TOP 10 LESSER KNOWN ISLANDS IN THAILAND
The islands on this list aren't exactly 'unknown' or 'off the beaten path', although some definitely are and you'll be wondering if you're still in tourist-infested Thailand when you get there, most of them are simply on this list because they hadn't really come up during conversations or searches when I was deciding which islands to visit on my trip to Thailand. You won't find Phuket, Koh Tao, Koh Samui or Koh Phi Phi on this list.
To help with your Thailand exploration:
the kind of quiet that you rarely experience anymore.
This is one of the largest islands of Thailand, thick with vegetation, yet it relatively remains one of the least visited. Koh Kut or Koh Kood (depending on who you ask, but the two names are equivalent) remains mostly untouched, unexplored, and very much beautiful. The island offers powder-soft bays, white beaches, crystal clear blue waters, as well as mountainous jungle landscapes and waterfalls. If you're looking for an off-the-grid destination, this is it, but fear not luxury-seeking travelers: Koh Kood also has one or two resorts that might be up your alley. (Soneva Kiri to name one of them)
A truly exclusive ambiance
Koh Munnork is the kind of island billionaires own in movies: Luscious green jungles? check, white sands? check, crystal clear blue waters? check, private island? double check. There is just one resort on the entire island: Koh Munnork Private Island by Epikurean Lifestyle, and the only way to actually reach it is through the resort's private boat. If this doesn't scream exclusive to you, I don't know what will.
Sustainable tourism both inland and outland
Like most of the islands on this list - and in Thailand for that matter - Koh Mak is a tropical jungle/white beach paradise. What makes it extra special is that the locals living on the island encourage sustainability through all of the work they put into their tourism industry, so most of the facilities built there are built as so to not harm the island as much as possible. Cycling is very popular there and is the best way to both explore and relax.
A Mountainous Paradise
Koh Chang is Thailand's third largest island. It's part of the Mu Ko Chang National Park, so it doesn't come as a surprise that diving and snorkeling here is super popular, but besides that, what really makes this island stand out is its rainforests and mountainous range. Over the years Koh Chang is becoming a popular destination with tourists, but the level of crowds you see there are nowhere near those of Phuket, so no worries.
sea gypsies in a small island
Koh Lipe is located near Tarutao National Park but isn't part of the park itself which means that park laws that prohibit certain development of facilities do not apply on this island. Which is why although it is located among near-virgin islands, this one actually has good accommodations. The island is very small, in fact, you could probably walk all around it in an hour or two, and its size makes it a very homely place to stay at for a couple of days, with lots of fun things to do nearby.
A Pristine atmosphere amidst limestones
This island is the largest island of the Tarutao National Park, and travelers can rent out accommodations like tents and bungalows there. It's quieter than most islands in Thailand and the usual paradise sceneries you find is also accompanied by limestone cliffs and really exotic wildlife! Koh Tarutao is very big, and exploring the island could stir up a sense of awe in you as everything is so much larger than it usually is (beaches, jungles, ... ).
The prettiest island of the Hat Jao Mai National Park, Koh Kradan features fluffy green hills and coconut palm trees amidst its low-tide sandbars. This island is truly a feast for the eyes and the perfect hideaway for the relaxation-seeking soul. Its relatively small and everything can be reached by foot or kayak, depending on your preference.
UNWRINKLED ROCKS AND AZURE WATERS
Chances are you've probably heard of the Similan islands, or at least seen a picture of the smooth rock formations and beautiful snorkeling-ready waters that they contain. Most people include these islands as a day trip from Phuket, paying a tour company to take them there. Koh Similan is the largest islands of the group and offers some of the best diving and snorkeling you can find in Thailand, and you can actually sleep there. Aside from the sea animals, the land animal life is just as abundant and wild, and the sunsets there are truly one of a kind. You can rent a tent as an accommodation through the Mu Ko Similan National Park for a night or two.
UNFREQUENTED PARADISE WITH POPULAR CAVE
Koh Muk is famous for its Emerald Cave, but apart from that, people rarely decide to explore or stay in that island, which is a shame because it's as beautiful as any of the other famous ones, minus the crowds. Plus, there are actually a lot of awesome accommodations to choose from, and strolling in the jungle will get you face to face with different friendly wildlife.
THE NEXT BIG THING
Koh Samet is bound to eventually join the list of Thailand's most popular islands as it gains more and more attention, and for a good reason. It has everything all the other popular destinations have to offer, including beautiful coral reefs, clear waters, beautiful beaches, bars, good restaurants, and evening fire shows.
Happy island hopping. USE THE MAP BELOW TO FIND GOOD ACCOMMODATION DEALS IN EACH ISLAND: