Top 10 Islands in Thailand

Stock photo via Flickr

Thailand’s lush tropical islands are second to none. The most well-known islands, such as Phuket and Koh Samui, have attracted millions of visitors over the last decade. However, there are also numerous other beautiful islands in Thailand that are less popular but still well worth a visit.

Thailand’s islands may share some of the same characteristics that make them the perfect holiday destination – crystal clear waters, white sandy shores, and fresh coconuts just plucked off sun-saluting palm trees – yet each one of them offers its own unique characteristics. Some offer the best diving spots, family-friendly activities, and peaceful beaches, while others have rowdy beach parties and fabulous boutique hotels.

With so many choices, it can be hard to decide which one to visit. Fortunately, island-hopping is easy in Thailand, so you shouldn’t feel limited to choosing just one. And, to help narrow down where you want to spend your tropical holiday, we’ve picked the 10 best Thai islands worth visiting!

10 Best Islands in Thailand

Of course, any list of the best islands in Thailand is bound to be subjective. However, these islands all offer glorious natural beauty, tourist facilities, and distinct features that may attract different crowds.

1. Koh Lanta

Located close to Phuket and Krabi, the long island of Koh Lanta is much quieter and less developed. As a result, it offers a more relaxed and serene vibe, with numerous secluded spots to enjoy. With its unspoiled nature that consists of green forested hills, mountainous landscapes, pretty coral reefs, sandy beaches, and traditional culture, Koh Lanta is an island to escape modern life and busy tourist areas.

Koh Lanta is actually two islands connected by a bridge: Koh Lanta Yai (the bigger one) and Koh Lanta Noi (the smaller one). There are various beaches to choose from, and Long Beach is arguably the most popular – if not the best – beach on Koh Lanta. The waters on the beaches are calm, making the island the perfect place to swim, even for children.

Although this island in Thailand isn’t a party destination, you can still find some beach parties here. In addition, you can learn about the local Moken community also known as chao le (sea people). This community is particularly popular for their free-diving abilities.

Best Time to Visit: It is best to visit Koh Lanta during the dry season. In the rainy months, between June and October, the island mostly closes down, with only several inclusive resorts operating.

Best Feature: An all-rounder. Koh Lanta has it all, from secluded, empty beaches and world-class diving to fun beach bars and great shopping.

Thailand Beach Koh Lanta | Robert Mehlan | Flickr
Koh Lanta

2. The Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are a dreamy chain of islands that form a national park in the Andaman Sea. The islands are numbered north to south, with Koh Similan (number eight) as the largest. Only Koh Miang (number four) and Koh Similan are largely open to the public.

In terms of facilities, the island may be lacking. However, if you are looking for clean and beautiful beaches where you can swim over untouched coral reefs, then the Similan Islands are well worth the effort to get there. Since hotels and commercial fishing in the waters around the islands are banned, the aquatic life here is pristine. As a result, the islands are often praised as one of the finest places for scuba diving and snorkelling in the world.

Besides the fascinating aquatic life, the islands are also home to a captivating array of birdlife. Also, the sunsets here are incredible, so stay at least a night to experience its magic.

Best Time to Visit: The Similan Islands are only accessible between October and May. From June to September, the islands remain closed. Besides, travelling to the islands during these months is not advisable due to the rough weather conditions.

Best Feature: The Similan Islands boast untouched marine life. It is home to Richelieu Rock, one of the world’s best diving sites and whale shark territory. Therefore, if you plan to scuba dive, you should definitely consider visiting.

File:Similan Islands Beach.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Koh Similan

3. Koh Phayam

Koh Phayam might be the second-largest Thai island in the Andaman Sea, but it is still relatively undiscovered. The tourism industry on the island is just starting up. As a result, the amenities are still limited, there’s no cars, and the cell reception is lacking, making it the perfect destination for those who need an escape from their busy life. Here, you can completely disconnect and avoid the nuisances of daily life.

It offers deserted beaches, a clear blue sea, a coral reef, jungle forests, and almost no crowds. The main attractions in Koh Phayam are Aow Yai (Big Bay) Beach and Aow Khao Kwai (Buffalo Bay). If you want to enjoy some fun water activities, such as surfing and boogie boarding, Aow Yai Beach is the place to go. On the other hand, if you want to relax while admiring beautiful mangroves and dramatic rock formations, you should go to Aow Khao Kwai Beach.

Other activities you can enjoy in Koh Phayam include biking, hiking, diving, and yoga classes. The food here is impressive as well, with a surprisingly great veggie food scene.

Best Time to Visit: You can travel to Koh Phayam all year round. However, November to April is the best time to visit.

