Thailand’s Best Islands

Thailand’s Best Islands

Thailand has over 250 islands, from deserted specks of land to tourist havens with mega resorts to everything in between. Regardless of what you are looking for in a tropical island, chances are that Thailand has at least one to fit your tastes.

Here’s the first of our two-part rundown of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite Thailand islands. Continue reading on or click on an island category that meets your fancy:

Best Thailand Islands More of Thailand’s Best Islands
The Best Overall Thailand Island Best For Tropical Forests
Best For Honeymoons Best Island Close To Bangkok
Best For Scuba Diving Best Nearly Undeveloped Island
Best For Rock Climbing Best For Wild Parties
Best For Chill Parties
Best For Families

 Thailands Best Islands

Best Overall Island: Ko Lipe

Stunning beaches. Check. Crystal clear blue water. Check. Outrageously tasty seafood, jungle hikes, relaxing beach bars, world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. Check, check, check and check.

Ko Lipe has nearly everything you’d want in a Thailand island except for a high end resort. And therein lays the reason you may want to visit now.

Thai islands tend to run through a progression: They start out “primitive” and unvisited by outsiders, then a few tourists show up, then a handful basic huts and restaurants open to cater to those few tourists, then electricity comes to the island, then word of the island spreads and the island sees an increasing number of tourists. After that some nicer, mid-ranged, traveler facilities appear.

This is the point of development where Ko Lipe is now, perfect for travelers who want some comforts while also experiencing a remote-feeling, slightly wild, place. Ko Lipe has a few dive outfits, a few beach bars, a few air conditioned rooms. And if you seek a basic 400 baht (US$11, €8.50) a night hut on the beach, Ko Lip has that too. For now . . .

If Ko Lipe’s development follows in the path of other islands, the next steps involve the low-end huts and restaurants getting squeezed out of business. Then a luxury resort will come to the island along with an ever increasing tourist numbers. And then the islanders have a choice: They can manage their tourist growth in a smart way that preserves the island’s ecology and benefits all (as Ko Tao, Ko Samet and, to a lesser extent, Ko Phi Phi have done). Or they can grow with wild abandon (like Pattaya, most notoriously). We will be hoping Ko Lipe chooses the former option.

In the meantime, man is the beach here amazing!

Alternate Spelling: Koh Lipe (Ko, logically enough, means island in Thai and can transliterated into English with or without the h)

Where To Stay: Anywhere on or near Sunset Beach. We also love the lower-mid-range Castaways Resort and the basic huts of the very friendly and very unfortunately-named Porn Resort.

Getting There: You can only get to Ko Lipe from late-Octoberish to May. The monsoons are too strong at other times. Click here for ferry times & routes.

If You Go: Bring all the Thai baht cash you need for your entire stay. At the time of writing there are no ATMS on the island, no place accepts credit cards, and money changers are charging an 8% commission.

Some Honorable Mention Best Islands: The Similans, Ko Tarutao, Ko Adang

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The huts of the Porn Resort:

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Castaways Resort. If you were on Ko Lipe you’d be here:

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Best Island For A Honeymoon: Phuket

Phuket is Thailand’s most developed beach destination, a fact that draws the ire of travelers dismayed by the presence of McDonald’s on the island and the absence of $10/night beach-hut accommodations. Spot Cool Stuff is no such curmudgeon.

Development on Phuket has—mostly—been done in a smart, environmentally friend way (Phuket Town and the McDonald’s notwithstanding). Phuket still has pockets of protected nature, dozens of peaceful beaches and a multitude of palm trees, surf spots and chill seafood restaurants set up on the sand. If you are looking for an active (read, drunken) party scene that can be found on Phuket also, around Patong Beach. (And if you are not looking for such a scene get as far from Patong as you can).

Best of all, Phuket has the bulk of Thailand’s most romantic resorts. If you are looking for a luxurious, stylish beach getaway, Phuket offers dozens of choices. Combine that with a multitude of transportation options and you have Thailand’s best honeymoon island.

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One of the best hotels in the world, the Amanpuri boasts an exclusive—and stunning—beach and villas dotting a lush coconut grove. What we love about the Amanpuri is how the whole resort feels like Thailand. The architechture is modeled on that of Thai temples, the rooms are filled with Thai-style furnishings and the service is full of Thai hospitality. And, oh yeah, the whole place is utterly romantic. Mr & Mrs Smith members ($20/year) get a free bottle of champagne upon arrival.

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The Aleenta is a chic, modern resort. The rooms feature ceiling-to-floor windows with glorious views out over clear blue waters. Book through Spot Cool Stuff with a Mr & Mrs Smith membership and get 10% off, a complimentary massage with a 3-night stay and dinner for 2 with a 7-night stay.

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For a private, romantic and, above all, secluded Thailand getaway it is hard to top Sarojin. The resort’s location—on 10 acres of private grounds across the bridge from Phuket Island in Khao Lak—is far from the action, and attractions, of Phuket. As if that isn’t secluded enough, the Sarojin’s rooms are divided among seven separate buildings. Each room has its own private garden area and many have their own swimming pools. Mr & Mrs Smith members each get a complimentary hour-long massage when staying here.

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The Banyan Tree must be doing something right—this resort is a favorite of celebrities and consistently ranks among the world’s best hotels. Spot Cool Stuff is not so smitten. Banyan Tree’s beach, while good, is crowed and not as pristine as the Amanpuri’s (above). It also has a sub-optimal gym and over priced (though very good) restaurant. That said, the spa here is the best in Phuket, if not in Thailand. And the Banyan Tree’s famed DoublePool villas—in which you’ll have two of your own private pools as well as breakfast brought daily to you in your own private garden retreat—is the height of romantic luxury.

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To review: The Amanpuri and Aleenta both have excellent beaches and outstanding service; the Amanpuri has a more lush setting with more Thai touches, the Aleenta is more modern-minimalist with a open feel. The Sarojin is your choice if you are looking for luxurious seclusion. And the Banyan Tree has the island’s best spa; absolutely stay here if you can afford a stay in one of their DoublePool villas.

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Getting There: No island in Thailand is easier to get to. There are flights to Phuket from Bangkok every 45~60 minutes as well as direct flights from Singapore, China, Germany, Korea and other countries. There are boats to Phuket from most of Thailand’s larger Andaman Sea islands including Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi.

If You Go: Don’t let Phuket (and possibly Bangkok) be all you see of Thailand. If you can’t get to the beautiful north of the country and aren’t doing a Similan’s trip (see below) then consider taking a day trip by boat to Yao Yai, an island near Phuket full of more traditional Thai culture.

