A Guide To The Best Islands In Thailand

From the Koh Lanta to Koh Samui, here are the best Islands in Thailand. This spectacular country is home to some of the world’s most beautiful islands. Because of this, the country is one of the biggest tourist destinations on the planet, drawing millions each year.

From palm covered beaches to spectacular diving odysseys, the islands of Thailand cater for all tastes. Here you will find which are the best islands in Thailand and decide for yourself the ones you would like to visit.

The Best Islands In Thailand

Koh Lipe

What makes this island so good is that not many tourists make it to these beautiful shores. Koh Lipe is small enough to explore on foot and offers many activities to fill your time. Located in the south Andaman Sea near Malaysia, Koh Lipe is one of the 51 islands which make up the Tarutao Marine Park. Famous for its white sand beaches, Koh Lipe is a must visit island for those looking to relax.

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Things to do on Koh Lipe

The island offers up lots of activities such as snorkeling, diving and boat trips. There are two main beaches: Pattaya Beach, which is where all of the local nightlife is and Sunset Beach, which is quiet and more out of the way.

Make sure to hike up to the Adang Viewpoint to get an unbelievable view of the island and also the surrounding Marine Park. It is also possible to camp here and tents are available from the National Park Office.


How to get to Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe can be reached by boat from either Thailand or Malaysia. During the high season from November to May the boats dock at Pattaya Beach. Longtail boats and motorbike taxis will be waiting to take you anywhere on the island. In low season tourists are dropped on Sunset Beach, where again transportation will be waiting.

If you are arriving from Malaysia, you will have to first clear customs. The Immigration Office is at the south end of Pattaya Beach, you will be guided here and quickly get stamped into the country.

Koh Lanta

Next is Koh Lanta is famously known as one of the best islands in Thailand. If you wish to escape the crazy party scene for a while, Koh Lanta is the place to visit. More of a family friendly island, Koh Lanta attracts the travelers which are a little older, 30+. Gone are the days of the backpackers and wild parties, Koh Lanta has morphed into one of Thailand’s more upmarket islands.

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Things to do on Koh Lanta

Only an hour’s boat ride from the province of Krabi, this is an island with beautiful secluded beaches and jungle covered hills. Although the party scene has pretty much left, it is still possible to have a great time. Apart from the many bars and restaurants there are jungle treks, elephant tours, snorkeling trips, kayaking, diving and a hundred other things to fill up your time.


How to get to Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is accessible by either car or passenger ferry. High speed passenger ferries leave from Phuket, Krabi Town and Ao Nang and take roughly 75 minutes. The Passenger ferry costs approximately 450 Baht each way.

Take note that from November to April the passenger ferries do not operate. The only way to reach the island during low season is by the car ferry. You will have to book a minibus seat which costs around 400 Baht.

The car ferry leaves from Hua Hin Pier which is near Trang on route 4206. For one car with two people the cost is 120 Baht.

Koh Tao

The jungle covered paradise of Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is known as one of the best places to learn how to dive in the world. The island is famous for being one of the cheapest places to study for a PADI diving certificate. Lined with beautiful sandy coves and jungle tracks just waiting to be explored, Koh Tao is an adventurer’s dream.

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Things to do on Koh Tao

As we said, Koh Tao is an adventurer’s dream with countless activities to occupy your time. From diving and snorkeling to pub crawls and beach side parties, on Turtle Island you will not get bored.

Like everywhere else in Thailand, the best way to get around is by motorbike, Koh Tao is no different. Rent a motorbike and explore the island, head off road and onto the jungle tracks to really have some fun. However, make sure that it has not rained for a few days before you leave the tarmac.

The island has so many beautiful beaches that you can choose a different one to visit every day. The most famous of them all is Sairee Beach, and is where most of the bars and resorts are to be found. One of the most beautiful beaches on the island is Freedom Beach. This is also a great place to escape the many tourists which flock to these golden strips of paradise every single day. Grab a yoga mat and turn this into your very own piece of heaven.