Best Feature: With its laidback atmosphere and little to no crowds, Koh Phayam is the best island for those who want to get away and enjoy the bliss of having nothing to do.

Thailand | Ko Phayam | Sonnenuntergang | sunset | ASIEN | AS… | Flickr
Koh Phayam

4. Koh Yao Islands

Koh Yao is twin islands – Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi – in the middle of emerald karst-studded Phang Nga Bay. These islands might only be 30 minutes away from Phuket, but both are unspoilt. On both islands, you will be offered intense blue and green panoramas, making you feel like you have stumbled upon an undiscovered gem. You can find several big-brand luxury resorts on the islands, but authentic local homestays in wooden houses are dominating.

Koh Yao Noi is the smaller of the twins. It is also more developed, and most people stay here. Koh Yao Yai is larger and wilder, with sublime sandy beaches. One of the popular activities to do on this island is exploring the dense patches of mangroves by kayak.

Best Time to Visit: The dry season, between January and April, is the best time to visit Koh Yao. The weather during this time is comfortable, and you can enjoy many activities like swimming and snorkelling.

Best Feature: Koh Yao Islands offer an off-the-beaten-track experience, but they’re still close from Phuket.

Sunset on Koh Yao Yai | Alix Cazenave | Flickr
Koh Yao Yai

5. Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is possibly the most popular island on this list. It is a Thai island celebrity that shot to fame when Leonardo Di Caprio’s movie The Beach was filmed on one of its beaches, Maya Bay. The movie has caused the once-quiet bay to get jam-packed with tourists, and it may also make the island a controversial choice. Some think that Koh Phi Phi is overrated, ugly, and overdeveloped since the release of the movie. Others think that, even with the crowds, Koh Phi Phi is still pure paradise.

Koh Phi Phi is actually a tiny archipelago. It consists of six islands offering jaw-dropping views, with Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Lay as the two main islands. The largest and busiest of the six is Koh Phi Phi Don. You will most likely find your accommodation here. Koh Phi Phi Don is known for its energized parties. However, the island also boasts isolated coves and jungle-clad hills.

The other five islands are great for day trips. Whichever island you choose to visit, you will find sapphire shores with white sand, clear blue waters with snorkelling and diving spots, and thick jungles.

Best Time to Visit: Koh Phi Phi is open all year, but the ideal time to visit the islands are between November and April. During these months, the weather is pleasant, with less humidity and very little rain.

Best Feature: Koh Phi Phi offers both staggering natural beauty and lively beach parties. If you love the movie The Beach, you’ll also find the picturesque spots from the movie here. Don’t forget to climb the Phi Phi Viewpoint before the end of the day to watch the fantastic sunset.

Maya Bay of Koh Phi Phi Leh 2007-03-062) | Ko Phi Phi Leh wa… | Flickr
Koh Phi Phi Le

6. Koh Kradan

Another beautiful island in Thailand you should visit is Koh Kradan. Thanks to its long stretches of coral reef and stunning beaches, Koh Kradan is considered the jewel island of the Thai province of Trang. This island is the perfect choice if you are in search of quality vacation time with charming scenery, crystal-clear emerald water, and privacy.

Many visitors claim that Koh Kradan is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, and it’s easy to see why. The island has its fair share of sandy and rocky beaches. One of the most popular beach, Koh Kradan Beach, has shallow water coral and tropical fish, making it a popular site for snorkelling. On the west coast of the island, you will find Ao Chong Lom Beach, which offers remarkably beautiful sunset vistas.

There’s no village or roads on the island. However, there is excellent old-fashioned accommodation on the beach. You can also find several resorts around the private land.

Best Time to Visit: Koh Kradan is open all year round. However, it’s best to visit the island between November to May because the weather is nicer, and there are fewer transportation options in the wet season.

Best Feature: Koh Kradang is the perfect choice for those who want a remote island experience without sacrificing amenities. There are lush resorts here, but it’s empty enough to make it feel like you are on your own private island.

Koh Kradan Boat | A boat near the beach on Koh Kradan island… | Flickr
Koh Kradan

7. Koh Muk

Koh Muk, which means Pear Island, is a beautiful and quiet island in southern Thailand. Much of the island is part of a national park, while the rest of it is made up of fishing villages. Koh Muk is as far from touristy as it gets. While it is a shame, it also means that the natural loveliness here is still preserved very well. However, the island does have beach bars, restaurants, and a selection of accommodation.

