Category Archives: Thailand Tips!

Full Moon Party Koh Phangan – Thailand

Where is the Full Moon party?

While many Thai islands claim to have a Full Moon party, the original Full Moon party location is on Haad Rin beach in Koh Phangan. Koh Phangan is one of my favourite Thai islands and not only because it is home to the famous or infamous Full Moon beach party. The North of Koh Phangan has a wild and rugged beauty and you can stay in both budget, mid-range or luxury accommodation on this island.

When is the Full Moon Party in Thailand?

Once a month during the Full Moon. For details for the Full Moon party 2019 and 2020, see this website for updated Full Moon dates and schedule http://www.fullmoonparty-thailand.com/schedules.html. The Full Moon is not the only party that Koh Phangan has to offer so if your holiday dates do not coincide you can consider joining a Black Moon, Half Moon, Waterfall party and many more party options.

The best places to stay for the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan

I have now been to 6 Full Moon parties and stayed in various budget to luxury accommodation in Koh Phangan. It’s possible to stay on Koh Samui and take a boat to Haad Rin for the Full Moon party but personally I love Koh Phangan more than Koh Samui so I’d rather stay on the party island!

Where to stay for the Full Moon on a budget

The cheap hotels in Koh Phangan tend to be in the North of the island, approximately 40 minutes drive to Haad Rin beach, where the Full Moon Party is held. If you want to be away from the action and in a quieter area, I definitely recommend staying somewhere like SeaBoard bungalows, where I stayed with friends on a previous trip. It’s cheap, the bungalows are spacious and beach is lovely and inviting. Unfortunately there is no swimming pool but we spent all our time in the sea anyway! Check out Agoda for more prices and availability.

Lucky Resort – click for prices

My sister and I stayed here a while back. It has incredibly cheap, basic bungalows (approximately 300 baht/9USD/8GBP) for two people, a pool and a small rocky beach. I definitely recommend this budget accommodation for the party if you are a backpacker but want somewhere as cheap as a hostel but your own room! It’s in the North so factor in a 200 baht songtaew (Thai style truck with two rows of seats) ride to and from the party.

Where to stay for the Full Moon Party – mid-range to luxury hotel on Koh Phangan

My new favourite accommodation on Koh Phangan is the amazing Divine Comedie. Located 20 minutes from Haad Rin by song taew (Thai truck), you are able to walk to the Challenge Koh Phangan, Infinity Hostel for a pool party and drinks and is a short 10 minute ride from the main jetty – Thong Sala pier.
This boutique hotel has unique designs inside, a rooftop hammock, pool with views of Koh Samui, a bar inside the pool, amazing food, a long beach outside (not ideal for swimming though as it is like a small lagoon area with lots of sea urchins!). Click here for more reviews, pictures and prices
Views from the hotel
This place has all the views

How much does the Full Moon Party cost?

Be wary of Full Moon Party ticket scams. I have seen many websites advertising Full Moon Party tickets costing 1000+ baht! This is just not true. The Full Moon party in recent years has started charging 100 baht for a ticket and will give you a band upon entrance. Drinks are mainly in buckets and cost around 150-300 baht depending on your alcohol of choice. There are food stands along the beach and down the roads to help you pace yourself with your partying!

What to expect at the party?

Up to 30,000 people partying on a beach, fire shows – dancers and fire jumping ropes, a lot of dirty backpackers, neon paint everywhere, drunk people everyone, people having sex in the sea, people pissing in the sea, alcohol and food stands, dancing from 10pm-6am, roped off sleep areas for those who can’t quite make it until sunrise, a giant slide from the top of one of the bars, magic mushroom mountain at the end of the beach, a range of music from different stands along the beach and a night you may or may not remember!

What to wear to the Full Moon Party?