How to get to Koh Tao

The only way to reach Koh Tao is by boat. Daily ferries run from the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui and also from Chumphon and Surat Thani on the mainland. These are simple to catch with tickets being sold in most major towns and cities.

Koh Tao has no airports, bus stations nor trains. The best way to get around the island is by the small pickup trucks which are constantly moving from town to town. Or by renting a motorbike.

Koh Phi Phi Islands

The Koh Phi Phi Islands are some of the most beautiful in the entire country. Filled with stunning beaches, photogenic limestone rock formations and beautiful turquoise waters, these islands are the stuff of dreams. Six islands make up the archipelago, the two biggest islands are Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh. Leh is the most famous having gained worldwide recognition in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach.

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Things to do on the Koh Phi Phi Islands

There are countless things to do here from boat trips to Maya Bay to rock climbing on the limestone mountains. Spend the day snorkeling with the stunningly colourful fish or get a tattoo in one of the many tattoo shops on the island.

Some of the more notable activities available are snorkeling with sharks, cliff jumping, and scuba diving. With endless pub crawls and all night beach parties, these islands are a backpackers paradise.


How to get to the islands

There are no airports on the islands however, being some of the best islands in Thailand, they are very easy to reach. There are two main options open to travelers to reach these spectacular shores, ferry and speedboat.

The most popular route is by ferry, which takes two hours from Phuket or 90 minutes from Krabi town. Another way is by speedboat, this obviously more expensive than the ferry but far more luxurious. The speedboat will also drop you on the sands, right outside of your resort.

Koh Samui

Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and also one of its most beautiful. The paradise of Samui is much more of a family oriented destination than its near by neighbour, the party haven of Koh Phangan.

Covered in palm shaded beaches, coconut groves and dense rainforest, Koh Samui is often touted as one of the best islands in Thailand. Visit this idyllic island for yourself and see what all of the hype is about.

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Things to do on Koh Samui 

Like all of the other Thai Islands, Koh Samui has much to offer its visitors. Here are just a few of the many activities waiting for you: kitesurfing, sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, elephant trekking, beach dining, crocodile shows and beach parties.

Koh Samui has a hundred different things for you to do and could be an incredible destination which you will never forget.


How to get to Koh Samui

Koh Samui is one of the rare islands in Thailand which has its own airport which has daily flights to and from the island. Catching a flight couldn’t be simpler, AirAsia offers some super cheap island transfers, check them out here.

There are also ferries which sail daily to and from the paradise. They available from Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Surat Thani and Chumphon. Tickets are readily available from most hostels, hotels and travel agencies.

It is also possible to book Bus-Ferry tickets from the inland cities, this is the way most travelers reach Koh Samui. All you have to do is book a bus ticket in the city you are in, and you will catch a tourist bus which will take you to the nearest port where you will catch your ferry.

Koh Chang

Next up is Koh Chang, this is one of the least known and best islands in Thailand. This is also the island on this list which is closest to Bangkok. Located near the Cambodian border, Koh Chang is a late comer to the tourism industry. It was not to long ago when Koh Chang was an unknown to Westerners. Now however, the word is out and Koh Chang is known as one of the best islands in Thailand.

Covered in steep, thick jungle, Koh Chang is a perfect destination for hikers. Ringed by a ribbon of perfect tarmac roads it is also a great place for those who like to head out on motorbikes. Visit Koh Chang before it is too late and its rugged rural feel is lost forever to the inevitable boom of hotels and tourists.

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Things to do on Koh Chang

Being covered in steep jungle, Koh Chang has some great trekking routes and is also a great place for birdwatchers to spot some of Thailand’s most beautiful birds. Diving, sailing and fishing trips are also available across the island.

Rent a motor bike and ride a loop to the other side of the island and fill your day with swimming, temple hopping and delicious food tasting. It is also possible to feed elephants at various points on the island.

Rock climbing and canopying is also available for the more extreme travelers.


