EXOTIC BEACH VACATIONS
With palm-fringed beaches and a laid-back lifestyle, the islands of Thailand have kept the country known as a”Tropical Paradise” for the past half-century. Whatever travelers dream of—strolling along the silky white sand, watching the sunrise in a hammock, sipping a cocktail by the beach, diving on perfect reefs—Thailand has it all and more.
On top of that, Thai tropical islands offer the best value for a long-haul destination.
Visitors have the option to relax in a basic thatch-roofed bungalow in Ko Chang or check into a stylish rustic-chic villa with a private pool in Ko Kood. Partygoers can join the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan or host an extravagant champagne party at a famous beach club in Phuket or Ko Samui.
An endless strip of sand, blue sea, and warm sun—that’s just the beginning of what visitors can find on the tropical islands of Thailand. A long list of promising experiences, sensational food, a slow pace of life, stunning underwater scenery, and amazing Thai people will have you wanting to come back again and again.
UNSPOILED UNDERWATER WORLD
November to April is the best time for diving around Thailand. With two water bodies— the Gulf of Thailand to the East and the Andaman Sea to the West—Thailand has world-class diving spots. All come with beautiful tropical beaches, swaying coconut trees, and crystal-clear warm water with an abundance of marine life. Expect to see red lionfish, hawksbill turtles, leopard sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks wandering about under the calm water.
In the Andaman Sea, scuba divers will find fringing reefs, tunnels, pinnacles or open ocean seamounts. The Gulf of Thailand offers terrific value for diving at Ko Tao. Here whale sharks, leopard sharks, lionfish, rabbitfish, and bannerfish are the stars of the show. November to April is the best time for diving around the Andaman Sea, while March to September is the best time to go diving in the Gulf of Thailand.
6 Best Diving Sites
1. Mu Ko Similan National Park offers the best of Thailand’s scuba diving experience. Underwater sceneries vary from towering boulders appearing like city-scapes to colorful coral reefs flooded with marine life. The visibility is usually excellent and the abundance and variety of aquatic animals are second to none. The best way to dive and hop around Similan is from the liveaboard boat.
2. Ko Lipe, located in southern Thailand’s Satun Province near the Thailand/Malaysia border, offers some excellent diving sites and picturesque white-sand beaches dotted with coconut trees. Found at the southern end of Thailand, leopard sharks, whales, dolphins, and manta rays sweep against a backdrop of colorful soft coral, rock formations, pinnacles, and boulders.
3. Ko Phi Phi is famous for its beautiful beaches, made even more so by Hollywood’s blockbuster “The Beach.” It is also notable for the vivid soft corals and sea fans.
4. Ko Tao is a tropical paradise with white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, rugged cliffs, and stunning sunsets. It is fit for all levels of scuba diving. The underwater scenery is spectacular coral encrusted rock pinnacles, vibrant reefs, and some great shipwrecks—whale sharks and spotted eagle rays are often seen horsing around. Ko Tao is also very close to Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan, making it easy to visit all three islands in one trip.
6. Ko Lanta, part of the Krabi province, has a feel-good vibe perfect for a young traveler’s spirit. Its clear waters, mangroves, white sand beaches, and lush rainforests are stunning. The underwater spectacle is easily accessible by slow boats and is populated with whale sharks, manta rays, and vibrant reefs.
6. Phuket is well-equipped with world-class accommodations and services. It is a jumping-off point for liveaboards to the Similan and Mu Ko Surin National Parks.
With more than hundreds of tropical islands and extraordinary underwater biodiversity, Thailand is also a promising destination for snorkeling. Colorful sea whips, docile sharks, and huge turtles are waiting around the reefs in crystal-clear water. Grab a snorkel and head to one of these tempting tropical islands.
5 Best Snorkeling Sites
1. Mu Ko Surin National Park is Thailand’s best snorkeling site with crystal-clear water and spectacular, large fish. The national marine park is a haven for giant sea creatures like whale sharks, manta rays, and Napoleon fish. All the graceful creatures can be observed flying majestically through the blue sea. The best chance to snorkel with whale sharks is at pinnacle sites such as Hin Pae during February and March.
