Escape The Crowds In Thailand: 5 Unspoiled Thai Islands

Escape The Crowds In Thailand: 5 Unspoiled Thai Islands

The Thai authorities recently made the bold move to close Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi, the beach made popular in DiCaprio movie The Beach, during the low season in a bid to protect the environment from the damaging effects of mass tourism.

It’s not the first time a decision has been made to put the eco-system before tourist dollars in Thailand – day trips to the popular but increasingly over-crowded island of Koh Tachai in Similan National Park were banned by local authorities in 2016.

But just because Maya Bay is currently out of bounds it doesn’t mean you should forgo a Thailand holiday. There are still many unspoiled Thai Islands that haven’t suffered the same over-crowding and are ready and waiting to welcome tourists to their empty, untouched beaches.

Need helping choosing where to go in Thailand? Here are 5 less crowded islands in Thailand to visit in 2018.

5 Best Quiet Islands In Thailand

1. Similan Islands

Where To Go In Thailand: 5 Best Quiet & Unspoiled Islands

The Similan Islands are a cluster of 9 islands northwest of Phuket that are a goldmine for divers. Their striking white beaches surrounded by giant black boulders are lesser-known than the limestone mounds of Krabi or Phang Nga Bay but are no less stunning.

You can reach the Similan Islands on a daytrip from Phuket or Khao Lak, with the transfer time taking up to 3 hours depending on what charter you go with.

To avoid the crowds in Phuket, book a secluded villa such as these luxury Thailand rentals, or arrange a sailing charter or diving cruise to spend several days exploring the quieter parts of the Similan archipelago.

Note: The Similan Islands are officially open to the public from 15 October until 15 May, but dates may vary each year.

2. Surin Islands

Where To Go In Thailand: 5 Best Quiet & Unspoiled Islands

The Surin Islands are the northernmost group of islands on Thailand’s Andaman Coast and can be reached via a 90-minute speedboat ride from Khao Lak.

Like their neighbours above, the Surin Islands offer spectacular diving but they are also uniquely home to a small community of indigenous Moken, the nomadic sea people of the Andaman region.

The Moken are known as ‘sea gypsies’ as they were originally sea nomads who travelled between the islands from Malaysia to Myanmar. They have now settled in several basic reserves, including one in the Surin Islands, which comes under the protection of the National Park Authority and welcomes a fixed number of tourists as part of an organised tour group.

As visitor numbers to the Moken Village are limited there will usually be more indigenous peoples than tourists on the south Surin Island at the same time.

Read more about visiting the Surin Islands

3. Koh Mook (or Ko Muk)

Where To Go In Thailand: 5 Best Quiet & Unspoiled Islands Koh Mook

Koh Mook is one of a handful of hidden gems found in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Trang. The relatively untouched island is popular with daytrippers from nearby busier resorts due to its Emerald Cave. Reached by a short but slightly scary swim in the dark, the Emerald Cave is a sheltered sinkhole biome and beach with startling green waters that give the cave its moniker.

By staying on the island, which has two golden beaches, a fishing village and a handful of budget accommodation, you can explore the cave outside of peak (crowded) hours. Alternatively, base yourself on the mainland near Trang at luxury resort Anantara Si Kao and take a longtail boat to Koh Mook in the morning.

4. Koh Kradan

Where To Go In Thailand: 5 Best Quiet & Unspoiled Islands Koh Kradan

Another little-known island near Trang is Ko Kradan, which has slightly more upmarket accommodation options such as the flashpacker favourite Sevenseas Resort.

The extensive shallow bays, sand banks and views of limestone karsts make Koh Kradan one of the most visually stunning beaches in Thailand – just make sure you bring cash and essential provisions as there are no ATMs or convenience stores on the island.

Similarly to Koh Mook, Koh Kradan is popular with day trippers (the Anantara hotel I mentioned above has a beach club there which they bring guests to by speedboat) but come 3pm you’ll have the calm clear waters all to yourself.

From around November to April, speedboats and ferries connect Koh Kradan directly to a number of other islands including Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta and Koh Mook – so it’s perfect for an island-hopping holiday. Boat tickets can be booked via your resort on Koh Kradan so enquire when making a room reservation.

5. Koh Chang

Where to go in Thailand - Ko Chang           Photo thanks to Ragnar Vorel on Unsplash

Found in the Trat Province of Eastern Thailand, Koh Chang was once a backpacker secret that has leaked to a wider audience over the last few years. If you’re looking for an island with a bit more infrastructure than Koh Kradan or Koh Mook but not nearly as people as Krabi or Phuket, then Koh Chang is the happy medium.

