Luxury beachfront hotels, beautiful stretches of endless sands and ocean water so clear you can see the bottom. When it comes to affordable luxury, not many destinations can compare to Thailand. But with so many different Thai islands, it can be tricky to pick which ones to visit. That's why we've put together a handy island hopping guide to make planning your holiday to Southern Thailand that little bit easier…
The best islands for island hopping in Thailand
- Phi Phi islands
- Koh Lanta
- Koh Yao Noi & Koh Yao Yai
- Koh Samui
- Koh Phangan & Koh Tao
Who is it best for? Families and active travellers
A great mainland base in Thailand, Krabi is perfect for families and active couples who want a good mixture of things to do and incredible beaches to relax on, as well as enjoying a great base for easy day trips to many of the surrounding islands. Krabi is filled with exciting activities for the adventurous soul with rock climbing, bicycle tours, scuba diving and much more on the agenda!
Tips for island hopping around Krabi
There are plenty of day trips to enjoy from Krabi. Take a boat trip to Phi Phi Islands, Hong Islands, the 4 Islands (Chicken Island, Koh Poda, Koh Tub and Koh Mor), and James Bond Island.
What to do in Krabi during an island hopping tour
- Explore the Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea).
- Visit Railay Beach, only accessible by boat.
- Discover Thung Teao Forest Natural Park and swim in the warm waters of the Emerald Pool.
- Go on a rock climbing lesson, abseiling down the natural limestone cliffs.
- Test your bartering skills at the Night Market – take a look at our full guide to Thailand's night markets here.
Where to stay in Krabi
Rayavadee – a 5 star resort tucked within Krabi National Marine Park, Rayavadee offers the ultimate natural paradise with limestone cliffs, sandy beaches and the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea just a step away from your room. Facilities include a large swimming pool, tennis courts, spa and Thai cooking classes. Browse our offers.
Phi Phi Islands
Who is it best for? Families and Romance
Like Krabi, the Phi Phi Islands are great for families and those that like a little more activity from their holiday – yet it offers a much quieter island hideaway that makes it perfect for a romantic getaway. Even if you don’t stay on the island, we’d recommend getting a long-tail boat here from a neighbouring island just to experience the scenic beauty of the bay in the early morning or evening when there are fewer people around.
What to do while island hopping in the Phi Phi Islands
- Enjoy an early morning excursion to snorkel and swim with black tip and leopard sharks.
- Kayak to Monkey Beach, home to an abundance of free-roaming primates.
- Dive the King Cruise Wreck, a passenger ship that sank in 1997.
- Hike to the Phi Phi viewpoint.
- Shop for souvenirs at the Phi Phi Market.
Where to stay in the Phi Phi Islands
SAii Phi Phi Island Village – Set on an 800 metre private beach, SAii Phi Phi Island Village is a luxury resort on the edge of Loh Gao Bay. Pick from wooden bungalows and hillside pool villas and enjoy access to a 5 star PADI diving centre and exciting jungle tours. Browse our latest offers.
Who is it best for? A grown-up crowd and those looking for an off-the-grid escape.
Phi Phi’s laidback neighbour is a protected island perfect for snorkelling and thought to be one of the best diving spots in all of Thailand. Encompassed by long white sand beaches, deep mangrove forests, caves and lagoons, Koh Lanta is both chilled and sophisticated. Made up of several islands, Koh Lanta is largely underdeveloped and offers a great tropical getaway away from the crowds – electricity was only brought here in 1996. There’s just one road across the west coast where all the hotels are found and if you head down the coastline, you’re bound to come across almost completely private beaches and reserves.
What to do during an island hopping tour of Koh Lanta
- Watch the sunset – Koh Lanta’s sunsets are phenomenal!
- Explore the town by moped or scooter – a cheap way to get around the city.
- Browse the evening markets (Saladaan on Saturdays, Old Town on Sundays, and Klong Dao on Mondays).
- Go snorkelling at Koh Rok.
- Have a sundowner at Reggae Bar with spots to sit right on the beach.
Best at Travel Tip: Don’t accept the offers of the local transport right at the pier. Walk a little further away and you’ll find tuk tuks for half the price.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
Layana Resort & Spa – The adults-only Layana Resort & Spa is a 5 star resort tucked away within the heart of Mu Koh Lanta National Park. Guests can look forward to exploring the marine archipelago with extraordinary underwater corals and taking advantage of the yoga sessions held three times a week. Browse our offers.
Koh Yao Noi & Koh Yao Yai
Who are these islands best for? Honeymooners and Divers
Koh Yao Noi or “Small Long Island” is the ultimate Thailand hideaway. It's secluded, private and perfect for honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic backdrop to their holiday. Sister island Koh Yao Yai, with its sandy shores and coral-ringed waters teeming with sea life, is a fantastic snorkelling and diving destination. Both islands are around a 30 minute speedboat ride from Phuket.
What to do during your visit to Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai
- Sunbathe on a secluded beach.
- Explore the islands by scooter – discover rice paddies, jungles, deserted beaches and water buffalo.
- Rent a kayak out to Koh Nok and spend the day on your own private island.
- Enjoy a yoga class.
- Hire a long-tail boat for a trip around the islands.
