Are you dreaming of a tropical getaway that offers something for every type of traveler? Thailand’s many islands are just the paradise you’re looking for! From beach lovers to digital nomads, party animals to nature enthusiasts, there’s an island that’s perfect for everyone. And with so many options, it can be tough to decide which are the best islands in Thailand and which one is the best fit for your travel style.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of my top 6 best islands in Thailand. But instead of just telling you which island is best, I want you to discover it for yourself! So take a moment to decide what kind of atmosphere and traveler you are, and let’s find your perfect island match!
What are you looking for
♥ Want to dive headfirst into an underwater adventure and get your PADI certification?
This island is the ultimate diving mecca, with crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life that will leave you in awe. Whether you’re already certified or looking to get your open water certification, this is one of the best islands in Thailand to explore the underwater world. And the best part is that it’s also one of the cheapest in the world to get certified. A lively, sunny paradise that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Click here.
♥ Craving a slower pace of life, with sea, sand, and sun to soothe your soul?
This island’s laid-back atmosphere is just what you need. It’s one of the best islands in Thailand for those seeking a relaxed, hippie vibe, with a focus on nature and eco-tourism. Take off your shoes, rent a bike, and explore the island’s pristine beaches, lush jungles, and tranquil fishing villages. And if you need to get some work done, no worries – the island has all the infrastructure you need to stay connected. So kick back, relax, and let the island’s laid-back vibe wash over you. Click here.
♥ Calling all digital nomads!
Are you looking for an island paradise that offers a vibrant community of like-minded individuals, healthy food options, and plenty of opportunities for work and play? This island has got you covered! It’s a popular hotspot for digital nomads, with a lively night life, delicious cuisine, and a thriving yoga community. And when it’s time to take a break from work, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore the island’s natural beauty. So come for the work, stay for the fun. Click here.
♥ Ready for a touristy vacation on a tropical island paradise?
With its own international airport and a wealth of tourist spots and luxury resorts, this is one of the best islands in Thailand and the perfect destination for those seeking the ultimate vacation experience. From world-class beaches to high-end shopping and dining, you’ll find everything you need to relax and indulge. Click here.
♥ Are you an outdoor enthusiast looking for your next adventure?
This paradise island is less touristy than some of its more popular counterparts, and has a wild, untamed spirit that’s perfect for nature lovers. Beach lovers will also find plenty to enjoy, with secluded coves, hidden bays, and pristine white sand beaches to discover. Even if you’re not a jungle trekker, waterfall chaser, or outdoor adventurer, there are still plenty of things to do, including checking out some of the island’s great restaurants and bars or exploring the nice diving spots. Click here.
♥ Looking for the perfect balance of relaxation, convenience and excitement?
Escape to one of the best islands in Thailand, featuring stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and even its own airport. Although it’s more touristic and popular than other Thai destinations, it remains the ideal spot for those looking for a blend of relaxation and adventure during their vacation. With various water sports, island hopping, and great cuisine, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re looking to stay long-term, you’ll find a welcoming expat community and accommodations to fit any budget. Click here.
Best Islands in Thailand
Now, let’s see where you’re headed next. These are my top six picks for the best islands in Thailand. While I highly recommend visiting them all, at least now you’ll have a starting point. For each island, I’ll quickly delve into the more practical aspects, such as transportation options and the best time of year to visit.
The 6 best islands in Thailand are marked in color on the map below. As you can see, Phuket and Koh Lanta are situated south, on the left side of the map, while Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan are grouped together further east. Koh Chang is located in the east of Thailand, near the border with Cambodia.
Koh Samui is a popular tourist destination in Thailand known for its beautiful beaches, tropical landscapes, and lively nightlife. The island has a relaxed atmosphere that attracts a diverse range of travellers, from budget backpackers to families to luxury seekers.
How to get to Koh Samui
There are two main options to get to Koh Samui:
- You can take a direct flight to Koh Samui’s airport from various cities in Thailand or neighboring countries.
- Alternatively, you can also take a bus or train to Surat Thani and then take a ferry or speedboat to Koh Samui. For example, if you come from Bangkok, you can take an overnight train and even save yourself a hotel night by doing so.
When to go to Koh Samui
Great news – Koh Samui’s weather is warm and tropical throughout the year. The high season runs from December to February, which is the coolest and driest time of the year – still warm for European standards. This is the ideal time to visit if you want to steer clear of rain and humidity.