Most party-goers believe less is more at the party and I can’t say I disagree. I love painting and being painted in neon paint because you don’t get many opportunities to behave like an idiot in other areas of life. Last Full Moon I attended, I aimed for a sea theme…check out my drunkenly painted whale shark? I usually wear closed shoes because my friend stood on glass once during the party and almost ended up with blood poisoning! Many party-goers do go barefoot but it’s a personal choice of whether to risk it or not! Looking for more advice on what to wear and what to bring to Thailand – read this post.
Body painting at full moon party
Drunken shenanigans and marine life art…

Should I take my phone to the Full Moon Party?

I know what I am like and therefore I always leave mine at home and cheekily rely on others for photos.

Staying safe at the Full Moon party

Keep your valuables in a locked safe in your accommodation. It’s a night that thieves know everyone is out so hotels/hostels are more likely to get broken into.
Check the seal on all spirit bottles before the bartender opens the bottle to make sure it is legit alcohol and not a backyard brew!
No sex or any other shenanigans in the sea… people are pissing right next to you and I don’t even wanna contemplate what STIs you could catch from that!
Don’t swim in the sea if it’s rough. There was a very sad incident in which a tourist drowned in recent years so please avoid the sea if there are big waves.
My friends and I always arrange a meeting place when we arrive in Haad Rin as it’s very easy to become separated.
Full Moon party has always been linked with taking drugs. I’m more a fan of the Thai rum!
Do not ride scooters drunk and be aware other people will be drunk driving so I would never personally get on a scooter on Full Moon party night. There are always many accidents, including fatalities.

Do I have to stay a minimum of 4 days for accommodation booking?

Absolutely not. This is one of the hostel/hotel scams where they try to insist tourists stay and pay for a minimum of 4 nights. I have been many times to the Full Moon party staying in Koh Phangan on my weekends off from working in Bangkok so I can assure you this is not true. Most places in Haad Rin will try and insist on this. I know that Fellini Home does not insist on staying a minimum number of nights and it is possible to book in for one night. Therefore I think this is one of the best hostels to stay at for the Full Moon party – check out dates and availability here. Any accommodation outside of Haad Rin should not insist on this so make sure you are not being taken advantage of if you do not have the time to stay longer!

How to get to the Full Moon Party from Koh Phangan?

To travel to Haad Rin from other areas of Koh Phangan, your hostel or hotel can arrange a group songtaew (truck). It will cost between 100-200 baht one way depending on where on the island you are staying. For returning after the party, songtaews will wait until they are full before setting off so patience is often needed as you wait for party-goers to join.

How to get to the Full Moon Party and Koh Phangan from Bangkok?

To get to Koh Phangan from Bangkok I recommend flying to Surathani, bus and then the ferry. Alternatively take a night bus and then the ferry which can get you on the earliest boat and arriving by approximately 10am. You can book tickets for the faster Lomprayah bus + catamaran here, and on this travel Thailand website and alternatively you can use this Thai website. Bear in mind buses booked on the last website depart from different places in Bangkok as these are not tourist-only buses. Do not expect buses or ferries to arrive exactly on time – This is Thailand!
Koh Phangan also boasts the dive site of Sail Rock – check out here for more information about diving in Thailand
Koh Phangan is one of the best islands in Thailand for parties and for nature and beaches. Read my reviews of other Thai islands to help you decide where to go and where to visit- here.
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Full Moon Party - Guide and TipsFull Moon Party - Guide and Tips Advice
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Travelling Thailand: Your Health

Many travellers and backpackers can be concerned about their health when travelling to Thailand.  Having lived here for 3 and a half years I thought I would pass on some of my knowledge. Here is an assortment of health advice, travel tips and things to be careful about in Thailand.

Mosquitos in Thailand

Generally speaking Thailand is not a malaria area and there are risks only around the borders of Thailand with other countries. Most people do not need to take malaria tablets when visiting. However, dengue fever has been on the rise in recent years so I recommend covering up in the evening and using a strong DEET repellent. Buy before you travel here as it is hard to find strong DEET. I recommend this 50% one from Amazon.

