Thailand is one of the most visually beautiful places in the world consisting of rolling hills in the north and island paradises in the south. With over 1400 islands, a trip to Thailand would be incomplete without an island hopping adventure.
Each Thai island is unique and presents its own charm. With so many islands to choose from, it’s difficult to know which ones are worth your time. Below, I’ve laid out four separate Thailand island hopping itineraries for your next vacation. Find the itinerary that fits your style and start planning the holiday of a lifetime.
Thailand Island Hopping: Andaman Islands & Western Thailand
The Andaman Sea holds some of the most beautiful islands in all of Thailand. Find some of the best snorkeling and dive locations on this coast. There are several different routes you can take for your island-hopping adventure:
Suggested Itineraries: Andaman Islands & Western Thailand
Off the coast of Khao Lak, Thailand, you’ll find 11 magical islands scattered throughout the Andaman Sea. These atolls are known as the Similan Islands. Several decades ago, the Similan Islands were a hidden gem among travelers.
Due to increased tourism, these islands are no longer a secret. What used to be a hidden oasis is now filled with swarms of people. In fact, tourism became such a problem for the Similan Islands that they’ve now put a limit on the number of people who can visit each day.
Why You Should Visit The Similan Islands While Thailand Island Hopping
I don’t want to scare anyone off from visiting the Similan Islands because the truth is, these islands are incredibly beautiful.
Catch a magical sunset after a hike up to Sail Rock. Not only is it the best vantage point for seeing the sun dip below the sea, but it also has the best view of the surrounding islands.
Enjoy the beautiful beaches; our favorite was Donald Duck Bay on Similan Island #8. Be sure to get to this beach early to avoid the crowds.
Where To Stay
If you’re looking for a unique experience on the Similan Islands, you’ll want to enjoy this paradise without all of the people. Dodging the crowds might seem like a bit of a challenge but there is an easy solution. I highly recommend exploring the Similan Islands from a liveaboard.
Not sure what a liveaboard is? Think about a boat hotel or a mini-cruise! Liveaboards cater to a small group of people and they typically focus on diving, although you can still enjoy a liveaboard if you aren’t a diver.
Taking a liveaboard to the Similan Islands will give you a backstage pass to the islands. You’ll be able to stay on the islands long after the tour groups have left. For more information about the liveaboard that we recommend, check out this link: Sawasdee Fasai Liveaboard.
How To Get To The Similan Islands
If you choose not to take a liveaboard, there are many different ways to get to the Similan Islands. The easiest way is to start your journey in Khao Lak. The pier you’ll look for is called Tab Lamu. From this pier, take a fast boat over to the islands. The journey by fast boat takes just over an hour.
2. Koh Phi Phi
If you’ve been researching the Thailand islands, I’m sure you’ve heard of Koh Phi Phi. This famed island is full of epic experiences for your Thailand island-hopping journey.
Koh Phi Phi consists of two different islands, Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh. You’ll be staying on the large island, Koh Phi Phi Don. After being completely leveled by a tsunami in 2004, the Phi Phi Islands have made an inspiring comeback.
Although, with the influx of tourists, Koh Phi Phi Leh has quickly declined. Thai officials have closed this area down for visitors; personally, I feel this is the right choice in order to protect the most beautiful parts of the Phi Phi Islands. If you want to visit Maya Bay, you’ll have to wait for the island to re-open up to the public once again.
In my opinion, the Phi Phi Islands have a lot more to offer than just Maya Bay. My favorite activity on Koh Phi Phi is kayaking. The waters are the most incredible emerald blue you’ve ever seen. Kayaking across the bay to the secret coves was an experience I’ll never forget.
Other things to do include visiting Monkey Beach, Tonsai Beach, and a secret Phi Phi hidden gem: Nui Beach. Nui Beach holds the title for the best beach on Koh Phi Phi Don. You can reach this beach by boat or you can stumble your way through the dense jungle to find it.
