The 32 Most Beautiful Islands in Thailand

Koh Phi Phi Le is an uninhabited Thai island of pristine beauty
Koh Phi Phi Le is an uninhabited Thai island of pristine beauty | © YURY TARANIK/Shutterstock
Sarah Williams

Thailand certainly isn’t lacking gorgeous islands. Many people have already heard of, and maybe even visited, the likes of Phuket and Koh Samui, but how about going somewhere different on your next visit to the Land of Smiles? Here are the most stunning islands to add to your Thailand bucket list.

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1. Koh Phi Phi Don

Natural Feature

The view of buildings and beaches on the isthmus connecting islands at the Koh Phi Phi Don viewpoint
© DR Travel Photo and Video / Shutterstock
Koh Phi Phi Don is a major tourist destination. It may be hard to fully appreciate the beauty through the crowds sometimes, but hike up to the viewpoint, and you’ll quickly see why the island deserves popularity. A narrow isthmus is a scenic highlight, with two curved sandy bays sitting between verdant mountains. Limestone karsts covered with greenery rise spectacularly from the sparkling waters. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

2. Koh Phangan

Natural Feature

Dreamy coastal views of Koh Phangan Island, Thailand
Robert Eklund / Unsplash

On the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is known for being Thailand’s main party island. That doesn’t mean it’s not also an eye-catching island with plenty of natural wonders. Move away from the beach bars and party hot spots, and you’ll find pristine beaches, photogenic coastal rocks, waterfalls, forests and terrific lookout points. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

3. Koh Chang

Natural Feature

Island hopping in Koh Chang, Thailand
Flowdzine Creativity / Unsplash

Close to the Cambodian border, Koh Chang has beautiful beaches, as well as rugged mountains in the middle of the island. Although thick jungles cover the range, there are several picturesque waterfalls to behold. There’s a wide range of accommodations and entertainment options to enjoy after dark, letting you prepare for the next incredible day of island life. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

4. Phuket

Natural Feature

Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash

As Thailand’s largest, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the Phuket is an island in the first places. As well as great nightlife and crazy sights to snap in Patong, it’s also home to some top beaches and cultural spots, with the Big Buddha statue surely to get even the most hard to please user to double-tap your post. Recommended by Kyle Hulme.

5. Koh Samui

Natural Feature

Ko Samui, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani, Thailand
Nehal Patel / Unsplash

Stunning bays, sandy beaches and superb shopping opportunities have helped to put Koh Samui on the map. Located on the Gulf coast of Thailand, its mixture of bustling towns, like Chaweng, local hubs like Bophut and gorgeous spots, such as Silver Beach, have made Samui one of the most popular islands in the country – and rightly so. Recommended by Kyle Hulme.

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6. James Bond Island

Natural Feature

James Bond Island from Thailand
engin akyurt / Unsplash

Khao Phing Kan gets its colloquial name from an appearance in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), providing a backdrop to the secret lair of the film’s villain, played by Christopher Lee. The island, along with the striking tower of Ko Ta Pu – which also features in the film – are both limestone karst islands in the waters of Ao Phang Nga National Park. The caves and two sandy beaches of the main island are best explored by boat, as is Ko Ta Pu, which returned to the Bond universe in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), this time doubling up for a karst in Vietnam. Recommend by Gethin Morgan.

7. Koh Similan

Natural Feature

Located in the Andaman Sea, Koh Similan is the largest of the Similan Islands. It has white sandy beaches lapped by striking blue waters – in which you’ll find the best diving and snorkelling spots in Thailand. The island is home to a fascinating array of birdlife, too, and the sunset vistas are incredible. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

8. Koh Phi Phi Le

Natural Feature

The smaller of the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Phi Phi Le is uninhabited, and there’s no accommodation. That doesn’t mean it’s quiet, though. Droves of day-trippers make their way here every day, drawn by the seductive beauty of Maya Bay. The tropical beach was made famous in the Danny Boyle blockbuster The Beach (2000). With jungle and jagged rocks behind you and karsts almost enclosing the pristine waters in front, the soft white sands offer striking views in all directions. Traditional long-tail boats add to the sublime scenes. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

