There is nothing quite like the Thai islands in the Andaman sea – or the “Thaislands” as I like to call them! Coral white beaches, crystal clear waters and dramatic limestone cliffs all add to this paradise area of Thailand.
There are a quite a few islands in the Andaman sea, all with different things to offer. Check out my tips on how to get your own private beach and much more!
I didn’t find too many airbnb’s in this area so if you’re after cheap accommodation I would recommend using booking.com – create an account using my link to get a 10% refund from your first stay!
Side note – expect to pay an “entrance fee” of 10 baht per person to Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
You will most probably pass through Bangkok, so make sure you check out my blog post on the Top 8 Things to Do in Bangkok.
KOH PHI PHI
My personal favourite of the Thaislands in the Andaman sea. Koh Phi Phi Don is the inhabited island and is such a cosy community. Most accomodation is huddled around the pier so it’s easy to sleep, eat and enjoy the beach in one place.
If you want to try to get a beach to yourself I would recommend hireing a kayak (about 500 baht for 3 hours – you can rent them on the other side of the bar to the pier). Go out in the early morning (most people seem to hire after 10am and for sunset) and kayak for 40 mins to reach a deserted beach only accessible by water, known as Ao Nui. Just look at this beach!
Don’t miss out on trekking up the hill to the viewpoints over this gorgeous island. Warning though there are a lot of steps! And you’ll need to pay a 30 baht entrance fee. Head here an sunset for an even better view!
If you’re on Koh Phi Phi you probably plan to visit Maya bay made famous by Dicaprio’s “The Beach”. This beach is located on Koh Phi Phi Leh, an uninhabited island. As I’m sure you can imagine there are loads of tours operating here ranging from 500 baht upwards, plus you are expected to pay an additional 400 baht just to enter Maya Bay. You might have read to go early to avoid the crowds but now there are so many boats offering these “beat the crowds” tours leaving at 6am that the beach is always packed. For a sizeable fee you can camp on the beach and at least this way you might be able to experience it a bit more empty like Dicaprio did all those years ago. The best thing to do is to expect the beach to be crowded and go on a tour that is cheap and includes other things (such as snorkling – just amazing). Maya bay is definitely NOT the most beautiful beach in Thailand (even without all the tourists, boats and trash), just look at Ao Nui above! Sometimes the best kind of paradise is one you find on your own.
Be warned that a few boat tours cannot actually enter into Maya bay and thus you will need to climb a net and walk through jungle to get there.
So much bigger than Koh Phi Phi it has less of an island feel but was still fun to explore and the beaches were pretty empty.
You will definitely need to hire a scooter (200 baht a day) or car (1000 baht a day) to get around this larger island and beware that the roads can get quite steep.
Don’t miss out on Khlong Chak Waterfall for a refreshing shower, Nui Bay and Bamboo beach.
My favourite beach on Koh Lanta was another deserted one! Located within Mu Ko Lanta National Park (200 baht entry fee), I don’t think many travellers know this exists and with the multiple swings on the beach and the lighthouse on the peninsular it is such a beautiful site!
This is the place where a lot of backpackers come to party due to its renowned go-go bars and ladyboy cabaret shows as well as live bands and international DJs. It’s a huge island though so there is something for everyone. There are many different places to stay -if you’re looking to party I’d recommend Patang to the west;
I stayed down in the south in Rawai as I’d heard it was quiet and less touristy. It was definitely that but the beach itself was not ideal as it was basically just a place to dock boats. However it seems that the best beaches are actually on the smaller islands surrounding Phuket. Check out tours to Banana Beach on Coral island (pictured – around 1500 baht for a boat) and James Bond island.
(Be warned taxis from the airport are super expensive so maybe try to sort something different out).
KRABI AND RAILAY BEACH
Railay beach is on a peninsular with no roads so although it is not technically an island it certainly has that vibe. Accomodation is pretty expensive here and the area is only accessible by water. I personally chose to stay in Krabi town, an easy 150 baht longtail boat ride away, and where all the main transports to the rest of Thailand come in and out of (plus lots of cheap accomodation).
If you visit Railay beach don’t forget your trainers! There is an amazing adventurous climb up and then down to the princess lagoon and viewpoint. It’s about a 2 hour round trip and can get quite muddy so not for the faint hearted! I say bring trainers but the climb is completely possible barefoot which I say from experience!
You can also take a peak inside the princess cave (on Railay beach). Here, Thai fishermen leave offerings to the fabled princess of the cave in the hope that she will grant them propserity…
The beach is quite crowded and you don’t get sun on half the beach until about 11am. I would recommend hiring kayaks or waiting for the tide to go out a bit and wading through the sea to the little island you can see pictured below.
Enjoy your time in the beautiful islands of the Andaman sea!
If you’re interested in learning more about my spendings for my 7 month trip, check out my blog “How to Travel on a Budget in Asia“.
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