If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, Thailand’s islands offer a perfect blend of sun, sand, and seclusion. From the popular hotspots to the lesser-known gems, this guide will help you discover the best islands in Thailand for couples. Whether you’re planning a honeymoon or just a romantic holiday, these islands are sure to provide the perfect backdrop for your love story.
Discover the right island for you with this comprehensive guide to the best islands in beautiful Thailand.
While there’s no denying the attractions of bustling Bangkok or charming Chiang Mai, you need to head out into the blue yonder of some of Thailand’s most beautiful islands for your once-in-a-lifetime Thailand honeymoon or romantic getaway.
In our opinion, the perfect itinerary will have you spending time at one of the famous islands and then exploring a few of the lesser-known islands, many still untouched by the masses.
So, follow us here as we plot a course that takes in some relatively ‘hidden’ islands off the country’s breathtaking Andaman coast before stopping by some of Thailand’s more renowned islands. While they all boast beautiful beaches, you’ll discover each has its own distinctive character and charms.
Koh Lipe – for laid-back romance
Our holiday actually starts in Malaysia. The first Thai island we’re visiting, Koh Lipe, is a 90-minute speedboat ride from Langkawi. After a scenic journey through entrancing emerald green waters, we dock at Hat Pattaya, one of three seductive beaches on Lipe, an L-shaped island that has recently seen a spike in development, especially in high-end accommodation, but still retains its relaxed feel.
We’re drawn, time and again, to Hat Chao Ley (Sunrise Beach), a delightful 2km strip of powder-white sand. It’s fringed by longtail boats, certified diving resorts and family-run eateries that ply us with papaya juices and mouth-watering meals (think grilled squid with coconut sauce, white snapper with lime and chilli, and green curry with sticky rice).
Koh Mook – for amazing water caves and secluded beaches
We’re immediately transfixed by the primeval forested peaks of Koh Mook (also known as Muk), a sleepy gem in the Trang Archipelago and a two-hour boat trip north of Lipe. We enjoy bike rides across an island studded with coconut trees, rubber plantations and rustic hamlets where cheerful locals wave and smile as you pass (and tempt you to pit stop in their humble restaurants for the likes of pad Thai and spicy squid salad).
The calm waters that surround Koh Mook are ideal for kayaking and we paddle over to Tham Morakot (Emerald Cave), a secluded tunnel that leads to a lagoon where you can take a dip. Pirates apparently used to hoard their booty here, but these days, in high season (November-April) at least, the cave is a popular stop for boat tours from Phuket. We kayak back to Hat Farang (Charlie Beach) and, when the sky starts to pinken, scale the beach’s rickety clifftop bar for iced Chang beers and a gorgeous sunset.
Koh Ngai – for crystal clear waters and powdery coral sand
Buzzing by speedboat to Koh Ngai (also called Ko Hai) we pass the iconic karst (limestone) formations that soar from the water – what a spectacular introduction to this popular island. With its crystal clear waters, Ngai is a great place to snorkel and hike. It’s located in the Andaman Sea, between the popular islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe.
We tread an undulating trail to Paradise Beach, where we fossick for shells and sip from coconuts. Later, after snuggling up in a tree swing, we enjoy happy hour cocktails and a beachside candlelit dinner at Koh Ngai Seafood Restaurant. We share two large crabs, one in a sweet and sour sauce, the other in a coconut milk and pineapple curry. Both are absolutely delicious.
Unlike other tourist hotspots in Thailand, Koh Ngai is free from the noise and chaos of city life, with no streets, nightlife, or large stores. Instead, visitors can enjoy the tranquillity of the island, surrounded by dense jungle and lovely resorts. The island also offers a breathtaking house reef, perfect for snorkelling and observing colourful marine life. Koh Ngai is the ideal destination if you’re looking for a dreamy Thai island getaway.
Koh Lanta – for a sense of escapism
When it comes to the islands of Phang Nga Bay, Koh Lanta doesn’t rank highly on most lists, and it’s for precisely this reason that it’s worth considering for your honeymoon. One of the main reasons it has retained its sleepy charm is due to its inaccessible nature – up until 2016 and the construction of a bridge between the two main islands, you had to catch not one but two car ferries to reach the resorts and beaches of the south.
While the new road connection means you no longer need a ferry to reach Saladan, it remains the main town on the islands, a modern hub for dining, drinking and picking up needed supplies.
