Island hopping Thailand is probably the most popular first big trip for young travellers. I can totally understand why a island hopping Thailand adventure is so extremely popular with people from all over the world, but to be honest I never wanted to write about the places to visit in Thailand cause there are already numerous articles out there about what to see in Thailand or top 10 places in Thailand.
But as I already collected more than 25 Thai passport stamps I do have some knowledge about things to see in Thailand and heaps of people keep on asking me for travel tips. So I decided it was about time to write about my top places in Thailand or actually I should call it top beaches in Thailand. I have been in the country for 12 times but I never made it up North to for example Chiang Mai, the beautiful beaches in Thailand were always calling. So if you are looking for the best islands in Thailand and places to visit in Bangkok keep on reading.
Best season to visit Thailand
Apart from June and July I have been in Thailand every month of the year. Of course the best season to visit Thailand is end of November till the beginning of April as it is the dry season. Though this is also the high season and prices will rise dramatically. Rainy season is during the European and US summer. Don’t let that hold you back too much. I have been there in the rainy season and was very lucky. It can rain for an hour or 2 but after that its mostly sunny again.
Is it safe to travel to Thailand?
Numerous times I got the question if it is safe to travel to Thailand. I have never encountered any other problems than taxi drivers that are not willing to turn on their meter. Seriously to me there are no safety issues at all. I know I am man and that definitely makes things easier, but even for a girl there won’t be that much hassle. Thai people are genuinely friendly, just be aware of the many scams. Those won’t hurt you, but will hurt your wallet!
Places to visit in Bangkok
The Thai capital can be intimidating at first, but give it a chance and you will seriously love it. Walk around, take unexpected turns, get lost and see the best places to visit in Bangkok. There is something to see in every street.Of course make sure you are going to see the temples. Enjoy a night out around Khao San Road, find a rooftop bar for a drink with a spectacular view, eat your heart out in Chinatown, explore the city by local boat, roam around one of the many shopping malls, try a luxury Thai cinema or take a bike tour to see a totally different side of Thailand. See here my GoPro video of a bike tour Co van Kessel.
If you are interested in markets don’t miss the Mae Klong Railway market or one of the floating markets. You want something more adventurous? Go wake boarding! Click here to read more about my top 10 things to do in Bangkok!
How to get from Bangkok airport to the city? It is so easy: go down to lowest floor of the airport and buy for 45THB ($1,30) a ticket into the city and then take a meter-taxi and you will get to your destination for max $4 in total! How to get from Khao San Road to the airport? Do it the other way around or take one of the direct busses that run frequently to both airports.
Buy a Thai SIM card and enjoy cheap and fast 4G internet during your Thailand sightseeing trip. Take a look at one of my most read articles: The best Thailand tourist SIM card!
Island hopping Thailand (West coast)
My favorite province to go is Krabi as it has one of the best spots in Thailand to go to. First of all because of its unique limestone cliffs, stunning nature and incredible laid-back vibe, second because of the many hotspots in Krabi: Ao Nang, Tonsai, Railay and Koh Lanta. And third because of the many adventures that are waiting like world class rock climbing and incredible hikes, one of the bestof Thailand.
Ao Nang Krabi
Ao Nang is a touristy little town and is the perfect hub to get to either Tonsai or Railay beach. Plenty of simple nightlife and a lovely street scene can be found here. The secluded bays of Railay and Tonsai are cut off from the mainland by massive limestone cliffs and therefore only reachable by boat; the ultimate beaches to relax. This is also the place where you can find the best rock climbing in Thailand. From Ao Nang there are many tours to surrounding islands, but they are so small you can not stay over night. A famous daytrip is Hong Island. Read the next blog about my favorite beach: best beach in Thailand!
On the mainland you can find the best hike in Thailand: Tab Kak Hang Nak hike. A challenging climb with unbelievable views over the limestone cliff landscape, the ocean and the islands around Ao Nang. If you have some energy left there are 600 steps that lead to the top of a mountain where you can find the so-called Tiger Temple. Don’t worry there are no tigers here! Curious where I stayed to drive my scooter to the spot on the picture down below? Check out my hotel review about Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort with the most amazing infinity pool looking out over the nearby islands!
Koh Lanta Krabi
It took me a couple years to finally make it to this island but it cannot be missed in your itinerary. Super friendly people and low-key island life is waiting for you. Some decent party places, long and wide beaches and a scooter friendly island to tour around. I really enjoyed my time in Koh Lanta. It was beginning of May and there was not much going on. If you are looking for an island where it is not only party, party, party then try Koh Lanta. Thinking about staying in here and want to indulge yourself? The picture down below is from Crown Lanta Resort & Spa, a romantic private villa escape, but still very affordable!
For a little more luxury I am sure you want to check out the no.1 Adult Only Resort in Thailand: Layana Resort & Spa!
