Best Islands in Thailand: Beach Bum’s Edition

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Best Islands in Thailand

Looking for the best islands in Thailand?

Hello fellow travelers, I’m Sharmini, your wanderlust-driven friend who’s spent the better part of a decade exploring the nooks and crannies of South East Asia (and a lot of the rest of the world) solo.

From secluded Thai beaches to vibrant markets, my suitcase and I have unearthed stories, tips, and even a few blunders throughout our journey together.

Best hidden islands in Thailand
Beach vibes…

Stepping through the varied landscapes as a Southeast Asian woman has been enlightening and eventful, providing me with access to perspectives that I don’t think I would have, had I stayed at home.

But you’re not here for that, let’s navigate through Thailand’s hidden island gems together, and if solo travel strikes a chord, my Solo Travel for the Modern Woman Guide dives even deeper into this nomadic life, waiting to be discovered by explorers like you.

Best Islands in Thailand

Thailand is undoubtedly my go-to when I’m hankering for some island vibes. Having hunkered down in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan for a good three months, working on my novel, I got a pretty solid lay of the land – and sea, for that matter.

Expect mind-blowing vistas and perhaps a new favorite chill spot as we navigate through my top picks the best islands in thailand, crafted from countless trips to this Southeast Asian jewel.

Are you a woman traveling alone to Thailand? Well, do I have a treat for you? Check out my purpose-built guide for the solo female traveler in Thailand.

Stick with me, and you’ll be navigating these isles like a pro in no time. Let’s dive in!

Best Hidden Islands in Thailand 

Thailand’s off-the-beaten-path islands are where you find the rare jewels of tranquility and untouched nature.

They’re my secret retreats when the hustle of well-trodden paths gets a bit too much. Sometimes the lesser-known paths lead to the deepest personal discoveries, don’t you think?

Best Islands in Thailand Koh Yao Noi

Koh Yao Noi

Amidst the allure of the Andaman Sea, Koh Yao Noi stands as a peaceful sanctuary. It’s a dream, offering a calm retreat from the typical buzz of Thailand’s tourist magnets.

Best Islands in Thailand Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe

Picture this: turquoise waters, vibrant reefs, and a laid-back vibe. Koh Lipe, a petite island near Malaysia, is this and so much more, offering a blend of tranquility and subtle island nightlife.

Best Islands in Thailand - Koh Mak

Koh Mak

Koh Mak, nestled in the National Marine Park, offers serene beaches and scenic bike routes. It’s where I found an untouched Thailand from 10 years ago.

Best Beach Resorts in Thailand

Enough about the best islands in Thailand. Let’s talk about RESORTS! Epic comfort, luxurious vibes, and some pretty spectacular views – let’s talk about Thailand’s top beach resorts that I’ve been lucky enough to experience.

Best Beach Resorts in Thailand Trisara

Trisara Phuket

Trisara Phuket, a private pool villa resort, has an allure that’s hard to resist. During my stay, the exceptional service, secluded beaches, and breathtaking ocean views provided a much-needed luxury escape.

Best Beach Resorts in Thailand Four Seasons Koh Samui

Four Seasons Koh Samui

Nestled in a lush, tropical hillside, Four Seasons Koh Samui was my sanctuary of serene relaxation and unrivaled comfort. Their villas, each with a private infinity pool, and the astonishing sea views offered a slice of paradise.

Best Beach Resorts in Thailand Anantara Bophut Resort Samui

Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort

Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort is not just a stay but an experience, blending luxury with authentic Thai adventures. Their notable programs captivate, offering a mix of peaceful beach vibes and lively, island explorations, which you’ll often see me raving about during my travels.

Best Beach Resorts in Thailand InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort

InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort

InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort was more than a mere pit stop — it was home for a solid three months. Remarkable sunsets and genuine experiences defined my stay, all candidly documented in an Instagram reel for those curious to see life through my temporary home lens.

Best Beach Resorts in Thailand Rayavadee Krabi

Rayavadee Krabi

Rayavadee in Krabi, with its stunning natural surroundings, felt like stepping into a dream. Tucked between cliffs, caves, and the Andaman Sea, it provided a unique blend of nature and luxury during my stay.

Best Beach Parties in Thailand

Beach parties in Thailand are legendary, and let me tell you, they live up to the hype. In fact that’s what one of the best islands in Thailand is literally known for. Guess which one 😏.

Whether you’re into full-on raves or more intimate gatherings, there are all flavors at this buffet. Navigating through these events gave me a taste of the eclectic and electric spirit that Thailand’s nightlife holds, each in its own unique style and flair.