Honorable Mention Best Honeymoon Island: Ko Samui (where we’re partial to the Six Senses Hideaway Samui)

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Best Islands For Diving: The Similans

Similan scuba diving is outrageously excellent. This group of nine islands off Thailand’s west coast comprise one of the planet’s top five dive locations (according to Spot Cool Stuff and pretty much anyone else in the know). Marine life is abundant here, the water is clear and there’s an impressive variety of dive sites, from the underwater canyon of Boulder City to the East Of Eden barrier reef. For all those reasons one could argue that the Similans are not where you want to learn to dive. If you start out here how can you move up to even better dives?

Where To Stay: The Similan Islands are part of a national park and might be the most protected area of Thailand. The islands themselves have very limited development and the national park only allows overnight guests at a handful of camping spots or in one of 20 bungalows. Both fill fast and so most visitors to the Similans stay on liveaboard boats.

Getting There: Most people go on charter boat trips from Phuket (above).

If You Go: Book as far in advance as possible—the best liveaboards fill fast.

Honorable Mention Best Scuba Diving Islands: Ko Tao is the best Thailand island for scuba diving if you don’t want to do a liveaboard boat trip or if the expense of the Similans is off-putting.

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Best Island For Rock Climbing: Ko Laoliang

Ko Laoliang is a mere speck of an island. Or, more technically, specks of island. When most people refer to “Laoliang” they mean North Laoliang. South Laoliang, 22km (14 miles) away, is open only for day trips. Also nearby is another day trip-only island: Petra Island. Taken together this trio of islands offers some of the best rock climbing in Asia. Picture a limestone rock face shooting up from a pristine beach or from crystal blue waters.

Alternate spelling: Koh Lao Liang

Where To Stay: There are only two options: Bring your own tent or stay in the tent-like structures offered by the island’s only guest house. For this reason many climbers visit the Laoliang on day trips from Ao Nang and Krabi. Spot Cool Stuff suggests spending at least one night here, partly because that’s optimal for the best climbing but mostly because this gem of an island is a gloriously chill place to be once the day trippers have left.

Getting There: Heading to Laoliang on your own (ie. not part of a tour) takes some advance planning since there’s only one boat to the island per day from the port of Hadyao. A good Thailand guidebook is suggested to aid the journey.

If You Go: Plan your visit for between early-November and mid-May. The island can be rainy outside of those months and high winds can cancel boats.

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read Thailand’s Best Islands Part II

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Related posts:
Bangkok’s Best Hotel Rooms
Two Bars Above Bangkok
The Temple Made of Beer Bottles
The World’s Best Sunglasses
The Best Wheeled Backpack

Read:

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Is there a Thailand island you especially like? Or have a question about? Pop open a Singha and kick back in the comments section:

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Responses

  1. Darshit says:

    Hi,
    I am planning for my honeymoon in novemeber end. I would like to enjoy both peace & tranquillity and also some bit of nightlife & shopping I am thinking of combining phuket & koh lanta for 3 days each & bangkok for 2 days. Please advise if i am making a right choice. Also am thinking of staying at Pimalai (also read a lot about Layana resort)in koh lanta & Mom tri’s or katathani beach resort in phuket since i have read kata & kata noi are good beached to stay. please advise.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. aman says:

    hi
    thnks a lot for ur lovely website
    i m plannin for a honeymoon in 2nd week of dec.
    i would like to visit some isolated island, where we can do some sight seeing, and water sports too.
    accomodation can be in a resort a small hotel i dont mind

    2nd place shud be to somewhere where we can get hold of thai culture and places to visit

    3rd place to be bangkok for shopping.

    i really need ur help for d best places for my first and second stay in thai.

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Koh Hin Ngam says:


    Twitter:
    Koh Lipe is great, probably all around one of the best Islands in Thailand. Don’t forget to visit one of my personal favorites Koh Hin Ngam and its black rocks. Leave the rocks on the Island or it will bring bad luck ;-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. nana_thai says:

    i know one good long tail boat driver in Aonang islands krabi,or area near Aonang, krabi. you can book a ticket at the office or contact direct him for good price, normally he working for Aonang long tail boat group office,but he also accept private order in cheap price and you can ask for other special place or activities, he can private show you around Aonang islands with 14 years experiences, he name is dum,he living in Aonang, personal phone number (+66)835937532, he have some tourists who always contact him when they visit Aonang, maybe for snorkeling or fishing to any islands around there.

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Consumer Reviews says:

    Its really a beautiful place to visit and have vacation there.

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Dan says:

    Wow, those pristine white beaches look incredible!
    Dan recently posted..Elderly Dating – Is it Too Late For an Asian Wife?My Profile

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. Lipe says:


    Twitter:
    Anybody thinking about visiting Koh Lipe, I would recommend it. It is an area that is beautiful and the beaches are clean. I think 3 or 4 days is long enough as it is quiet, but it is quite a trek to get there. With it being in the deep South? it remains quiet and you often have beaches with very few farangs. I have been 3 times and I dont think the users making negative comments have ever been there.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi please could you help’,

    Me and my fiancé are traveling from England to Bangkok on 27th December,

    We’re slightly overwhelmed with all the lovely islands to visit, we would like to hav relaxing beach time as well as see some heart of Thailand rather than the overly touristy.

    I have the LP book and we have worked out a route not set in stone could you advise us please

    Bangkok for 2 nights
    Fly to krabi or over night train?? Would be good to experience. How much is this?
    Railay
    Ko phi phi
    Ko lanta
    Ko lipe.. How would we get here it looks amazing on this site
    Then was thinking the lower gulf of Thailand before going back to Bangkok.

    We have 3 weeks, is this too much?

    Thanks Claire

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Erica says:

    My husband is working in bangkok for a few days then we have a few days to go to an island. Trying to decide which one. It will be Oct. 23 – 26, we would like something less developed with some culture and snorkeling. Ko Lipe sound nice but not sure how easy it will be to travel there for a short period and what the weather will be like in oct.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. Suzie says:

    Hi, Does anyone know if there is anyway of organising a speed boat from Phuket area to Koh Chang?
    Suzie

    [Reply to this comment]

  10. Phuket Ferry says:

    wow these destinations are simply amazing.

    [Reply to this comment]

  11. Harry says:

    Hi,
    Your content is very informative and appreciative….kuddos
    I am planning my honeymoon in feb end or march start
    I will be flying from India…wanted to visit

    Krabi
    Koh Phi Phi
    Phuket
    Koh Kood
    Bangkok
    Pattaya
    Samilian
    Koh Lipe

    Please advise how many days trip I should pland and the order in which I should visit the places. Thanks :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  12. Sabrina says:

    Hi,

    2 heats ago i have been to Thailand for the first time.
    Went to Bangkok, koh lanta, phi phi, koh samui and koh pagnan.

