If you want to keep things super simple there are two main sides to Thailand – the North of Thailand with the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and the jungle cities of Chang Mai and Pai and the South, where island hopping and stunning beaches are the order of the day.
From getting your open water dive course on Koh Tao to relaxing in a luxury Koh Samui house rentals – the Eastern Thai Islands are a stunning place to explore and should certainly feature in your Thailand travel plans.
So to help you choose which ones you should check out here’s my mini guide to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao…
Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao – My East Coast Thai Island Mini Guide
The most Southern of the 3 islands Koh Samui is also the only one which can be reached by plane – which makes it the ideal starting point for anyone wanting to fly in and head straight to the beach or finish up and bounce onwards to your next country…or back home!
Because of the fact it’s a hub for flights Samui is packed full of resorts and personally I think it lacks the personality and vibes of the other two islands – as it’s much more geared up for families and high end travel than backpacking.
That being said though there’s plenty to see and do – including Wat Plai Laem Temple, Big Buddha Temple and even the weird rock formations of Grandma and Grandpa rocks…which are basically natural stone formations resemble a giant willy and vagina!haha!
Koh Samui is also the closest island to the mainland too, so if you’re looking to break up the onward journey to spots like Railay or Phi Phi or are heading south down to Malaysia it’s worth considering.
Out of all the islands in Thailand Koh Phangan is arguably the most famous – due to the huge draw of the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan – which draws over 30,000 travellers and partiers to the island each month.
If you love smashing bucket of booze, dancing until the sun comes up and mingling with a huge array of people from all over the world it’s definitely something you should experience at least once, just play it safe!
Even though Koh Phangan is most renowned for the chaos of Haad Rin Beach and the Full Moon Party it’s much much more than that and the north of the island has some incredible beaches to explore.
Spots like Bottle Beach offer a much slower pace of life and are a far cry from the floor paint fuelled carnage of Haad Rin. So if you have time after recovering make sure you check out more of what Koh Phangan has to offer!
Out of the 3 main islands on Thailands East Coast Koh Tao is certainly my favourite and I’ve visited there numerous times over the years.
Koh Tao is the most Northerly of the 3 islands and you can easily reach it from Bangkok with an overnight bus/ferry or train/ferry combo.
The huge draw of Koh Tao is the fact it’s one of the cheapest places on the planet to complete your open water dive course, which will set you back roughly £200 including 3 nights accommodation!
As a result the island is very dive centric, with plenty of dive centres to choose from (personally I always recommend Big Blue Diving) and there are a whole heap of dive sites to enjoy no matter what your level – including Chumphon Pinnacle (my favourite) where you might ever be lucky enough to see some whale sharks!
Although Sairee Beach is the main backpacker hub, with heaps of street food, restaurants and beach bars to choose from make sure you take the time to explore some of the more secluded beaches around the island too.
The twin islands of Nang Yuan are worth checking out too, just make sure you put in the effort to hike to the view point and if you want something a bit more unusual in your itinerary make sure you head to the Ladyboy Cabaret too!
At the end of the day all three island offer up epic beaches, laid back vibes, sunshine (most of the time) and have a broad range of things to do and places to stay that suit all budgets – it’s just a case of picking the islands that suit what you want from your trip!
…and then of course there’s the West Coast with spots like Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, Railay and the Similan Islands…but that’s another post!