Anurak Thailand Tourism The tourist website about Thailand by Thaiways magazine, the most comprehensive guide to Thailand.
Contents : Hotels, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hua Hin, Krabi, Pattaya, Phang-nga, Phuket, Samui, Maps
Cover story : 25 Oct 2002
Vol.19 No.14
Top Ten Islands of Thailand
By Suwan Thada
If you are among those who love the charm of seas, Thailand is your ideal destination for this country has over 503 islands with fine beaches both on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Furthermore, Thailand's islands provide a large variety of marine lives and coral in the sea suited for viewing and keeping in your memory forever.
Of this large number, there are ten islands and island groups which are most frequently visited by Thais and foreigners alike. Here are a brief introduction to the top ten:
Ko Phuket
Kata Beach,Phuket
Phuket, the Pearl of the South, is the biggest island of Thailand with an area of 570 sq km. The island has gained a world-wide reputation as a resort city mainly because of its numerous beautiful beaches. Tourists will find many beaches which offer tranquil surroundings with a bright sun, white sand and a calm clear sea.
Patong Beach, Phuket

Visitors can choose from various styles of holiday making, ranging from simple to luxurious, from beach to forest and from lively to quiet.

How to get there : The island can be reached from Bangkok by air in 1.15 hrs with several daily flights. There are also daily coaches from Bangkok to Phuket in service.

(For more details, see Phuket section)

Ko Samui
Chaweng Beach, Samui

KO Samui is covered with such an abundance of coconut palms that it is also known as the Coconut Island. It is a major tourist attraction situated off Surat Thani province in the South with level areas along the coast surrounding hills in the middle. Natural beauty is what KO Samui never fails to offer. There are many lovely beaches and bays on KO Samui. Besides beaches, KO Samui has several waterfalls notably Na Muang and Hin Lat waterfalls. Visitors can choose to suit their tastes from different types of accommodations ranging from first- class hotels to small bungalows.

How to get there : By air, daily flights to KO Samui. By bus or by rail from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then by ferry or express boat to KO Samui.

(For more details, see Samui Section)

KO Samet
Photo by courtesy of National Parks Division

KO Samet is the most popular tourist island of Khao Laemya-Ko Samet Group Marine National Park. Located 6.5 kilometres away from the coast of the eastern province of Rayong, the island is admired for its fine white sand, limpid sea and fascinating beaches with various kinds of accommodations. Different beaches offer different views and impressions. For example, Sai Kaeo is famous for its magnificent beach, Wong Duan is impressive for its beach looking like an inside curve of a crescent moon, Ao Phrao has plenty of coconut palms and Ao Kiu is ideal for people who want privacy and tranquillity. The clear water of KO Samet never disappoints visitors who love swimming, diving or other aquatic sports.

How to get there : By bus from Bangkok to Ban Phe port in Rayong and then by boat to any beach of KO Samet, the fare varying according to the distance.

Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi islands is about 40 km from either Phuket or Krabi. The island group is one of the most beautiful places of Thailand with its emerald crystal sea. It consists of six islands but the predominant are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. Phi Phi Don is the bigger one, ideal for swimming and diving because of its wonderful underwater world and coral formations, while Phi Phi Le boasts a viking cave whose inside wall has several historic drawings including one looking like a viking ship (hence its name). The cave is also home to thousands of swifts which produce edible and valuable bird's nests. There are various types of accommodations on Phi Phi Don. Diving equipment is available for rent and diving tours are organized regularly. Visitors may also go sightseeing on motor boats which are for rent.

How to get there : There are boat services from Krabi and Phuket taking about 2.30 hours for each trip.

(For more details, see Phi Phi Islands Section)


Similan Island Group

Photo by courtesy of Mr. Polphut Bualoi,
National Parks Division
Similan Islands National Park off Phang-nga is famous for its uncontaminated water and its most perfect natural environment. It is a group of nine small islands in the heart of the Andaman Sea. The island group is rated as one of the top ten loveliest diving places on earth.

The park office is situated on Ko Si or Ko Miang having exceptionally white sand. Another island worth mentioning is Ko Paet or Ko Similan, with a bay in the shape of a horseshoe and a huge rock shaped like a sailing-boat.

