The Thai islands are known all over the world for their sublime beauty and opportunity for adventure.
Do you know how many there actually are? Between the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, we’re not too sure…
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not puts the total at an incredible 1,430 while Wikipedia is documenting an incomplete list that currently stands at 305. Regardless of the actual number, one thing’s for sure: there’s a lot of islands in Thailand.
With so much incredible choice, how are you to choose between them? We’ve decided to make it a little easier for you and so have narrowed them down to a slightly more palatable 55 and divided them into groups according to location.
We only had two criteria when deciding which Thai islands to include:
- Beautiful scenery, and
- Easy accessibility — whether by plane, ferry or speedboat.
While some particularly adventurous explorers will love the thrill of swimming through mystery waters and trekking hazardous jungle The Beach style only to end up on a pile of glorified rocks, we know that most travellers are searching for some other-worldly paradise with an easy journey to deliver them there.
Let’s take it away…
- 1 The Gulf Islands
- 2 The Krabi Islands
- 3 Koh Lanta National Park
- 4 The Phuket Islands
- 5 The Phang Nga Bay Islands
- 6 The Trang Islands
- 7 The Satun Islands
- 8 The Andaman Sea Islands
- 9 The Eastern Seaboard Islands
- 10 The Trat Islands
Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are found in the Gulf of Thailand, in the Southeast of the country. They’re part of Surat Thani province and are found in the Chumpon/Samui archipelagos.
There are a host of smaller islands to be found here too, many of which can visited by speedboat or longtail. A day trip to the beautiful Ang Thong Marine National Park off Samui should definitely be on your itinerary here.
Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are very popular with travellers, while Koh Tao has developed a reputation for being a great spot for diving.
Koh Samui is one of the best known and largest of Thailand’s islands and has long been a player on the Thailand tourist trail. With heaps of accommodation and entertainment options, you’ll be able to have a fabulous time here, whether you’re a luxury traveller or a budget backpacker.
While there are a few spots of solitude to be found here, most travellers bound for Samui find themselves in the popular area of Chaweng Beach, near the airport to the northwest of the island.
For a little more peace and quiet, head to Lamai, Bophut Fisherman’s Village, Maenam and Lipa Noi Beach.
The first thing many people will think of when it comes to Koh Phangan are the regular Full Moon Parties held on the island, attended by swathes of tourists and backpackers. These parties are centred around Haad Rin in the Southwest of the island and are infamous for their reported debauchery — i.e. drugs, anonymous sex, violence and drownings.
While the South of Phangan is very much geared towards Western tourists in the mood for a party, the North tells a different story.
It’s more authentically Thai, enjoys beautiful scenery and some truly stunning, secluded beaches. Check out the sunrise at Thong Nai Pan if you want to be wowed or hike up Khao Ra if you prefer a natural way to get your highs!
Smaller and a bit quieter than Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao attracts travellers for its brilliant diving and lush jungle trekking opportunities.
A highly publicised double murder of two western tourists on the island in 2014 has given some tourists pause for thought before sailing to Koh Tao, but the island has more or less carried on as normal since. There are over 40 dive centres here, as well as yoga centres and beautiful beaches.
Off the northwest coast of Koh Samui is the incredible Mu Koh An Thong — an archipelago of 42 islands and the surrounding waters. The national marine park is 250 square kilometres in total, with just 50 of those being the limestone islands that make for such stunning scenery.
One island, Koh Paluay, is inhabited by the Moken people — sometimes referred to as ‘sea gypsies’.
Incredible white sand beaches, lagoons, caves, cliffs and more make for some truly stunning natural scenery. Sign up for a day trip of sailing and snorkelling from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan to explore.
Krabi province is a Mecca for Thailand travellers, famous for its sublime limestone cliff scenery and the many islands that can be found just between its mainland coastline, Phang Nga Bay and Phuket.
Down in the Southwest of Thailand, many of these islands have a similar look – that’s to say, they’re often characterised by jutting limestone formations, thick and lush vegetation and some gorgeous white sand beaches.
