An Island Hopping Guide to Southern Thailand

Thailand

Luxury beachfront hotels, beautiful stretches of endless sands, and ocean water so clear you can see the bottom. When it comes to affordable luxury, not many destinations can compare to Thailand. But with so many different Thai islands, it can be tricky to pick which islands to visit. We’ve put together a handy island hopping guide to make planning your holiday to Southern Thailand that little bit easier…

Krabi

Who for: Families and active travellers

A great mainland base in Thailand, Krabi is perfect for families and active couples who want a good mixture of things to do and incredible beaches to relax on. The resort offers stunning views over the whole bay and its a great base for easy day trips to many of the surrounding islands. Krabi is filled with exciting activities for the adventurous soul with rock climbing, bicycle tours, scuba diving, elephant trekking and much more on the agenda!

Tips: There are also plenty of day trips to enjoy from Krabi. Take a boat trip to Phi Phi Islands, Hong Islands, the 4 Islands (Chicken Island, Koh Poda, Koh Tub and Koh Mor), and James Bond Island.

WHAT TO DO 

  • Book a cooking class at Krabi Cuisine Cooking School
  • Explore the Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea)
  • Visit Railay Beach, only accessible by boat
  • Discover Thung Teao Forest Natural Park and swim in the warm waters of the Emerald Pool
  • Hike the Khao Khanab Nam Mountains – one of Krabi’s famous landmarks – and explore the caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites
  • Visit the unusual fossilised shell fish cemetery – naturally created in the limestone rocks on the coast
  • Test your bartering skills at the Night Market
  • Experience the nightlife at Ao Nang Beach

WHERE TO STAY

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Rayavadee

A 5 star resort tucked within Krabi National Marine Park, Rayavadee offers the ultimate nature paradise with limestone cliffs, sandy beaches and the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea just a step away from your room. Facilities include a large swimming pool, tennis courts, spa and Thai cooking classes. Browse our offers.

Centara Grand Krabi Beach Resort

Pick a beachfront villa with a choice of a private Jacuzzi or swimming pool at 5* Centara Grand Krabi Beach Resort. This luxury resort is set on a secluded beach near the main resort of Ao Nang and offers a famous aquarium bar and a spa overlooking Pai Pong Bay. Browse our offers.

Read more about Krabi.

 

Phi Phi Islands

Who for: Families and night owls

Like Krabi, Phi Phi Islands is great for families and those that like a little more activity from their holiday – yet it offers a much quieter island hideaway. Famous for the movie The Beach that was filmed in Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands is on many travellers bucket list. Phi Phi is also very popular with backpackers and has quite a lively nightlife scene. Enjoy a sun downer in one of the bars along the beachfront and then retreat to your quiet resort – the best of both worlds.

Even if you don’t stay here, we’d recommend getting a long-tail here from a neighbouring island just to experience the scenic beauty of the bay in the early morning or evening when there are fewer crowds.

WHAT TO DO 

  • Enjoy an early morning excursion to snorkel and swim with black tip and leopard sharks
  • Experience the nightlife, from fire shows to Thai boxing matches at the beachfront bars
  • Kayak to Monkey Beach, home to an abundance of free-roaming primates
  • Snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Maya Bay
  • Dive the King Cruise Wreck, a passenger ship that sunk in 1997
  • Hike to the Phi Phi viewpoint
  • Watch the sunset by kayak
  • Join a booze cruise such as Captain Bob’s and enjoy a fun day visiting Phi Phi’s highlights by boat
  • Shop for souvenirs at the Phi Phi Market
  • Party the night away at Phi Phi’s full moon party

WHERE TO STAY

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Zeavola Resort

Tucked within a tropical forest on the edge of pearly white sands, Zeavola Resort is the only 5* resort to grace the island of Phi Phi.  The suites are tucked within the gardens and on the beachfront and some have their own private pool. Browse our offers.

Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort

Set on an 800 metre private beach, Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort is a luxury resort on the edge of Loh Gao Bay. Pick from wooden bungalows and hillside pool villas and enjoy access to a five star PADI diving centre and exciting jungle tours. Browse our offers.

Read more about Phi Phi Islands.

 

Koh Lanta

Who for: a grown-up crowd and those looking for an off-the-grid escape

Phi Phi’s laid-back neighbour is a protected island perfect for snorkelling and thought to be one of the best diving spots in all of Thailand. Encompassed by long white sand beaches, deep mangrove forests, caves and lagoons, Koh Lanta is both chilled and sophisticated.

Made up of several islands, Koh Lanta is largely underdeveloped and offers a great tropical getaway away from the crowds – electricity was only brought here in 1996! There’s just one road across the west coast where all the hotels are found and if you head down the coastline, you’re bound to come across almost completely private beaches and reserves.

Tip: While there is great diving and snorkelling, there is little else to do here so it’s great for a retreat but not if you’re looking for busy nightlife.

WHAT TO DO 

  • Join a cooking class at Time for Lime where all profits go to Lanta Animal Welfare
  • Watch the sunset – Koh Lanta’s sunsets are phenomenal!
  • Explore the town by moped or scooter – a cheap way to get around the city
  • Dine at Patty’s Secret Garden, offering a good mix of Thai and western food
  • Browse the evening markets (Saladaan on Saturdays, Old Town on Sundays, and Klong Dao on Mondays)
  • Go snorkelling at Koh Rok
  • Visit the Emerald Cave at Koh Mu, a scenic cave only accessible by boat
  • Walk a dog on the beach at Lanta Animal Welfare
  • Have a sun downer at Reggae Bar with spots to sit right on the beach!

