Looking to explore Thailand’s famous islands but not sure where to start? Maybe you want to delve deeper into Thailand and discover for yourself what’s beneath its tropical surface. Our handy Thailand island hopping guide shows how to combine Thailand’s tropical beaches, azure waters and luscious rainforest with authentic and meaningful travel experiences.
Try our village life homestays, ethical elephant experiences, community-run sustainable lodges and national park tours before capturing that castaway feeling on Thailand’s less-discovered islands. From the rustling palms and cosy beach bungalows on Ko Hai, they are some great alternatives to the crowds of Ko Phi Phi and Ko Samui – the most-visited islands in Thailand.
Whether you want to create your own itinerary using our bite-sized trips or make the most of our travel specialists’ insider knowledge (leave them to do all the leg work!) – your Thailand island hopping adventure is just around the corner. Take a look at our Planning Your Thailand Holiday for different types of Thailand travel if you’re after something a little different.
South West Thailand Islands
Season: November – April
Ko Yao Yai – The Undiscovered Paradise
Of all of Thailand’s islands and beaches, Ko Yao Yai is possibly the least developed. Located just off the coast of Phuket, Ko Yao Yai offers tranquillity, beautiful beaches and great snorkelling all within easy access from the mainland.
There are a few shops and restaurants on the island to choose from. Its limestone cliffs, secluded white beaches and a beautiful lagoon make Ko Yao Yai one of the top spots for an authentic Thai island experience.
Where to go next: If you’d like to continue soaking up the sun, why not take a break on the sandy shores of Ko Lanta?
Ko Hai – Peaceful and Authentic
Ko Hai is easily accessible from Ko Lanta or from Trang on the mainland and is also known as Robinson Crusoe Island– a deserted island fantasy. This tiny island only measures 4 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide and is covered by tropical forest indented with rocky headlands and beautiful bays with glistening white sands, turquoise seas and very few tourists (except for the occasional crab-eating monkey). This is a peaceful and authentic tropical Island and a “get away from the crowds” experience; a perfect way to relax and unwind.
Where to go next: Most people choose to end their Thailand holiday on the hidden island of Ko Hai. However, if you’re searching for more sunshine elsewhere, we suggest discovering the flavours of Ko Lanta where you can show off your culinary skills in a local cookery class and stay in a beach bungalow.
Ko Lanta – Phi Phi’s Laid-back Neighbour
Ko Lanta is a protected island, great for snorkelling and is considered by many to be one of the best dive spots of all of Thailand’s islands. This diverse island is known for its idyllic long stretches of white sand beaches, dense mangrove forests and caves and lagoons perfect for exploring. It also has lots of adventure activities to try if you do get restless! You could try an introductory cookery or massage course, or simply put your feet up and relax with a fruit shake and a good book!
Where to go next: If you wish to continue island hopping from Ko Lanta, we recommend heading the castaway shores of Ko Hai where you can wake up to the sound of the lapping waves from your cosy beach hut.
Meaningful twists to an Island Hopping itinerary
Whether you’re planning on heading South West or South East there are great opportunities to travel with meaning during your island hopping adventures. Some of our faves include…
Khao Sok – Giant Trees and Lakes
Venture to the giant trees and lakes of Khao Sok National Park – a must-see for nature lovers and jungle explorers alike. Staying in community run lodges – built with sustainability top of mind – and enjoying river canoe trips and guided tours in the National Park. The lodge and tours are all run by the community, helping to boost the local economy and employment.
Khlong Noi – Learning About Local Life
A relatively undiscovered area just 30 minute drive from Surat Thani lies Khlong Noi. Stay with a Thai host family and take a trip up the river to discover for yourself all the work that goes into cleaning up the river and the mangroves by the local community. There’s all sorts to try out from shrimp fishing to carpentry. It’s a great way to understand more about the daily lives of the warm and welcoming people of Southern Thailand.