For those who want to avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices, the hot or rainy seasons may be more suitable. The hot season stretches from March to June and brings hot weather, with occasional rain showers. July to September is the Western summer holidays and is usually more crowded. From October to December, the rainy season hits.
However, in my opinion, there is no best or worst time to go as the weather can be unpredictable, and Koh Samui always has something special to offer. After all, there is a reason why it’s on my list of best islands in Thailand.
If you’re into sailing, don’t miss the Samui Regatta – a sailing event held annually in late May or early June. Remember to plan your trip accordingly.
As someone who’s island-hopped around these parts for a while, when I first stumbled upon Koh Samui’s shopping center, I was practically jumping for joy. Finally, a little taste of city life amidst all the tropical tranquility! And I’m sure my fellow ladies can relate – sometimes you just need to get your shopping fix.
Among the various areas on the island, Chaweng reigns as the most developed and touristy, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. With its expansive beach, countless restaurants, cafes, and hotels, this vibrant hub truly has something for everyone. Plus, if Starbucks is in the mix, you know this place means business!
Koh Phangan is without doubt one of the best islands in Thailand and the ultimate digital nomad’s paradise; I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list. This island has got it all, with a perfect balance of work and play. Whether you’re looking for a serene co-working space, or want to post up in a beachside bungalow with your laptop, Koh Phangan has got you covered.
To get a closer look at all the magic Koh Phangan has to offer, make sure to check out my Koh Phangan article.
How to get to Koh Phangan
Here are your best options for reaching Koh Phangan:
- First, you can take a flight to Koh Samui’s airport, followed by a quick ferry or speedboat ride to Koh Phangan.
- If you’re already on Koh Tao or Koh Samui, it’s as easy as hopping on a ferry.
- For an affordable option that offers both transportation and accommodation, you can take a night bus directly from Bangkok with Lomprayah. The ticket includes both the bus and ferry to Koh Phangan, and you’ll arrive on the island the following morning. A convenient and budget-friendly choice!
When to go to Koh Phangan
The dry season from December to March/April is considered the best time to visit, with February and March being the driest months. But beware, it’s also peak season and prices can be steep.
Don’t let the rain scare you off from visiting one of the best islands in Thailand during the rest of the year! From May/June to September, the rain is manageable, with short-lived rainstorms that usually last only 30 minutes to 2 hours, followed by sunshine again. Plus, the thinner crowds (except during Western summer holidays) and lower prices make it a great time to visit.
I visited Koh Phangan during the so-called “rainy season” in October and November. But guess what? The rain didn’t dampen my spirits one bit! In fact, I was still able to work on my tan, and the landscapes were even more lush and green. So don’t let a little rain scare you away from experiencing Koh Phangan’s beauty and fun.
And speaking of fun, you definitely don’t want to miss the legendary full moon parties that happen every month. These crazy events are a must-see. Just make sure you plan your trip around the lunar calendar – or check out the schedule here – because missing a full moon party would be a total bummer!
Koh Phangan is a true gem among the many best islands in Thailand, offering stunning beaches, delicious food options, affordable cost of living, and a thriving digital nomad community. No wonder it’s one of the top destinations for long-term travellers and digital nomads alike.
From wild parties to spiritual retreats and everything in between, Koh Phangan really has something for everyone and has an important place on my list of the best islands in Thailand. Whether you’re searching for the best co-working spaces, cafes with strong Wi-Fi, or just want a place to unwind and recharge, this island is the perfect budget-friendly spot.
I could tell you more about it, but I’d rather let my Koh Phangan blog article do the talking. Discover why Koh Phangan is the place to be for digital nomads, remote workers and adventure seekers alike!
Koh Tao holds a special place in my heart as the first island I ever visited in Thailand. The ferry ride alone was worth it for the breathtaking views and instant good vibes.
I didn’t go there for diving certification, as I already got my PADI in Utila, Honduras and anyway needed to take a break from action because of a twisted ankle. However, I still had an amazing time exploring the island. If you’re already checking out Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, you can’t skip out on Koh Tao. It’s a package deal, you take it or leave it.
How to get to Koh Tao
Just like Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, you can take a night bus from Bangkok, hop on a boat from Chumphon or Surat Thani on the mainland, or from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan islands. And if you need more info, just give me a shout!
