Why limit yourself to holidaying on just one island when there are so many beautiful ones to experience in Thailand? But with literally hundreds to choose from, selecting the right one, two of even narrowing it down to ten to visit can be a daunting task… so we’ve done the hard work for you, to bring you our recommendations of where to go and why. We’ve also spoken to Sam Collins from Ethos Travel to bring you his expert opinion on some hidden gems. Now, all you need to worry about is how long you want to spend on each little piece of paradise and how you’re going to drag yourself away once you get there.
Gulf of Thailand
14 stunning white beaches leave you spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a spot to soak up some rays. There are also plenty of shady spots under the coconut palms too, for those of you who like a daytime snooze.
Great for: Escaping the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, as it’s only a bus ride away.
Where to stay: Sai Kaew Beach Resort
Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket is much less developed and, aside from plenty of beautiful beaches, boasts beautiful forests, rivers, waterfalls and hiking trails too. Holiday bliss.
Great for: Experiencing the Thai life.
Where to stay: Nirvana Resort
Golden sands, numerous diving schools and crystal clear waters make it the perfect choice for those wanting to learn to dive.
Great for: Spectacular and easy-to-access dive sites and exhilarating jungle hiking.
Where to stay: The Place and Haad Tien Resort
Ko Pha Ngan
Home to the infamous Full Moon parties; this beautiful island is a mecca for partygoers, beachcombers and active adventurers in equal measure.
Great for: Culture, partying and waterfalls.
Where to stay: Phangan Bayshore Resort
Sunseekers searching for white, sandy beaches and emerald waters will love this beautiful island. It’s also a great base for exploring the neighbouring islands of Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao and the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Great for: Snorkeling, kayaking, kiteboarding and more island hopping.
Where to stay: Banyan Tree Samui
A dreamy chain of nine little wonders, the Similan Islands are numbered north to south, one to nine, and form a national park in the Andaman Sea. You can swim over untouched coral reefs in the turquoise waters off them all, but only step foot on the white beaches of Ko Miang (number four), which has simple bamboo bungalows, and the largest island Ko Similan (number eight). Just north of the national park, Ko Tachai has the softest, sparkliest sand and is the most popular. Close to the Burmese border, Richelieu Rock is one of the world’s best dive sites and whale shark territory (February-April is the best time to spot them).
Great for: Sailors and divers. Wherever you go, you’ll need a boat.
Where to stay: Similan Island accommodation
South of Phuket
Ko Phi Phi
Off the west coast of Thailand between Phuket and Krabi, Ko Phi Phi’s sandy beaches, turquoise seas, and gently swaying palm trees guarantee a relaxing break.
Great for: Relaxing by day, partying at night.
Where to stay: Zeovola and Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort
Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi
By comparison with the other islands, this delightful duo are the least developed, but if it’s secluded beaches, stunning lagoons and an authentic Thai experience you’re after, then these are the islands is for you.
Great for: Eco-friendly hotels and homestays with the locals.
Where to stay: Six Senses
Considered by many to be one of the best dive spots in Thailand, this varied island offers plenty for land lovers too, with mangrove forests, caves and lagoons for exploring and long stretches of white sandy beaches to relax on.
Great for: A bit of everything, from beaches and kayaking to diving and spa treatments.
Where to stay: Layana Resort
Ko Hai (Ngai)
Easily accessible from Ko Lanta or from Trang on the mainland, this little gem of an island is only 4 km long, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty.
Great for: Escaping the crowds.
Where to stay: Ko Ngai Cliff Beach Resort
Famed for its beautiful beaches and luxury resorts, the island’s three main beaches: Sunset beach, Sunrise beach and Pattaya beach are all worth a visit, guaranteeing a relaxing time and varied sea view throughout your stay.
Great for: A spot of luxury.
Where to stay: Sawan Resort
What the experts say:
Sam Collins at Ethos Travel seeks to highlight the beauty of Thailand’s islands and beaches beyond the established tourist trail. Ethos Travel offers a range of smaller, predominantly locally owned hotels in provinces and islands the UK market is unfamiliar with. Founded in 2007 as an ethically minded Tour Operator specialising in travel to South-East Asia, its emphasis is on small, locally owned resorts with indelibly high standards and a commitment to supporting their local communities.
Sam recommends The Sevenseas Koh Kradan. “I could say a lot about the Sevenseas, but I love the warning they have on their own website which to me says it all!”
The Sevenseas Resort is a “genuine” island resort, unique in design, location and logistics. Please note that Koh Kradan is not a city island like Phuket or Samui, therefore we do not have motor ways, shopping malls, 7 Eleven, McDonald’ s or high rise buildings on this island. The Sevenseas Resort is proud to be located on this small but pristine island, where guests can fully appreciate being one with nature and far away from urban anxieties.
Also check out Haad Tien Resort Koh Tao . “Koh Tao has predominantly been a ‘dive’ and backpacker / party island, but it’s easy to forget that its beaches are amongst the best in Thailand. Previously it had been difficult to secure accommodation unless you were diving – but Haad Tien was amongst the first to focus on offering quality accommodation without needing to go diving. The beach here is stunning – with incredible snorkelling if you’re not a diver.
If you’re planning a spot of island hopping in Thailand or have already been, we’d love to hear all about it, so don’t forget to share all your pictures and travel stories with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.