The exotic Thailand is a land of elephants, Buddhistic temples, unusual traditions, friendly locals, delicious food and most importantly, beautiful islands that will satisfy even the pickiest individuals. Surrounded by the beautiful Andaman Sea on one side and the Gulf of Thailand on the other. It is one of the top sailing destinations in the world. Thailand is a great place for an exciting sailing vacation where you’ll surely create unforgettable memories.
Experiencing Thailand on board of your own sailboat or yacht can be great. But if you’d like to have a full-on Thai experience, we recommend you take a taxi-boat. Also known as long-tail, boats, these wooden taxi-boats are ideal for exploring the waters of Thailand. And you’ll be able to find the best Thai islands.
Two most important sailing areas in Thailand are Phuket and Koh Samui. These two islands can be a great starting point for your sailing vacation. From there you can easily reach lots of other islands in the area. Here are a few islands of Thailand that are worth visiting.
Best Islands to Visit in Thailand
Bamboo Island (Koh Mai Phai)
Bamboo Island, also known as Koh Mai Phai. It is situated in the Phi Phi Archipelago and is one of its most beautiful and best Thai islands. Many people call it paradise on earth. That’s why it’s often considered to be one of the best islands of Thailand. It is because it’s home to a dreamy white sand beach surrounded bycrystal-clear turquoise sea. This Thai island is fairly small and you can circle it on foot in only half an hour. Since it doesn’t offer lots of attractions, it is ideal if you’d like to escape the crowds.
Bamboo Islands’ offer is simple – lots of privacy for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing in the sun accompanied by a small bar that serves snacks and drinks. This Thai island is a great option for a day trip, but if you’re in for spending the night there, you can rent a camping tent and have a sleepover under the stars. While staying on Bamboo Island, make sure to explore a beautiful coral reef and snorkel your way into discovering lots of underwater species. Take into account that this island is situated in a tsunami hazard zone, so if you bump into strange signs while strolling down the beach, don’t be surprised. Those signs are aimed to lead you to an evacuation route in case of a tsunami.
Chicken Island (Koh Kai)
Chicken Island or Koh Kai, is in the district of Krabi in the Andaman Sea. When approaching the island, you’ll see a huge rock formation that looks like a chicken head connected to a long neck – that’s how the island got its strange and unique name!
This rocky island is uninhabited and thus not so crowded. Nevertheless, it is very popular with the tourists due to a sand bank that connects it with Tup Island and Koh Mor Island. If you come there in the morning when the tide is low, you’ll be able to walk from one island to another. In addition, there are lots of other activities that you can do while you’re mooring on the Chicken Island – you can sunbathe on one of its amazing sand beaches, practice snorkeling in turquoise waters or climb to a viewpoint that offers a fantastic view of the surrounding islands. The beaches offer lots of shade and there is a small restaurant where you can try Thai cuisine. All that on one of the best islands in Thailand or Koh Kai.
James Bond Island (Khao Ping Kan)
A must when visiting Phuket sailing area is James Bond Island or Khao Ping Kan. Situated in Phang Nga Bay, this island was featured in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” in the late 70s. Today, Bonds’ Island is one of the most visited Thai islands in the area. A lot of promotional pamphlets use that reason to call it one of the best islands in Thailand. Its biggest attraction is a rock formation in the shape of a needle emerging from the sea, also known as the Needle Rock.
Due to a large number of tourists that pose a potential hazard to the environment, James Bond Island is under the protection of Ao Phang Nga National Park that helps in its preservation by prohibiting the boats to sail too close to the island. After you’ve taken a photo in front of the Needle Rock, you can continue your cruise in the Phang Nga Bay, visit movie-like limestone caves or beaches of the surrounding islands of Thalu and Khao Phing Kan.
Similan Islands are a well-known island group in the Andaman Sea and a very popular sailing destination. The archipelago consists of eleven islands – Koh Ba Ngu, Koh Similan, Koh Payu, Koh Miang, Koh Payan, Koh Payang, Koh Hu Yong, Koh Tachai, Koh Bon, Koh Hin Pousar and Koh Ha. They are all located in the Mu Koh Similan National Park that is open for tourists from 15 October to 15 May every year.