9. Koh Khai Nok

Natural Feature

Koh Khai Nok is the largest of the three Khai islands between Phuket and Ko Yao Yai. Although it gets relatively few visitors, the pale sands and blue waters quickly prove striking to anyone. There’s no accommodation on the island, and it’s usually visited en route to Koh Lipe. The postcard-worthy views, however, make the effort of getting here well worth it. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

10. Koh Tao

Natural Feature

Brightly coloured fish and underwater sea life
© Takashi Images / Shutterstock

While the beaches on Koh Tao are great for sunbathing and swimming, the true beauty lies in the surrounding waters. Explorers can expect a colourful array of marine life at this hugely popular diving and snorkelling location. Aquatic creatures include barracuda, grouper, scorpionfish, clownfish, eels, coral, sea turtles and even whale sharks. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

11. Koh Kut

Natural Feature

A mountainous island close to both Thailand and Cambodia, Koh Kut’s natural beauty needs to be seen to be believed. Here you’ll find some of the of clearest waters in Thailand, which serve as a perfect complement to the powdery-soft beaches and the thick green jungle behind them. As well as impressive beaches, it’s a nature-lovers paradise too, with waterfalls and mangroves to explore, as well as diving to take part in. A true wonder, and a great island to Instagram. Recommended by Kyle Hulme.

12. Koh Adang

Natural Feature

A tropical bird with a large yellow beak on a branch
© Utopia_88 / Shutterstock

Koh Adang is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Hike up the challenging paths and you’ll be rewarded with splendid views of nearby islands, as well as a glistening ocean stretching as far as the eye can see. There are several waterfalls to admire, too, and the island is home to diverse wildlife. When it comes to beaches, it’s likely that there will only be a few people on the white sands; enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Somewhat unusually for a Thai island, Koh Adang also has a black beach as well. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

13. Koh Tarutao

Natural Feature

The largest island in the Tarutao National Park, Koh Tarutao is steeped in legend and olden architecture. Explore the jungles and you’ll come across ruined prison buildings and sacred shrines. However, the island has never drawn large crowds of tourists or settlers like others in Thailand. As a result, numerous creatures call it home, including several species of snakes, so keep your eyes peeled. Although the beaches are somewhat sub-par when compared with other islands, real joy comes from the jungles and sunset views. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

14. Koh Samet

Natural Feature

Located off the coast of Rayong, Koh Samet is surrounded by coral reefs that are in good condition and attract diverse marine life. The clear waters make snorkelling and diving a joy, but, if you prefer to spend your time on dry land, there are lovely beaches, too. Plenty of bars and restaurants promise a lively time after hours, while the evening fire shows on the beaches add another magical dimension to your trip. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

15. Koh Munnork

Natural Feature

Rocks and a sandy beach with turquoise water, and a thatched roof on a seating area, on Koh Mun Nork
© MR. KHATAWUT / Shutterstock

A private Thai island off the coast of Rayong, Koh Munnork is the place to go if you want something truly exclusive. There’s just one resort, and the only way of getting to and from the island is by private boat. Virgin forest and bright white sands surround the luxury resort, the atmosphere is serene, and the views are incredible. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

16. Koh Kai

Natural Feature

A small island in Phang Nha province, Koh Kai — or egg island in English – might seem like just another island, but it has one breathtaking feature – a natural stone arch. An impressive arch stretching from the island into the sea, it’s almost as if it was made for Instagram. It is picture perfect and big enough to have you pose under the arch — gotta love those “candid” shots. Recommended by Kyle Hulme.