2. Ko Lipe is ideal for a romantic hideout on a tropical island. It offers a snorkeling experience straight off the white sand beaches. The best underwater scenery can be taken in through a slow boat trip to the surrounding islands.
3. Ko Nang Yuan and Ko Tao offer the best snorkeling sites in the Gulf of Thailand. Nang Yuan’s three small islands are connected by a gleaming white sandbar with hard and soft coral reefs lining it in the shallow water.
4. Ko Similan is one of the world’s best scuba diving sites but the archipelago has plenty of beauty for snorkeling enthusiasts to take in, as well. After discovering the shoals of vibrant coral reefs, the schools of tropical fish, and the sea turtles, the silky white sand beaches are the perfect spot for a picnic.
5. Ko Phi Phi is abundant with colorful sea whips where black-tipped and leopard sharks float blissfully around. Turtles are very common, as are whale sharks.
Like the old days when fishermen dove to the bottom of the sea to collect sponge, pearls, or seashells in one breath of air, freedivers plunge into the ocean for a deeper silence and sophisticated beauty.
The feeling of being at peace while gliding under the vast liquid world is addictive. Each dive hardly gets more than a couple of minutes, so freedivers always want more and more of the secluded experience.
Freediving is now practiced widely as a leisure sport and is gaining mainstream interest. Many people are choosing to cast off clunky diving gear in favor of this form of diving. Go under the sea to have a full view of colorful marine animals and embrace the peaceful feeling of weightless freedom. Ko Tao and Phuket are popular entry points to this deep and meaningful adventure.
Best of Its Kind
Blue Immersion on Ko Tao offers freediving training for anyone from beginners to diving masters. Freediving instructors will teach diving techniques such as monofinning, meditation breathing, no-fin diving, variable weight, and advanced equalization.
We Freedive, on Phuket offers freediving courses for beginners and professionals from Sarah Whitcher, a professional diver and trainer.
UNMISSABLE SPORT & ADVENTURES
THE THRILL OF SEA KAYAKING
From the Andaman Sea on the western coast to the Gulf of Thailand on the East, the tropical islands and archipelagos offer visitors numerous ways to explore. One of the best ways to discover the mesmerizing charm of the islands and oceans is by kayak. From Phuket in Thailand’s South to Ko Kood in the Eastern frontier, Thailand provides some of the world’s greatest sea kayaking opportunities for beginners and experts alike.
Best of Its Kind
John Gray’s Sea Canoe in Phuket offers sea kayak trips varying from a day trip to the hidden lagoon in the Andaman Sea to seven-day kayak expedition going from Phangnga Bay to a southern outpost in Ko Tarutao.
Bluestars Kayaking in Samui, offers a day trip for seafarers to experience kayaking, snorkeling, and exploring small caves, lakes, and beaches around Angthong archipelago.
S. E. A. Kayaking in Ko Chang is operated by the highly experienced British Canoe Union (BCU) qualified guides. Its sea kayaking expeditions, lasting anywhere from one to 12 days, visit secluded bays and breathtaking rocky outcrops around Ko Chang and Chang National Marine Park.
Once visitors have done some snorkeling, beach strolling, and swimming, why not go fishing? Thailand has two bodies of seawater: Thailand’s seas are equipped for a serious fishing holiday. Phuket, one of the world’s best deep-sea fishing destinations, is the place the anglers go for screaming reels. The potential targets include sailfish, mahi-mahi, wahoo, Spanish mackerel, giant trevally, barracuda, and much more. On the Gulf of Thailand, where waters are warmer and less salty than the Andaman Sea, the stars are big sailfish, queenfish, and king mackerel. Ko Tao is the place to put your fishing skills to the test.
Best of Its Kind
Extreme Academy in Ko Tao, offers the thrills of rod and reel on a chartered boat outfitted for sports fishing.
Phuket Fishing Charters, an awarding-winning fishing operator in Phuket, provides fishing programs and luxury fishing boats like G2 Riviera 47 and Maritimo M51.