This large island is framed by fine sand beaches and filled with a lush national park that is perfect for jungle trekking. Local guides can take you on trails through the forest to find waterfalls, monkey, birds and more. You can also island-hop to nearby Koh Mak and Koh Kood, the latter of which offers more laid-back luxury resorts.

In recent years some of the more basic beach huts in Koh Chang have been replaced with resorts and the not-so-lonely Lonely Beach has become known for its party scene. To escape the hustle, head to Hat Kaibae for boutique hotels and midrange bungalows or escape the tourists altogether on the isolated east coast at Ao Salak Kok and Ao Dan Kao.

To reach Ko Chang you can take a bus or flight from Bangkok to Trat and board a public ferry or private boat to the island. For larger groups and families it might be easier to arrange a private minivan transfer direct from Bangkok Airport.

5 unspoiled islands in ThailandRead next:

Sea Gypsies and snorkelling in the Surin Islands

Tips for travelling to Khao Lak, Thailand 

Tips for travelling to Ao Nang, Krabi

Best things to do in Bangkok

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23 Comments

  1. Andrea Mayfield
    April 14, 2018 / 2:24 am

    This literally looks like a dream! I must get to Thailand asap! Great shots!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 6:38 am

      Thank you! I think I’ve inspired myself to go back for another visit after writing this haha

  2. April 14, 2018 / 4:37 am

    All that white sand and blue waters… such a dream! I hope they manage to keep it that way by redistributing the crowds and properly managing the tourists!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 6:37 am

      Me too, I really applaud the decision regarding Maya Bay as from what I have read the crowds were ruining the environment and the experience. There are so many beautiful islands and beaches – you can still have that Leo-esque experience just by going further afield!

  3. April 14, 2018 / 4:40 am

    Aah…. Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world but since I typically avoid the more touristic destinations it’s been a difficult destination for me – so these tips are really useful!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 6:36 am

      It really does have some incredible beaches and the backdrop when you’re surrounded by limestone karts and not lots of people is really something else 😀

  4. April 14, 2018 / 7:20 am

    I’m planning on going to Thailand soon and will definitely refer to your article for some beach time!! Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 12:54 pm

      Awesome, hope you have a wonderful trip to my favourite places 😀

  5. April 14, 2018 / 7:34 am

    Really great idea writing this post, especially after Maya Bay has been closed. I’m currently travelling Mainland Thailand and considering coming down to the islands at some point. Had no idea about these islands so definitely adding them to the list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 12:54 pm

      Oh great timing! Hopefully you get to visit one or a few of these for a more laid back experience.

  6. April 14, 2018 / 8:48 am

    Great article – Im always trying to seek the quieter less touristy places!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 12:55 pm

      Me too, although not so quiet that they don’t have electricity – a girl has needs haha

  7. April 14, 2018 / 11:00 am

    These look so amazing! I am desperate to go back to Thailand and it would be nice to avoid the more touristy beaches so I’m definitely bookmarking this. Funnily enough, I absolutely loved Koh Phangan, and while it’s definitely NOT off the beaten path by any means, we stayed the opposite end of the island to the Full Moon Party and had virtually our own secluded beach! So even in the touristy places, there are ways to avoid the crowds. 🙂

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 14, 2018 / 12:56 pm

      This is so true. I did the exact same thing in Koh Phangan, largely because we left booking accommodation until the last minute, but it turned out to be for the best!

  8. April 14, 2018 / 12:45 pm

    Great post! I absolutely love the quiet atmosphere in Koh Mook and Koh Kradan, such lovely paradise islands. Koh Chang is nice too but gets quite busy during high season. I would also add Koh Mak and Koh Wai to this list. Cannot wait to head to Thailand again!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 15, 2018 / 11:06 pm

      I haven’t heard of Koh Wai – I’ll have to look it up!

  9. April 14, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    Each of these islands looks so tranquil and picturesque. I especially like Koh Mook with the Emerald Cave biome. It sounds like such a fascinating and unique experience!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 15, 2018 / 11:06 pm

      It definitely warrants the term hidden gem!

  10. April 14, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    I definitely need to make a trip back to Thailand to visit some of these lesser known islands! They seriously look like paradise. Beautiful pics!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      April 15, 2018 / 11:07 pm

      Thank you. I’m wanting to return now too haha

  11. June 14, 2018 / 11:11 am

    I love the Islands. They look like such cool destinations for relaxing and unwinding during vacations.

  12. Pam Lockie
    November 12, 2018 / 9:09 pm

    A lovely read
    We plan to travel to one of the islands you mention We have been several times to Koh Lanta .We would be flying into Bengkok .We travel independently and will stay to chillax for x 3 weeks
    Which is the easiest island to get to and has cheap/reasonable accommodation .
    Thank you

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