The Land of Smiles
With a huge coastline (actually, two huge coastlines) and jungle-topped islands fastened in cristal azure waters, Thailand is a tropical getaway for the hermit and the hedonist, the prince, and the pauper. This heaven offers a varied menu: playing in the gentle surf of Ko Lipe, diving with whale sharks off Ko Tao, scaling the sea cliffs of Krabi, kiteboarding in Hua Hin, partying on Ko Phi-Phi, recuperating at a health resort on Ko Samui and feasting on the beach wherever sand meets the sea.
Some gorgeous itineraries
We've selected some of the best routes for this destination
Around Phuket and Phi Phi (3 days)
Top locations in Thailand
See top spots for boating in the area
Phuket is the biggest Thai island, so you rarely feel surrounded by sea. But that means a lot of space for everyone. Phuket grants such a rich variety of experiences – beaching, culture, diving, excellent food, hedonistic or holistic pleasures – that guests are spoilt for choice. Of course, the white-sand beaches that surround the southern and western shores are the primary draw, along with some of the most beautiful hotels and spas in Thailand. Every beach is different, from the upmarket hotels of Surin and Ao Bang Thao to family-oriented Rawai, or the sin capital of Patong, home of hangovers and go-go girls. But there's also the culturally rich east-coast capital Phuket Town, as well as wildlife refuges and national parks in the north. With so many choices, you may just forget to leave.
The kiss of sun on bronzed skin, the dark azure of the sky and the soft lapping of sunny waves on silk sands are ideal components for the perfect escape. Ko Samui's beaches are a diverse bunch to boot: roll up your beach towel and see what you can find. Make it Coco Tam's in Fisherman's village for cocktails and serious chillaxing, Chaweng Beach for sunrise and people-watching, lengthy Mae Nam Beach for peace, or napping under a coconut tree before giving in to a west coast sunset across seas glowing in bronze.
Unlike its larger neighbor Ko Chang, here you can forget about any nightlife or sound – this is where you come to do almost nothing. If you can be roused from your hammock, kayaking and snorkeling are the main activities (nearby Ko Rang is especially suitable for fish-gazing). Half as big as Ko Chang and the fourth-largest island in Thailand, Ko Kut (also known as Koh Kood) has long been the area of package-tour resorts and a seclusion-seeking elite. But the island is becoming more egalitarian, and free travelers, especially families and couples, will find rest here.
Plan your next journey in Thailand
Find the best boats for your trip...