The sea around the island is very clear and most suitable for diving. Divers can see the most beautiful coral formations and many kinds of aquatic animals. In addition to aquatic sports, visitors can spend time viewing and studying birds of various kinds living on the island. The best time to visit the islands is from December to April when the Andaman Sea is calm.

How to get there : Tourists can get to Similan by boat from either Phuket or Phang-nga. It takes about 4 hours to reach the destination from the former and 3 hours from the latter.

More details

Surin Island Group
Photos by courtesy of National Parks Division

The Surin island group, also a marine national park, belongs to Phang-nga, a province adjoining Phuket. The group consists of five islands: Ko Surin Nua, Ko Surin Tai, Ko Ri, Ko Khai and Ko Klang. The island group is ideal for those who love to touch the unspoilt nature. Its environment is still virgin and its atmosphere is so peaceful. Exuberant forests cover the group of the island, adding to its charm. It is also interesting to see the way of life of sea gypsies here blended in harmony with the natural environment. Furthermore, the island group is the most suitable place for snorkelling in Thailand with the most perfect coral. You will see the coral just by dipping your face into the water. Accommodations owned and operated by the national park are available for visitors who make reservations in advance.

How to get there : Tourist groups are organized by travel agencies in Phuket and Phang-nga mostly during the non-monsoon months from December to April.

More details

Ko Chang
Photo by courtesy of National Parks Division

Ko Chang is the second biggest island of the country, ranking after Phuket island. Located in the sea of Trat, the farthest province on the east coast, it is a marine national park of Thailand, consisting of 48 islands. Among them, Ko Chang is the largest with a variety of attractions including the sea, forests and waterfalls. The island is abundant with forests in its mountainous upper part while orchards are commonly found in flat lands and near beaches. Most beautiful beaches are on the west of the island where bungalows and other accommodations are scattered. Ko Chang offers tranquil beaches and scenic waterfalls, of which the most famous is Than Mayom waterfall. Tourists can enjoy sunbathing, diving and viewing coral and walking in a forest. Some islands of the Ko Chang group offer a good opportunity for diving in shallow water like Ko Kra and
Ko Wai. The beaches of Ko Chang which are admired most for their beauty are Sai Khao, Khlong Phrao and Kai Bae Beaches.

How to get there : By road 315 km from Bangkok to Trat and then by boat from Laem Ngop Cape Port to Ko Chang for about 1-2 hrs.

Ko Tao
Ko Tao is on the north of Ko Samui on Surat Thani province. In former times, it was a prison for political prisoners. Now, for its beautiful scenery, tranquil atmosphere and virgin environment, Ko Tao is noted as one of the famous islands of Thailand. Moreover, the island is an ideal place for both scuba diving and snorkelling. Many diving sites are scattered around the island.

Divers will find a long line of coral reef, various aquatic animals and wonderful scenery under blue water. You can dive all the year round with many diving shops around the island.

How to get there : By boat from Chumphon province or from Ko Pha-ngan.

More details

Ko Pha-ngan
Photo by courtesy of TAT

Ko Pha-ngan is on the north of Ko Samui. Tourists will find beaches with charming powdery sand, clear water and tranquil atmosphere suited for swimming and relaxation. Of the most attracting places of the island, Tan Sadet waterfall is worth visiting with many beautiful plants including the world's largest orchid.

How to get there : By boat every day from Surat Thani taking about 4 hours or by express boat from Na Thon Pier, Ko Samui for about an hour.

More details

Phang-nga Islands

Phang-nga Marine National Park is composed of 120 islands, most of which have exotic shapes. This was resulted from the change of the earth surface perhaps millions of years ago, when the west coast of the area sank under the sea, leaving several limestone mountains protruding from the shallow sea and eroded into different strange shapes. Among them is Ko Tapu (nail), which is the most noted and also the symbol of Phang-nga province. An activity that tourists to the islands should not miss is canoeing to see the sights of Phang-nga Bay.

How to get there : Tourists can rent a boat at Tha Dan landing of Phang-nga for a tour of these islands.
The above are just some of Thailand's beautiful islands. Many more are waiting to be explored. If you have a chance to come to Thailand, why don't you try just one or two to make your vacation even more rewarding ?

(For more details, see Phang-nga Section)


For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see
Romanization System of the Thai Language.


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