Eating Street Food in Thailand

Street food is one of Thailand’s pleasures and I have never been sick from eating street food. It is cooked hot and fresh right in front of you. There are some stalls where cooked food sits around for a hours and I would definitely avoid these places, particularly if eating meat. If you get a bad stomach in Thailand, before reaching for the Immodium, I recommend trying charcoal pills from 7/11. They are not as strong and I find work much more effectively. I think it feels more natural and is less likely to bung you up for 3 days and then you continue to have the same problem later on. This is what the packet looks like and you can usually find them near the till in any 7/11. If you contract diarrhea in Thailand you will most likely become very dehydrated so I always use electrolytes from 7/11 and I swear by coconut water too. (Also useful for hangovers from buckets…see below!)

Having Ice in your Drinks in Thailand

I never had an issue for this, until it came to drinking 50 baht mojitos in Phuket…and then I was pretty ill for a week afterwards. Lesson learnt: if the alcohol is unreasonably cheap, so is the ice! Avoid things like this in Phuket. That said, I have been sick once from ice in 3 years here so I don’t think it is something to go fretting over.

Drinking Buckets in Thailand

From Khaosan Road to the Islands you will always find a cheap bucket of alcohol to drink. While some people might recommend avoiding drinking buckets in Thailand, if you want to lesson the hangover, stick with a spirit and a mixer in the bucket rather than any of the mysterious cocktail mixes that end up with you and your sister vomiting on the journey back to Bangkok (true story.)

Drinking Tap Water in Thailand

The tap water in Thailand is not drinkable. You can buy plastic bottles from 7/11 and refill them at drinking water stations for 1 baht. You can often find these on streets and in residential areas. That said, I always use the tap water to brush my teeth in Thailand and elsewhere and have never had any problems because of this. I’m probably wrong but I feel maybe it builds up some immunity??

Travel Sick in Thailand

If you are unfortunate enough to get travel sick like me, then I cannot recommend strongly enough these travel bands. I am not even sure how they work, I think they have a bead that presses on a  pressure point that is linked with nausea, but they really work. Whether travel sick in mountain roads like from Chiang Mai to Pai or seasick on a boat, these have really helped me. It might just be psychological but who cares if they stop you from vomiting right? Buy yours here. You can also buy seasick pills from most pharmacies in Thailand very cheaply as an extra back up.
Travel Thailand Tip: Ask to sit in the front of the minivan on long journeys. I also find I tend to get less travel sick on the big buses so I try to book them instead of a minivan if possible. You can book travel tickets using this website.

Colds in Thailand

Due to various establishments that blast the AC freezing cold in Thailand, I often find myself with a cold after staying in hostels or sleeping on night buses. Normally this isn’t a problem unless you want to go scuba diving and you cannot dive with a cold because you’ll be unable to equalize properly. Enter TIFFY tablets you can buy from any pharmacy or some 7/11s. They cost around 7 baht for 4 tablets and as these are not a strong tablet it’s no problem to combine with diving.
Night bus travel tip: Bring warm clothes. They really crank up the air-con over night and if you feel the cold easily you may feel freezing like me. For a complete packing list, follow this link here.

Vaccinations for Thailand

Do you need vaccinations to travel in Thailand? Before I came here, I was recommended to get Hep A, Hep B and typhoid. Every clinic seems to recommend different things but these are the ones that I got. I decided not to bother with the expensive rabies vaccine because if you get bitten you still have to go to the hospital, it just gives you more time and I figured I was never going to be that far away from an available clinic. I usually use the NHS website for advice about vaccinations in Asia.