When to go to Koh Tao
While diving is possible year-round in Koh Tao, the best season is from March to September, with the busiest months being July and August. The weather is warm and sunny during this time, providing optimal diving conditions and good underwater visibility.
From October to November, monsoon winds may reduce visibility, but diving trips are rarely affected. November to February brings rain and winds, which are less ideal for diving.
While I can’t provide too many details about the diving scene, I know from reliable sources that it’s amazing and more than affordable – read one of the cheapest places in the world to get scuba certified and to dive.
However, I can recommend joining the pub crawl that takes place 3-4 times a week. It’s always lively and a great opportunity to meet new people. And if you want to live your best island life, rent a scooter! It’s dirt cheap and the perfect way to explore all the different beaches and nooks on this paradise. Each one is like a hidden gem, just waiting to be discovered.
Welcome to Koh Chang, aka ‘Elephant Island’! From above, the island’s shape looks like an elephant, and it’s just as impressive on the ground. Koh Chang and its satellites – Koh Mak and Koh Kood – are located at the easternmost part of Thailand, and may not be as large or bustling as Phuket or Samui, but that’s what makes them so special! Koh Chang is the third largest island in Thailand, and a hidden gem that’s far less touristy. So, if you’re looking for a place to escape the crowds, you’ve found it!
How to get to Koh Chang
To get to Koh Chang, you can take a combination of different modes of transportation.
- The nearest airport to Koh Chang is Trat Airport, which is about 17 km from the ferry piers. From the airport, you can take a taxi or minibus to the ferry piers and then take a ferry to Koh Chang.
- Buses operate daily from Bangkok to Trat. The journey takes about 5-6 hours. Here again, you can take a taxi or minibus to the ferry piers and then take a ferry to Koh Chang.
- You can also rent a car in Bangkok and drive to Koh Chang, or go with a private transfer. It takes about 4-5 hours.
When to go to Koh Chang
The high season, from November to February, is the driest and coolest time of the year, with daily sunshine, blue skies, and calm seas. While this might be the busiest time on the island, it’s also the perfect time to enjoy the island’s many attractions if you don’t mind the crowds.
The hot season follows from March to April and brings hot temperatures along with high humidity, that some may find uncomfortable. However, since April and May are typically Thai holiday months, the tourist areas on the island may still be busy, particularly during Songkran, the Thai New Year.
May to October is considered the low season on Koh Chang, with the rainy season starting towards the end of May. Despite the unpredictable weather, this is still a great time to visit as the island is much quieter, prices are lower, and the rainforests are greener.
Despite its recent popularity, Koh Chang has held onto its wild and untamed spirit and this is why I consider it as one of the best islands in Thailand. With 70% of the island covered in rainforests, mountains, and breathtaking beaches, you’re in for a treat.
Koh Chang boasts some stunning beaches, and with a good range of accommodations, you’re sure to find something that fits your taste and budget. If you’re in the mood for adventure, Koh Chang won’t disappoint. You can swing from a palm tree on White Sands Beach or get an Aloe Vera Oil Massage on a secluded beach.
For the more adventurous, kayaking, jungle trekking, waterfall chasing, diving and snorkelling are some of the most popular activities on the island. The island’s tallest peak, Khao Salak Phet, stands tall at about 743 meters above sea level, and you won’t be able to resist the abundance of waterfalls.
And as part of the Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, Koh Chang offers some remarkable snorkelling and diving spots offshore. You can even take a boat to Koh Rang, a small uninhabited island at the centre of the scene, in just under an hour! See, this is one of the best islands in Thailand and you won’t get bored.
Welcome to one of the most magical and best islands in Thailand where shoes are optional and relaxation is mandatory!
As soon as you step foot on this island, you’ll want to kick your shoes off and just take it easy. This little slice of paradise is the perfect destination for families, couples, or digital nomads who want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to slow down, unwind, and just enjoy the simple things in life.
How to get to Koh Lanta
Getting to Koh Lanta is a breeze! Whether you want to travel by ferry, speedboat, or minivan, this island is easily accessible from nearby destinations like Krabi, Phuket, and Koh Phi Phi.
If you’re coming from further away, no worries! You can fly into Krabi Airport, or even Phuket, and catch a passenger ferry to Koh Lanta. The journey time and cost may vary depending on your starting point and mode of transportation, but it’s totally worth it.
