Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in Thailand. Imagine stepping out of a rustic hotel only to come face-to-face with several shades of azure and turquoise blue.
It is the stuff dreams are made of. Or rather - it is the stuff that Thailand is made of. Tucked away in this beautiful Asian paradise are thousands of little islands that sparkle like glimmering gems along the sprawling coastline.
I used to think that those tropical palm trees, vibrant blue sea colors and perfect sands were just a cheesy marketing fad employed by crafty tour agencies trying to sell vacations.
Then when I finally got the chance to go island hopping with fellow explorers in Thailand, it became my reality. And now I’m a convert. Below, I list 5 of the most stunning islands to tell you why.
OK, so this is cheating a little because it’s not exactly off-the-beaten track. But it’s such a fabulous place to be, that I’d be remiss not to include it here. Koh Phangan is known as the party island and is home to the famous - or shall I say infamous - full moon party. It attracts thousands of revellers every year who head to this island to party the night away under the watchful gaze of the moon.
But what might surprise you is that Koh Phangan is a crystal island. That means that underneath its sand and soil lies minute swathes of quartz crystal. According to the locals, this has resulted in the island having a spiritual vibe that is hard to find elsewhere.
When I visited Koh Phangan - there were several different yoga centres and making friends was as easy as saying hi to someone on the streets.
The special thing about Koh Phangan is that even if like me, you’re not much of a party animal, there are many beaches, cultural centres, massage centres and meditation centres for you to sink your teeth into.
Ko Poda is a limestone island, surrounded by spectacular white sands and beautiful scenery. If you’re a fan of beautiful sunsets, then the ones you’ll see on Ko Poda are among the most beautiful in the world.
It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind during a lazy day at the beach. Otherwise, feel free to take a peaceful boat tour across the crystal blue waters or indulge yourself at one of the many local markets.
The long white sandy beaches, tropical forests, festivals and crystal clear blue waters is not the reason I am recommending Ko Lanta.
Many of Thailand’s islands have these beautiful features. I think the Ko Lanta National park with its unforgettable jungle trail walks is the real prize for keen explorers to this island.
You’ll find all kinds of weird and wonderful wildlife, such as its magnificent elephants.
But if you’ve got a taste for adventure, then I implore you to visit the elaborate Khao Mai Kaew caves in the central part of the island. Imagine walking through a maze of interconnected corridors made entirely of rock. And that’s without even mentioning the breathtaking rock formations, amazing stalactites and stalagmites.
Ko Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and has a little bit of a bohemian vibe about it. You’ll find plenty of health shops, markets and hangout spots on this popular budget island.
I call it a budget island due to the abundance of cheap huts and accommodation - which makes it highly popular among cash-strapped backpackers. You can nab yourself a hit for as little as $5 a day. Not bad for a beach bungalow! Oh and let’s not forget the palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves and dense, mountainous rainforest! If for some insane reason, that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then perhaps you’d prefer to indulge yourself in some of the luxury spas and resorts instead.
I’d also be remiss not to mention the giant Buddha. That is, the landmark 12m-tall golden Big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Yai Temple, which is located on a tiny island connected to Ko Samui by a causeway.
Divers and elephants. Those are the two words that stand out whenever I describe Ko Chang. Ko Chang is famous for its awesome diving centers, where you can enjoy an up close view of beautiful corals and swim among amazing marine species, such as clown fishes, sea horses, groupers and sea turtles.
If you’d rather take a walk on the wild side, you’ll get a unique opportunity to wash and feed elephants at some of the sanctuaries on the island.
And let’s not forget the pristine beaches and lush greenery. Simply magical.
This was a really hard blog to write because of the sheer number of islands that are equally as stunning and amazing. You could literally spend your whole life island hopping in Thailand and still only experience a fraction of it.
The sheer beauty of this enchanting country has hypnotised me along with thousands of others over the years.
Virtually all of these islands are gifted with clear blue waters, sun, sea and dreamy white sands, as well as the wildlife.
But what sets the ones in this blog apart is they each have a unique feature that you won’t find on many other islands. For example, Koh Phangan is a popular party hotspot, yet few people are aware of its crystal vibes and spiritual heart.
And while you’ve probably heard of Koh Samui, you really have to be there to experience its bohemian vibe and coconut groves. Or perhaps you’d prefer to experience the wild, raw jungles of Ko Lanta? The others are less well known but you’ll fall in love with them once you get acquainted with some of the resident elephants or deep-dive into the clear blue waters.
If you are fortunate to travel to Thailand, these islands should certainly be on the top of your list.
Janine Griffiths | Journalist
Janine is a copywriter and marketing strategist from England, with a background in journalism. She has represented many major brands throughout her career such as HSBC, Prudential and BIM. She runs a popular travel blog called janinesjourneys.com and has made has previously worked for major regional newspapers in the UK such as the Guardian, Yorkshire Post and the Shropshire Star