Animals in Thailand

Stray dogs can cause alarm in Thailand and my best advice is to just stay calm and steer clear. Most dogs here I have found extremely chilled out and not remotely interested in humans. However, you always hear a few stories. I read it is best to not look threatening, to yawn and look relaxed and calmly walk past them. If you do get bitten by a stray dog, rabies is a concern here so immediately find a clinic. Even small islands like Koh Lan or Koh Lipe have doctor’s clinics who can administer the first round of PEP injections. After that you will need 5 more injections over the course of 6 weeks.
lopburi bangkok day trip
Monkeys in one of Lopburi’s temples. Watch out for monkeys as well. Some bite!

Pharmacies in Thailand

I have found many pharmacies in Thailand to be full of helpful, English speaking staff. You can generally find what you need and for very cheap prices. You can also buy antibiotics over the counter in Thailand but this is obviously a fairly controversial thing to do so read up about it first.

Hospitals and Healthcare in Thailand

Thailand has some fantastic international hospitals…and some less fantastic hospitals. As long as you have health insurance, I would always use an expensive international hospital. The staff there speak English (or will find you a translator) and have always dealt with me efficiently and swiftly.
Disclaimer 1: I’m a teacher, not a doctor.
Disclaimer 2: This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase I may receive commission at no extra cost to you.

Solo Female Travel to Thailand

Thinking about solo female travel in Thailand? I lived in Thailand for 3.5 years, I moved to Thailand alone and I often travel solo around Thailand.  Is it safe to travel Thailand alone? I think it’s a fantastic place for solo travel, particularly as a woman. I think South East Asia generally feels safe as a solo traveller and I felt much safer travelling alone in South East Asia than other countries like Sri Lanka and India.

People’s initial shock of finding out that I love travelling alone is often replaced with either a look of awe, confusion or pity. I feel that travelling alone as a female should warrant none of these reactions, but there we are. Maybe, slowly, we are changing these norms. So read on for my solo travel tips, particularly geared towards single travellers coming to Thailand and/or South East Asia.

Is Thailand good for solo travel?

Yes, absolutely. If it’s your first solo trip, then Thailand is a great place for first time solo travellers. I think Thailand is one of the best destinations for solo female travel, especially for first timers going it alone. Thailand welcomes millions of travellers every year and so things are well set up for travelling around that it feels very easy and convenient. I did my first solo trip to Koh Chang in Thailand 3 years ago and since then I have visited many Thailand destinations and other places in Asia solo as well, such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

Is it safe for single female travellers in Thailand?

I cannot speak for everyone but I have always felt confident enough travelling solo here. Thai people are extremely helpful, crime is not common and there are so many backpackers around that it is easy to meet people. I have had unpleasant incidents here, all of which could have happened and have happened in other countries as well. I feel the main concerns that we worry about when travelling solo are crime, scams, feeling lost or not in control, sexual harassment, assault and rape. While these incidents occur everywhere, I feel that there are some steps we can take to feel safe in Thailand.

Is Thailand Safe for Single Female Travellers – Where to stay when travelling solo in Thailand

For me this is one of the most important factors of making sure I feel safe when travelling solo particularly as I always do independent travel in Thailand rather than a package tour.  When in a group or with a partner, I have been very relaxed about accommodation and not always booked in advance. I love the feeling of just showing up somewhere, negotiating a price, and finding a place to sleep for that night. However, when I travel alone, I always book in advance. I always choose accommodation that is in the main area/street so that I won’t be walking alone at night time. I prefer staying in hostels as it’s so easy to meet people but have also booked beach bungalows for myself before and made sure that these are along the main beach area. I book using Agoda or Booking and read reviews to see people’s comments about location and how convenient it is for other places. I always take a card from the hotel so that I can show it to people or taxis to help me get home.