    In January 2012 I want to get back to Thailand.
    This time I want to travel the north in about a month.
    Can you give me some advice about places or islands to be that are non touristic or
    Low on tourists..

    I would be fun to climb somewhere, cause I love it :-)

    Thanks!
    Sabrina

    [Reply to this comment]

  13. Ken Hendy says:

    Re: Jina

    Like you, Jina, I’m a little confused about whether or not Koh Lipe would be a nice place to visit in early July. As you say, Castaway Resort’s website seems to indicate that it’s OK, but they obviously want people to keep coming to their resort, so I’m not sure how much to trust them on that. I look forward to comments by anyone who’s been there at this time.

    Thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Anna Reply:

    I’ve been to Koh Lipe in castaway resort in low season. I think I don’t even want to go there in high season as there are so many pluses visiting it in low season! I stayed there with my husband for 1 week and really loved it! It doesn’t rain there in summer as much as in Bangkok. It does rain from time to time, but it’s just a couple of hours and then it’s sunny again. Actually I liked that it rained because it’s not so hot afterwards. Really loved it!

    [Reply to this comment]

  14. betty says:

    Hi, thank you for such an informative site.

    My fiance are planning on holding a small, intimate catholic wedding ceremony+honeymoon in Thailand.

    We both have never been to Thailand.
    The reason we want to do it there is because my future
    father-in-law works in Bangkok and, due to his contract, as well as his financial difficulties, is unable to leave the country.

    I was hoping you could give us some tips on which beaches are best for our budget and if holding a Catholic beach wedding is possible?

    We want a place that is not too isolated yet not too crowded or too noisy. Preferably white sand and calm waters like Boracay. Our budget is for maybe a 3.5 (is there even a half rating?) to a 4 star resort. Good enough for our honeymoon and for our families to have a relaxing vacation with snorkeling and massages and maybe a local guided tour of some sort.

    Do you think it’s being too ambitious, considering NONE of us, including our families, have ever been to Thailand?

    My father is EXTREMELY paranoid about tsunamis. I am afraid of typhoons and big waves (since I cannot swim!) We are hoping for a December wedding but when IS the best time go? When is the weather more temperate, not too hot or humid, yet with calm waters?

    Sorry for my long post and I hope someone can help me out.

    Thank you so much!

    [Reply to this comment]

  15. Jina says:

    Hi there! Great site and photos! I’ve read that you totally not recommend Koh Lipe for June-July both cause of the weather and cause of the lack of daily scheduled speedboat trips there.. However I read in Castaways Resort official page (which is open year-round) that currently the speed-boat trips are almost on a daily basis even in low season and also that you would find mostly rain during May-mid June but from mid June and onwards that it gets much better with few rainfalls and mostly sun..

    Maybe they just say this to advertise the resort year-round..but pls reply would it maybe worth it to visit during late June eraly July? I could have my time off then and this is the only period in this year I could have vacations..and if I visit Thailand I would really really like to visit Koh Lipe..

    Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  16. ankit says:

    Hi thr !!
    well i’m really impressed by ur site, first thing. Seems much more sane than tripadvisor. So Congratulations !
    Me and my fiancee are planning our honeymoon in thailand somwhere around nov this year.
    We are looking for some nice 4-5 star property to stay and want a mix of a some quite secluded picturesque beach with a scope for activities and some nice active night life.
    We don’t want a place very commercialised and bustling with people.
    I’ve read a lot about phuket, koh samui, phi phi isles…..
    and thus left thouroughly confused.
    Please advice on which beach and beach resort would best fit the bill.
    Thanks
    Ankit

    [Reply to this comment]

  17. engy says:

    iam planning to spend my honeymoon in 1st half of september in thailand,so,what do you recommend me of the best island with good weather to go to at that time? and the best resorts and hotels with good price.and what is the cost of 7 nights there in 3 or 4 stars resorts?

    [Reply to this comment]

  18. John says:

    Thank you so much for all the efforts put forward to this site. I’ve found great information so far for booking our honeymoon vacation in June, but I’m still a little unsure whether we want to spend a majority of our time on the golf side in Koh Samui or the West side in Koh Phi Phi. We are planning on doing day trips either way but will one area have better weather than the other during the end of June? Would the waters be too rough on either side for ocean swimming and scuba diving day trips?

    Cheers!
    John

    [Reply to this comment]

  19. andrea says:

    Hello! I am getting married with about 20 people in Jan 2012. I need help picking the best island for it. Something easy to get to, nice beaches, a relaxed vibe (lanterns on the beach and those mats to lay on)…something chic and nice but not too fancy…Any tips? Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  20. Anks says:

    We want to go to Thailand for out honeymoon in Mid april. Being in the northern hemisphere April will be hot almost everywhere.

    We have 5 days with us…where can we have some secluded resort with lots of shade and private pool, and possibly venture out for island hopping and snorkeling.

    I am actually sure what to expect :( from Thailand… pls suggest

    [Reply to this comment]

  21. Goran says:

    First of all i would like to give all my respect for the crew on this website.Creating such a INFO portal about Thailand now days has become a true gold mine and should be awarded not only with good words i would like to donate even money to this website not only my respect and Love !!!

    If its not a problem i have a question to ask and would appreciate every comment or recommendation.

    Me and my Buddy are traveling to Thailand for the first time and i have read and watched many many hours of material about what is good and what is Bad.

    My problem is that every place on Thailand is trying to SHINE with the same offer that we are looking for ,but i would like to get a TIP where to go right away instead of losing time on Heavily crowded places with ugly woman and beaches.

    I have a Invitation to come visit Koh Samui because a person ( also from my country ) has invited us over a forum to be our guide for that island etc.I personally think that Koh Samui could be cleaner and have more the feeling like the amazing Ko Lipe.I have spoke to him and explained what i am looking for and he suggested Koh Samui.

    So my question is what is the best place to combine Ko Lipe Castaways Resort atmosphere and some pretty bar girls,good food good,clear wather, night life ??

    [Reply to this comment]

  22. Lauren says:

    I am trying to plan a honeymoon for late May and am thinking that Thailand might just be the perfect compromise for us! We want somewhere really pretty, on a nice beach that is relaxing for part of the trip (really nice hotel I hope, with a pool, great scenery) and then wouldn’t mind doing a bit of sightseeing, some shopping and FOOD- we love to eat!!!! Can you please give us some recommendations?! Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  23. emma mchale says:

    Hello,

    We are hoping to come to Thailand on 8th Septmember for our Honeymoon. I believe this is the rainy season in Phuket etc but I am hoping I am right in thinking Koh Samui etc will be ok?

    What we are looking for is 5-7 days of total honeymoon luxury is a nice hotel on a beach (for this part we would obviously hope for little rain) fully expect downpours though.