The Krabi islands are hardly undiscovered – especially Koh Phi Phi – but their natural beauty and majesty is undeniable. Let’s explore…
Koh Phi Phi is not just a singular island, but rather a collection of them: the larger landforms are Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh, while the smaller ones include Bida Nok, Bida Noi and the gorgeous Bamboo Island. You can get speedboats between and around Koh Phi Phi, including from Krabi and Phuket.
Once just the home of Muslim fisherman, Koh Phi Phi exploded in popularity with tourists after the 2000 movie The Beach, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. Ever since, tourists have descended the islands in their droves – particularly Phi Phi Don and Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh – and sadly caused irreparable damage to the surrounding coral and marine life.
Regardless, Koh Phi Phi is still an incredible part of Thailand and a mesmerising beautiful spot.
Koh Siboya is one of the lesser known islands of Krabi province and relatively undiscovered by mass tourism – there are just three resorts here and most getting around is done by motorcycles or simply walking.
As well as a quiet, if not beautiful, beach, Koh Siboya can give you a fascinating glimpse of life in rural Thailand. There’s also opportunities to kayak around the coastline.
The major draw to Koh Siboya is its quiet remoteness but, of course, this comes with downsides. There are no ATMs, just one small medical clinic, no real restaurants or pharmacies. Access is also not entirely straightforward: from Krabi, you will need to take a taxi or songthaew from Laem Hin or Laem Kruat villages.
Also known as Koh Pu or Crab Island, Koh Jum is another gorgeous, small island off the coast of Krabi. Traditionally, the north of the island is known as Koh Pu and the south, Koh Jum.
The topography is excellent here; rocky landscape sits alongside rubber plantations under a triple-jungle canopy on the summit of Mount Pu. Beautiful, quiet and essentially untouched beaches can be found on the western coast of the island, along with the island’s handful of resorts and accommodation options.
Ah, Chicken Island — so named because it looks like, you guessed it, a chicken. Sure.
Chicken Island, or Koh Kai, is usually included in a multi-island day trip from Krabi. While it’s a very pretty landscape, with a white sand beach and lush greenery, there’s not a huge amount to do here – although it is great to spend some time snorkelling the surrounds.
The imposing limestone rock formation of Koh Poda can easily be spotted from Ao Nang Beach in Krabi and, again, is usually included in multi-island day trips from the mainland. There aren’t any resorts or official accommodation available.
Incredible white sand beaches are the draw here, surrounded by crystalline clear waters that will convince you of the ready benefits of snorkelling. It’s clear to see the damage wrought on this small island by the 2004 tsunami still and clean-up operations are disappointingly slow.
Hong is actually a 4 island group, around 20 minutes from Krabi’s Ao Nang via speedboat. The islands possess that same wild, rocky limestone cliff aesthetic of many other outcrops in this region.
Koh Hong is the major island in the group and is most famous for the beautiful emerald lagoon you can see above, which can be accessed by both boat and kayak. The other three islands are Koh Rai, Koh Pakbia and Koh Lahding, all of which are gloriously uninhabitated and a great spot for bird-watching.
Koh Lanta National Marine Park, while in Krabi province, nevertheless deserves its own category thanks to the beautiful islands that lie within it.
It’s found just south of Krabi and off the border of Trang province. The national marine park covers 16 islands and 152 square kilometres in total – we’ve just picked a few of the most notable.
Koh Lanta is actually a group of islands, the two major ones being Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai — with the latter as the major tourist attraction.
If you’re a beach lover, you can’t really go wrong with the fine, white sand of Koh Lanta. Both on and offshore is fantastic scenery and plentiful opportunities for snorkelling and hiking.
Koh Lanta is a well-trod part of the Thailand tourist trail, although thankfully hasn’t reached any of the hysteria or excess of places like Koh Phi Phi and Phuket (yet?). There’s plenty going on, although still provides optimum opportunities for a tranquil time at the beach.