Of course, a visit to Koh Phi Phi wouldn’t be complete without a trip up to the viewpoint. This viewpoint is one of the most famous sights in all of Thailand. Take the short walk up the steep stairs to enjoy a beautiful Thai sunset over the limestone cliffs of the Phi Phi Islands.
Where To Stay On Koh Phi Phi
For budget travelers, check out: The Pier 519 Hostel. This hostel offers clean rooms and a friendly staff.
Both of these resorts are set back from walking street and the main drag. If you’re keen on partying and enjoying the nightlife, you might want to check out the hostels in the center of the island. Keep in mind, these hostels are far less maintained than the accommodation options I recommended. I wouldn’t expect a high-quality stay from any of the hostels on walking street.
How To Get To Koh Phi Phi
Reaching Koh Phi Ph is fairly easy. You’ll be able to take a boat from either Phuket or Krabi. When we first visited Koh Phi Phi in 2014, tickets from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi were 350 baht. Five years later, the price of a boat ticket has skyrocketed. Expect to pay at least 500 baht (one-way) to reach Koh Phi Phi from Phuket.
From Krabi, boat tickets will cost approximately 300-400 baht.
3. Ko Surin Nuea
Add Ko Surin Nuea to your Thailand island hopping route. This national park island is perfect for snorkeling, diving, and experiencing the most amazing sunset.
I suggest coming to Ko Surin Nuea between the months of November to February. During these months, the water is clear and great for spotting marine life. Outside of this season, plankton makes the water murkier, although still very beautiful.
Many visitors compare Ko Surin Nuea to the Similan Islands. The biggest difference is the number of people visiting these national parks. While the Similan Islands are bombarded with tourists, Ko Surin Nuea gets a much healthier dose of travelers. The number of people increases every year, so I suggest visiting now before it’s sadly too late.
Where To Stay On Ko Surin Nuea
Since this island is part of a national park, there aren’t any resorts. Personally, I think this is the best way to experience any island. The purity of it helps keep the natural beauty intact.
Camping on the beach is the go-to accommodation option on Ko Surin Nuea. Getting the entire island to yourself is magical. Set up camp on Mae Ngam Beach; renting a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat are available at the park ranger station.
How To Get To Ko Surin Nuea
The best way to experience Ko Surin Nuea is by taking a tour of the national park. With the tour group SeaStar, you’ll be guided around the island for unforgettable snorkeling excursions and beach camping. Check out the 3 days, 2 nights trip to Ko Surin via SeaStar.
4. Koh Lanta
Sit back and relax on the island of Koh Lanta, located near Krabi, Thailand. This laidback island is a great place to unwind after a long Thailand island hopping trip.
Expect epic sunsets on Koh Lanta and beautiful beaches in the south. The northern beaches of Koh Lanta are struggling with pollution and litter, so do your part to keep this island as clean as possible.
Although adventure activities are a bit lacking on Koh Lanta, there are some must-do things to add to your island hopping itinerary. Be sure to rent a motorbike while staying on Koh Lanta. With a motorbike, you’ll be able to see the whole island and find hidden gems.
Koh Lanta also has a dense jungle and great trekking. Get off the beaten path and discover all that Koh Lanta has to offer.
5. Koh Lipe
Quickly growing in popularity, Koh Lipe is another island to add to your Thailand island hopping itinerary. Located in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Langkawi, this island paradise is perfect for water sports and adventurers.
Take the paddleboard out for an afternoon on the brilliant blue seas or grab your snorkeling or diving gear to experience life under the sea. For an even better experience, come to Koh Lipe during offseason. Exploring the ocean without crowds of people is the way to go!
Expect this island to be a bit more pricey than other Thailand island destinations. With tourism drastically increasing to this area, the island prices also increase.
Where To Stay On Koh Lipe
When visiting Koh Lipe during your Thailand island hopping adventure, stay at Ten Moons Lipe Resort. This resort is located just ten minutes from the pier. The seclusion, ample amenities, and clean rooms make this place very charming.