    Then we are looking for ideas to travel from Samui after that for 2 weeks… either into Cambodia/Lao or down through Malaysia to KL. For this part we dont mind budget/midrange and over land would be best. We like all sorts of activities and generally just wnt to explore and expereince without a maad rush.

    We are also open to other islands if any are recommended for September.

    Thanks!
    Emma

    [Reply to this comment]

  24. David says:

    Sounds like we’re a bit too late for Koh Lipe

    http://www.travelfish.org/location/thailand/southern_thailand/satun/ko_lipe

    [Reply to this comment]

  25. David says:

    Hello!
    We are planning a trip to Thailand from the 15 to the 30th of April 2011.
    We would like to spend one week in Ko Lipe and one week in Koh Samui.
    We haven’t booked our flight yet and we will be leaving from London.
    I was wondering what is the easiest way to go to Ko Lipe from London?
    And after how can we reach Koh Samui from Ko Lipe.
    As I said, we haven’t booked our flight tickets yet so any options is possible (From Bangkok, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, wherever…) and we are looking for the quickest or simplest way to go in these islands.

    Many thanks for your help!

    PS: by the way, mid-April is still a good time of the year for Ko Lipe?

    [Reply to this comment]

  26. BackpackerThailand says:

    Maybe a good suggestion. This year I’ve been to the island of Koh Lipe in Thailand. This island is located 70km off the Andaman (west) coast of Thailand’s most southwestern province, Satun Province and shines out among some of Thailand’s most beautiful, and unforgettable environments.

    I had a great time on Lipe and there was a lot to do like snorkeling, shopping and eating in good quality restaurants and bars. I found my resort on Koh Lipe on http://www.welovekohlipe.com, where you can also check out more information about Koh Lipe and the surrounding areas. I can really recommend Koh Lipe for a nice relaxing holiday in paradise!

    [Reply to this comment]

  27. Katie Petridi says:

    Hello!
    I have been trawling the web for the last couple of weeks getting information on Thailand and was so grateful to come across your site – it’s truly fantastic!
    Like many we are honeymooning in Thailand this January (early Jan). We LOVE the look of Amanpuri but sadly it is full (and a bit over our budget).
    We want romantic, authentically Thai, with a hint of luxury. We are thinking Zeavola on Phi Phi and maybe a couple of nights somewhere nice on Phuket. Would you recommend that or is there somewhere else we are missing? Where would you stay on Phuket aside from Amanpuri?
    Any hidden gems, must do’s, suggestions very gratefully received!
    We have already enquired into the Aman Suite in Bangkok by the way, following your review:)
    Thanks so much

    Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  28. romanian friend says:

    hello,

    I am planning a surprise trip to Thailand for my boyfriend, in February – march 2011

    I was thinking of staying 2 nights in bangkok, and 8 nights in different islands. we are the type of persons who enjoy a good and relaxing sightseeing, relaxation, good drinks, snorkeling, swimming and experience thai style and culture. during evenings we like to visit the cities and enjoy the night life. we enjoy breathtaking beaches with white sand and not crowded

    what islands do you recommend, including thai style hotels, medium priced, beachfront?
    thank you very much and looking forward to your response.

    romanian friend :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  29. Lauren H says:

    Hi!

    We are planning our honeymoon for Dec-Jan 2010-2011… So far I am flying into Bankok and going straight to Koh Samui for first 3 days at Sareeyaya and then we have 3 days that I cant decide between staying in Koh Phangan (Santhiya or Rasanada- but very expensive)or going to Koh Tao? then i need to get to phuket in time to catch the ferry to go to Phi Phi island staying at 260 Villa resort. Would you recommend staying in koh phangan or koh tao? Or staying 2 nights in one and one in another? Or is it a good idea to stay in Phuket for a night before we need to leave to phi Phi? So hard to decide!!

    Thanks!

    Lauren

    [Reply to this comment]

  30. Jenny says:

    Hello! We are planning to honeymoon in Thailand in May 2011, leaving the 16th. I’ve been reading up on most islands but in the end I’m overwhelmed. We have just under 3 weeks, plan to do 2 days or so in Bangkok and now trying to decide on the islands. We originally were going to do Samui, Tao, PhiPhi and Phuket but its just too much travelling, its our honeymoon, don’t really want to pack up every 2-3 days. We’re thinking now to stay on one side or the other, Phuket seems to look nicer as far as beach goes? We aren’t looking for top luxury but do want a decent hotel (no cockroaches or showers without a door) We want a nice beach with options to do some day trips and not have to pack up and leave. May 2 islands or 3 max. Fishing, snorkling, elephant trekking, thai cooking classes…… (no interest in Chaing Mai)

    Would appreciate any feedback, good and bad!

    Thanks,
    Jenny.

    [Reply to this comment]

  31. Karen says:

    Hi,

    I’m thinking of going to Ko Phangan and Ko Lipe on 20 Oct. Would October be a good time to visit since it’s the rainy season? Would appreciate your advice!
    Thanks, Karen

    [Reply to this comment]

  32. chris says:

    Hi! My wife and I are going to koh samui in november this year and we are a little concerned that it will be a waste of time as we have heard the weather that time of year can be horrible!!! Do you have any addvice or more knowledge of what the weather is like over there at this time? Dose it rain all day everyday or just a small part of each day and then sunshine????

    We would appreciate any advice or info!

    Thanx Chris

    [Reply to this comment]

  33. Rumplestiltskin Jr. says:

    Hi!
    Planning a honeymoon for late August and you’ve sold me on Koh Lipe. From most of what I’ve read on the forum, it is hard to get to. However, on the castaway website it says, “Summer Weather

    A lot of people seem to think the weather at this time is very bad and that Koh Lipe is unreachable with bad seas and rain. Its not true. For most of the summer Koh Lipe enjoys plenty of sunshine and calm seas with the occasional thunderstorm.”

    If we can make it to the island, would the trip be worth it?
    Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  34. Susannah Mason says:

    Hi!

    Thanks for much for all the information on Thai islands!

    My boyfriend and I and my parents are heading over to Thailand from June 4th – June 29th. We are planning on starting in bangkok, heading up to Chiang Mai, heading down a south island and then over to Songkhla/ Hat Yai area to visit some friends.

    I am wondering… if we should head to the islands first since June is the start of the rainy season, the beginning might be less rainy than the end of june.

    I am also wondering what would be the best island to go to for that time of year. I am looking for:

    Great scenery
    great snorkeling (off shore and day trips to other islands)
    authentic thai food and culture
    and not as crowded as samuii or phuket

    Thanks for anyone’s help in advance!

