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10 best islands in Thailand you need to visit

Buddhist Temple

Bangkok’s unique Buddhist temples. Sky lanterns at night. Shopping in traditional markets and high-tech malls. Having a crack at Thai Boxing and needing a Thai massage immediately afterwards. These are all must-haves on your Thailand itinerary… but that’s just the mainland. 

The Thai islands are a huge pull to travellers from all over the world – and with good reason. The friendly locals, the white sands, the beach bars, the myriad snorkelling and diving spots.

But time is of the essence, right? You can’t see ’em all, so you need to identify the very best islands in Thailand and go from there? Here are 10 you simply mustn’t miss…

1. Phuket

First off, it’s Thailand’s largest island, Phuket. Just at the tip of Phang Nga on Thailand’s west coast, this is a smart start point for your Thai island-hopping adventure. Not only is there loads to see, Phuket is also within day trip distance of Ko Phi Phi and Similan Islands, so a trip to Thailand just wouldn’t be complete without it.     

Don’t miss: The conservation projects. Get up close and personal with Asia’s gentle giants – without troubling your conscience – at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. There’s also Soi Dog Sanctuary, which looks after the island’s stray dogs and cats who have nowhere else to go. 


2. Koh Tao

Koh Tao is the holy grail for scuba divers and snorkelers. The island’s name roughly means ‘Turtle Island’ but sea turtles aren’t the only creatures you’ll see when you dip under these shores.    

Don’t miss: Koh Nang Yuan – three small islands connected by a Y-shaped bed of sand. You won’t literally ‘hop’ from island to island, but a skip and a jump should do it.   


Koh Tao - Thailand

3. Ko Pha Ngan

Ko Pha Ngan is one of the best islands in Thailand if you’re here for the Full Moon parties. The island’s vibe really does depend on the position of the moon, so whether you’re cosying up and partying on with fellow backpackers or you’re keen for peace and quiet, consult the lunar calendar before you arrange your visit.

Don’t miss: Shrine of Our Lady Guanyin Phangan. This colourful Chinese shrine is nested in a mountainous jungle, and will give you a pristine view of the island

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4. Koh Phi Phi

All alone in the Andaman sea, Koh Phi Phi or Phi Phi islands are known for their expert blend of coral reefs, marine life and nightlife. 

Don’t miss: Maya Bay. Or as it’s otherwise known, the beach from the movie The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. 


Phi Phi islands in a body of water with a beach and mountains in the background.

Image source:M o e 0- Unsplash

5. Koh Yao Yai

Want to experience traditional Thai island life? Or just looking for a peaceful paradise where you can read your book? Koh Yao Yai is the place for you. Serene and authentic, it’s a treat for the ears as well as the eyes. 

Don’t miss: Ayurvana Spa, feel your knots and stresses melting away as you enjoy a Thai massage with a sea view. 


Image source:zibik – Unsplash

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6. Ko Yao Noi

If utter tranquillity is your jam, don’t miss Koh Yao Yai’s sister island, Ko Yao Noi. Known for its treehouse villas and seaside bungalows, this is the perfect place to relax with calming vibes, cobalt blue seas and delicious grub. 

Don’t miss: Island yoga. You’ll learn a relaxing technique or two, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi.

7. Koh Samui

Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island. You’ll find white sandy beaches, luxury resorts, fancy spas and lots of rainforests. From the Secret Buddha Garden to not-so-secret Buddhist temples and glitzy cabaret shows, there’s plenty to see and do here in this former fisherman’s village.  

Don’t miss: The coconut trees and the bayview spas. You can also tour the island by quad bike. 

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8. Similan Islands

The Similan islands is an archipelago of 11 small islands, each known for their rock formations, natural beauty and seas that bustle with marine life. It’s definitely one of the best islands in Thailand if you’re into scuba diving.

Don’t miss: the wildlife… on land. Once you’re out of the water, keep a lookout for lizards, bats, birds and even monkeys. 



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9. Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is Thailand’s southernmost island, near the Malaysian border. It’s dubbed the Maldives of Thailand – which should tell you everything you need to know. 

Don’t miss: the whole island. It’s only 4 square km so you can comfortably stroll from beach to beach. Just bring sunscreen!

10. Koh Samet

Not only is Koh Samet one of the best islands in Thailand, it sits in a convenient location just off the coast of Rayong, which is perfect if you’re day-tripping from Bangkok. Expect beautiful beaches, which are even prettier at sunset.

Don’t miss: the bronze ‘Mermaid’ at Na Dam Pier, which is permanently leaping out of the water to greet passersby and has been inspiring poets for generations. 

koh samet

Image source:Alice – Unspalsh

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