Since I settled in Thailand back in 2010, I have never stopped traveling around the country. During these years I have visited many of the islands in Thailand, some of them many times.

Therefore what you’ll find below is first-hand information. At InThailand.Travel we only talk about places we know personally.

 All the photos of the 30 islands in this article have been taken by me, except for two of them.

Pol Comaposada

If after reading this article you still want to know more about the islands in Thailand, we would suggest you to subscribe to this amazing newsletter by David Luekens: Thai Island Times.

There are two main types of islands in Thailand.

πŸ–οΈ Islands that offer accommodation (from 1st to 21st)

🏝️ Virgin Islands without hotels (from 22nd to 30th)

▢️ 1st to 8th: The most popular islands in Thailand

THIS IS A LIST, NOT A RANKING

Next, you will find the most famous islands in the country.

1) Phuket

Phuket is the most famous island in Thailand. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge and has an international airport, which makes it the most easily accessed island in the country. At 575 km2 it is the largest island in Thailand. Phuket has many beaches to suit all tastes, from very quiet coves to large crowded beaches with all kinds of facilities.

Phuket, Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: Getting to Phuket is very easy, it has an excellent accommodation offer, there are lots of activities to do, and there are numerous beaches, some of them very beautiful.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Traffic on the island can be pretty bad. In high season –and especially in New Year and Chinese New Year– some areas can get extremely crowded.

2) Koh Phi Phi Don

Probably the second most famous island in Thailand, only after Phuket. Koh Phi Phi Don is a small island (8 km long and 3.5 km wide) in the Andaman Sea. The island is formed by two large mountainous parts which are connected together by an isthmus, a spectacular landscape that will remain with you forever after you see it from a high viewpoint. Koh Phi Phi Don is part of a 5-island archipelago that includes as well the famous Koh Phi Phi Leh, where gorgeous Maya Bay beach is located.

Koh Phi Phi Don isthmus

πŸ‘ Pros: Laem Tong area is still a very quiet and peaceful base camp to stay in and explore the archipelago.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Development has been chaotic, and Tonsai, the main town, is overdeveloped and lacking in charm.

3) Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand after Phuket, and also the second most developed. Koh Samui has the most beautiful airport in the country, which despite being international mostly operates domestic flights. The list of accommodation and activities on offer is neverending. Koh Samui has many beaches, although only a few of them meet the beauty standards of the perfect tropical beach. Fortunately, Ang Thong National Marine Park and its magnificent beaches are only an hour away by boat.

Koh Samui Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: Koh Samui is easy to reach thanks to its airport, accommodation and activities offer is huge, and between May and September, the rainiest months in most of Thailand, it hardly ever rains in Samui.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: The price of the flights, all of them operated by Bangkok Airways, is somewhat expensive.

4) Koh Tao

With only 21 km2, Koh Tao is the smallest of the main 3 islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao is famous among backpackers for the beauty of its beaches, for the party scene at its main beach (Sairee) and, above all, for being the main dive center in Thailand. Diving in Koh Tao is cheaper than almost elsewhere in the world. Just offshore of Koh Tao lies the fabulous islet of Koh Nang Yuan, a recurring starlet of travel magazine covers.

Amazing Koh Nang Yuan Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: It’s a very pretty island with a great backpacker vibe. Ideal if you travel with a backpack and if you want to get a PADI certification or any other kind of diving course.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Getting there is rather difficult, since you have to take a boat for at least 2 hours. Good 4* or higher category hotels are scarce.

5) Koh Phangan

Koh Pha Ngan island is just half an hour north of Koh Samui. With a size in between its sister islands Koh Samui and Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan attracts mainly a young backpacker crowd, although there are quite a few good 4* hotels and some impressive 5*, such as the Anantara Rasananda. Koh Phangan is famous for the Full Moon Party, which is held every month on its main beach, Haad Rin Beach.

Koh Pha Ngan Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: It has many very beautiful and diverse beaches. It’s great for partiers, loners and everyone in between, provided you choose the area that better suits your taste. There is even a yoga and meditation community.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Without a private vehicle, car or motorcycle, it is difficult to get around the island. Getting in and out involves taking a boat from/to Koh Samui, which can be expensive if you are in a rush.

