10 Unknown Thai Islands
As we mentioned in a previous story, there are more than 1430 islands in the country, most of which remain almost unknown.
Here are 10 almost unknown but beautiful Thai islands that you could find yourself alone on.
1.Koh Phra Thong
This serene island is a surprise in many ways, one of which is it’s size -- 88sq km.
You would think a beautiful island of that size, which is close to the mainland, would be a haven for tourists, but it has barely seen any.
The island has only two villages with a total of about 300 inhabitants, who are mostly friendly Moken, or Sea Gypsy, people.
There are two main beaches, one of which is about 9km long and the other 7km long. Both are beautiful with tree lined soft sand and clear waters.
Oddly the interior of the island is flat African-style savannah, with an internationally recognised protected wetland. This type of environment is seen in a couple of national parks but is not that common in Thailand.
More than half of the island consists of thick mangrove forests though, with some rare dugongs living among the mangroves. Other areas are home to Leopard Cats, deer, pythons, cobras, Sea Eagles, etc.
The island is one of three close together which are about 10km off the coast of Khuraburi town in Phangnga province. A basic boat service from Khuraburi takes about an hour. The nearest airport is in Phuket.
2. Koh Kho Khao
Kho Kho Khao is just south of Koh Phra Thong, and has a similar environment, but is smaller than it’s neighbour.
Being only about 1km from the coast it has more development and gets a reasonable number of visitors, but it still feels quiet and out of the way.
The beaches are excellent, with several kms of soft golden sands lapped by clear waters.
Several nice resorts are on or near the beaches but a short walk gets you to a deserted spot in no time.
Getting there is the same as getting to Koh Phra Thong, except the ferry ride is a lot shorter!
3. Koh Ra
Just to the north of Koh Phra Thong lies the very different and sparsely populated Koh Ra.
It is long, mountainous, covered in ancient rainforest and home to some rare animal species.
It’s also home to a few Moken families, a basic resort, and perfect beaches. The excitement comes from trekking through the jungle (a guide is advised) or doing very little on the golden sand.
It wouldn’t be too difficult to visit all three of these islands if you plan to spend a bit of time in the area, as they are all fairly close together.
Koh Proet isn’t a place to go and lay on a beach, or find some cool beach huts. It’s a rocky outcrop just a few hundred meters from the coast of Chantaburi province, and a part of Wat Proet.
The island has started attracting visitors, mostly Thai, because of the viewpoints giving a glorious scene of the surrounding seas crashing against the rocks.
There are regular bus services from Bangkok’s Ekamai Bus Station to Chanthaburi. From there take a songtaew. It’s also fairly easy to get to from Pattaya or Rayong by bus.
5. Koh Adang
Koh Adang is part of the Koh Tarutao Marine Nation Park, and is the second largest island in the group.
It’s one of several islands that form the Adang Archipelago, but just a stone’s throw from the touristy Koh Lipe.
Despite it’s proximity to Koh Lipe, it’s a world away with none of the development and crowding that can be a problem for it’s neighbour in the high season.
Set in southern Thailand, the natural beauty of the area is awesome, and is one of the most stunning parts of Thailand.
Koh Adang is roughly four times the size of Koh Lipe but virtually untouched, largely as it’s part of a protected national park.
There is a hiking trail which will take you to the top of Adang’s highest point (690m), and any reasonably fit person can manage it.
There are three view points which offer wonderful views across the neighbouring islands, making the hike well worthwhile.
A lovely sandy beach with crystal clear water starts near the Park Ranger Station and runs for quite a way.
The other great, and remote, beaches are only accessible by renting a boat, as the terrain is too difficult for casual access.
There is a ‘proper’ resort on the beach, but otherwise it’s a matter of renting tents or basic bungalows at the Ranger Station.
The only practical way to get to Koh Adang is by hiring a boat to get there from Koh Lipe. The nearest airport to Koh Lipe is Hat Yai, several airlines have daily flights from Bangkok to Hat Yai. A shuttle bus from the airport gets you to Pak Bara pier for the ferry to Koh Lipe. Getting there is part of the adventure!
6. Koh Rawi
Koh Rawi is separated from Koh Adang by just 1km of crystal clear, coral reef filled sea but it’s almost completely deserted, despite it’s gorgeous beaches.
Roughly the same size as Koh Adang, it’s rocky interior is covered with dense jungle, and there are some steep cliffs in some coastal areas.
However, as mentioned there are some absolutely stunning beaches too.
