Island Hopping: Most beautiful beaches in Thailand

Whether you’re a professional beach bum, passionate party animal, or active adventurer, the islands of Thailand’s beaches have you covered. Literally numbering in the hundreds, it might seem near impossible to choose which Thai island offers the best getaway. However, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Each has its own personality, its own unique version of paradise.

You can chase the backpacker scene, take a family holiday, or a snuggley couple in search of ultimate seclusion, rest assured – here’s our list of Thailand’s best beach getaways.

Koh Phi Phi

Great for: Friends, Nightlife

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At first sight, don’t be surprised if Koh Phi Phi immediately makes your jaw drop. Jagged limestone karsts, pure white beaches, curvaceous hillside jungles. Yep, this island ticks all the right boxes.

Attracting a young, exuberant crowd year round, Koh Phi Phi is a haven for those in search of new friends and fun times. Popular activities include snorkelling, cliff jumping, and daily boat trips to Koh Phi Phi Leh, renowned for harbouring the majestic Maya Bay.

Koh Samui

Great for: Budget travellers, Families, Luxury

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Drawing a steady crowd of budget travellers, families, and high-end vacationers, Koh Samui’s charm lies in its capacity to please everyone. A highlight of many Thailand itineraries, days here are spent swimming, sipping cocktails, and watching the world go by.

Chaweng Beach is the island’s chief stretch, known for its slinky bungalows, luxury resorts and spirited nightlife. For a quieter experience, head to Laem Set, a beach haven on the island’s southeast coast.

Koh Lipe

Great for: Couples

nullAo Sunset Beach / CC by 3.0 / Vyacheslav Argenberg

Calling all hopeless romantics, honeymooners, and experienced sunbathers – Koh Lipe is the island for you.

With far fewer tourists than Koh Samui or Koh Phi Phi, this stunning island is valued for its remoteness. One of the 51 islands that make up Tarutao Marine Park, Koh Lipe is small enough to venture on foot.

Highlights include excessive strolling on Pattaya Beach, snorkelling day trips to the surrounding islands, and couples’ massages in plush resorts.

Koh Phangan

Great for: Nightlife, Friends, Backpackers

Koh Phangan. Full Moon Party. The two go together like crackers and cheese.

nullHaad Rin Beach / CC by 3.0 / Davidlohr Bueso

You’ve probably heard the stories; the swarms of gyrating, sand-stomping, bucket-swilling backpackers that take over Haad Rin Beach for the night. It’s the party of the year, but it happens every month, and if this is the kind of thing you’re after, Koh Phangan doesn’t disappoint.

Strangely, outside of full moon mania, the island basically gets forgotten. If you’ve come for the party, think about staying a little longer. The beaches open up, the hammocks are in full swing, and serenity becomes the status quo.

Koh Tao

Great for: Diving, Friends

nullKoh Tao Beach / CC by 3.0 /Björn Groß

Though smaller in size than its neighbours Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao revels in its one distinct advantage: world class, accessible diving right of its beaches.

Whether you’re a novice wanting to learn, or a seasoned pro itching to get back in the water, Koh Tao caters for all diving needs. But this isn’t the island’s only drawcard.

Take a hike through wild coastal jungles, soak it up on Sairee Beach, or salute the sunset from any of the water-facing restaurants.

Koh Kood

Great for: Quiet escape

nullKoh Kood / CC by 3.0 / Gilad Rom

Whiter than white beaches, supernaturally clear water, swaying coconut palms: look up Koh Kood in the dictionary and you may very well find the word ‘paradise’.

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It’s an island of interior waterfalls, sleepy fishing villages, and a refreshingly absent nightlife. Koh Kood promotes an attitude of extreme relaxation, in which the most strenuous activity is getting in and out of the hammock. From budget hotels to luxury resorts, this remote slice of heaven caters to the quiet-seeking crowd.

Phuket

Great for: Food, Fashion, Touristy

nullNai Harn Beach

It’s hard not to include the island of Phuket on this list. It’s the biggest of the bunch, and the perfect place to really go all out. Patong is the island’s main city, jam-packed with deluxe resorts, trendy fashion boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and a stretch of sand that rivals the very best in Thailand.

Despite being one of the busiest destinations in the country, Phuket still harbours a few pockets of serenity, like the jungle-shrouded Nai Harn Beach, and the remarkably secluded Mai Khao Beach.

Koh Lanta

Great for: All-Round

nullKoh Lanta / CC by 3.0 / Rushen

Koh Lanta has a little bit of everything: stunning coastlines, exotic dive sites, plush resorts, authentic bungalows, ancient rainforest, great food, friendly beach bars, fishing villages, and even mangrove kayaking. No one attraction outweighs the other, which makes it one of the best, all-round escapes in Thailand.

Within easy reach to Koh Phi Phi and other small islands, Koh Lanta serves as the ideal base for exploring the famous Andaman Sea.