Thailand is one of the most amazing travel destinations in the world attracting millions of tourists every year.
This country has everything, tasty food, friendly people, a warm climate, culture, bustling cities, elephants, beaches and also some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
There are over 1400 islands in Thailand, all are special and unique in their own way. But choosing where to go can be difficult, as each island is different, some are super touristy, some are great for diving, others for partying, and some offer a totally authentic and local experience away from the tourist crowds.
If you are looking to plan a dream trip to Thailand, including the islands in your itinerary is essential, you could organise everything independently or book Thailand tours. Benefits of tours include getting transport and accommodation included, as well as travelling in a group, having a lot of fun and getting guided to the best locations.
Now check out our guide which will help you to narrow down where to go.
These are our top rated islands you really shouldn’t miss.
1. Koh Tao
Koh Tao is one of the more well-known Thai islands and is famous for scuba diving. Travellers who want to learn how to scuba dive in Thailand should look no further than this island due to the cheap rates for PADI courses and spectacular dive sites. There are lots of local dive companies offering year round courses for beginners and advanced level divers.
Even if diving isn’t your thing, Koh Tao is a great destination to kick back and relax, spend your days enjoying the beaches or doing day trips. Just off this beautiful island is Koh Nangyuan (as seen in the image above), a very small island, which is accessible from Sairee beach on Koh Tao. This island is amazing for snorkelling and relaxing and there is even a small resort you can stay. A short 20 minute walk up the island you can view stunning views.
Koh Tao is particularly popular with backpackers, and there are plenty of bars to choose from including the famous Koh-Tao pub crawl on numerous times a week.
2. Koh Phi Phi
Located in the south of Thailand near Phuket, Koh Phi Phi is a mecca for backpackers. A strip of bars are found along the main beach, where it is busy all times of the night. Most people who visit Koh Phi Phi, take a snorkelling trip which includes locations like Monkey Islands and secluded lagoons. As well as a visit to the famous Maya Beach, which helped to put Thailand on the world map due to being the location of the movie ‘The Beach’ which stared Leonardo DiCaprio.
3. Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is known as the party island of Thailand, and it’s famous full moon parties are known all over the world. Once a month the island prepares for it’s legendary full moon party on the beach. As well as the main event, the nights leading up to it are just as famous, with options such as the jungle, Eden and pool parties available. There are many activities to keep backpackers occupied during the day like visits to waterfalls and temples, as well as a mini total wipe out course.
4. Koh Chang
Koh Chang is a lesser known and lesser visited island in Thailand located near the border with Cambodia. Koh Chang is well worth a visit, and getting here from Bangkok is very easy and quick compared to most of the other islands in the country.
Koh Chang has some beautiful beaches which aren’t as spoilt by travellers, it’s more of a peaceful island for those that want to relax. There are options to rent out kayaks to see more of the island, and jungle treks to do as well.
Unlike most of the tourist Thai islands, backpackers can see the traditional village life local Thai people live in.
5. Koh Samui
Finally, Koh Samui, this island is more touristy than others on this list and really popular with families. Koh Samui has long been an establisted tourism destination attracting world tourists for decades. There are luxury resorts located on paradise-esque beaches perfect for families with water sports activities.
For backpackers there are a wide range of activities to do, from bicycle routes around the island to Thai boxing matches. For the more adventurous travellers, there are opportunities to go bungee jumping.
The nightlife on Koh Samui is fantastic too, with a wide range of bars including the famous ARK bar.
Narrowing down this list to just 5 islands was tough as there really is so much choice. But the places featured on this list cover all bases, for budget backpackers, adventure sports lovers, party animals and also families. Plan a trip to any or all of these islands and you won’t be disappointed.
By Natalia Andersson-Laing
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