Koh Rok refers to a pair of small islands — Koh Rok Noi/Nok and Koh Rok Yai/Nai — south of Koh Lanta, which boast some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. It’s not just white sand beaches, however, as the cerulean waters hold some incredible coral reefs and marine life — this is a great snorkelling spot.
Most people visit Koh Rok on a day trip from Koh Lanta, but you can stay here overnight in their accommodation area too and rent a tent for the night.
These islands are pretty much totally shut down during the rainy season so plan accordingly.
Koh Ngai is another small island south of Koh Lanta, relatively close to the coast of Trang province. It’s another beautifully quiet and serene spot with gorgeous beaches and visible wildlife — including monkeys and monitor lizards! This is another great spot for snorkelling too.
You can either arrive via ferry from Koh Lanta or from Pak Meng Pier in Trang. For people more into their walking than their snorkelling, the rolling hills carpeted in forest are a great trekking experience.
There’s a little more here by way of accommodation than Koh Rok, with a few resorts with their own restaurants and bars. There are also a couple of camping spots.
Found in the Southeast of Thailand with an Andaman Sea coastline, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island. ‘Phuket’ also refers to the province of the main island and 32 smaller islands in its vicinity – we’ve included a few of them below.
Thanks to its position, Phuket was hit pretty hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, with around 250 people perishing on the island. Damage was sustained mostly on the exposed Western coast although has generally been mostly cleaned up by now.
Also known by the moniker “The Pearl of the Andaman”, Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, if not the whole of Southeast Asia.
While there are plenty of tourists, travellers and expats to be found in much of the island – particularly in the Patong and Phuket Town areas, there are still some spots of seclusion and tranquility to be found. Take a look at Sirinat National Park for some cracking national beauty.
Coconut Island, locally known as Koh Maphrao, is a small island off the east coast of Phuket that’s easily reached by coast from the ‘mainland’. Travellers eager to leave the mania of Phuket behind will find charm and beauty here with its fisherman locals, mangrove forest and macaques.
There are a few beaches and a couple of resorts for those who wish to extend their stay. Like Phuket, the island is mountainous and there’s opportunity for exciting treks and hikes.
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Koh Lon is one of the larger islands found off the coast of Phuket, but is still remarkably quieter and serene than much of the main island – its name literally means ‘lone island’. The locals are friendly, Muslim villagers while exploration can be done by way of hired scooter or bicycle.
As well as a few beautiful beaches, there is some accommodation on the island and opportunities for watersports, including kayaking and kitesurfing.
Koh Sirae, or Sirey Island, is so close to Phuket Town that you have to zoom in pretty far to discern that it’s even an island at all. You just need to cross a bridge!
It’s quite a pretty island, thanks to its incredible views although there are clear signs of development emerging. Look out for the monkeys!
Koh He is also known as Coral Island, and it’s this that it’s most famous for — as well as beautiful Banana Beach, which is a short speedboat ride away from Chalong Bay on Phuket. The island is just south again from Koh Lon.
Despite being part of a marine park, there are lots of opportunities for watersports here, including swimming, parasailing, snorkelling and diving. Also, there’s banana boating for the adventurous!
Further south of Koh He are the twin islands of Koh Racha – Yai and Noi. With their incredible crystalline waters and white sand beaches, this is the place to go for diving and snorkelling in Phuket. Koh Racha Yai is the most accessible island.
It’s much quieter here than Coral Island and Phuket, and a perfect retreat for those after abundant natural beauty. There are a few resorts, bungalows and a small village.
Phang Nga Bay is the stretch of water between Phuket and the mainland peninsula before it shades into the Andaman Sea. The national park is comprised of 42 islands; we’ve included a few here which are well worthy of a visit.
The whole bay is incredibly beautiful, characterised by jutting limestone rocks, lush vegetation, and incredible flora and fauna. Caves and archaeological sites abound here too, and the waters are so gloriously shallow that people say around 10,000 years ago, one could actually walk across the bay between Phuket and Krabi.
