Phi Phi was hit severely by the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, which nearly destroyed the infrastructure on the island, the island has now been revitalized and is open for tourists. However, don’t expect to get a chance to see the famous Maya Bay–it has been closed to tourists indefinitely. Regardless, there’s still plenty of reason to see Ko Phi Phi.
This island is getting more and more popular as a tourist destination and one of the best spots for adventure-related activities, including rock climbing, scuba diving, and hiking. Koh Tao is among the best places in the world for diving and about 7000 new divers get certified here every year. It is also a great spot for those who love to fish since its water is stock-full of snapper, marlin, barracuda, and lots of other marine species. There are also numerous bars, resorts, and nightclubs on the island to explore if you want to party the night away instead.
The province of Phuket includes its large island with smaller islands just off the western coast of the mainland. It is the most popular tourist spot among the Thai islands and a popular party location for many. The island is filled with a number of scenic beaches with a number of different types of accommodations. It also has plenty of vibrant nightlife and shopping options to explore. Some of the attractions you might want to visit include golf courses, monuments, historical museums, and more.
Ko Samui is one of the most-visited islands and is home to a wide range of festivals to experience including the Buffalo Fighting Festival (though animal lovers should probably skip this one–personally, I would avoid it). There are also numerous street fairs where you can try out some of Thailand’s best dishes and buy souvenirs. Sailors also come here every year for the yearly Samui Regatta and the Triathlon that takes place here is a favorite among athletes.
Get away from Bangkok and to Ko Samet for some relaxation. Although most of the island is a national park, you can still find numerous vacation spots with great places to lounge. This island is also popular among those who love watersports including swimming and windsurfing. Head to one of the many beaches such as Ao Noina, Au Nuan, Ao Wai, and Ao Phutsa in order to enjoy the sunset views. You can also head to Ao Hin Khok and Hat Sai Kaeo if you want to try out some more active things to do–you can rent a paddleboard, surfboard, and more.
The island chain of Ko Lanta is located just off the coast of Thailand in the Krabi province. The largest island of the group is Ko Lanta Yai and also known as Ko Lanta. You have a ton of options for beaches and the region is a popular hotspot for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts. Make sure to look into a tour in order to see the coral reefs and ocean life–you might even get a glimpse of some whales and manta rays.
Sustainable snorkeling tips
As much fun as heading to the Thai islands can be, they are also suffering some of the effects of overtourism. While you shouldn’t skip because plenty of other people are planning on heading there, as well, there are some things you should keep in mind in order to save the area for future generations.
- Choose sunscreen without chemicals so coral reefs aren’t harmed
- Go on the off-season
- Don’t leave any plastic or other items behind
- Choose sustainable tours to give back to the area
Have you made it to any of these Thai islands?
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