While in the Philippines we can find thousands of islands, from the huge and overpopulated ones to the tiny and paradisiac, Thailand is surrounded by a much smaller number of islands and islets. Not that I will try to make a competition as to which country has more islands or which islands are the best. But surely, it is definitely worth checking out what our neighbours have to offer and enjoy what is available out there. And oh, boy, they won’t disappoint!
We can’t deny both countries have a lot in common, but the differences also abound, making Thailand a wonderful destination to those looking to travel somewhere exciting in a fairly short distance. Taking all this into consideration, today I will talk about four islands you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Thailand, whether you consider yourself a beach bum or a culture vulture.
4 ISLANDS YOU SHOULDN’T MISS IN THAILAND
1- Koh Samui
Koh Samui may not be the most talked about island in the country, but it surely has its fair share of things to do. Tourism is well developed here and there are several resorts, luxury villas and bungalows. Many luxury Thai homes around the island are also owned by A-list celebrities.
One of the most beautiful beaches in the Gulf of Thailand, Chaweng beach, is located here and it’s a real tourist hotspot. With white sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters and rolling hills in the backdrop, it is hard not to fall for the beauty of Chaweng. But popularity comes at a price, so there are a lot of shops, massage parlours and restaurants dotted along the nearly seven kilometres of this pristine beach.
If you prefer something more peaceful, Lipa Noi beach may just be what you’re looking for, though. Stunning as it is, Lipa Noi is less developed than Chaweng, making it the perfect place for those who just want to sunbathe and relax in an idyllic beach location.
Phuket is largest Thai island and the most populated. It is also one of Thailand’s top destinations and a magnet for international tourists, attracting more than four million overseas travellers per year.
The island has a number of towns, villages and beaches for every type of traveller and a large number of hotels. If you’re a culture vulture, you would probably like to start your visit in Phuket Town, where you can see the Big Buddha, one of Phuket’s favourite landmarks. At 46 metres, the giant white marble statue can be easily seen from down below.
If you’re an adventure junkie, you may prefer to take a dive around the clear Phuket waters. Amateur or fully trained divers will enjoy the rich marine life around the island. Phuket also has a number of companies where you can get your PADI certificate, allowing you to explore its deeper waters. Many companies offer packages to dive in places such as the Anemone Reef.
But if you’re more like a party animal, Patong Beach may be just the place for you. This party beach has hundreds of bars and nightclubs, from the odd family-orientated ones to places packed with revellers and ladyboys that will add some flair to anyone’s mood.
3- Koh Lipe
Located on the Sea of Andaman, Koh Lipe is the southernmost island in the whole of Thai territory. It is located about 50km from Langkawi, in Malaysia. Koh Lipe is very remote and hard to get to – a trip there from Bangkok involves a flight, hours by bus and another 2 hours by boat.
Known as “The Maldives of Thailand”, Koh Lipe was barely known 30 years ago and has seen some development during the last years, although it is far from being as developed as Phuket, for example.
It’s easy to explore this tiny island and most people just come to relax and enjoy its three pristine sandy beaches. You can also go one some island-hopping tours, visiting the neighbouring islands and beaches.
4- Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is one of Thailand’s most revered islands, made famous by the Hollywood blockbuster The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Comprised of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, the Phi Phi islands are easily reached by ferry from Phuket or Krabi. Although many tourists prefer to come on a day trip, you will definitely enjoy it more if you come and stay at least for one night.
Unlike the movie makes you believe, Phi Phi islands are far from being a quiet place. Rather the opposite, to be honest. Phi Phi Leh is the only inhabited island and where you will find all hotels, guest houses and restaurants. It’s a nice place to relax, sunbathe and try some amazing seafood. But at night it turns into a party island, with tourists filling the streets with a great atmosphere, while the loud music bangs in the background.
Phi Phi Don is the largest island and the destination of many day tours that cover several areas, including the infamous Monkey Beach and the Maya Bay, the iconic place made famous by DiCaprio’s film. Here you will find tourists taking selfies and posing in one of Thailand’s most famous locations, but you can also go snorkelling and visit part of the island’s interior. I highly recommend a full-day tour that includes a boat trip at sunset. It is a truly wonderful sight not to be missed.
What about you, have you ever been to Thailand? How would you say it differs from the Philippines? Go on, leave your comments below!