Over the last couple of decades, Thailand has become a hub for tourist from around the world because of its abundant natural resources, from the stunning islands and beautiful beaches to mountains and forests. But of all the islands, five of them stand out due to their unique natural beauty and the well-equipped facilities offered for tourists. Phuket, Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Lipe as well as Ko Phi Phi are the five islands in Thailand one cannot miss when visiting the country.
Located South of Thailand, it is known as the largest island in the country. Covering an approximate 1008 km square area, Phuket is regarded as one of the most famous islands in the world due to its scenic beaches that attract millions of tourists all year round.
In the western part of Phuket lies Patong Beach, which is the main attraction of the island due to its festive parties, pocket-friendly accommodation, various kinds of restaurants, shopping outlets and nightlife options. There is also no shortage of available high-end accommodations in Phuket for the luxury travelers sprinkled around the island.
The interior of Phuket, however, is better for tourists looking for calm getaways as it is not congested like in Patong. Visitors can enjoy historical buildings, visiting temples and wet markets that are still reflecting a charming way of local people living.
On the other hand, Chalong Bay makes the prime entrance to the island offering anchorage for luxury yachts and small boats.
Watersports can also be enjoyed in Phuket at Kata Yai and Kata Noi beaches where competitions like surfing and speed boating are hosted as well as snorkeling.
Getting around Phuket Island is made easy by the municipal air-con and new shuttle buses found on arrival at the airport. More transport options are also available ranging from mini-buses and metered taxis that offer a quicker and more convenient way to move around the island.
Tagged as the third largest island in the land of smile, Ko Samui is located in Chumphon Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. It is made up of an of swaying coconut plantation, picturesque waterfalls, white sandy beaches with calm tides and lush hills.
Due to its bountiful forest hill, Ko Samui provides an ideal site for hiking and exploration. Visitors can enjoy their holidays by taking an adventure sightseeing trip or just rent a bike and do the freestyle tour by themselves.
Koh Samui is also known for its fun water activities such as diving, snorkeling and kayaking particularly in the Chaweng, Lamai, Mae Nam and Bophut beaches. On a serious exploration of this island, a tourist should not fail to visit the infamous ‘Grandfather and Grandmother’ Rocks which act as a landmark of Samui. Other cultural attractions such as Wat Khunaram Temple home to the ancient mummified monk and The Big Buddha are also worth visiting. The tiger zoo, monkey shows, and water buffalo fights are also popular among tourists.
It is easy to commute to the island because of the Ko Samui Airport. Also, there is an inexhaustible list of transport options available from a van to a limousine service at the airport for travelers to choose to suit their budget. Metered taxis are available for a comfortable cruise around the island charging up to 1200 THB a day while motorbikes are 900 THB a day. However, the most affordable mode of transportation remains the local Songtaew, which is a shared two-row seat bus.
Ko Pha Ngan
This attractive island is located between Ko Samui and Ko Tao in the Central Gulf Coast of Thailand. The long white sandy beaches coupled with scenic sunsets make it earn the description of paradise! Thong Sala, which is referred to as the heart of this island, serves as the main entrance to its ferry port. Tourists can sail, do kayaking and windsurfing due to the windy conditions of Pha Ngan. Snorkeling is also an ideal sport for tourists visiting the Mae Haad. Haad Chao Phao is offering excellent but budget-friendly resorts and bungalows furnished with full facilities and beach bars. Ko Pha Ngan also offers a peaceful escape for honeymooners with the scenic sunsets and the notorious Full Moon Party being held in Haad Rin.
The island is accessible through the Ko Samui Airport or the Chumphon Airport with transportation around the island available by bus, train, boat, motorcycle and Songtaew. The most convenient method to explore the whole island is by a motorcycle or a Songtaew, which charge a fee of 120 THB and 100 THB, depending on the distance.
Be sure to visit the unspoiled Than Sadet-Ko Pha Ngan National Park, which has no entrance fee as well as the beautiful waterfalls in this park.
Referred to as the “Paper Island” by the locals, Ko Lipe is located on the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. It boasts of four white sandy beaches namely, Pattaya, Sunrise, Karma and Sunset beaches.
Ko Lipe is known for the best reefs for scuba divers especially at 8 Mile Rock, the home for fantastic birdlife and sea creatures such as the Pelagic fish and sharks. Diving and snorkelling are made unforgettable at the bay between Ko Adang and Ko Rawi due to the presence of rare sea life found in no other part of the world. It is also safer to dive in this area since the Tarutao National Park staff provide a guide rope for divers in the sea.
Other fun sports activities include kayaking and sailing. One should endeavourr in visiting the small Buddhist temple at the heart of this magnificent island.
Ko Lipe is known for its affordable restaurants offering mouth-watering dishes, refreshing drinks and movie showings every night. Transport in and around the island is a little challenging though as there are a few motorbikes available for hire and no vehicles. It charges around 50-200 THB while speed boats are around 650 THB one-way and 1200 THB to-and-from Ko Lipe.
Ko Phi Phi
Made of a combination of six islands, Ko Phi Phi is found in Krabi Province in South Thailand. The six islands that form this stunning archipelago are Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh, Ko Yung, Ko Mai Phai, Bida Nai and Bida Nok.
Of the six islands, Phi Phi Don is the most populated and with most modern facilities such as supermarkets, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), restaurants, accommodation and beauty parlors. It’s white powdery sandy beach provides an impeccable spot for swimming, sunbathing or photo shooting.
Although the island is easily accessible by boat, one can choose to hire all-inclusive tour services for a serious exploration of the island either from Phuket or Krabi provinces.
Don’t forget to visit the popular viewpoint for an incredible scenery and spectacular landscape. The monkey beach also offers a glimpse of wildlife as it is the home of curious monkeys while the Yao Beach is ideal for snorkeling because of its beautiful coral reefs. Recently introduced sports such as rock climbing and cliff jumping on the high and daunting cliffs are also available with the fire shows on the island providing an excellent close to your vacation.