If you are travelling to Southeast Asia you simply can’t miss out on island hopping in Thailand. But, what is the best route to take?
One of the most beautiful aspects of Thailands Southern Islands is that each one has its own unique personality. All offer the postcard white sand and dreamy blue seas but discovering each isles individual charm is truly exciting.
We have compiled a route to take through the archipelagos of South Thailand, ensuring you don’t miss out on any of the best spots.
1. – Phuket
Size – 576 km²
Population – 386,605
The largest of the islands on our list. With an international airport located in the north of the island and its accessibility via bus from the mainland, Phuket is the best place to start island hopping in Thailand logistically.
Phuket is known as a lively place with lots to keep you busy during the day and in the evenings. As such, the island is extremely busy during the peak months (November – April).
One of the most popular areas for tourists and backpackers alike is Patong Beach on the western coast. The area is stacked full of restaurants, bars and neon lighting to rival the legendary Khaosan road in Bangkok. At night, the streets really do kick into life.
As one of the larger islands, there are lots of places to explore in Phuket
2. – Phi Phi Islands
Size – 12.25 km2
Population – 2500
The Phi Phi Islands consist of six islands, however, Koh Phi Phi Don is the only one inhabited. You can reach Koh Phi Phi Don easily via boat or ferry from Phuket.
As the smallest island on our list, this unique islet is free from any traffic. This can be a welcome change to many other air-polluted destinations in Thailand.
Despite its small size, Koh Phi Phi is still a highly popular tourist destination. The 2000 film The Beach, was filmed on Koh Phi Phi Leh, the second largest island, placing the area on the map. Due to mass tourism, the island is now closed to tourists, however, you can still catch a glance at the famous Maya Bay during a boat trip around the islands.
3. – Ko Lanta Yai
Size – 81 km2
Population – 10,830
Ko Lanta Yai, more commonly know as Ko Lanta offers a more laidback vibe to Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.
Now home to some exclusive resorts, it is a popular destination for families and couples. This is not to say that there is no backpacker scene available, it just offers a less hectic place to unwind.
4. – Ao Nang / Krabi
Population – 7,898
Ao Nang is a popular seaside town in the district of Krabi. Situated on the Thai mainland, Ao Nang is a bustling area with lots of activities and day trips available. One of the main attractions in the area is Railay beach which is just a short boat trip away from the main town. Famed for its idyllic rock climbing scene, and gorgeous white sandy beaches this is a great place to stop before heading overland to the east coast islands.
5. – Koh Samui
Size – 228.7 km²
Population – 62,500
One of the quieter islands in the Gulf, Koh Samui is a paradise perfect to relax and recharge after the journey overland.
Koh Samui is often touted as a perfect island for couples to come and enjoy. The romance of the island is undeniable. With a beautiful coastline and many fantastic resorts and hotels for every budget.
6. – Ko Pha-Ngan
Size – 125 km²
Population – 11,846
Ko Pha-Ngan, home to the full moon party, is probably the most legendary island in the backpacking community. The famous parties take place every lunar month on Haad Rin Beach in the south of the island.
However, if partying isn’t your thing, there is much more to do and see on this beautiful island.
7. – Koh Tao
Size – 21 km²
Population – 1,382
Most known for its diving, Koh Tao literally translates to Turtle Island. Whether you are after a PADI certificate or even just a try dive, this island has got you covered. With numerous options to help you discover the underwater world, Koh Tao offers something for every budget.
If snorkelling is more your thing, or even just chilling out, Koh Tao has plenty of beaches available. There are also some gorgeous viewpoints on offer to get more of an aerial view of the island.
If you finish your island hopping in Thailand in Koh Tao you can organise transfers to practically anywhere you want to go. We opted to head to Bangkok via Chumphon by ferry and bus.
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