How To Get To Koh Lipe
From Bangkok, you’ll want to fly down to Hat Yai. The domestic flights within Thailand are affordable, which makes your trip a bit easier. From Hat Yai airport, take the shuttle to Pak Bara pier. From this pier, you’ll take a ferry over to Koh Lipe.
During peak season, it’s even easier to reach Koh Lipe by taking a fast boat from the island of Langkawi. Langkawi is a major Malaysian island, so getting here is cheap and easy.
Know Before You Go
Nightlife in Koh Lipe is becoming more and more prevalent. If you aren’t up for loud parties, I recommend staying away from walking street. The accommodation I listed above is a quiet resort away from the hustle and bustle.
As crowds rush to this island, the infrastructure takes a serious hit. Do your part to keep this island clean. Throw your trash in bins and be aware of your impact on the land.
6. Koh Ra Wi
If you’re looking for a true “off-the-beaten-path” Thai island experience, Koh Ra Wi is the island for you. Located a stone’s throw from Koh Adang and Koh Lipe, Koh Ra Wi is an undiscovered and undeveloped beauty.
On Koh Ra Wi, you’ll find clean beaches, clear water, and sugar-white sand. It’s rumored that this island boasts the best beaches in the entire archipelago. The secluded coves and azure water make this hidden gem a magical oasis for Thailand island hopping.
To add more adventure to your trip to Koh Ra Wi, trek to the waterfall on the interior of this island. Ask the park rangers for directions and wear comfortable shoes.
Where To Stay On Koh Ra Wi
As part of Mu Ko Tarutao National Park, there aren’t any resorts on this island. The best way to experience Koh Ra Wi is to camp on the beaches for a night or two. Rent a tent from the ranger station or bring your own. The fee to camp is extremely cheap, but bring cash because there are no ATMs on this island.
How To Get To Koh Ra Wi
The easiest way to get to Koh Ra Wi is by taking a longtail boat from Koh Lipe. Prices for this short trip continue to increase, but you can barter for a cheaper fare.
Know Before You Go
Ranger stations and many tour companies close during the off-season, which is from the middle of May until the middle of October. Getting to Koh Ra Wi is more difficult during this time, but can still be done.
7. Koh Adang
The twin sister island to Koh Ra Wi is Koh Adang, another atoll worth visiting during your Thailand island hopping journey. For us, the best part about Koh Adang is the price. Experience this paradise Thai island for a fraction of what you pay at other islands.
Koh Adang is the perfect place for snorkeling and diving. As an off-the-beaten-path destination, the beaches are typically vacant and the marine life is plentiful.
Another great adventure to experience on Koh Adang is Pirate’s Waterfall. Although this is a small waterfall, the journey to get here is priceless. A short walk from the beach will bring you through the dense jungle; keep an eye out for unique wildlife along the way!
If you’re keen on hiking a bit more, take an adventure to the island’s famed viewpoint. With jaw-dropping views of Koh Lipe, this is one of the best things to do on Koh Adang.
Where To Stay On Koh Adang
One of the very few options for accommodation on Koh Adang just so happens to be an awesome resort. Adang Island Resort is affordable and offers a variety of amenities. Use their free kayaks or snorkeling gear to explore the shores or cool off in their beautiful pool.
How To Get To Koh Adang
From Sunrise Beach on Koh Lipe, you’ll take a longtail boat to Koh Adang. The ride to the island will last just a few minutes.
Know Before You Go
Be sure to bring enough cash with you to Koh Adang. There are no ATMs or markets on this island. Stock up before leaving Koh Lipe.
Thailand Island Hopping: Central Thailand & Chumphon Archipelago
Let’s jump across to the central part of Thailand and the Chumphon Archipelago. Located in the Gulf of Thailand, this is where you’ll find many of the most popular islands among travelers.
Suggested Itinerary – Central Thailand & Chumphon Archipelago
Koh Tao – Koh Phangan – Koh Samui – Koh Wua Ta Lap – Koh Phaluai – Koh Talu
8. Koh Phaluai
This hidden oasis, just west of Koh Samui, consists of 90% national park land. Koh Phaluai is one of many islands that make up Angthong National Marine Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in Thailand.
