Koh-Nang-Yuan - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

15 of the most beautiful islands in Thailand

Koh-Nang-Yuan - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Millions flock to Thailand each year and with its reputation for having such idyllic beauty who can blame them? A downside is that the steady flow of tourists over the last decade has ensured it’s become increasingly harder to find an unspoilt Thai island. From our time spent in Thailand and from feedback gathered from our travel network here is our choice for the most beautiful islands in Thailand – an eclectic mix of peaceful, up-and-coming island resorts with a few old favourites thrown in…

Koh Lipe: best up-and-coming

Koh Lipe - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

This is an increasingly popular island in the Andaman Sea located 70 km off the southwest coast of Thailand (near the Malaysian border). It has some excellent beaches, snorkelling spots and a flourishing party scene. Although it’s a very small island (you can walk around it in half a day) it offers a good range of budget to mid-range bungalows. You will probably need to go before it gets too developed – the island is sadly already facing environmental problems.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Tup: best for day trips

Koh Tup - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Koh Tup or Tup island is one of four local offshore islands located in Krabi provence. Easily one of the best places to visit in Thailand, Krabi is famous for its towering rugged limestone cliffs, turquoise water and powder white sand and this island is very popular with day trippers. It’s a tiny island where, at peak times, you’ll probably notice the crowds but it offers excellent snorkelling, swimming and scenery.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • Cha Wan Resort, Krabi – A modern Thai style three star resort which provides a good base to visit Tup Island from $30pn
  • Aonang Phu Petra Resort, Krabi – A four star resort decorated in a contemporary Thai style another good base to explore Tup Island $45pn

Racha Islands: best alternative to Phuket

Racha Island - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

A more peaceful and far less developed alternative to Phuket are the Racha (or Raya) islands. The islands can be found around 12 km south of Phuket and although are mostly used for diving daytrips it is possible to stay overnight. Racha island is known for its beautiful beach – a strip of fine white sand tucked deep into a long, U-shaped bay and Racha Noi is an uninhabited diving destination with no services or accommodation available.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Chang: best alternative to Koh Samui

Ko Chang - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

With vacationers looking for alternatives to the now over-developed Koh Samui, Koh Chang is often hailed as the “next big thing.” Although this is not always a positive – it’s still a quieter destination than the holiday favourites such as Phuket or Koh Samui but it’s probably better to go now before the development gets too out of control. Head here for mostly deserted white sandy beaches, waterfalls, jungle hiking, diving and an abundance of natural wildlife.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Pha Ngan: best for full moon parties

Koh Phangan - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Every backpacker on the planet has probably have heard of Koh Pha Ngan – the pretty East coast island plays host to many world-famous full moon parties. The island is known for its palm tree lined white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and laid-back attitude. It’s not as developed Koh Samui and is mostly aimed at backpackers with plenty of bohemian style bars and cafes to choose from. ‘Mushroom’ shakes are a speciality here.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Tao: best for learning to dive

Koh Tao - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The East coast island of Koh Tao can be accessed via a two hour boat ride from Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Samui. It’s a peaceful place and much less touristy due to its more isolated location. The rocky island offers world-class snorkelling and diving and there are a huge number of dive operators on the island. Ideal for people looking to train for their PADI certificate in a paradise-like environment.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Nang Yuan: best for extraordinary beauty

Koh Nang Yuan - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Koh Nang Yuan is a tiny island very close to Koh Tao (a cheap boat ride away). It’s popular with day trippers, divers and snorkellers. It’s easily one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand with extraordinary beaches and a dreamy traffic-free tranquility. The only accommodation on the island is the Nang Yuan Diving Resort so if you want to stay make sure you book as far in advance as possible.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Mak: best low key destination

Ko Maak - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Koh Mak is a small very flat island perfect for just relaxing and soaking up the rays. It’s a low key destination and would suit anyone looking to escape the crowds. Accommodation consists of bungalow resorts, mostly in the budget price range. Island activities include cycling through coconut plantations along the coastline, learning to cook the Thai way at one of the cookery schools or snorkelling in the calm clear waters.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Tarutao: best for camping