Where to stay
Six Senses Yao Noi – The all-villa Six Senses Yao Noi is a 5 star resort with extraordinary views of the beach and ocean. With a focus on wellness, guests can look forward to a programme filled with personally recommended spa treatments, fitness sessions and nutritional advice. Each villa has the added luxury of its own private pool. Browse our offers.
Who is it best for? Anyone and everyone
Phuket is a great all-rounder. The largest and busiest of all the islands, Phuket has loads of resorts and towns where you can do as much or as little as you like. The island is well-connected so it’s very easy to travel to and from other islands in Southern Thailand. Phuket is also a great spot for onward travel with tours and boat connections available here to just about any island in Thailand.
What to do while island hopping in Phuket
- Experience the nightlife along Bangla Road.
- Visit the Big Buddha statue in Chalong and the reclining Buddha at Wat Srisoonthorn.
- See Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples.
- Watch a Muay Thai boxing show.
- Browse the markets in Old Phuket Town.
Where to stay in Phuket
Twinpalms Phuket – The 5 star Twinpalms Phuket is set within a stunning water garden just a short walk from the famous Surin Beach along Millionaire’s Row. Rooms and suites offer views over the gardens or pool and higher categories even come with their own private garden and butler service. Browse our offers.
Who for? Travellers seeking a quintessential Thailand experience
Koh Samui hlidays are the answer to your classic Thai island experience. Whether you’re after sun-filled beach days, sitting beneath a coconut palm and lazily dipping into the waters to cool off, a wellness-focused escape to refresh mind, body and soul or seeking cultural experiences from temple visits to street food markets, Koh Samui has it all.
What to do in Koh Samui
- Pick up souvenirs from Fisherman’s Village Walking Street
- Visit Wat Phra Yai, more commonly known as the Big Buddha Temple – remember to dress conservatively
- Explore the Wat Plai Laem temple with its many-armed statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion
- Head out on a day-trip to one of the many islands within the Ang Thong Marine National Park
Where to stay in Koh Samui
SALA Samui Choengmon Beach: One of our top picks for a relaxed beach break. Think pristine sands, a ‘fun’ pool with bubble beds and tanning platforms and minimalist accommodation complete with walled courtyards and open-air bathroom. And if you want to forego relaxation, you’ll find movie nights on the beach and complimentary watersports. Browse our offers.
Koh Phangan & Koh Tao
Who for? Divers, party lovers and peace-seekers
Koh Phangan is an island of contrasts. Best-known for its hectic monthly full moon parties, there’s still island charm to be found beyond the party scene with quiet beaches, wellness retreats and pretty waterfalls. A short ferry ride away, sister island Koh Tao is a jungle-clad paradise synonymous with diving – and one of our favourite places in Thailand to explore the underwater world.
What to do in Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
- Get your diving certificate on Koh Tao
- Hike to the highest point on Koh Phangan, Khao Ra
- Trek through the jungle to Bottle Beach, named the best on the island by Condé Nast
- Experience the Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Beach
Where to stay
Koh Phangan - Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas: For a secluded escape away from the partying crowds, you cannot beat Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas. Every one of the suites and villas comes with a private pool just for you, there’s feet-in-sand dining in the evenings, complimentary kayaks for exploring and a steam room within a cave at the famed Anantara Spa. Browse our offers.
Koh Tao - Haad Tien Beach Resort: Escape to Haad Tien Beach Resort, a boutique design hotel with an emphasis on eco-friendly luxury. Set on a beautiful bay lapped by a shallow lagoon, this all-villa, family-owned property serves up freshly cooked seafood at the Bar & Grill and has an on-site Reef Dive Centre catering to all levels from beginners to experienced divers.
Thailand island hopping advice from our Asia Experts
Our in house experts offer some guidance for that epic island hopping trip, from when to go to how to get there.
When is the best time to go island hopping in Thailand?
Weather-wise the best time to visit Thailand is between November and April which lies outside the wetter (and more humid!) rainy season. But if you’re looking for fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation, you may want to go between May and October, though be prepared for the weather to be more unpredictable with showers a frequent occurrence.
How to get to Thailand for an island hopping tour
It’s easy to fly into Phuket from airports around the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar all operate a one-stop route into Bangkok and Phuket. Speak to our Thailand travel experts for further information.
Top Tips for island hopping in Thailand
- Don’t try to squeeze too much into one trip. Try and stay at least two to three nights on each island (more is recommended) to ensure you get to see all of the highlights. Visit fewer places but do them well. It’s always good to have a reason to come back!
- Pick a base island – a great way to experience Thailand is to pick a base island, such as Krabi or Phuket and plan your onward travel from there.
- Plan day trips – If you’re on a well-connected island, you can take advantage of easy access to other small islands where there may be little or no accommodation at all.
- End off with a quiet island – After a busy few days or weeks of exploring Thailand, we recommend ending the trip somewhere quiet where you can simply relax and take advantage of the scenic beauty and stunning beaches.
Don’t want to plan it all yourself? Discover Thailand with a tailor-made itinerary like our Thai Island Hopping Package in Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket. Chat to us about planning your Thailand island hopping experience today. Browse our website or call our Thailand experts.