Thailand has easily one of the greatest reputations for its paradise islands, so whether you’re looking for honeymoon luxury, or budget backpackers, you’ll find what you want here. My focus is to give you my 3 favourite islands, I spent about 8 weeks in Thailand, and saw a fair amount. Sure, there will be islands I didn’t see, and some my budget wouldn’t stretch to. But if you’re a backpacker, my 3 best backpacker islands should be top of your list, and if you think I’ve missed one, drop me a comment at the end and I’ll make sure I try it next time.

Koh Phi Phi

My first island is probably the most popular, I haven’t met too many people that have been to Thailand and not visited Phi Phi. It’s a tiny island with one of those ‘no traffic’ feels to it, a vibe I’ve banged on about before in my posts about the Gili Islands and Railay. There’s just a chilled peacefulness in the air here, everyone’s friendly and you feel at home right away. There’s not much to Phi Phi, as you can see from the Phi Phi viewpoint, and you can see why the 2004 tsunami was so devastating as there’s nothing of the mainland. There’s a perfect cross section of budget and luxury, and even on my backpacker budget I shared a room that had use of an infinity pool with a swim up bar! Perfect.

You can’t visit here without taking a trip to Koh Phi Phi Leh, famous for it’s superb scuba diving spots and Maya Bay featured in the Leonardo Di Caprio adventure movie ‘The Beach’, which is now 15 years old would you believe? I cannot recommend the diving here enough, on one dive we saw 8 Giant Sea Turtles!! That’s just unheard of, and on another spotted 3 Reef Sharks. Read more about Koh Phi Phi in Fulfilling a Dream by Miss Barlow.

Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe doesn’t feature on everyone’s Thailand itinerary, which is a shame as when I was there a few years ago it was almost unspoilt, and although it’s slowly becoming more and more developed, it still has a very untouched feel to it. I came across Koh Lipe by accident, I was making my way down to Singapore through Malaysia and chose to avoid the Thailand mainland due to local unrest, Koh Lipe was the perfect stepping stone between Ko Lanta and Langkawi (Malaysia), both of which are also amazing islands. Lipe is suitable for backpackers and honeymooners, its a small, peaceful island with local restaurants and some great day trips around the surrounding islands. Because it’s one of the most Southern islands, not many people make it here, but if you’re heading to Malaysia after Thailand, I fully recommend island hopping your way down and spending at least a couple of days here.

Koh Tao

I debated whether to include Koh Tao on this list after the devastating and controversial murder of a young British couple in September 2014. But despite this terrible crime the fact remains that this was one of my favourite places in Thailand. Throughout my travels I’d been told it was the place to get your Open Water Diving Certification, and after not being a fan of Koh Samui at all, it was a breath of fresh air. There are plenty of dive schools to choose from and I don’t think there’s a great deal of difference between them. Still, expect to pay around 9,000 baht (Approx £180 or $275 USD) and try to get as much thrown in as possible in terms of food and accommodation, there is always room for bartering in Thailand! The course lasts around 3 days and includes some of the best dive sites in Thailand, and once you’ve qualified you’ll be able to dive any where in the world. I haven’t even started with the Koh Tao sunsets

Scottie’s Suggestion: The Queen’s Cabaret (Koh Tao), however if you are two guys and you sit in the front row prepare to be dragged on stage and involved in the finale!

What was your favourite island in Thailand? Or which one are you looking forward to going to most? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.


Written by | Scottie T

Founder & Editor of Intrepid Escape, a huge lover of adventure, adrenaline, sport & fitness. After travelling to over 20 countries in the last year, Scott started to document his travels before fulfilling an important lifelong goal by starting Intrepid Escape. His dream is to be a backpacking poker-playing, videographer, photographer, presenter & writer!

Google+ pinterest


  1. Hannah

    February 23, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Planning my first trip to Thailand for next fall- so this is great! 😀

    • Scott Tisson

      February 25, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Awesome have a great time Hannah 🙂

  2. Karianne

    February 26, 2015 at 7:54 am

    I really wish we had visited more of the Thai islands. We only visited Koh Lanta – but we fell totally in love with it! We could probably have fitted in another island to our itinerary, but we didn’t want to leave Lanta. There was something about that island that just seemed perfect for us.

    After Lanta, we went straight to Langkawi and didn’t have time for Koh Lipe.

    Guess it’s just a really good excuse to go back sometime soon – I need to check out Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao for the diving!

    • Scott Tisson

      February 26, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Well Lanta is certainly one of the best! I found it a little more for couples than backpackers, but still awesome. I’m glad you found Langkawi, I love it there 🙂
      Definitely a BIG excuse to go back and check out the others!

  3. Eva

    February 26, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I’m going to Thailand in about three weeks, going diving on Ko Tao! I hope the island is still safe, despite what happened to that couple.

    • Scott Tisson

      February 26, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Have a great time Eva, you’ll love the diving 🙂

  4. Nigel

    March 2, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Didn’t manage to get to Koh Lipe. I had the pleasure of spending a week on Koh Lanta (might be my fav island in asia) and went to Koh Phi Phi after, which I wasn’t a big fan of. I’ll have to visit Koh Tao the next time I visit thailand.

    • Scott Tisson

      March 2, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks for the comment Nigel, I also loved Koh Lanta it was so close to making my top 3 🙂

  5. Ryan Biddulph

    May 31, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Hi Scottie,

    I dig all of these images! We’ve done only Phuket and Koh Lanta, island-wise, in Thailand. Love em both!


  6. Anthony & Claire

    July 1, 2015 at 2:41 am

    We had an amazing time in the Gili islands earlier this year so Phi Phi definitely sounds like our kind of place. We’re just planning the tail end of our RTW trip and Thailand looks like the place for us! We’re looking at some time in Chiang Mai but these islands sound like a worthwhile addition too – thanks for the great post.

    • Scottie T

      August 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      Hey Anthony & Claire, thank you for your comment! I must admit I am envious of this trip, sounds like you’ve got a great itinerary so far, have a good time 🙂

  7. natasha

    September 15, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Hey , I’m going to Ko Phiphi soon and I was wondering if you still have the name of the place you stayed ? Plus , what other island in the area d I should visit ? I really wanted to go in Koh Tao but unfortunately I will run out off time …

  8. Dahlia

    October 2, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I love Koh Lanta, Koh Samui & Koh Tao! Amazing islands. I love Thailand and have been going there every year 🙂 Have yet to try Koh Lipe, that’s on my list 😉

  9. ActivityFan

    March 8, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Great post!

    Actually, I have been to Thailand but not Phi Phi Islands, it was such unfortunate. My friends and I went to Pattaya instead and took a boat to Koh Larn. The island was lovely and not too crowded when we visited. They also have cafe, beach loungers and some watersports on the beach.

    I’m looking forward to go to Phi Phi Islands this year! Hope it will be nice.

  10. stephanie

    June 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    I loved Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao.
    Havent been to Koh Lipe yet, but it is on my list.

  11. Pingback: Koh Tao Sunset, Thailand, SE Asia - My Travel Affairs Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.