I think when most people think about the islands and the beach in Thailand they immediately think of Phuket and the far south of Thailand. I didn’t get a chance to visit that region this past trip, but I did have a chance to visit the islands in the Gulf of Thailand and they were beautiful. These are the 3 reasons, or should I islands, you should visit the Gulf of Thailand.
Koh Tao is generally known as scuba diving central. I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to the island than the world renowned scuba diving you can do. There are tons of hikes, scenic viewpoints, and beaches to take advantage of. There is very much an island vibe on here. The people are really laid back and life is a lot slower in pace than you would see on the mainland.
I definitely recommend staying at the Goodtimes Beach Hostel, if the hostel life is your jam. Not sure its mine (that’s a story for another time) but this place was right on the Sairee beach and just a 5 minute walk from the swing above. The room I stayed in had a balcony that looked straight out to the water. It was beautiful.
You can also take a short trip to Koh Nang Yuan. Two small islands connected by a sand strip. Check out my blog post about it.
I really only was able to spend a night here, as it was my stop over before heading to Koh Tao. You have to fly into Koh Samui to reach the any of the islands in the Guif by ferry. This island is just as beautiful as the others in the area, but a little bit more touristy meaning less of that laid back island vibe that you get on say, Koh Tao.
There are so many beautiful temples that are must sees on Koh Samui. The Big Buddha, or as the locals call it Wat Phra Yai, is so large, that you can see when you fly into the island. Another highlight is definitely Wat Plai Laem, which is just a short drive from the Big Buddha. It is 3 very different, very ornate and very beautiful temples that make up this one temple, including another giant, happy Buddha (all 3 shown above).
I stayed at the 2W Beach Hostel, which I would definitely recommend to other backpackers mostly because of the woman, Katai, and her mom who run the hostel. I was struggling to figure out how to sightsee before catching my ferry to Koh Tao at 8am. Katai, graciously, offered to drive me and then told me to pay her whatever I’d like. Not only that, but she proceeded to be my personal photographer, even suggesting shots, my tour guide and got me to the ferry on time with a hug and a come back soon to boot!
If you stay here, make sure to sign the world map wall and look for my name (and my little hometown of La Canada, CA) on there! It’s really awesome to see how many people have stayed there and be in awe of how many countries people have traveled from.
Located in between Koh Samui and Koh Tao, Koh Phangan is literally party central. This island is the home to the infamous Full Moon parties that you here so much about. Even if there isn’t a full moon, I’ve heard that doesn’t put a damper on things by much. There’s apparently always something to celebrate on Koh Phangan - night long parties are a nightly occurrence.
The ferry here from Koh Samui is just about an hour long.
I’m still looking forward to see Phuket, Krabi and Koh Phi Phi in southern Thailand one day, but I am so glad I was able to visit the Gulf of Thailand. I only wish I could’ve spent more time there.
Yours Truly // Shannon