Planning a visit to Koh Lipe, Thailand? Wondering the best places to stay and activities to do there? This is my guide to Koh Lipe, written during and post the covid 19 pandemic.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a booking I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Koh Lipe Guide
Not only is Koh Lipe among the top 10 islands in Thailand but it may actually be the best island in Thailand. I have visited here several times before, both as a solo female traveller in Thailand and with friends, so I feel this Koh Lipe review is very valid and I’ve been both pre-covid and post covid while living in Bangkok. It is a tiny island and everything is within walking distance including the 3 most popular beaches. There are very few vehicles on the island which is one of my favourite things about it.
During Koh Lipe covid times, the island was closed with no ferries and tourism started picking up again from late 2021. It felt wonderful to have an amazing Thailand island trip while also supporting the local economy and small businesses on the island. Restaurants, shops and bars are starting to open up again but still some are closed – updated August 2022.
Is Koh Lipe the most beautiful island in Thailand?
Koh Lipe is definitely one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand, in my humble opinion. It has stunning, white sand beaches, turquoise crystal clear water. It is home to the best snorkelling sites in Thailand and, for most divers, the best scuba diving in Thailand.
Where is Koh Lipe Thailand?
Koh Lipe is one of the southern most islands in Thailand, near the Malaysian border and not far from Langkawi in Malaysia. This makes getting to Koh Lipe a longer journey than most islands in Thailand but you will be rewarded once you get there! Pre-covid, you could travel from Langkawi to Koh Lipe but, at the time of writing in 2022, this ferry is not available.
The Best Things to Do on Koh Lipe
Most of the best Koh Lipe activities involve the water:
The coral reefs are healthy and stunning and you can snorkel straight off the beach to see a variety of marine life. If you are interested in Koh Lipe diving then I strongly recommend checking out Koh Lipe dive sites which are among the top dive sites in Thailand. It is possible to see whale sharks and devil rays if you’re lucky. In 10 days of diving Koh Lipe, I saw frogfish, razorfish, octopuses, seahorses, nudibranchs, moray eels, cuttlefish, squid and the healthiest looking coral I’ve seen in Thailand.
Kayaking – another great way to explore the island. Please note this is not possible during low tide times to protect the reef
Stand Up Paddleboarding- I did this and also took my snorkel mask for a spot of SUP and snorkelling at the same time. The sea can be very calm which makes for great Koh Lipe paddleboarding. It is very cheap to rent a board (we rented from our Castaway accommodation) and, as with kayaking, this is not possible at low tides.
Koh Lipe Yoga – I really enjoyed yoga classes with Keira and would definitely recommend her. She was great at adapting her yoga classes to different abilities. For example, for me who has very low flexibility and for my friend who was much better than me!
When is the best time to visit Koh Lipe?
Like most islands in Thailand, Koh Lipe has rainy season and dry season.
Rainy season in Koh Lipe usually starts from May – October and this is often known as the green or low season in Koh Lipe.
However, I have visited Koh Lipe in October and in August and while there were some cloudy days we also had bright, blue sky days. As always the weather is very temperamental in Thailand. Although it may not feel like the best time to visit Koh Lipe, low season has its advantages of quiet beaches and no other divers around on some of the best dive sites in Thailand.
Is Koh Lipe crowded?
Koh Lipe is one of the best less touristy islands in Thailand. Since the covid pandemic, Koh Lipe has started to recover its tourist numbers but it is not like it was before meaning there are beautiful quiet Thailand beaches here.
How to Travel to Koh Lipe:
How to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok?
There is no Koh Lipe airport so the fastest way to get to from Bangkok to Koh Lipe is to fly to Hat Yai airport. From Hat Yai to Koh Lipe, you can get a minivan to Pakbara pier (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes) and then a speedboat from Pakbara pier to Koh Lipe (approx. 1h30 or 2 hours). There are some alternative routes although many are not up and running again after the covid 19 pandemic. This facebook group is incredibly helpful for visitors.
How to get to Koh Lipe from Krabi?
At the time of writing (August 2022) there was no ferry from Krabi to Koh Lipe. To travel from Krabi to Koh Lipe you can travel in a minivan to Pakbara pier (approx 4hours) and then a speedboat (approx 1hr30). You can book this with any tour operator along the road in Krabi or Ao Nang.
Where to stay on Koh Lipe?
Koh Lipe accommodation covers budget and mid-range options, although there are few high end luxury resorts. If you are interested in staying in Koh Lipe bungalows then I definitely can recommend Castaway Koh Lipe (Agoda) or (Castaway Koh Lipe Booking.com) where I stayed previously. They are cute, wooden, fairly basic bungalows with a fan and cold showers right on Sunrise Beach with gorgeous beach views from the Castaway restaurant. It was a great location for me as it was a short walk up Sunrise Beach to get to my dive centre.