QUAD BIKING’S RUGGED FUN
The island experience is not limited to beaches and water, as many are covered with tropical forests. Travelers can explore a range of terrains by venturing out on a quad bike. Designed for fun riding over rugged trails, quad bikes help visitors experience tropical islands from an entirely new perspective. A two-hour quad bike tour in Phuket, for example, offers a total change of scenery of the resort town, as the all-terrain vehicle rolls through a mix of trails. The dirt, rubber plantation, local villages, fruit farms, and various cultural landmarks will blow visitors away. Ko Samui and Ko Chang are also ideal places to go for an adventure atop a quad bike.
Best of Its Kind
X-Quad Samui on Ko Samui offers a 4-hour ride on Samui’s dirt and mud trails past a beautiful lookout, coconut plantations, jungles, and hidden waterfalls for outdoor swimming.
ATV Monster Adventure on Ko Chang, provides a 90-minute ride on a dirt trail snaking up and down through rainforests.
ATV Phuket on Phuket, lets adventurers ride the quad bike along the breathtaking terrain of its tropical forests.
HUSTLE-FREE ISLAND HOPPING
Get away from all the hustle and bustle of the mainland and soak up some sun and sea. Indulge completely as you glide from one charming paradise isle to another.
Hundreds of islands and over 3,000 kilometers of coastline offer countless opportunities for nautical adventures. With little wind, the Gulf of Thailand boasts calm waters, ideal for first-time sailors and those prone to seasickness. The Andaman Sea, on the other hand, is perfect for adventure and expeditions.
Best of Its Kind
Island Cruises on Ko Tao offers customized day cruises and yacht charters around Ko Tao, Phuket, and Ko Samui. Liveaboard cruises are also available.
Krabi Sunset Cruises in Krabi sails with wooden Siamese Junk out to 5 islands: Poda, Tup, Si, Ta Ming, Wasam, and Gai. Visitors can hop off to swim, snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard around the islands before calling it a day with a mesmerizing sunset.
Boutique Yachting on Ko Samui offers a cruise to Angthong National Marine Park, located 35 kilometers west of Koh Samui. Enjoy a full-day excursion on a beautiful motorsailer and explore the natural beauty of the marine park. Laze around the expansive decks, enjoy a Thai buffet-style meal for lunch, and taste the local rum cocktail as the sun sets.
Thailand is home to some of the best party islands in the world. Each year thousands of party-lovers travel to Thailand’s tropical islands in search of incredible scenes varying from a beachfront party to a fashionable beach club.
Best of Its Kind
Ko Phangan is home to the renowned full moon party. Every full moon Haad Rin throws a rave beach party that draws more than 30,000 partygoers and world-class DJs from all over the world. Once the moon bids farewell to the night sky and the sun shines, the revelers wake up in the late afternoon before shaking off a hangover at the beach.
Phuket, with more than 30 beaches and a promising nightlife, consists of sophisticated beach clubs like Dream Beach Club, Xana Beach Club, Catch Beach Club, Cafe del Mar Phuket, and Paradise Beach Club. Bangla Road, in Patong Beach, is known for loud music and a beer crawl.
Ko Samui knows how to throw a party in style with beach clubs and bars along its beaches. Nikki Beach, a world-famous beach club, opens its door in Lipa Noi Beach and keeps drawing young, fashionable, and financially solvent travelers for sexy and lavish entertainment, alongside exciting dance music. Q Bar, Ark Bar, Beach Republic Ocean Club, and Bar Ice Samui are also havens for the sleepless partygoers.
Ko Phi Phi is full of young travelers and the island prides itself on having enticing nightlife vibes. It hosts an array of party scenes both for the visitor looking for loud music while dancing on the beach and those seeking a relaxing atmosphere.
Seaside Adventure Awaits
Whether you prefer to relax on the beach, take an exciting quad bike ride, hit the clubs, or explore the sea, Thailand’s seaside activities have something for everyone. A visit to this tropical paradise is sure to satisfy your desire to enjoy natural beauty while getting away from your daily grind. If you’re looking for an unforgettable seaside getaway, plan a beach vacation in beautiful Thailand.