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Top 10 less touristy islands in Thailand for travel snobs

15 of the most beautiful islands in Thailand

Millions flock to Thailand each year and with its reputation for having such idyllic beauty who can blame them? A downside is that the steady flow of tourists over the last decade has ensured it’s become increasingly harder to find an unspoiled Thai island. From our time spent in Thailand and from feedback gathered from our travel network here is our choice for the most beautiful islands in Thailand – an eclectic mix of peaceful, up-and-coming island resorts with a few old favorites thrown in…

Koh Lipe – best up-and-coming island destination

Koh Lipe Thailand

This is an increasingly popular island in the Andaman Sea located 70 km off the southwest coast of Thailand (near the Malaysian border). It has some excellent beaches, snorkeling spots and a flourishing party scene. Although it’s a very small island (you can walk around it in half a day) it offers a good range of budget to mid-range bungalows. You will probably need to go before it gets too developed – the island is sadly already facing environmental problems.

Koh Tup – best for day trips

Koh Tup - pretty islands in Thailand

Koh Tup or Tup island is one of four local offshore islands located in Krabi provence. Easily one of the best places to visit in Thailand, Krabi is famous for its towering rugged limestone cliffs, turquoise water and powder white sand and this island is very popular with day-trippers. It’s a tiny island where, at peak times, you’ll probably notice the crowds but it offers excellent snorkeling, swimming, and scenery.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Tup

Racha Islands – best alternative to Phuket

Racha Islands

A more peaceful and far less developed alternative to Phuket are the Racha (or Raya) islands. The gorgeous islands can be found around 12 km south of Phuket and although are mostly used for diving daytrips it is possible to stay overnight. Racha island is known for its beautiful beach – a strip of fine white sand tucked deep into a long, U-shaped bay and Racha Noi is an uninhabited diving destination with no services or accommodation available.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Racha Islands

Koh Chang – best alternative to Koh Samui

Koh Chang Thailand

With vacationers looking for alternatives to the now over-developed Koh Samui, Koh Chang is often hailed as the “next big thing.” Although this is not always a positive – it’s still a quieter destination than the holiday favourites such as Phuket or Koh Samui but it’s probably better to go now before the development gets too out of control. Head here for mostly deserted beautiful white sandy beaches, waterfalls, jungle hiking, diving and an abundance of natural wildlife.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Chang

Koh Pha Ngan – best for full moon parties

Koh Pha Ngan island

Every backpacker on the planet has probably have heard of Koh Pha Ngan – the pretty East coast island plays host to many world-famous full moon parties. The scenic Thai island is known for its palm tree-lined white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and laid-back attitude. It’s not as developed Koh Samui and is mostly aimed at backpackers with plenty of bohemian style bars and cafes to choose from. ‘Mushroom’ shakes are a specialty here.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Pha Ngan

Koh Tao – best for learning to dive

Koh Tao Thailand - best Thai islands

The East coast island of Koh Tao can be accessed via a two-hour boat ride from Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Samui. It’s a peaceful place and much less touristy due to its more isolated location. This magnificant rocky island offers world-class snorkeling and diving and there are a huge number of dive operators on the island. Ideal for people looking to train for their PADI certificate in a paradise-like environment.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Tao

Koh Nang Yuan – best Thai island to visit for extraordinary beauty

Koh Nang Yuan Thailand - most beautiful islands in Thailand

Koh Nang Yuan is a tiny island very close to Koh Tao (a cheap boat ride away). It’s popular with day-trippers, divers and snorkellers. It’s easily one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand with extraordinary beaches and a dreamy traffic-free tranquillity. The only accommodation on the island is the Nang Yuan Diving Resort so if you want to stay make sure you book as far in advance as possible.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Mak – best low key destination

Koh Mak Thailand

Koh Mak is a small very flat island perfect for just relaxing and soaking up the rays. It’s a low key paradise-like destination and would suit anyone looking to escape the crowds. Accommodation consists of bungalow resorts, mostly in the budget price range. Island activities include cycling through coconut plantations along the coastline, learning to cook the Thai way at one of the cookery schools or snorkeling in the calm clear waters.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Mak

