The Thailand holiday sector is one of the strongest in the world. As recent news stories are projecting 32 million visitors to Thailand by the end of 2017, it just goes to show no matter what you throw at the Kingdom, it quickly converts into tourist numbers! One of the main components of the uber-successful Thailand holiday market is its breathtaking and earth-shattering tropical islands. If you don’t know your Samui from your Lanta, here is some invaluable info on the top-5 Thailand holiday island getaways.
#1 – Exploring Phuket Island
Did you know that Phuket is approximately the same size as Singapore? Doesn’t seem right, does it? It really is surprising, but Phuket is actually the largest island in Thailand. Phuket is sat in the dreamy waters of the Andaman Ocean in Southern Thailand and is the jewel in the crown of the Thailand holiday island scene. Not only does Phuket still have stunning beaches such as Nai Harn and Nai Yang, but is also famous for its international-style mentality and high-end holidaymakers.
The most popular holiday destinations in Phuket are Patong Beach, which is home to Bangla Road, and other popular areas such as Kata, Karon, Kamala, Surin and Nai Harn, all located along the Western coastline. With some amazing beach clubs, a stunning selection of eateries from low-cost Thai restaurants to special fine-dining establishments, international shopping centers such as Central Festival and Jungceylon, Phuket literally has everything for the modern holidaymaker of today who is always looking for more!
Size: 576 km²
Known For: Stunning beaches, world-class infrastructure, 5-star resorts and high-end clientele
Popular Attractions: Beaches, Phuket Fantasea Theme Park, Big Buddha Mountain, Phuket Aquarium, Splash Jungle Water Park, Blue Canyon Country Club Golf
#2 – Discovering Koh Samui Island
If you are looking for somewhere that is nearly as beautiful as Phuket but is more geared to mid-range travelers, while still retaining its tropical charms, Koh Samui Island is an option for the ages. Situated in the dreamy blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, within close proximity to many great dive sites, this cosmopolitan island is the fourth largest in Thailand and is definitely one of the most popular with younger travelers and the backpacking scene, although it still has many 5-star options. From stunning Koh Samui villa rentals and quaint beachside bungalows to some of the largest 5-star hotel chains in the world, Samui has something for everyone.
The most popular areas for tourists are Chaweng Beach, BoPhut Beach, Maenam Beach and Lamai Beach. From the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Village with its myriad of shops, bars and restaurants, to stunning waterfalls such as Hin Lad, to breathtaking temples such as Wat Plai Laem, a Thailand holiday on Koh Samui is always something special!
Size: 228.7 km²
Known For: Stunning beaches, laidback beach clubs, dance club inspired nightlife, full moon parties, national parks
Popular Attractions: Chaweng Beach, Wat Plai Laem, Fisherman’s Village, Big Buddha Temple, Hin Lad Waterfall
#3 – Absorb the Serenity on Koh Lanta Island
We always feel that one of the most underappreciated and less talked about islands, Koh Lanta, doesn’t get the kudos it deserves as a jaw-dropping tropical Thailand island holiday destination. Many people do not realize that Koh Lanta is actually the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Ko Chang and is located in the South of Thailand. Combining both Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi, the island is mainly epitomized by its most popular beaches such as Klong Nin Beach and Long Beach.
The island was once the main domain of the sea-gypsies and evolved into a popular holiday island for backpackers and lots of Scandinavians who used to frequent the island in their droves. In this day and age, the island is becoming a bit more commercial but is still an amazing place to visit. If you are a fan of natural beauty and wildlife, you really cannot afford to miss the luscious Mu Koh National Park or the Lanta Animal Welfare Center. When you are looking for one of the most laidback tropical Thailand holiday experiences, not many can match Koh Lanta for its serenity.
Size: 339.8 km²
Known For: Laidback atmosphere, peaceful serenity, stunning beaches, cool beach clubs
Popular Attractions: Klong Nin Beach, Long Beach, Lanta Old Town, Mu Koh National Park, Khao Mai Cave
#4 – Basking on Koh Chang Island
With a population of barely 6,000, Koh Chang is one of the less inhabited islands in Thailand while actually being the second largest in the Kingdom after Phuket in terms of landmass. The reason the island is less inhabited is that most of it is covered in dense and scenic jungle terrain. Located in the Gulf of Thailand towards Trat and a 4 – 5 hour drive from Pattaya, Ko Chang really is a special place to visit during your Thailand holiday. Not so many first-time holidaymakers make it this way, but if you do, you will encounter some amazing coastal roads, picture-postcard beaches such as White Sand Beach and Klong Prao and amazing natural wonders such as Mu Ko Chang National Park and Klong Plu Waterfall.
With lots of hiking trails, coral reefs, and a laidback tropical environment, Ko Chang has a feel and atmosphere that is like no other island in Thailand. There are also lots of bars, international restaurants and lots of shops, so it’s not like being in the middle of the Amazon or anything like that. You can visit the island by taking the 45-minute ferry ride from Trat, which is 80 THB per person one-way, or 120 THB for a round-trip ticket.
Size: 429 km²
Known For: Lovely beaches, hilly coastal road, dense jungle vegetation, a short ferry ride from the mainland, as being elephant island!
Popular Attractions: White Sand Beach, Klong Prao Beach, Mu Ko Chang National Park, Kai Bae Viewpoint, Klong Plu Waterfall
#5 – Getting Close and Personal with Koh Phangan Island
If you want to experience the ultimate tropical Thailand holiday island, Koh Phangan is a legendary place. Located in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, within close proximity to its big brother, Koh Samui, Phangan will leave you awestruck and flabbergasted with its beauty. The island is accessed via ferry from either Koh Samui or Surat Thani on the mainland and is home to the infamous Full Moon Parties you have read so much about, which have been written about in major international magazines such as FHM and many more.
The island’s holiday scene is mainly about beaches, natural beauty, and total relaxation. The most popular beaches are Hat Rin Beach, Bottle Beach and Ao Thong Nai Pan Beach, which is a great place if you are looking to find a cool choice of restaurants and bars. For natural beauty, get over to the mesmerizing Than Sadet Waterfall National Park, which really is a stunning place. Koh Phangan might well be the smallest island of the big-5, but when it comes to rest, relaxation, peaceful serenity and unbridled natural beauty, it is a match for any other island during your Thailand holiday experience.
Size: 429 km²
Known For: Full moon parties, tropical beaches, crystal clear oceans, scuba diving and snorkeling, national parks, breathtaking tropical atmosphere
Popular Attractions: Hat Rin Beach, Ao Thong Nai Pan, Kobra Muay Thai Boxing Stadium, Than Sadet Waterfall National Park