The 5 Best Thailand Islands to Visit Before You Turn 30

5 Thailand Islands You Must visit before you turn 30

I spent a month in Thailand, and had the most amazing time. Luckily I was able to get off from work for an entire month. (I have the best job sometimes, I swear!) I had bought a ticket to Thailand because I found a deal for $475 round trip from JFK-BKK. 4 Months later I was in South East Asia again. It was like I was home. I was set on seeing the best Thailand islands to visit.

I spent my last 2 weeks island hopping while in Thailand. Jumping from island to island is incredibly easy. Each island has ferries that leave a few times a day, going to different islands and doesn’t cost very much at all.

Every island has its own vibe with amazing food to eat, and locals who love to show you how create their island home is to surrounding islands. You’ll seen families playing on beaches, as well as backpackers hanging out in hostels soaking in the sand. You don’t need many days on each island, but you’ll want to spend your whole trip on each island.

Here’s my list of the 5 best Thailand islands you must visit before your 30 (or whenever you get here).

1. Koh Phi Phi – The Party Pirate’s Paradise

Traditional Thailand boat at Koh Phi Phi

First stop, the legendary Koh Phi Phi! Every night, the hotels on beach throw parties at night where you can relax in the sand and sip on a drink. You can listen to DJs mixing popular hits and watch entertainment from acrobats to fire dancers. To get there, hop on a ferry from Phuket or Krabi. Accommodations vary from lively hostels at $15 to beachfront bungalows at $100. As for food, you can devour street pad Thai for $2 or dine at a beachfront restaurant for around $15. Koh Phi Phi – where the beach parties are as wild as your travel tales.

Facts about Koh Phi Phi:

  • Hostel to bungalow: Nightly accommodation starts at $15 in hostels to $100 for beachfront bungalows.
  • Eats on a dime: Delicious street pad Thai from $2, dining beachfront from $15.
  • Kid-friendly beaches: Gentle waves perfect for tiny swimmers and sandy spots for castle building.
  • Optimal season: Avoid the crowds by visiting in May or October, just before and after peak season.

Personal Tip: I discovered a small, family-run eatery (“Mama’s Kitchen,” I called it), hidden away from the main beaches. It became my daily sanctuary, a place where genuine smiles and spicy curries were always on the menu.

2. Koh Samui – The Coconut Connoisseur’s Haven

Next up, Koh Samui! Fly directly to the island or catch a ferry from Surat Thani. Koh Samui is the quintessential spot for a family getaway—from its coconut groves to its soft sandy beaches. Kids love being able to play on the beach. The laid-back atmosphere from lots of other island make this a family go-to destination. Here are some reasons it stands out:

  • Family size accommodation: Charming guesthouses at $25 to spacious luxury resorts at $200.
  • Feasting on a budget: Try the local street food scene with dishes starting at $3.
  • Activities galore: From safe snorkeling spots to interactive cultural experiences for the whole family.
  • Travel tip: Visit between late December and April when rainfall is minimal.

3. Phuket – The Thrill-Seeker’s Oasis

Picture of a beach on Thailand

Phuket, baby! Think of it like New York City’s Time Square, but on a tropical island beach. There’s so many things to do while here. Take in a few shows (yes they have family safe shows), eat at some amazing restaurant, and enjoy nightlife like none other in Thailand. Fly into Phuket International Airport for a seamless arrival. Hotels offer choices from budget hostels at $20 to swanky resorts at $300. Gobble down a bowl of pho for $3 or dine in style with seafood platters for $25. Phuket – where adventure and luxury meet at the beach.

Phuket is so popular that you should make a few days stop here. After all, it’s part of the best Thailand islands to visit while here.

Families and party-goers alike flock to Phuket, the island that truly never sleeps. With attractions ranging from family-friendly shows to vibrant night markets, it’s like the Times Square of tropical destinations. Here are some reasons why Phuket is a must-visit:

  • Variety of accommodations: Budget-friendly hostels for about $20/night, luxurious $300/night resorts with family suites.
  • Cuisine delights: Street pho for $3, posh seafood platters for $25—there’s a dish for every budget.
  • Family activities: Safe, entertaining shows for all ages, calm beaches with soft sands perfect for kids.
  • Best time to visit: November to February for cool and dry weather, perfect for outdoor activities.

