8 of the Best: A Guide to Thailand's Islands
A visit to Thailand is not complete without a visit to an island. The problem is that with so many to choose from, picking the one for you can be a tough task. This is not helped by the fact that everyone has a different opinion on which is the best. Here’s a selection to give you a helping hand before you pack your sun cream and shades.
The biggest Thai island and the most developed, including having its own international airport. Phuket is very touristy and has something for everyone. There are contrasts from top hotel resorts to backpacker haunts, although it is more expensive than other islands. You can find crammed beaches one day then have a beach to yourself the next.
Koh Phi Phi:
Extremely beautiful beaches and scenery; extremely touristy and busy. Phi Phi’s beauty has been its blessing and its curse. I would argue that it has the most natural beauty but it’s probably the busiest with the least relaxing atmosphere. Expect many backpackers and late loud nights partying on the beach.
The third biggest island with many beaches to choose from. I’d recommend Long Beach; for it’s beautiful sand and great swimming. The island is slower paced and quieter than its neighboring Phi Phi and is a great place to relax, away from the crowds. Depending on the time of year, you can find yourself the sole occupant of the 5km long beach.
Gulf of Thailand (South)
The second most developed island is an island of contrast. From heavily developed backpacker havens to 6 star hotels and deserted beaches. Samui provides something for everyone; you just have to look in the right places. Parts are very busy but other parts remote and seemingly untouched.
Koh Pha Ngan:
Full moon party; full stop. If you love to party look no further. If tourists drinking bucket after bucket of dodgy alcohol doesn’t float your boat, then it’s probably not for you. It’s still beautiful in parts but like Lindsey Lohans face; the partying has taken its toll.
A diver’s paradise! If you visit Koh Tao you will either dive or get asked by everyone you meet why you haven’t yet. It is one of the cheapest places to attain your diving qualification; in addition to having some of the most beautiful dive sights. But if diving isn’t your thing, there’s a selection of beautiful beaches with a chilled atmosphere. There’s a party scene if you fancy it, but unlike some islands, you can easily avoid it.
Gulf of Thailand (East)
The closest of these islands to Bangkok. Samet has a good mix of local holiday makers and tourists which give it a nice friendly feeling. Samet is very small but still gives you everything you need for a short relaxing getaway from Bangkok. It provides beautiful sandy beaches with great restaurants and a small but intense nightlife should you seek it.
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