Thailand’s 10 Best Island Getaways
Thailand is home to literally hundreds of islands, 1,430 according to one source, so picking the absolute best can be a bit of a task to say the least. We have chosen to ignore the hundreds of islands that nobody has actually heard of and stick to those that people actually visit. Below is what we feel are the absolute best of the best that Thailand has to offer. If you are looking for a tropical island getaway, check out one (or a few) of our top ten. Do note, the Thai word for Island is Koh, which we have stuck with through the length of this page.
10 Koh Phi Phi
Once upon a time, Koh Phi Phi was a beautiful tropical paradise. After the Hollywood movie ‘The Beach’, the place has slowly been deteriorating due to mass tourism and development. If we were to have made this list some ten to twenty years ago, Koh Phi Phi would likely rank much higher, possibly even number one. However, despite it still being a beautiful destination, there are definite points off due to the rampant commercialism. One good thing about Koh Phi Phi is that it is a good staging ground to visit the less developed surrounding islands. It is also very close to Phuket so is easy to reach.
9 Koh Chang
Koh Chang is a big island, it is actually the third largest in Thailand behind Phuket and Koh Samui. Despite some influx of development, Koh Chang hasn’t been as ravaged as its two larger siblings. This is due in part to the geography of Koh Chang which has a very mountainous interior. Sure, there is a lot of development along the coasts, but the lush wilderness is always only a short trip away. The center of the island still has plenty of hiking trails, rivers and waterfalls.
8 Koh Pha Ngan
Nestled between the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan is known the world over for its famous Full Moon Parties. Despite its seedy reputation, the island is actually very nice. You have to remember that the party only occurs once every 28 days. The other 27 of which you can experience a rather tranquil and enjoyable stay while relaxing under a coconut palm along one of the white sandy beaches.
7 Koh Surin
The Surin Islands is actually an archipelago consisting of 5 different islands, the largest being Koh Surin Nuea. The island is very much undeveloped and is a great refuge for those wanting to just get away. Just off the island there is an abundance of diving and snorkeling spots, as well as hiking trails onshore. The national park is home to the famous Richelieu Rock dive site as well as many pristine reefs.
6 Koh Kood
Koh Kood, also known as Koh Kut, is the eastern most island in Thailand and is home to around 2,000 residents. As you can probably guess by the small population, there is very little actually on the island. If you are looking for any form of nightlife, you should definitely look elsewhere. For those looking to get away for a few days, Koh Kood is a great destination. There are a couple of resorts on the island, but outside of these, there is little else.
5 Koh Samet
Koh Samet has been a popular weekend getaway for residents of Bangkok as it is a mere 200 kilometers outside the capital. The island is famous for its pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear water and abundance of coral reefs. Although there has been some development over the previous decade or so, Koh Samet has yet to suffer the rampant over development that has ravaged the likes of Phuket and Koh Samui.
4 Koh Lanta Yai
Located in the Krabi Province, Koh Lanta Yai boasts an overabundance of stunning scenery. The white sand beaches are some of the best in all of Thailand. Unlike some of the neighboring islands that have a reputation as party hubs, Koh Lanta has a completely different vibe. The typical visitors are a bit older, which gives the island more of a relaxed and refined feeling to it. However, there are still plenty of bars if you really want to go out and party.
3 Koh Similan
The Similan Islands is a group of 9 islands just north of Phuket which forms the Similan Islands National Park. As it is a national park, the place is highly protected, which means very little development. The first thing that most visitors will notice that unlike neighboring Phuket, that Koh Similan is seemingly deserted. The major highlight of the place and reason for most visitors, is for the amazing dive sites just below the surface. Some would even say that it’s the best place to dive in all of Thailand.
2 Koh Tarutao
Part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, Koh Tarutao was made famous in 2002 as the filming location for Survivor: Thailand. The island itself is one of the most unspoiled islands within the Andaman Sea. The national park services rents out bungalows or tents and runs a single restaurant which serves an assortment of food. Be aware that there are no ATMs on the entire island, so you should come prepared. Also, it has been noted that the northern part of the island is quite nice, the southern part can be dangerous.
1 Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is an island located close to the Malaysian border and is home to about 500 Sea Gypsies (Chao Ley). The island has been relatively free of development until recently where there has been rampant growth to accommodate the growing influx of tourism. Despite the development, Koh Lipe has remained quite beautiful. There are three main beach areas called Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach, which can all be easily accessed. The island itself is very small and a person can walk the entire perimeter in little more than an hour. Koh Lipe is home to some amazing dive spots, whether you want beautiful reefs, or sunken ships, they are all right along the coast.
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