Thai Islands Unraveled

One of the most beautiful tropical destinations in the world are the exquisitely fun islands of Thailand. With so many gorgeous islands to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which to visit on your vacation.

So here we give you the "Thai Islands Unraveled."

Take your pick.

There are two different sets of islands that are the most popular for visitors. On the eastern coast , Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui make for easy island hopping. And down south Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and the beaches of Railay and Tonsai are relatively close and easy to get around.

Koh Phangan

Bamboo Huts on the Rocks ocean-side restaurant in Haad Yaun.

Bamboo Huts on the Rocks ocean-side restaurant in Haad Yaun.

On the eastern coast this island holds the famous “Full Moon Party” every month on Haad Rin beach.  In between full moons the island is always hosting other parties in the jungle or near waterfalls.  I think they’ve even started doing a half moon party now.  Needless to say this can be one fun island! Bring your dancing shoes... actually scratch that and go barefoot.

Besides having great parties the beaches are stunning and snorkeling is a must. Rent a moped and explore the island. If you are planning to attend a full moon party we suggest booking lodging in advance or arriving a few days prior.

Haad Yaun, Koh Phangan

Haad Yaun, Koh Phangan

Koh Tao

Nang Yuan, Koh Tao

Nang Yuan, Koh Tao

The scuba diving island! If you don’t have your scuba license don’t worry this is one of the cheapest places in the world to get your certification.  It only takes 3 days and is an easy and fun way to get certified for life.  Besides diving there a lot of other activities on the island. SUP boards and kayaks are for rent on Sairee Beach. We suggest taking a kayak or long boat to close by Nang Yuan beach. (pictured above)

Koh Samui

The third island on the eastern gulf coast is Koh Samui. Being the only island in the area with an airport many people fly into Koh Samui as a jumping off point when exploring all three islands.  Koh Samui is a honeymoon destination and has a lot of fancy hotels but also some fun nightlife.

Koh Phi Phi

The most famous of all the islands Koh Phi Phi is as beautiful as you expect but twice as busy.  With tour buses dropping off groups of tourists for day trips Koh Phi Phi can get hot and crowded in peak season. To get away from the crowd walk to Long beach, rent some snorkels and swim with the blacktip reef sharks who live off-shore.
 

Long beach, Koh Phi Phi Don. Come here to snorkel with sharks.

Long beach, Koh Phi Phi Don. Come here to snorkel with sharks.

To explore more hire a local long boat taxi for an afternoon and go out to Koh Phi Phi Leh. This tiny island is the little sister of Koh Phi Phi Don and is home to one of the most beautiful and famous beaches in the world.  Here you can spend the afternoon at Maya bay where they filmed “The Beach.”

Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh

Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh

Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh

Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh

Koh Lanta

The middle sized island next to Koh Phi Phi is less crowded and just as beautiful.  The best thing we did was rent a moped and explore the island on our own finding tons of hidden beaches along the way. Nothing feels better than having a gorgeous beach all to yourself.

Found this beach on our moped and had it all to ourselves. This must be paradise.

Found this beach on our moped and had it all to ourselves. This must be paradise.

When visiting Koh Lanta we recommend staying at one of the cool bungalow hotels along Khlong Khong beach. This beach is speckled with funky beach bars and comes alive at night with vibrant lights, fire spinners and the sound of reggae music.

Freedom Bar on Khlong Kong beach

Freedom Bar on Khlong Kong beach

Enjoying the sunset in our bungalow.

Enjoying the sunset in our bungalow.

Somewhere Else Hotel on Khlong Khong.

Somewhere Else Hotel on Khlong Khong.

Phuket

Oh, Phuket. The biggest of all the Thai Islands is also the craziest.  It has the biggest airport in the South and coincidentally most people pass through on their way to other islands. Phuket is wild with a huge party scene and a packed beach filled with tourists drinking cold Chang beer and laying in the sun.

Patong Beach, Phuket

Patong Beach, Phuket

Railay and Tonsai

A short ferry ride from Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi is the stunning beaches of Railay and Tonsai and Phra Nang. Towering limestone cliffs plunge into clear turquoise water at these jaw dropping beaches. A top destination for rock climbers and beach lovers these are must see.

Long boats line up on Railay West beach.

Long boats line up on Railay West beach.

Rent a kayak here and paddle around the cliffs and rock formations.

The Grotto restaurant located in a cave. Part of the Rayavadee Hotel.

The Grotto restaurant located in a cave. Part of the Rayavadee Hotel.

Head over to Tonsai beach for cheaper accommodation.

Head over to Tonsai beach for cheaper accommodation.

Phra Nang beach, Krabi.

Phra Nang beach, Krabi.

Koh Chang

 A large island off the Eastern coast of Thailand next to Cambodia can be an easy stop for those traveling across the boarder into Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Ferries run often from Laem Ngop and take about 45 minutes.

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Bar hop down Haad Sai Khao or White Sand Beach. (above) Or take a traditional Thai cooking class. (below)