If you’re looking up the names of the islands in Thailand, you’re probably wondering why there are two ways to spell “island” in Thai.
In translating the Thai language to English, Ko or Kho means the same thing. That’s why you can spell it either as “Ko” or as “Koh”. Technically, there’s no better version of the spelling. The Thai language is tonal which means that the meaning of the word depends on how you pronounce it, not the spelling itself.
So whether or not there’s a letter “h” in there doesn’t really matter.
How many islands are there in Thailand?
Speaking of islands, did you know that there are 1430 islands in Thailand? They are grouped by either east or west of the mainland.
This Southeast Asian country is visited by at least six million tourists every year! Certainly, with thousands of islands and islets located in Thailand, you could go island-hopping for a long time.
Almost every island is distinct too — from Phuket to far-flung areas like Koh Phu.
What is the smallest island in Thailand?
Thailand has a lot of islands and islets of various sizes and a good number of them are relatively small.
While there’s no official complete data that provide the sizes of all geographic features of the country, it is considered that Koh Mak is one of the smallest islands in Thailand.
Mak Island is only about 16 sq. km in size. For comparison, that’s roughly 250 times smaller than Rhode Island which is the smallest state in the USA!
Koh Mak is a well-kept secret to most travelers. About 40 kilometers away from the mainland, this island is a great place to visit when you feel the need to get out of the bustling life of the cities or just generally avoid the tourist crowds.
Although it’s one of the smallest islands in Thailand, it’s safe to say that it will give the other islands a run for their money. There’s plenty to see and experience in Koh Mak.
Starting with their beaches, you have the option to check-in into one of the resorts or just pitch a tent in many of the undeveloped beachfront lands and call it a day.
This island is a perfect place to start your Thailand adventure. Because Koh Mak is a relatively small island with trails covered by luscious plantations, you can explore the whole island by bicycle.
There are a lot of bicycle rental shops around the island and a couple of establishments are even lending bikes to tourists for free.
It’s great to do this in the morning so you can go to the nearest coffee shop, pick up a pastry and coffee, and use one of the free rental bikes they have.
Most of them come with different maps for recommended routes so you can see different parts of the island.
One of the famous destinations for wandering tourists and filmmakers is the Ao Kao White Sand Beach.
The backdrop of vast towering palm trees and thick coconut plantations to the pristine clear water and white sand will make any traveler fall in love with this hidden gem of Thailand.
What is the biggest island in Thailand?
With a size of 540 sq. kilometers, Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand and it’s about the same size as Singapore.
Tourists and travelers always visit Phuket when they travel to Thailand and a lot of them would rather stay there for the whole duration of their vacation. This is because Phuket is a great option for an all-around holiday. It’s an excellent island to stay if you want to experience all the things to do in Thailand without having to move a lot.
This island is easily accessible too. Phuket International Airport is located here so you can directly land on Phuket without spending more on domestic flights or boat transfers.
Phuket has a great balance between nature and city development if you can’t imagine yourself going off the grid-like in Koh Mak.
There are a lot of options for beaches too.
Head on to Kata Noi Beach to avoid tourist crowds on Kata Beach during the summer season. It may take a bit more effort to go to Kata Noi, but the chill and relaxing nature of the beach is definitely worth it.
You have a lot of choices for nightlife too. Phuket is first known as the party town being the biggest island in Thailand, so you won’t run out of clubs and bars.
But before you go partying, do spend a night at Naka Market. This Phuket weekend night market is an excellent way for you to get to know the local culture from the food, clothes, and other bits and bobs.
If island hopping is your thing, then Phuket is your place-to-be. There are many small islands and islets around Phuket that you can visit for a day tour.
The islands near Phuket are incredibly famous for Western filmmakers because of their jaw-dropping landscapes and serene waters.
Phang Nga Bay, commonly known as the James Bond Island, is a picturesque island with huge limestone karsts that looks like it burst out of the water. The island was featured in a James Bond move in 1974 and the place still looks unbelievably the same.
Another group of islands near Phuket is Phi Phi Islands which looks like a place straight out of Disney’s Moana.
What is the most popular island in Thailand?
A lot of people might think that Phuket is the tourist and local’s favorite because of its size but in reality, Koh Samui is the most popular island in Thailand.
Koh Samui is arguably even better than Phuket. This island has been on the bucket list of every independent traveler and one of the most sought holiday destinations.
As expected, there are so many things to do in Koh Samui that will cover every interest of your whole family and can fit into any traveler’s budget.
For your vitamin sea needs, Samui Island got you covered. Start with a boat charter from Koh Samui to Ang Thong National Marine Park. This pristine park is a protected area composed of 42 islands stretching for more than 100 square kilometers of land.
The National Marine Park is a one-stop trip to get to know how rich Thailand’s biodiversity. From large limestone mountains and wide-range jungles to hidden coves and white sand beaches, this archipelago has it all.
Immerse yourself in Thailand’s culture and visit the Secret Buddha Garden. This garden is hidden high up in the hills of Na Mueang, Koh Samui, and getting there is an adventure of its own.
Join a day tour or get yourself a rental 4WD vehicle or a scooter and carefully make your way along the steep and bumpy road.
At the top, you’ll be greeted with a waterfall streaming throughout the garden under the shade of towering trees.
You’ll find what are probably hundreds of figurines that were collected by a retired fruit farmer on the island. Each statue has a story to tell and reflects the culture and religion of Thailand.
Of course, you can’t complete your vacation without doing a little bit of shopping.
Head on to the Lamai Night Plaza where you can find every product under the sun. It’s a great place to find bargain apparel and your souvenir needs. A hard tip for this place? Don’t be scared to haggle with the vendors.
Look and browse around to get the best deal out of a product that you like because chances are, the next stall you’ll find will have the cheaper option.
Thailand is truly a country that offers a lot to its tourists and travelers.
You’ll never run out of options to do — certainly not with its 1430 islands. Koh Mak, Phuket, and Koh Samui are only a small fraction that you can explore out of the many destinations in this country. Which island is the one you’ll most likely to visit?