Thailand has quickly become the go-to spot for backpackers and many other types of nomads travelers. Checking social media sites, and even a quick google search of Thailand, shows people enjoying island hopping in this beautiful country, but can leave you asking, “With all these options, what’s the best island in Thailand?”
Sort our your Thailand itinerary and then use our list of the best islands to go to in Thailand as a guide to your personal backpacking trip.
1. Koh Samui
This island is the second largest one in Thailand and features a wide range of activities for everyone. This island is known for the “Big Buddha” landmark, Grandma and Grandpa rock formations (Hin Ta and Hin Yai), its festivals, such as the Buffalo Fighting Festival and the Ten Stars Samui Art party, a yearly regatta that attracts sailors from across the globe, an annual triathlon event, breathtaking waterfalls, bustling fisherman’s village, and many street fairs offering local art, food, and souvenirs.
The best time to go to Koh Samui would be during the high season in late December to January or July-August, but February-June and September-October may offer low accommodation prices and less crowded beaches if you prefer coming at a quieter time.
2. Koh Yao Noi
Koh Yao Noi is one of best quiet islands in Thailand. It is part of a pair of islands with Koh Yao Yai in the Phang Nga Bay. It became known for the accolades it received from Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler and offers simplicity and an escape from the tourist-ridden sites on other islands.
While the island is rather quiet and untouched, there is a wide range of things you can do in Koh Yao Noi. You’ll see wooden homes, roaming buffalos, rice paddies, rubber plantations, and mangroves. This island offers idyllic, peaceful kayaking, rubber and fishing demonstrations, and hiking that offers a mindful, serene escape.
3. Ko Phi Phi
This archipelago has become a tourist hot-spot and Ko Phi Phi Don may be considered the best island in Andaman. Top sites to visit here include Maya Beach, Monkey Beach, and Bamboo beach. Make sure to do some evening snorkeling while you’re here as well to check out the tides of plankton that move through this area.
This island is the second most popular tourist spot in Thailand (first is Bangkok). This island is known for its lively nightlife scene near the popular Hat Patong, where you can mingle with other backpackers and locals alike. Popular spots to visit on the island include Hat Mai Khao, otherwise known as “Airport Beach,”
Panwa Beach, a relatively untouched beach on the southeastern corner of the island, the Phuket aquarium, Promthep Cape, a popular sunset viewpoint near the southernmost point of the island, Hat Kamala, a beach offering tranquil, white sands for relaxing and a reef for snorkeling a nearby Buddhist temple, Wat Baan Kamala, featuring statues that depict Buddha’s journey through life, and Phuket Town, which features charming Sino-Portuguese architecture, colorful shops, and Phuket Trickeye Museum.
5. Khao Phing Kan
Nicknamed the “James Bond Island,” this island features large limestone karsts, sea caves, cliffs, and several beaches. This is a great place to snap some pictures, hike over the cliffs, and pretend you’re a Bond villain as you explore the caves.
James Bond Island is located in the Phang Nga Bay and there are many other interesting things to do in and around the Phang Nga Bay too. Visiting James Bond Island really boils down to getting there, but you have to plan your whole day around this short trip and make the most out of it. Also, be prepared to meet a lot of tourists.
6. Koh Lipe
This small island is one of the best islands in Southern Thailand. It is an excellent spot for water sports like kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding. The island also has great snorkeling right off the beaches as well as boat trips that leave from the island that offer memory-making diving and snorkeling experiences. Sunrise Beach is a great place to start your snorkeling experience, both in the shallow waters as well as after the drop-off where deeper waters lend visitors the opportunity to see a wider variety of marine life.
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best islands in Thailand for backpackers, start planning your trip today!