If you’re looking to escape the hordes of tourists on Koh Samui, consider visiting this island and staying for a few days. This relaxing hideaway will make you want to stay and enjoy the blue-green waters forever. Speaking of blue-green waters, swimming in this national park is some of the cleanest in Thailand. You won’t want to miss out!
Where To Stay On Koh Phaluai
Since the northern portion of the island is a national park, you’ll be staying on the southern tip of Koh Phaluai. Stay at the awesome eco-friendly resort with friendly staff and excellent amenities.
Booking your stay with Angthong Beach Resort will surely result in a positive experience. Take advantage of their free bicycles and cycle around the island. Experiencing Koh Phaluai on two wheels is the best way to find the unknown attractions. Speaking of two wheels, Angthong Beach Resort also offers motorbike and kayak rentals. This is perfect for touring the coastline.
Note that this is an eco-friendly resort. This means that Angthong Beach Resort runs primarily on solar power. They use solar power to operate fans and charge necessary electronics at night.
How To Get To Koh Phaluai
The easiest way to get to Koh Phaluai is by boat from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. It is also possible to get to Koh Phaluai from mainland Thailand. Take a local boat from Don Sak pier in Surat Thani. This will take you directly to the island.
Know Before You Go
Since Koh Phaluai is mainly covered by a national park, there are no bars, shops, or other conveniences on this island. Take this into consideration when visiting. Bring enough cash to supply your island trip.
9. Koh Wua Ta Lap
Moving right along to the other islands that make up Mu Koh Anthong National Marine Park, we have the ravishing island Koh Wua Ta Lap. Visiting this island might just be the most incredible experience you’ll have in all of Thailand.
In my opinion, Koh Wua Ta Lap has it all: the best snorkeling, beaches, and kayaking adventures for any traveler. But to really get the most out of your Thailand island hopping trip, you’ll want to visit the Koh Wua Ta Lap viewpoint.
This famed viewpoint manifests unbelievable views of the surrounding national park. From the top, you’ll see islands such as Koh Mae Ko and Koh Sam Sao among others. The trek to the top has many stairs but is easily doable for those who are physically fit.
If you’re in the area, be sure to visit the viewpoint on Koh Mae Ko as well. This viewpoint is more unique than the viewpoint on Koh Wua Ta Lap as it offers views of the well-known Emerald Lake. If you decide to visit Emerald Lake on your journey through Angthong National Marine Park, take the stairs all the way down to the shore for an even better experience.
How To Get To Koh Wua Ta Lap
Since this is a national park preserve, it’s very likely that you’ll visit Koh Wua Ta Lap with a tour from Samui or Phangan. Keep in mind that there is an entrance fee for this island so bring cash with you.
10. Koh Phangan
If you’ve heard about Thailand’s notorious Full Moon Party, then you’re probably familiar with the island of Koh Phangan. Just north of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan has a lot more to offer than just alcohol and parties.
Break out the hiking shoes and climb up to the highest point on Koh Phangan, Khao Ra. You’ll get the most scenic views of the island below and it’s a lot less traveled than other places on Koh Phangan.
Rent a motorbike on Koh Phangan and navigate your way through the entire island. Stop at the many waterfalls or visit the excellent night market, Thong Sala Night Market.
If you’re looking for beaches, look no further than Bottle Beach. Bottle Beach is a very secluded beach, but it’s definitely worth the effort to get to. Although it can be accessed on foot, I wouldn’t recommend doing it due to the dense jungles and lack of trail. The best way to reach Bottle Beach is by taking a water taxi.
Staying on Bottle Beach is also an option, but there aren’t many great accommodation options here. I suggest spending a whole day on Bottle Beach before taking the water taxi back to your hotel or bungalow.
Despite the poor publicity in recent years, Koh Tao is a scuba diving paradise. The diversity and plethora of things to do on this island is unmatched by any other Thai island.
Many travelers come to Koh Tao to get dive certified. Koh Tao offers the best prices in the entire world and the best dive sites for all levels.
