Picking Paradise: How To Choose The Right Thai Island For You

the best thai islands

Unsplash/Yap Chin Kuan

You’ve probably seen the Instagram posts of bright blue water, rolling green hills and gorgeous white sand. And so an island in Thailand is likely on your wishlist — those tropical paradises are beckoning to all of us! But picking your idyllic piece of paradise isn’t easy. There are just so many to choose from. So we narrowed the field to some traveler-favorite isles. Here’s how to choose the right Thai island for you, according to your travel style.

For Luxury: Phuket

the best thai islands


The largest Thai island’s bright white sand beaches drew the eyes of luxury travelers and the resorts followed. You’ll find some of Thailand’s fanciest spots right on the island, mostly on Surin and Ao Bang Thao beaches. You can expect to find beach umbrellas shading tourists from the hot tropical sun before they venture into the water. Bring a good beach book!

For Hiking: Koh Chang

the best thai islands

Flickr CC/Matteo

If you want to go literally wild (not partying wild — that’s other islands’ purview), go to Koh Chang. You can take a scooter around the island to various trailheads leading to waterfalls or you can do longer treks through the jungle. You’ll want hiking boots and a bikini here.

For Scuba And Snorkeling: Koh Similan

the best thai islands

Flickr CC/Jon Hanson

Koh Similan is the biggest of the chain of Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea. It’s not only the best place to dive in Thailand, but also one of the best in the entire world. You can find unique coral, caves, diverse marine life and welcoming shallow waters for snorkeling. The island is part of Mu Koh Similan National Park, meaning you’ll get true pristine waters.

Lazing On The Beach: Koh Kradan

the best thai islands

Flickr CC/Mark Fischer

For the folks who want nothing more than a beach with a view, Koh Kradan is your spot. It’s a tiny island that’s a mix of resorts and national park acreage, meaning you’ll have a lot of space to yourself. It also means there aren’t many options for food or activities, so you’ll want to splurge on a stay at one of the resorts or pack a picnic from the mainland.

For Chill Vibes: Koh Lipe

the best thai islands

Flickr CC/Vyacheslav

Looking for a laid-back holiday with a bit of everything? Koh Lipe is your answer. Whether you want good food, fun bars or a beach that will take your breath away, you’ll find it here. Sunrise Beach is the highlight, with unbelievably soft white sands underfoot. You’ll never want to leave.

For A Party: Koh Phangan

best thai island

Flickr CC/Davidlohr Bueso

Home to the famous Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan is a place for the young and a little bit crazy. Full moon parties are known for fire dancers (don’t play jump rope with the fire ropes), potent sandcastle bucket cocktails (drink responsibly) and all-night revelry. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of scene, but please be a decent party animal and don’t litter all over the beach.

A Note On Koh Phi Phi

the best thai islands


The beach made famous by Leonardo di Caprio’s movie “The Beach” is feeling the effects of its popularity. The otherworldly cove had to close temporarily to recover from overtourism — too many excited travelers coming over by boat. But there are many other islands with equally beautiful views to explore while Phi Phi is restored to a healthy tropical paradise.


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