First off, I love Thailand. The islands in Thailand are completely unique to themselves. After spending a day or two in Bangkok, I hop a flight south to Phuket for around 1000 Baht or less depending on when you book.
Deciding on the Best Islands To Visit In Thailand shouldn’t be a struggle, that’s why we created this quick Thai island guide.
Upon landing, ask the taxi from the airport to take you straight to Patong beach. Since you’re reading this guide before your trip I hope you’ve booked your room already. If not you can check out the different accommodations I’ve highlighted below.
I would def suggest a one-night experience out to Bangla road, which leads up from Patong Beach, possibly a Thai boxing match or Fantasea. Either activity is fun and worth doing once.
Rule of thumb, you’re not on the islands yet, so more time spent in Phuket and Bangkok, less time to live the island life!
Thai Islands I would suggest:
Phi Phi Islands: Pronounced Pee-Pee*
Table of Contents
These are the two Islands famous for Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Beach”, namely Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lay. Phi Phi Don is the main island, Phi Phi Lay is a nature reserve, so you can’t stay there, but traveling to Maya bay is well worth it if it’s open when you visit.
Stay over in Phi Phi for a few days, at no point should you do a day trip to Phi Phi, that’s how the tourism Thais make their money, don’t buy into that, some people are completely unaware that you can actually stay over on Phi Phi island (Koh Phi Phi lay, the main island).
From there you can canoe to other islands or grab a long tail over to Maya beach, swim through caves, hike through forests, etc.
Unfortunately, you can only access Phi Phi islands from Phuket. On Patong beach and all across Thailand there are many travel stands selling these trips.
Just ask them for an open ticket to Phi Phi. Open tickets mean you can come back at any point.
Pay a few baht more for the speed cruisers, well worth it. Speed boats are too pricey though.
Once you get to the port, it’s like 200 Baht to enter the island, then you walk into a barrage of accommodation booking agents, can’t miss it! If you can get poolside space at Phi Phi Princess, grab it. Such a cool little resort.
You have many cheaper options as well. Make sure you take a trip to Rasta bar for amateur boxing nights every night, followed by a mission to Slinky’s beach bar! If you find Slinky’s, you’ll find all the other cool beach bars that come alive at night!
Koh Samui: Pronounced Ko-Sa-Moei*
You can access Koh Samui from Bangkok or Phuket, but in both situations, it’s a full-day trip, so here I’d suggest you book a flight with Bangkok air.
Flights are like 2000 Baht and up. If you book them far enough ahead you can save loads of money but you tie yourself down to a set schedule that way.
A full day wasted to save half the money. The flight is only 45 minutes and you land at the airport in Koh Samui. It’s the coolest little open-air island cabana airport you will ever set foot in.
Thailand is meant to be traveled on a whim and many tourists don’t book flights and accommodation until after they land. It’s totally up to you. Sometimes it’s in your best interest to book ahead other times it’s not.
From there grab a taxi cab to Chaweng Beach. You want to stay in either Chaweng Beach or Lamai, but I would 100% suggest Chaweng Beach.
Ark Bar, in my opinion, is the best resort on Chaweng beach, love it there, such a cool mellow party vibe filled with tourists! Click here to check out the resort.
If you’re looking for something romantic, go to France!
Koh Samui is the gateway to the Thai Gulf.
Koh Phangan: Pronounced Ko-Pan-Yan*
From Koh Samui, you can travel by boat to Koh Phangan. Koh Phangan is where the Original Full Moon Party goes down! The Full Moon party is on Sunrise beach in Had Rin on the island of Koh Phangan.
If it all sounds a bit complicated, just ask around. Everyone there is on the same full moon party mission! Taxi’s once again from the port to Had Rin Beach. This is where you will need to book accommodation before your trip.
Be prepared to pay more for accommodation here. I’d suggest Bayshore Phangan, a very cool beachfront resort right on Sunrise beach close to the party but away a bit to the left so you can get some sleep in between all the B52 and buckets!
There is an awesome pool party, foam pool parties, and Thai boxing on Koh Phangan close to the sunrise beach. The best advice I can give you is that the three days leading up to Full Moon are better than the full moon party itself.
The Full Moon Party is super crowded, you WILL lose your friends. Also, on full moon night, be careful of the glass on the beach. Have fun, but be safe. The full moon will rough you up!
Koh Tao: Pronounced Ko-Tow*
This is one cool little island, so much fun. This is where you get all the dive resorts, known as the diving island of Thailand, you can only hire scooters and 4-wheelers, so the island is buzzing with 4-wheelers.
Explore the island, it’s small enough to do so! You can also do your open water diving course on this island and if you’re already advanced, you can do things like your dive master or Nitrox course here. They are pretty jacked up here.
Koh Tao, you get to choose whether you just wanna chill or hit some tequila back at some beach bar. Coral Grand Dive Resort on Sai Ree Beach is a pretty cool resort!
Nang Yuan: Pronounced Nang-Yu-Waan*
Nang Yuan island is one of my all-time fucking favorites! This island is just postcard perfect, the water is too blue to get one camera, can’t describe it to anyone! This is a 3 island triangle, linked up by two beaches (Google Images Nang Yuan).
The beaches are thin and you get to choose which side of the beach you wanna face. This is just one of the coolest islands you’ll ever put foot on, unspoiled and beautiful!!
The island closes at 5 pm every day and you may only stay behind if you booked accommodation on the island.
Accommodation is expensive, but it’s worth one night. The last time we were there, we were like 6 or 7 people on the island… romance, nature and time stand still on this island. Check out all the great options, click here.
Highly suggest Nang Yuan, get to the front desk and bargain with them, tell the lady that’s been working there 10 years that you will buy her chocolate… she gave me 50% off on all three occasions I’ve visited Nang Yuan island!
From Koh Samui or Koh Phangan you can also do day trips to Ang Thong islands, Ang Thong is a protected national marine park, def worth a visit, very unspoiled!
Lots of people go to Krabi, but it’s very local and not what most island hoppers are looking for when traveling.
Always remember, Phi Phi is accessible from Phuket and once you get to the gateway of the Thai gulf (Koh Samui), it’s easy to get around from there to Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Nang Yuan, or Ang Thong.
Best Islands To Visit In Thailand
Search google images or maps to get a feel for where the different islands are located.
Have fun island hopping through Thailand!!
If you’re interested in learning more about the Thai Islands visit our Islands Guide here.
Alternatively, you can check out our Thailand Nightlife Guides here.