How to get to Koh Chang

Koh Chang does not have an airport but is very easy to reach from the mainland. The island is a seven hour drive from Bangkok off the coast of Trat. From Trat, car ferries leave throughout the day taking tourists over to the island. Once there, you will be met by taxis waiting to take you to your hotel.

Phuket Island

Probably Thailand’s most well known island, Phuket is also the biggest. Often mistaken as part of the mainland, Phuket is connected by bridge to the province of Phong Nha. The island is located in the south of Thailand and is covered in rainforest and mountains. If you are looking for a five star holiday, Phuket is the place to go. Although it is not only about the luxury accommodation, the island caters for everybody from the rich and famous to backpackers.

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Things to do on Phuket

Phuket, being a huge island has hundreds of things to do. From the crazy parties of Bangla Road to the more relaxed atmosphere of the beach resorts. There is something for everybody in Phuket.

If you are looking for non stop parties and the more adult side of Phuket, Patong is where you should be heading. On Bangla Road the party never stops, no doubt this is why Bangla draws so many tourists. However, if you do not want to get involved, this is also a great place to just sit and watch the craziness.

Once the drinking is over, Phuket offers more than enough activities to fill your time. From sea kayaking  and rock climbing to parasailing and temple hopping, Phuket is most certainly one of the best islands in Thailand.


How to get to Phuket

Phuket is another of the islands which is very easy to reach by air or by land. Being connected to the mainland by bridge means that buses from all across the country make their way to this island paradise. Tickets can be booked in most cities and towns and will often depart the same day.

If you are staying in Krabi town or on one of the islands in the Andaman Sea, it is possible to catch a ferry direct to Phuket. All you have to do is ask on the island for the ticket office and then catch your ferry from the pier.

Koh Phangan

Last but not least, Koh Phangan is another of Thailand’s incredible islands. Koh Phangan is world famous for its Full Moon Party which draws thousands of backpackers every month. If it is parties that you are looking for, then this is one of the best islands in Thailand for you. Koh Phangan is also one of the cheapest in Thailand which makes it a great budget destination.

However Koh Phangan is not just about the parties, it is also an incredibly beautiful island. Golden stretches of sand line the coast and thick jungle covers the hills of the interior. If you visit Koh Phangan, you will never forget it.

best islands in Thailand

Things to do on Koh Phangan

The most famous thing to do on Koh Phangan is obviously the Full Moon Party, held once a month …. on the full moon. The part which is held on Haad Rin Beach, can draw 30,000 revelers every month. Anybody who has attended the party will tell you, 30,000 is to many people. Most of the fun is taken out of the party by trying not to stand on people’s feet. The Half Moon Party is a much better option and draws a lot less people.

Another great thing to do on Koh Phangan is to watch the sunset at the Amsterdam bar. Here it is also possible to buy weed and smoke a joint. There are cushions laid out on the floor and you will often see people sleeping off the effects of their joint. It is quite safe as staff and fellow travelers look out for each other.

Other great things to do include sea kayaking, snorkeling, diving, elephant tours, hiking, beach hopping and also kitesurfing. Koh Phangan is most definitely one of the best islands in Thailand.


How to get to Koh Phangan

The nearest airport to Koh Phangan is on the nearby island of Koh Samui. It has daily flights and is very easy to reach. From Koh Samui you can either take a speed boat or the local ferry.

Ferry services run throughout the day from the ports of Chumphon and Surat Thani on the eastern coast of Thailand. Daily ferries also run from the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui. Koh Phangan is very easy to reach from anywhere in Thailand.

Now you should be in no doubt which are the best islands in Thailand. However, finding a bad island in this beautiful country is a hard task. Thailand is a stunning place which will steal your heart and leave you wanting more.

Finally, if you have already visited these islands or are looking forward to your adventure, tell us about it in the comments section. Furthermore, we would love to hear your travel stories also. We love nothing more than to hear from other travelers 🙂 

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