    Susannah

    [Reply to this comment]

  35. Paul says:


    Twitter:
    Hey Everyone,
    My partner and I are hoping to travell to the SouthWest Thailand this coming May (24April-15May). The flights are booked but the only thing holding me back is fear of the weather.

    Can anyone provide first hand experience of the weather conditions at this team of year in the South West. Hoping to hit Phi Phi for a week and then further south to Ko Bulon or Ko Lipe.

    I understand that this is the start of the “Rainy Seasons” but what exactly does this mean?? Should I expect rain the majority of the time or does it come in short burst with glorious sunshine the remainder of the day?

    Also as Ko Bulon and Ko Lipe are relatively remote, are the Ferries/boats likely to be effected by the seasonal weather.

    Best Regards,

    Paul

    [Reply to this comment]

  36. patrick says:

    HI, We are travelling with family(4) from bkk to river kwai to siem reap to battambang to HCMC up to hanoi(halong bay).

    We found a nice island to stay in vietnam(nha trang) but are looking for a nice finish island near hanoi or bkk for about 4/5 days.

    key words:
    July
    Snorkling
    easy to reach

    i would love to get some ideas?
    Koh chang in trat is bad weather or?
    would phi phi be better?

    best regards Patrick

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Hi Patrick,

    As you probably saw, Ko Phi Phi is our pick for Thailand’s best family island. We’d definitely suggest that over any beach destination near Hanoi.

    I’m not sure how locked in you are to your itinerary and how much time you have but one alternative to consider: end your trip by traveling from Siem Reap down to Sihanoukville via Phnom Phen. Sihanoukville has only slightly-above-average beaches but is an interesting place for other reasons. And from there you can take a great boat trip to Trat, Thailand and then stop by Ko Kood and/or Ko Chang on your way back to BKK.

    Weather wise, you are going to face the chance of some rainy hours no matter where you go in July. Generally Ko Phi Phi is drier than Ko Chang that time of year.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  37. Rachael says:

    Hey everyone. My boyfriend and I have just got back from 3 weeks in Thailand and spent time on Koh Bulon, Koh Mook, Koh Kradan, Koh Lanta and Koh Tao.

    I’m putting up a review of each island on my blog which you can find at http://adateatthetate.blogspot.com/

    Wherever you go in Thailand you’ll have an amazing time – I’ve been twice now and havent found a bad island yet

    [Reply to this comment]

  38. Jz says:

    Hi

    i need help! travelling to bangkok on 24th decemebr and looking to take a flight out to an island same day. i will have 5 nights to spare as on the 6th day need to get back to bangkok.

    we are a young couple who love clear blue waters for snorkelling and other water activities, prefer long strolls on the beach, great food lovers, high end resort/ hotel users, the place should be a commercial place filled with tourists yet not too crowded and we are not hardcore party animals.

    can you advise which island(s) to go to,areas to stay in and which hotels? i prefer koh samui but i hear the water is dirty and swimming is not recommended, but even then it is a place most tourists go to and should not be missed.

    [Reply to this comment]

  39. Sarah says:

    Hello

    My friend and I are planning a two island trip around end December to celebrate New year too – have looked at Koh Samui / Koh Tao or Koh Chang plus one other. Could you let me know which side will have the better weather and clearer seas, nicer beaches please

    Maybe little bit night life, good for chilling, good for singles not like Phuket although that was about 10 years ago since I went – not sure where koh lipe is. Any help and recommendations on what beaches in these places would be great.

    Thank you

    Sarah

    [Reply to this comment]

  40. Daphne Garcia says:

    Hi.
    I was wondering if anyone might be able to help me find the perfect wedding venue. My fiance and I would like a humanist ceremony at a resort in which the rooms are scattered as villas and suites, rather than in one building. Another must-have is a beautiful garden or sea pavillion or something, because although we’d like the venue to be right on a white-sands beach, we’d rather not get married on the beach itself (not too picky, are we?!?!). It’ll only be a small do (around 20 guests) but we want every detail to be perfect, and neither of us has ever been to the continent, let alone the country! Our three options are Thailand, Malaysia and Bali. We would like to get married around February time.

    We would be extremely grateful of any opinions from people who have visited the area.

    Many thanks,

    Daphne

    [Reply to this comment]

  41. lieve says:

    Hello,
    I am very happy to have found this site & hope you can help with my question. 5 years ago beginning of November I was in Khao Lak on holiday (enjoying the beach + 4days diving liveaboard to the Similan Islands). I so liked Khao Lak that I convinced my husband to go there for our 1st wedding anniversary. He booked our ticket from October 4th till Oct. 19th. Now I read on all sites that October is THE month to avoid if possible… Can you suggest the best place to go to in the South of Thailand (our flight arrival/departure = Phuket airport), in order to enjoy the best possible weather conditions, a good hotel for a relaxing holiday? Focus is on good weather + quiet classy hotel on the beach , a choice of good restaurants + some possibilities for day trips ? I will much appreciate any advise (you see we live in Belgium & get enough of rain & I would love to avoid that as much as possible…) Thank you for your reply, Lieve

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Lieve,

    I’m thinking that Spot Cool Stuff should write a post entirely on the what Thai beaches are best at what time of year—a lot of people seem to have questions about it.

    Unfortunately for you, there is no place anywhere in Thailand where you are likely to have a completely rain-free time in October. You could head to the Ko Samui / Ko Phangan area, which is *slightly* less rainy in October, or go to the north of Thailand where it is about half as rainy. But in these places you are likely to get wet too.

    As we’d mentioned in other posts, what usually happens in October is that you get sunny mornings, then rain for an hour or two in the afternoon, and then it clears up a bit before sunset. It is unlikely (though certainly still possible) that you’ll get a Belgium sort of rain that can continue throughout an entire day. Also . . . and I should stress that I have absolutely no scientific proof to back this up . . . but I have been visiting the South of Thailand for the last 20 years and I think weather patterns are changing there such that October is now *less* rainy while December is becoming more rainy. But not making any predictions for the period of Oct 4th to 19th, so take all this for whatever you think it is worth.

    As for where to stay, for quiet and classy hotel reachable from Phuket the first place that comes to mind is the Zeavola on Ko Phi Phi. Lots of day trips can be arranged from there (James Bond island, fishing, rock climbing, etc). There are also lots of good restaurants. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of my favorite but if you go on the path that hugs the coast (as opposed to the inland cross-island path) about half-way between the Zeavola and ferry dock the path take a large turn. At that turn there is an attractive outdoor restaurant on a sort of small cliff-edge with freshly caught fish on ice in front–it is outstanding!

    Check out our Ko Phi Phi review for more info.

    Best holiday wishes.

