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Top 10 less touristy islands in Thailand for travel snobs

Top 10 less touristy islands in Thailand for travel snobs

Thailand is not exactly short of beautiful beaches and islands but finding an undeveloped island is not always an easy task. To help you find your own slice of peaceful paradise we’ve picked our favourite Thai islands which still offer accommodation but promise a chance to find some solitude away from the tourist crowds…

Koh Libong – best for nature on a non-touristy Thai island

Koh Libong - best Thai islands

Koh Libong is the perfect antidote to the more popular Thai islands. At only 35km2 there isn’t much ground to cover here, but the island still offers an abundance of gorgeous natural scenery and wildlife. In fact, this island is one of the few places where you can spot the rare sea mammal the dugong (often referred to as a sea cow) in its natural habitat. Accommodation is sparse but what they do have is environmentally friendly and has been built with respect for its surroundings. If you want to feel like the only farang on the island then Koh Libong should be right up your street.

Koh Kood – best remote undiscovered Thai island

Koh Kood

This island’s great advantage is its relative remoteness – located near the Cambodian border and 200 miles east Bangkok. Once you get there you will find a beautiful island covered with thick rainforest, a few inland waterfalls, coconut plantations and a handful of sleepy fishing villages. Two thousand people live on the island so handily there is a fair amount of choice when it comes to accommodation (mostly bungalow-style resorts).

Koh Bulon Lae – best for low key Thai island

Koh Bulon Lae - less touristy Thai islands

How does an island with only 150 inhabitants sound for starters? When you consider that all the islanders live on the eastern half, there are plenty of opportunities to experience some real solitude in beautiful surroundings. There are a few modest resorts but Koh Bulon Lae is still a relatively unknown Thai island and has still not yet found a place on the major tourist trail. Find a deserted beach to relax on or go exploring its range of pristine coral reefs which are perfect for snorkelling.

Koh Yao Noi – best for boutique accommodation

Koh Yao Noi

This is probably the most developed island on the list but it still manages to remain a quiet refuge away from the crowds of nearby Phuket. Being part of national park Koh Yao Noi, it’s a highly photogenic place with pristine beaches, knotted forest and unspoilt coastline – perfect for indulging in snorkelling, kayaking or swimming. You’ll find restaurants, some shops and a handful of boutique resorts but it’s probably better to go sooner rather than later before the crowds really do start to swarm.

Koh Mak – best for families

Koh Mak Thailand

Koh Mak is the more peaceful alternative to its bigger neighbour Koh Chang. While the larger Koh Chang offers a diversion for less adventurous tourists, those prepared to travel a bit further will be rewarded with a smaller and much quieter slice of paradise. Privately owned and with a virtually non-existent crime rate it’s known as a very safe place to take your family. While there are plenty of places to stay on Koh Mak (and even a diving school), you won’t have to share with too many others.

Koh Phra Thong – best for unique landscapes

Koh Phra Thong

This island is not like your typical Thai island, so it makes a nice change if you are starting to get a bit of island fatigue. The main difference is its vast expanses of inland savannah, which gives it more of an appearance of an African landscape. It also features miles of Palm tree-lined beaches, beautiful coral reefs and – thanks to its lack of human intruders – a number of interesting animals (including sea turtles and lesser spotted birds). Don’t expect to find much in the way of luxury accommodation but there are a few modern options to make your stay comfortable enough.

Ko Adang – best for camping

Ko Adang - best non touristy islands in Thailand

This is a very natural and unspoiled island which is part of the Ko Tarutao National Park. Covered with rainforest and home to a few sandy beaches, inland waterfalls and excellent snorkelling spots this is a much less developed destination than its more famous neighbour Koh Lipe. To keep it as natural as possible, there is no infrastructure on the island and accommodation is run by the National Park – a choice of either basic bungalows or tents.

Koh Phayam – best for a great atmosphere

Koh Phayam

This is another relatively undiscovered island but like any Thai island, it won’t be long before it succumbs to development, so make sure you reach this destination before it’s too late. Located in the Andaman Sea, near the border with Burma, it’s home to all the usual tropical islands clichés of long white beaches, coral reefs and clear blue sea. It also possesses a happy vibe and the island is often said to be similar to Koh Samui was in the 1980’s before the tourist masses arrived. There are two main beaches on the island and both have their fair share of accommodation options. If you want a taste of Thailand before it all started, then Koh Phayam is probably the island for you.

Koh Lao Liang – best for limestone cliffs

Koh Lao Liang

This small island has found a way to ensure it remains un-crowded – it limits the number of visitors it receives each day. Located in the Koh Petra Marine Park and accessible only by boat, it prides itself on having an eco-resort status. Said to be one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets, the island is a place of unspoiled natural beauty with dramatic limestone cliffs, beaches of pure white sand and reefs painted the colours of a rainbow. Keeping development to a minimum is taken very seriously here, so accommodation only comes in the form of upscale camping.

Ko Tarutao – one of the most unspoiled islands in Thailand

Ko Tarutao

This island – located close to the Malaysia border – is said to be one of the most unspoiled islands in Thailand. It was also the setting for the fifth season of the reality TV show Survivor. While not exactly undiscovered it’s quiet, clean, beautiful and protected – everything the main tourist islands are not. There are no major resorts, no beach parties just an ample supply of peace and gorgeous natural scenery. It’s protected national park status also ensures there is plenty of wildlife – as well being a nesting ground site for turtles, Langurs, crab-eating macaques and wild pigs are common. Accommodation on the island is run by the National Park and guests can choose from either a tent or a fan-cooled bungalow.

Michael Anderson

Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always been a sucker for an adventure. As a kid he was lucky enough to live for many years in some exotic far-flung locations and since then he’s developed a taste for new cultures. So much in fact he now travels the world as a trading digital nomad, exploring the sizzling street markets of Bangkok to yoga retreat dotted Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for exotic cuisine and fine wine and definitely knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Tanzania, Amsterdam, Laos and Cambodia as his favourite destinations.

12 Comments

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    Lisa Kenyon

    12 August, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Finally an accurate list of undiscovered Thai islands. I have been to Koh Libong this year and it was a fantastic place. Hoping to tick a few more off the list before the years out.

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    Dan

    9 September, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Great list, thanks for sharing these! There are lots on here I need to visit. Koh Phayam is fantastic.. so laid back and really feels different to many of the other more mainstream Thai islands. When the tide is out on Ao Yai (aka Long Beach) it’s amazing to just stroll up and down the vast expanse of soft white sand listening to nothing but the sound of the waves.

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    jmayel & sacha

    10 July, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Yes! this is exactly what ive been looking for! bookmarked. havent been to the islands yet even though we’ve been living in Thailand for over 16 months. Now we know where to go.

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    Arianwen

    10 July, 2013 at 3:00 am

    I checked this out to see if I’d been to any of them. The answer’s no, but I guess there are so many! I tried to visit a few more obscure ones, and loved the tranquility of Koh Muk down south. It has a posh resort, but just around the corner is a campsite where we stayed. It had a great atmosphere.

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