Not a diver? No problem. Make your way up to John-Suwan Viewpoint for an unbelievable view of Shark Bay, Freedom Bay, and the entire island. I wouldn’t recommend wearing flip flops on this trek because you’ll be climbing quite a bit, but the effort is well worth it.
If you want a quiet, laidback vacation, Koh Tao is for you. If you’re looking for nightlife, you can find that on Koh Tao, too!
Where To Stay On Koh Tao
Grab an ocean view room at View Point Resort on the southern end of Koh Tao. Here, you’ll be getting an upscale resort stay at an affordable price.
12. Koh Samui
Although Koh Samui is one of the most touristy islands in Thailand, this should not be excluded from your island hopping itinerary. As one of the most popular islands in Thailand, you’re sure to find an activity or experience that tickles your fancy.
The best way to see Koh Samui is by renting a motorbike and visiting all of the beaches and waterfalls that this island has to offer. Add Namuang Waterfall, Chawang Beach, and Lamai Beach to your list of things to do in Samui. And if you’re an avid golfer, you’ll love the plethora of courses on this island.
Another unique experience on Koh Samui is seeing Hin Ta and Hin Yai, also known as Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s Rock. Upon arrival, you’ll notice a rock formation that has a strong resemblance to the female and male private parts (hehe)! Order some coconut ice cream from the small shop near this popular tourist attraction and enjoy a sunset on the beach.
Rock formations seem to be a hit on Koh Samui. Overlap Stone is another cool rock formation and quite frankly a hidden gem among tourists. Take your motorbike up to this viewpoint, but be careful. The road to Overlap Stone is unmaintained in many places.
Other travelers opt to go ziplining or to see the big buddha. And if you’re wanting the nightlife scene, Koh Samui’s got it!
How To Get To Koh Samui
This is by far the easiest island to get to in Thailand. Thanks to Samui Airport, you can fly directly to the island from Bangkok.
Know Before You Go
As a major tourist destination, scams happen frequently. Be sure to understand common price points for different services before you arrive so that you’re not ripped off during your vacation.
13. Koh Talu
One of the more unique islands to visit on this list is Koh Talu. If you’re at all interested in marine life or conservation, this is the island for you!
On Koh Talu, you’ll find the famed sea turtle nursery that works to protect, breed, and release sea turtles into the ocean. This nursery attracts many travelers from all over the world and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Along with the nursery, Koh Talu has a lagoon perfect for snorkeling and diving. The coral reefs here are teeming with colorful fish and marine life. The water is typically clean, however, trash frequently washes up from mainland Thailand. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for islands to escape the trash epidemic.
While visiting Koh Talu, take a hike up to the viewpoint. This viewpoint is the best vantage point to see the coastal cliffs along the shore. Take in the scenery of this quiet and peaceful island paradise before continuing on to your next Thailand island hopping destination.
Where To Stay On Koh Talu
Book a room at Koh Talu Island Resort. This is also the location of the sea turtle nursery; in my opinion, a huge plus! BABY SEA TURTLES!!!
How To Get To Koh Talu
From Bangkok, take a bus to Bang Saphan District. From the Ban Ma Prao Resort pier, you’ll take a boat to Koh Talu.
If you’re looking for an island hopping itinerary that takes you off the beaten path, consider exploring the eastern coast of Thailand.
Suggested Itinerary – Eastern Thailand
Koh Samet – Koh Chang – Koh Mak – Koh Kut
14. Koh Chang
My personal favorite island on this list is Koh Chang. A more off-the-beaten-path destination, Koh Chang is much less crowded than other islands in Thailand.
The first thing you should do when you get to Koh Chang is to rent a scooter. This is by far the best way to see the entire island. With hidden waterfalls and national parks to explore, you won’t want to miss out on a thing.
I know this post is dedicated to Thailand island hopping, but once on Koh Chang, you’ll want to do a bit of waterfall hopping. Add Khlong Phlu Waterfall and Than Mayom Waterfall to your list of things to do. I found that Khlong Phlu Waterfall was one of the largest waterfalls I had seen in Thailand. A true spectacle.