The main beautiful beaches are Sunrise, Sunset and Pattaya beach. At different times of year these beaches can look very different and some are prone to a lot of trash washing up on them. The locals on Koh Lipe work hard to constantly clear the beaches of the litter and I found them very clean in October. This can change with the currents and tides that bring in ocean garbage. Koh Lipe is where you can find less touristy beaches in Thailand depending on the time of year. Since the pandemic, Koh Lipe still has some of the best quiet beaches in Thailand.
Koh Lipe Restaurants and Koh Lipe Nightlife
Things to do in Koh Lipe also include eating delicious Koh Lipe food. My favourite restaurants quickly became the Italian, La Luna, Bombay Indian restaurant and local Thai restaurant Madam Yoohoo. (Who does actually shout yoohoo to encourage potential customers to walk in!). Through my diving package I also got food at Bennys on the Beach included for lunch which was vegetarian and delicious!
Koh Lipe Nightlife was very limited as the island was just opening up but we enjoyed drinks at Castaway, Zodiac at the end of the beach, Akira’s cocktail happy hour, OMG sports bar and Toey’s random corner bar at the corner by the sushi restaurant (I don’t believe it has a name but Toey is an island character and has many games and puzzles to surprise his customers with!).
Diving Koh Lipe: best dive sites in Thailand
If you are a scuba diver then Koh Lipe is probably already on your bucket list as it is home to some of the best dive sites in Thailand where you can see the healthiest, most colourful coral in Thailand, alongside Thai marine life like whale sharks and devil rays along with macro life. The dive centre I did a Koh Lipe diving package with was Adang Sea Divers and they exceeded all my expectations. All the staff were fantastic from Keira and Lauren to Sunny, Aris and Joe. I spent most of my time diving with Sunny and Joe who have the BEST divemaster eyes and found so much marine life to show me! I can’t wait to dive with Adang Sea Divers again. Pear was incredibly helpful before I arrived and she helped to book my transfer and boat from Hat Yai airport and answered many of my questions before arriving on the island.
If diving please note that the national park will close some dive sites during low season to give them a chance to recover. This includes the top dive site in Thailand called Stonehenge. However, there is still a lot of diving available.
Is it better to dive in langkawi or koh lipe?
Thinking of diving in Langkawi or Koh Lipe? The dive sites in Koh Lipe make it one of the best diving islands in Thailand and I strongly recommend diving there, for the beautiful coral reefs, for the diversity of marine life and for a chance of whale sharks and devil rays.
Koh Lipe Island Hopping
It is a great Koh Lipe day trip to visit the nearby island of Adang for a viewpoint and waterfalls.
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I loved visiting the Thai island of Koh Mak. My friends and I couldn’t decide between Ko Mak or Koh Kood so we did both! We spent 4 nights on each during a week’s holiday from working in Bangkok in February 2022 so Thailand during covid times.
Is Koh Mak worth visiting?
Absolutely yes. I loved this tiny island full of beaches and chill island vibes. It has a long pier with a bar at the end, perfect for sunset and photos. Everyone was extremely friendly and it’s small enough to walk or cycle to most places, if you don’t mind a couple of hills! The only issue was the sandflies so I recommend not lying on the beach too much as they can be vicious and very itchy.
Where is Koh Mak?
Koh Mak is a tiny island near Koh Chang and Koh Kood and not far from the Cambodian border.
How to get to Koh Mak from Bangkok?
Boonsiri sell package tickets from Bangkok to Koh Mak from Khao San or Latkrabang (near Suvarnabhumi airport) which include a bus ticket to the pier Laem Ngop, ferry ticket from the pier to Koh Mak and it also includes the transfer to your hotel. The cost of getting to Koh Mak from Bangkok was 1000 baht per person. To find a cheaper ticket you can book a government bus, then pay transfer to the pier and then approx. 400-600 baht for the ferry or speedboat. From Koh Mak back to Bangkok you can also do the same deal with Boonsiri. The bus journey from Bangkok is approximately 5 hours. Buses do a stop in the middle and have a toilet onboard. They also provide food/snacks and water.
How to travel from Koh Mak to Koh Kood?
At the time of writing (February 2022) there is a daily ferry between these two islands which takes approximately 45 minutes. You can book tickets easily through your accommodation and no need to book much in advance.
Where to stay on Koh Mak?
As a tiny island, doesn’t have loads of accommodation options but I would 100% recommend where I stayed which was By the Sea Koh Maal (Agoda link) or By the Sea Koh Mak Booking.com link. Run by the friendly Silke, this Koh Mak hotel has a beautiful pool and a beach, and it was an absolute delight. I’m very obsessed with the interior design and it has a café with delicious food for breakfast, brunch or lunch. I have been recommending this place to all my friends and would definitely stay there again. In February 2022 the cost of a three person room was approximately 1500 per night making this perfect midrange accommodation. The staff were really friendly and helpful too.
What to do on Koh Mak?
Spend time at the beach, go snorkelling, rent bicycles or motorbikes and explore the island, go scuba diving, eat delicious food! There are plenty of things to do on Koh Mak for a small island.