To be honest, travelling around Thailand is generally a piece of cake! I went from Koh Samui to Koh Lanta in just one day with a shared mini bus, and it all went smoothly. So, don’t stress about the logistics.
Best time to go to Koh Lanta
If you want to experience this island at its best, then make sure you visit between November and April, which is the dry season. During this time, the weather is usually absolutely delightful, which makes it perfect for all sorts of island activities like swimming, diving, and exploring. Plus, this is when all the facilities are fully operational and you’ll have plenty of company with other fellow adventurers on the island.
Now, if you don’t mind a little bit of rain, you can still have an amazing time on Koh Lanta during the rainy season which runs from May to October. September and October are the wettest months, but don’t let that discourage you! You can still enjoy the island and take advantage of the lower prices and fewer tourists. It might rain for a few hours, but that’s when you can grab a book and just relax.
Koh Lanta isn’t just your average island. In fact, it’s a whole archipelago of 52 best islands in Thailand! Some of these little guys are uninhabited and others only have a couple of places to stay. But the big kahunas are Koh Lanta Yai (big island) and Koh Lanta Noi (small island), which are connected by a bridge. Most of the action happens on Yai, and Noi is a bit forgotten, with its rubber plantations, palm trees, and deserted beaches.
When it comes to the main areas on Yai that you gotta check out: Saladan, the northern port area, is packed with shops and restaurants just waiting to cater to all your touristy needs. But if you’re looking for some serious beach time, head over to Long Beach (Phrae Ae). Not only is it the longest beach on the island, but it also boasts some of the best swimming spots. And if you’re on a budget, there are plenty of hostels and cheap eats around.
Want something even more chill? Check out Klong Khong, which is just south of Long Beach. There’s a ton of budget-friendly accommodation, and it’s the perfect spot to kick back and have a beer by the water.
When it comes to the best islands in Thailand, Phuket is a bit like the top dog. It’s a popular island everyone talks about, and for good reason. From epic parties to stunning beaches to outdoor activities, Phuket has got it all.
How to get to Phuket
If you’re planning on heading to Phuket, it’s easy peasy. Phuket has its very own international airport – Phuket International Airport. Loads of airlines fly there from other Thai cities and from all over the world. It’s usually the easiest way to get there. But if you’re feeling adventurous and want to see more of Thailand, you can also hop on a bus, train, or ferry from cities like Bangkok or Krabi.
When to go to Phuket
Phuket is a year-round tropical destination, but the best time to visit is from November to February when the weather is mostly sunny and dry, perfect for beach activities. From April to May, temperatures soar, making it uncomfortably hot for some.
The wet season occurs from May to October, with higher levels of rainfall and humidity, particularly in September and October. However, there are still plenty of sunny days even during the rainy season, and it’s an ideal time to find the best-value deals for accommodation with fewer crowds.
Some may call it “busy,” but let’s just say it’s a bustling hub for those seeking sun, sand, and a good time. Travellers flock here, clearly considering it as one of the best islands in Thailand. Patong is the go-to party spot where everyone seems to congregate, with neon lights, beer bars and dancing, but don’t let that stop you from exploring other areas of the island.
Phuket and I don’t exactly click. But if I were to splurge on a high-end resort, you bet I’d happily spend my days lounging and living the high life! From fancy hotels to charming guesthouses, there’s something for everyone. Of course, the closer you are to the beach, the more it will cost you, so keep that in mind when planning your stay.
But let’s be real, if you’re looking for an authentic Thai experience, you may be disappointed with the over-development and tourist traps. However, if you’re in the mood for some fun in the sun, you’ll find plenty of it here.
And if you’re seeking some change of scenery, there are many islands just a boat ride away for perfect day trips. Koh Phi-Phi and Similan Islands are the most popular, but don’t forget about hidden gems like Racha Island, Coral Island, Rang Yai, and Koh Yao. Island hopping is a breeze and an unforgettable adventure.
I hope you’ve found the perfect island in Thailand that inspires you to plan your next trip. Thailand truly is a paradise on earth for every type of traveler, and if you haven’t been yet, don’t miss out on adding these best islands in Thailand to your bucket list.
Wherever you choose to go, one thing is certain – you’re bound to fall in love with the Land of Smiles.
See you there!