Island Hopping in Thailand: The Best Islands to Visit

Island hopping in Thailand is an absolute must if you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia. The tranquil turquoise waters, powder-soft sandy beaches, and laid-back atmosphere draw you in and might make you contemplate staying forever.

Wonder just how many islands in Thailand exist? A whopping 1,430! 

So, choosing the best islands to visit in Thailand can be overwhelming. However, they all have their own special something, and you could easily spend years exploring these slices of paradise. 

Check out this guide based on the region and start planning your idyllic beach getaway. 

Krabi, Thailand Island hopping

North Andaman Sea

If you are drawn to well-known and popular destinations, the North Andaman sea may be for you. You can visit Phuket island, the Similan Islands, and plenty of beautiful tiny islands on a day trip from Phuket. ADD LINK

Pretty much every Thailand itinerary will mention Phuket, and for good reason! 

It’s a fantastic island because you can choose what type of beach you’re looking for. If you want to party, head to the wild and crazy area of Patong. If you want more of a laid-back vibe, chill out and catch some sun on Karon beach.

Island hopping from Phuket doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal, either! You can base yourself in Phuket and take a speed boat out to Coral Island (Koh Hae) or Koh Khai Nok for an amazing day of sun and snorkeling. 

Another option is going from Phuket to Koh Lanta on an hour and a half speed boat. 

The nearby Similan Islands are a group of nine islands about 85 km (~53 miles) northwest of Phuket. They are home to some of the best diving and marine life in the world! And a scuba diver’s dream.

Diving in Thailand

East Andaman Sea

Based in Krabi? Thailand island hopping is exceptionally easy from here because you’ll have Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Yao Yai right at your fingertips. 

Krabi is an excellent base because the beaches are fantastic and the town is charming. 

After exploring Krabi town, head to Koh Lanta to enjoy the long, unbroken stretch of beach and incredible dive sites.

You can also start your Krabi island-hopping adventure by taking a one-hour speed boat from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi, one of Thailand’s most famous islands. Koh Phi Phi is renowned for Leo DiCaprio’s film The Beach and was actually shut down for several years to help the beach recover from over-tourism. However, it has since re-opened and is just as beautiful as ever. 

Another nod to Hollywood in Thailand is James Bond Island. It was the filming location for The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s a short ride from Koh Phi Phi and can be done in a day trip. 

Island hopping in Thailand to James Bond Island

Koh Yao Yai is one of the best islands in Thailand and still relatively unknown. Its beaches are far less crowded than its neighbors yet offer luxury spa experiences and fantastic resorts. It is easy to get from Krabi or Phuket to Koh Yao Yai because it is right between the two!

Koh Yao Yai beaches to island hop to

Southwest Andaman Sea

If you are looking for the best Thai islands for couples, head to the southwest Andaman Sea. Here you’ll have access to Koh Lanta, Koh Muk, and Koh Lipe, easily some of the most romantic and relaxed islands in the country. 

Purple sunset of Koh Lipe, Thailand

Koh Lanta has a fantastic stretch of white-sand beaches, perfect for lounging in the sun all day. 

Two lesser-known islands are Koh Muk and Ko Lipe. Both are close to the Malaysian border. You can take a speedboat from Koh Lanta to Koh Muk or a ferry from Langkawi, Malaysia to Koh Lipe. These secret treasures are perfect for your island hopping in Thailand adventures.

Koh Muk is a tiny slice of heaven with some of the best beaches in Thailand. You can certainly plan a romantic few days relaxing by the ocean and enjoying some stellar sunsets. 

Koh Lipe is a great place to visit because it is seriously laid-back, and the vibes here are incredible. There isn’t a whole lot to do other than relax on the beach, sip cocktails as the sun goes down, and enjoy a meal along their walking street. But hey, what more could you want?

cute restaurant on Koh Lipe, Thailand

Gulf of Thailand

The Gulf of Thailand is home to several islands that offer great beaches and fantastic nightlife. You can explore Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao which are definitely the best Thai islands in this region.

Koh Samui island-hopping is great because there are several small islands right near Samui that you can easily explore in a few days. Start by spending time at the Emerald Lagoon on Koh Mae Koh, located within the Ang Thong Marine Park, and an easy day trip from Koh Samui.

You can also see Koh Wua Talap, the headquarters of the marine park and home to a great walking trail and some quaint little beaches. 

If nightlife is what you’re after, head to Koh Phangan. An easy 30-minute ferry from Koh Samui, this party island is notorious for full moon parties each month. 

Koh Tao is an island that offers a balance between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. You can definitely hit up a few great beach bars. But it’s is more than just a party. There are hiking spots with breathtaking viewpoints and outstanding diving and snorkeling sites to help you connect with marine life.

View over Koh Tao, Thailand

Take the ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao, as it is a quick and easy journey.

No matter where you start your island hopping in Thailand tour, you won’t be disappointed. The most difficult part of your trip will be dragging yourself away from these beautiful islands. 

FAQ

Are the ferries reliable in Thailand?

Yes, the ferries in Thailand are very reliable and reputable. While they may not always be the most modern boats, they certainly get you from A to B without issue. 

When is the best time to go island hopping in Thailand?

It depends on where you are going. Koh Samui and Phuket, for example, have opposite weather patterns, so read our best time to go to Thailand post for a month-by-month breakdown.

Do you need to book transfers in advance?

This really depends on when you are traveling. If you are doing all of your island hopping during peak season, it is good to book in advance to ensure a seat on the ferry you want. 

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