Few Know These Secret Islands in the Gulf of Thailand

7 Jul 2022
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Thailand is a popular destination for those seeking a relaxing vacation, and it's one of Southeast Asia's most visited travel locations. Whether you enjoy historical monuments, shopping, massages, or exploring Thailand's most extraordinary secret islands, this country will not disappoint you.

If solitude is what you see, Thailand's unspoiled islands are a wise way to get away from the congested tourist hotspots – and there are (literally) hundreds from which to choose! Moreover, some islands exude such a sense of calm that they drawback their visitors year after year, frequently staying in the same bungalows and catching up with dear members of the small island communities.

Locals on these off-the-beaten-path islands have foregone mass travel and retained local ways of life. They greet travelers with a smile rather than a sales pitch. These aren't party islands, yet making friends is easy in their driftwood bars.

Some islands are so remote that they may not even have internet, ATMs, 24-hour electricity, or hot water. But not all. Others have established excellent resorts that are comfortable, with all the desired amenities and a swimming pool, while still maintaining a peaceful atmosphere overall.

So, what are you waiting for! Choose from this list of Thailand's most serene islands, and you're guaranteed a relaxing and enjoyable tropical getaway.

 

The East Coast, or Gulf Coast of Thailand

The country's entire eastern coast meets the Gulf of Thailand. Listed below are islands from provinces along this coastline – starting with Trat in the east where Thailand meets Cambodia and working our way around going west, then south toward Malaysia.

Because of the Gulf of Thailand's warm tropical waters and coral reefs, the country's east coast islands are popular tourist destinations. However, there are so many islands that many remain hidden gems. 

 

Trat

Trat is a central-southeastern province that borders Cambodia along the Cardamom Mountains on its east side and the Gulf of Thailand on its south side. It is home to many islands with white sand beaches and coral reefs, many of which are part of Mu Ko Chang National Park. Ko Chang, the largest island, is notable for its lush vegetation, waterfalls, offshore coral reefs, and Bang Bao for its village's stilted dwellings.

 

Koh Chang, Trat

Koh Chang is a tiny island off the Thailand coast that used to be a backpacker's secret but has recently expanded to a broader audience. So, if you want an island with a little more infrastructure while remaining uncrowded, this island is the perfect compromise.

It is bordered on three sides by fine sand beaches and is home to a verdant national park ideal for jungle trekking. Local guides can take you on forest paths to see waterfalls, monkeys, birds, and other wildlife. You may also take a day trip to nearby Koh Mak and Koh Kood, where you'll find more laid-back luxury resorts.

Some of Koh Chang's more basic beach huts have been replaced by resorts in recent years, and the not-so-lonely Lonely Beach has become known for its party scene. To get away from it all, head to Hat Kaibae for boutique hotels and midrange bungalows, or head to Ao Salak Kok and Ao Dan Kao on the isolated east coast to escape the tourists altogether.

The most effective way to get there: You take a bus or an airplane from Bangkok to Trat, then a cab to the pier where you can board a public ferry or a private boat to get to Ko Chang. A private minivan transfer from Bangkok Airport to the port in Trat may be more convenient for larger groups and families.

Where to stay: Rommai Chailay Resort & Seafood 

 

Koh Chang Noi, Trat

Koh Chang Noi is known as the "unknown Elephant Island." It is a hidden, tranquil gem ideal for those seeking a place to unwind. It is one of Thailand's nicest islands to visit for relaxing. 

The most effective way to get there: You take a bus or an airplane from Bangkok to Trat, then a cab to the pier where you can board a public ferry or a private boat to get to Ko Chang. From there, you can take a longboat to Koh Chang Noi. 

 

Koh Wai, Trat

Koh Wai is a lovely, tiny crescent-shaped island located roughly 20 minutes by speedboat from Koh Chang. Since it is only 3.9 square kilometers big, it has escaped human development and remained a laid-back island paradise. There are no communities, stores, roads, or automobiles to be found here – not even a 7-11! In fact, it doesn't even have electricity.

However, this should not distract from its allure, as Koh Wai's northern shore is home to several small but stunning white-sand beaches with crystal-clear, shallow water ideal for snorkeling. Marine life abounds on Koh Wai thanks to a coral reef that spans the length of the north coast, only 40 meters from the water's edge. So naturally, snorkeling is the island's best activity.