Ko Tarutao - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Ko Tarutao is one of the 51 islands that belongs to the Tarutao National Marine Park archipelago at the Southern Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. It has a national park status which means it hasn’t suffered from over-development. There aren’t many facilities on the island so it would suit nature lovers, campers (tents can be hired from the National Park Office on the island for 150B per night) and more self-sufficient travellers.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • Idyllic Concept Resort Satun, Ko Tarutao – A very tasteful contemporary luxury four star resort (if you don’t fancy camping), one of the very few resorts on the island from $60pn
  • Bundhaya Resort Satun, Ko Tarutao – Another one of the few resorts on the island this one is a three star with lovely sea views but decorated in a more traditional Thai style from $40pn

Koh Phi Phi: best for sunsets

Koh Phi Phi - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

This is a controversial choice as this tiny West Coast island seems to divide the opinion of its visitors. Seen by some as the ultimate island paradise and an ugly overdeveloped resort by others. Sadly the island has suffered from uncontrolled development especially since the release of the film ‘The Beach’. Although crowded at times, it arguably keeps a relaxed vibe which seems to keep most of the backpackers and vacationers happy. It’s also a fantastic place to watch the day ending: island attractions include climbing a steep viewpoint to watch the sunset (although don’t expect to have a romantic moment, as you’ll be joined by hundreds of others).

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Lanta: best for traditional culture

Koh Lanta - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Koh Lanta is an island located in the beautiful Krabi Province of Southern Thailand. It’s known for its diving and long white beaches. Definitely an island to escape the modern life and busy tourist areas – it offers complete peace with a few home comforts thrown in. Low-key development and unspoiled nature are Lanta’s main attractions. Expect mountainous landscapes, green forested hills, sandy beaches, pretty coral reefs and a traditional culture.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Ngai: best for wildlife

Ko Ngai - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Situated between Krabi and Trang provinces this very small mountainous island is covered by a dense tropical forest. The island has a white beach, clear water and beautiful surrounding corals. Accommodation is available although it’s mostly mid range to luxury – there’s not many budget offerings available. Wildlife fans will probably have a field day here; the Western and Northern parts of the island are uninhabited and offer excellent opportunities for watching migrating birds. Koh Ngai is also home to wild crab-eating monkeys and monitor lizards.

Koh Phayam: best for recently discovered

Ko Phayam - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Koh Phayam is the second largest island in the Andaman sea in Ranong province (after Koh Chang). Koh Phayam is thought to be one of the most beautiful of Thailand’s islands but until recently it has been surprisingly undiscovered by tourists. The island has all the things you’d expect from a tropical Thai island paradise – long white sandy beaches, clear blue sea, jungle forests and a coral reef, but without the crowds. It’s often said to be what Koh Samui was like thirty years ago.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Mook: best for finding peace & quiet

Koh Muk - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Also known as Pearl Island, Koh Mook is a very small and very tranquil island located on the South West of Thailand (to the south of Phuket). Aside from relaxing, visitors can indulge in snorkelling, swimming, kayaking or day trips to other islands. Head to Farang Beach on the West of Koh Mook for unforgettable sunsets or take a boat to the Emerald Cave – one of the natural wonders of Thailand. Beyond the cave is a completely enclosed beach formed by a sinkhole.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Koh Phra Thong: best for off the beaten track

Ko Phra Thong - most beautiful islands in Thailand on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Many dream of finding a tropical paradise undiscovered by the tourist masses. While not quite Robinson Crusoe’s Island, Koh Phra Thong is one of Thailand’s last unspoiled coastal locations with over 15km of largely uninhabited white sandy beaches. It’s part of the Koh Phra Thong National Park, located in the South of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It’s also the close to Richelieu Rock (a world top ten dive site) and the Surin Islands which hosts the broadest diversity of hard corals in Thailand.

Accommodation recommendation disclaimer

Can’t get enough of Thailand? We also have The Best of Thailand: Top 10 places to visit and 10 of the best undiscovered Thai islands.

With roots in Bavaria, a home in England and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 35 countries on trips and living in both Dublin and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations away from the crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not travelling, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, wandering the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting around for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world - Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.

22 Comments

Leave a Reply