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A Guide to Island Hopping in Thailand

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

The Thai islands are one of the most beautiful places to visit and luckily are also one of the cheapest! There a ton of islands, each with something different to offer. So how do you pick? In this guide to island hopping in Thailand, I’ll walk you through four of the more popular islands to visit. I’ve included which area to stay in, what to do, and how to get around. Read to the end to receive a free bonus!

A Guide to Island Hopping in Thailand

Your complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

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Phuket

Phuket (pronounced poo-ket) is the main big island that you’ll want to fly directly into. Not gonna lie, this isn’t the most amazing island. But you need to start here as this will be your base for flying in and out. Once you land at the airport, grab a metered taxi at the stand outside and it’s about a 45 minute to one hour drive to Patong. It’ll cost you around $15 usd.

Tips for solo travel

Where to Stay

You won’t want to stay in Phuket for more than a day or two, but while you’re here, stay in Patong. This is a resort-y beach town with plenty to do and great nightlife. One of the best things about Thailand is that it is insanely cheap! So take advantage of staying in nicer hotels for an affordable price. You can stay at a 4-star beach front hotel for $60 usd! I booked an amazing beach front hotel, with a luxurious pool and swim-up bar for only $68 per night through Expedia.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Patong Beach, Phuket

What to do

It’s a beach town, so go to the beach! It’s fairly clean and the water is so warm! There aren’t any waves and it doesn’t get very deep, so this is a great spot to go in the water if you’re normally afraid of the ocean. One thing you absolutely have to do in Thailand is get a massage. You can get a full hour massage for $5 – $8 usd! Patong beach has a little massage stand right on the beach so you can watch the sunset while getting a relaxing rub down with local coconut oil. Don’t worry, you’ll be in your bathing suit because it’s an open air massage parlor. Try a fish spa while you’re here. You soak your feet in a little spa filled with tiny fish that eat the bacteria off your feet! It tickles a lot so be prepared.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Fish Spa

A must-do while in Patong is check out Bangla Road. It is the heart of Phuket nightlife, but essentially is an attraction. Wandering down this road at night, you’ll find it lined with bars and nightclubs and loud music pumping all the way down. There will be a lot of promoters trying to convince you to come to their club or to the infamous ping pong show (don’t go to this!). There are also side roads that branch off Bangla Road leading to the heart of the sex industry – bars with scantily clad Thai women and dancing girls. Come to Bangla Road with an open mind, but if you feel uncomfortable then just head back out. The bars on the main road are fun and suitable for most people.

Koh Phi Phi

You’ve probably had enough of the touristy Phuket and are ready for the true island experience. Book a ferry out of Rassada Pier to Koh Phi Phi (pronounced Ko-Pee-Pee). You can do this online through Phuket Ferry. Your hotel should be able to call you a taxi to take you straight there or you can book transportation services through the ferry website.

Where to Stay

There are a few different areas on the main island to stay, so it will depend on your preference. If you prefer to be centrally located with easy access to everything, you’ll want to stay in the Phi Phi Don Central Area. You can walk to your accommodation from the pier, all the restaurants, shops, and salons are located right there, and you have easy access to the beach. It does get crowded but the nightlife here is amazing and you have a ton of options in terms of activities.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Koh Phi Phi

The other areas of Koh Phi Phi are a bit harder to get to as there are no vehicles allowed on the island. This means that once you land at the ferry pier, you have to take a long tail boat to your accommodation, which could take anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes. Also if the weather isn’t good, you might have a problem finding someone to take you! But the benefits of staying away from the central area are a cleaner beach, less tourists, and a more secluded, relaxing feel. You’ll be able to enjoy an array of nautical activities, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. Unfortunately, you’re very limited on choices for restaurants and other entertainment options.

