The ‘Hidden Gem’ Island Hopping Guide Of Thailand


Thailand is the home to many beautiful islands with stunning beaches, coconut palm trees and turquoise waters. Most islands in Thailand cluster together to form larger island groups, which makes Thailand a perfect destination to go island hopping.

Millions of people visit Thailand every year, so most of the prominent islands tend to get very crowded. And in the worst case scenario are over the years even ruined by tourism. So if you want to discover more of the unknown places in Thailand, go off-the-beaten-track and love to explore islands with nobody around. Look no further. With this list of hidden gems islands in Thailand, we’ve got you covered!

Is island hopping in Thailand on your bucket list? Let us know below in the comments.

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Koh Panak – Island hopping hidden gem

Koh Panak is one of the most beautiful hidden islands in Thailand. Secret caves and inland seas are some of the most prominent attractions in Koh Panak. Even though the landscape is breathtaking, not many people know about this island, which makes it. It is ideal for travellers who like to experience a bit of adventure on their trip to Thailand. The island is still under development, so there aren’t any classy hotels in the area for accommodation. You might even have trouble finding network signals for your mobile phone. The perfect off-the-beaten-track island hopping experience in Thailand.

The island is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. Spending a day at the beach in Koh Panak might not be as simple as other parts of Thailand as you might have to climb or kayak to reach some of the more hidden beaches on the island.

How to get to Koh Panak?

Koh Panak lies north of Phuket. The quickest way to get to this hidden gem is to hire a boat from the Klong Khien Pier on the mainland just north of Phuket.

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Koh Yao Noi – Luxury island hopping spot

Thailand has its fair share of luxury islands. Phuket is one of the most prominent luxury islands in Thailand and probably the reason why it’s always crowded in Phuket. If you want to enjoy a calm but luxurious island experience in Thailand, then you should hop your way to Koh Yao Noi. Located just a few miles away from Phuket. Koh Yao Noi is a paradise. The beaches in Koh Yao Noi are calm and quiet and with nobody around… Doesn’t that sound amazing?

The beach resorts on Koh Yao Noi are relatively more expensive than other hidden islands gems in Thailand. So don’t forget to bring some extra cash for your island hopping adventure to Koh Yao Noi.

How to get to Koh Yao Noi?

You can rent a boat from Phuket to Koh Yao Noi. It will take around 30 minutes for you to reach Koh Yao Noi from Phuket.

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FUN FACT: Koh means ‘island’ in Thai. So that’s why all the islands start with the Koh

Koh Jum – Tranquil island hopping place

Koh Jum is a small and beautiful island in Thailand. It’s home to some of the best beaches in the entire country. And this island is unique to other islands. Buddhist cultures and rituals dominate Thailand, whereas the population of Koh Jum is Muslim. This gives the local culture on Koh Jum something unique and different compared to other islands in Thailand.

The island isn’t that developed; however, you can still find some outstanding beach resorts here. And its less expensive as Koh Yao Noi. There are a lot of different activities you can do on Koh Jum within a limited budget. This shows that travelling to a hidden gem in Thailand doesn’t have to be expensive.

If your looking for these features than this hidden gem is perfect for you!

The beaches in Koh Jum are tranquil, which makes it a fantastic place to enjoy Thailand without getting distracted by crowds of people. It is one island that should be on your island hopping schedule.

How to get to Koh Jum?

Koh Jum is close to a lot of famous islands so to get to Koh Jum is quite easy. You can take the ferry from Krabi, Koh Lipe, Phuket, Koh Lanta, Ko Phi Phi. And the best way to explore the island is to hire a scooter/moped.

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Island hopping koh tao

Koh Lipe – Island hopping diving spot!

Koh Lipe is another great hidden gem in Thailand. It’s a small island in the south of Thailand near the Malaysian border and Tarutao National Marine Park. The cliché of a tropical island is true; you can expect white sandy beaches, beautiful coconut trees and amazing turquoise waters at Koh Lipe.

The beaches Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach and Pattaya Beach, are the main beaches and of course, are stunning. And the coral reefs are easy to reach from these beaches which makes Koh Lipe excellent for snorkel lovers and divers. The 8-mile Rock, Sting Ray City, Yong Hua Shipwreck are a few of the leading dive points at Koh Lipe.

You can expect a good variety of accommodation for every budget on Koh Lipe as this hidden gem is starting to become more popular with travellers. But it’s still relatively unknown compared to the go-to islands like Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui and other somewhat overcrowded Thailand islands. It’s also a bit further away from everything else in Thailand, so a lot of people have no time or want to put in the effort to travel to this southern part of Thailand.

How to get to Koh Lipe?

In high season (November-May) it’s very easy to get to Koh Lipe with speedboats and ferries leaving from Krabi Town, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Lanta, Pakbara and Trang. So you easily include Koh Lipe in your island-hopping schedule. In low season there is only one ferry leaving from Pakbara to Koh Lipe.

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Koh Lipe Thailand

Koh Phayam

Koh Phayam is Thailand’s secret island in the Andaman seas. It is a tranquil island because there are no cars around. Yeah. It is a simple island and great to go off-the-beaten-track. The island has stunning white sand beaches and fantastic wind conditions for surfers. Other than surfing an enjoying an amazing time at the beaches of Ao Yai (Long Bay) or Ao Khao Kwai (Buffalo Bay), you can also fish in the waters off the shore of Koh Phayam.

This island is an excellent opportunity to travel back in time and experience what Koh Samui was 50 years ago. In Long Bay, which is the best beach to go surfing, is also the best place to look for more budget-friendly accommodations. At Buffalo Bay, you’ll find more luxuries resorts. Visit cool bars like the local Hippy Bar. This bar is also known as the Shipwreck bar because it built inside a shipwreck. Or go to Rasta Baby bar for a night ‘out’ in Koh Phayam.