Where to eat on Koh Mak?
Koh Mak restaurants that I love:
By the Sea Koh Mak: We loved the food at By the Sea as previously mentioned with smoothie bowls, granola and sandwiches.
Head in the Clouds: We enjoyed lunch here one day with ocean views
Thai Sabai – great Thai food on the beach
Riverside: Not actually next to a river but more of a big pond. Really delicious Thai food and also Italian food with an Italian chef!
Little Red Oven – a chain of pizzerias that are now all over Thailand, really great pizza, can get it delivered too
Food Art Hut – I had a great breakfast here with avocado and bread
Koh Mak bars: where to drink in Koh Mak
My absolute favourite place was Blue Pearl Bar at Cococape Resort. It’s a long pier so you basically are drinking in the middle of the ocean with amazing views and great Koh Mak sunsets.
Best Beaches Koh Mak
One warning about the beaches on Koh Mak – the presence of sand flies. In February when I visited they were abundant and we all got bitten. Don’t lie on the beach for too long or consider a sunbed or water leggings.
Ao Soun Yai Beach – is one of the biggest stretches of beach and has Thai Sabai restaurant on it. I found this to be the best snorkelling with a reef just in front of Thai Sabai where I saw a lot of tropical fish, some healthy coral and a few string rays!
Koh Kham Beach – This is an island you can see from Ao Soun Yai beach. You can take a little boat to it and it has gorgeous white sand.
Ao Kao Beach Koh Kood – this is the beach in front of By the Sea and Head in the Clouds. It’s decent but I didn’t find any good snorkelling there.
Scuba Diving Koh Mak Island
I did two dives while I stayed there and both dives were in the marine national park nearby. The coral reef was healthy looking and I really enjoyed my dives even though the visibility was not great. I dived with Koh Mak divers who were great at communicating and I ended up with a private divemaster as the boat wasn’t busy.
Thinking about nearby islands? Also check out my post on visiting the nearby island of Koh Kood Thailand
Please note: this Thailand island hopping blog has been updated since the global pandemic.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you make a booking, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
So how many islands does Thailand have? Nobody seems to know for sure but it’s safe to say that Thailand has hundreds of islands you can stay on and visit, and even more uninhabited desert Thailand islands to explore. If you’re planning a Thailand vacation then it is likely you will be also planning a Thailand island trip.
With so many island destinations, it can be difficult to choose which island to visit in Thailand. Visitors should consider the following questions when planning a Thailand itinerary to make the best decision for how to pick a Thai island:
Once you have decided on a Thai island there are many island hopping tours that you can book as a day trip from every island. Alternatively, spend a few days on each island and create your own Thailand island hopping itinerary. Please note some ferry schedules may be reduced as a result of the covid pandemic.
Here is a summary of all the ones I’ve been to so far and some brief information to help you decide how to choose a Thai sland to check out first including must-do activities and how to get to each Thai island. Read more about how to travel around Thailand on this post.
Thailand Island Hopping : Your Thailand Island Trip
For planning your Thailand island trip, consider where the islands in Thailand are. There are three main groups: The Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman and the Eastern islands.
For Andaman island hopping, consider islands like Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Krabi, Ao Nang and Railay for the best islands in Thailand.
For the Gulf of Thailand, you may be planning an island hopping Thailand itinerary that includes Koh Tao, Koh Phangan or Koh Samui. Island hopping from Samui is popular as it is one of the few islands that has an airport.
For a Thailand island itinerary in the Eastern area near Cambodia, you could consider islands like Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kood also spelt as Koh Kut.
As many visitors will also be planning a Thailand beach itinerary I have included beach areas on the mainland such as Krabi (Ao nang and Railay beach).
Best Islands in Thailand to Visit – The Gulf of Thailand
How to choose a Thai island – Koh Tao, Thailand
A backpacker island in the Gulf of Thailand. It has beautiful beaches and an obvious party scene but mostly it is known for cheap diving courses, and is often advertised as one of the cheapest places in the world to learn to scuba dive. I took my PADI Open Water Qualification here and many others choose to get scuba qualified in Thailand as it’s so cheap. Your Open Water diving certificate can start from around 9000 baht. Try and get your accommodation thrown in too. If you turn up at the pier, you can often negotiate prices with the dive shops.
Unfortunately Koh Tao is not without its problems and I suggest being careful here, not to get too drunk and never to cause problems with locals, such as getting into fights etc.
Home to the infamous Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan is one of the best party islands in Thailand. Even if you are visiting Koh Phangan island not during a full moon party, then there are other party events happening. If you’re interested in party islands and attending the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, then read my Full Moon Party blog post – I should know, I’ve been to 5 full moon parties in Koh Phangan.
Koh Phangan is not just a Thailand party island, it’s actually one of my favourite islands in Thailand. The North of Koh Phangan is tranquil, green and has some of the best quiet beaches in Thailand including Bottle Beach in Koh Phangan.