4. Koh Tao – The Dive Junkie’s Dreamland

For Koh Tao, take a ferry from either Koh Samui or Chumphon. Stay at cozy dive resorts for $30 or treat yourself to beachfront bungalows for $100. Munch on a juicy burger for $5 or savor fresh catch-of-the-day dishes for $20. Koh Tao – where the underwater world rivals the sandy shores.

This is another family friendly destination. Snorkeling and scuba diving are some of the best here. For those intrigued by marine life, Koh Tao is an unmissable stop. This is a haven for scuba enthusiasts and those looking to witness the vibrant underwater ecosystem without blowing the budget:

  • Accommodations with a view: Rooms from $30 at cozy dive resorts, beachfront digs for around $100.
  • Satisfy your cravings: Hearty burgers for $5, ocean-side dining around $20.
  • Family-friendly sea adventures: Calm waters for beginners and family snorkeling excursions.
  • Seasonal tip: March to September offers the best underwater visibility for divers and snorkelers.

5. Koh Lanta – The Chill Vibes Specialist

Last but not least, Koh Lanta! Grab a ferry from Krabi to reach this tranquil haven. I spent time here reflecting at my hostel and catching up with loved ones back home. See you can rent a bicycle and bike around the island to get great scenery. Accommodations range from beachfront huts at $40 to boutique resorts at $150. Indulge in pad see ew for $4 or relish a beachfront barbecue for $18. Koh Lanta – where relaxation is the island’s heartbeat.

Personal Tip: A dusk cycle around the island revealed quaint villages, secret coves, and an awe-inspiring sunset that no camera could do justice.

5 Thailand beaches to visit

*Bonus Island* Koh Phangan – A Island of Music Festivals

I stayed on this Island for a few days during Thailand’s famous Full Moon Party. Held every month, people flock to the beach for parties that go on till dawn. Everyone is dressed in whatever is comfortable, and painted with neon paint to dance all night. Once the party is over, give it a few more days and you’ll have a waterfall festival, or a 1/4 moon festival or any other reason for people to party and have fun. The best Thailand islands to visit must include lazy beach days as well. Accommodations here span from backpacker hostels at around $15 per night to comfortable beachfront bungalows for approximately $50. You can savor street food delights for as little as $2 or dine at beachfront restaurants where meals cost around $15.

Tips for Island Travel

Navigating the archipelago’s network is simpler than it seems. Speedboats can whisk you from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi in under an hour, while ferries provide leisurely but picturesque journeys between the mainland and islands like Koh Samui and Koh Tao.

Budget Tip: Booking ferry tickets in advance online can secure discounted rates, especially if you’re plotting a multi-island itinerary.

Immersed in Local Culture

No trip to Thailand’s islands is complete without sampling the local cuisine. The cuisines on Thailand islands to visit is some of the best in country. Street markets are night-time fairylands of flavor — a gastronomic exploration where every bite tells a story. On Koh Lanta, I learned the intricate art of making green curry from a sage old chef who treated his recipes as sacred scripts.

Family-Friendly Culinary Adventure: Cooking classes are a delightful way to bond as a family while acquiring skills that you’ll savor long after the holiday tan fades.

Finding Your Perfect Island Abode

Accommodation across Thailand’s islands ranges from the delightfully affordable to outright luxurious. Guesthouses present a pocket-friendly option and often showcase the warmth of Thai hospitality.

Insider Tip: Engage with locals and fellow travelers for recommendations on stays that offer the perfect combination of comfort and value.

In conclusion, Thailand’s islands are a rich tapestry of experiences, with offerings for serene family holidays, solo adventures, and everything in between. Fusing budget accessibility with exotic allure, they invite travelers to an idyllic chapter in their life stories. Whether you’re basking on a sun-drenched beach, mingling with marine life, or engaging with local culture and cuisine, this guide has charted a course for an unforgettable island odyssey. 🌴

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  1. I’m going to Thailand soon, anything else you think would be good to do while there? I’ve heard about the Full Moon Party

    1. The Full Moon Party is an amazing experience. I was out till 6am that day, but there’s plenty of taxis waiting nearby to take you back. The party is held every full moon, every month. Dozens of DJs are blasting music and everyone is just dancing on the beach all night long. It’s free to go, but some places try to charge you.

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