Remember, hold your belongings close when traveling. NOBODY wants to deal with an emergency situation on a tropical island. The right crossbody bag can be the trustiest of travel companions. Find one that best matches your travel style amongst the 16 best crossbody bags for travel that I curated.

Best Beach Parties in Thailand Full Moon Party Koh Phangan

Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan

Ah, the notorious Full Moon Party! With buckets of booze and a beach packed with glowing bodies. Honestly, commercial and overrated. Unless you want to be surrounded by youth getting wasted to techno-pop.

Dates: Monthly, aligned with the full moon. Exact dates can slightly vary, so check their schedule online.

Best Beach Parties in Thailand Half Moon Party Koh Phangan

Half Moon Party, Koh Phangan

The Half Moon Party, set in the tropical jungle, offers a slightly different but equally wild vibe.

Dates: Twice monthly, specifically a week before and after the Full Moon Party. See schedule.

Best Beach Parties in Thailand Eden Party Koh Phangan

🤫 Eden, Koh Phangan

Wow, Koh Phangan again. Yes this is a party destination in Thailand (other than Phuket, where the party just never stops.) Eden is a little more off-center secret party and quite the trek. But it was very worth it.

Dates: Regular events, especially notable after the Full Moon Party.

Best festivals in Asia - Wonderfruit

Special Mention: Wonderfruit

Wonderfruit is an epic festival that mixes music, art, and sustainability in a way I hadn’t experienced before. 💯 recommend.

Dates: Annually, usually in December. Check their website for specific dates and line-ups.

💫 Hot Tip:

When hitting up these parties, make sure that you have the right crossbody bag on you so you don’t lose your belongings!

Best Beaches in Thailand Map

If there’s something I’ve cemented in my travels, it’s that some of the world’s most stunning beaches are found on the best islands in Thailand. Each has its own character, and here are a few that managed to linger in my mind and heart.

Railay Beach, Krabi

Railay, with its dramatic cliffs, soft sands, and turquoise waters, was a literal breath of fresh air. Accessible only by boat, it offered a peaceful escape and views that just wouldn’t quit during my stay.

Freedom Beach, Phuket

A bit of a hidden treasure, Freedom Beach gave me a quieter, more secluded spot to relax and soak in the sun. The crystal-clear water and its relatively uncrowded nature made it a Phuket favorite.

Best Beaches in Thailand Map Ao nang

Ao Nang, Krabi

Ao Nang is a gem that balances vibrant nightlife with stunning natural beauty. For me, it was a hub where relaxing days effortlessly turned into lively nights, all against a backdrop of spectacular limestone formations.

Best Snorkeling and Coral Reefs in Thailand

One thing’s for sure: if you’re going to hit the best islands in Thailand, exploring the underwater worlds of Thailand’s reefs is an unmissable adventure. From colorful corals to bustling marine life, the vistas below the waves are a MUST SEE!

Best Snorkeling and Coral Reefs in Thailand Similan Islands, Andaman Sea

Similan Islands, Andaman Sea

Navigating through the vibrant, bustling coral gardens of the Similan Islands was an underwater spectacle I won’t forget. From playful clownfish to majestic manta rays, pure…magic.

Best Snorkeling and Coral Reefs in Thailand - Surin Islands

Surin Islands, Near the Burmese Border

The Surin Islands brought me face to face with some of the most vibrant marine life I’ve ever encountered.

Best Time to Travel to Thailand

Generally, November to February is a safe bet – it’s the cool season, where you’re greeted with pleasant temperatures and less rainfall. Great if your plan is hit up the best islands in Thailand.

In saaaaaaying that, there’s something charming about the less crowded, lush green landscapes during the monsoon, if you don’t mind a dash of rain. Conversely, March to June ushers in the hot season, an ideal time if you’re beach-bound and seeking that perfect tan.

Honestly, every season has sprinkled a different kind of magic on my Thai escapades, each offering a uniquely beautiful palette and vibe to explore.

My trips, spanning various months, have shown me the vivid contrasts of its seasons.

💫 Hot Tip: Unlock Secret Festivals

Dig a bit into Thailand’s rich tapestry of local festivals and make time for cultural events like the mesmerizing Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai during November or the vibrant Phuket Vegetarian Festival in October.

Best Motorcycle Tours in Thailand

Alright island hopper, maybe you’re done with the best islands in Thailand. How? 🤯

Let’s switch gears and explore the transcendent landscapes of Thailand, not from the window of a bus, but from the liberating vantage point of a motorcycle.