What to Do

You’ll never be bored when staying in Koh Phi Phi as there are so many fun things to do here! Aside from enjoying the beach and the water activities, there are plenty of day trips to the surrounding Phi Phi Islands that I highly recommend.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Maya Bay, “The Beach”

A boat trip out to Maya Bay is a popular choice as this beach was made famous from the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Looking for some wildlife? Head out to Monkey Beach where you’ll get to hang out with tons of little monkeys running amok on the beach. Always wanted to scuba dive but it was too expensive? Book a Fun Dive! You’ll get a short lesson on how to dive and then with an instructor you’ll scuba in multiple areas for about 45 minutes each.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Islands

Koh Samui

Once you’ve spent a few days in the amazing Koh Phi Phi, you’re ready to head over to the popular island of Koh Samui. You’ll need to take the ferry over to Krabi which is on the mainland, take a bus ride to the other side, then hop on another ferry to Koh Samui. Just google Koh Phi Phi to Koh Samui and you’ll be presented with websites to book your transportation. This is an all day trip, so be sure to plan for this.

Where to Stay

Chaweng is one of the more popular areas to stay on Koh Samui. It consists of a gorgeous beach and great nightlife. This a great choice as there is plenty to do and see here and is suitable for all vacationers. I’d recommend Chaweng for young travelers looking for nightlife.

Choeng Mon is best for families looking for a nice beach with plenty of family-friendly activities. Bophut is good for nightlife and Lamai is best for those looking for luxury.

What to Do

My recommendation is to stay in Chaweng so I’ll speak to what you should do here. The main attraction is the pristine beach with it’s powdery, white sand. Sun-bathe, get massages, swim in the warm water, or rent a kayak! At night, there are beach parties which are an absolute must do! Thai men put on fire shows and get the crowd engaged in fire jump roping. You can sit on the beach bean bags while servers bring you drinks or hookahs.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Fire Show on Koh Samui

A great activity to do on Koh Samui is to take a Thai cooking class. Thai food is unbelievably good, so bringing those skills back home with you would be priceless. Get tickets to a Muay Thai boxing match, Thailand’s national sport. These are high energy fights, sure to please any male traveler. Ready for some nightlife? Head to Soi Green Mango. The bars on this street are open late into the night and early morning, so it’s a good idea to head here after the beach party shuts down.

Koh Tao

Last stop on the island hopping tour is Koh Tao, also known as Turtle Island. This is a tiny little island that doesn’t get too touristy, but still has a lot to offer. From Koh Samui you’ll need to take a ferry over to Koh Tao, which can be booked at Ferry Samui.

Where to Stay

Stay in Sairee Beach. This is the most popular area and where most backpackers stay. Because Koh Tao isn’t very touristy, you’ll have days where the beach is completely empty. There are plenty of little hotels and bungalows along the beach as well as further inland, and of course they are all quite cheap. Opt for a beachfront hotel for ease of access.

Complete Thailand island hopping itinerary

Koh Tao

What to Do

Koh Tao has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in all of Thailand. Plan to do one of these here! If you have ever considered getting scuba certified, Koh Tao is the place to do it. It’s incredibly cheap and so worth it. Eat at a beach front restaurant or get a massage on the beach. Meals will cost a couple dollars person and massages are $5 – $8 usd. Take advantage of this! Get a massage everyday, at that price – why not?!

Take a half day trip over to Koh Nang Yuan, which is a very short long-tail boat ride from Sairee Beach. This tiny island has an amazing viewpoint that is worth the short, but intense hike. Snorkeling is a must-do here as the water is crystal clear.

Guide to Island Hopping in Thailand

Koh Nang Yuan

Spend time on the amazing beach. This is probably the softest sand you will ever feel. The water is crystal clear and is so warm, you will want to spend hours just relaxing in the water feeling the incredibly soft sand between your toes. At night, there is a fun beach party similar to those in Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui. Thai men put on mesmerizing fire shows while you chill in a beach bean bag with your tropical drinks.

 




A Guide to Island Hopping in Thailand

Leaving Koh Tao, it’s best to take the ferry back to Koh Samui and fly directly into Phuket. Flights are cheap so a one-way ticket won’t cost you much. There are so many islands in Thailand and you should absolutely explore them all. Each has a unique culture and different vibe. Personally, my favorite island is Koh Tao which provides the feeling of seclusion and great nightlife, along with the best beach I’ve ever been to.

Work with Me

Need help finding a cheap flight to Thailand? Or would you like some guidance on how to plan for a solo trip? Please comment below or email me directly at contact@thefreckledtourist.com. Check out my Work With Me page for more info on pricing.

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