I spent 3 months in SE Asia earlier this year. We spent around 2 weeks in the South of Thailand; Phuket, Phi Phi, Railay & Lanta. We now plan on just having a 3 week holiday and visiting some other islands that we didn't get to see.
Which ones would you recommend. We both love snorkelling, authentic thai food & thai culture (if you can get it). I know a lot of the islands are now quite touristy & are over priced, but are there any less well known islands that are worth visiting?
I would definatley recommend visiting Koh Samet and Koh Chang. Koh Samet is a beautiful tiny island, the sand is so soft that is sqeaks under your feet. Koh Chang is the 2nd biggest of the thai islands after Phuket, it's a little bit more touristy than Samet but it has beautiful rainforest's and the atmosphere is really chilled out. The only thing with Koh Chang is that you have to take Malaria tablets, it's quite close to Cambodia, but I suppose it's up to you if you take them or not.
The Islands on the East Coast are pretty great, though they are definetly not as beautiful as PhiPhi or Krabi, though few beaches in the world are. I would say they are a bit cheaper too since they have more of a "backpacker" scene than the West Coast. The good thing about the East is that it is easy to Island hop and in 3 weeks you could spend a week in all three of them. You could start on Koh Tao for some diving and relaxing on a pretty mellow Island. Then you can move on to Koh Phangnan for the backpacker party scene, or some of the quiet and beautiful beaches in the North of the Island. Then you can head to Samui which is a bit more upscale than the others I think (though I've never actually been to Samui yet).
to be honest, i never really enojoy Saumui, ive only stayed on the island twice in 9 months but always find myself itchng to move off!
I love Koh Phanagn, the north end of the island is a lot more chilled, good diving and lovely people! the party madness is down south in Hadd Rin!
i REALLY, really like koh Phi Phi, before the tsunami, the island didnt appeal to me as we'd heard that the island was being devasted by tourism! but, post-tsunami, the island is still recovering! it is very beautiful in and around Krabi! so i would say this is a must area to visit!
I spent a few nights on Koh Tao. It was amazing. It is a very quiet island, but was very relaxing. The main attraction is the snorkelling and scuba diving - it is awesome. I'd definately recommend going there.
Koh Samui.....My friend just came back from there, very economic and worth for a visit
Cheers guys! Heard so many things about Koh Tao, so think I'm going to have to find out for myself when I next go to Thailand.