You can enjoy sandy beaches, beautiful mountains, and dramatic cliffs in Koh Muk. The most stunning beach on the island is possibly the Sivalai Beach, but the more popular one is Farang Beach. The beaches are a must-visit, but the main draw of Koh Muk is the sublime Emerald Cave (or Tham Morakot in Thai), which can only be accessed during low tide from the ocean. You can enter the cave by swimming, and you’ll find a beautiful beach secluded by towering rocks and water.

Best Time to Visit: Although Koh Muk is open all year round, it’s recommended that you visit the island between November to April.

Best Feature: Koh Muk’s main claim to fame is its magical Emerald Cave. The only way you can enter the place is by swimming or kayaking at low tide, which can be a little scary, but you’ll find a lovely little beach with emerald-green waters.

Emerald Cave
Emerald Cave, Koh Muk

8. Koh Samet

Koh Samet is another beautiful island in Thailand. It is the closest island to Bangkok, which is why city folk flock here on the weekend. It is also extremely developed and easy to get to – it only takes around four hours by car and speedboat from Bangkok. Still, it somehow managed to stay under the radar, so it’s an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax on the weekend.

Some beaches on the island are more tranquil than others, especially on the southern side of the island. You can recharge, sunbathe, and even enjoy the beach all to yourself. On the northern side, you’ll find beach barbecues and fire-juggling shows.

Although Koh Samet is developed, its interior is still mostly jungle. It has a small national park as well.

Best Time to Visit: The dry season is the best time to go to Koh Samet. From October to April, the seas are calmer, which is perfect if you want to swim.

Best Feature: Despite being so close to Bangkok, Koh Samet is still relatively peaceful and refreshing. There are nightly events here, but you can also find secluded areas. It’s perfect if you are looking for an island gateway not too far from Bangkok.

Koh Samet
Koh Samet

9. Koh Lipe

For many people, Koh Lipe is the perfect definition of a remote island in Thailand. Although it can be crowded during the high season, there are still not as many tourists as Phuket and Koh Samui. There are also no cars and only a handful of motorcycles here to break the serenity. The island offers a dreamy combination of remoteness, postcard-worthy beaches, and luxury hotels.

There are three main beaches in Ko Lipe: Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Sunset Beach. Pattaya Beach is the busiest, while Sunset Beach is the most secluded. Situated on the Andaman Sea, Koh Lipe’s clear and calm waters make it a great place for swimming. You can also snorkel directly from the beaches.

Best Time to Visit: Consider visiting between November to March since the weather is perfect on this beautiful island during these months.

Best Feature: Koh Lipe is particularly popular among couples and honeymooners. The island is small enough to explore on foot; you can walk around it hand-in-hand with your loved one in half a day. There are also many romantic resorts offering couples’ massages.

Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe

10. Koh Pha Ngan

Koh Pha Ngan is mainly known for its full moon parties where young backpackers flood into Haad Rin during the full moon (and half-moon) every month for fluorescent-themed fun. These parties might cause Koh Pha Ngan to gain an unfair reputation as Thailand’s infamous backpacker party island, but don’t let it spook you!

There’s another rugged side to Koh Pha Ngan where you can avoid the wild celebrations. As long as you steer clear from Haad Rin, you’ll forget that these parties are happening at all. The rest of Koh Pha Ngan boasts beautiful bays with hidden places, upscale resorts, and health retreats. One of the most popular beach on the island is Haad Yuan, which is located between the boisterous party on Haad Rin and the more tranquil parts of the island.

Koh Pha Ngan has deep waters for those who want to go diving and excellent hiking trails for those who love a good mountain top view. If you decide to go trekking into the middle of the island, you can find stunning natural pools and waterfalls, such as Nam Tok Phaeng.

Best Time to Visit: December to March is the best time to visit Koh Pha Ngan since the humidity starts to go down, but the monsoon season is still far away.

Best Feature: Koh Pha Ngan offers the best of both worlds. If you are into partying, then you shouldn’t miss the full moon parties. But if you prefer to have some peaceful time, there are many places on Koh Pha Ngan that’ll make you feel like you are the only one on the island.

Koh Pha Ngan
Koh Pha Ngan

That concludes our list of the top 10 most beautiful islands in Thailand. Be sure to confirm that the island you choose is accessible at the time of year you are planning to visit. Also, the opening times, as well as travel requirements, may change due to Covid-19.

Advertise On The Thaiger
Contact us to discuss advertising and custom solutions.

Things To Do

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Cita Catellya

Cita Catellya is an experienced journalist and writer who covers a range of topics from medical and property to leisure and tourism. Her career began as a copywriter 5 years ago, where she worked with several brands in Indonesia to help them increase their online presence. Cita writes in both English and her native Bahasa Indonesia

Leave a Reply