From the main beach (Hat Saikhao) near the Ranger Station, you can hike up the hill to see the pretty “Pirate Falls”, or from Ao Leuk follow the trails to the highest point on the island for some wonderful vistas across the sea and surrounding islands.
Being mostly undisturbed by humans, there is a good amount of wildlife, including water monitors and various species of birds and snakes.
The Ranger Station has some fairly primitive toilets and showers, but there is no accommodation available.
Exactly the same as getting to Koh Adang (above).
7. Koh Phayam
Koh Phayam, located off the coast of Ranong, is the most commercial of all the islands on our list, but as the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ puts it -- DON’T PANIC!
While it’s not undiscovered, or totally unspoiled, it’s still a much less visited island than many others, has some great quiet beaches, snorkelling spots, and even occasionally some surfing.
The locals and visitors benefit from a ban on cars and trucks, so getting around is either by foot or motorcycle -- you can rent a motorbike or hire a motorcycle taxi to get around. The island isn’t very big so it’s no hassle.
The main beach at Ao Yai is very decent, but is also where most people seem to hang out, with some resorts and bars dotting the beachside, surfers catching a wave, and occasional beach parties. Despite that, it’s not crowded.
A quieter beach is a bit further away but not hard to get to at Ao Kao Kwai, great for relaxing and enjoying the sound of the water lapping on the soft sand.
Nearby is a creek that winds through the mangroves; you can rent a kayak and explore the forest environment.
Koh Phayam has several resorts from basic to pretty comfortable, so check your favourite booking site to see what’s available.
There are daily flights from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport to Ranong city on the mainland opposite the island. You can find transport at the airport to get you to the Phayam Pier on the edge of town.
8. Koh Kham
A dreamy desert island with beautiful sand beaches is everyone’s dream and someone was lucky enough to find it and buy it, meaning that pretty little Koh Kham is privately owned.
It OK to spend a day here but there’s no accommodation, and only one small hut selling drinks and a few snacks.
The sand is soft like fine powder, perfect for solitary sunbathing or a nap in the shade of a palm tree.
One part of the beach is a bit rocky which makes an ideal setting for some snorkelling (bring your own gear) to view the coral reefs and colourful marine life.
The single negative on Koh Kham is the remains of an unfinished hotel, which is slowly being reclaimed by the jungle. It’s a minor eyesore but it’s only in one spot. The rest of the island is pristine.
You can fly from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Trat airport on Bangkok Airways. From there take the minibus to the ferry terminal. The fare includes the crossing to the island of Koh Chang. Once there you’ll need to cross to Koh Mak and find a boatman to take you the final leg to Koh Kham. Book some accommodation on either Koh Chang or Koh Mak to be sure you’ll have a place to rest.
9. Koh Bulon Lae
Koh Bulon Lae sits in the crystal clear waters of the Andaman sea a little north of the Tarutao National Marine Park.
It’s one of those almost perfect islands with just enough development (by the local Moken inhabitants) to provide the basics you need, while ensuring this beautiful environment remains intact.
There is a small village, a school, and a tiny police station, but not much else.
A few simple resorts provide some basic but decent accommodation, although only one of those has electricity 24 hours a day, the rest provide it during the evening.
This is yet another beautiful island fringed by golden sands, with some easy hiking trails to explore the place.
It’s quiet place, with no wifi and spotty 4G reception. There is no nightlife, and no bars to speak of, but of course you can sit on the beach with a beer or two.
So, it makes the perfect get-away-from-it-all for those who want or need a break from so-called civilisation!
Koh Bulon Lae can be got to the same way as Koh Kham above.
10. Koh Kai
Koh Kai means ‘Chicken Island’, so called because of a rocky projection at one end that looks like the neck and head of a giant chicken.
It’s basically a series of steep cliffs covered in thick jungle, but also boasts stunning beaches and coral reefs.
This island, like hundreds of others in Thailand, is really beautiful, with lovely clear waters that allow you to see the coral and marine life.
There is no accommodation and overnight stays are not allowed, as it’s part of a protected national park.
One unique aspect is that at low tide you can walk across a sandbar to the small Koh Tup nearby. But beware that attempting the crossing during high tide is dangerous!
You can only visit on day trips from Krabi (which has many daily flights from both of Bangkok’s airports), so you will have a little company on your visit. Most tour agencies in Krabi should be able to book it for you.
Hopefully this has inspired you to get off the beaten track a bit on your travels. Have fun but stay safe!
Make sure you have travel insurance while visiting Thailand’s wonders. Medical care is world class but worldly expensive!