 

Solo Travel in Thailand: Bangkok

Bangkok has been my home for 3.5 years and I can say it is one of the safest cities that I have visited. It’s a city that never sleeps so even if I come home at 4am from clubbing and enjoying Bangkok’s nightlife, there are always people around, streets are busy and the bustle of city life continues. The exception to this is down quiet “sois” or alleys in Bangkok. I therefore recommend staying in accommodation on main roads in Khao San backpacker area, or Sukhumvit road near crossroads where there are always people around.

photo of me alone in Bangkok

The Best Places for Solo Travel in Thailand

The the best solo travel destinations in Thailand (particularly for solo female travel) are Bangkok and Chiang Mai for city lovers. The best islands for solo travel are Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket and Krabi – Ao Nang because these are the main tourist destinations. They will always be busy with backpackers and tourists on holiday, they are easy to get to with multiple ways of travel. If you visit quiet islands, or smaller towns there will be less people around, they can be harder to get to and not so easy to find accommodation. I recommend meeting people in hostels and travelling with them to the quieter islands or smaller towns.

solo female travel picture on Thailand beach
Best islands for solo female travel

Is Thailand Safe for Female Travellers: Transport – Trains

Night trains were one of my big concerns when travelling alone as you hear horror stories and I wanted night train travel in Thailand to be a good experience and not feel too worried or scared to sleep. Luckily, I always feel really safe on night trains in Thailand. Book a top bunk as I feel these are harder to access and always go second class, that way you are in a compartment with lots of other people – not just 3 people in your own cabin. I always feel there is safety in numbers. I normally chat to the people near me and get to know them and I sleep with my little backpack with my valuables near my head. I love ones about this size and think they are great for travel, you check them out on Amazon.

Read here for my 20 travelling essentials for Thailand.

Is Thailand safe for female tourists: Transport – Taxis

Unfortunately Thailand has a terrible record for road safety, but not much we can do about that. If you’re lucky, your taxi will have a seatbelt. If there is nothing to plug the seatbelt in to then just loop it around your body. My top tips for taking taxis in Bangkok would be to always ensure they go on the meter. It’s illegal for them not to but they will try anyway. Always sit in the back seat, never in the front. If you’re travelling alone in Bangkok then taxis can be very convenient but keep your guard up. I’ve been harassed by two taxis drivers in three years here and when I told people everyone asked me if I was sitting in the front. I wasn’t but apparently if I had I would have been asking for it. People’s attitudes suck and so do some taxi drivers but don’t let that stop you from living your life or enjoying your holiday. In Bangkok, many taxi drivers don’t always know where they are going so keep your phone out to check where they are going via GPS. Sometimes they are trying to scam you, but more often than not, I find they just don’t know the quickest route. Have your money ready so you can get out the moment the taxis pulls up. Some people feel safer using Uber but I have my doubts of whether that is really safer given recent news articles.

Travelling Thailand Solo Advice: Don’t be too polite. If you feel like a guy is being over-friendly, close down the conversation, avoid looking at him and get out of the taxi at the nearest busiest place. 7/11 convenient stores can be good as there are many of them and they are open 24 hours a day.

Is Thailand safe for tourists: Transport – Night Buses

Super cheap and super cold, night buses are a very useful way of backpacking around Thailand. I frequently take them alone and have rarely encountered any problems. I keep my valuables nearby and try and get a seat downstairs. Large backpacks will often be stowed under the bus so keep all your valuables with you. I often loop an arm or a leg through my small backpack so that I might wake up if someone tried to steal it. Night buses can arrive in the early hours of the morning to random destinations so make sure you get off at your stop (the conductor can tell you) and know where you’re going if you are off the beaten track a little bit. You can book buses here for discounts. These buses are the tourist ones which depart from Khao San Road.

Solo Travel to Thailand: Transport – Boats and Ferries

Generally speaking, Thailand has a good reputation for sea safety and I have rarely felt scared. That said, some ferries depart early in the morning which has left me with needing to be at a pier at 4am when it’s still dark. In these situations I try to make sure I’m staying near the pier so I can get there easily.

Picture of an island from a boat in Thailand

How safe is Thailand for tourists: Walking

Walking around at night time in Thailand I have rarely felt afraid. I think there are often many people around, even late at night and I live on a main road in Bangkok. I always use a crossbody bag with a zip like this one from Amazon to make it harder for someone to grab it. I feel that walking confidently can give you the appearance of knowing where you are going (even if you don’t) and can make you less of an easy target (just a personal feeling).

