Thailand Islands & Beaches: The TOP 10 according to Rough Guides
10. Vegetarian Festival, Phuket
The Vegetarian Festival is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Thai Chinese. It attracts crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed.
9. Ko Pha Ngan
Ko Pha Ngan is an island off the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand and forms part of the Chumphon Archipelago. Halfway between the islands of Ko Samui and Ko Tao, it is known as a land of coconut trees and the world-(in)famous Full Moon Party that have placed the island firmly on the Banana Pancake Trail.
8. Ko Tao
Ko Tao was once a detention place for political prisoners similar to Ko Tarutao of Satun Province, but today it is a great place for divers or anybody who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of Ko Samui or the chaos of the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan. The island is geared towards diving tourists more than backpackers on a budget.
The city is one of the oldest settlements in Thailand, mentioned in historical records dating to the 8th century, and having significant standing artifacts dating to the 12th century. There are numerous temples in and around the city centre and market area, in addition to the Royal Palace that dominates the skyline.
6. Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National comprises the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand and is a remnant of rainforest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon Rainforest. The wild mammals include Malayan Tapir, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Sambar Deer, Bear, Guar, Banteng, Serow, Wild Boar, Pig Tailed Macaque, Langur, White handed Gibbon, Squirrel, Muntjak and Mouse Deer.
5. Diving and snorkelling off Ko Similan
The national park of the Similan Islands are considered the best place in Thailand for divers. The park covers 140 square kilometres in total, 14 of those being land in the shape of an archipelago consisting of nine islands. They are Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (two adjoining islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, and Ko Huyong.
4. Ko Samet
Just 200 km from Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand, the T-shaped island of Ko Samet is known for its white sandy beaches, exotic coral and clear waters. Ko Samet has developed steadily over the past decade or so, but it hasn’t been the victim of over-zealous construction found on Ko Samui and Ko Chang. The island is surrounded by tropical coral reefs and relatively clean seas. Tourists can also enjoy delicious cuisine and fine nightlife.
Fresh fish, curried with vegetables or steamed whole with ginger and mushrooms, omelettes stuffed with mussels, hot and sour soup with prawns and lemongrass, spicy salads of papaya and crab. The only problem is knowing when to stop.
2. Full Moon Party
The Full Moon Party is an all-night beach party that originated in Haad Rin on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand on the night of, before or after every full moon. It is mostly attended by gringos. The Full Moon Party takes place every month throughout the year. Its attractions include fire skipping ropes, alcohol ‘buckets’, and a drug culture.
1. Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. It’s popular with a significantly older crowd than nearby Ko Phi Phi: more walking on the beach and watching the sunset than drinking and dancing. However, there are plenty of bars and the longer term stayers are friendly and know how to party! It is also popular with families with young children, and of course, with divers. Ko Lanta can provide a party if you know where to look.