Koh Yao Noi
One of two main islands situated between Phuket and the Malay Peninsula, Koh Yao Noi embodies peace and simplicity. The island has a laid-back feel and is a great place to rest and relax, making it one of Thailand’s best island escapes. Visitors can rent mountain bikes or motorbikes to explore the island’s many natural charms, from mangrove trees growing in the sea to shaded roads running through rubber plantations. The wooden homes and picturesque rice paddies of Koh Yao Noi give visitors a glimpse into life in rural Thailand and enhance the relaxing feel of the island. Koh Yao Noi accommodation ranges from the simple yet serene to the downright luxurious. At a holiday resort, Koh Yao Noi visitors can escape from ordinary stressors and find peace.
Where to Stay: Coastal Escape
Koh Yao Yai
Koh Yao Yai lies in the Andaman Sea between Phuket and the Thai mainland, just to the south of its sister island, Koh Yao Noi. Koh Yao Yai is the larger of the two islands and can be reached by ferry from Phuket regularly. The inhabitants of Koh Yao Yai are predominantly Muslim, and the locals live lives of beautiful simplicity, with knowledge of boat-building and farming techniques passed from parent to child over the course of generations. Visitors to Koh Yao Yai can relax on pristine beaches, swim with colorful sea life, and ride through rubber plantations and rainforests.
Where to Stay: Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa
One of the best quiet islands in Thailand, Koh Phayam offers visitors an opportunity to truly escape from the constant noise and frenzied pace of everyday life. The island lies in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Ranong, Thailand’s least populated province, and can be reached from the mainland by ferry or hired speed boat. Koh Phayam has no roads that are suitable for use by automobiles, but motorbikes and scooters are available for rent by visitors to the island. The lack of automobiles contributes to its status as one of the best quiet islands in Thailand. Visitors on Koh Phayam can taste locally-grown cashews fresh from the tree and the island’s official drink: Thai Sang Som rum with fresh Koh Phayam coconut milk.
Where to Stay: Frog Beach House
Located off the coast of Trang Province in southern Thailand, Koh Kradan is considered one of Thailand’s most visually spectacular islands. Its long, thin beach offers excellent swimming at high tide, memorable walks on sandbars at low tide, and breathtaking views at all times of day. Long-tail boats are available to take visitors from Koh Kradan to other nearby islands for snorkeling and exploration excursions. It should be noted that Koh Kradan is a highly seasonal island; almost all of the island’s resorts close down during the rainy season from October to May.
Where to Stay: Reef Resort Kradan
Just off the coast of Krabi Province on the Malay Peninsula, Koh Lanta offers easy access to the Thai mainland. One of Koh Lanta’s defining features is its relative flatness; compared to other islands, it has few elevation changes, which makes it particularly easy for visitors to travel by bicycle or motorbike. Visitors can spend a day at Tham Khao Maikaeo, an impressive limestone cave system, or Ko Rok Nai, a picturesque nearby island that is a part of the Mu Ko Lanta Marine National Park.
Where to Stay: Layana Resort & Spa
Koh Tarutao is a large island with an area of 152 square kilometers, and it is considered one of Thailand’s wildest islands. Most of the island is covered in old-growth jungle, and its western coast boasts impressive caves and peaceful beaches. Koh Tarutao is located in the Strait of Malacca, just off the western coast of Satun, Thailand’s most southwesterly province. Its proximity to Malaysia makes it an ideal stop for tourists planning to visit Penang, Kuala Lumpur, or other parts of the peninsular Malaysia as well. Visitors to Koh Tarutao can camp or stay in bungalows for a true jungle experience. Its interesting history, tremendous wildlife, and beautiful scenery make it one of Thailand’s best island escapes.
Where to Stay: Bungalows at Tarutao National Park
The largest island in the Similan Archipelago, Koh Similan is located in the Andaman Sea to the northwest of Phuket. Koh Similan offers visitors an opportunity to relax on white sand beaches that are often deserted and devoid of other tourists. The island is known for the large and easily-recognizable boulders along its southern coast, as well as for its spectacular flora and fauna. Visitors to Koh Similan can experience the wonders of the Andaman Sea by scuba diving and snorkeling, then experience the wonders of the island by hiking to an abandoned Thai Navy lighthouse, all while basking in the feel of a deserted island.
Where to Stay: Koh Similan Campsite