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Island hopping in Thailand

Thailand boasts hundreds of tropical islands. Each one offers an alluring combination of lush jungle, paradise beaches and laid-back beach bars with plenty of hammocks. Choosing can be a challenge! We recommend the Samui Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. These three islands are sure to delight even the most demanding island-hoppers.

Hop on!
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The Samui Archipelago, comprising Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, is the perfect introduction to the Thai island lifestyle. These islands are easily accessible from Bangkok: either hop on a short flight to Koh Samui or travel by high-speed catamaran from Surat Thani. Plenty of boats and ferries provide convenient transportation between the islands. You will get to the next island before your bathing suit has had time to dry. 

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Koh Tao

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Bohemian diving paradise

The smallest island of the three might even be the most popular. Koh Tao exudes a carefree bohemian vibe and is famous for its amazing dive sites located in the crystal clear warm water. Every corner of the island has a dive school and it is also one of the cheapest places in the world to obtain your scuba certification. 

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Chalok Baan Kao Bay

A bay full of beach bars

After Sairee, Chalok Baan is the largest bay of Koh Tao, however it is still delightfully peaceful. Colourful fishing boats float in the turquoise water and hammocks swing between the palm trees. It is lovely to just walk around the bay and the beach is lined with laid-back bars that serve a delicious lunch. At night relax with a cocktail or a beer while the ocean murmurs in the background…

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John Suwan Viewpoint

360-degree panorama

From Chalok Baan you are within walking distance of one of the most beautiful viewpoints on the island. A walking trail leads from the village of Chalok Baan Kao to the John Suwan Viewpoint at the top. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk, but your efforts will be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view overlooking both Chalok Baan and Thian Og Bay. On a clear day you can see as far as Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. 

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Koh Nang Yuan

Paradise island with a coral reef garden

One of the area’s most gorgeous dive sites is Koh Nang Yuan; a small island on the northwest coast of Koh Tao. In fact, the three small islands are connected by a narrow sand strip, which gives the island group that perfect tropical paradise look. The famous underwater Japanese Gardens feature on the bucket list of many divers. And for a good reason; the variety of coral in this underwater garden is truly unparalleled and hard to find anywhere else in the world. 

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Koh Pha Ngan

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Idyllic palm island

Idyllic Koh Phangan is especially known for its popular Full Moon Parties on the southern part of the island. But if you don’t want to party, you can simply rent a scooter and head out to the coastline. Each bay is framed by white sandy beaches and palm trees. Head inland to explore waterfalls and lush jungle. Although larger than Koh Tao, Koh Phangan is still relatively small; it takes no more than 3 hours to travel round the island. 

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The Thong Sala Night Market

A culinary party

Night markets in Thailand always offer an overload of tasty local delicacies. Be sure to visit the night market in the harbour town of Thong Sala on Koh Phangan. In the daytime the parking lot in Thong Sala is not very attractive, but once night falls the first food stands pop up. In the blink of an eye the entire lot is packed with vendors plying their culinary treats. The food is fantastic and the prices extremely low. Peruse the stands and order a classic Pad Thai or a green curry and perhaps some shrimps. For a dessert enjoy a fresh slice of coconut cake.

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Malibu Beach

Bright white sand

In the background the DJ spins reggae tunes and in the distance the island’s mountains tower over the landscape. The crystal clear water is perfect for a refreshing dive. It’s impossible not to relax on magnificent Malibu Beach on northern Koh Phangan. At low tide, the water will be too shallow for a real swim, but it’s perfect for families travelling with small children. 

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The Phaeng Waterfall

Refreshing natural pools

The unspoiled hinterland of Koh Phangan has countless waterfalls. One of the largest is Nam Tok Phaeng, which you can reach after a short but steep hike. Cool off in one of the many natural pools before heading back. For a longer hike, take the stunning trail from the waterfalls through the jungle to the top of Khao Ra, the island’s highest mountain.

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Koh Samui

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Coconut plantations and white beaches

Koh Samui was one of the first Thai islands to attract tourists. As early as the 1960s, hippies from around the world flocked to this particular island in Thailand. The word spread and the island slowly developed into the hugely popular tourist destination it is today. And although Koh Samui feels busier and more packed than its two smaller neighbouring islands, it still abounds in many blissful locations. 

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Coconut plantations

Coconut island

Before tourism on Koh Samui took off in the 1970s, the island was known as the world’s largest coconut plantation. And although tourism has become the number one source of income, there are still coconut plantations that are open for visitors. Trained monkeys fetch the coconuts from the trees and a well-trained monkey can easily bring down over a thousand a day. As you drive around the island you will often come across piles of coconuts.

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Dining on the Rocks

A restaurant above the ocean

A romantic dinner on one of the beautiful beaches of Koh Samui is hardly a chore, but for a very special occasion reserve a table at Dining on the Rocks in the remote Six Senses Samui Resort. Nine verandas that create the illusion you are floating above the ocean are the perfect setting for a romantic dinner. Interested in splurging? Book ‘Table 99’ to dine on your own private veranda. Just keep in mind that this top spot is often booked months ahead of time. 

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Coral Cove

Dream away among the rocky coast

Everyone who drives along the coast will catch a glimpse of Coral Cove, but few people actually visit the beach. Which really is too bad because this is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The gorgeous bay is wedged between the popular beach resorts of Chaweng and Lamai and has a unique feel thanks to the giant rocks that frame the beach.

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