Khao Phing Kan is a pair of islands in Phang Nga Bay that are commonly referred to as James Bond Island. That’s because of the tiny limestone islet (pictured above) that was used as Scaramanga’s evil lair in the 1974 Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun. The islet itself is actually called Koh Tapu. It was also seen in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Aside from its cult-classic movie past, Khao Phing Kan is incredibly beautiful; carpeted in forest with sandy beaches, steep cliffs and just bountiful natural scenery. There are also a few caves here although it’s ill advised to enter these when the tide starts to turn as they do become flooded when it’s high.
Koh Yao is the biggest landform in Phang Nga Bay and, again, is actually comprised of two islands — Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi — with the latter being the more developed and more visited of the two. Both are incredibly beautiful and inhabited by the Moken and Mon ethnic groups.
Scooters and bicycles are available for hire and tuk tuks are available to transport you around both islands. Noi is blessed with gorgeous white sand beaches perfect for snorkelling while the inland mountains provide ample opportunity for hiking. You can also get involved in kayaking and fishing in the area.
Between Phuket and Koh Yai is Koh Khai — a pair of islands called Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nok. Khai Nok is the bigger of the two and the generally more visited, although it’s still very small.
The major draw here is the glorious white sand beach and the incredible surrounding waters. There are reportedly 12 types of tropical fish that hang out close to the shore and are the perfect swimming companions. A nearby dive shop will provide equipment and lessons for diving and snorkelling.
Koh Panyee — or Panyi — is a small island in the north of Phang Nga Bay. It’s dotted with cliffs and rocks and is home to a so-called floating village; i.e. a village built on stilts in the surrounding shallow waters. There aren’t any hotels here but there are plenty of restaurants and craft stores designed to appeal to people on day trips from Phuket or the mainland.
The population is apparently composed of 360 families and the village originally built by Indonesian fisherman at the end of the 18th century. Aside from tourism, fishing is the major industry of most of the population here.
As we venture past Krabi province and start to teeter on the edge of Thailand’s deep South, we come to the wonderful, yet underrated, Trang province.
The province enjoys almost 200 km of Andaman Sea shoreline and almost 50 gorgeous, unspoilt and mostly undeveloped islands. It also shares some of the stunning Koh Phetra national marine park with neighbouring southern province, Satun. We’ve included here just 4 of the most visited islands (and will cover Mu Koh Phetra in the Satun Islands section).
Koh Kradan is a thin, triangular shaped island that can be reached by longtail from the pier on the Trang mainland. It is simply stunning, sporting white sand beaches and crystal clear water, and is famous for its very low tides and far-out sandbars, which make for quite the walk along the beach.
It’s become more popular with travellers in recent years but is still perfectly serene and tranquil for those looking for some respite from the party islands of Krabi and Phuket. The clear waters and marine life make for some fun snorkelling expeditions if you’re after some low-key adventure.
Koh Muk, or Mook, is slightly further north of Kradan and has a little more by way of local character, thanks to the fishing communities found on the island. You can reach here by ferry or longtail from Trang. Nok Air offers a package flight and transfer deal to the island.
Farang Beach is the most popular beach on the island but the real pearl of Muk is the Emerald Cave, also known as Tham Morakot. You can take a kayak tour inside at low tide and explore this 30-metre long cave, which also leads on to a completely enclosed beach. Paradise found!
Libong is the largest island off Trang and is home to the same charming fishing villages as Koh Muk and glorious scenery as Kradan. The beaches here are golden and bronze, and the island interior a mixture of jungle, mangrove and even savannah.
Some of Koh Libong’s highlights include Batu Mountain, the fresh water ponds, Tohsae waterfall, Libong National Park, Tub Beach and the Dugong view point. From here, you may be lucky enough to spot these so-called ‘sea cows’, marine mammals similar to manatees.