How to get to Koh Phayam?

You can reach Koh Phayam through many different ways, including bus, ferry, and plane. Koh Phayam island located in the province of Ranong. You can fly from Bangkok to Ranong, and from there you can take a bus to the Ranong pier. If your travelling light, you can hire motorbike or motorbike taxi to get to the pier as well. From the Ranong Pier, you can get on a ferry (2 hours) or take the speedboat (45 mins) to Koh Phayam for the price between 200 – 500 baht.

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Koh Phayam

Bamboo Island – Koh Mai Phai

Bamboo island is also known as Koh Mai Phai. It is a small island which is usually very quiet however in peak season its white sandy beach can sometimes get very crowded. Bamboo Islands has bright and clean water, which allows you to look at some of the unique marine life that is native to the island.

It is also a popular destination for water sports, especially snorkelling and diving. The only downside is that you have to pay for a boat tour to get to Koh Mai Phai. So if you want to get to this peace of Thailand paradise, you’ll have to book a tour from Phuket, Phi Phi islands or Krabi.

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Ko Muk

Ko Muk is another heavenly island in Thailand. Farang beach is the most popular attraction in Ko Muk. You can find a lot of different beach restaurants and bars on the coastline. These restaurants offer some of the best food in all of Thailand. The wind is also strong in this part of the island, which is perfect for surfers and kayakers.

The Emerald Cave is another unique attraction on Ko Muk island. You have to swim through the hidden entrance of the cave to get to the other side where you will find one of the most amazing beaches in the country. If you are an adventure seeker, then you should put Ko Muk on your list of places to visit while you are on your island hopping tour in Thailand.

How to get to Ko Muk?

If you are in Bangkok and you want to visit Ko Muk, then it would take you around three to four hours to get there. First, you’ll have to board a plane from Bangkok to Trang. Once you reach Trang, you can get in a minivan to go to Kuan Thung Khu Pier in a very short time. From there you can get a ferry to Ko Muk. You can also hire a boat to Ko Muk from the nearby island Koh Lipe. Island hopping from Koh Lipe to Ko Muk is a great way to spend your time in Thailand.

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Koh Kood

Koh Kood is the fifth biggest island of Thailand but one of the country’s most underdeveloped islands. So if you want to travel back-in-time Koh Kood is your go-to island while you’re hopping around Thailand. It’s 40 km’s of the mainland and close to the border of Cambodia. The best attraction in Koh Kood is its natural beauty with beautiful beaches, clear blue water and lush green jungle in the middle of the island. And the best things is, it is never crowded.

The most scenic beach is Bang Bao beach, and other great beaches on the island are Klong Chao beach, Ngamkho Beach and Ao Noi. You can visit the Klong Chao waterfall and the two fishing villages, Ao Salad and Ao Yai, but other than that there isn’t very much to do on Koh Kood. If your a nature lover and don’t want to be distracted from anything else, Koh Kood is the island for you. There is a variety of accommodations on the island from budget-friendly to more upmarket resorts.

How to get to Koh Kood?

Between November – May boats run daily to Koh Kood from Koh Chang via Koh Mak. Or you can catch the boat at Laem Sok Pier 30 minutes south of Trat on the mainland. Costs for a ticket are around 400 Bath per person. Keep in mind that in the rainy season it can get rough sometimes.

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Koh Wai

You don’t find busy traffic at Koh Wai so like most of the other lesser known islands in Thailand Koh Wai’s air is clean due to the lack of traffic. It is an underdeveloped island where the only place to get Wi-Fi is in the two restaurants on the island. There are no asphalt roads on the island. If you are planning on visiting Koh Wai, then you should bring your power banks with you because the island does not have any electricity.

If you are someone who prefers a quiet and relaxing travelling experience, then Koh Wai is the place for you. The best way to get to Koh Wai is to put it on your island hopping schedule along with Ko Chang, Ko Kut and Ko Mak. Boat tours only get operational during the peak season, so if you are travelling to Koh Wai during the offseason, you will have to hire your own private boat.

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Ko Samet Thailand

Ko Samet

Party people where you at!? Ko Samet is your place to be. It’s famous for its vibrant nightlife.

Ko Samet is named after the Samet trees (Thai for cajeput trees). The clear turquoise water and Samet trees make Ko Samet a very scenic destination. And it has everything you need from beautiful beaches, fun activities to do and a great nightlife.

The island is mostly not that crowded during the week. However, on the weekends it is very difficult to find reservations for any hotel or beach resort because a lot of local Thai will visit Koh Samet during the weekend.

Nightlife Ko Samet

Naga Bar is one of the most popular bars and stays open till late, very late. Audi bar is another fantastic bar in Ko Samet however the best spot to enjoy the nightlife is Saikaew Beach. And Ploy Talay has an amazing fire show at night. You should definitely have Ko Samet on your island hopping tour through Thailand if you’re in a party mood.

Thailand fire show

How to get to Ko Samet?

Ko Samet is a 3-hour drive from Bangkok. So if you don’t have enough time to go to the southern part of Thailand Koh Samet is a great option. Go to the Ban Phe Ferry Pier on the mainland and get on the ferry to Ko Samet which will take about 30 minutes.

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Thailand’s Hidden Gem islands

Thailand has so many beautiful islands. So instead of travelling to the most popular tourist destinations, add some hidden gems in your island hopping itinerary. These islands might not be as modern as Phuket, but they all have their unique attractions and qualities. So which island is in your list to travel? Let us know below in the comments!

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Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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