6) Koh Lipe

Small Koh Lipe island is only 3.5 km long and 2.5 km wide. You can literally walk everywhere. It is known as the β€˜Maldives of Thailand’ due to the beauty of its turquoise blue waters and its beautiful beaches. It is also a good island for snorkeling and diving. Most of the accommodations are 3* and 4* hotels. From November to April it is possible to visit nearby Koh Tarutao, a gorgeous Marine National Park with plenty of unspoilt beaches. Koh Lipe is usually described as the most beautiful of all islands in Thailand.

Koh Lipe Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: It is one of the most paradisiacal islands in Thailand, in terms of its beaches and the color of its waters. It is the gateway to the Koh Tarutao Marine National Park.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Koh Lipe seems to be permanently under construction. The interior of the island is a chaos of uncontrolled constructions and landfills. Getting to Koh Lipe can be tedious as it easily takes up practically an entire day.

7) Koh Samed

Of all islands in Thailand, Koh Samed is probably the best island getaway from Bangkok, since you don’t need to take any flight and takes only a little over 3 hours by road, plus a short ferry ride. Koh Samed is a small island with several beaches, some of them quite beautiful, and very decent snorkeling. It gets quite busy on weekends and official holidays.

Koh Samed aerial picture

πŸ‘ Pros: It is very close to Bangkok. Only 3 hours by land + half an hour by boat.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Hotels are quite expensive. On weekends it gets quite crowded.

8) Koh Chang

At 217 km2 Koh Chang is the third largest island in Thailand, and the largest in the Gulf of Siam’s eastern seaboard. It is very similar in size to Koh Samui, but much less developed. Koh Chang still keeps a rather wild spirit in its interior, a mountainous and jungle-covered area. In addition to its beaches, which are beautiful although not among the best in the country, Koh Chang offers the possibility of trekking through the jungle and joining snorkeling boat tours to nearby islands.

Koh Chang Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: It is a quiet island that can be reached by land from Bangkok, although the journey takes most of the day. It’s not expensive and not much developed, and it has good hotels.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: In the low season, from May to October, it usually gets a lot of rain.

▢️ 9th to 21st: Lesser known islands with accommodation

Next you have a list of many other islands, not as popular as the previous ones, where it is possible to overnight. In most cases, reaching them requires a slightly longer journey.

9) Koh Kood

Koh Kood is a medium-sized island in the eastern seaboard, near Cambodia and Koh Chang. For me, it is one of the best islands in Thailand thanks to the beauty of its beaches and the general tranquility. There are no towns or urban areas, only nature, beaches and seaside resorts. In addition, there is also an interesting jungle interior where you can go hiking, and the pristine maritime surroundings offer good snorkeling.

Koh Kut quiet Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: It has a good hotel offer in the 3* to 5* range. It is beautiful, super quiet and little developed.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: If you are looking for parties and nightlife, this is definitely not your island. Getting there can be tiresome and/or expensive depending on the option you choose.

10) Koh Maak

Little known Koh Maak is a tiny island in the eastern seaboard, halfway between Koh Chang and Koh Kood. Actually it is so small that you can literally get eveywhere on foot. It is little developed, with pretty cool beaches and a limited accommodation offer. Like Koh Kood, Koh Maak is an island with hardly any nightlife or shops. It is therefore a destination for adventurers who are looking for tranquility and nature.

Koh Mak Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: It is the paradise of tranquility.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: It is time-consuming to get there. Some beaches have annoying sandflies in the sand.

11) Koh Phayam

Koh Phayam is yet another little treasure of Thailand. It is an island for backpackers and independent travellers, as it hardly has any high-end hotels or resorts. Most of the accommodations are basic but cozy resorts by the sea. The island is very quiet and has a hippie vibe. There is only one small road that sees nothing but occasional motorcycles, and a couple of long beaches that, despite not being among the best in the country, are very pleasant. To get to Koh Phayam first go to the city of Ranong.

Koh Phayam Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: Quiet, but with atmosphere in high season –November to April–.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: A bit remote and very abandoned in low season –May to October–.

12) Koh Chang Noi

Koh Chang Noi is a small island near Koh Phayam, and it has a hippie atmosphere despite having a Thai army camp. If you enjoy a hippie lifestyle or are looking for a really alternative option, this is your island. Warning: even though you are very likely to smell marijuana fumes around you, keep in mind that it is an illegal drug in Thailand, and its possession is punished with harsh prison sentences that could ruin your life.