The amazing scenery of Similan Islands is formed by a rich vegetation (bamboo trees, jackfruit, rattan) combined with piles of unusual black stones that emerge from the turquoise sea and lie on top of each other as if someone purposely left them like that. The most famous stone formation is Sailing Boat Rock and it rests on the largest of the islands, Koh Similan. This area is also one of the top diving and snorkeling areas and its grand coral walls offer a fantastic underwater experience. The pleasant sea temperature allows nesting of rare species, such as colorful reef fish (Nemos!) and sea turtles. Extreme wildlife on land and lots of unique species underwater make Similan Islands an ideal sailing destination.
The island of Koh Samui, situated in the Gulf of Thailand, is perfect for both budget travelers and rich holidaymakers. It is home to lively towns that hide beautiful beaches and lots of attractions. When sailing in Koh Samui, you need to visit Choeng Mon Beach that has the softest white sand combined with blue sea. You can relax on one of the sunbeds, enjoy a massage in beach massage huts, or take a break in one of many restaurants where you can try seafood brought to you by local fishermen.
Furthermore, Chaweng is Koh Samui’s biggest town which boasts one of the island’s best beaches. However, it is very busy and is more suitable for those who like to party because it has lots of bars. Another beach that is worth visiting is Lamai. It is also on the quieter side and is perfect for those who enjoy swimming since the water is deeper.
There are many beach bars where you can take a break from soaking up the sun, as well as restaurants that sell great local food. If you want to experience something a little different, head to Bophut, a little fishing village that will amaze you with its architecture and tradition. In Bophut, you’ll see lots of original wooden homes built by Chinese immigrants and you’ll have the opportunity to try local Thai food in a walking street filled with food stands, cafés and restaurants that serve good food.
When leaving Koh Samui, don’t miss out on the Ang Thong National Marine Park. An archipelago that consists of 42 islands. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll enjoy exploring this protected area that hides numerous mountains, waterfalls, jungles, coves etc. All that can offer only one of the best islands in Thailand.
Koh Phangan is in the Gulf of Thailand and is a great location for party animals. A lot of people agree that it’s one of the best islands in Thailand. This party island is famous for its Full Moon Parties that attract more and more tourists every year. Besides partying, when sailing in Koh Phangan, you need to do beach-hopping. This island offers more than 30 beaches that are worth including in your itinerary. Two and a half kilometers long Chaloklum Beach can be your first stop. This beautiful beach is situated in a fishing village. It’s main attraction is a pier which makes a great fishing location.
Surrounded by hills and mountains that protect the village from the wind, Chaloklum Beach has great conditions for practicing watersports, such as wakeboarding. Mae Haad Beach can be another great stop if you like a more peaceful atmosphere. This amazing sand beach is famous for its sand bank. It connects it to the island of Koh Ma at low tide. The beach is perfect for relaxing since it features lots of resorts and massage booths. As well as hammocks and swings that can be a great spot for watching the sunset. Two more beaches that are worth visiting are Haad Rin, the main party beach and Haad Nam Tok (Waterfall Beach).
After a long day of beach-hopping, we recommend you make a stop at Thong Sala. It offers a variety of night markets where you can try the best Thai street food.
Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands are in the Andaman Sea. A very popular island group in Thailand and the most popular beach destination in the area. There are two main islands in this group: Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don. And both are part of a national park. Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited and is a place where you can experience a more laid-back atmosphere. That why the ones who prefer peace to partying call it the best Thai island.
It is home to Maya Bay. Maya Bay became popular after it was featured in the movie “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Maya Bay is a great snorkeling site and it makes a good destination for a day trip. It’s prohibited to stay there overnight. One the other side, Phi Phi Don refers to a commercial part of Phi Phi Islands. It is famous for its wild party life and can be crowdy. However, it is home to a stunning Monkey Beach, the most beautiful beach in all of Thailand. Other than sunbathing and swimming, you’ll enjoy hanging out with the monkeys that often visit the beach. The monkeys are tame and you can feed them!
Phi Phi Islands offer lots of opportunities for exploring on land and under water. One of the greatest diving spots in Phi Phi is the King Cruiser Wreck. There you’ll find species you’ve seen only in pictures, such as barracudas, clown fish or leopard sharks. After that, you can hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint where you can admire the view of the surrounding islands of Thailand. For a full experience, visit the Viewpoint during sunrise or sunset.
Considering all thing, Thailand is a great destination for an island-hopping adventure. All that’s left for you to do is charter a boat in this stunning exotic country. And don’t forget to have the time of your life in one of the best sailing destinations in the world! Enjoy the best islands in Thailand.