    [Reply to this comment]

  42. bolek says:

    Hi-

    we’ll be in Thailand in the beginning of November and would like to visit the islands around Trang.Is this the right time to do so? we are interested in snorkeling, quiet time, not parties and shopping?
    thank you.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Bolek,

    November is an excellent time to visit. That is the start of the high season. There should still be free rooms to be found but, still, for the best selection and price I suggest booking your hotels as soon as possible.

    As for what island to visit, Ko Phi Phi seems to fit what you are describing. It is slightly north of Trang province.

    BTW, a few minutes ago we published a review of our favorite Bangkok hotel rooms. Check it out.

    Thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

  43. Victoria says:

    Hi, Great info and pictures! Im getting married on 15th May 2010 and we really want out Honeymoon in thailand but dont have a clue which are the best island for that time of year?
    The things we do know is we what somewhere that is quiet, seculed, not a party seen and where tradition is still very much alive. As we wont have our baby with us I really want to be able to spend our time together just enjoying nature.

    Where would you say was best around that time? or just after?

    Thanks Victoria

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Victoria,

    Congrats on your upcoming marriage!

    To some extent you are operating at cross purposes — the islands with the most local tradition are also those that are least developed in terms of tourism and so aren’t going to have accommodations that have air conditioning (May weather on all Thai islands is a very hot and sticky) much less be “honeymoon nice.” So, two options:

    1) Take the Middle Way and find a single island that has aspects of everything you are looking for (even if it isn’t perfect on any one criteria). From what you write, Ko Kood sounds like it would be a great fit for you (read our review here).

    2) Visit a variety of types of islands, each of which offering an aspect of what you are looking for in the superlative. Maybe start out roughing it a little someplace that’s more remote and traditional (like Ko Lipe, or an island even more remote than that), then take a 2~3 day boat trip to the Similan Islands (which don’t have much Thai culture, because almost no one lives there, but are amazingly full of natural beauty) and then end up pampering yourself at a high end Phuket resort.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  44. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Priya,

    For Bangkok, the Peninsula is an excellent choice for you. In your price range I always advise travelers to pick a property on the river, partly because it is so scenic, partly because river boat is one of the most efficient ways to get around the city (and it also provides a fun, local experience).

    More than its proximity to shopping (in Bangkok everything is close to shopping) the Peninsula is great because of its river location. If you are looking for other options by the river with good pools check out the Oriental and the surprisingly great Sheraton Riverview as well.

    For Phuket, I was personally at the Amanpuri in November and rundown is the last adjective I would attribute to it. It may have changed since then . . . but I suspect not. (As an aside, my own experience with Trip Advisor is that it is remarkably unreliable; unless a hotel has uniformly positive or negative reviews I tend to ignore them all). Check out our Phuket Overview for other recomendations.

    In Phuket, the airport is at the extreme north of the island. Most of the top-end resorts are in Phuket’s mid-section (a 15~25 minute taxi ride). Some resorts are further south (eg. a 35~45 taxi ride). I would encourage you NOT to consider the taxi ride length when choosing your honeymoon accommodations. All the resorts have their own personality–the chance to stay at the one that is best for you is worth an extra 20 minute ride if that’s what it takes. That said, the Amanpuri is in the mid-section on the island on the west coast, not that far from the airport.

    For snorkeling, you’ll do best arranging a boat excursion to one of the smaller islands near Phuket — Ko He and Ko Kai Nok are good. Off shore, some of Phuket’s best snorkeling is at Laem Sing Beach, only a few minutes from the Amanpuri.

    [Reply to this comment]

  45. Priya says:

    I posted just today. Thanks for the response. I think that Phuket would be easier for the easy flights. We our budget is enough for 4-5 star hotels in all locations. Would like pools in all locations and good views if possible. In Bangkok our travel agent put us in Le Meridien in a round room. I was reading that Peninsula was nice. Is it near a popular shopping area. And recommendations. Will check out Phuket hotel that you recommended, Amanpuri – how far from the airport. I read on tripadvisor that some people thought it was run down – what about the other recommendations on your site for honeymoon. Where is there good offshore snorkeling in Phuket in end October-Nov 1.

    [Reply to this comment]

  46. Priya says:

    Hi –
    I am planning a honeymoon end of October to November. (Oct 25-Nov 2) Flying from NYC to Bangkok – stay 2 days, going to Siem Riep 2 days and then to an Island for 2 days. I know it is a lot – but we like to see and do things. What central location hotel would you recommend for Bangkok to see interesting sights?

    What island would you recommend for us? What island will the weather be best for offshore snorkeling in clear shallow water and for relaxing but where there are nice amenities for a honeymoon? What will weather in Phuket be like. I am concerned about rain and want to pick a good honeymoon island. What about honeymoon hotel. Our travel agent has us at Anantara for Phuket. Is this very far from the airport. We don’t want to waste too much time travelling to different locations.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Hi Priya,

    In terms of Bangkok hotels, what budget do you have and what sort of places do you like to stay? I mean, are you looking for a big hotel with a pool? A Thai-style B&B? An cheap sleep? Bangkok has good, central hotels in virtually every type and price category.

    As for islands, the problem is that you only have two days before you have to be back at BKK airport for your flight home. Practically speaking, this limits you to islands with frequent, reliable and direct flights or within short ferry rides of the same. Typically, the weather then is predominantly clear and sunny. But we are talking about the weather, which isn’t completely predictable. There’s never a time anywhere in Thailand with a 0% chance of rain. Given that, your best solution would be to extend you trip. Assuming that isn’t possible for you . . .

    For quality, romantic honeymoon-like accommodations Phuket is absolutely your best choice. Especially if you are into offshore snorkeling (but even if you weren’t) I’d suggest staying at the Amanpuri over the Anantara — check out our review of it, above.

    The other option you should consider is flying to Krabi, taking a ferry to Ko Phi Phi and staying at theZeavola, which is the island’s best accommodations. (Read our Phi Phi & Zeavola review here — and booking through us gets you 25% off).

    Here are the advantages of that Ko Phi Phi plan: It is cheaper (both in terms of accommodations and general costs). The offshore snorkeling is considerably better on Phi Phi (it is good on Phuket too, just not as good as Phi Phi). Phi Phi is also a small, car free island. Everything is within walking distance and so there’s no need to expend great time or effort getting from one place to another. Phi Phi feels more remote and away-from-it-all than does Phuket. There’s more than enough in and around Phi Phi to occupy you for 2 days.

