The 8 best islands in Thailand

With cheap flights and hotels more than ever at your disposal, it’s never been easier to take a time-out while getting a tan on some of these sandy AND leafy green wonders. Here’s our rundown of the 8 very best islands in Thailand.

Koh Samet

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Forget notorious Phangan, when Bangkokians want to party they flock to Koh Samet. Sheltered bays, powdery sand and clear blue water are a solid offering for weekend warriors, with idyllic beach conditions setting the backdrop for revelry that burns late into the night.

Smoke from shisha pipes mingles with that of fire twirlers on Sai Kaew’s shore, before the bright club lights and buckets of Silversand Bar set the night ablaze. When it all gets too much, retreat to a quieter bay – there are plenty unfettered by the party scene.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Koh Samet and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Koh Yao Yai

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Halfway between Krabi and Phuket in Phang Nga Bay, Koh Yao Yai is the girl-next-door with a model’s physique. Long, thin, and stunning, she is still largely unknown thanks to her resident communities keeping the number of visitors tame. And you’ll want to keep her that way.

The main attraction here is the lack of attractions – don’t expect a rowdy night scene or banana boat rides; locals hauling catches in by long-tail boat is the most action you’ll witness. With otherworldly limestone karsts, turquoise bays and glorious white-sand beaches, soaking in nature’s wonders is what this simple yet sophisticated girl is all about.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Koh Yao Yai and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Koh Tao

Take a scenic boat ride around the coast of Koh Tao

Ringed by a shoreline of boulders and reefs, Koh Tao is known as a diver’s paradise. In quieter bays, the damselfish come up and check you out, while farther offshore whale sharks plumb the depths of the crystal-clear waters.

A cluster of bungalow resorts, beach cafés, bars and dive schools comprise the main drag of Sairee Beach – noisy, busy and fun, fun, fun. If you’d rather posh it up, head to the upscale resorts south of the pier, or escape to a mountain villa for fresh air and epic views. A spin around neighboring Nang Yuan Island ticks all the boxes for an exotic side trip.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Koh Tao and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Similan Islands

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Soft, sandy beaches covered in boulders, squawks from the bird-filled forests and an elementary infrastructure preserve the raw, Jurassic-level wilderness of the Similans. If there were a worldwide contest for the title of “Heaven on Earth”, this cluster of nine islands might just take home the trophy. Beneath the waterline, the pure unadulterated beauty of the Andamans is revealed in full force.

Snorkeling, diving, floating in azure seas, beach-combing, dolphin-spotting, bird-watching – this is truly a sanctuary for nature-lovers. Resorts are forbidden point blank. Stay in a basic wooden bungalow for an island sojourn to eclipse all others.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Similan Islands and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Koh Chang

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She may be rainy and mountainous, but Thailand’s second-biggest island is worth the crunch. Beyond her perilous winding “highway”, dense forests and dramatic sunsets, Koh Chang rewards intrepid visitors with largely deserted beaches, refreshingly cheap beers and a quiet, castaway vibe.

Lonely Beach is the island’s magnet for independent wanderers, some of whom never wander away. Swim, hike, dive or take part in hammock duty – there’s no obligation to stick to structure here. Late-night parties are easily found for those who seek.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Koh Chang and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Ko Phi Phi

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Renowned for her unearthly beauty, Ko Phi Phi is a party-hard gal with no shortage of suitors. She still turns heads, but sometimes it gets so much you want to avert your eyes.

Luckily you’ll have plenty of options: White beaches, azure waters and tropical jungles – the Phi Phi Islands have the whole supermodel triumvirate. The downside is that you’ll have to share it with thousands of youthful revelers indulging their bacchanal side well away from the watchful eyes of their parents.

Cruise around in a long-tail and watch monkeys swing about, spelunk for prehistoric cave paintings, and bring that PADI license so you can make the most of the reefs before they’re bleached beyond repair.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Ko Phi Phi and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Koh Samui

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“Samui” is said to derive from the Chinese word for “safe haven”, and this graceful island on the Gulf is indeed a picture perfect and all-good choice – with different places and different characters matching a diverse crowd.

On the northeast corner she parties like a rock star. If you’re looking for a glimpse of the Thailand of yesteryear, head down south: briny fishing villages, overgrown palm groves and tiny trails lead to secret bays. The razzle-dazzle northern beaches are as cosmopolitan – and pricey – as they are in Phuket, though a scooter and an open itinerary can get you into rustic bungalow territory in no time.

Koh Samui’s only imperative is to dive into that warm, glittering sea – a constant no matter where you end up. And with the airport smack in the middle of town, travel time is just 70 minutes from Bangkok.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Koh Samui and book your beach holiday through momondo.

Koh Phangan

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You might have seen this legendary party island in the news, but Koh Phangan’s reality is mercifully far less intense than its reputation. The Full Moon Party beach of Haad Rin is, indeed, party central, but if raucous beach bars and buckets aren’t your speed, there are a dozen other beaches where you can zen out.

Hit up the western coastline for the best beaches or go bohemian up north with some yoga and meditation. When the silence becomes deafening, there’s always commercial housing and friendly cocktails in hectic Haad Rin.

Head for the sand! Find out more about Koh Phangan and book your beach holiday through momondo.

 

Looking for more beach and nature inspiration? Visit the momondo blog to read about the best beaches in Costa Rica, or discover the best waterside spots for people who absolutely HATE sand.