Thailand is famous for the idyllic islands that are scattered around its shores. With two coastlines to explore, there’s plenty of adventure to be had, whether that means staying on the beaten track and kicking back in a beach resort or venturing to lesser-known islands where you can snorkel over kaleidoscope corals and discover deserted bays.

Explore the islands of Koh Phi Phi by longtail boat | Travel Nation

1. Koh Mook

Koh Mook is a relatively large island with a mountainous west coast and swathes of white sand beaches to the east. It has stayed under the tourist radar and still only holds a handful of resorts and guesthouses, so the beaches here are peaceful and relaxing. Spend your time simply relaxing on the spectacular beaches or exploring the island. A trip to Emerald Cave is a must – make sure you get there early before day-trippers arrive. Head to Charlie’s Beach to enjoy a drink on the sand while watching the sun sink into the ocean. We love the Sivalai Beach Resort, a lovely little hotel set on the perfect white sands of Koh Mook.

Read about Mark’s visit to Koh Mook in his blog.

Discover the relaxed island of Koh Mook in Thailand | Travel Nation

2. Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is one of the more popular islands to visit in Thailand but thanks to its size you can still easily find some quiet spots and enjoy one of Thailand’s most laid-back islands. Whilst the nightlife here is quiet, the days are endlessly filled with delight. Taste delicious fresh seafood and spicy southern Thai cuisine at one of the many rustic beachfront bars located along the beach, or simply lie in a hammock with a book and smoothie in hand.

You could hire a moped to get between the beaches and explore the old town, not to mention the island’s fantastic diving and snorkelling opportunities. There is a huge range of accommodation to choose from – if you’re looking for luxury, Pimalai Resort has spectacular views over the ocean while the Crown Lanta Resort has amazing swim up rooms that are affordable but lovely.

Sleep in total luxury at the Pimalai, Koh Lanta | Photo credit: Small Luxury Hotels of the World

3. Koh Kradan

Not far from Koh Mook, you’ll find Koh Kradan, a little island with a tranquil vibe. There is no village here but the quiet beaches and handful of beach bungalows and small resorts make the place perfect if you’re looking for off the grid relaxation. Go snorkelling right off the beach on Paradise beach, along the eastern coast, or watch the vibrant sunset from a quiet beach bar on the aptly named Sunset Beach. The island is small enough to be easily circumnavigated in a kayak, so why not head out on an adventure. On Koh Kradan you can either stick to simple beach huts or stay in a small but lovely resort, like the Seven Seas. It’s an excellent stop for a couple of nights on your way south to Koh Lipe and on towards Malaysia.

Luxury Thai island hopping, Koh Kradan

4. Koh Samet

Koh Samet is a beautiful little island just off the coast south of Bangkok. Not as well known to the international tourist crowd, this island is popular as a weekend getaway for the residents of the capital. Koh Samet is full of white-sand beaches, turquoise water and delicious local seafood and is perfect for a low-key island visit that you can tie in with a stopover in Bangkok. Spend your time strolling along the peaceful sands, snorkelling with colourful fish in the warm waters and watching fire shows that grace the beaches each evening.      

Watch the famous fire shows on the beaches of Koh Samet | Travel Nation

5. Koh Chang

Nestled among the islands near the Cambodian coastline, Koh Chang is quite a large island but still very much of the normal tourist radar. These eastern islands are so easy to get to but remain peaceful and Koh Chang is no exception. The lush interior is thick with forests and waterfalls, while the coasts are lined with quiet beaches. I like to recommend Koh Chang to visitors who want to explore, not just lie on a beach or swim in the ocean – the hiking is brilliant, with wonderful views from the peaks out towards the ocean.

There are so many small hotels to choose from, but if you want something really special I’d recommend the Dewa, a little boutique hotel on the west coast or Santhiya Tree Koh Chang, a large resort with lovely Thai design and pool access villas.  

Relax on the beautiful beaches of Koh Chang in Thailand | Travel Nation

6. Koh Samui

Koh Samui is an enchanting island, with white-sand beaches, swaying palms and a wonderful food scene. Whether you’re looking for spicy street food, fresh seafood curries or high-class fine dining – you’ll find it all here. If you’re looking for the best snorkelling spots, we recommend Coral Cove, a little bay near Chaweng Beach with clear waters and colourful fish.

This is probably the most popular island in Thailand – easily accessible, you can fly direct to Koh Samui from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong. This means it is built up and usually busy, especially in the high season. However, don’t let this put you off – there are many beautiful spots to explore and learn about island culture, take cooking classes with locals and relax in luxury hotels. If you are looking for a luxury experience then you will have endless possibilities here – we love the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui and the Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa with it’s perfect private pool villas.