The most effective way to get there: During peak season, tour boat operators transport people to Koh Wai from Krom Luang Pier in Laem Ngop District on the mainland or Bang Bao Pier on Koh Chang.

Where to stay: Koh Wai Beach Resort

 

Koh Mak, Trat

On Koh Mak, a star-shaped island near Koh Chang, five Chinese-Thai families whose ancestors arrived in the 19th century still cultivate much of the land. Thus, intimate, family-friendly resorts nestled among pineapple plantations, rubber trees, communities, and pink-tinted sand overlook the satellite isles. This private island inhabited by only about 1,500 people is an even calmer alternative to Koh Chang.

The most wondrous satellite isle is Koh Kradat, which is strangely home to a herd of deer that arrived more than a century ago under King Chulalongkorn's instruction. In addition, the Mu Koh Chang Marine Park protects Koh Rang, an unspoiled island eight miles west of Koh Mak that features a white beach and reefs in crystal clear water. These untouched landmarks are easily accessible from Koh Mak, making them great day-trip material.

If you're into eco-tourism and "saving the planet," the Koh Mak community has launched sustainable tourism initiatives that allow tourists to participate in conservation efforts. It's a fun way to reduce your carbon footprint!

The most effective way to get there: Ferries regularly depart from Krom Luang Pier in Thailand's Laem Ngop District. They also depart from Bang Bao Pier on Koh Chang, and boats that stop at Koh Wai frequently stop at Koh Mak. In addition, speedboats connect Koh Mak to Koh Chang and Koh Kut during the busy season.

Where to stay: The Mak Trat

 

Koh Kood (or Kut), Trat

Koh Kut is a small island near the Cambodian border but the second-largest island in the Koh Chang Archipelago. This enormous, mountainous island is still mostly covered in vegetation, and getting there requires a boat ride from the mainland's Laem Sok dock.

This island paradise has shimmering white sand, palm-lined beaches, and crystal-clear waters with superb snorkeling zones. However, it's known for its stunning inland waterfalls, coconut plantations, steep jungle-covered landscape, and the northeastern fishing community of Ao Salat.

There is a wide selection of beachfront accommodation to suit all budgets, and the atmosphere is quite relaxed. However, bear in mind that there aren't any landlines, internet and connectivity are limited, and there's a scarcity of automobiles. In other words. be ready to truly detach from the world!

The most effective way to get there: You can take a bus or plane to Trat and then a ferry from the mainland via Laem Sok Pier. You can also take a speedboat from Koh Chang's Bang Bao Pier or the other Chang satellite islands (Koh Wai and Koh Mak).

Where to stay: Suan Maprao Ko Kut Resort (SHA Extra Plus)

 

Chanthaburi

Chanthaburi is a province in southeast Thailand that borders the Gulf of Thailand and is known for its gem and tropical fruit trade. Its parks, including Namtok Phlio National Park and Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, have lush forests, waterfalls, and mountains. You can also find Chao Lao Beach, flanked by coconut palms on the shore, and Khao Laem Sing Forest Park, located on a forested peninsula near the mouth of the Chanthaburi River.

 

Ko Chik Nok, Chanthaburi

Located at Tambon Bangchan Ko Chik is a pilot project for renewable energy, where solar power and electric generation supply electricity to over 100 houses. Refill cards are used to collect electricity charges. Fishers, fish farmers, and dried shrimp vendors make up most of the population. The appeal of Ko Chik is the opportunity to stay in a homestay and eat fresh seafood at a modest cost.

Because the island is small, everyone knows each other, and it is the ideal place to relax. Around 100 years ago, Ko Chik was a quiet fishermen's community. Almost all of the men in the village went fishing, leaving only women and children on the island. Ko Chik is admirable because it has a council in charge of the environment and a sustainable rubbish management system that can serve as a model for other islands.

If you are interested in homestays should not miss this opportunity. You will experience simple pleasures and an easy-going lifestyle. Heading east to west, you can see the island's temple, school, and water tank. Of course, you can swim on the island, too. Plus, it's another good eco-tourism destination because you can learn about Renewable Energy Development when you're not enjoying delicious food and admiring the peaceful environment.