I met this woman on a tour on ko sokorn. She seemed so happy and was really nice letting me take a picture of her. Ko sukorn is a really beautiful island in southern Thailand. There are still 4000 people living on this island – planting rice, having waterbuffalos, chicken and going fishing… #kosukon #kosukorn #thailand #rice #woman #wanderlust #worldtravelbook #travel #travelblog #instatravel #bestvacations #asia #happy #dametraveler #wetravel193
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Koh Sukon is another off-the-beaten-track island that Trang province enjoys in abundance. It’s home to a very small number of resorts and five beaches, with the best being on the western coast of the island.
Life is simple here and Koh Sukon will appeal to those eager to find the ‘real’ Thailand. The island has a population of around 3,000 people, many of which are Muslim, working within the coconut and rubber industries that so thrive on the island.
Satun is one of the most southern of Thailand’s provinces, and it actually borders Malaysia on it’s southern boundary, over the Sankalakhiri Mountains. Off the coast, there are an abundance of small islands — most boasting incredible scenery, powder white sand and cerulean waters.
Most famously, Satun is home to Tarutao Marine Park and Koh Phetra Marine Park, which play host to some of the most incredible exotic flora and fauna of the area. SCUBA divers and snorkelers love the Satun islands, and you’ll be able to see why after a peek into those crystal clear waters
Tarutao was declared Thailand’s first marine national park all the way back in 1974 and covers an incredible 51 islands and acre upon acre of marine life, rainforest and coral reef. There are two major groups of islands within the park: the Tarutao group and the Adang-Rawi group.
Koh Tarutao is the largest island in the park and is carpeted in incredibly ancient jungle. It actually used to be the site of a prison for political prisoners and other convicts (including the son of Rama VII) before World War II swept in, depleting resources and leaving many prisoners with malaria. Survivors fled to become pirates in the Strait of Malacca before being shut down by British forces before the war concluded.
Nearby Koh Hin Ngam is home to some very interesting black stones with some mythical history attached if you fancy an expedition away from the main island.
Koh Adang is the second biggest island within the Tarutao marine park and the main port of call in the Adang-Rawi group. Again, this island is home to jungle seemingly older than time and a domineering mountain landscape. It’s very nearby popular Koh Lipe and most people visit Adang as a day trip from there.
It’s rugged and wild with minimal, if any, tourism footprint.
Opposite Koh Adang, Rawi sports a similarly rugged landscape, if on a marginally smaller and flatter scale, but is home to some of the most incredible and deserted beaches to be found on the Satun islands. Sand that looks more like snow and waters so reflective as to bring out your inner Narcissus, these are the beaches of dreams.
You can camp on Rawi although, like Adang, there are no resorts to speak of and most people visit on day trips from Koh Lipe.
More northernly than the Tarutao Marine Park is Mu Koh Phetra, which shares some jurisdiction with Trang province. It’s home to around 30 islands, which you should explore with a licensed guide. Many of these islands are home to various egg-laying operations and swiftlet ‘bird nest’ collections which are very closely guarded.
Most people who visit Mu Koh Phetra choose to do so for SCUBA expeditions to take in the incredible marine life here. There is an apparent lack of any real development on these islands, aside from some camping accommodation on Koh Lao Liang.
A plan is afoot to install a deep seaport at Pak Bara on the Trang mainland that would allow sea liners and other marine traffic and pollution to encroach on Mu Koh Phetra and, effectively, render it no more.
Koh Lipe is undoubtedly the most popular of the Satun islands and definitely the most developed. If you’re after glorious beaches, great nightlife and an array of resorts and restaurants, you can’t really go wrong here. Tourism is well stamped here, although the island is also home to an ethnic Chao Ley (Sea Gypsy) community too.
The beaches are the same white powder and crystal clear waters of Koh Rawi, although are markedly more busy. For slightly more quiet and some stunning sunsets, head to Hat Pramong on the west coast. Pattaya and Sunrise beaches are the most popular on the other side of the island. The diving community here is huge and opportunities plentiful — keep an eye out for whale sharks and manta rays when diving deep!
