Island hopping in Thailand

After two years of hard work and savings in Angola, we finally managed to start our travel quest without a final destination or a clear end date. It can be 1 month, 3 or 6 months… As we usually say: “we will stop when the money ends… or when we manage to get our working visa to Qatar!” Hopefully, it will be the second. 🙂

After reading so many people writing about Thailand, we decided it was the perfect place to begin (well, technically, it began with a cool 24 hours stopover in Cologne). We started in Phuket, did island hopping in Thailand, and checked the beaches everyone talks about!

2 Days in Phuket

Patong is probably the wildest place in Thailand… It’s one of the most overcrowded touristic places we have ever been to! I don’t think I have seen so many pubs, go-go bars, souvenir shops, restaurants, street food and juice vendors, discos, convenience stores, fast-food chains, tattoo and piercing shops, etc, packed in one place. Oh, and shooting ranges… with, apparently, real guns…?

Patong beach is only about drinking, partying, and shopping… 3 things we don’t care much about. It is, logically, also very overpriced. We felt it isn’t much cheaper than Portugal, for example. Did we like Phuket? No, not really! Should we have skipped it? Of course, not. Patong is so over the top that it becomes interesting. Will we return? Most probably not! We should have stayed in Patong one day (and night) and then visited the rest of Phuket. Check out this cool Phuket itinerary!

Island hopping in Thailand
Patong beach – Island hopping in Thailand

2 Days in the Phi Phi Islands

After Phuket, we decided to continue our quest in the Phi Phi islands. After all, who goes island hopping in Thailand and doesn’t go to “The Beach”? In the Phi Phi islands is important to separate Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh.

Phi Phi Don is a Mecca for backpackers, hippies, and, again, party lovers. Not really a beach island (anymore)! From this viewpoint, it’s obvious that sometime in the past, it was incredibly scenic, but that is long gone now!

The interesting part is that there are no cars and almost no motorbikes on the islands, on the other hand, there are way too many boats that ruin the main beaches… It’s also probably the tattoo shop capital of the world… On every street, on every corner, there are several… We did an estimate, and Phi Phi has the most tattoo shops per sq meter in the world (no, we didn’t).

Island hopping in Thailand
View of Phi Phi Don, Islands in Thailand | photo by DmitryRukhlenko via Depositphotos

Phi Phi Leh is “The Beach” island or the place where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. This beach is the famous Maya Bay, and the only way to get there is by boat. Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited. There are hundreds of daily tours to Phi Phi Leh, which means that Maya Bay isn’t a relaxed and secluded place… Everyone is thinking the same as you :).

The only way to have it slightly for yourself is to get there as early as possible! And that’s what we did. We booked the first tour of the day. When we woke up, it was raining… BUMMER! Or was it? Well, raining means that there weren’t half the people that it was supposed to have. And even those who went were mostly on the rocks, although it was clearly hot enough to go and have some fun in that beautiful sea.

The pictures weren’t as great as they could be, but… still turned out very nice… The tour we did also allowed you to snorkel for about 30 minutes and go around the island. We loved the snorkeling.

Tip: Always go on the earliest tour possible, and don’t be discouraged if it’s rainy. That can turn out to be a good thing 🙂

Very close to the Phi Phi islands is the very small but incredibly beautiful Bamboo island.

Traveling through Thailand's islands
Phi Phi Leh Island | photo by happystock in Depositphotos

3 days in Lanta

Koh Lanta is known to be much more relaxed and peaceful and an island that runs at a slower pace. It is also a bit cheaper. Koh Lanta was our favorite place in southern Thailand, but don’t be misguided, Lanta isn’t off the beaten track. It isn’t even close to that or not being touristy, it’s full of westerners.

However, the island is big, and people are spread over it. The north is more populated and has more tourists. It becomes even more relaxed when you head south with fewer tourists. Koh Lanta is a bit off the beaten track on Thailand’s scale, but it’s not genuinely secluded or untouristy. Thailand has few off the beaten track destinations!

Whist island in Thailand should i go
Koh Lanta Beach, one of Thailand’s most famous islands

Lanta is an excellent place to relax; its beaches are good, warm, and nice looking. But they aren’t on par with what Phi Phi or Patong once were… And they sure aren’t what you see in travel agencies’ brochures of Thailand.

The best way to see Lanta is by riding a scooter and doing it on your own timing. We decided to rent bicycles and ride to most of the beaches on the west side. We really liked it and recommend you to do the same, if you don’t want to be on a scooter.

Best islands in Thailand
Beach in Lanta- Best islands of Thailand

Overall we liked our week of island hopping in Thailand and had fun, but we had pretty high expectations about Thailand’s raw beauty. We surely missed a few great beaches, but we generally expected the water to be clearer, the sand softer and cleaner. We knew that there would be many tourists, but we didn’t expect this much, particularly in Phi Phi. Patong is just another level of everything!

If you want to see more of the world’s best beaches, check this!

Another way to enjoy Thailand’s amazing sea is diving, particularly by making live-aboard trips. Check here the best liveaboards trips in Thailand.

After one week of Island hopping in Thailand, it was time to continue our journey in Bangkok.

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6 thoughts on “Island hopping in Thailand”

  1. You know..this is exactly what I was wondering about – how to best Island hop in thailand since it is made of a cluster of such beautiful islands, you wont want to miss any and you would want to do it in the right and efficient order. I will save your post for future reference

  2. Oh Thailand! It’s beautiful beaches and islands are just so heavenly. The natural beauty is stunning so much so that it’s difficult to leave that place!

  3. This post definitely gives me wanter lust, but something always comes up to keep me close to home. Friends getting married,being asked to be bridesmaid, friend having a baby etc,no money lol I am desperate to go to Australia and China, and explore more of this world! x

  4. I have a sister inlaw from thailand who is always telling us to go and visit so far i have resisted because its the favourite tourist destination of my countrymen ( Australians ). One day we will get there

  5. No cars but full of boats in Phi Phi? That’s weird. Haven’t been yet, it is on my bucket list, but am sorry to hear that it became so touristy. Nice post, thanks! And was wondering if you did get one or two tattoos while there. 😉

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