How to stay safe in Thailand: Money & Documents

Thailand is a developing country and the minimum wage here is 300 baht a day. I have found Thai people to be extremely honest and I have friends who have even had expensive smart phones returned to them. However, I still think it wise to not flash around a lot of cash. I keep cash in various different places when I’m travelling and separate it into different purses or bags. You should always carry a copy of your passport with you in Thailand. Many people don’t, but if you ever had a run in with the police then this is useful to have on you.

Safety in Thailand Information:

Emergency Police Number 191

Tourist Police (eg for scams) 1155

For my advice about your health in Thailand, read more here.

For more useful information for travelling Thailand, read this post

Pinterest Graphic for travelling Thailand solo as a female travellerPinterest Graphic for travelling Thailand solo as a female traveller

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Travelling Thailand: Useful Links

I have put together a list of useful links for travelling Thailand which cover transport, accommodation, events, tours and news.

 

Thailand Useful Links: Transport- Trains and Buses

http://www.railway.co.th/checktime/checktime.asp?lenguage=Eng Train timetable website but you cannot book tickets on it. (train ticket bookings coming soon…see kohlife below!)

Koh Life website this is actually a friend’s transport agency that he started last year and it’s going really well so far! They have tons of buses and ferry links on the decent VIP buses (think proper reclining seats and no TV blasting at you all night like some other buses I’ve been on!). They will be adding trains soon. You can get discounts for multiple bookings and group tickets.

www.thaiticketmajor.com also has bus ticket bookings for all of Thailand. I find the website is not that navigable and buses leave from different areas around Bangkok so make sure you know where the departure station is.

 

Thailand Useful Links: Transport- Flights

I usually find a great deal for domestic flights with either Air Asia or Nok Air. I always use Skyscanner to compare prices.


Thailand Useful Links: Transport- Taxis

I always just use meter taxis but I know some people are a fan of Uber and Grabtaxi. I’ve found both of these to usually be more expensive, but the benefits are taxi drivers with a GPS who will know where they are going!

Thailand Useful Links: Accommodation

I usually compare Agoda and Booking.com to find the best deal for accommodation.



Booking.com

Thailand Useful Links: Events Information

Facebook is a really useful tool for finding events happening in the area and various bars and clubs advertise special events on here.

I enjoy reading BK Magazine for inspiration about where to travel and what to do and see http://bk.asia-city.com/

Full Moon Party Schedule Information

http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com/schedules.html

Thailand Useful Links: Tours

If you’re looking for cycling tour then I definitely recommend https://www.covankessel.com/ as I have done several of their bicycle tours around Bangkok. I think they are good value for money and the guide provided has always been very knowledgeable.

For other tours I recommend using local tour agencies around Khao San area or through your hotel, Ask around to make sure you are getting the best deal.

 

Thailand Useful Links: News

For local news I follow:

www.bangkokpost.com

https://coconuts.co/bangkok/

Thailand Useful Links: Weather

None! I honestly find weather forecasts to be extremely inaccurate as the weather here is very unpredictable! The best advice I can give is to keep your options open and your travel plan flexible so you can move around if the weather turns bad.

Thailand Useful Links: What to Pack

People often ask me what they should bring out to Thailand so I wrote these two blog posts, aimed at backpackers or flashpackers.

Backpacking Essentials for South East Asia

What to Pack for South East Asia

Thailand Useful Links: Travel Books

As always the Bible for travellers is often Lonely Planet or a similar brand. I have find the Thailand one extremely useful and also Southeast Asia on Shoestring. Buy your own copy on Amazon here. I don’t recommend Kindle versions and this is one book where I would rather have a real, paper edition!

