Rich culture, vibrant cities and stunning beaches are what make Thailand the ultimate summer holiday destination. But if you just want to relax, go shopping and immerse yourself in nature without too much of the hustle and bustle of the big city, one of the best ways to experience Thailand is to island hop along the vast coastline.
Island hopping is an adventure for those who like a more dynamic getaway. There are hundreds of islands to explore, each one different from the last. Here are some of the most popular, must-see islands around Thailand that you can explore:
You’ve heard of Phuket, Thailand’s largest and most famous island, with world renowned accommodation, incredible beaches and great dive sites among the surrounding islands. If you want to visit some of the outlying islands along the east and south-east, Phuket is a good starting point. There’s plenty to do, including sampling a sumptuous Thai meal at one of the many restaurants in the city or taking a leisurely stroll along the pristine white sand of Kata Beach. Cool off in the sea during the day and take advantage of the shopping alleys along the main street, which sell everything from jewellery to snorkelling gear. If you’re looking for an awesome dive site, the Similan Islands north of Phuket are rated among the Top 10 greatest diving spots.
Koh Samui (Gulf of Thailand)
A backpacker’s paradise, and ultimate Thailand holiday destination Koh Samui is a coastal gem with a great contrast of rolling hills, coconut plantations and lush grasslands. The crystal blue waters are breath-taking and the vibrant nightlife is great for the younger crowds. It’s a less-commercialised, more laidback location with accommodation options to suit all budgets. Some of the island activities are snorkelling, diving and kayaking on the many beaches located on the island. If you’re the exploring type, take a tour around the Butterfly Farm or watch the Snake Show. There are a number of ways to relax on this island – get a full-body Thai massage or learn more about traditional Thai cuisine by taking a cooking class.
Koh Pha Ngan
If you tend to get restless while on holiday, the island of Koh Pha Ngan ought to fix that. Perhaps most widely known for its full moon parties, cheap accommodation and amazing food – it also has plenty of tranquil beaches and ancient temples to explore. There are mountain treks and bicycle trails for more adventurous tourists as well as the picturesque Than Sadet Waterfall to admire.
Koh Hae (Coral Island)
A half hour boat ride from Phuket, this popular Thailand travel spot is perfect for a range of water activities such as water-skiing, sailing, para-sailing, scuba diving and snorkelling. Novice snorkelers and kids can venture into the clear shallow reefs. If you’re looking for a small pleasant beach away from the crowds, Banana Beach is the place to relax for a while. Hire a boat or take the jungle trail from Long Beach to get there.
Koh Tao (Turtle Island)
This is a smaller island with a more laidback lifestyle, a world away from the bustling city. Grab your snorkelling gear and head to the beach to explore the vast colourful underwater world, stay in a classic bungalow or the more modern and luxurious resorts if that’s more your style. This is the place for divers and paradise seekers.
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