Koh Chang Noi

πŸ‘ Pros: A very little-known destination among travelers.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: It can get boring for many.

13) Koh Ngai

Koh Ngai is a tiny island of only 5 km2 near Trang, and it has 3 or 4 beaches. For many, a small paradise that few are lucky enough to visit. It has several 4 * beachside resorts that, although not cheap, offer big discounts in low season. Do not expect many activities other than beach time, snorkeling, and maybe a boat tour to nearby islands.

Koh Ngai Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: Total tranquility in very comfortable resorts with amazing sea views.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Getting there takes some effort. It can get boring if you are not a beach lover.

14) Koh Kradan

Koh Kradan is the smallest of the main islands in Trang. Same as with sister islands Koh Ngai and Koh Mook, all available activities are basically limited to whatever can be done in the beach. Like Koh Ngai, it has a long main beach, and some other smaller coves. There are several hotels ranging between 2* and 4*, such as the Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan.

Koh Kradan Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: Total tranquility in very comfortable resorts with sea views.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Getting there takes some effort. It can get boring if you are not a beach lover.

15) Koh Muk or Mook

Koh Muk is another of the Trang Islands. Koh Muk means Pearl Island, and the name is well deserved, since it is a real beauty. It is somewhat larger than the previous two islands, and it has a good range of hotels and restaurants, especially around the pier area. Koh Muk is mainly known for its Emerald Cave, a stunning hidden inland beach that can only be reached by swimming through a cave, when the tide is not too high.

Koh Muk Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: Probably the most beautiful of the Trang islands. Emerald cave is really impressive.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Again, getting there can be tiresome.

16) Koh Libong

Koh Libong is the largest of the Trang islands and one of the least visited, just because its beaches are not as beautiful as on the neighbouring islands. But it is still worth visiting, especially for those looking for alternative destinations off the beaten track. Accommodation offer is rather scarce. Koh Libong is an island with a local population, not only focused on tourism as so often happens in many other Thai islands.

Koh Libong Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: You’ll find very few tourists. You’ll have the chance to see real local life unrelated to tourism.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: It takes a bit long to get there. Beaches are not that great.

17) Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is made up of two parts linked together by a bridge: Koh Lanta Yai (large) and the Koh Lanta Noi (small). Koh Lanta Yai has all the beaches and is where all tourists stay. At 30 km long and 6 km wide, it is one of the largest islands in Thailand. Despite being so large, it is a very quiet island that has not been much developed. One of the most rewarding things about Koh Lanta, in addition to its green interior and its long beaches, is that it has managed to keep a local atmosphere. The island has an important local community made up of Muslims, Buddhists and the so-called Sea Gypsies.

Koh Lanta Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: A large island that keeps a local atmosphere, can be explored by motorcycle and offers plenty of entertainment.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Its beaches do not meet the beauty standards that many tourists tend to seek.

18) Koh Yao Yai

With its more than 140 km2, Koh Yao Yai is a medium-sized island, rather large by Thai standards. Despite being only 30 minutes from Phuket and Krabi, it is little known among tourists. It has a large local fishing community, although in recent years quite a few hotels have also been built. Koh Yao Yai has one of the most spectacular and, at the same time, least known beaches in the country: Laem Had Beach, in the image below.

Koh Yao Yai Laem Had Beach

πŸ‘ Pros: A fairly large island that can be fun to tour on a motorcycle. Laem Had beach is simply spectacular. Easily accessible.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Despite being a large island, it has few activities on offer.

19) Koh Yao Noi

Koh Yao Noi is Koh Yao Yai’s little sister. They are very close to each other, and both are easily accessible from Phuket and Krabi. Koh Yao Noi is more prepared for tourism in all aspects, especially when it comes to accommodation, which is more professional. Here we find some really good resorts like Cape Kudu or Paradise Koh Yao, as well as the famous super-luxury hotel Six Senses. From Koh Yao Noi is very easy to go to the famous Laem Had beach in neighbouring Koh Yao Yai.

Koh Yao Noi Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: Easy to get to. It has a wide range of hotels of all kinds.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: It does not have any super spectacular beach, although there are some beautiful ones.

