Which Thai Island is Right For You?

Which Thai Island is Right For You?

Thailand is one of the world’s premier beach destinations, with many of its islands – namely Phuket – garnering at least as much name ID as the Kingdom itself. To be sure, the challenge of taking a beach vacation in Thailand isn’t finding a great island – it’s choosing just one or two among dozens of breathtaking jewels!

Whether you’re a party fiend looking to get freaky, a nature lover in search of solace or somewhere in-between, continue reading to learn which Thai island is right for you. Or, if perhaps other islands in Southeast Asia more properly fit the bill.

Need help planning your trip to Thailand? Hire me as your Travel Coach!

Nature Lovers Love These Thai Islands

If you’re like me, your objective for your Thailand beach vacation is rest and relaxation. While Thailand’s islands are becoming increasingly developed, there are still some gems among them that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from “Castaway.”

Koh Kradan
Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe
Koh Mook
Koh Lipe

If you love the Andaman scenery of Phuket, but don’t want to cut your foot on a broken bottle, fly to Trang and take a ferry to nearby islands like Koh Kradan, Koh Mook and Koh Lipe, to name just a few.

Alternatively, fly or take a bus from Bangkok to the town of Trat, then visit Koh Wai and/or Koh Mak, the most idyllic islands of the Trat archipelago. Or head even farther afield and visit the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar.

Thailand’s Party Paradise(s)

I’m not a partier, as you might know if you read this blog with any scrutiny. A great deal of people who travel to Thailand are, however, so if you’re among them, this is the section for you.

Full Moon Party

Image credit

Thailand’s most notorious beach boum is the Full Moon Party, and while many islands hold shin-digs when the moon shines brightest in the sky, you’ll want to head to Haad Rin Beach on Koh Phagnan if you’re after the real thing. Koh Phagnan is a quick ferry ride from the larger island of Koh Samui, which also holds its fair share of parties – more on those in a second.


Other Thai beach destinations perfect for party people include Phuket’s Patong Beach,  Chaweng and Lamai Beaches on Koh Samui and the whole city of Pattaya, which isn’t technically an island, but is still a great place to get your drink on under a palm tree.

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

“But Robert,” you might be thinking to yourself. “I don’t put myself into such neat boxes. Some nights, I want to fall asleep to sound of waves, but others, I want to get as toasted as the coconut flakes on my favorite Thai dessert. Where can I do both?”

Koh Kood

I’m glad you asked. For me, the most versatile island is probably Koh Chang. Beaches like Kai Bae and the not-very Lonely Beach offer plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants, while quiet White Beach and dramatic Klong Prao should serve most quiet-seeker. And, if they don’t, the aforementioned islands of Koh Mak and Koh Wai, as well as Koh Kood, are just a quick boat ride away.

Quick Island Trips for Tight Schedules

Whether you’re looking to party or peace-out, many of Thailand’s islands require at least a week-long time commitment, either due to the long journey there, or due to all the things there are to explore. If you’ve only got a couple days to devote to the beach, however, you do have options.

Relative to Bangkok, the easiest island to visit is probably Koh Samet, which is a quick bus ride (to Rayong) and ferry from the city. Samet is also a very popular LGBT beach destination, a fact you might want to consider, whether you’re gay, love them or want to avoid them (shame on you!).

If you want to visit the beach but aren’t set on an actual island, you could head south to Hua Hin (a beach resort popular among the royal family) or southeastward to the aforementioned Pattaya, from which you can take day excursions to local islands such as Koh Larn – Coral Island.

How to Reach Thailand’s Islands + More Info

Reaching some of Thailand’s islands is more complicated than others, but I’ll attempt to break it down for you very simply here. Larger islands like Phuket and Koh Samui have their own airports, so you can fly nonstop from Bangkok. Popular non-island beach destinations such as Krabi also have airports.

Many smaller islands, including Koh Wai and Koh Kradan, require that you fly or take a bus to a larger town (Trat or Trang, respectively), then travel by one or more boats to get to your destination. Other destinations, such as Pattaya or Hua Hin, are close enough to Bangkok that bus is generally the only way to reach them.

If you’ve got specific questions about Thailand’s islands, feel free to contact me via social media, or leave them in a comment below. Or again, if you need more thorough help planning your Thailand beach vacation, consider hiring me as your Travel Coach.

About The Author

is the author of 734 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bull Winkle August 18, 2015 at 2:27 am

you mention koh chang if i want a bit of excitement and tranquility. although i don’t need a “gay vacation,” i do like to have sex with, well, gay men, so it would be nice if there is a gay presence beyond two men. seeing as i’m a practicing homosexual, who wants excitement and tranquility, would you recommend koh chang or koh samui? thanks

Robert Schrader August 18, 2015 at 6:56 am

Go to Koh Samet 🙂

Marko 'X Ray Cat' Krist September 1, 2015 at 8:02 am

Wow, thanks Robert for creating this absolutely amazing guide to Thai islands.

I want to visit all of them of course 🙂

Actually your stunning images made me almost feel the hot sand and the craziness of full moon party..’

I bookmarked your post for my my first visit to Thailand.

Have an awesome adventures my friend 🙂

Love and light,

Vanessa6910 September 1, 2015 at 10:36 am

I like the “castaways” Thai islands as they look so pristine and nature is so amazing. I am not a party person myself and prefer to enjoy the serenity of divine nature. Love your tips. Do check out this awesome travel blog as well: http://www.tourleadercentre.com/

Anca | Globaloud September 3, 2015 at 8:04 am

I definitely haven’t visited all Thai island, but after visiting Koh Kradan, I’m not sure is it even possible to find that kind of tropical paradise anywhere around. Of course, it’s not a party island but definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in a long time, right after Palawan in Philippines.

Ayesha November 1, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Hi Robert,
Love ur writeups on travel. I will b going fr honeymoon to Thailand. Me n my hubby both looking fr great scenic beaches, great Thai food n shop til we drop, also some romantic gateaway places… 🙂 we hav 8 days for all, kindly suggest best itinerary fr us..

Keep doing good..!!!

Robert Schrader November 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Good luck on your trip!

Drew November 11, 2015 at 12:03 pm

What place has no Russians, I am in kata and I find them rude and pushy. Thanks

zuleika November 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

Great site! We’ve got 3 months in Australia and SE Asia coming up and this is so helpful. We love sailing but not easy to arrange on a budget – how easy / affordable is it to island-hop between the islands on ferries? Thanks Robert!
I’ll be posting the highlights on my travel and lifestyle blog http://zukiniz.com/ — please check it out!

Robert Schrader December 4, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Thanks for sharing the link. It’s very easy and cheap to island-hop! But if you take a local long-tail boat, be prepared for an adventure!

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