Escape to a Thai Island

Dreamy destinations and picturesque beaches – perfect for your next big adventure

Thai islands

by Zoe Bishop |

Best for couples: Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi Islands – made up of six smaller islands – are a beach lover’s paradise with white sands, secluded bays and bright turquoise waters. Long Beach is one of the most popular, but it’s still relatively undiscovered and has stunning sea views. The clear waters and wonderful reefs offer amazing snorkelling and diving opportunities, with Shark Point being a notable diving area, where you could spot a reef shark or two. The Viking Cave is a must-see on Phi Phi Leh, along with Maya Bay – the location for the Leonardo Dicaprio film The Beach. There are very few roads on the main island of Phi Phi Don, so the best way to get around is on foot, or by taking longtail water taxis. As well as the beaches, Phi Phi has a vibrant nightlife, complete with pool parties, rooftop hangouts, live music and beach events, which often include fire shows performed by the locals.

• Stay at the SAii Phi Phi Island Village from £163 a night. Book online at Uk.hotels.com

Something for everyone: Phuket

Something for everyone: Phuket

The biggest and busiest island in Thailand offers a rich variety of experiences, from hanging out on the beach and visiting amazing temples to eating fabulous food in world-class restaurants. You’ll find some of the most glorious beaches, including Phang Nga Bay – often referred to as James Bond Island because it featured in The Man With The Golden Gun – and the beautiful little bay of Kata Noi on the west coast. The soft white sand, crystal-clear waters and jungle backdrop are amazing, while the high waves between May and October make it popular with surfers. Away from the beaches, head to the waterfalls of Ton Sai and Bang Pae for a picnic and swim, or explore one of the 29 Buddhist temples – Wat Chalong is a popular choice. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is not to be missed, while a night-time shopping trip at Phuket Town Weekend Night Market is a whole new experience.

• Stay at The Surin Phuket from £270 a night. Book online at Thesurinphuket.com

Picture-perfect family escape: Koh Samui

Thai islands

Thailand’s second-largest island is a pretty paradise full of luxurious resorts, spas and Michelin-starred restaurants. You’ll find lots of activities to keep you entertained, from kayaking around the island’s cliffs to taking authentic Thai cookery classes, or visiting the 12-foot-tall golden Big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Yai Temple. If you love to shop, Fisherman’s Village Walking Street, in the rustic town of Bophut, has an amazing Friday night market that offers clothing, carved soaps and street food at very low prices. The whole island is a paradise escape, but a trip to the picture-perfect Na Muang waterfalls is a must. Koh Samui is ideal for recharging, but if you want a little bit of nightlife, head to the Chaweng district, where you’ll find lively bars, restaurants and cabaret shows.

• Stay at the YTL Hotels Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui, from £270 a night. Book online at Ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/koh-samui

Ideal for action and nightlife: Koh Phangan

Thai islands

By day, you’ll find a lovely island with coconut trees and sandy beaches that are perfect for water sports and tropical lazy days. But if you’re after nightlife, the place comes alive with revellers taking part in the Full Moon Party at Haad Rin beach – an all-night festival including music and dancing. There’s lots to do to keep active on the island, including Thai kickboxing camps, rock climbing, meditation and yoga retreats, such as the Buddhist Monastery retreat at Wat Khao Tham, or enjoy an elephant ride at Koh Phangan Elephant Trekking. If you love scuba diving or snorkelling, head to Ang Thong National Marine Park, a reef-lined chain of isles where you can check out the marine life.

• Stay at the Panviman Resort Koh Phangan from £74 a night with Booking.com

Most traditional: Koh Yao Noi

Thai islands

Floating in the Phang Nga Bay, Koh Yao Noi is a quieter island and one of the most untouched. The shorelines have very few crowds, and you won’t find big, glitzy resorts here, rather smaller private hotels. The island has natural charm, thanks to its rubber plantations, mangrove forests and relaxed atmosphere. Due to its relatively small size, it can be explored by bike or tuk-tuk. Koh Yao Noi is all about relaxation with yoga retreats and indulgent spas, but most of all, it offers a true taste of traditional island life.

• Stay at the Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa from £169 a night with Booking.com

Need to know

• The best way to visit Thailand is on an island-hopping holiday, spending a few nights at each location. These can be booked though companies like Travelbag.com

• Several airlines offer flights from the UK to Bangkok, where you can then transfer to Phuket. Internal flights from Bangkok to Phuket cost around £100. Britishairways.com offer direct flights to Bangkok from London Heathrow.

• Sharpen your negotiating skills when buying souvenirs or booking taxis to get the best price, and agree up front.

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