While Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, has long been a popular destination with holiday-makers from around the globe, the country has a multitude of other stunning beachside locations that travellers can relax at and explore. Apart from Phuket, Thailand is also home to other tourist-friendly islands such as Ko Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Chang. If you’re ready for a tropical island holiday in Thailand but can’t choose between them, read on for the rundown on five locations you should consider adding to your itinerary.
If you’re looking for plenty of things to do and beautiful beaches to sunbathe on, you should consider planning a holiday to Phuket, one of Thailand’s most popular island destinations. While beachside spots such as Patong, Kata and Karon surge with tourists and can get a little chaotic, there are plenty of other quiet beaches on the island as well as quality hotels and restaurants.
Visitors to the island can also take a cooking class; hire a long-tail boat; or get the adrenaline pumping with a Muay Thai boxing demonstration, a surfing lesson, or a fun zipline tour in the hills above Wat Chalong. Travellers who love to take photographs of their travels or who simply enjoy witnessing stunning views can also head to one of scenic lookout spots in the region. Some of the most popular include Promthep Cape, Radar Hill Viewpoint or Khao Rang (Rang Hill).
Considered to be one of Thailand’s best diving meccas, Ko Tao (meaning “Turtle Island”) is the ideal holiday spot if you love to lie on a beach and also explore what’s beneath the crystal-clear waters. The island provides visitors with a host of world-class diving instruction, with more than 40 different dive centres based in the region.
Situated on the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Tao has shallow, warm waters that encourage an abundance of marine life and visitors scuba diving or free diving are likely to see creatures such as turtles, stingrays, panda clownfish, anemone shrimp, baby angelfish, tuna, mackerel, whale sharks, leopard sharks and reef sharks.
Back on dry land, travellers can take a quad bike around the small island (it’s only 21 square kilometres in size) or get a workout by hiking some of the verdant, hilly terrain. Ko Tao is also well-known for its yoga and meditation classes, so visitors to the island can spend time focusing on their breath and stretching the muscles at one of the many facilities available.
Ko Chang is the third largest island in Thailand and a good place to head when you want to holiday somewhere that’s less busy than Phuket but still has plenty to see and do. Located near the border with Cambodia, Ko Chang is the biggest island in the Ko Chang Marine Park archipelago and is known for its stunning coral reefs, waterfalls, sandy beaches and rainforests.
With a name that means “Elephant Island”, Ko Chang is also home to a number of the endangered animals, and travellers can get up close and personal with them at an elephant sanctuary. Animal lovers can also volunteer some time at the Ko Chang Animal Project, a non-profit centre for abused, injured or abandoned animals.
Koh Phi Phi
If you’ve seen the popular 2000 movie The Beach then you’ve had a glimpse of the beauty found within the Phi Phi Islands. Koh Phi Phi is an archipelago in the Krabi Province of southern Thailand and came to prominence when part of the film was shot around the stunning Pileh Lagoon on the region’s smaller island, Ko Phi Phi Leh.
The large island in the group, Phi Phi Don, is where you’ll find good accommodation and restaurants; while the whole region is well-regarded as a snorkelling, swimming and diving destination. While sadly the archipelago was severely devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, redevelopment was swift and tourists were welcomed back quickly.
If it’s a party-fuelled, cocktail-sipping vacation that you’re looking for, head straight to Ko Pha-Ngan. The island is famous for hosting the massive Full Moon Parties, hedonistic beach events that are attended by thousands of party-goers and held each month.
However, if you like to temper your revelry with some quiet time spent on peaceful beaches then Ko Pha-Ngan also provides. The island contains plenty of isolated beachfronts plus remote jungle trails, quiet temples and scenic waterfalls to explore.