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17. Koh Lanta

Natural Feature

Sunset in Koh Lanta, Thailand
Cedric Letsch / Unsplash
Koh Lanta may not have impressive limestone formations, but it makes up for that with silky stretches of sands and overall a more grown-up air. The rugged forested hills and mangroves offer great views and adventures away from the seductive sands. Take time to learn about the local Moken community. Also referred to as chao le (sea people), the group is especially known for its awesome free-diving abilities. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

18. Koh Muk

Natural Feature

Tourism has been fairly slow to reach the gorgeous Trang Islands in general. It’s a shame, but it also lets them keep their natural loveliness. The craggy Koh Muk has picturesque swimming beaches and forests as well as quaint fishing villages. However, the main appeal for many is the sublime Emerald Cave (known in Thai as Tham Morakot). It can only be accessed from the ocean during low tide. Enter the cave and swim through the darkness, while the crashing sounds of waves fill the air, until you eventually see light. On exiting the cave, you’ll find yourself faced with a beautiful sandy beach that’s surrounded on three sides by towering rocks and water gently caressing the fourth side. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

19. Koh Kradan

Natural Feature

Another of the Trang Islands in the crystalline waters of the Andaman Sea, Koh Kradan is picture-perfect. It’s a dream that comes with coral-coloured sand, lush foliage and shading palms. Wade out far enough, and you can snorkel right from the beach. Laze in a hammock, relax on the sands, soak up some rays, lap up the views of nearby islands, and enjoy the good life. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

20. Koh Yao Noi

Natural Feature

The little sister of Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi appeals best to honeymooners – or anyone else seeking an idyllic escape with stunning views. The resorts are spectacular in their own right, with gorgeous pools and opulent rooms. Away from the flashy accommodation, however, you’ll find a laid-back farming community that still lives according to old traditions. Golden sands sit next to shallow rocky bays, and the island is a great launchpad for snorkelling, rock climbing and kayaking. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

21. Koh Lipe

Natural Feature

Clear turquoise water, a sandy beach, and rocks with trees on Koh Lipe island in Thailand
© RAYphotographer / Shutterstock

Word of the splendour here is spreading fast, so get over here before the secret is officially out. As part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, it’s a good starting point for awesome diving and snorkelling adventures. The island has a good selection of accommodation, restaurants and bars. It should go without saying that it also has splendid beaches. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

22. Koh Larn

Natural Feature

You don’t have to travel very far from Bangkok to find some of the country’s best coastlines. This small island is just a few minutes journey off the coast of Pattaya, and offers six main beaches around the five-squared-kilometer island, each offering its own unique personality and varying levels of activities. The most secluded of these is Ta Yai Beach, a quiet, sandy bay tucked away in the islands’ northeastern cape. Turquoise waters are enclosed by rocky outcrops, with views of nearby Pattaya dominating the panorama. The island itself offers a variety of great hikes as well, including a gorgeous view from its single central windmill. Recommended by Leslie Finlay.

23. Hong Island

Natural Feature

Hong Island, Khlong Khian, Takua Thung District, Phang-nga, Thailand / Unsplash

Easily accessible from Krabi (just 15 minutes by speedboat or 40 minutes by longtail boat), Hong Island is actually an archipelago comprising several small, uninhabited islands in the Than Bok Khorani National Park, characterised by white sandy beaches, towering limestone cliffs and a secluded turquoise lagoon. On a day tour here, you can swim, snorkel and kayak among shoals of colourful fish in the calm, shallow water or follow the nature trail through the jungle, keeping a close eye out for white-faced gibbons and monitor lizards. Recommended by Siobhan Grogan.

24. Koh Phayam

Natural Feature

Off the coast of Ranong, close to the Burmese border, Koh Phayam promises a slow and enticing pace that takes you back to old Thailand. Enjoy simple living on an island where only a few places can enjoy 24-hour electricity. Explore the quiet beaches around the island’s perimeter, hike (or motorbike) along rugged paths through rubber plantations and forests, or simply laze on a hammock in the sunshine. The waters may not be the clearest around this island, but the relaxation, lack of major development, and natural vibe make it beautifully delicate. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

25. Koh Mak

Natural Feature

Three people kayaking on two red kayaks through rocky gorges
© Ditty_about_summer / Shutterstock

A neighbour of Koh Chang, smaller Koh Mak is covered in tropical fauna and edged with white beaches. The families that own the land work hard to keep it in great condition, encouraging sustainable tourism that’s beneficial for the community without harming the island. Rubber and coconut trees can be found outside the accommodations, while there are plenty of opportunities for adventures, exploring and relaxation. Cycling is a great way to appreciate the abundant beauty. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

