Islands of Thailand travel guide
The little sister to Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan has a name of its own as a world-class diving destination. Wannabe divers flock to Ko Tao to get their PADI open-water certification making Ko Tao one of the most popular and cheapest places to do it in the world. But besides the bubble blowers, tiny Ko Tao also attracts travellers who want to escape the commercialised Samui and party-crazy Ko Pha Ngan. Though Ko Tao has several beaches, most people stay at lovely and long Sairee Beach. A low key mix of bungalows, seaside restaurants, inland town (if you can call a couple of streets a town) and funky bars makes it a fun place to be, diving or not. But as with any other islands in Thailand, you can choose other bays if you are into more secluded beaches and resorts.
© Sarah Hishan
Ko Yao Noi is ideally located between Krabi and Phuket but remains a destination that few travel to. Its location offers uninterrupted views of the majestic limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay while also being an excellent base to explore nearby islands by kayak or boat without crowds. Life here has remained largely untouched by tourism and people still leave their keys in the ignition without a passing thought. Slow paced and friendly, Ko Yao is also home to an unspoilt coastline of pristine beaches, striking lagoons and scenic rice paddie fields. The island may be small, but it is diverse enough to offer an off the beaten track adventure or secluded beach retreat, all while enjoying the surreal beauty of the bay. A couple of yoga and meditation centres have also cropped up if inner discovery in a tropical setting is what you're after.
The largest island in Thailand is Phuket. It is so big that it does not feel like one, which is kind of good for the place is welcoming several million tourists every year. Most people only make it to the main strips of sand at Patong, Karon and Kata, leaving a fair bit of beaches and green countryside to travellers seeking more than Starbucks, jetskis and expat bars. Phuket admirably manages to offer something for everyone. Even the Old Town of Phuket city is inviting and is a great base for the penny-pinchers who are more interested in exploring the island than spending money on prime beach location.
For an idea of the different beaches on Phuket, check out the photo gallery.