Thailand is one of the most beautiful places in the world and with over 100 islands it makes it all the more difficult for you to pick ‘the one’.
Here are 5 of the most popular islands where you can soak up the sun, feel the air, ride the waves, party away or just relax.
Phuket exemplifies what luxury truly is. With some of the most grandiose resorts and hotels in the country, the jet setters get here in droves. If rubbing shoulders with the movie stars, the rich and the famous is your calling, this is where you should be.
Phuket is a great vacation island for families as well. Most of the luxurious hotels have child camps in place tailored to keep them entertained. Trisara is a great luxury hotel for families. Dine at Sri Panwa and have that divine experience which everybody talks about. Ask Bradley Cooper!
Phuket has a tailor made experience of quintessential tropical fun, where you can explore historical museums and monuments. But remember you would be shelling out a little more in Phuket than any of the other islands in the country.
Caution: Avoid the ‘sin city’ Patong if you are travelling with family.
2. Koh Chang
Stretches of white sand beach, several waterfalls, coral reefs, dense rain forests – all on offer at Koh Chang. You can rent a motor bike and go beach hopping, the island large enough to make for a fun ride.
Drive up to Bang Bao village, go to Cliff Cottage and have a drink on the deck overlooking the sunset on the ocean while meeting fellow travellers.
Dine at the Saffron on the Sea in White Sand Beach or the Ka-Ti culinary Restaurant in Long Island beach for some fancy Thai food experience, although the street food is equally delectable.
If you want to let your hair down and meet lots of people White Sand Beach is for you. But you want to know what locals do and eat? Swing by the bars at Lonely Beach and Bailan Bay. Bob Marley is famous around here… just so you know what to expect.
Spilling the beans: Between Klong Kloi and Bang Bao, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss beach called Sai Noi Beach – still rustic, laid back but with basic huts and local food to eat. Read a book, swim a little, have a drink, and see what being away from civilization can do to you.
3. Koh Sumai
If you are scouting for honeymoon destinations, look no further. Welcome to the paradise island! An hour away from Bangkok by flight, stay in one of the serene estates – Headlands nestled in Baan Taling Ngam Beach is an island in itself, so tranquil and luxurious you will never want to leave. Six Senses is another resort you should consider.
For non-honeymooners check out the National Marine Park, the Big Buddha Temple and the Mummy Monk (for real). Explore the island on bicycles, take an ocean excursion, go on a market tour, attend a couple of Thai cooking classes, and of course, you always have the white sand beaches to come back to.
Koh Samui, also houses a large number of the expat community resulting in a lot of good English schools, in case you are looking for the long haul. Most locals speak English here.
For a budget stay go to Wave Sumai in Chaweng beach – this charming restaurant cum library has a lot of character. There is free wifi in case you couldn’t resist sharing your photos!
Where’s the party? There are great parties happening in Chaweng beach but for the real thing take a detour towards Koh Pa Ngan island – just a ferry ride away (Four and a half hours) – this is where all the legendary wild full moon parties are held.
4. Koh Tao
If you’re looking for adventure, Koh Tao is the place to be. Take a dip in the crystal clear waters and savor the trippy coral reefs, climb some rugged rocks, do scuba diving and say hello to the giant sharks!
The shallow waters in this palm-fringed island makes it easy for virgin divers to learn – in fact, it is one of the most popular places to learn to dive in the world. If you want to be PADI certified, pack your bags and get here.
Although popularized as an adventure island, there are plenty of places to relax and have fun.
Learn to Dive: Master Divers Day, Alvaro Diving School
5. Koh Phi Phi
Single and ready to mingle? Meet young, stylish and energetic travellers? That’s Koh Phi Phi for you.
Koh Phi Phi is modern and sophisticated but it has managed to retain its stunning natural beauty. The turquoise water, miles and miles of white sand beaches, and acres of thick evergreen forest, a vibrant nightlife (including full moon parties), you would want to make your home here.
Once you soak up the sun, rent a kayak at Do Dalam bay and paddle to the other side of the mountain, you are heading towards Monkey Beach. It takes about 40 minutes of strenuous rowing. The beach is free, but you will need a few hundred bhat for kayaking.
Beautiful and adventurous, go a little deeper and discover a few more coves but get back if you see the clouds hovering, else you will be stuck for hours.
It’s THE Beach: Yes, this is where the famous movie, “The Beach” was filmed. Yes, yes, Leonardo was here!