Best motorcycle tours in Thailand

While I have yet to conquer the two-wheel adventure (stay tuned for that future series where I take on learning to drive. Yes I don’t know how to drive…), numerous friends and fellow travelers have shared their epic tales from the road.

💫 Hot Tip: You need an international driver’s license to rent a motorbike.

Don’t have one? The international driver’s permit has you covered. ⏰ Get one in 5 minutes.

One can weave through the famed Mae Hong Son Loop, where each curve might unveil hidden natural gems or vibrant local markets, teeming with fresh finds. Meanwhile, cruising along the southern coastal trails unveils a different kind of magic: an expanse of tranquil azure waters, the scent of sea salt enveloping you, and the perpetual embrace of freedom that the open road offers.

For those considering a motorcycle journey through Thailand’s varied landscapes, insights from seasoned riders echo a unanimous sentiment: embrace it.

Always prioritize safety with a sturdy helmet, and respect every road’s unspoken codes. Navigate through Thailand’s tapestry with Bikago, offering a curated selection of motorcycle tours that could beautifully unfold your own Thai narrative, ripe for reliving in tales to fellow wanderers.

Alternatively, for a thorough exploration of options, here is a meticulously curated list of the top 10 motorcycle tours in Thailand, ensuring your journey through this enchanting land is nothing short of epic.

💫 Hot Tip: Work with Trusted Motorbike Rental Agencies

When going on a motorcycle tour, prioritize ⭐️ safe and reliable motorbike rental services 🌟 with a proven record of a top-quality fleet. No one needs a mid-adventure breakdown.

Best Place in Thailand to See Elephants

Elephants – these majestic, gentle giants have always fascinated me. And in Thailand, there’s a notable connection between these creatures and the local culture. From my numerous travels, if there’s one heartfelt recommendation I could give you, it’s to ensure your elephant encounters are ethical and supportive of conservation efforts.

Chiang Mai wins my vote, with its abundance of sanctuaries like the Elephant Nature Park, a haven where rescued elephants are cared for with love and respect.

Visiting here, you won’t find rides or tricks, but rather a chance to observe, feed, and even bathe these magnificent beings in a manner that honors their dignity and well-being.

It’s not just a visit; it’s a connection to Mother Nature and a small way to contribute towards the compassionate treatment of our fellow creatures that roam this earth.

💫 Hot Tip:

Try spending a night at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai! Not many realize that they offer overnight stays, and trust me, it’s a game-changer. As the day-trippers disperse, the park transforms into a tranquil haven, offering a rare and intimate opportunity to observe the elephants at dusk and dawn, when they’re at their most active and playful. Plus, the added bonus is that your stay contributes directly to their ongoing conservation efforts.

Travel Insurance for Thailand

Navigating through the vibrant, sometimes unpredictable terrains of Thailand, having a solid travel insurance policy has been my silent guardian. Especially if you’re an adventurous spirit like me!.

From my adventures, World Nomads and SafetyWing have stood out in their comprehensiveness, covering a range of activities and potential health needs, because when you’re exploring exotic locales and trying new adventures, having a safety net lets you dive deep into the experience without the what-ifs holding you back. 

Staying Connected from the Minute You Land

Landing in Thailand and already being connected without the hassle of traditional SIM cards has been a game-changer for me.

With eSIM, simply scanning a QR code before my flight means I hit the ground running, instantly reachable and ready to shower my Instagram with stunning Thai landscapes right from the get-go.

Using providers like Airalo or Truphone has made every arrival into an adventure from the first moment, and I’ve spilled all the details about my experiences with them in my thorough and honest reviews.

Dive into the unfiltered truth with my reviews and comparisons: Airalo vs Holafly, Airalo Review, Holafly Review, and discover the best eSIM for International Travel to find what suits your travel connectivity needs best.

Thailand Solo Travel Awaits!

Embarking on a solo journey through Thailand? Prepare yourself for a vibrant tapestry of experiences.

Best snorkelling and coral reefs in Thailand

My adventures across its diverse landscapes have intricately woven stories of rich culture, unexpected delights, and heartfelt connections with locals.

As you step towards your own adventure, let Thailand unravel its surprises, moving beyond just its iconic sights to immerse you in moments unscripted and genuine.

Before you jet off, dive deeper into solo travel insights with my comprehensive guide, Solo Travel 101. It’s a reservoir of my knowledge and unfiltered experiences, crafted to be your steadfast companion as you navigate through the thrilling yet occasionally challenging realms of solo travel. Your adventure is just a page away—embrace it.

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The Sharmini

Sharmini has built technology projects across the world. Angel investor, truth speaker, self proclaimed guru – she is currently working on a her novel on the cliffs of a tropical island.