Island hopping Phuket
Island hopping Phuket is a very popular, but if people ask me what to do in Phuket my answer is: escape! Phuket island hopping should be on your list as the islands near Phuket are among the top places in Thailand, the peninsula itself is not at all my favorite place in Thailand. It is the most popular ‘Thailand party island’, an extremely touristy place where party people gather and the beaches are nothing like you have seen in pictures. In fact the pictures that probably lured you to Phuket are from the islands near Phuket. Phuket definitely has a couple stunning beaches and resorts but there are way better beaches on the islands around Phuket. But if you are looking for an amazing place to just crash for a week and enjoy the laid-back island life in Thailand, then Phuket definitely is not a bad choice. It is hard to believe but I slept in the same bed as Rihanna at Samsara Phuket and I also stayed in the amazing Phuket Sri Panwa private pool villas. If you are dying to go on a holiday then don't click on the links! Let me tease you with just two pictures:
Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi
Talking about beautiful islands in Thailand Yao Yai and Yao Noi are hidden gems. A short speedboat ride towards the East of Phuket will take you to these two fairly unknown islands and it was only till my 12th time in Thailand that I made it out here. Nowadays it is my secret travel tip and one of the top islands in Thailand for seeing the untouched Thai islandlife. Mass tourism does not exist here yet. Pristine white sand beaches, deserted bays, authentic local restaurants, amazingly friendly people, wild monkeys and great back roads to explore on a scooter. If you want to get away from the tourist trail then these islands are one of the top places in Thailand. Stay on the best beach in Koh Yao Yai!
Party on Phi Phi Islands
Of course this island group has to be included in a list of places to go in Thailand. For party lovers this is heaven with parties all around the island every night. It is the most popular Thailand party island where young backpackers meet and go wild. A couple days Phi Phi Islands is in many people’s itinerary but if you are coming for the stunning picture perfect beaches you could be disappointed. Of course it is still among the most beautiful places in Thailand but if you ask me about my top 10 places in Thailand I will not mention Koh Phi Phi. The insanely popular islands of Phi Phi are overcrowded and the famous beaches can be a nightmare with thousands of people taking selfies. Just don’t have too high expectations; drink loads of alcohol and you will be fine!
Scuba diving Similan Islands
For the best diving in Thailand you have to be in the Similan Islands. There are many tours leaving from Phuket. To see the best of the Similan islands you have to experience a liveaboard boat and go diving every day at the most remote dive spots.
Island hopping Thailand (East coast)
The three most popular islands on the East coast in Thailand are in every list of where to go in Thailand. The Gulf brings island hopping Thailand to another level with the popular destinations Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao all within a 2-hour boat ride. Every island has its own character all so different. Read my blog: Where to go Koh Tao or Koh Samui?
For a real islandlife feeling you have to go to Koh Tao. It is the smallest island and the place where getting your scuba dive certification is among the cheapest in the world. There are hardly any cars on the island and hunting down stunning remote bays with a scooter is a must. Snorkeling, hiking and incredible viewpoints are among other things not to miss in Koh Tao. For me Koh Tao is one of the best islands in Thailand, it is probably because I lived there for 5 months in total and I did my PADI Divemaster training there.
The following articles are all about Koh Tao:
Koh Phangan is famous for its Full Moon parties, which definitely makes it one of those interesting places in Thailand. But this island is more than parties! Hidden bays in the North are not yet discovered by mass tourism and therefore an amazing place to unwind. Are you a yoga fanatic or just want to give it a go? There are plenty yoga retreats scattered around the island. Discover the beauty of the green and hilly Phangan on a scooter and get lost in search for that laid-back island feeling or party hard on one of the many parties.
Interested in partying in Koh Phangan? Read this first: To full moon or not to Full Moon
Koh Samui is what I call the holiday island. Internationally well know for its luxury resorts and upscale beach clubs and always named in a top 10 destinations in Thailand list. It is the easiest island to reach due to its international airport and therefore also a hub for people travelling to the nearby top islands in Thailand. It is not that low-key as Phangan and Tao and I would not say it is among the best islands in Thailand but it has its own charm. For a little bit more upscale and luxury you have to be on Koh Samui for sure.
Would you want to live in Koh Samui? Living on a lovely Thai island for a little while, just a 30min boatride away from all the great parties on Koh Phangan? And at the same time invest in a future nomadic lifestyle? Then what about signing up for a TEFL course which they teach in Koh Samui? Teaching English as a Foreign Language, with this diploma you can literally teach English everywhere around the world! Imagining working in China for $60 per hour or living in Buenos Aires making great money as a private English teacher. Click on the link to learn more about this course!
Read more about Koh Samui in the following article: Where to go? Koh Tao vs. Koh Samui. There was one time I stayed in Vikasa Yoga Retreat and tried out yoga! It was cruelty. I mean the yoga part of course, it was totally not my thing, but at least I tried. Check out great deals for accommodation through Agoda.
Island hopping in Thailand (South)
Probably the best islands in Thailand can be found all the way South. It is a little off the beaten path and therefore not yet extremely touristy, though more and more tourists are finding its way to what many regard as the best beaches in Thailand. Koh Lipe and its surrounding islands all have the perfect white beaches. Those ones you post on your Instagram to make the people at home jealous.
The Southern islands can best be reached from Langkawi in Malaysia, it is easier than from Thailand itself. From Koh Lanta it is about 6 hours down south by boat, from Langkawi it is only around 1 hour. It is a perfect stop in an itinerary from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. Be aware that rough seas in the rainy season cut the island of from the tourist trail as many boat companies don’t serve Koh Lipe in the off season as frequent as normal.
How to get to Thailand
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