However, for more rustic charm you need to head to the Old Town in the southeast, where stilt houses stand over the shallow waters, and life continues as it has done for a century. It’s also a jumping off point for the smaller islands further south, including the romantic remoteness offered by tiny Koh Ngai (featured above).
Koh Phayam – Thailand’s secret island paradise
Taking a mix of boats and buses, the journey to our final island, Koh Phayam, eats up the best part of a day (we almost feel like backpackers again). Thankfully, it’s worth it. Close to the Thai-Myanmar border, kangaroo-shaped Phayam is a rustic beauty that many Thais have never even heard of. With no cars or roads, few bars, and only bungalow resorts for accommodation, this 35-square-kilometre dot is the perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
Visitors can admire the stunning rock formations along the coastline, explore the jungle forests that are home to monkeys and rare bird species, or simply enjoy the deserted beaches. At night, reggae bars play Bob Marley classics while little shops sell handmade clothing, jewellery, and paintings.
The island attracts a diverse mix of hippies, backpackers, peace seekers, retirees, and winter vacationers, but it’s not the place for big parties. Koh Phayam is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life – it’s a refreshing escape that feels like stepping back into Thailand of decades ago; it’s rekindled our love for Thailand island hopping!
We hire a scooter and bump along the island’s narrow lanes and dirt tracks, pausing at dreamy, hammock-festooned beaches, keeping an eye out for wildlife (wild pigs, snakes and hornbills call Phayam home) and savouring some of the best food of our trip.
Over our last meal – stuffed squid, curried prawns and barracuda in tamarind sauce at a friendly little joint called Kruq Khun Kao – we raise a toast to the last, fabulous fortnight.
Koh Kood – for solitude and serenity
So good they named it twice, Koh Kood – also popularly spelled as Koh Kut – is one of the kingdom’s most remote islands, so far southeast that it’s practically in Cambodia. The charms here lie in the possibility for solitude and serenity, with very little development, and hardly any nightlife. Of course, with the rustic bohemian atmosphere comes a lack of infrastructure such as banks, convenience stores and reliable electricity – but it’s all part of the charm (though there is six-star accomodation available if you don’t feel like roughing it).
If you do decide to venture beyond your own slice of sand, you can rent a scooter or catch a truck bus to explore the waterfalls in the island’s centre, or the splendid beaches found along the west and south coasts. On your travels you’ll also likely see signs for the Makka Tree – while it’s not the most obvious attraction, a visit to this 500-year-old banyan deep in the jungle leaves you humbled.
Koh Tarutao – best for adventurers and nature lovers
In 2002, this island on the Malaysian border (Langkawi is only 10 kilometres to the south) was the setting for US hit show Survivor. The producers couldn’t have chosen a better location for the reality TV series, with the jungle-covered island’s name taken from the Malay word tertua, loosely translating as ‘ancient and wild’. During the mid 1940s it was most certainly the latter, when it was designated as a penal colony for Thai prisoners. When the inmates became cut off from the mainland and supplies dried up, they joined forces with the guards and became pirates, terrorising local shipping until British forces steamed north in 1946.
Today it’s a Thai national park, with little remaining of it’s wartime past. Day-trippers regularly come from Koh Lipe to the west, drawn to wander the steep trails and dense jungle that covers most of the island, while the adventurous can rent bungalows or even tents from the park headquarters.
Similians – for diving enthusiasts, wildlife lovers and explorers
Around 120 kilometres northwest of Phuket you find the Similans archipelago, a remote group of islands that is one of Thailand’s oldest marine parks, established in 1982. Long popular as an anchorage for cruising yachts, dive boats and snorkelling tours, visitor numbers eventually became so overwhelming that the islands are now closed from May to October every year, though being rainy season it’s probably not the best time to savour the isle’s white sand and emerald waters anyway.
Interestingly, the Similans name is taken from the Malay word for nine – sembilan – but there are actually 11 in the marine park (the latter two were added in the late ’90s). As well as the exotic nautical nature, there is also an abundance of land-based wildlife, including monitor lizards, mountain crabs, monkeys and the occasional python, all of which make their home in the dense jungle and the huge boulders that spill into the ocean.