Snorkel in the clear waters of Koh Samui | Travel Nation

7. Koh Lipe

Welcome to paradise. The tiny island of Koh Lipe sits on the edge of Tarutao National Marine Park and is wonderland of pristine beaches, relaxing walks, colourful locals and vibrant sunsets. The snorkelling and diving here is fantastic – the reefs are easy to reach from the main beaches and the water is clear and perfect.

We like to recommend Koh Lipe as a classic Thai island experience, which is why we recommend Castaway Resort, a small hotel with beachfront bungalows, swaying hammocks and delicious food. It’s a simple spot, with no air conditioning or hot showers, but if you’re looking for an authentic island stay then you can’t get much better than this! The evening breeze will keep you cool, and the gorgeous ocean views might make you never want to leave.  

Escape to laid-back Koh Lipe | Travel Nation

8. Koh Yao Yai

Nestled in the stunning landscape of Phang Nha Bay, Koh Yao Yai is a large island that sits next to its sister island Koh Yao Noi (‘Noi’ means north and ‘Yai’ means south). If you’re looking for a relaxing escape, then this island is perfect for you – it is still relatively undeveloped, with quiet beaches, mangrove forests bursting with life and swaying coconut plantations.

While the many pretty beaches are a huge draw, we also really recommend spending a day exploring the local villages – many of the locals are Muslim, and the serene call to prayer sings through the air from mosques around the island. Laem Had Beach is one of our favourites – with a pure white sandbank jutting out into the clear water, this is the island that you’ve been dreaming about.

If you’re looking for a luxurious hotel experience – Milly recommends Santhiya Resort & Spa. Read about her trip to Koh Yao Yai in her blog.

Santhiyia Koh Yao Yai | Sri Lanka multi-centre holiday

9. Koh Ngai

Koh Ngai is low key, undiscovered compared to many of the more popular Thai islands. With a few beautiful beaches, a lush inland forest and no cars or motorbikes on the island, it will certainly lull you into a peaceful mood as soon as you arrive. Warm and calm seas surround the island making it perfect for kayaking and snorkelling – you can paddle out to the tiny islands of Ko Maa and Ko Waen just offshore.

The pretty island of Koh Rok is also not far away, an easy longtail boat ride across the turquoise waters. Really your time here will be about relaxing in the serene atmosphere and lush beauty of the island. Our favourite place to stay is Coco Cottage, a little eco-resort with pretty huts and comfortable beds. It’s simple but lovely – I’d recommend the Seaside Cottage, right next to the water.

Soak up the spectacular views from Coco Cottage on Koh Ngai | Photo credit: Coco Cottage

10. Koh Phangan

Home to the famous Full Moon parties, Koh Phangan is found just west of Koh Samui. With bars and restaurants lining the oceanfront, Koh Phangan is a great place to enjoy delicious cocktails and traditional Thai food. Dine on the beach with the sand between your toes surrounded by the twinkling lights of the island. Being so close to the ocean is great for seafood – try a spicy prawn curry or stay safe with a delicious plate of pad thai and som tam. Beyond the party, there are plenty of secluded bays and quiet beaches – perfect for romantic walks or peaceful meditation. 

Being such a popular island there is a huge range of accommodation. We love the Buri Rasa Phangan, a small boutique resort, as well as Santhiya Koh Phangan, for something more high end.     

Swim in the turquoise waters off Koh Phangan in Thailand | Travel Nation

11. Koh Kood

The final Thai island before the Cambodian border, Koh Kut is quiet, peaceful and relatively untouched. Full of friendly locals, it’s a wonderful place to explore – I love to hike along the coastal road between different villages, which is now closed to traffic. There are three pretty waterfalls on the island, including the Khlong Chao waterfall which is perfect to climb to the top and take a dip in the green waters of the pool.

There is mixture of accommodation here – you could stay somewhere low key like The Beach Natural Resort or go really high end and stay at the Soneva Kiri. Relax in a private pool suite and admire the endless ocean views – it is genuinely spectacular. To get to Koh Kut, most people come via Koh Chang, meaning you can combine both islands into your holiday. You can, however, get the ferry speedboat straight from the mainland, or even take a private plane if you are staying at Soneva Kiri.

Relax on the quiet beaches of Koh Kood | Travel Nation

Inspired to plan a trip to the Thai islands?

I hope we’ve inspired you to visit spectacular Thailand. Whether it’s snorkelling with colourful fish Koh Kradan, dining under the stars in Koh Chang or swimming in your private pool villa in Koh Samui, we can plan your Thailand holiday. If you want to start to plan, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote. We are experts in planning tailor-made holidays, as well as round the world flights, so we can work together with you until we’ve created your perfect trip.

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