Once you are finished waterfall hopping, it’s time to pick a pristine beach for one of the best sunsets you’ll see in all of Thailand. Mu Koh Chang National Park is a great place to relax during a jaw-dropping sunset. Grab a cocktail and unwind on this island oasis.
How To Get To Koh Chang
First, you’ll need to get to Trat, Thailand. You can do this by taking a minibus (van) or bus from Victory Monument or the bus station in Bangkok. There is also an option to fly to Trat using Bangkok Airways.
Once in Trat, take the ferry over to the island.
15. Koh Samet
Take a quick weekend trip from Bangkok to the popular island getaway, Koh Samet. If you’re looking to escape for a weekend of relaxation, this is the island for you. On the contrary, Koh Samet also has a vibrant nightlife.
Soak in Koh Samet’s quiet beaches and turquoise waters while sipping on a cocktail from one of the many beach bars. After the sun goes down, make your way to the main beach to watch live entertainment including fire dancers and flame throwers. When we visited Koh Samet, this was an awesome way to end the night.
Customize your trip to Koh Samet to fit your needs and desires. If you want a cheap holiday destination, stay in one of the many bungalow accommodations on the beach. Just the opposite, Koh Samet also has luxury resorts. Whatever you desire, Koh Samet has it!
How To Get To Koh Samet
From Bangkok, take a van to the pier in Ban Phe. From Ban Phe, board a speed boat or ferry over to the island. The best part is that they have speed boats running throughout the night. This is extremely helpful for those arriving late to the pier after a long day of work.
16. Koh Kood
A hop, skip, and a jump from Koh Chang is a small, off-the-beaten-path island called Koh Kood (or Koh Kut). On K17oh Kut, you’ll encounter clean beaches and fun jungle trekking trails.
One of the best things to do on Koh Kood is to visit the Khlong Chao Waterfall. Be sure to visit this waterfall during the wet season as the waterfall can become weak during the dry season. Pack your swimsuit while visiting this waterfall and come early to avoid any crowds.
My favorite part of visiting waterfalls in Thailand is swimming in the pools and getting a free fish pedicure from the spa fish. Don’t worry, these fish don’t have teeth!
One of the best beaches on Koh Kood is Nang Yai Beach, a great place to stop and unwind for the day. The sugary white sand and azure waters will check all the boxes for the perfect beach oasis.
Just the same as getting to Koh Chang, take a minibus or fly to the province of Trat, Thailand. From the pier in Trat, catch a boat over to the island.
17. Koh Mak
Rounding up this list of ideal island hopping destinations in Thailand is Koh Mak. Another off-the-beaten-path island, Koh Mak is undeveloped compared to other islands on this list.
This hidden gem has a relaxed beach vibe with excellent viewpoints that overlook the surrounding islets. Bring your snorkeling gear and suit up for the beautiful waters in Koh Mak’s lagoon. Don’t be alarmed if you happen to see some garbage wash up on shore; Koh Mak is doing it’s best to battle the garbage issue from mainland Thailand.
You won’t find many parties on Koh Mak, so I suggest enjoying a night on Ao Soun Yai Beach while watching the sunset.
Where To Stay On Koh Mak
By far the best place to stay on Koh Mak is Seavana Beach Resort. Although a bit isolated, Seavana Beach Resort has it all: great food, excellent staff, and a laidback island feel.
How To Get To Koh Mak
Like Koh Chang and Koh Kood, you’ll go to the pier in Trat to get to Koh Mak. From the pier, take a boat over to the island.
Know Before You Go
Since Koh Mak is more undeveloped than other islands, bring enough cash to supply your trip. There is an ATM on this island but it often doesn’t work or frequently runs out of cash.
The Wrap-Up: Thailand Island Hopping
If an island hopping adventure appeals to you, use these four itineraries to help you decide where to go and what to see. The best part about Thai islands is that there is something for everyone out there.
Have you been island hopping in Thailand? Where did you go and what did you see?
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