Thailand is truly a paradise nation and a hotbed of tourism for travelers from all around the world. Lovingly called the “Land of Smiles”, the country boasts of a long coastline, romantic spots, azure waters and hundreds of unexplored islands. A popular tropical getaway, Thailand is known for scenic destinations like Bangkok, Phuket, Ko Samui, Krabi, and Chiang Mai. Remember the movie, The Beach that had a hidden beach featured? Well Thailand has many islands and tons of them yet to witness mass tourism. They are called the secret islands of Thailand.
But the country has lots more to offer, destinations that have not yet seen mass tourism footprints, that are pristine and begging to be explored by travelers. In our two part series, we will highlight 16 secret islands in Thailand are you must plan to visit in 2020!
Koh Kho Khao
Located a short boat ride from Takua Pa, just north of Khao Lak, is Koh Kho Khao known for its long golden beaches and dazzling sunsets. Even though the island is barely developed, it nevertheless hosts a decent choice of hotels and resorts from budget to luxury. Perfect place to unwind, you can rent a motorbike to explore the different areas of the island that include mangrove forest, an overgrown airstrip used by the Japanese during WWII, and an archaeological site.
Sea Kayaking is the main activity at hand, and there’s a dive center that offers diving and snorkeling day trips to nearby sites, and further west, to the Similan Islands. To get to Koh Kho Kao, you will need to get on a boat from Takua Pa and the journey lasts 10 minutes. Phuket airport is just 1.5 hours away by car and after you get to Phuket, you will need to travel to Khao Lak for the ferry.
Koh Bulon Leh
With brilliant white beaches and aquamarine waters, Koh Bulon Leh is literally off the beaten path. If you’re looking for a rural local place in close relationship with real-life in southern Thailand, then Koh Bulon Leh should be the destination of your next vacation. For nature lovers, beachgoers and the ones seeking solitude, this is the perfect destination. The island is not commercialized but you will find cute seaside bungalows in Phangka Yai Bay.
Most of the restaurants and cafes are located within the vicinity and you should be able to buy necessities from the stores there. The waters surrounding Koh Bulon Leh are crystal clear and host an impressive marine life. Snorkeling, sea kayaking, and hiking are the main activities here. The closest airports are in Hay Yai and Trang. And from there you can take a ferry to reach Koh Bulon Leh.
For a truly relaxing getaway, leave the crowds of Koh Samui and take a 30-minute ferry from Maenam or Bangrak pier over to Koh Phangan, off the east coast. Koh Phangan is Thailand’s fifth biggest island, and what awaits you here is unspoiled beauty accented by a hilly, lush tropical jungle interior, many idyllic, long white-sand beaches, and over 20 nearby dive sites. Head to Thong Nai Pan Yai beach on the north-east of the island.
Along with its neighboring cove, Thong Nai Pan Noi, these two secluded beaches provide a welcome cocoon with crystal clear waters and long stretches of golden sands. While Thong Nai Pan Yai caters to the B&B crowd, Thong Nai Pan Noi has a selection of more upmarket hotels if your budget can stretch a little further. Both are truly beautiful places. You can reach Koh Phangan from Koh Samui via ferries than ply regularly. If you are flying from Bangkok, head to Koh Samui and from there hire a ferry.
Looking to travel off the beaten path? Head to eastern Thailand and located in the Marine National Park is Koh Mak. Located 40 kilometers from the Trat coast, Koh Mak is a perfect destination for those looking for a relaxing holiday. If you are looking to visit some of the best, least crowded beaches in Asia, then a trip to Koh Mak is recommended. The island has beautiful nature which is perfect for hiking trips and is one of the best secret islands in Thailand.
There is also a diving school where you can book diving and snorkeling trips. Activities on offer include diving, snorkeling, kayaking, Muay Thai and cycling on the many tracks and trails that lead to remote beaches. Or you could just laze by the beach or get a traditional Thai massage. And for a real piece of undiscovered Thailand, hire a kayak and take the short paddle across to tiny Koh Kham. To get to Koh Mak, you will need to undertake a speed boat trip from Laem Ngop in Trat.
The Similan Islands are located in the Andaman Sea in Southern Thailand and are a national park established in 1982. The park is an archipelago of 11 islands with serene landscapes, and beaches with azure waters. Most of the visitors to the islands are day-trippers, coming in from Phuket or Khao Lak and if you want to beat the crowds, you need to reach here early. The park has limited accommodation options and early booking will secure your stay there.
You can choose from tents near the beach or comfortable air-conditioned bungalows with bay views. The Similan Islands are located 570 kilometers from Bangkok and you can travel here either by flight, road or by boat. You will need to get to Thap Lamu near Khao Lak or Ranong from where you can sail to the Similan Islands.
Situated in the Krabi district, Koh Lanta is known for its coral fringed beaches, rainforests and fresh seafood. Dotted with 9 beaches, the 30-kilometre long island boasts of white sandy beaches, stunning scenery, coral reefs and plenty of adventure activities. This island paradise is ideal for travelers looking to escape the party crowd and indulging in beach walking, star gazing or just spending quiet, romantic time with their partners.
There is a relaxed Scandinavian vibe, due in part to the high number of Swedish residents resulting in two Swedish schools on the island. The nearest airports are located in Krabi, Trang, and Phuket. Krabi and Trang are connected to Koh Lanta by road and you can easily drive down to the island.
Koh Chang is a largely undeveloped island located in the Gulf of Thailand, close to the Cambodian border. Koh Chang is 85% national park, the Mu Ko Chang national park that is blessed with fantastic hiking trails and stunning waterfalls like the Klong Plu! The island’s name translates to Elephant Island due to its elephant shaped headland. The island is dotted with pristine, secluded beaches, abundant greenery and lovely countryside worth visiting.
Koh Chang doesn’t have an airport and the nearest one is the Trat Airport from where you can take a ferry or boat to Koh Chang. Else you can utilize ferry services from Ko Wai, Ko Mak, and Ko Kut to get to Koh Chang.
Located right next to the Tarutao National Marine Park, near the border with Malaysia in southern Thailand, Koh Lipe is a small paradise that has gained popularity due to the beauty of its three beaches: Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Pattaya Beach. If you are looking for relaxed island vibes, powdery white sandy beaches, and clear turquoise waters, then head to Koh Lipe. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and island hopping are the main activities at hand in Koh Lipe, where you can enjoy a relaxing holiday far from the crowds.
There are plenty of accommodation options but you will still manage to find a quiet spot somewhere. The day trips to outlying islands are spectacular – deserted islands with monkeys and crystal clear waters for snorkeling. Sunset beach has a mellow vibe and offers lazy days filled with snorkeling, and quiet nights under the stars. To get to Koh Lipe, you can book a flight to Hat Yai and from there you will get a ferry to Koh Lipe.