Whether you are travelling internationally for the first time or just going to Thailand for the first time, prepare for an adventure as soon as those tickets are booked. The vast network of islands of Thailand are mesmerising, the Thai culture and way of life is encapsulating and the party and beach life is never ending.
If you want to explore, discover, and have a beach holiday on a budget, these Thai islands will make your dreams come true. Oh’ and just as a side line FYI, Koh means island in Thai.
Phuket is undoubtedly the most popular island destination when visiting Thailand and is also a fantastic starting point for any island-hopping adventure. Patong on the west side of the island is party central with hundreds of bars, clubs and night spots for anyone and everyone. The beaches are pretty good too, and it can get very busy, especially during peak season. Due to its easy access from Bangkok, this is the place that will best help you get acquainted with Thailand.
2. Koh Phi Phi
The Phi Phi Islands have been a favourite with visitors for many years since the movie, The Beach with Leonardo di Caprio was filmed at Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh. They can get very busy due to their ease of access from Phuket and the dream-like natural scenery that the islands are well known for. Hike through forests and take in amazing views from the higher elevation points, sink your toes into powdery, sandy beaches, dive into the crystal clear warm water, and check out the rustic restaurants, bars and shops.
3. Koh Kut
If you want to escape the crowds and rowdy towns and cities of Thailand, take a bus from Bangkok to Laem Sok and hop on a Ferry to Koh Kut. Everything is slow and mellow, the beaches are beautiful and there are various fun activities like kayaking, snorkelling and other ‘low-intensity’ things to help you completely unwind. Laze beneath the coconut trees, swim in the sea, take it easy and enjoy another side to Thailand!
4. Koh Pagnan
Koh Pagnan is probably most famous for its full moon parties. So, if it’s long days on the beach, followed by all night beach parties with a vibey and colourful crowd you’re looking for, Koh Pagnan will be for you! It’s relatively easy to get to, and only takes a one-hour flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui and then a one-hour ferry ride to get there. For first timer visitors to Thailand, this is the island to visit to really let your hair down and party like rock stars!
5. Koh Samui
Before heading to the party island of Koh Pagnan, hang around in Koh Samui for a few days and make sure not to miss the unforgettable stretches of white sandy beaches, and the traveller focussed amenities like spa treatments, massages and more (if the budget allows, of course).
The island is not fast paced, it’s easy-going and relaxed and is a wonderful place to visit to immerse yourself into Thailand. There are various beach parties that happen on the island as well, but if you want to relax and take it easy while saving yourself for a wild full moon party on Koh Pagnan, head south or west to the more secluded parts of the island.
6. Koh Lanta
Many visitors to Thailand will agree that Koh Lanta is one of their favourite islands. It’s one of the most culturally rich islands in the country and caters for everyone’s budget, making it great for first-timers.
On the island you’ll find spectacular beaches with amazing snorkelling and diving opportunities. Book a little cabin right on the beach beneath swaying casuarinas, wake up to the sound of the sea and get out there and explore this breath-taking island paradise for yourself. To get there all you need to do is take a 4-hour ferry ride from Phuket, or fly to the island of Krabi and hop on a 2-hour ferry.
7. Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai
Another easy island to access from Phuket, Koh Yao is where visitors go to escape the madness and hustle and bustle of the busy tourist spots. Vastly untouched (although developments are progressing), quiet beautiful beaches, lush forests, and a proud Thai culture remain very much intact on the two islands of Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai.
Once you’ve been to Thailand, it will undoubtedly become one of your favourite destinations of all time. Most of the country is budget friendly, the Thai people are accommodating, the food is delicious, and the beaches and scenery are like nothing you will experience anywhere else. If this sounds like your next beach holiday, here is a great Thailand deal to get you starated. If that doesn't work for you, here are some more of our Thailand deals.