What Island In Thailand Is Best For You?
by Charlotte Connolly
Thailand’s coastline is made up of many different islands, each one with its own distinctive characteristics. Whether you consider yourself a party animal, beach-bum or adventurer, there is something for everyone but with so much choice choosing the right island can be a daunting task.
Here’s a quick round up to help you choose which island in Thailand is best for you:
Perfect for soaking up the sun by day and partying all night
Phuket is the closest island to mainland and it is also the biggest; a mixture of class and tackiness that you would struggle to find anywhere else. For some Patong Beach, the main resort town, is just too seedy but for others it is the epitome of fun. Head here for some crazy nights and to see a ping pong show. Again there is plenty of accommodation choices. For a more upmarket and laid-back feel, the beach town of Karon is popular. Phuket is very heavily built up and rapidly developing and is therefore one of the more expensive islands.
Perfect for families, couples and friends alike. A great all-rounder
As Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui is a cosmopolitan pick offering beautiful beaches, relaxation and an abundance of fun. Chaweng Beach is the liveliest area (and most touristy) where you will likely find most backpackers. It is the busiest and most fun town on the island with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to keep people entertained. Accommodation varies from hostels and beach huts for budget travellers to luxury hotels for those that want a little treat. From almost anywhere on the island you can book jungle tours and experiences for a fun day out.
Perfect for peace, tranquility and experiencing local culture
Whilst still considered a fairly large island, Koh Lanta is one of the calmer ones that is yet to be overrun by tourism meaning it is much easier to explore and experience local culture and island life. The main town here is Saladan which is where the pier sits and then there are a few different beaches to stay on, Phra Ae also known as Long Beach is the biggest and most popular. The island is sparse so the best way to explore is to hire a moped and drive around. Generally the beaches are nice and the main benefit is that they are huge and never too busy. The beach fronts are lined with charming bars and restaurants that offer great food and decent nightly entertainment, but expect them to wind down much earlier than in the livelier resorts. If you are an animal lover be sure to pay Lanta Animal Welfare a visit.
Perfect for couples, relaxation and diving
Koh Lipe is a small L shaped island, known for having some of the best beaches in Thailand. Remote and dreamy, this picturesque place knows no other pace but slow and relaxed. It is small enough to explore on foot and consists of three main beaches plus some smaller ones. The island offers some of the best snorkel and diving spots in the country. This isn’t a party island but there are a handful of bars some of which stay open late, you can find these along with some great shops and restaurants on Walking Street located on the middle of the island.
Koh Phi Phi
Perfect for solo travellers, great nightlife and a piece of paradise
Koh Phi Phi is one of the smaller, yet most well-known islands. Being rapidly rebuilt after it was the victim of the 2005 tsunami, the island is full of shops, tattoo parlours, dive centres, restaurants and street food vendors as well as numerous places to party well into the night. Popular night time hangout spots include the beaches fire shows and the islands very own Muay Thai bar where tourists have the opportunity to get in the ring. Accommodation choices include lavish resorts and budget options for the numerous backpackers arriving here. The beaches offer blue seas and white sands and the opportunity to take that all important long boat candid photo.
In close proximity to the island you can find popular Maya Bay, Pi Leh Bay, Viking Cave and Ao Ling (Monkey Beach) which are all worth a visit and can be accessed via a boat trip which you can book cheaply anywhere on the island. Accommodation is available for all budgets and for backpacker hostels and rooms you can usually leave booking until arrival.
Perfect for party animals and watching beautiful sunsets
Koh Phanghan is of course famous for the full-moon parties in Haad Rin where thousands of people descend onto the beach for a wild night of bucket drinking, raving and fire throwing. As well as the full-moon, there are half-moon and jungle parties too so regardless of your schedule you should be able to join in the booze fuelled fun if thats what you want. It is not all about parties on the island though and you can find some idyllic beaches, catch some amazing sunsets and there are great night markets with awesome sea food.
Perfect for marine activity and soaking up island life.
In English, Koh Tao means ‘Turtle Island’ which is apt considering the island is known for its unforgettable diving experiences. It is even named as one of the best places in the world to get your PADI certificate. If you don’t dive, snorkelling is also a great way to see the marine life. The compact island is as stunning above water as it is under. With perfect white sand beaches and a huge choice of restaurants, bars and spas, it is the perfect place to chill out and enjoy island life. Just a short boat ride away is the smaller but equally beautiful Nang Yuan where crystal clear water and some fantastic views from the view point await.
Now you have to decide, which island in Thailand is best for you?