Have you heard of Koh Kood, Koh Chang, Koh Lipe, Koh Adang or Koh Samet? Here is where you’ll find some of the most beautiful sandy beaches, and colourful coral reefs with amazing snorkelling spots.
Explore refreshing waterfalls in the jungle, and then kick back with a nice sunset to wrap up the day.
This guide includes two islands in the Gulf of Thailand up next to Cambodia, one right near Bangkok, and another two in the Andaman Sea next to Malaysia.
Each island will give you a different experience, so if you have the time, best to visit them all.
Koh Lipe may only be 3 km long, but it is one of the most beautiful islands you will visit in Thailand. Being part of the Tarutao Marine National Park means fishing here is strictly controlled, so the snorkelling is incredible.
Get ready to be surrounded by thousands of tropical fish and colourful, soft corals. You don’t have to go too far off the beach to discover the underwater world.
However, you can also explore many of other coral reefs in the area by hopping on a longtail boat for a one-day snorkelling trip.
If underwater activities aren’t for you then try exploring the island in a sea kayak. You can even paddle across to the next island called Koh Adang.
The island of Koh Lipe is situated in the far south of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea. It is about 70 km off the coast of Satun Province, and only 40 km from Langkawi. Getting here requires a speedboat from Pak Bara Pier direct to the island.
Koh Adang is the big brother of Koh Lipe, also located in the Tarutao Marine National Park. Unlike Koh Lipe, there is next to no development on Koh Adang. The island is heavily forested, and the beaches are left in its natural state.
Venture into the island’s interior to find monkeys and Hornbill birds among the trees. There are two popular walking trails on the southern end of the island, one which leads you to a small waterfall, and the other to an incredible lookout with views over Koh Lipe.
The snorkelling off Koh Adang is world class, better than Koh Lipe actually. Here you will find amazing coral reefs just 10 metres off the beach on the southern end of the island.
It is best to try snorkelling at high tide, otherwise you might end up getting caught on the coral.
A night camping on the beach at Koh Adang is one of the most amazing experiences you will have. Grab a tent from the National Park’s office, and watch the bioluminescent algae light up the ocean at night.
Koh Samet is the closest island to Bangkok worth spending a few days on. The island is 4 km off the coast of Rayong. Rayong is just 200 km (a two and a half-hour drive) from Bangkok, so it’s close enough to have a quick weekend away from the city if you are short on time.
The 6.5 km-long island has most of its beaches along the east coast. These are accessed by a single major road which runs north-south along the island. The best way to explore is to hire a motorbike and go beach-hopping all the way down the island.
If you can’t ride a motorbike you can also hop on a songtaew, which is a pickup truck-style taxi.
One of the most popular beaches with the locals is Sai Kaew Beach where you will find lots of beach chairs and restaurants. It is a good spot for lunch, but also a bit crowded with lots of speedboats arriving from the mainland.
The nicer, more secluded beaches are located further south. Ao Koi Beach and Ao Wai Beach are visit-worthy.
Koh Kood (also spelled Koh Kut) is the gem of the Gulf of Thailand. The island offers stunning beaches with crystal clear water, refreshing waterfalls in the jungle, and basic but comfortable bungalows a stone’s throw from the beach.
Koh Kood is a large island with less than one quarter developed. The beaches are backed by coconut palm forests rather than big flashy resorts. On many beaches such as Ao Tapao, small and simple wooden bungalows are sparsely distributed along the coast.
The island never seems to get too busy. Even in the middle of the high season you’ll only share the beach with a handful of people. In the low season you can expect to have it almost to yourself, partially because it seems that much further away than Koh Chang.
The interior of the island is connected by a series of small roads. As you head past small villages and deeper into the jungle you’ll discover a few beautiful waterfalls where you can refresh from the tropical heat.
Koh Chang is located just across the water from Koh Kood and is significantly more developed. The key is in finding the right beach to stay on for your type of trip.
White Sands Beach has all the large fancy hotels. Lonely Beach is for the rambunctious backpacker looking for a cheap hostel and a late-night party. Then there is Bang Bao and Long Beach, which both feel much more secluded.
The huge island has plenty of beautiful beaches along both the east and west coast to explore. Kai Bae Beach and Lonely Beach are some of the favourites and most accessible, however you can also head to the far south and laze back on the beautiful Khlong Kloi Beach and Long Beach.
One thing you must enjoy on Koh Chang is the beautiful sunset. Kai Bae Viewpoint offers fantastic views over the small islands off the west coast of Koh Chang.
However, one of the best spots to enjoy a sunset on Koh Chang is Rasta View on the south of the island. This small reggae style bar has a very chilled out atmosphere, great for wrapping up a big day of exploring.
This article first appeared in thelostpassport.com
Josh Shephard is an intrepid traveler, blogger and photographer on The Lost Passport. He has spent five years living in Bangkok, the biggest, craziest city in Thailand, and has traveled from Mongolia to Indonesia and everywhere else in between, to find the most unique and exciting destinations Asia has to offer.