    Here are the advantage of the Phuket plan: the Amanpuri is easily more luxurious, more traditional honeymoon-like, property. The Zeavola is really nice–you’ll get a whole cabin made of dark wood, with your own balcony looking out over the water, and a super comfy bed. But the Zeavola has an average restaurant, average pool, not much in the way of personal service. The Amanpuri is a high-end resort with an infinity pool, personalized service, and that best-of-everything mentality. If you really want to treat yourself, and come away thinking you’ve just stayed in one of the best hotels you ever will, the Amanpuri is it; there are no remotely comparable accommodations on Phi Phi. Also, with Phi Phi you’ve got that extra transportation step of the ferry to and from the Krabi town. It isn’t hard to arrange, but it means you have to allow extra time for boat delays, wait for the ferry twice, lug your bags on and off the boat, etc.

    Since I don’t know you I don’t know what your priorities are. Hopefully that pro & con list will help you weigh the options. Let us know what you decide and how it works out for you.

    [Reply to this comment]

  47. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Hi Irene,

    If you haven’t done so already you should certainly pick up a good travel guidebook (both LP and Rough have guides specific to Thailand islands). They will go into more details on your practical trip-planning questions than we can here. The brief answers to your questions are:

    1. As mentioned in other comments, there is little risk of it raining for an entire day. There is even less risk of that in November. In November there’s also less risk of it raining at all. On the other hand, in November prices will be higher and the beaches will start to get more crowded.

    2. Check our link in the Ko Lipe write-up for the ferry times. October is hit-and-miss on Ko Lipe. If you want to go there then, yes, you’d be better off waiting to Nov 1st for your Thailand trip.

    3. If you are a scuba diver then the Similans are absolutely worth 3 days–the diving is really phenomenal. If you are a snorkeler then on a trip as short as yours a day trip to the Similans is probably enough.

    4. Incredibly easy. There are tons of taxis. But Phuket is surprisingly large and taxis are expensive (by Thailand standards). If you are only concerned with getting to your Ko Phi Phi boat then worry not–most travel agents on Phuket will sell you a boat ticket that includes transport from your hotel (or some easy-to-reach location) to the pier. Many hotels will also provide free airport transport.

    5. For the wild drunken parties Patong is the place on Phuket. That might or might not be your scene. If you are looking to kick back and chill with your fellow travelers then Ko Phi Phi (and Ko Lipe) will be more your style.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  48. Irene says:

    Hello again,

    Sorry I meant from Kao Lak (not Ko Lak) Pier or Taplamu, till Rassada Port in Phuket

    Thanks!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  49. Irene says:

    Hello!

    Very nice tips, really helpful site Mr CoolTravel!

    I want to visit Thailand in October ( my preferred dates would be from 12 to 21) for around 10 days visiting islands. I would like to make the most of my trip and really discover the most amazing places while enjoying best beaches there. So I have some questions for you…

    1. Is there any risk of having bad weather? Should I delay my trip till Nov 1st?
    2. Would be boats running from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lipe at that time?
    3. Is it worthy to visit Similans for 3 days, or would it be enough with one day trip? Are Surin so much worthy?
    4. Is it easy to move around phuket ( for examle from Ko Lak till the pier that brings you to Ko Phi Phi, which I guess is in the other side of teh island?
    5. What is the best area for nightlife in phuket?

    Many many thanks for your help and time!

    [Reply to this comment]

  50. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Sorry for the long reply time — your question fell through the cracks here.

    Ko Lipe is definitely not a party island. Phi Phi, as we mention in the review, is great for chill hanging but there are basically only two places on the whole island that offer a party scene that’s more than that.

    So, I would definitely recommend Ko Phangan. Our review, and accommodations suggestions at:

    http://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/thailand/more-beach-islands#phangan

    If you went to Phangan you could then easily add in a night or two on Ko Tao. There are lots of boats between the two islands and it isn’t very far (90 minutes, maybe?) so you won’t have to spend a lot of extra time or money on transportation. Of the two island, Ko Tao definitely has the better diving. There’s quite a chill party scene on Ko Tao too, making it an easy place to meet other travelers.

    Does that help at all?

    [Reply to this comment]

  51. Melissa says:

    hey guys- i posted on July 2- but haven’t seen a resspone yet. I was wondering which islands you would recommend for early September- we want a mix of both remote and party, we have 1 week for the islands- i was thinking 2 different spots?
    On the short list are:
    Ko Lanta
    Ko Phi Phi
    Ko Chang
    Ko Tao

    thanks!
    Melissa

    [Reply to this comment]

  52. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Marine,

    It could be that you want to go to some other island just to experience a new place. But if Phi Phi is where you want to go in October then I would go. There can sometimes be rain then, yes. But it is just as likely that you’ll see multiple days in a row with not a cloud around. And when it does rain it is very unlikely to last all (or even most) of a day.

    So, worst case: you have to spend part of your day sipping drinks on a hammock looking out over rain falling on the sea. Best case: the weather is gorgeous and you get to be on Phi Phi free of the crowds and high prices the island sees in December.

    [Reply to this comment]

  53. Marine says:


    Twitter:
    Very nice introduction to the Thai island. I have one question:
    What would be the best island to go to in the begining of October. I went to Phiphi in May it was amazing, but I have heard that in october the south west isnt the best place to go.
    Any suggestion at that period of the year?

    Thanks

    Marine

    [Reply to this comment]

  54. Melissa says:

    Hi! Your site has been very helpful. Ko Lipe sounds great – but I’m going in early September with a buddy-
    We like to party and will want to interact with other travelers, as well as do activities during the day and lounge around. If I have 1 week for the islands, where should we head and how many do you think would be reasonable? I was thinking no more than 2 islands. I’ve been checking out:

    Ko Pha Ngan (we won’t be there for full moon, but could hit half moon)
    Ko Phi Phi
    Ko Tao
    Ko Chang

    What do you recommend?
    I know it’s the low season and not sure if the Gulf or Andaman will be better in terms of weather.

    Thanks!
    Melissa

    [Reply to this comment]

  55. Jayne says:

    Hi

    I am planning a trip to Thailand in October/November time. We plan to book a multi centre holiday staying 3 nights in Bangkok, 3 nights in Chiang Mai and then 8 nights on one of the islands however I am really unsure which to chose? I have been looking at ko samui and phuket( heard it may be too commercial) but I really want to make the most of the few days we have. I really want to do a jungle tour/ elephant trekking/ snorkelling and maybe take a boat trip to some of the less commercial islands. Any ideas on island resorts for the second part of our trip would be appreciated???

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Hi Jayne,

    Well, first of all, I strongly suggest doing your elephant trekking and jungle touring while you are in the Chiang Mai area. Especially with the elephant trekking, there’s no offering on any island that can compare with what you’ll find in the north of Thailand. If that means extending your stay in that area for a day or two (perhaps doing an overnight in a more traditional Thai village) then do it..