The most effective way to get there: From Koh Chang Ferry Pier, you can board a boat to Koh Chik.

Where to stay: Koh Chik Yoo Chan Homestay (เกาะจิกอยู่จันท์ โฮมสเตย์)

 

Rayong

Rayong is an ideal destination for people who enjoy the beach, the sea, the wind, the sun, and the islands. For example, Koh Samet is a beach lover's paradise. You can also enjoy a relaxing view of the mainland before taking off to one of Rayong's islands. Try visiting Mae Pim cape. Be ready for a breathtaking perspective, crystal clear water, and calm waves ideal for swimming! While you're at it, try the fresh seafood available and stop by Ban Phe market, where you can buy local products like shrimp paste, dried salted shrimp, dried squid, and salted fish – which are all well-packaged for easy transportation.

Rayong is also home to several happy festivals and traditional activities. The Rayong Fruit Festival is most notable, which occurs annually in May when the fruit season is peaking. It features various fun festivities like a fruit procession, a fruit competition, a Miss Fruit Gardener Contest, and discounted fruits sale.

 

Ko Samet, Rayong

Ko Samet Island, named after the Samet trees, is one of Thailand's best islands, providing all of the essential aspects for a relaxing yet enjoyable holiday. The island offers endless views of the turquoise sea, sandy sands, water sports, and a vibrant nightlife. It is regarded as one of Thailand's most beautiful and well-kept secrets.

The most effective way to get there: Ko Samet is roughly a 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland after a three-hour bus ride from Bangkok.

Where to stay: Baan Hello Samed

 

Ko Man Nok, Rayong

Ko Man Nok (Koh Munnork) is a small private island in Klaeng Bay, part of the Man group of islands. The islands of Ko Man Nai, Ko Man Klang, and Ko Man Nok are also part of the group. Kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing are among the island's activities. This is a private island with only one resort.

The most effective way to get there: Ko Man Nok is around 20 nautical miles away from Koh Samet by boat. To get to Koh Samet from Bangkok, take a bus or minivan to the Nuan Thip Pier in Ban Phe, Rayong. 

Where to Stay: Koh Munnork Private Island (SHA Extra Plus)

 

Chon Buri

Chon Buri's coastline is lined with attractive beaches. Pattaya, a long-established resort town with a coastal promenade, restaurants, retail complexes, and a bustling, neon-lit nightlife zone with cabaret bars and clubs, is one of them.

 

Ko Khang Khao (or Kho Tai Kang Kao) via Ko Sichang, Chon Buri

Ko Khangkhao is a small island off the coast of Chonburi, just south of Ko Sichang. Only around 500 meters separate it from Ko Sichang. Coral reefs and two white sand beaches (East Beach and West Beach) surround this cute island. West Beach is more popular because it's easy to walk and swim. There is only one resort here, but you're also welcome to bring a tent and pitch it around the resort.

The most effective way to get there: You can take a boat to this island from Ko Sichang or Ko Loi in Sri Racha.

Where to stay: Paree Hut Resort on Koh Sichang to then visit Koh Khang Khao

 

Surat Thani

Surat Thani is 651 kilometers south of Bangkok. It is the gateway to the famous tropical islands Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan. However, you can escape to smaller secluded neighboring islands via those islands. For example, Koh Phaluai is a slow-paced Koh Samui escape.

 

Koh Phaluai, Surat Thani

Seasoned travelers lamenting the transformation of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao from farming islands to tourism behemoths are often unaware that a few adjacent islands are reminiscent of the 1970s. Koh Phaluai is one such place.

Located 15 miles west of Samui, it is part of the government-protected Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine Park. It is the Park's largest island. Here, time goes slow.

The island features a few resorts in the forested south. In addition, you can find longtails for cruising to the beautiful Song Phi Nong Beach, where camping is permitted, and kayaking is recommended.

The most effective way to get there: A daily ferry owned by the company, Samui Island Tour, departs from Surat Thani's Donsak dock at 1:00 p.m. You can take a flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani airport and then a bus to the pier. They sell the bus tickets at the airport. 

Where to stay: Koh Phaluai Eco Resort