Category Archives: Thailand Islands

Ao Nang Guide : Krabi Thailand

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Ao Nang Guide : Thailand Island Reviews

Ao Nang is the best location to stay in Krabi. Krabi is the name of the province. Within Krabi province there is also Krabi town which doesn’t have a beach. Ao Nang makes an excellent base for travelling Krabi province and nearby Thailand beaches like Railay beach. Ao Nang is the best location to stay in Krabi also as a jumping off point to go to many beautiful island destinations in Thailand such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Hong.

 

Go Thailand Island Hopping to Koh Hong from Ao Nang

Ao Nang Monkey Trail

For a good chance to see monkeys then consider a short hike along Monkey Trail Ao Nang. It is a 15 minute walk between Ao Nang beach to the Centara Grand beach, with sea views and monkeys. It is possible (and likely!) to see a family of macaques as well as dusky langurs hanging out on this monkey trail in Ao Nang. 

Ao Nang Snorkelling

Ao Nang day trips can be arranged for snorkelling and island hopping routes around Krabi.

4 Island Tour Ao Nang

 One of the more famous Ao Nang day trips is the 4 island tour which involves visiting different Krabi beaches, stops for snorkelling and lunch on an uninhabited island. Ao Nang Tip: check if your day trip includes National Park fees as these can often be the same price as the trip itself. Thailand National Park fees are set by the government and are not negotiable. 

Beautiful beaches of Krabi

Koh Hong Island Trip: Ao Nang Beaches

Koh Hong is a stunning, uninhabited island with white sand and clear, turquoise water and a stunning viewpoint of Phang na Bay. It has one of the best beaches in Thailand in the white sand beach category. Note: It gets busy with daytrippers in peak season and on weekends so try to avoid these to get this quiet Thailand beach to yourself! National Park fee is 300 baht to enter, but it is worth the money.  

Ao Nang Guide: Head to Koh Hong on a Thailand island hopping trip!

 Ao Nang Beaches

Ao Nang has two long stretches of beach which you can walk to from most Ao Nang hotels. The beaches have yellow sand and the beautiful backdrop of the limestone karsts behind them. They are not, however, as beautiful as the white sand beaches on neighbouring islands so many visitors arrange an island hopping day trip to visit these stunning Krabi beaches. 

Ao Nang to Railay Beach

Visiting Railay is one of the best things to do from Ao Nang. Railay beach is one of the best beaches in Thailand, with three beaches to choose from, wild monkeys, a cave shrine and a very impressive bat cave. To get from Ao Nang to Railay beach it is incredible easy. You can take a long tail boat, it will cost 100 baht one way or 200 baht return and you can take from the ticket office just at the bottom of the main road in Ao Nang infront of Vacation Village near the beach. Book a return ticket or you may have to wait on Railay for others to join you to return to Ao Nang as there are multiple long tail boat operators. At the time of writing, boats leave from Nopparat beach so you will be taken in a songtaew (truck) for 5 minutes down the road as part of the ticket price. 

Railay beach, one of the top beaches in Thailand

Ao Nang Hike

Ao Nang is a great base to stay at so you can experience Ao Nang hiking in nearby beautiful national parks in Krabi. There are many options including the emerald lagoon, hot spring waterfall and some fantastic viewpoints. There’s always a chance of seeing monkeys. You can organise with roadside tour operator. The tours are well organised Krabi day trips often including water and snacks/lunch. Alternatively rent scooters and travel there yourself. The emerald lagoon is about a 1 hour drive outside of Ao Nang.

Ao Nang Diving

If you are a diver then one of the great thing to do in Ao Nang is scuba diving nearby dive sites. If you are a beginner then consider getting PADI qualified and doing your Open Water course in Thailand. There are many Ao Nang dive centres. Many will offer long day trips to Koh Phi Phi for diving in the marine national park there, as well as shorter day trips to Ao Nang local islands. While the coral is not as impressive as other areas of Thailand it is still possible to see reef sharks, turtles and seahorses. 

