Thailand is full of stunning islands containing emerald lagoons and pristine beaches with clear turquoise waters and powdery white sands. The islands in Southern Thailand are some of the most popular destinations for visitors around the world to visit — the ideal places for you to snorkel, scuba dive, surf, indulge in a soothing aromatherapy massage, or relax on board of your luxury yatch.
With so over 300 islands in the country to choose from, where is the best place for you to enjoy your luxury island retreat? Here are the most popular islands in Thailand for you to plan a truly memorable vacation experience.
Regarded as “the pearl of the Andaman,” Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is surrounded by many beautiful beaches such as Rawai, Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata Yai, Kata Noi and Mai Khao, and hundreds of luxury resorts. Phuket is also surrounded by 32 smaller islands such as Koh Lanta and Koh Similan, making this part of the country popular all year round.
Over the past 30 years, Phuket has steadily transformed from an underdeveloped island to a top tourist destination in the world, with 8.4 million visitors in 2017 and with around 60 flights from Bangkok per day. It is a large island but is accessible by road, and you can easily find some form of transportation to get around the island. Gorgeous and very well equipped, Phuket has everything you could wish for — from stunning natural must-see sights such as Laem Promthep Viewpoint where you can watch a spectacular sunset, to experience some of Phuket’s rich culture and history in the Old Phuket Town. You can simply chill on the sandy beach, have a foot massage and sip some fabulous cocktails, or jump into the water and swim, sail, water ski, snorkel and scuba-dive, or even take a day-trip out to the surrounding Phi Phi Islands, Similan Islands or Phang Nga Bay.
If you would like to make your trip memorable, make sure you spend a day or more on a private luxury yacht and be surrounded by the captivating natural beauty of the Andaman Sea and islands.
2. Phi Phi
If you are a fan of The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you will love Phi Phi. Or if you haven’t watched the film, you will love it anyway.
Located in Thailand's Andaman Sea about 46 kilometers from Phuket, Phi Phi islands are among Thailand’s most popular beach destinations — home to Maya Bay, sheltered on powdery soft white sands and surrounded by 100-meter high cliffs and colorful coral. Phi Phi has two main islands — Phi Phi Don, the largest of six islands that make up the Phi Phi islands paradise, and Phi Phi Leh, which is full of limestone mountains.
Phi Phi islands feature stunning snorkel and dive sites with the crystal clear waters among candy-colored and neon-bright fish. Rock climbing and hiking are also popular on Phi Phi Don, and cliff jumping is one of the great adrenaline pumping activities that you can jump off the cliff to the water, starting from three metres to 20 meters in height. However, to avoid any danger, make sure you contact tour operators to participate in this activity. If you are looking for a relaxing type of activity, you can simply soak up the sun, enjoy the sea breeze, and spend lazy days on the beach, or you can pamper yourself with a wide range of massages and body treatments.
Samui is Thailand’s third largest island and is nested in the Gulf of Thailand — 80 kilometers from the mainland’s eastern coastline. Similar to Phuket, Samui is a tropical paradise where you will experience a wealth of natural beauty and cosmopolitan luxury. You can simply fly from many countries directly to Samui since the island has its own beautiful airport, operated by Bangkok Airways.
Of course, Samui has everything you might want for a holiday, with a number of beaches for you to choose. Chaweng, however, is one of the most popular hot spot beach destinations with a seven-meter-long stretch of white sand. This is the best place to visit if you don’t mind the crowds. Expect to see a busy beach full of tourists sunbathing and playing watersports. But if you look for a quieter place, head to Lamai Beach, located about half an hour away from Chaweng. Though quieter and less hectic than its big sister beach, Lamai features a lot of luxury accommodations, cafes and restaurants and luxury spas for you to relax and unwind. Don’t forget to head to the north coast of the island where Bophut’s Fisherman Village is located. Enjoy strolling around the village and a walking street that will spoil you with numerous restaurant choices and chill-out places.