Scuba diving in Koh Phangan can be great although visibility is unpredictable. Sail Rock Koh Tao is one of Koh Phangan’s famous dive sites (actually found between Koh Tao and Koh Phangan) and whale sharks can be spotted here fairly regularly so I hope you’re feeling lucky (I haven’t been lucky…yet!). I love staying in the best accommodation in these cute Koh Phangan bungalows, right on a lovely stretch of beach. Check out Seaboard Bungalow’s reasonable rates here. The restaurant here did great food and there were more food options further down the beach too.
A budget Koh Phangan accommodation was these basic bungalows that also had a pool but not as a nice a beach was Lucky Resort. Compare their room rates here. The restaurant had great views of the ocean for sunsets too.
Best Thailand island for partying: Dancing until sunrise. Even if you miss Full Moon there are Half Moon Parties, Jungle Parties, Waterfall parties…Read my post here for more Full Moon Party advice
Best things to do on Koh Phangan: Party and the chill out on Bottle Beach (one of my favourites), party or go scuba diving.
Fastest way to get to Koh Phangan: Fly to Chumpon /Surat thani/Koh Samui and take the ferry. Lomprayah have the fastest service.
How to Choose Thai islands: Koh Samui
Boasting one of coolest airports I’ve ever been to, Samui caters to holiday makers on a large scale. It is the only island in the Gulf of Thailand to have an airport.
In all honesty, Koh Samui is probably my least favourite island as a result of this, it can get very crowded over peak season (December – when I went!) and I don’t think it is as idyllic looking as Koh Tao or Koh Phangan. That said, if you are on limited time it is one of only two island that you can fly direct from Bangkok to Koh Samui (the other being Phuket).
I stayed in the luxury Koh Samui accommodation at Lamai Wanta Beach Resort (courtesy of my generous aunt who took my sister and I there).
For a budget Koh Samui accommodation, stay in these Koh Samui bungalows: New Hut Bungalows and recommended them to me. They look like a great photo opportunity too!
Why are flight so expensive from Bangkok to Koh Samui?
The airport in Koh Samui is owned by Bangkok Airways so the flights will always be expensive compared to Thailand’s budget airlines. However, the airport looks like the garden of a 5 star hotel and is worth seeing. Occasionally cheap flights with Thai Smile can be found.
Best Thailand Island for families: luxury resorts, families and couples
Best things to do on Koh Samui: an all round island tour including temples and waterfall visits
Fastest way to get to Koh Samui: Fly direct from Bangkok
Koh Phangan vs Koh Tao
I would personally go for Koh Phangan because of the nature, the option to party or stay in a quiet Koh Phangan beach and it’s a bigger island so more to explore.
Best Andaman Sea Islands Thailand – Andaman Island Hopping Itinerary
There are many Thailand island hopping routes in this area and if flying from Bangkok you have the option of flying domestic to Phuket or to Krabi.
How to choose a Thai island – Phuket
Phuket is one of Thailand’s largest islands and is attached to the mainland by bridge. It has an international airport which can lead to extremely busy beaches and very high prices for taxis, which is why it has a bit of a bad reputation among those of us who live in Thailand. However, I don’t feel this is totally deserved and as it is such a huge island there are many less popular places to explore. The busiest area seems to be Patong beach which I avoid unless I am looking for a party island in Thailand. I’ve mainly spent time in the South at Kata and Karon beaches for surfing during rainy season (June-October). I loved staying at this budget hostel, accommodation in Kata and Karon beach. It was about 4 minute walk to the surfing beach, was good value and they had really nice facilities.
Island hopping from Phuket is very easy as it is well set up for tourists and has many ferry connections even post covid.
Last time I visited Kata Phuket I stayed at this lovely accommodation right between Kata and Karon beach. I would definitely recommend and I would stay there again. It had a gorgeous rooftop pool and was really conveniently located. Click on the image to check the cost of Phuket accommodation here:
Best Things to do in Phuket: some of the best surfing in Thailand is in Phuket (and top surfing spots on Khao Lak as well). If you are looking for beginner waves in Thailand, then you can hire a surf instructor and you get the board included for the rest of the day (the best season in Thailand for surfing is during rainy season from July-September)
The cheapest way to get to Phuket from Bangkok:Take a night bus to Phuket Town, then songtaew (local trucks) to the beach of your choice. You may need to take two, one from the bus station and then another from Phuket town to the beach. Approx cost of transport in Phuket: songtaew 20 baht.
Fastest way to get to Phuket from Bangkok: Fly to Phuket from Bangkok or international airports and take the local bus further south.
Best Andaman Sea Islands Thailand – Koh Yao Noi
This island has really chilled out vibes and zero party scene. Koh Yao Noi is one of the quietest islands in Thailand. It felt like off the beaten track Thailand but still has hotels and restaurants around.