To the west of the interior Thai islands — as in, those within Phang Nga Bay and off the coast of Krabi — are the more exposed islands off the country’s Andaman Sea coast. These islands run from the coast of Phang Nga province, all the way up to Ranong and the Burmese border.
Thanks to their sea positioning, the diving here is pretty spectacular and arguably some of the best in the world, particularly in the areas around the Similan and Surin islands. The other islands in this area are notable for being quiet and relatively untouched by development, thanks in part to their relatively remote location away from Thailand’s tourism hubs. These are great spots for travellers searching for the quiet life.
The Similan Islands are an incredibly beautiful group of 11 islands off the coast of Phang Nga. They’re one of the top diving spots in the entire world and are undeniably gorgeous, with turquoise waters and incredibly abundant coral reef and other marine life.
You can’t stay on these islands but you can visit on liveaboard multi-day trips or even single day trips from Khao Lak and Phuket. Some individual sites are closed to the public due to reef conservation and turtle hatching programmes.
North of the Similans, towards Myanmar, is another island group: the Surin Islands. These five isles are the best place in Thailand to swim with sea turtles and are possessed of incredible natural beauty. Ancient rainforest dominates the islands’ interior, which are stalked by an array of fauna, including monitor lizards, monkeys and snakes. There are over 90 bird species also present.
The waters are home to around 200 species of coral and are another great spot for SCUBA divers. The legendary Richelieu Rock is nearby while snorkelers can get up close and personal with turtles at Ao Tao.
Koh Phra Thong is also known as the Island of the Golden Buddha and is widely regarded as the last of the large, unspoilt islands in Thailand. It’s home to over 15km of white sand beaches and a savannah landscape that looks more akin to somewhere in Africa rather than Southeast Asia. This is one of the best bird-watching spots in the country too.
Thanks to a lack of development, you can really get away from it all on Koh Phra Thong. Water and electricity are restricted and accommodation is mostly bamboo huts with a few resorts scattered around.
Koh Ra is another undeveloped island paradise in the Andaman Sea and is mostly protected as a wildlife sanctuary. There aren’t any roads and definitely no ATMs, so this another spot to truly get away from it all. Again, bird watchers will be in paradise here.
Accommodation is limited although camping is available here.
This is the other Koh Chang — the one that’s much quieter and less touristy than the one in the Gulf. You can get here via ferry from Ranong and can traverse the island by walking. The lack of transport here contributes to the tranquil atmosphere and opportunity for utter relaxation. There’s plenty of forest and dark sand beaches.
There are a few resorts and accommodation options here, as well as a handful of restaurants and beach bars. There is also a small village with a shop and internet cafe. You can take liveaboard trips from here to the Similan and Surin islands.
Koh Phayam is slightly livelier than neighbouring Koh Chang and has motorbikes for hire to explore the island (there aren’t any roads suitable for cars). The beaches here are wide and welcoming with a smattering of tourists and resorts.
The ferry pier is the focal point of the island and dominated by restaurants and other shops. Head to Ao Yai for surfing and Ao Kao Kwai for swimming and kayaking.
The Eastern Seaboard region, just south of Bangkok and before Thailand meets Cambodia, is probably best known for the sleazy hub of Pattaya, but as soon as you leave the mainland, you’ll find a handful of much more palatable islands.
While these islands have nothing on the scenery and beach quality of the rest of Thailand, they’re still perfect for a weekend away from Bangkok and some respite from city life.
A short journey by ferry from the port at Laem Chabang will bring you to Koh Si Chang, a reasonably large island that’s home to a 19th century, abandoned, semi-constructed summer palace and a bat-filled meditation cave. The beaches are passable here, but exploring the island’s interior and fishing villages is arguably the better draw.
There are a handful of shrines and temples throughout the island. Interestingly, it was once briefly occupied by the French during a conflict over the control of Laos.
