Known For : Scuba diving in Koh Samet Wat Ko Kaew Pitsadan Sai Kaew Beach
Koh Samet is a beautiful island located south-east of Bangkok near the Gulf of Thailand. A T-shaped island and named after the Samet trees (Thai for Cajeput trees), it is known for its rustic tropical setting and powdery white sands. The beaches on the eastern side of the island cater to those who love being amongst large crowds and are looking for a vibrant nightlife. In contrast, the western end of Koh Samet has more rocky and isolated beaches where one can find many quiet and luxury resorts. Beaches on the southern end of the island see minimal visitors and offer some serenity amidst the large crowds on the weekends. Mostly Thais, both working professionals and students can be seen at Koh Samet throughout the year.
Things to Do - Deep Sea Fishing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Party at Sai Kaew, Island Tour Cruises.
How to Reach - Take a drive from Bangkok to Ban Phe Pier which takes about 2-3 hours. From the pier take a ferry to the island which takes about 45 minutes.
Best Time: November to February
Located off the coast of Pattaya city in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Larn or Coral Islands is one the best islands near Bangkok for a fun-filled cum relaxing getaway. Comprising of six main beaches, Koh Larn can be reached by ferry or speedboats from the mainland in Pattaya. There are no accommodation options here on the island and tourists are strictly ferried back to the mainland by 6 PM. Samae beach and Tien beach are easily the most beautiful beaches with crystal blue waters and powdery white sands. Swimming and snorkelling are recommended here as not many tourists visit this beach. Tawaen beach, on the other hand, hosts large crowds throughout the day, and it can get challenging to find space for yourself at times. Koh Larn is also rich with trees and hiking trails. One can easily rent a scooter and visit all the beaches in a day.
Things to Do - Swimming, Snorkelling, Sunbathing, Souvenir Shopping, Hiking
How to Reach - Take a bus or car ride from Bangkok to Pattya city which takes about 2 hours. From the coast take a ferry or speedboat to Koh Larn.
Known For : Diving and Snorkeling Elephant Trekking Koh Chang waterfalls
The island of Koh Chang is part of the Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park. After Phuket and Koh Samui, it is the third largest island in Thailand but more underdeveloped than the other two. Lush with a lot of untouched vegetation, nature lovers throng to this island to go about the hiking trails, visit the many waterfalls and also indulge in some elephant trekking. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are also great activities in Koh Chang as there are coral reefs in plenty which have not been affected adversely owing to the lesser number of tourists every year as compared to the rest of Thailand. Koh Chang is very backpacker friendly with several hostels and budget stays and hotels across the island.
Things to Do - Waterfall Hopping, Elephant Trekking, Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Hiking
How to Reach - The most preferred way is to take a bus from Bangkok's Ekamai (Eastern) Bus Terminal to the piers at Laem Ngop. From there one can easily ride a ferry to Koh Chang.
Distance from Bangkok: 348 km
Best Time: November to March
Known popularly as Bamboo Island among the tourists, Ko Phai like Ko Larn lies off the coast of Pattaya. Ko Phai along with four other islands - Ko Klung Badan, Ko Luam, Ko Man Wichai, and Ko Rin, make up the entirety of the Mu Ko Phai archipelago. There are no vendors here serving food and refreshments. One will not be able to find sunbeds, shops either. This archipelago is entirely untouched and is protected by the Royal Thai army. Serving as a primary day trip getaway for those who are looking to avoid any sort of civilisation, ferries and speedboats carry tourists to and from the island.
Thing to Do - Swimming, Snorkelling, Hikes and Trails
How to Reach - Take a bus or car ride from Bangkok to Pattya city which takes about 2 hours. From the coast take a ferry or speedboat to Ko Phai.
Known For : Scuba Diving in Koh Kood Waterfalls in Koh Kood
Koh Kood, also termed as Ko Kut, is regarded by many, both Thais and tourists alike, to be the most beautiful island in all of Thailand. Among the many islands near Bangkok, if one is looking to do absolutely nothing, then this island is the one to be at. The atmosphere across the island is quiet and relaxed throughout the day with the traffic and even nightlife being almost non-existent. Ko Kut has mostly been favoured as a private luxury retreat by the rich, but over the years, has adapted to hosting more economical travellers as well comprising of working professionals and families.
Things to Do - Kayaking, Swimming
How to Reach - One can take a bus/car ride to Trat from bangkok if preferring to go by road. Flights are also available from Bangkok to Trat Airport. Once at Trat ferries or speedboats can be availed to Koh Kut.
Best Time: November to March
Among all the islands near Bangkok, Koh Si Chang is one which has almost none of the regular touristy appeal. One will not find many foreign travellers on this island at any given time, as the infrastructure is not catered for mass tourism. During the weekends, mostly locals from the neighbouring regions descend upon this sleepy island with their families and friends. Dotted with several temples, historical sites and markets one can traverse through the entirety of the island on a scooter or by hiring a Tuk-Tuk.
Things to Do - Laze at the beaches, try the local seafood at the markets, pray at the temples.
How to Reach - Take a bus to Sri Racha from Bangkok which takes about 2 hours. From Koh Loi Pier one can take a ferry to Koh Si Chang which takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
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The largest island in the Gulf of Thailand south of Pattaya city, Koh Khram Yai is a largely deserted island where those who are looking to explore offbeat locations go to. Characterised by many inlets, beautiful coves and tiny, pristine powdery white beaches, this island is teeming with abundant vegetation and marine life. The island is a protected area under the Royal Thai Navy's care and is a designated breeding ground for turtles. At certain times of the year during Navy exercises and the breeding season, Koh Khram Yai remains off-limits for tourism.
Things to Do - Visit the Coves and Inlets, Swimming, Boat Tours and Cruises
How to Reach - Take a bus/car ride from Bangkok to Pattaya. Look for tour operators or ferries who take tourists to Koh Khram Yai.
Among all the islands near Bangkok, Koh Talu is one which is privately owned having a resort of its own. An ecological hotspot and conservation region for coral reefs and wildlife of the island, tourism to the island was started to support the local populace and the island's conservation efforts. One can choose to stay at the island or visit for a day trip.
Things to Do - Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkelling, Squid Fishing
How to Reach - Take a Bus ride towards Hua Hin and further take a cab or tuk tuk to Bang Saphan. From the Banmapraw Resort, ferries and speedboats carry tourists to Koh Talu.
How many of these islands have you visited? Let us know in the comments below.