Ao Nang Guide : Best Places to Stay in Ao Nang

There are so so many Ao Nang hotels that it can be hard to decide between them. Make sure you are staying near enough to Ao Nang beach so that everywhere is walkable and book a hotel with a rooftop swimming pool. The best place to stay in Ao Nang for mid-range accommodation is BlueSotel SMART (Agoda) or (BlueSotel SMART Booking.com) which is two minutes’ walk to the beach, has a stunning rooftop infinity pool and beautiful, clean, spacious rooms. It is also a great place to watch sunset from while having a cocktail at the rooftop pool bar. 

The best place to stay in Ao Nang for more budget friendly Krabi accommodation is Sea Seeker Hotel (Agoda) Or Sea Seeker Reviews on Booking.com. The rooms are clean, modern and all have a balcony with mountain views. The swimming pool has a bar and a slide. It is located 5 minutes walk from Ao Nang beach. Compare Ao Nang hotel prices with Agoda or with Booking website.

 

 

Ao Nang Guide to Restaurants : Where to Eat

There are various street food markets, stalls and many many restaurants in Ao Nang. It is a great place for Indian food as well as Thai cuisine. One of the best places to eat in Ao Nang is Thailandia on the main strip down to Ao Nang beach. It does the best massamam curry I’ve ever had with the added bonus of roti as well as rice. 

Getting from Ao Nang to Koh Phi Phi

Travelling to Koh Phi Phi from Ao Nang is also incredibly easy. There are many roadside tour operators who will organise a hotel pick up and ferry ticket for you. The ferry (a slower boat) is approximately 2 hours and speedboat is 1 hour journey to Koh Phi Phi. Prices vary but expect to pay around 400 baht for the slow Ao Nang to Koh Phi Phi ferry and more than double that for the Koh Phi Phi speedboat.

Krabi Airport to Ao Nang: Airport Transfer Krabi to Ao Nang

Getting from Krabi airport to Ao Nang is incredibly easy. On arrival at Krabi airport there will be a transport operator asking where you are heading. You can then share a minivan with other people arriving for 150 baht per person. It will leave once full or you have waited for other flights. The minivan will drop you at your hotel. You can arrange with the same company to collect you if or when you need to return from Ao Nang to Krabi airport. The airport is approximately 30 minutes from Ao Nang. This, of course, depends on traffic and if your minivan is stopping to drop off other visitors. 

Viewpoints of Phang na Bay from Koh Hong – Ao Nang Guide to Thailand Island Hopping

3 days in Ao Nang

3 days in Ao Nang is the perfect holiday time to go to Railay beach, go Thailand island hopping and visit Krabi national park. If you just have two days in Ao Nang then I recommend choosing either Railay, the island hopping tour or some hiking in the national park. It is possible to go here for a weekend getaway from Bangkok as it is close to Krabi airport and easy to access. 

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If you enjoyed this Ao Nang Guide then find more Thailand island guides here, click here to see what other Thailand islands you should visit

Koh Lipe Accommodation

Planning a Thailand holiday and wondering where to stay on Koh Lipe?

I have visited this island on various occasions and have tried out different Koh Lipe hotels to help you decide where to stay on Koh Lipe island.

If you are looking for a luxury hotel in Koh Lipe that is affordable then I definitely recommend Idyllic Concept where I stayed in August 2022.

showing you the prettiness of Koh Lipe beaches
White sand and clear water on Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe Accommodation: Idyllic Concept Review

Idyllic Concept is ideally located on Sunrise beach, right at the end of the beach by Koh Usan which has lovely snorkelling spots. This Koh Lipe hotel offers two swimming pools, a delicious breakfast and spacious rooms.

Quick room tour of Idyllic Resort – one of the best places to stay on Koh Lipe

Idyllic Concept Review – Rooms

All rooms offer complimentary water and tea and coffee along with a kettle and minibar.

The rooms are lovely with various unusual features as part of their interior design and have great hanging ‘nest’ chairs on the balconies. I stayed in a pool view deluxe double room and really enjoyed it.

The bathrooms are spacious, with a great waterfall shower and even a bathtub. They were cleaned every day and we were provided with shampoo, conditioner and shower gel along with other amenities.