Koh Samet is very much the favourite of the Eastern Seaboard islands, thanks to its long white sand beaches, motorbike-explorability and easy proximity from Bangkok. There’s plenty of nightlife here, as well as resorts, fellow travellers and weekending Thais.
There are a total of 16 beaches on Samet and much of it is protected as a national park. Weather is usually good here and some of the beaches are known to get crowded — however, do take care to be mindful of any red flags warning against swimming. You can get here by taking the ferry from Ban Phe in Rayong.
Koh Larn is home to six beautiful, white sand beaches and a handful of tourist resorts catering to all budgets. You can get here via speedboat from Beach Road, Pattaya or you can take the significantly cheaper ferry from Bali Hai Pier. The latter drops you at either Naban Port or Tawaen Beach.
Tawaen is the most popular of Larn’s beaches and is where most of the accommodation can be found, together with Samae Beach. Most beaches have a number of Thai and Western restaurants for your convenience, while beach activities like jet skis and banana boats are also available.
When most travellers consider including a Thai island in their holiday itinerary, they assume that they’ll need to jet off down to the South of the country and start ‘hopping’ around Krabi and Phuket. While, of course, you can find some of the country’s most beautiful islands in the South, the East of the country, approaching the Cambodian border, is also a treasure trove of gorgeous treasure islands.
Most world travellers will be aware of Koh Chang, widely rumoured to be taking over the crown of Koh Samui as Thailand’s premier island destination, but there are actually over 40 islands off the coast of Trat. We’ve included some of the best suited and most accessible to travellers and tourists.
Koh Chang can be found just off the coast of mainland Trat in the Gulf of Thailand. Also known as Elephant Island thanks to its peculiar headland shape, it’s the largest Thai island after Phuket (and possibly Samui). It’s also become increasingly popular with travellers of all shapes and sizes over the last few years.
The scenery is wild and rugged here, with huge beaches, lush jungle and domineering mountains taking centre stage. Resorts are in abundance and cater to every budget. One thing to be aware of in Koh Chang is that it gets incredibly wet during the rainy season — we’re talking rain more or less every day at its peak. But the upside is that tourist arrivals drop off significantly.
The second biggest island after Koh Chang in the Trat island group, Koh Kut is a great island to stay at if you’re looking for a quieter scene than Koh Chang, but with a little more going on — including a number of resorts — than on nearby Koh Wai. Nightlife is pretty paltry here, so hop over to Chang if you fancy a party.
If it’s gorgeous beaches you’re after, then head to the west coast and Bang Bao Bay for cerulean waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling. There are also a couple of waterfalls and caves to find on the island and it’s worth renting a motorbike to truly explore.
Between Koh Kut and Koh Chang is charming Koh Mak — an absolute stunner of an island with picture perfect beaches and a relative dearth of tourists and nightlife. It’s actually a privately owned island but there are a handful of resorts, perfect for those after a peaceful beach break.
There are two major beaches: Ao Suan Yai, home to some spectacular sunsets, and the lengthy Ao Kao. Some watersport activities are available but it’s generally pretty quiet here. The island’s interior is home to some rural villages, coconut and rubber plantations, and lush jungle. There is a tiny amount of development by way of connecting roads between villages, and the 30 or so resorts here.
Koh Wai is a tiny island off the southern coast of Koh Chang that is significantly quieter than the other major islands in the Trat group. This is true back to basics travelling on Wai: no road, no ATMs, and a scheduled electricity output. Want to get away from it all? Head to Koh Wai.
For many visitors, Koh Wai is only worthy of a day trip from Chang thanks to the lack of amenities and generally low standard of accommodation available, but there certainly is accommodation for those that are up to the challenge of a basic island stay. It’s certainly very aesthetically pleasing, enjoying picturesque beaches and gorgeous views over to the mountains of Koh Chang.
What’s your favourite Thai island?
Featured image made using photo by Joan Campderrós-i-Canas (CC BY 2.0 licence)