20) Koh Larn

Koh Larn is a tiny island off Pattaya, with very beautiful beaches and a very limited hotel offer. Pattaya is a coastal city a couple of hours southeast of Bankgok, which has a large offer in accommodation and is (in)famous for its Walking Street, one of the most renowned sex tourism spots in Thailand. Despite this, it is a popular destination for family tourism too, especially among Thai, Russian and Chinese.

Koh Larn

πŸ‘ Pros: Close to Bangkok.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Limited and expensive accommodation offer.

21) Koh Si Chang

Koh Si Chang is the closest island to Bangkok. A very popular weekend getaway among Bangkokians, who go there basically to feast on seafood. Its beaches are nothing to write home about, but it makes a good weekend plan.

Koh Si Chang Thailand

πŸ‘ Pros: Close to Bangkok.

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons: Its beaches are not good.

▢️ 22nd to 30th: The most impressive virgin islands of Thailand

The islands of Thailand on the following list are mostly small islands with amazing beaches, but they have no hotels. In some cases it is possible to overnight in bungalows or tents managed by the Thai government’s Department of National Parks.

22) Hong Island

Koh Hong Island Thailand

Small Hong island is located off Phang Nga’s coast, and is often visited on boat tours from Krabi. Its only beach is one of the most beautiful in the country, ideal for sunbathing and swimming. There is a beach bar where you can grab some drinks and snacks.

Can you overnight? Nope.

23) Ang Thong Islands

Ang Thong Maritime National Park

Ang Tong National Marine Park is an archipelago formed by 42 virgin islands off Surat Thani’s coast. These islands are usually visited in boat trips from Koh Samui, and from Koh Pha Ngan as well. Here you will find really beautiful beaches, good snorkeling and an impressive viewpoint you can climb up to.

Can you overnight? Yes, in the tents or bungalows managed by the National Park.

24) Koh Phi Phi Leh

Koh Phi Phi Leh Maya Bay

Little Koh Phi Phi Leh is also one of the most worldwide known islands of Thailand after being a scenario for the Hollywood film ‘The Beach’, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Some scenes in the movie were shot in Maya Bay beach, a really breathtaking place. The island has some other small coves, only accessible when tide allows.

Can you overnight? Nope.

25) Similan Islands

Similan Islands Thailand

The Similan Islands, known as the β€˜Pearls of the Andaman Sea’, are an archipelago managed as a Marine National Park. Most of its islands are in a protection plan that prohibits visiting them, although tourists are allowed to visit some gorgeous beaches in the archipelago. It is highly recommended: they are truly spectacular. The Similan Islands are usually visited from Khao Lak or from Phuket. Similan will be always on the top when talking of the best of islands in Thailand.

Can you overnight? Yes, in the tents or bungalows managed by the National Park.

26) Surin Islands

Surin Islands Thailand

The small Surin Islands archipelago is in the Andaman Sea, north of the Similan Islands, and it is also part of a protected Marine National Park. In the Surin Islands there are some Sea Gypsy villages, but other than that they are mostly virgin. The Surin Islands have very nice beaches and good snorkeling. They are usually visited from Khao Lak.

Can you overnight? Yes, in the tents or bungalows managed by the National Park.

27) Koh Poda

Koh Poda Aerial View

Koh Poda is a small island in front of of Ao Nang town, Krabi. It is one of the famous β€˜4 Islands’ that are visited in one of the most popular boat tours on offer at any tour agency in Ao Nang. Koh Poda has white sand beaches that plunge into stunning turquoise waters. Make sure to visit Koh Poda’s spectacular secret beach.

Can you overnight? Nope.

28) Koh Tapu or James Bond Island

James Bond Island Thailand

The famous island of Koh Tapu is mostly known as James Bond Island, since it appeared in the 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. There’s nothing wrong with this island, but I doubt it would be half as famous if it weren’t for the old movie. Today it is visited only on day tours from Krabi and Phuket. In my opinion it is not worth stopping by unless you go in low season.

Can you overnight? Nope.

29) Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Koh Tarutao

Koh Tarutao National Marine Park

These are the main islands in Koh Tarutao National Marine Park. In Koh Adan there are some Sea Gypsy villages, but, in general, the rest of these islands are totally unspoilt and not developed at all. They are mainly visited from Koh Lipe (especially Koh Adang and Koh Rawi, which are closer), and only in high season. Probably some of the best islands in Thailand are here.