Tip: don’t accept the offers of the local transport right at the pier. Walk a little further away and you’ll find tuk tuks for half the price!

WHERE TO STAY 

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Layana Resort and Spa

The adults-only Layana Resort and Spa is a 5* resort tucked away within the heart of Mu Koh Lanta National Park. Guests can look forward to exploring the marine archipelago with extraordinary underwater corals and taking advantage of the complimentary weekly wine tasting. Browse our offers. 

Pimalai Resort and Spa

Pimalai Resort and Spa is a 5* resort nestled with the rainforest along the shores of Koh Lanta. Accessible only by boat, the resort offers direct beach access, a stunning infinity pool and a spa with a herbal sauna and outdoor Jacuzzi. Find out more.

Read more about Koh Lanta.

 

Koh Yao Noi & Yai

Who for: Honeymooners and couples

Koh Yao Noi or “Small Long Island” is the ultimate Thailand hideaway. Secluded and private and perfect for honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic backdrop to their holiday, Koh Yao Noi offers stunning views of Phang Nga Bay. Just a 30 minute speedboat from Phuket, the island is still close enough to the action but far enough away to remain secluded.

WHAT TO DO 

  • Take a boat out to Phang Nga Bay
  • Suntan on a secluded beach
  • Explore the island by scooter –  discover rice paddies, jungles, deserted beaches and water buffalo
  • Rent a kayak out to Koh Nok and spend the day on your own private island
  • Hire a scooter or tuk tuk or kayak
  • Enjoy a yoga class
  • Enjoy freshly caught fish for dinner
  • Hire a long tail boat for a trip around the islands 

WHERE TO STAY 

Santihiya Resort

Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort and Spa

A 5* resort overlooking a pristine beachfront, Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort and Spa is an idyllic eco hideaway. The rooms and villas blend into the natural surroundings and offer stunning mountain and ocean views. Facilities include a freeform swimming pool. Jet pool and man-made waterfall. Find out more.

Six Senses Yao Noi

The all-villa Six Senses Yao Noi is a 5* resort with extraordinary views of the beach and ocean. With a focus on wellness, guests can look forward to a programme filled with personally recommended spa treatments, fitness sessions and nutritional advice. Each villa has the added luxury of its own private pool. Browse our offers.

Read more about Koh Yao Noi.

 

Phuket

Who for: anyone and everyone

Phuket is a great all-rounder. The largest and busiest of all the islands, Phuket has loads of resorts and towns where you can do as much or as little as you like. The island is well-connected so it’s very easy to travel to/from other islands in Southern Thailand. Phuket is also a great spot for onward travel with tours and boat connections available here to just about any island in Thailand.

Tip: just off the coast of Phuket, Ko Yao Yai offers an undiscovered, less touristy area with stunning limestone cliffs, beautiful beaches and perfect snorkelling conditions. 

WHAT TO DO 

  • Experience the nightlife along Bangla Road
  • Visit the Big Buddha statue in Chalong and the reclining Buddha at Wat Srisoonthorn and See Wat Tham Suwan Khuha
  • See Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples
  • Watch the Simon Cabaret Show – the largest transvestite cabaret show in Phuket
  • Experience the Las Vegas style Phuket FantaSea Show
  • Watch a Muay Thai boxing show
  • Browse the markets in Old Phuket Town
  • Relax on Patong or Karon Beach or quieter beaches like Banana Beach and Cape Panwa
  • Take a photo of the Upside Down House
  • Do a rum distillery tour in Chalong Bay
  • Browse a night market

WHERE TO STAY

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Kata Rocks

Kata Rocks is a high-end 5* hotel with prime views over the Andaman Sea. Voted “Best Apartment in the World”, each villa has the luxury of its very own private sky pool. Treat yourself to limousine airport transfers and pampering treatments at the luxury spa. Browse our offers.

Twinpalms Phuket

The 5* Twinpalms Phuket is set within a stunning water garden just a short walk from the famous Surin Beach along Millionaire’s Row. Rooms and suites offer views over the gardens or pool and higher categories even come with their own private garden and butler service. Browse our offers.

Read more about Phuket.

 

BEST AT TRAVEL TIPS 

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BEST TIME TO GO

The best time to visit Thailand is between May and October during the rainy season when the accommodation is cheaper and the beaches are less crowded. You can expect a few downpours in the late afternoon but the days still offer perfect beach weather.

GETTING THERE

It’s easy to fly into Phuket from most London airports. Book with Best at Travel and take advantage of our competitive rates on direct flights!

TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

  • Don’t try to squeeze too much into one trip. Try and stay at least two to three nights on each island (more is recommended) to ensure you get to see all of the great highlights. Visit fewer places but do them well. It’s always good to have a reason to come back!
  • Pick a base island – a great way to experience Thailand is to pick a base island, such as Krabi or Phuket and plan your onward travel from there.
  • Plan day trips – If you’re on a well-connected island, you can take advantage of easy access to other small islands where there may be little or no accommodation at all.
  • End off with a quiet island – After a busy few days or weeks of exploring Thailand, we recommend ending the trip somewhere quiet where you can simply relax and take advantage of the scenic beauty and stunning beaches.

 

Don’t want to plan it all yourself? Discover Thailand with a tailor-made itinerary like our Thai Island Hopping Package in Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket. Chat to us about planning your Thailand island hopping experience today. Browse our website or call our Thailand experts on 0203 131 5111.

 

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