My only feedback for the hotel would be to provide water refills rather than plastic bottles in the room to be a more eco-friendly resort. I also noticed the plugs were in strange places so there wasn’t a plug on the sideboard for the kettle so I had to plug it in near the bed or in the bathroom. These were two small comments and I would definitely stay here again in the future and recommend Idyllic Concept to friends who are looking for Koh Lipe accommodation.

Instagrammable areas of Idyllic resort Koh Lipe

Idyllic Concept Review – restaurant

I absolutely loved the breakfasts that were included during our stay at Idyllic Concept. As a vegetarian, I always love when restaurants provide loads of fresh fruit. As well as this, you could have any type of bread, pancakes, cookies, cereal, Asian cuisine or freshly made eggs of your choosing. They also provide tea and a coffee machine, freshly squeezed fruit juice and will make Thai tea or iced coffee for you.

One of the other things about breakfast at this top Koh Lipe hotel was that it started early so if you are scuba diving in Koh Lipe then you are able to eat before going diving. Breakfast started from 6.30am when I was visiting in 2022.

Koh Lipe Hotel – Staff

The staff were fantastic at the resort. Really friendly and helpful and I felt like they could be themselves. We were met at the pier and taken to the resort and given a welcome drink while we checked in.

Activities to do on Koh Lipe from Idyllic Resort

From Idyllic Concept resort you can rent snorkelling gear, kayaks and stand up paddleboards at a very cheap price. Koh Lipe is a fantastic place to view healthy coral and, in my opinion, it is the best snorkelling in Thailand. There is a wide range of marine life here that you can view snorkelling, diving or from a paddleboard or kayak – they even have clear perspex ones so you can see what is underneath!

How to book Koh Lipe Hotels?

The best way to book hotels in Thailand is to use Agoda. You can compare and book Idyllic Resort here. I use this to book all my Thailand hotels. I usually compare with booking Idyllic Resort on Booking.com to see which website is cheaper.

In summary, Idyllic Concept is one of the best places to stay on Koh Lipe and you won’t forget a trip to my favourite island in Thailand.

If you’re interested in what to do in Koh Lipe and where to eat then read this article on my Thailand travel blog for more fun Koh Lipe activities.

Looking at visiting other islands in Thailand? I have a Thailand island guide for them all.

Pin Me to Pinterest : Koh Lipe Island Guide

Koh Lipe Guide

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.

Views of Sunrise beach from Castaway Resort Koh Lipe

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:

Snorkelling

Scuba diving

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!

example of koh lipe activities
Fantastic yoga classes with Keira

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.

For luxury Koh Lipe accommodation, you can read about my experience staying at Idyllic Concept Hotel – one of the best hotels in Koh Lipe here.

My hammock outside my Koh Lipe bungalow

Koh Lipe beaches

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.

Sunset Beach Views

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. If you aren’t a scuva diver but are interested then Koh Lipe is a fantastic place to learn how to scuba dive in Thailand. You can learn with PADI or SSI. at various dive centres on Koh Lipe. 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.

Amazing diving on Koh Lipe with Adang Sea Divers

Koh Lipe Island Hopping

It is a great Koh Lipe day trip to visit the nearby island of Adang for a viewpoint and waterfalls.

Further reading about travel in Thailand

If you are looking for more beautiful islands in Thailand to visit then check out more of my Thailand travel blog

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Koh Mak Island Thailand

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a booking I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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.

The beautiful pool at By The Sea Koh Mak
The beautiful pool at By The Sea

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.

Photo of the best bar in koh mak
Sunsets from Blue Pearl Bar Koh Mak

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. If you aren’t already a scuba diver then consider learning to scuba dive in Thailand. You can learn with PADI or SSI through various dive centres on the island.

Thinking about nearby islands? Also check out my post on visiting the nearby island of Koh Kood Thailand

Looking for more scuba diving in Thailand – read this post here about the best diving in Thailand.

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Best Islands Thailand : Thailand Island Hopping & Thailand Island Travel Guide

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:

  • How to pick the best Thai island for partying?
  • Where are quiet Thailand beaches?
  • How to choose Thai islands for island hopping?
  • Where is the best snorkeling in Thailand?
  • Where is the best island in Thailand?
  • Where can I learn to scuba dive in Thailand?
  • Where is the best diving in Thailand?