Go-to kohs: Koh Phi-Phi
Fancy seeing where The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed? Hire a speedboat or longtail boat from Phuket or Krabi and head to a pretty bay off Phi-Phi’s main island. Go early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds.
Koh Phi Phi is a charming Thai archipelago with six islands in the Andaman Sea. It is known for its two main islands, Koh Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Leh, and smaller limestone rocks, all providing visitors with a wide range of activities. Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest island, was once home to Muslim fishermen in the late 1940s and is still primarily a Muslim community today. The island boasts a diverse cultural mix of labourers, migrant workers from Thailand’s northeast and Myanmar, Chinese-Thais, and sea gypsies. Koh Phi Phi also offers various activities such as diving, snorkelling, rock climbing, kayaking, and relaxing at the numerous spas located on the islands.
Go-to kohs: Phuket
Thailand’s largest island – and gateway to the country’s south – was once pockmarked by tin mines, giving it a desolate moonscape appearance. Thankfully, tourism has long since supplanted tin, and it has become one of the world’s most famous tropical destinations. Most come for the sun and sand, with more than 30 beaches to choose from dotted along the shore. The most famous of these, with enticing names including Karon, Kata and Kamala, are down the west coast, where you’ll also find the party town of Patong. Offshore there are many more islands to be discovered, meaning Phuket has a beach to suit everyone. Be sure to take time out from the spectacular beaches and soak up the charms of Phuket Town, where arty cafés, galleries and restaurants are nestled inside beautifully preserved old shop-houses.
Related article: Thailand insider guide: Phuket’s top beaches
Go-to kohs: Koh Samui
Looking to recharge the batteries? Alluring yoga, meditation and detox retreats dot ‘Coconut Island’, as Samui is fondly known. But honeymooners will also discover some of the most incredibly romantic, and luxurious (or affordable, if that is more your style) resorts in Asia on here.
Approaching the small, jewel-shaped isle of Samui, lush green mountains loom up out of the mist, as you fly close over colourful fishing boats bobbing in the emerald sea and the small wooden homes that line the sandy shore. It’s no wonder it’s been nicknamed ‘fantasy island’ by those lucky enough to visit. Most arrive via Bangkok – it’s just a one-hour flight direct south from the busy capital, a pleasant jaunt over the Gulf of Thailand – before disembarking at one of the world’s prettiest airports, an assemblage of open-air tropical themed halls, navigated by trolley car, which sets the tone for the rest of the stay.
Be sure to visit the weekly Sunday walking street market in the Bophut Fisherman’s Village. Not only is it a great place to pick up unique souvenirs but – when you need a break – it is perfect to sit back and people watch. Not far from here you’ll also find the famous Big Buddha, and amazing coastal views.
Related: Where to eat and drink on Koh Samui
Go-to kohs: Koh Phangan
For many years, Koh Pha Ngan – the small island directly north of Samui – was only famous for one thing: full moon parties. These all night sessions, which are still popular, rage until dawn on the south coast beach of Haad Rin. However, as the party people continued to flock to the island’s shores, the antidote to all the hedonism sprung up in the form of wellness retreats and yoga centres.
Today, Phang An is just as famous for providing healing as headaches, this enticing blend drawing a bohemian mix of adventurers and soul-seekers. For those on their honeymoon, the beaches – which are generally quiet and empty apart from full moons – are idyllic, likewise the snorkelling and scuba day trips in the crystal clear waters. To see a bit more of the local culture, we recommend going on a mountain bike tour, which takes you on a 20 kilometre journey past morning markets, coconut plantations, and green rice paddy fields.
Go-to kohs: Koh Chang
Compared to Phuket and Samui, Thailand’s third largest island remains fairly rural and rustic. Koh Chang is usually reached by bus or car from Bangkok, though the small mainland airport in Trat offers daily direct flights via the capital’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Regardless of how you get here, you’ll make the last leg of the trip across the ocean on a car ferry, disembarking on the north shore. From this crossroads, you can either head down the beach-lined west coast, or the quieter charms on the opposite side.
The name translates directly as ‘Elephant Island’, reflecting its shape (though pachyderms are not native), and Koh Chang’s charms lie in the relatively unspoiled nature, whether that’s enjoying the white sand beaches, trekking up to mountain waterfalls, or swimming in the emerald-hued ocean. To go a little deeper, sign up for a spectacular scuba dive on a sunken ship, including the 100 meter long HTMS Chang.
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