When travelling Thailand, it is very common to explore the vast islands that the country holds. I have read there’s 1430 islands of Thailand, I’m not sure we’ll ever know if this is accurate or not! There’s a few islands which are well travelled, offering the beautiful coastline but the benefit of easy access, eateries and westernised facilities. We had eight nights to enjoy as much as we could, here’s a run down of both what we did, the successes and anything that I would suggest having tried and tested this route.
Koh Yao Yai
Our journey began in Koh Yao Yai and we travelled here from Bangkok. A lot of travellers will find themselves travelling to Bangkok and then down south. Bangkok has two international airports and we used Don Muang airport to travel down south. Within an hour we were landed in Phuket airport. We then travelled twenty minutes by taxi to the pier to head across to Koh Yao Yai. The main reason we travelled here was due to our resort being based on this island, it was more a fortunate surpise than anything else! Koh Yao Yai doesn’t offer too much to do but the coastline and the nature here was unbeatable! If you are looking for a romantic or a relaxing stay in Thailand, I couldn’t recommend Santhiya resort more, find a full review here.
Koh Yao Yai – Phuket
Travelling between these two islands is very simple and only takes around thirty minutes by speedboat. There’s several piers to enter Phuket so double check it’s a pier within the area you want to be. We wanted to see the Old Town so Rassada Pier was our best option.
We took a day trip to Phuket from Koh Yao Yai. Travelling between the two was relatively simple, we took a twenty minute taxi from the hotel to the pier. From the pier we took a speed boat across to Rassada pier and a taxi to the Old Town. We started in the Old Town as it has such a unique feel, something I did not expect to find in Thailand! Find a full post on our trip to the Old Town here.
Phuket – Koh Phi Phi
The travel to Koh Phi Phi was very easy, a lot of people head to Phi Phi so the pier and the ferry heading that way were the biggest and best we encountered. We found our way to Rassada pier and waited for our ferry. We were given stickers and tickets so we knew where we were going. Somehow we ended up with first class tickets which allowed us to sit at the front on these sofas, it was super quiet up front so we laid down and caught up with some sleep! Once the ferry approaches Phi Phi, someone came around and asked us where we were staying, they gave us a sticker to say we were going to Holiday Inn and informed us to not get off at the first stop. The first stop was at Tonsai pier to the South of the island, we stayed on and the boat headed around the coast towards the North. The ferry then stopped and we had to queue in line with our resort guide and each resort had a long boat for you to hop on to to take you to shore. Simples!
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is the island I had heard most often and that almost made me skip it. It’s known for being a party island, but I tell you after visiting, they all offer full moon parties if you want it and if you don’t, I wasn’t woken up by noise once on the entire trip so don’t let it put you off! Koh Phi Phi is a essentially a long thin island where the middle is unusable as it is all natural rock and forest. As we were staying at a resort, we were based to the North of the island. Find a full review on our resort here. The main strip including all the eateries, shops, convenience stores and ports for larger ferries are based at the South end. To get from our resort to the ‘town’ we had to take a long boat each time which, although beautiful, took time and cost. There were certainly perks to being in the North of the island with the quieter beaches but for a short stop, I would recommend finding accommodation to the South to save the hassle of getting a boat each time you want to nip to the shop. Koh Phi Phi is actually a set of islands, Koh Phi Phi Don is the island you stay on and Koh Phi Phi Le is just off the Southern tip and is uninhabitable. Koh Phi Phi Le is well known for offering mind blowing scenes, from the steep rock formations to the turquoise lagoons, we went off on a half day long boat tour of what it had to offer. The waves were rough when we went out so we were unable to head to the West of the island where Maya Bay and Monkey Beach are but we did get to see a beautiful lagoon and hop off on a sandy bay to enjoy the warmest waters and a few monkeys did stop by to say Hello!
Koh Phi Phi – Koh Samui
Heading between these islands includes travelling across the mainland. In order to get there we had to take a boat from the North of Phi Phi to Tonsai pier, hop on a ferry at Tonsai to take us to Krabi, get onto a coach at Krabi to Donsak pier in Sarat Thani and finally a ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. In total this took us eight hours but was pretty comfortable the whole way. The routes between islands are exceptionally well organised, they give you stickers highlighting your location and the company you’re travelling with and all staff seem to know where you need to go.
The next leg of our trip saw us head to the Eastern side of Thailand to one of the biggest islands, Koh Samui. Koh Samui was a wildcard for us, it wasn’t mentioned too much in the guides I had read but it was photographs of the temples at Wat Plai Laem that completely sold me. Find a full review and guide to Koh Samui here.
Overall, my advise for a island hopping adventure would be: two nights near Phuket, two nights on Koh Phi Phi, two nights in Koh Samui and one night on Koh Tao. We found that Phuket was do-able in a day so find somewhere around that area and explore for the second day, worth taking a boat out to James Bond Island. Two nights on Koh Phi Phi was enough due to the difficulty in access anywhere and definitely take a long boat out to Koh Phi Phi Le. Koh Samui was our favourite, so two nights minimum over on the East here and a day trip or one night on Koh Tao for the fantastic views and diving.
I hope this is helpful! Any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.