The beaches are fairly thin strips of sand so there’s not all that much room for sunbathing. Swimming with the backdrop of Phangna Bay behind you felt pretty awesome though. I rented bicycles and cycled around the island – which has a couple of hills so be prepared! (or get off and walk like someone may have done…). This is a great place to rent kayaks from as well and I discovered the small empty island of Koh Nok which this amazing viewpoint. I loved the Koh Yao Noi accommodation that I stayed at, Sabai Corner Bungalows, it had tall wooden bungalows set back into the mountain with great views of the bay. It was also very affordable and the owners were helpful with renting kayaks and bicycles. It also had lots of cats!
For a luxury stay on Koh Yao Noi – stay at Six Senses. We went there for some cocktails and it’s a gorgeous luxury Thailand resort.
Best Thailand Island for a hidden gem in Thailand : non-touristy islands in Thailand
Best things to do in Koh Yao Noi: Kayak around Phangna Bay, stop on unihabited paradise islands and find secret viewpoints in Thailand
Fastest way to get to Koh Yao Noi from Bangkok: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, speedboat to island.
Best Andaman Sea Islands Thailand – Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is the type of island that the first time I went there, I hated it. Lots of young backpackers falling drunk out of bars and overpacked long tail boats pouring into Maya Bay to see the beach from Dicaprio’s ‘The Beach’ movie. Even post covid pandemic, this is one of the best partying islands in Thailand.
That said, I really enjoyed my last visit to Koh Phi Phi in 2022 because I spent most of my time on a boat scuba diving some of the best dive spots in Thailand.
Now I’ve returned there a 2nd, 3rd and 4th time, I have to admit that Phi Phi is growing on me. I’ve accepted it for what it is : a party island and a great place to meet backpackers. Try taking a snorkelling trip to a few of the less crowded islands and definitely watch some of the fire shows. I personally feel they are the best fire shows in Thailand.
The diving around the marine park is generally of a very good standard for Thailand. I was lucky enough to see a turtle, black tip reef shark and a leopard shark all in one day. I also love that you can walk everywhere and it’s a Thailand island with no cars, definitely a bonus if you’re living in Bangkok and sick of traffic jams.
Best Thailand island for partying and best Thailand islands for scuba diving: parties and beautiful beaches combined with a beautiful marine national park for scuba diving
Top things to do in Koh Phi Phi: An island hopping trip to nearby islands, the famous Maya Bay from ‘The Beach’, scuba diving around Koh Phi Phi Ley and the wreck dive
Fastest way to get to Koh Phi Phi from Bangkok: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, ferry to island
Scuba Diving Tips Thailand: Dive with Blue View Divers. I had a great time with them, they’ve got a big dive boat and I loved diving with Jaa, a female Thai divemaster.
Best Andaman Sea Islands – Koh Lanta
Serene and stunning, this is one of the quietest islands in Thailand and probably the best beach in Thailand. Kantiang beach in the South is huge, wide and empty when I was there in April. There isn’t much of a party scene and not so many backpackers here. The snorkelling and island hopping trip was definitely a highlight for me as it took you to Koh Kradan, a stunning white beach uninhabited island. I went with my parents and we stayed at Alama Sea Village Resortwhich was incredible. It has a great view (so a short walk uphill), an infinity pool and monkeys who come and visit your balcony. Click the Agoda link to see how much Koh Lanta accommodation costs:
Best Quiet Island in Thailand: best island for relaxing, couples, families
Best Things to do in Koh Lanta: The 4 Island Hopping Trip, hanging out on the best beach in Thailand , Kantiang Beach
Fastest way to get to Koh Lanta from Bangkok: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, ferry to island
Best Andaman Sea Islands Thailand – Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is paradise and is home to white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, beautiful coral reefs and less tourists than many others. It also had some of the best sunsets I’ve seen in Thailand, the coral reefs are extremely colourful for snorkelling and it is the best diving in Thailand. It’s close to Malaysia so can fill up if there are Thai and Malaysian coinciding holidays. I suggest you book in advance if this could be the case.
Best Thailand Island for scuba diving: Koh Lipe dive sites are the best dive sites in Thailand.
Best Things to do on Koh Lipe: Walk around the corner from the main beach to Sunset beach for some of the most impressive sunsets in Thailand
Cheapest way to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok: Night bus to Hat Yai, minivan to pier, 2 hour speedboat
Fastest way to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok: Fly to Hat Yai, minivan to pier, 2 hour speedboat
This island can take a long time to get to. I think it’s definitely worth it but don’t try if you’re on limited time.
Best Andaman Sea Islands Thailand – Koh Jum
A complete hidden gem in Thailand, Koh Jum is a lesser known island to both tourists and Thais, this is a rocky, wild island which still feels fairly untouched. However, this is not always a good thing as it was extremely expensive to get to from Koh Phi Phi and once on the island it was difficult to get around. My sister and I stayed at the gorgeous Onlee bungalows with amazing food as the couple who run it are Thai-French. The stargazing was also incredible and so clear as there is not much light pollution nearby. I recommend settling into a resort as there are limited ways to visit other restaurants and if you want to hire a ‘taxi’ it won’t be at a cheap price.
