The 10 Most Beautiful Islands in Thailand
With hundreds of islands and islets scattered along its coastlines and several more in rivers and lakes around the nation, Thailand certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to gorgeous islands. Many people have already heard of, and maybe even visited, larger islands, like Phuket and Koh Samui. But how about trying somewhere different on your next vacation to the Land of Smiles? Here are some of the most stunning Thai islands to add to your Thailand bucket list.
A small Thai island off the coast of Ranong and close to the Burmese border, Koh Phayam offers a slow and enticing pace of life that takes you back to the Thailand of old. Enjoy simple living on an island where electricity may still be limited to the evenings, only a few roads are paved, and Wi-Fi connection is hit and miss. Explore the quiet beaches around the island’s perimeter, hike (or motorbike) along rugged paths through rubber plantations and forests, look out for hornbills and other interesting creatures, or simply laze on a hammock in the sunshine. The waters may not be the clearest around this island, but the relaxed way of life, lack of major development, and natural feeling make it beautifully different.
Located in the Andaman Sea, Koh Similan is the largest island in the Similan Islands group. It boasts white sandy beaches lapped by striking blue waters, and interesting rock formations. The clear, deep waters around the island are also renowned for offering some of the best diving and snorkelling in Thailand, if not the world. The island is home to a fascinating array of bird life too, and the sunset vistas are incredible.
Koh Yao Yai
Located between Krabi and Phuket in the marvelously scenic Phang Nga Bay, Koh Yao Yai is the larger, yet quieter, of two sister islands. It is developed enough so as to be comfortable, yet underdeveloped enough to still have rustic charm. Sublime sandy beaches ring the island, with dense patches of mangroves that are perfect for exploring by kayak. Villages are largely comprised of traditional wooden homes on stilts, and the island’s interior has many coconut groves and rubber plantations.
Koh Yao Noi
The little sister of Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi appeals to honeymooners and other people seeking an idyllic setting with stunning views. Many accommodations cater towards people willing to spend more for luxury. The resorts are spectacular in their own right, with gorgeous pools and opulent rooms. Away from the flashy resorts, however, you’ll find a laid-back way of life and a farming community that still lives according to old traditions. Golden sands sit next to the shallow rocky bays, and the island is a great launch pad for snorkelling, rock climbing, and kayaking adventures.
Koh Phi Phi Don
Koh Phi Phi Don is a major tourist destination. It may be hard to fully appreciate the beauty through the crowds nowadays, but hike up to the viewpoint, and you’ll quickly see why Koh Phi Phi shot to popularity. A narrow isthmus connects the island’s two main parts, with two curved sandy bays sitting between verdant craggy mountains. Limestone karsts covered with greenery rise spectacularly from the sparkling waters.
Koh Phi Phi Le
The smaller of the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Phi Phi Le is not inhabited, and there is no accommodation. That doesn’t mean it’s quiet, though. Droves of day-trippers make their way here every day, drawn by the seductive beauty of Maya Bay, a tropical beach that was made famous in the hit movie, The Beach. With jungle and jagged rocks behind you and karsts almost enclosing the pristine waters in front, the soft white sands offer striking views in all directions. Traditional long-tail boats add to the sublime scenes.
A small and lesser-visited island off the coast of Krabi, the charming Koh Jum offers a rare sense of peace and tranquility when compared with its more popular neighbours. There are several places to stay on the island, meaning that you can enjoy the scenery and relaxed lifestyle for longer than a quick day trip. The tree-lined beaches have fine coral-coloured sands that meet clear waters. Long-tail boats may be seen bobbing on the waves in the distance. Take time to explore the mangroves and traditional villages too, and you’re sure to fall in love with this island gem.
Koh Lanta Yai
One of Krabi’s major islands, Koh Lanta has a much sexier and sultrier appeal than the stunning Koh Phi Phi. It may not have the impressive limestone formations of its neighbours, but it makes up for that with silky stretches of sands and an overall more grown-up air. The rugged forested hills and mangroves offer great views and adventures away from the seductive sands. Take time to learn about the local Moken community. Also referred to as chao lair, or “sea gypsies,” the group is especially known for its awesome free-diving abilities.
One of the Trang Islands, Koh Muk is fairly peaceful. Tourism has been fairly slow to reach the gorgeous Trang Islands in general, which is both a blessing and a shame. The craggy island has picturesque swimming beaches and forests as well as quaint fishing villages, but the main appeal for many is the sublime Emerald Cave. Known in Thai as Tham Morakot, it can only be accessed from the ocean and during low tide. Enter the cave and swim through the darkness, while the crashing sounds of waves fill the air, until you eventually see light. On exiting the cave, you’ll find yourself faced with a beautiful sandy beach that’s surrounded on three sides by towering rocks and water gently caressing the fourth side.
Word of Koh Lipe’s splendour has spread fast, and the island is now seeing reasonably large numbers of tourists who are seeking somewhere a bit different from Thailand’s headline islands. Part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, it’s a good starting point for awesome diving and snorkelling adventures. The island has a good selection of accommodations, restaurants, and bars, and it goes without saying that it also has splendid beaches.