Buy Lonely Planet Thailand Travel Guide here

Buy Thailand’s Islands and Beaches version

Buy Southeast Asia on a Shoestrong by Lonely Planet here.

I always try and buy the latest version but old versions are dirt cheap and can still be useful for the planning stages of your trip.

Learn some Thai with a Thai phrasebook. I have this and it was very useful when I first arrived here. Definitely get a phrasebook with a CD or MP3 version as Thai is a tonal language and so you need to be able to hear the word to reproduce it. Buy your copy here.

 

Thailand Useful Links: This Blog!

I’ve got tons of information from itineraries to transport, from wildlife to diving and the top islands to visit. Click the links below.

Thailand Islands: The Best Islands To Visit

Best Quiet Beaches in Thailand

The Best National Parks in Thailand

Thailand: Most Beautiful Destinations

Top Activities to Do in Bangkok, Thailand by a local!

50 Things To Do in Bangkok, Thailand

Wildlife In Thailand: See Wild Animals in Thailand’s Jungles, Oceans and Islands

Pink Dolphins in Thailand: Where and How to See Wild Pink Dolphins

Best Diving in Thailand

Activities To Avoid in Thailand

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Useful Thailand linksUseful Thailand links

 

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Thailand Islands: The Best Islands To Visit

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/or visit and it is my intention to visit them all! With so many island destinations, it can be difficult to choose which island to visit in Thailand. I often get asked many of the following questions by backpackers and tourists who are looking for Thailand’s best islands and beaches:

Which are the best party islands in Thailand? Where are quiet Thailand beaches? Where is the best place for Thailand island hopping? Which island to choose? Which islands have airports? Where is the best snorkeling in Thailand? The island for the best diving – I have a whole post dedicated to the best dive sites in Thailand here.

Hopefully this post will help you make the best decision about which islands to stay on. Even better, you can visit a few of the Thai islands on the same trip as they often have good transport links between them to make island hopping around Thailand accessible.

Here is a summary of all the ones I’ve been to so far and some brief information to help you decide on which paradise island 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

I’ve grouped the islands as to where they are in Thailand which should give you and idea for the best island hopping routes around. The Gulf of Thailand refers to the islands South of Bangkok on the East of the mainland – mainly Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Then we have the Andaman islands on the West with connecting airports such as Krabi and Phuket. Then Southern islands like Koh Lipe and Koh Tarutao and Eastern islands towards the Cambodian border.

Best Islands in The Gulf of Thailand

Koh Tao

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 4 years ago and the prices are still the same. 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…



Booking.com

Koh Phangan 

bottle beach 2
Bottle Beach on Koh Phangan

Home to the infamous Full Moon Party, this party island in Thailand remains one of my favourites. It’s party in the South and tranquil, quiet beaches in the North of Koh Phangan.  It is also one of the best islands for backpackers because it is both party and calm and you can find very cheap accommodation, particularly in the north. For the most beautiful beach in the Gulf of Thailand, visit Bottle Beach – a stunning Northern beach only accessible by boat so it’s very quiet. Diving in Koh Phangan here can be great although visibility is unpredictable. Sail Rock is one of Koh Phangan’s famous dive sites and whale sharks can be spotted here (just not by me…yet!). I love staying in the North and I discovered  these cute bungalows last time, 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.  An even cheaper option with 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. Read here for Full Moon Party Tips..

Best Thailand island for: 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

Things to do on Koh Phangan: Party and the chill out on Bottle Beach (one of my favourites). 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.



Booking.com

 

Thailand Islands to Visit: 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 it’s Gulf counterparts.  That said, if you are on limited time it is one of only two island that you can fly direct to (the other being Phuket). I stayed in upmarket accommodation at Lamai Wanta Beach Resort (courtesy of my generous aunt!) but a friend recently stayed at budget friendly New Hut Bungalows and recommended them to me. They look like a great photo opportunity too!