Best Thailand Island: that people have never heard of
Best things to do on Koh Jum: Star gazing, eating, relaxing at a beautiful resort
Cheapest way to get to Koh Jum from Bangkok: Night bus to Krabi, bus from bus station to pier and then ferry
Fastest way to get to Koh Jum from Bangkok: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, ferry to island
Best Thailand beaches in the Andaman – Railay
I’m including Railay in this island section as it is only accessible by boat and therefore many people think Railay is a Thailand island. Lots of snorkelling day trips stop off here so it can get crowded during peak season (Nov-Dec) but you can jump on boats from Krabi to get here at any point during the day. Limited options at night where the boats can charge a much higher price. Watch dusky langur monkeys climb in nearby trees, hike to the top for a sweaty but great view and visit the Buddhist shrine to the penis. This is one of the best beaches in Thailand for outdoor adventures like rock-climbing and hikes to viewpoints.
Best things to do on Railay: slip and slide your way up the viewpoint for a pretty view of both beaches, go into the huge bat cave and experience rock climbing and abseiling
Thailand Island Hopping Tip: Many boats arrive on the not so nice beach area so walk through the jungle pathway to reach the prettier beach
Fastest way to get to Railay from Bangkok: Fly to Krabi, bus from Krabi airport to Ao Nang, then a long tail boat for 10 minutes from Aonang to Railay.
Best Andaman Sea Destinations: Ao Nang
Aonang Krabi is also not an island but it’s the easiest beach destination to get to in Krabi. Ao Nang has two long, wide stretches of yellow sand beaches where a lot of long tail boats depart from, making for some pretty photos. It has a lot of choices of accommodation and restaurants and is a good jump off point to go island hopping to the nearby beach of Railay, and National Park island hopping to nearby uninhabited islands like Koh Poda, Koh Hong and many more.
Best Beach Destination for a weekend getaway from Bangkok: for having as a base to explore Railay, the national parks and to scuba dive the local Aonang islands
Best things to do in Ao Nang: sign up for some rock climbing nearby at Railay, go into the impressive bat cave, explore national parks and the emerald lagoon, go scuba diving
Thailand Island Hopping Tip: Wait for the boat to fill up and take a 20 minute long tail boat to Railay when it’s quieter. At night time only private long tail boats run which are more expensive. A shared boat is 200 baht return (at the time of writing in 2022).
Fastest way to get to Ao Nang from Bangkok: Fly to Krabi, minivan from the airport to Ao Nang (approx 150 baht), no need to book the minivan in advance and they will drop you at your hotel. You will see the minivan tour operator as you exit the airport in the terminal.
Best Thai Islands: East Coast of Thailand
How to pick Thai island – Koh Chang
Koh Chang has a really chilled back vibe to it, a small party backpacker crowd and some decent diving. This is one of the first islands I travelled to alone and I immediately met backpackers as it has a more intimate feel to it than other islands like Koh Tao or Koh Phi Phi. Lonely Beach is the main backpacker area and White Sand beach is a little more upmarket. I have stayed at a few places but none to rave about. There is also one creepy bartender who has followed a few solo females home so be aware and try to always walk in groups or with someone late at night.
Best Thailand Island for: daytime chilling
Things to do on Koh Chang: enjoy the backpacking party scene
Cheapest way to get to Koh Chang from Bangkok: Big bus or minivan from Ekkamai, Bangkok, songtaew (truck) to the pier then ferry- often a car ferry. You can book your tickets here
Fastest way to get to Koh Chang from Bangkok: Fly to Trat then ferry
How to pick a Thai island – East Coast of Thailand – Koh Mak
Best Thailand Island for: relaxing with a spot of scuba diving
Best things to do on Koh Mak: hang out at the bar at the end of the pier, cycle around the island, go scuba diving
Cheapest way to get to Koh Mak from Bangkok: Big bus or minivan from Ekkamai, Bangkok, songtaew (truck) to the pier then ferry. You can book your tickets here
Fastest way to get to Koh Mak from Bangkok: Fly to Trat, then transfer to the pier, then ferry
How to pick a Thai island – East Coast of Thailand – Koh Kood or Koh Kut
Another contender for the best quiet islands in Thailand, Koh Kood has gorgeous white sand beaches, lovely range of accommodation and some great restaurants. Read here for a full review of Koh kood Thailand island guide here. Stay at these gorgeous bungalows a short walk or even shorter motorbike drive to the closest beaches. Click on the bungalow to compare Koh Kood hotel accommodation prices on Agoda
Best East Coast of Thailand Island for: relaxing with a spot of scuba diving
Best things to do on Koh Kood: exploring by motorbike, visiting different beautiful beaches, going to a waterfall
Cheapest way to get to Koh Kood from Bangkok: Big bus or minivan from Ekkamai, Bangkok, songtaew (truck) to the pier then ferry. You can book your tickets here
Fastest way to get to Koh Kood from Bangkok: Fly to Trat then transfer then ferry.
