With excellent weather, warm ocean water, and palm-fringed beaches, Thailand is island living at its very best. Pair that with top-notch accommodation and a pleasing exchange rate, and you have the ultimate holiday destination.
An abundance of islands each offers their own unique personality, from bustling markets and extraordinary temples to enchanting swimming spots, beach bars, and coral reefs. Whether you’re looking to keep busy kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling, or simply want to relax with a cocktail in hand – you’ll find a Thai island to suit you.
Number 10. Ko Muk
Ko Muk, also known as Koh Mook, is a quiet island in the Andaman sea. Nearly half of it is made up of national park and the rest of it by fishing villages home to unusual stilted houses perched above the sea. Ko Muk, which means Pearl Island, is as far from touristy as it gets, reached with a 45-minute ferry ride from the town of Trang. The island boasts two sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful mountains along with the famous Emerald Cave.
Number 9. Ko Lanta
Nestled within mangroves, coral-fringed beaches, and rainforests, the Ko Lanta archipelago is the perfect mix of developed and uncrowded. The largest island of the group, called Ko Lanta Yai, is where all the tourist action is.
It’s popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi and its attract mostly tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties although there are plenty of bars on the island.
The southern part of the island is less developed, but there are pretty coves and beach to discover in the south as well.
Number 8. Similan Islands
Made up of nine primary islands and two far-flung ones, the Similan Islands archipelago is one of the most popular diving destinations in the country. Situated in the Andaman Sea, the waters surrounding the islands boast gorgeous coral reefs and underwater rock formations that take on many unique shapes.
If diving isn’t your hobby, you can still have an amazing time on the Similan Islands. Camp in paradise, relax on the white-sand beach of Horseshoe Bay and swim in the warm waters of this tropical destination.
Number 7. Ko Samui
The second largest island in Thailand, home to its own international airport, Ko Samui is a tourist favorite.
Heralded for its palm-dotted beaches, wild rainforest, and coconut groves, it’s also one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands. But this natural beauty hasn’t escaped the eyes of tourists – you’ll find endless luxury resorts and spas on the island too.
Many travelers come here to take advantage of the hedonistic spa treatments available, from traditional Thai massage to yoga retreats, tai-chi camps, and chakra-balancing treatments.
Number 6. Phuket
Located in the Andaman Sea, Phuket is one of the most popular islands in all of Thailand. Once an undeveloped jewel, Phuket is now a hub for tourism. While the increase in infrastructure and nightlife makes it an appealing spot for millions of travelers, this isn’t the island for those looking for solitude.
The island boasts luxury resort after luxury resort as well as some gorgeous casuarina-dotted tropical beaches. If you’re excited for the nightlife, then Patong is the must-see spot with the largest resort atmosphere.
Number 5. Ko Phangan
The island of Ko Phangan is found in the Gulf of Thailand, and it is best known for hosting huge parties in honor of the full moon.
These infamous beach festivals are popular with young backpackers from around the world, and the revelry is unparalleled in Asia. However, that’s not all the island has to offer.
Besides ideal beaches, you can also hike through the jungle and along the coast, go scuba diving or try out some sea kayaking.
Number 4. Ko Chang
Located near the border with Cambodia, Ko Chang is the third largest island in Thailand and the biggest in the Ko Chang Marine Park archipelago. It is a mountainous island known for several waterfalls, thriving coral reefs, rainforests and long white sandy beaches.
In less than ten years, Ko Chang has become a major tourist destination in Thailand although still far quieter than islands like Phuket or Ko Samui. White Sand Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island. Located on the island’s northwestern corner, it’s the longest beach on Ko Chang.
Number 3. Ko Lipe
The island of Ko Lipe is just outside the jurisdiction of Tarutao National Park and as such is exempt from certain laws prohibiting development. The island has some of the best reefs in Thailand, which makes for really great snorkeling and diving. If you’re looking for a deserted Thai island, Koh Lipe is not the place to go.
However, if you go in low season, which is May to October, you might enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches without the crowds, though some hotels may be closed. Any time of the year, however, you’ll find great snorkeling as well as gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.
Number 2. Ko Tao
Ko Tao is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, and it is accessible by a high-speed ferry from the mainland city of Chumphon.
For travelers who enjoy diving, the island of Ko Tao is the perfect vacation destination. Around 7000 new divers get certified on Ko Tao each year making it one of the most popular destinations in the world to learn to dive.
Diving allows you to see bull sharks, underwater evolutionary sculptures at Ocean Utopia and plenty of turtles, among many other marine species. Other popular activities include cycling and sailing around the beautiful island.
Number 1. Ko Phi Phi
Ko Phi Phi is possibly one of Thailand’s most famous archipelagos.
It is most notable for a stunning natural bay that was filmed in the movie The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But while many come here and have this renowned bay at the top of their to-do list, there are many more reasons to tempt you to Phi Phi beyond Maya Bay.
The six islands of Phi Phi are jaw-droppingly beautiful, with pearl-white sand beaches and emerald waters. Spend your days swimming and snorkeling among extraordinary marine life or hire a longtail boat. The surrounding islets like Monkey Beach are worth a visit, home to a plethora of cheeky tree-swinging monkeys.