One thing to be aware of in Koh Samui is that flights are generally expensive because the budget airlines cannot fly to Samui as it is owned by Bangkok Airways. 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: resorts, families and couples

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



Booking.com

 

Best Thailand Islands: The Andaman

Phuket

phuket thailand islands
Stunning sunsets while surfing at Kata Beach, 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 have always been urged to avoid, mainly because of its multitude of gogo bars. 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 hostel, it was about 4 minute walk to the surfing beach, was good value and they had really nice facilities.

Things to do in Phuket:  learning to surf, you can hire an instructor and then you get the board for the rest of the day (rainy season only when the waves are bigger, July-October approx)

Cheapest way to get to Phuket:  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 20 baht.

Fastest way to get to Phuket: Fly to Phuket from Bangkok or international airports and take the local bus further south.

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. It felt a little off the beaten track 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 place 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.

Best Thailand Island for: non-touristy places in Thailand

Things to do in Koh Yao Noi:  If you can’t afford to stay somewhere like the Six Senses Hotel (and I can’t!) then head there for a cocktail to enjoy sunset and the views at this exotic looking hotel.

Cheapest way to get to Koh Yao Noi: 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: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, speedboat to island.

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi Thailand Islands
Views of the beach

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. 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 fireshows. I personally feel they are the best in Thailand and even after watching a few I still think they are very impressive.

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 there are no cars on the whole island, definitely a bonus if you’re living in Bangkok and sick of traffic jams.

Best Thailand island for: parties and beautiful beaches combined.

Things to do in Koh Phi Phi:  An island hopping trip to nearby islands

Cheapest way to get to Koh Phi Phi: 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: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, ferry to island

Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta Thailand Islands
Lunchtime with a view!

Serene and stunning, this is a quieter island for a relaxing time. 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.

Best Thailand island for: relaxing, couples, families

Things to do in Koh Lanta:  The 4 Island Hopping Trip

Cheapest way to get to Koh Lanta: 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: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, ferry to island

Koh Lipe

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

This paradise island is home to white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, beautiful coral reefs and less tourists than many others! The main beach is kept extremely clean but unfortunately a lot of litter gets washed up around this island’s shores despite local efforts to consistently clear the trash. When I was there, the people were working every day but unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle with the currents. It also had some of the best sunsets I’ve seen in Thailand and the coral reefs were extremely colourful for snorkelling. (I’ve yet to dive here!) 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. I stayed at Gypsy Bungalows and loved these basic but cute bungalows with a garden walk to the beach.

Best Thailand Island for: white sand beaches

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: Night bus to Hat Yai, minivan to pier, 2 hour speedboat

Fastest way to get to Koh Lipe: 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.

 

Koh Jum

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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 – pricier than normal but 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

Things to do on Koh Jum: Star gazing

Cheapest way to get to Koh Jum: Night bus to Krabi, bus from bus station to pier and then ferry

Fastest way to get to Koh Jum: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to pier, ferry to island

 

Railay

Railay Beach Thailand Islands
Swimming around limestone karsts in Railay

I’m including Railay in this island section as it is only accessible by boat. (And until very recently I thought it was an 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 islands in Thailand for outdoor adventures like rock-climbing and hikes to viewpoints.

Things to do on Railay: slip and slide your way up the viewpoint for a pretty view of both beaches

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: 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: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to Ao Nang ferry to island

 

Ao Nang

This is also not an island but as one of the easiest beach destinations to get to from Krabi I thought it was worth a mention. 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: breaking up the journey to nearby islands

Things to do in Ao Nang: sign up for some rock climbing nearby at Railay

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 (read expensive) long tail boats will run

Cheapest way to get to Ao Nang 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: Fly to Krabi, bus from airport to Ao Nang (approx 100 baht).

Best Thai Islands: The East

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 okay 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: 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: Fly to Trat then ferry

Read here for Bangkok’s closest islands and beaches 

More islands information about Koh Similan, one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands can be found here

 

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