Can you overnight? Not unless the local Sea Gypsies population gives you permission to do so.

30) Samae San Island

Samae San Thailand

Samae San is a nice little island with some beautiful beaches and good snorkeling. What’s particular about this island is that it is owned by the Thai army, that uses it to train its soldiers. Samae San is open to the public, but only to Thais or foreigners who are accompanied by Thais.

Can you overnight? Nope.

▢️ Not islands, but still pretty good beach destinations

I can’t talk about the islands of Thailand without mentioning those other Thai beach destinations that, despite not being islands, must be taken into account when planning a trip to Thailand:

Krabi

Krabi Coast Thailand

Krabi province offers quite a few beaches and an excellent tourist infrastructure that makes Krabi an ideal base camp from where to explore the Andaman Sea islands. The seaside town of Ao Nang, where the large majority of visitors stay, is ideal for tours to Koh Phi Phi, Hong Island, Railay Bay, Koh Poda and others.

Railay

Railay Thailand

Railay Bay is just amazing. Especially if you are lucky enough to visit it on a sunny day in low season, when there are few people. Railay is a landlocked bay surrounded by limestone cliffs, and it has one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand and maybe the whole world: Phra Nang. Railay Bay is located in Krabi province, and is usually reached by a 15-minute boat ride from Ao Nang town.

Khao Lak

Khao Lak Beach

Khao Lak is a coastal destination north of Phuket, very famous among European family tourism. It is quiet but at the same time has a wide range of hotels and restaurants, which makes it an easy and comfortable place to spend a few days. From here you can visit the incredible Similan Islands. That also makes Khao Lak a favorite destination for divers, since Similan Islands are considered to offer the best diving in the country.

Prachuap Kiri Khan and Chumphon

Ban Krut Thailand

Prachuap Kiri Khan and Chumphon are two provinces south of Bangkok which have many coastal towns, and many of them can be interesting destinations both for those who live in Thailand and for seasoned travelers looking for new off the beaten track destinations. Among others, check out Hua Hin, Prachuap Kiri Khan, Ban Krut beach and Chumpon province beaches.

▢️ The most beautiful island in Thailand?

If I had to choose the most beautiful island in Thailand in ‘objective’ terms, not the one I like the most, but the one that I think best meets the idea of a tropical island paradise that we all have in our heads, I would choose Koh Phi Phi Don.

Why? Just look at this image:

Koh Phi Phi Don Thailand

Although Koh Phi Phi Don has suffered a chaotic development -which is fortunately improving- that has caused some real damage in terms of beauty, the truth is that it is still an impressive island no matter where you look.

So is it recommended for everyone to visit Koh Phi Phi Don? Definitely not. As I say, Koh Phi Phi Don has suffered from uncontrolled real estate development that has undermined its beauty. Koh Phi Phi Don is worth visiting if you are going to stay in a good hotel, such as Phi Phi Island Village, Zeavola or Holiday Inn, away from Tonsai town.

Is it better to overnight in Phi Phi Don or to visit as a day trip? For many travelers it will be more suitable to choose other destinations or, if you want to visit Phi Phi, stay in Krabi, Phuket, Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi or Koh Lanta, and visit Phi Phi as a day tour.

▢️ Map of the islands in Thailand

▢️ Which island to choose for a first trip to Thailand?

There is a best island in Thailand for every person according to what you are looking for. Actually, I usually recommend Krabi, an excellent base camp from which to make boat trips to visit many gorgeous islands in the Andaman Sea.

When choosing which island to go to, besides doing some research to find out which one is likely to better meet your expectations, keep two things in mind:

β€’ How long does it take to get there? Taking your schedule in mind, does it make sense to lose a full day just to get there, and maybe another one when departing?

β€’ In which season are you traveling? If it is rainy season and you choose an island affected by the monsoon, it may well be that you have bad luck and it rains a lot. If you choose a coastal destination instead, with more activities on offer, if rain hits hard it would not be such a serious problem, since you’ll have many options other than beach and boat tours. More about the climate of Thailand here.

Pol Comaposada

Pol Comaposada

Pol has been traveling and creating content about Thailand and others parts of Asia since 2010. Founder and manager of Mundo NΓ³mada Travel, a DMC (tour operator) with office in Bangkok that offers high quality tours and tailor-made packages in Thailand.

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