10 Best Islands in Thailand

The islands off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Siam are some of the most popular places for tourists to Southeast Asia to visit. Some of these islands are famous throughout the world for their beautiful beaches and party atmosphere. But the best islands in Thailand also offer numerous opportunities for recreation, spiritual exploration, and relaxation.

10Ko Lipe

Settled by sea gypsies, Ko Lipe is located in the Adang-Rawi Archipelago in southwest Thailand. It is a small island and visitors can walk around the island in little over an hour. Ko Lipe is just outside the jurisdiction of Tarutao National Park, and as such is exempt from certain laws prohibiting development. Its three main beaches have plenty of accommodations ranging from grass huts to air-conditioned bungalows.

9Ko Lanta
Ko Lantaflickr/stevec77

Ko Lanta is made up of a group of islands off the coast of Thailand in the Krabi province. The largest island of the group is called Ko Lanta Yai also known as simply Ko Lanta. Several beaches on the west coast of Ko Lanta Yai are each strung with a line of resorts and bungalows. This region is an important destination for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts, who come to the islands to view the coral reefs and the ocean life, including manta rays and whales. There is also an abundance of tropical plant life, including the remnants of the ancient rainforests.

8Ko Samet
Ko Sametflickr/Kris_B

Ko Samet is known for being a favorite respite from the bustle of Bangkok. Though the majority of the island is a national park, there are a number of vacation spots located there with different amenities depending on the type of experience sought. One of the great attractions of Ko Samet are its white sand beaches. Visitors can choose from peaceful and relaxing settings or popular beaches with lots of activities. Ao Noina, Ao Phutsa, Au Nuan, and Ao Wai are known for being more serene, and feature cozy accommodations and stunning sunset views. Hat Sai Kaeo and Ao Hin Khok are busier, and visitors to these beaches frequently come to sunbathe, swim, windsurf, or enjoy nightlife.

7Ko Tarutao
Ko Tarutaoflickr/ekot

Ko Tarutao is one of the 51 islands that belong to the Tarutao National Marine Park archipelago in southern Thailand. This island offers accommodations including campsites and bungalows that can be rented. Tourists to this island can enjoy the pristine and quiet atmosphere of the area, and can also view the rugged mountain and jungle scenery, including the limestone cliffs for which this part of Thailand is famous. Visitors can have a good chance of catching a glimpse at some exotic wildlife, particularly if they visit the beach on the western part of the island, which is frequented by large turtles.

6Ko Samui
Ko Samuiflickr/aldask

Ko Samui is one of the most visited islands in Thailand. There are abundant accommodations for travelers ranging from small bungalows to exclusive villas on the island. There are several festivals that take place every year on Ko Samui, including the Buffalo Fighting Festival, the Ten Stars Samui Art Party, and several street fairs with vendors selling local delicacies, clothing, and souvenirs. Sailing enthusiasts also gather for the yearly Samui Regatta, and triathletes and their supporters flock to Samui for the annually Triathlon Event.

5Ko Phangan
Ko Phanganflickr/EyalNow

Ko Phangan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, halfway between the islands of Ko Samui and Ko Tao. It is a famous destination for the backpacking community, who come to immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty including rainforests and beaches. Every year the island holds an electronic dance festival known as the Full Moon Party. Those tourists who would like a more serene getaway are keen to visit Ko Pha Ngan’s numerous Buddhist temples. The island is also known for its spas and meditation retreats.

4Phuket

Phuket is the name of both a Thai province and the main city of that province. The province of Phuket covers a large island and several smaller islands off the western coast of the mainland. Outside of Bangkok, it is the most popular tourist area in the country, and many of its scenic beaches feature numerous resort accommodations for visitors. Close to these beaches, tourists will find thriving nightclubs and shopping areas. Some of the other attractions on Phuket include golf courses, historical museums, and monuments.

3Ko 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.

2Koh Tao

Ko Tao is fast becoming the favorite destination of those who come to Thailand for recreational purposes. The island’s caters especially to scuba divers, rock climbers, and hikers. Around 7000 new divers get certified on Koh Tao each year making it one of the most popular destinations in the world to learn to dive. Fishing enthusiasts also visit the island in increasing numbers, hoping to catch a specimen of one of the abundant marlin, snapper or barracuda. With the exploding tourist population of Ko Tao, a number of resorts, bars and nightclubs have opened up, though it is still possible for those seeking a more relaxed vacation to find quieter, less developed areas of the island.

1Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi is a small archipelago in the Krabi Province in Southern Thailand. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants while the smaller Ko Phi Phi Leh is famous as the filming location for the 2000 movie “The Beach”. Ko Phi Phi was severely hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island’s infrastructure was destroyed. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services are back with building regulations in place to limit the height of new hotels and other buildings to preserve the island’s stunning views.

More great destinations can be found in the Explore Thailand page.

Which island in Thailand do you consider to be the most beautiful?

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Map of Best Islands In Thailand

12 comments

  1. I know that Thailand is just a great place to visit..but I still haven’t got their even once..I am planning to visit Asia in the next few years.and Thailand is number one on my list.

  2. shakilzakaria

    Best destinations very versatile islands of thailand with huge variety of flora and fauna is the island of khoa samui island never end deam island

  3. Awesome pictures here, thanks for sharing! My all time favourite is Koh Phangan with Koh Phayam off the west of Thailand a close second.

  4. Finazzi Matthieu

    Krabi is awesome. Phuuket too many tourists… Kho Phangan too many tourists and junks.

  5. mikenericson

    I’m just back from Ko Chang/Elephant. Relax , quiet island from others beach. Cheer….!

  6. gameda samsodien

    Had a month long holiday in thailand (ko samui,phuket.pattaya and bangkok) my 3rd time in thailand,and would love to do more island…just love the beaches!

  7. I lived in Koh Phangan last winter and I highly recommend it. Stay away from Haad Rin and all the drunken backpackers there. The northwest coast is much more laid back.

  8. Out of the ten islands selected (and I have been to most of them) I would no doubt choose Koh Lipe, for it is the smallest and quietest of them all and, while not in high season, is an oasis of calm and relax.

    However, I would add another small island not included in the list that is not very well known but, for me, is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable islands of Thailand: Koh Mak. See my impressions and pictures from the island at my blog:
    http://gonzalobroto.blogspot.com/2014/08/koh-mak-tranquil-island.html

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