ISLAND HOPPING IN THAILAND (1)

The coastline along the Andaman Sea in Thailand has a dramatic scenery and lots of stunning islands just waiting to be explored. Many of them are large enough to stay at, but some are part of a national reserve and thus only accessible by day trips. In general, Thailand is a very cheap country, but this doesn’t apply to the west coast. Phuket and the surrounding islands such as Phi Phi island are the most expensive places in the whole country. Don’t be surprised to find prices doubled or sometimes tripled in peak seasons.

This shouldn’t keep you from visiting the area though. There are still plenty of ways to live and explore the beautiful surroundings without blowing your budget. For starters, consider staying in Krabi instead of Phuket. This place is cheaper and the surrounding landscape is prettier so it’s a win-win. Plus, it’s easy to get to Phuket if you want to visit both places.

MORE THAILAND TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND THAI PHRASES

HOW TO: ISLAND HOPPING IN THAILAND

There are several ways to visit the islands on the west coast. You can do it by day trips or simply stay overnight and then move on to the next island when you want. Most smaller islands don’t offer accommodation, but the larger ones do. If time isn’t an issue, this is perfectly doable, and I’ve done it myself several times. However, taking a day trip to one of several islands is a great way to combine the two.

The last time I visited the west coast, we stayed in Aonang, Krabi and took a tour around four islands for 400 Baht. The trip included lunch (Thai green curry, which was extremely tasty) and transportation with longtail boat and a guide. I was quite happy with this tour.

If you need help finding a great hotel in Thailand, check out Booking.com, which is my preferred booking site. They have good prices.

PHUKET

Most travelers use Phuket as a base to island hop. When you book a hotel there make sure to book at one of the beaches. Phuket town is 40 km away and most travelers stay at one of the main beaches:

Patong (party, young crowd)
Karon (family and snorkeling)
Kata (family and surfing)
Kamala (quiet and good for snorkeling)
Surin (luxury)
Bangtao (luxury and quiet)
Mai Khao (isolated)
Nai Harn (quiet and recommended by locals)

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand
Island hopping, Thailand
Island hopping, Thailand

They usually don’t bite

PODA ISLAND

Poda island is only a few kilometres from Krabi and part of a national park. There’s not much to do on the island apart from swimming and tanning. This, however, is enough to keep one occupied as the beach here is fabulous!

Where to stay nearby:

  • Phuket (more expensive hotels, perfect for all-inclusive stays)
  • Koh Lanta (cheap hostels and hotels, perfect for budget travelers)
  • Krabi (cheap hostels and hotels on small islands. Perfect for families and budget travelers)

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

CHICKEN ISLAND

Another great island is Chicken Island, which to me looks more like a turkey… or maybe a turtle? Anyway, this place has a gorgeous coral reef that you can snorkel around, and it’s included in the tour I mentioned above.

Where to stay nearby:

  • Phuket (more expensive hotels, perfect for all-inclusive stays)
  • Koh Lanta (cheap hostels and hotels, perfect for budget travelers)
  • Krabi (cheap hostels and hotels on small islands. Perfect for families and budget travelers)

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

RAILEY BEACH

Railey is a destination in itself and many tourists visit the island every year, especially Scandinavians. It’s mostly known for the rock climbing, and as you can see on the pictures below, you’ll get rocks aplenty. I did it in Vietnam and didn’t feel the urge to test myself again, so we decided to hang out on the beach and eat some roasted corn with butter and garlic. This was ridiculously tasty, not to mention cheap!

Where to stay:

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

TUB ISLAND

Only a short boat ride away, you’ll find Tub island. Tub is much smaller than the other islands in the group. Personally, I found this island to be better because it’s more remote and you can have the beach (almost) to yourself. The water is amazing, and it’s an excellent spot for snorkeling and spotting lots of tropical fish.

Where to stay nearby:

  • Phuket (more expensive hotels, perfect for all-inclusive stays)
  • Koh Lanta (cheap hostels and hotels, perfect for budget travelers)
  • Krabi (cheap hostels and hotels on small islands. Perfect for families and budget travelers)

Island hopping, Thailand

Island Hopping in Thailand

Island Hopping in Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Don’t be afraid to get in the water if you see any fish. They can’t harm you. Sometimes they nibble your toes and it tickles, but other than that, they’re harmless.

JAMES BOND ISLAND

Just north of Phuket, you’ll find James Bond Island, also known as Khao Phing Kan. It’s famous for featuring in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun from 1974 and for the 20-metre tall islet, Koh Tapu, which you can see on the picture below.

James Bond island is part of the Phang Nga Bay which covers an area of 400 sq km and is home to some 100 islands. If you take the tour from Phuket, you will most likely lunch at a muslim fishing village where the houses are built on stilts around a tall rocky island. Expect to pay between 1,000 and 2,000 Baht for a half day trip.

* Beware of your belongings during your stay there and never leave them out of sight! On our tour, a Swedish guy had his video camera stolen and our suspicious guide seemed to be in on it.

Phuket is the closest place to stay:

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

KOH PHI PHI

Phi Phi is probably the best known island on the west coast. It’s a popular site for travelers who have seen the movie or read the book The Beach. There are some beautiful corals and beaches in this group of islands, but much of it is gone today due to the many boats that go there every day.

Where to stay:

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

If you’re going to Phi Phi on a day trip, you should always negotiate! The more people you are, the more you can negotiate the price. It’s cheaper to buy a return ticket instead of two singles.

Here’s the price range from:

  • Krabi: 900 Baht
  • Phuket (speedboat): 3,100 Baht.

If you prefer to stay longer on the island, opt for the ferry which is the cheapest way to get from a to b. Here’s the price range from:

  • Krabi: 300 Baht
  • Koh Lanta: 350 Baht
  • Phuket: 650 Baht

KOH LANTA

We spent most of our honeymoon on Koh Lanta, and I found it much different from most of the other islands. First of all, it’s more quiet. You can choose to stay on a beach with lots of backpackers and easily find a party, but if you’re more into getting your own beach, you should be able to find that as well. The waters surrounding the island is magnificent and it’s a great place to swim.

You can reach Koh Lanta from Krabi, Phi Phi or Phuket, but this island is best suited for longer stays.

Where to stay:

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand
Island hopping, Thailand

Island hopping, Thailand

So, adventurers, have you been island hopping in Thailand?

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Everything you need to know about island hopping in Thailand

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Miriam

Travel blogger at Adventurous Miriam
I’m Miriam Risager, and this site has been my scrap-book, playground and home since 2013. I launched this blog as a way to share my journey, as well as share the hows, whys and wheres for other travelers.