Koh Tarutao – best island for camping

Koh Tarutao Thailand

Easily one of the most stunning islands in Thailand, Ko Tarutao is one of the 51 islands that belongs to the Tarutao National Marine Park archipelago at the Southern Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand. It has a national park status which means it hasn’t suffered from over-development. There aren’t many facilities on the island so it would suit nature lovers, campers (tents can be hired from the National Park Office on the island for 150B per night) and more self-sufficient travellers.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Tarutao

Koh Phi Phi – the best island in Thailand for beautiful sunsets

Koh Phi Phi - best islands in Thailand

This is a controversial choice as this tiny West Coast island seems to divide the opinion of its visitors. Seen by some as the ultimate island paradise and an ugly overdeveloped resort by others. Sadly the island has suffered from uncontrolled development especially since the release of the film ‘The Beach’. Although crowded at times, it arguably keeps a relaxed vibe which seems to keep most of the backpackers and vacationers happy. It’s also a fantastic place to watch the day ending: island attractions include climbing a steep viewpoint to watch the sunset (although don’t expect to have a romantic moment, as you’ll be joined by hundreds of others)!

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Phi Phi

Koh Lanta – best for traditional culture

Koh Lanta Thailand

Koh Lanta is an island located in the beautiful Krabi Province of Southern Thailand. It’s known for its diving and long white beaches. Definitely an island to escape the modern life and busy tourist areas – it offers complete peace with a few home comforts thrown in. Low-key development and unspoiled nature are Lanta’s main attractions. Expect mountainous landscapes, green forested hills, sandy beaches, pretty coral reefs and traditional culture.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Lanta

Koh Ngai – best Thai island for wildlife

Koh Ngai island Thailand

Situated between Krabi and Trang provinces this very small mountainous and pretty Thai island is covered by a dense tropical forest. The island has a white beach, clear water and beautiful surrounding corals. Accommodation is available although it’s mostly mid-range to luxury – there are not many budget offerings available. Wildlife fans will probably have a field day here; the Western and Northern parts of the island are uninhabited and offer excellent opportunities for watching migrating birds. Koh Ngai is also home to wild crab-eating monkeys and monitor lizards.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Ngai

Koh Phayam – best recently discovered and developed beautiful island

Koh Phayam Thailand island

Koh Phayam is the second-largest island in the Andaman sea in Ranong province (after Koh Chang). Koh Phayam is thought to be one of the most beautiful of Thailand’s islands but until recently it has been surprisingly undiscovered by tourists. The island has all the things you’d expect from a tropical Thai island paradise – long white sandy beaches, clear blue sea, jungle forests and a coral reef, but without the crowds. It’s often said to be what Koh Samui was like thirty years ago.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Phayam

Koh Mook – best for finding peace and quiet

Koh Mook Thailand

Also known as Pearl Island, Koh Mook is a very small and very tranquil island located on the South West of Thailand (to the south of Phuket). Aside from relaxing, visitors can indulge in snorkelling, swimming, kayaking or day trips to other islands. Head to Farang Beach on the West of Koh Mook for unforgettable sunsets or take a boat to the Emerald Cave – one of the natural wonders of Thailand. Beyond the cave is a completely enclosed beach formed by a sinkhole.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Mook

Koh Phra Thong – best off the beaten track island in Thailand

Many dream of finding a tropical paradise undiscovered by the tourist masses. While not quite Robinson Crusoe’s Island, Koh Phra Thong is one of Thailand’s last unspoiled coastal locations with over 15km of largely uninhabited white sandy beaches. It’s part of the Koh Phra Thong National Park, located in the South of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It’s also the close to Richelieu Rock (a world top ten dive site) and the Surin Islands which hosts the broadest diversity of hard corals in Thailand.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Koh Phra Thong

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a special fondness for Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland.


  • Lizzie @ vietnam travel

    13 April, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    really interested in Koh Mak!
    I will be going to Thailand next May 2018! Hope I can have some time to go to those places


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