Best luxury resort in Koh Kood is Soneva who fly their guests into Koh Kood itself, click on the image below to check out Soneva Kiri on Agoda:
If you love adventure, the outdoors, hiking and wildlife then consider heading to the best National Parks in Thailand. For me these are Thailand’s best kept secrets as you can get off the tourist trail, stay away from the crowds and discover nature and wildlife in Thailand’s national parks. This is, by no means, a full list of National Parks in Thailand but the most impressive ones I have been to so far and would definitely recommend visiting. Read on for the best National Parks in Thailand for waterfalls, swimming, beauty, nature and wildlife.
Best National Park for getting to from Bangkok: Sai Yok National Park
Out of all the national parks in Thailand that I have been to lately, this is the most recent. You can go to Sai Yok waterfalls as part of a day trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi which also includes a museum visit, visit to the town of Kanchanaburi and a world war cemetery. You can also organise your own transport to Kanchanaburi. The park is around 2 hours from Kanchanaburi town. It has an impressive waterfall, which was crowded when I was there as I visited on a public holiday but I believe it would generally be a quiet non-touristy area to visit in Thailand. For more quiet areas around Thailand, check out these off the beaten track beaches in Thailand. You can even stay overnight on floating bungalows in Sai Yok National Park.
How to get to Sai Yok National Park from Bangkok: I recommend a day trip from Bangkok. You can book with tour operators around Khao San Road. I recommend comparing prices to get the best deal.
Sai Yok National Park entrance fee: free but subject to change depending on the government
Best National Park for views: Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Found about 3-4 hours South of Bangkok in Prachuap Kiri Khan province, this stunning national park is home to 300 birds and the amazing Khao Sam Roi Yot mountains, meaning 300 peaks. For me, it is one of the best national parks in Thailand because it is a lesser known area and therefore not crowded and I didn’t see any other tourists on the hike and only a handful inside the huge Praya Nakhon cave. It’s an excellent place to rent a motorcycle for the first time in Thailand as the area is flat, quiet and it won’t be so easy to get around unless you have your own transport. I stayed at the small, cute and fairly cheap Namaste Resort, the owner June was very helpful with renting motorbikes and booking onward travel. There are quite a few different activities to do in this national park, from hiking to view points, visiting deserted beaches, to going to see the secret cave which was a definite highlight for me.
Best National Park in undiscovered Thailand: Khao Sam Roi Yot
Praya Nakhon cave is one of the most famous areas inside the national park. Inside it has a small but striking blue shrine (which looks like a temple) inside an enormous cave. The hole in the roof of the cave allows the light to filter down where trees and plants are now growing. To get here you can hike about 30 minutes to the beach, and then another 30 minutes after that or take a boat around to the beach if you want to limit your hiking time. The views from the hike are definitely worth it as it goes all the way round the coastline, as you can see from the photo above. I think this is one of Thailand’s hidden gems and if you have time to spare I definitely recommend visiting this national park.
Sam Phraya beach is found just inside the national park. While not a beach for swimming, it’s worth a photo stop of the colourful fishing boats and to marvel at just how far the tide goes out – it seemed like it was on the horizon!
Best Viewpoint in Thailand
Khao Daeng Viewpoint has been one of my favourite viewpoints in Thailand so far. It’s about a 30 minute hike up a fairly steep slope with rocks around, so I don’t recommend doing it in flipflops. The trail is only officially open from 8-3.30pm but some visitors risk it for a sunrise/sunset view which I am not sure I recommend but if you do decide to hike outside these hours then bring a flashlight for safety. I hiked during the afternoon and had these impressive views of both the mountains and the ocean.
Getting to Khao Sam Roi Yot from Bangkok: Take a minivan from the Southern Bus terminal in Bangkok to Pranburi and then motorcycle taxi into Khao Sam Roi Yot.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park Entrance Fee: 200 baht for foreigners
Best National Park for elephants: Khao Yai National Park
This is one of my favourite areas of jungle to visit. Visit the various waterfalls, do the visitor trail near the visitor office, keep your eyes peeled and ears open to see macaque monkeys, gibbons and there is a high chance of elephants, particularly in rainy season (June-Oct). Most people in Thailand agree that this is the best place to see wild elephants in Thailand. Remember wild elephants are extremely territorial and dangerous so do not get too close! They are best to see from the road side or from the look-out point near the lake. It’s a great place to stop and chill for lunch too!
Getting to Khao Yai National Park: You can take a minivan about two hours from Bangkok from Ekkamai bus station to Pak Chong. I recommend Greenleaf Tours if you would like an incredible guide to find you lots of wildlife and help you spot elephants. If you are confident on scooters then rent a motorcycle in Pak Chong and head into Khao Yai itself for independent travel. I recommend taking a map from the visitor office as this shows the routes to the waterfalls (no swimming allowed due to the wildlife) and camping grounds. If you enjoy camping this is my favourite place to camp in Thailand as we saw fireflies and porcupines while camping here. You can rent tents from the campsite, basic toilets and showers are provided but make sure to bring your own food.