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

Koh Tao Thailand Islands
Learning to dive on Koh Tao

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.

Best Thailand island for: learning to dive. Once you learn to dive, head to some of these places for the best dive sites in Thailand

Things to do on Koh Tao: get PADI certified for your Open Water dive course or advanced. Check out beautiful viewpoints and quiet beaches.

Cheapest way to get to Koh Tao: Sleeper train/night bus to Chumpon and then ferry. You can book tickets here

Fastest way to get to Koh Tao: Fly to Chumpon/Surat thani, bus to pier and take the ferry. Lomprayah have the fastest service. Alternative is to fly to Koh Samui and take a ferry from there.

Book your transport here with this useful website. The more you book the cheaper the tickets become…

How to pick Thai islands – Koh Phangan 

bottle beach 2
Bottle Beach on Koh Phangan

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.

Read more about Thailand’s quiet beaches here

Cheapest way to get to Koh Phangan Sleeper train/night bus to Chumpon and then ferry

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

Koh Samui Thailand Islands
Koh Samui during an island day tour I took to see temples, beaches, monkeys and waterfalls

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

Cheapest way to get to Koh Samui: Sleeper train/night bus to Surat thani, bus to pier and then ferry. You can buy all inclusive tickets from this website

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

koh yao noi thailand islands
Stunning Views of Phangna Bay from Koh Nok, a small island I kayaked to from 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

Cheapest way to get to Koh Yao Noi from Bangkok: Night bus to Krabi, bus from bus station to pier and then long tail boat. Book tickets on this useful website

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

Scuba diving in Koh Phi Phi with the famous Maya Bay beach behind me

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

Cheapest way to get to Koh Phi Phi from Bangkok: Night bus to Krabi, bus from bus station to pier and then ferry. Book all your tickets together here

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

Koh Lanta Thailand Islands
Lunchtime with a view!

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 Resort which 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

Cheapest way to get to Koh Lanta from Bangkok: Night bus to Krabi, bus from bus station to pier and then ferry. Tickets can be booked via this website, including ferries

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
Mango smoothies and banana pancakes breakfast on the beach! Yes please!

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.

Koh Lipe is the best Thailand island for white sand, blue water, snorkelling and scuba diving. Check out my full Koh Lipe Guide here including the best Koh Lipe hotels and the best snorkeling in Thailand

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.

showing you the prettiness of Koh Lipe beaches
White sand and clear water on Koh Lipe

Best Andaman Sea Islands Thailand – Koh Jum

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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

White sand beaches in 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

Cheapest way to get to Railay from Bangkok: Night bus to Krabi, bus from bus station to Ao Nang and then longtail boat. Book your bus tickets here now. 

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.

Read my full Ao Nang guide here including best restaurants, where to stay in Ao nang and the best island hopping tours.

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).

Cheapest way to get to Ao Nang from Bangkok: Night bus to Krabi, local songtaew from bus station to Ao Nang . Book your night bus tickets here now. 

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.

The best views from the viewpoint on Koh Hong island

Best Thai Islands: East Coast of Thailand

How to pick Thai island – Koh Chang

koh chang Thailand Islands
Lonely Beach in 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

Photo of the best bar in koh mak
Sunsets from Blue Pearl Bar Koh Mak

A lovely relaxing East islands in Thailand near Koh Chang. It’s one of the quietest islands in Thailand and it has the best pier with a bar at the end of it. The dive sites were also enjoyable. Rent a bicycle or motorbike and explore the small island. Read the full Koh Mak island Thailand guide here including where to stay on Koh Mak, how to get to Koh Mak and the best restaurants and beaches

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

Dancing along one of Koh Kood’s beautiful beaches

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:

Read here for Bangkok’s closest islands and beaches 

For more information on Thailand Island Hopping, click on the Thailand island guides below:

Koh Lipe Guide

Koh Lipe Accommodation

Ao Nang, Krabi Guide

Koh Mak Guide

Koh Kood Guide

The best quiet islands in Thailand

 

 

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