Thailand has hundreds of islands both in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea, but most people have only heard of Phuket, Koh Samui, and maybe Koh Phi Phi. Here are six Thai islands you may not have heard of.
- Koh Kret
Koh Kret is a hidden gem, and although it is the closest island to Bangkok, just 30kms upstream on the Chao Phraya River, most tourists don’t know it exists. The island is studded with temples or ‘wats’, the most impressive of which is Wat Poramaiyikawat, whose tumbledown, whitewashed Mutao pagoda is Koh Kret’s most distinctive landmark. Weekends are the best time to visit, when a food and craft market springs up along a narrow walkway through the most populated part of the island.
- Koh Laoliang
Laoliang is a truly remote island national park with a gorgeous beach – that surprisingly – isn’t overrun with long-tail boats or people, and it’s likely to stay that way. Only 40 people can stay at a time, in tents, no day-trippers allowed. There are no bungalows or resorts either. An hour’s trip by long-tail boat from Hat Samran pier in Trang, north and south Laoliang are twin karst islands rising out of the Andaman Sea 20 kilometres off shore.
- Koh Phayam
Koh Phayam has been described as “Koh Samui in the 1970s”, a step back in time in the Andaman Sea, and while barefoot luxury can be found here at resorts such as CEDE Boutique Beach Resort, it’s still fairly untouched. Rent a kayak and paddle around the island’s south coast, and discover Aow Khao Kwai (Buffalo Bay), a beach with lagoon-like water, blinding white sand and little bars and restaurants hidden in rocky, forest-fringed alcoves.
- Koh Tarutao
Koh Tarutao is in the Tarutao National Marine Park on the southern Andaman coast, a group of islands lush with thick rainforests, tall limestone karsts (the highest of which is over 700m), lined with white sandy beaches. The main island is 45-minute boat ride from the port of Pak Bara. Here you’ll find no modern tourist amenities such as ATMs or noisy jet skis, and accommodation is a choice of bungalows or camping. In fact, due to its remote location, it was once used to as a prison; Thailand’s version of Devils Island, and it was even used as the location for a season of Survivor.
- Koh Similan
The Similan Islands National Park is only open between November and May, and being about an hour’s high-speed boat trip from the mainland, it’s relatively untouched. Khao Lak, north of Phuket, is the nearest jump-off point from the mainland with day trips departing daily in season and plenty of dive live-aboard boats on offer for longer trips. The diving and snorkeling is spectacular, with colourful hard and soft corals, literally teeming with marine life.
- Koh Klang
A short boat ride away from popular beach resort, Krabi is the little-known island of Koh Klang, a quiet little Muslim enclave, and while it’s only a 5-minute long-tail boat ride from Krabi town, it seems a million miles away. Learn how to fish with the locals and go for a kayak through the lush mangrove forest and around tall limestone islands, before lunching at the floating restaurants where you can dine on fish caught earlier that day.