Khao Yai National Park Entrance Fee: 400 baht for foreigners
Camping in Khao Yai National Park: For the adventurous, ask the visitor office about camping. For around 250 baht you can rent a tent at one of a couple of camp sites and stay the night. Bring your own food and drink as there are no shops available in the park. The entrance fee is expensive so I recommend staying inside the park to make the most of your money.
Tours of Khao Yai National Park: Alternatively take a guided tour with Greenleaf tours, they will collect you from Pak Chong and take you into the park in songtaew trucks. Tour includes trekking, guide, lunch and transport and lasts the whole day!
Best National Park in Thailand for floating bungalows: Khao Sok National Park
Another area of astounding beauty, this park is about two hours north of Krabi. From your accommodation you can arrange trekking, wildlife spotting with a guide and an overnight stay on the beautiful floating bungalows on the lake, which is definitely worth it. You can rent kayaks and kayak around Chaew Lam Lake trying to spot monkeys, gibbons and even the odd elephant! (or so I’m told!). We saw fish eagles, dusky langur monkeys and gibbons on one of our boat trips around. If you want to visit I recommend arranging transport from Krabi and try booking into a treehouse! I usually use Agoda for hotel bookings in Thailand and compare with booking.com for the best rates.
Floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park: arrange an overnight stay through your accommodation inside the park or from Krabi
Best National Park for mountain views: Doi Ithanon National Park
These mountains contain the highest peak in Thailand and they are the start of the foothills of the Himalayas. You can join a Doi Ithanon day tour from Chiang Mai which also includes waterfalls and a lunch stop. Book through a tour operator in Chiang Mai.
On a clear day you can see fairly far into the mountain ranges and the unusual temple pagodas are worth a look, like something out of Star Wars. The gardens are also stunning with so many different kinds of flowers and a riot of colour.
Best National Park with a deserted beach: Khao Lak National Park
Best National Park for Thailand’s best waterfall: Erawan National Park
I’ve written about this place before but it is definitely worth a visit to see the impressive Erawan waterfalls – one of the best waterfalls in Thailand. You can spend the day hiking in the jungle and swimming in gorgeous blue pools of fresh cool water. The colours of the water appear bluer the higher you climb so be prepared to head up to the top most step, the 9th one. Bring your own food and water as there is little on offer here You will also find it quieter the higher up you go as the lower and closest steps are often full of local children playing! It’s about 45 minutes drive from Kanchanaburi town.
Erawan National Park entrance fee: 200-300 baht
Erawan National Park tour: book a day trip from Bangkok, many tour operators on Khao San road can offer this which also includes some history and museums in Kanchanaburi town first.
Don’t Forget to Take:
Insect Spray – National Parks in Thailand can be full of mosquitoes so make sure you take insect repellent with you. I recommend 50% DEET if you are prone to being bitten. Try this Repel DEET Pump Spray from Amazon
A practical bag – I’ve spent many a time faffing about with the wrong bag, it’s size or style and I’ve finally found that dry bags are the best way forward for any destinations in Thailand that will involve water or sand! Buy yours in all sorts of great colours from Amazon here: Water Proof Dry Bag
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Here are 12 reasons why you should never visit this awful country! The first time I visited Thailand was 4 years ago and after all these terrible activities I’m still unsure why I moved back to Thailand 3 years ago. Please avoid visiting Thailand because you may just get addicted…
You will mostly likely get sunburnt while snorkelling the clear waters off of paradise islands
6. You’ll get so used to cockroaches in Thailand you won’t feel bothered by them any more… (just me?!). The big ones that run at your feet and the small ones hanging out by your toothbrush in the (slightly) dirty hostel, you are officially a real backpacker now. For wild animals you actually want to see, check out this post
7. In rainy season you’ll stroll through puddles the height of your knees trying not to think about what might be floating around in there
11. You will get seasick on a boat and possibly think you are about to die, probably on the way to Maya Bay ” The Beach” beach where there never seem to be enough life jackets for everyone… #youcanswimthoughright
For when you do decide to travel Thailand, consider these items to help deal with the above issues:
I’m a recent convert to the humble backpack as you can always fit in a bottle of water comfortably (that just never happens with my handbags!) I love this turquoise Everest Backpack from Amazon
2. Alternatively, if you might be here in rainy season (May-October) then I recommend a dry bag as you will definitely get caught in a thunderstorm at some point! I love these dry bags Dry Bag (5L) from Amazon
3. Mosquito spray is definitely one thing I recommend buying at home before you arrive in Thailand as I have never been able to buy stronger than 15% DEET here. Try this Repel 40% DEET Pump SprayRepel Insect Repellent 40-Percent DEET from Amazon