The best islands in Thailand to visit are some of the most forgotten ones. Yes of course everyone has heard of Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi. These are the 3 big tourist giants among Thailand’s 1420 Islands. Though if you visit one of these islands you will be very disappointed. They are overrun, overpriced and crowded.
When you have flown 10-35 hours to come to Thailand dreaming of tranquil tropical islands with spectacular scenery. Hoping to lie in a hammock between two trees sipping from your fruit-shake or beer listening to your favorite tunes. Then you need to look a little further and travel a little longer. Found out more in which places to avoid in our blog 7 places to avoid in Thailand.
Among the Islands I will discuss are Koh Kradan, Koh Adang, Koh Mak, Koh Phayam, Koh Libong and a few others. They are all unique in their own respect, some more laid back than others, some have development but stil have island charm and remain wonderful places to visit.
Koh Phayam & Koh Chang
These 2 islands on the border to Mynmar are 2 jewls standing stil in time despite their popularity. Of the two, Koh Phayam is the most “developed”. However this is stil minor compared to most of Thailand. The island has a small population of about 800 people. I have known this place for 14 years, and Im glad to say it has maintained its original flare. Its still as relaxed and welcoming as it has always been. The island has a strong community, a community which has chosen to set itself apart. They don’t want to be another Koh Samui.
In a way it’s like traveling back in time. There are no cars (only a golf kart, 1 tuk tuk and a few tractor’s to move goods), also you will find no ATM or bank, and most astoundingly no 7/11 mini-marts. Also there is no power plant here. Everything is run by generator or solar power. Though a few resorts now offer power 24h per day (but most run on only 12h per day). Koh Chang is even less developed than this. The road network consists of single tracks through the jungle, connecting the beaches and resorts. A great place to escape it all and go back to the basics. Definitely one of best islands to visit in Thailand and chill.
There are many nice walks around Koh Phayam or along its untamed shoreline, where you can find many secluded “secret” beaches. Inland the island is covered by cashew nut trees, giving a distinct sweet smell to the breeze. However, as lovely as the island is, this is not an island for snorkeling, the waters are not clear turquoise with colorful coral reefs.
Read more in our blog: Journey to Thailands North Andaman
Getting there: By Bus from Phuket to Ranong, Bus from Chumphon to Ranong, or Airplane from BKK to Ranong. Then boat from Ranong. Book or search with 12GO.
It is described by many as one of the most beautiful islands in the province. Though I must say many of the islands in this province are simply stunning. Each one is more beautiful than the next. The island has many wonderful white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. Most beaches except Ao Pai beach, you can snorkel directly from the beach. In the distance you can see many of the neighbouring islands with their sheer limestone cliffs popping out of the sea.
The islands has a very relax feel, one of these places you could spend the whole week just lying in your hammock and enjoying the view. There are a few nice walks you can take like to sunset beach through the jungle.
There are only a few accommodation possibilities, so best book before you show up on the island. From here also you can explore the neighbouring islands by hiring a longtail boat for the day. Like visiting Emerald cave on Koh Muk or the stunning reefs of Koh Rok.
During high season ferries connect all the islands and you can go real islands hopping, staying a few nights on all the islands. You could also stay on Koh Nagai, Koh Muk, and Koh Libong.
Getting there: Flight or Bus to Trang, then minibus to Hat Pak Meng Pier or Hat Chao Pier. Book or search with 12GO.
This is on the best islands to visit in Thailand if you like wild places and you are looking for adventure. The National Park also includes Koh Adang, Koh Rawai, and Koh Khai. Nearby is also Koh Lipe which has become very developed, like a little Koh Tao. Because of all these islands nearby it is another great destination to do some real island hopping and spend a few days on each island if you have the time.
Koh Tarotao is a huge National Park and therefore protected from development. It is truly a forgotten land. Long ago in the 30’s it was a prison. So when exploring the island you may stumble upon relics of the past, buildings and temples overgrown by the jungle.
If you want to stay on the island you can rent a bungalow or tent from the National Park. If you have your own tent you can bring that too and only pay 1$ per night to use the facilities.
Ao Son is by far the most beautiful place there. It is remote and secluded beach, so you will need to bring supplies. Though there are basic facilities provided by the National Park.
To explore the island you can walk or rent a bike. There are a few wonderful hikes, like the one which will take you to Lu Du waterfall or up to a viewpoint on the 400m high Tob-Bob cliff. Though one of the highlights here is kayaking through the endless mangrove forests to the famous Crocodile Cave(don’t worry its just a name).
Getting there: Take a Bus or plane to Satun, then a Local Bus or Van to Pakbara Pier. Book or search with 12GO.
Koh Mak, Koh Kut & Koh Wai
They are part of the Koh Chang archipelago close to the border of Cambodia. Most people stay on nearby Koh Chang, Thailand’s second largest island. However this island has been overrun by tourism, cars, and 7/11’s now.
These 3 islands are simply stunning, with fine white sand beaches, beautiful jungles, streams and waterfalls. On some of the islands you can find sandbanks coming out from the shore which makes you feel like you are in Maldives. There are also plenty of great jungle walks here and many places left to be explored that have been rarely visited.
You can snorkel straight of the beach or take a boat tour to visit some of the many uninhabited islands not to far away. One of these is Koh Kradat, home to a herd of deer that first arrived by order of King Chulalongkorn more than a century ago. West of Koh Mak, is Koh Rang with its powdery white sand and beautiful reefs in crystal clear water, protected by the Marine Park.
Getting there: Take a plane or bus to Trat, from here you take a van to Laem Ngop, then jump on a ferry to the island of your choice. In high season you can take a boat from Koh Chang. Book or search with 12GO.
Koh Libong, Koh Lao Liang, & Koh Bulon Lae
Now we are getting closer to the Malaysian border where we have these jewels which rank among the best islands to visit in Thailand. Of these 3 Koh Libong is the most developed, however this isn’t much and it is centres around Lang Kao Beach. Koh Libong is another stunning island with natural wild beauty, however when its low tide it can become difficult to swim. The landscape consits of farmland, jungle, savannah, mangroves and limestone karst.
The jewel of Koh Libong are its endangered Dugong, a relative of the manatee. You can find them amid mangroves and sea grass of the Wildlife Sanctuary. If you go kayaking you might have a close encounter with one of these amazing creatures.
Koh Laoiang is actually two islands. One has a simple but beautiful resort and tents for climbers wishing to scale the awesome bolted cliffs. The other has no development other than shacks used by the mafia who harvest the swallow nests from the cliffs. Since accommodation is very limited, be sure to book in advance. It’s like a mini-Railay far away from civilization. The same actually goes for Koh Bulon Lae, though there is a tiny but more infrastructures compared to Lao Liang.
Getting there: Travel by bus or plane to Satun or Trang then take a bus to Hat Yao or Koh Sukorn, then take a boat from there. Book or search with 12GO.
A very easy going island between Krabi, Koh Lanta and Phi Phi. If you want to unwind but not travel to far like the islands mentioned above, then this is a great alternative. You will find kilometers of undeveloped beach here, plenty of places to hang your hammock and enjoy a shake or a beer. If you are feeling adventurous you can climb the islands conical 420m high mountain.
On Luboa beach you can find relax reggae bars and cheap bungalows, though there are also mid-range to luxury resorts to be found. This is one of the best islands to visit in Thailand if you dont want to travel far from Krabi and looking for the authentic feel.
Getting there: Bus or plane to Krabi, the bus to Laem Kruat, from here take a boat. During the high season, ferries running between Krabi town and Koh Lanta stop at Koh Jum. Book or search with 12GO.