26. Koh Jum

Natural Feature

The charming Koh Jum offers a rare sense of peace and tranquillity when compared with the more popular islands nearby. There are several places to stay, meaning that you can enjoy the scenery and relaxed lifestyle for longer than a quick day trip. The tree-lined beaches have fine, coral-coloured sands that meet clear waters. Long-tail boats may be seen bobbing on the waves in the distance. Take time to explore the mangroves and traditional villages, too, and you’re sure to fall in love. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

27. Koh Bulon Leh

Natural Feature

This tiny spit of land near Taratao National Park is completely stuck in time – there is almost no development competing with the natural beauty of the island’s diverse landscape, from ancient pine forests in the interior to cascading beaches framing the perimeter. Expansive School Beach – named for the schoolteachers that manage the coastal bungalows – is among the most stunning, but considering the island only takes about 20 minutes to navigate on foot, nearly Panka Noi Bay and Panka Yai Bay are certainly worth checking out. Recommended by Leslie Finlay.

The Most Underrated Islands in Thailand

28. Koh Yao Yai

Natural Feature

Koh Yao Yai, Amphoe Ko Yao, Phang-nga, Thailand
Rick Maschke / Unsplash
Koh Yao Yai is developed enough to be comfortable, yet rural enough to still have a rustic charm. Sublime sandy beaches ring the island, with dense patches of mangroves that are perfect for exploring by kayak. Villages are largely comprised of traditional wooden homes on stilts, nestled in between groves and rubber plantations. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

29. Koh Nang Yuan

Natural Feature

Just a short hop from diving paradise Koh Tao lies Koh Nang Yuan, the only landmass in the world that features three distinct islands connected by spits of sand. The incredible beachfront is popular among day-trippers, but the dock closes at 5 ‘o clock sharp, at which point guests of the island’s only resort have the paradise entirely to themselves. Its topography also means you can see both sunrise and sunset from the island, either from the beach itself or from its lofty viewpoint. The island also aims to be as sustainable as possible, and so no outside plastic is allowed, and glass or other easily recycled packaging is used wherever possible. It’s so enticing, in fact, the Red Hot Chili Peppers once rented out the entire island, where they began to write the hit album Californication. Recommended by Leslie Finlay.

30. Koh Khram Yai

Natural Feature

Easy to access from Pattaya and close to Bangkok, Koh Khram Yai is often overlooked by tourists heading down the eastern Thai Gulf. That means, if you visit on a day trip, you’re likely to have the place to yourself. Nobody lives here, and there are no resorts. It’s a sea turtle breeding site with excellent swimming, diving and sunbathing opportunities. Recommended by Sarah Williams.

31. Koh Libong

Natural Feature

Also in Trang province, Koh Libong is the largest island in the region at 40 square kilometers, populated with Muslim fishing villages, a unique feature to the overwhelmingly Buddhist kingdom. The island’s eastern mangroves are part of the protected Libong Archipelago Wildlife Reserve, home to one of the last natural habitats of the endangered dugong – a sea mammal relative of the manatee. Trained naturalists lead tours for visitors eager to spot the chubby “sea cow,” to ensure responsible engagement and environmental conservation. Back on shore, the distinctive terrain of Libong boasts cashew trees and grassy meadows, among fruit orchards and stilted houses. Recommended by Leslie Finlay.

32. Koh Laoliang

Natural Feature

For those truly seeking to go off-grid, this remote island national park is the pinnacle of exclusivity – only 50 people can stay there at a time. But don’t equate its remoteness with luxury. There are no bungalows or resorts, but all visitors stay in a camp open just five months a year during the island’s dry months. Far from your dad’s botched nylon shelter, however, these sea-facing tents are right on the beach, mere meters away from the warm, crystalline waters of the Andaman. Spacious and comfortable, the two-room tents have electricity run by generators, so fans can keep you cool when the sea breeze fails. Laoliang is otherwise famous among the rock climbing community, and one look at the island’s splintering, soaring cliff faces will demonstrate exactly why. Recommended by Leslie Finlay.

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