    OK, so that leaves you with looking for an island for snorkelling and from which to do boats trip to a less commercial island. That sounds like Ko Phi Phi to me -

    http://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/thailand/more-beach-islands#phiphi

    Phi Phi is commercial, but in a very laid back way. The snorkeling is outstanding. And there are all sorts of boat trip offerings to other place, include one to a completely deserted islands where operators will drop you off with drinks, food and snorkeling gear, give you a few hours, and then take you back. You can get to Phi Phi by flying direct to Phuket from Chiang Mai and taking a boat to Phi Phi. Returning, you can take a boat to Krabi and fly to Bangkok from there. So, that would give you a little taste of two other Thailand beach areas.

    As for accommodations in Ko Phi Phi, in our review we suggested Zeavola, which is outstanding! If you want a place that’s less expensive try the Erawan Palms or (even less expensive still) the Ingphu Viewpoint.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  56. Dominika says:

    Thank you for the great information and tips!
    I would like to ask you if it is possible to go to any of the islands around Tarutao like Ko Lipe or so in July. I understand it depends on particular day-to-day weather, but would you think it is a waste of time? The waves too high on the beaches? My main idea is to avoid the crowds of Phuket and still enjoy pristine beaches and some diving and relax, I will have enough of sightseeing/tourism in other parts of my overall Thailand trip, :) Or would you recommend perhaps some other parts of Thailand (Koh Kood?) or Malaysia (Perhentian Islands?). I have personally only been to Phuket and I didn’t enjoy the crowds there at all. I also have money only for mid-range accommodation so I can’t afford very expensive islands, I wouldn’t mind sleeping in budget though. I would be greatful if you could help me with this!!!
    Thank you very much,
    Dominika.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Hi Dominika,

    Sadly, Tarutao and Ko Lipe in July is a no go. It is unlikely you’d be able to get to these islands by boat, and you’d probably find it unpleasant there if you did.

    You could head to Ko Tao and Ko Samui (see my comment #7, above). But based on what it sounds like you are looking for you might be happier on Ko Kood and/or Ko Chang, and then maybe (depending on your time and inclinations) combining that with a trip to Cambodia. It won’t be totally rain-free there. But it won’t be totally wet either. The boats will be running.

    Also, since July is considered the low season you’ll get some good rates on accommodations. Eg. on Ko Chang your own digs at the Cliff Cottage is only $4.40 a night!

    Let us know where you end up. And good luck!

    [Reply to this comment]

  57. Island Hopper says:

    I visited Koh Lipe for the first time back in Nov. 2008, and it is absolutely the most beautiful places I’ve been in Thailand. It has such a laid back feel, although there are shops for souviners, eating, drinking, and massages, it does not have the hustle and bustle, and you don’t feel like you’re getting hustled. The main drag path is now concrete, and not a worn dirt path anymore, although those can be found off the main one.

    There is a sense of change in the air, as the good word moves quickly, and this is no longer a well kept secret island. It is what it is, a wonderful, beautiful, piece of paradise on earth, but as with all things we must be careful not to leave a huge footprint on it, so others after us can enjoy it’s pristine beauty.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Thanks for your informative and thoughtful post, Island Hopper. %100 agreement with every word!

    [Reply to this comment]

  58. Dave and Deb says:

    We went to Ko Lipe in 2004. It was not developed at all then and we loved every minute of it. Not sure how popular it has become. Hopefully it won’t build up too soon. Didn’t know about Ko Laoliang. We climbed in Ralay, Krabi. Going back to SE Asia next year will definitely check it out.

    [Reply to this comment]

  59. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Iain:

    As you probably already know, you’ll be heading to Thailand in the low season. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing—prices will be cheaper and everything less crowded.

    In late-July/early-August Phuket and the Andaman coast are firmly in the south-west monsoon. I’ve been in Phuket around this time of year a few times. Nearly every day what would happen is that the mornings would be bright and sunny, then some clouds would form around 1~3pm, then it would rain hard for an hour or two starting around 2~5pm, then the clouds would clear for the sunset. Myself, I rather liked the afternoon rains: It would cool things off and provide a natural break in the day. And because the rain was predictable it could be planned around. (I took an August sailing class in Phuket. The instructor and I would sail all morning, then head in when the first clouds formed. Not once was a class rained out).

    Meanwhile, the east coast around Ko Samui is NOT under a monsoon. So, it certainly will be drier and more sunny over there. The catch is that it does still rain on Ko Samui in July/August and the rain won’t fall at any predictable times. This means you could potentially have an entire day rained out. But then you could go a whole week without a cloud in the sky.

    Add all that up and I’m not sure what it means. Maybe make your choice on where to go based on factors other than rain? The only beach destination you really want to avoid during your trip is the far east of Thailand (eg around Trat) where it will be raining like mad.

    As for accommodations, I’m not sure what your budget is. For a classy, upper-end Thai-style place in Phuket I like the Amanpuri (see review above). On Ko Samui the Anantara is similarly Thai-styled, though it is the Six Senses that’s really incredible. Both islands also have lots of private Thai-styled villas for rent.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  60. Iain says:

    Late July early August. Does the weather at that time mean that Phuket should be avoided?

    [Reply to this comment]

  61. Iain says:

    Great information! I am planning my honeymoon and wanted a couple relaxing islands on either the Koh Samui or Phuket side. Something relaxing and classy and most importantly, authentic Thai. I need to pick East or West side, and decide on a couple islands to mix it up with. A little snorkeling maybe some diving. Thanks for your help.

    Regards,
    Iain

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Hi Iain,

    When are you planning to go?

    [Reply to this comment]

  62. Travel Blog says:

    What amazing posts and photos! Great description of all of the different islands. Makes me want to go.

    Let me know if you would like to be a guest writer on my blog! Take it easy!

    Travel Blog’s last blog post..To Complain or Not To Complain..

    [Reply to this comment]

  63. Spot Cool Travel Stuff says:

    Malcolm,

    I guess it depends what you mean by “off-shore.” The Similans have Thailand’s best snorkeling. A lot of the boats trips there will take you on a day trip to a beach from which you can swim out to excellent snorkeling. Two other islands with great snorkeling swimable from shore: Koh Surin (north of the Similans) and Ko Tarutao (our choice for best “nearly undeveloped” island).

    One thing all three of those islands have in common is that they are all in a national park, and have all their accommodations controlled through a national park.

    Which got us wondering: Let say you wanted to stay in non-national park accommodations and wanted to be able to go snorkeling within five minutes of waking up in the morning. Where would we go to do that?

    Happily, many Thailand islands are condenders for that. Koh Tao would be a particularly good choice, as would Ko Chang. In the end, though, our top choice is also our best overall island: Ko Lipe.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply to this comment]

  64. Malcolm says:

    Great site, very useful. I was wondering, what islands do you recommend most for good off-shore snorkeling? Thanks a bunch!

    [Reply to this comment]

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