If you are looking for the perfect destination for touring the islands, the west coast of Thailand is a great option. Stretching along the Andaman Sea between Malaysia and Myanmar, the region is dotted with breathtaking islands. Some islands are quieter than others, but they all have their own charm. From islands renowned for their beautiful marine life to islands welcoming party animals, there is something for everyone here.
With so many islands, planning an island hopping trip to Thailand’s west coast can be quite overwhelming. So, to help you with your planning, we have compiled the best and most popular islands to visit the islands on the west coast of Thailand.
As the largest and most famous island in the Andaman Sea, Phuket is generally the destination to fly to to begin your island hopping trip in Thailand. Although Phuket is all about nightlife and entertainment, the huge expanse of the island ensures that there is something for everyone. If you love to party, the infamous Patong has some epic nightlife spots. However, if you prefer something more calm and peaceful, you can visit the beautiful Mai Khao Beach, Haad Sai Kaew Beach, or the North Phuket Beaches. Besides the beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, you can also visit the temples around the island or explore Old Phuket Town. Enjoy Phuket for a few days or go on a day trip to nearby small islands before heading to your next destination.
Phi Phi Islands
From Phuket your next stop should be Koh Phi Phi. It’s arguably the most famous island hopping destination in the Andaman Sea, and for good reason. It offers breathtaking beaches, jagged rock formations and clear blue waters. Leonardo DiCaprio’s film “The Beach” also helped put Koh Phi Phi on the tourist radar. Additionally, there is a regular ferry service between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, which makes it easier to reach than most of the other islands.
Koh Phi Phi is actually an archipelago of 6 islands, with Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh as the two main islands. Phi Phi Don is where it all is: the main town, the pier (Tonsai Bay), all the hotels and the famous parties. Although Phi Phi Don is mainly popular for its parties, there are several quiet beaches that you can visit if you need a break from the booze. Koh Phi Phi Leh is smaller and more peaceful. It is home to Maya Bay (currently closed), Phi Leh Bay, and the Viking Cave. You can travel between the islands using long tail boats. Besides the parties, some of the must-do activities in Koh Phi Phi are climbing one of the island’s viewpoints to get a dazzling view of the Andaman Sea or taking a snorkeling excursion to explore the underwater world.
Take a ferry to Koh Lanta from Koh Phi Phi to take a break from the party and escape the crowds. The atmosphere on Koh Lanta is as relaxed as it gets. Although it is quite popular among tourists, it seems less touristy than Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. Life in this beautiful corner of paradise takes place more slowly, allowing you to spend your days lounging in hammocks by the beach without any distractions. Besides relaxing and sunbathing, there are plenty of fun things to do on Koh Lanta. You can explore the beautiful fishing villages that line the coast, swim in the clear ocean, or take a walk in the lush jungles. If you like diving, Koh Lanta is home to the Koh Lanta Marine Park. It is an amazing place for kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving. Sightings of whale sharks are incredibly rare, but if you’re lucky you might come across these huge fish while diving.
While Koh Lanta is relatively quiet, the island still has jungle parties and bars to fill your time after dark. There is also a quaint night market on the island, which is a great place to try kebabs and shop for local souvenirs. A wide range of fantastic accommodation options are available on the island, from budget beach huts to upscale resorts.
From Koh Lanta, head to Koh Lipe. Boats connect Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe about twice a day. Koh Lipe is the southernmost island in Thailand, close to Malaysia. It is a small dream island, with perfect white sand beaches and turquoise water. Here you will find three beautiful beaches: Sunrise, Sunset and Pattaya. Start your day watching beautiful sunrises over Sunrise Beach and end it with refreshing mojitos while watching the sunset over Sunset Beach. The island is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and is known for its premier snorkeling and diving sites, such as Stonehenge. Koh Lipe is one of the less traveled islands in Thailand, so sometimes you can feel like you’re on your own private beach. It’s the perfect island to relax, experience tropical life and disconnect from the rest of the world for a few days.
Meet at Krabi from Koh Lipe as the end of your island hopping destination. Krabi is technically not an island, but it does have some of the best beaches in Thailand. Make sure to stay in Ao Nang, the central town in Krabi Province, if you want to be near the ocean. Although Ao Nang does not have great beaches, it is a short boat ride from some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world, such as Railay. You can only access Railay by boat as it is separated from the main island by limestone cliffs. There are many activities you can do at Railay, such as rock climbing and kayaking.
Alternatively, you can also stay in Krabi Town, which is full of great accommodation options and markets for food. However, it is a bit far from the beach.
Parallel travel options
Various small islands across the Andaman Sea are ideal for side trips. Some of the best are as follows:
If you have a little extra time, you should add the Similan Islands to your island hopping list. It’s close to Phuket but a bit far from the other islands in the Andaman Sea. Visiting this small archipelago is definitely worth it, especially if you like diving. The water around the Similan Islands offers some of the best dive sites in Southeast Asia. The marine life is incredibly diverse – you can encounter barracudas, manta rays, and even whale sharks if you’re lucky. Plus, the coral reefs here are very colorful, definitely a feast for the eyes and an experience you will remember forever. On land, the islands are teeming with tropical forests, rare birds, reptiles and stunning white coral beaches. There are no hotels in the Similan Islands because it is a national park. However, you can stay in a campsite or in bungalows if you want to spend the night.
James Bond Island
While in Phuket, be sure to take a half-day excursion to James Bond Island (also known as Khao Phing Kan and sometimes Koh Ta Pu). He was featured in the 1974 James Bond film The man with the golden gun, hence the name. Located north of Phuket, this island is part of Phang Nga Bay. One of the most distinctive features of James Bond Island are the limestone cliffs that jut out vertically out of the water. It’s quirky but really scenic and provides a great photo opportunity.
Also known as Koh Hae, Coral Island is a beautiful destination located about 3 km southeast of Phuket. You can find two main beaches here: Banana Beach and Long Beach. Both beaches offer plenty of water sports activities, including canoes, banana boats, and snorkelling. Snorkeling in Long Beach is particularly exciting since you can discover impressive coral reefs.
We can continue to add other Andaman Sea islands to this list. However, we do think the above islands are a great start to a fantastic island hopping trip in Thailand.
Still not sure where to start your island hopping trip in Thailand? Check out our ultimate island hopping guide to Thailand!