Thailand’s 1430 Islands
Yes, you read that right. Thailand has 1430 islands of all shapes and sizes spread across in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
In Thai, the names of islands are most often preceded with the word Koh or Ko, which is essentially the word for island. So, when you say Koh Samui or Koh Chang, that basically means you are saying Samui Island or Chang Island.
With so many islands, you might be wondering what are the best islands to visit while in living and working in Thailand?
The answer is both simple and not so simple. It really depends on so many factors, which is why we are creating this superlative of Thai islands guide based on different categories and interests.
Let’s start with the biggest islands in the country.
10 biggest islands
Phuket (514 km²)
· Koh Samui (229 km²)
· Koh Chang (217 km²)
· Koh Taratao (152 km²)
· Koh Phangan (125 km²)
· Koh Kood (111 km²) aka Koh Kut
· Koh Lanta (81 km²)
· Koh Tao (21 km²)
· Koh Si Chang (17.3 km²)
· Koh Samet & Koh Mak are about the same size(13 km²)
Some popular small islands with an area size of 10 km² or less include:
· Koh Lipe
· Koh Nang Yuan
· Koh Tub
· Koh Kai (chicken island)
· Koh Poda
These islands are easily explored in a day or less by bike or even by foot.
When it comes to the smallest islands (or islets) in Thailand, it is hard to say because in some cases, they are simply specks of land or blip of rock and sand in the ocean. Some you can step on, while others not at all because of their geographic topography. Koh Ma Tang Ming in Krabi and Koh Losin off the coast of Pattani are just but a few examples of such “islands”.
Best islands to party
Phuket – being the largest island in Thailand, it also has the most options for parties. Patong is infamous for partying, but you can also experience something more local in other parts of Phuket such as Old Town. There are also dozens of chic beach clubs all over the island.
Koh Phangan – the epicenter of parties in Thailand, popularized by the Full Moon Parties. You can’t say party islands without thinking of Koh Phangan.
Koh Samui – there are party areas all over the island. Beach clubs, bars, clubs, you name it. The best nightlife is at Chaweng Beach and Coco Tam’s at Bo Phut Beach.
Koh Chang – lonely beach, Kai Bae Beach and white sand beach areas are the main party spots on Koh Chang. For dancing and letting loose, head to Lonely Beach. Kai Bae is known for nice bars and restaurants. White sand has a lot of beach bars.
Koh Samet – the entire beach strip from Sai Kaew to Ao Phai is party haven for weekenders from Bangkok, Rayong and Pattaya but it is also popular with travelers looking for a good time.
There are also other islands such as Koh Lipe, Koh Larn and Koh Phi Phi that have quite a decent nightlife scene.
Best islands for working
Koh Phangan – lots of work-friendly cafes and co-working spaces.
Koh Lanta – beautiful island that is not too touristy but also has a decent selection of accommodation, cafes, and a nightlife for digital nomads. A good alternative to Krabi or Phuket.
Phuket – a great place for expats and digital nomads to live because of the sheer number of options and conveniences.
Koh Samui – there are so many AirBnB villas on this island that it is perfect for remote working and living. Many people even start business in Koh Samui or work at one of the many resorts.
Island with most beaches
Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan have the most beaches with Phuket topping the list with 44 beaches. Koh Samui and Koh Phangan have about40 and 30, respectively.
Island with pristine beaches and water
This is quite subjective as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some might like the rustic look while others prefer the white sandand turquoise water.
But if you are thinking of jaw-dropping beaches and water, then here are a few that top the list:
· Koh Lipe
· Koh Phi Phi
· Koh Kham off the coast of Koh Mak
· Koh Rok
· Koh Tachai
· Bamboo island near Koh Phi Phi
The list goes on, especially when it comes to the small islands where you are only allowed for day trips or overnight camping. Those islands are numerous and can be experienced with island tour companies in Krabi, Phuket, Koh Chang and Koh Samui.
Koh Phayam – a popular island in Ranong but still considered one of Thailand’s off-the-beaten-path travel destinations. It’s a lovely place to explore by foot or bike.
Koh Bulon - This tiny spit of land near Taratao National Park is completely stuck in time – there is almost no development competing with the natural beauty of the island’s diverse landscape. the island only takes about 20 minutes to navigate on foot.
Koh Wai and Koh Ngam – tiny islands near Koh Chang boasting gorgeous, secluded beaches and unique landscape. Koh Ngam in particular has an impressive strip of land that has the ocean on two sides.
More than just beaches
Koh Phra Thong – an island in Khura Buri District, Phang Nga with a landscape like no other. The island is famous for its mangroves and Savannah grasslands. It is one of Thailand's unspoiled island destinations.
Koh Panyi (Panyee) – this island in fact does not have any beaches. Instead, it is more like a floating village in the Phang Nga bay. The most notable and iconic landmark of this island is the floating soccer field.
Hardest islands to get to
To get to most islands in Thailand, you have to take a long ride from mainland to one of the ferry ports. From there it can take anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours. It takes about 1.5-2 hours to get to Koh Lipe from Pak Bara pier in Satun province. That is on top of a 90-minutevan ride from the Hat Yai airport.
No island is really that hard to get to anymore as increasing number of logistic operators and travel agencies have made the process and journey as seamless as possible.
Most expensive islands
Any place can be expensive or cheap depending on where you stay. However, Phuket is known to be one of the most expensive islands to live.Koh Samui as well. But the good thing is that they also have budget-friendly options because of so much development and variety.
While not entirely cheap, Koh Phangan and Koh Chang have been known to offer budget-friendly experiences and accommodations.
If you want to know the names of all the islands in Thailand, Wikipedia has the full list.
Islands with cars
These are islands that you can take your car on using a ferry or in the case of Phuket, a bridge.
· Koh Chang
· Koh Lanta
· Koh Samui
· Koh Phangan
If you have any other categories or questions about Thai islands, be sure to message us and we will be happy to include/answer them for you.
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