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Thailand – Less visited islands near Phuket

January 2024

I flew to Thailand after my trip to Tasmania. Regular readers of my website know that I avoid mass tourism as much as possible. In 2024, tourism had already reached new visitor records, so this time I visited five less-travelled islands on the west side of Thailand near Phuket.

When I arrived at Phuket airport, I headed directly to a small guesthouse very close to Bang Rong Pier in the north-east of Phuket, from where the boat to Ko Yao Yai departed the next day.

My first meal in the south of Thailand: rice with cashew nuts in a pineapple. It tasted as good as it looks!

Ko Yao Yai

The island is relatively long at 26 km compared to most of the other islands I have visited. Thus, I rented a motorcycle for my 6-day stay.

Loh Pared Beach

This long beach is great for swimming. That’s why there are three resorts on it.

Wonderful sunset atmosphere

Phru Nai Pier

Fishing continues in the very south of the island. Women are mainly responsible for repairing the nets here.

Sea Breeze Resort

A beautiful spot!

View from the Anantara Koh Yao Yai Resort & Villas of the many limestone rocks in the sea that are typical of this area.

Laem Had Beach

The most beautiful and interesting beach on the island

with the sandbank

Laem Had beach at sunrise

I got up early and rode my motorcycle to the beach in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise.


The island has a Muslim population, which means that most restaurants do not serve alcohol.

Ko Jum

To get to the next island, I had to change boats in Krabi, where I briefly came into contact with mass tourism.

As the island of Ko Jum was 9 km long, I also rented a motorcycle here.

Golden Pearl Beach

The island’s main beach stretches for several kilometers along the west coast. In the background is the hill Khao Ko Pu, which I climbed later.

A typical Thai boat

Unfortunately, garbage was being burned again and again, so that there was often unhealthy smoke in the air, which was particularly annoying when jogging.

Sunset Beach

This quiet beach is located in the north of the island.

School festival in the village of Bang Ting Rai

Pupils from the local school performed various dances. The picture shows one of the pupils before her big performance.

Ascent to Khao Ko Pu

The hill, which is just over 400 meters high, is the highest point on the island. At the beginning, I hiked through rubber plantations.

After reaching abandoned buildings, I followed the main path, which led me further and further into the plantations and became more and more impassable. I even surprised a cobra snake, but it retreated into the undergrowth. I later read that a bite leads to death within a few minutes. People have actually died from cobra bites on Ko Jum. The correct path branches off to the left at the abandoned buildings.


Ko Ngai

The 4 km long island is known for its slightly more expensive accommodation, as the island is said to be exceptionally beautiful. This beauty was not apparent to me, as the entire beach was only accessible at low tide, but swimming was not possible at low tide. Beach protection structures were also a nuisance.

On the main beach

Views of the limestone cliffs

I was lucky and spotted a hornbill.

A path led from the main beach through a jungle to Paradise Beach.

This beach was long and there were sunsets to enjoy, but as there are no palm trees on this beach, it is not a paradise beach for me.

There are a few snorkeling opportunities on the island in the northeast at the end of the main beach. I found out about it too late, so I didn’t snorkel there. I must not have missed anything, as I visited world-class snorkeling areas before.

Ko Muk

I was also not impressed by the island of Ko Muk, which is only 8 km away from Ko Ngai. On the one hand, sand flies were to be found here. These are small flying insects whose bites still itch after a week and on which the anti-mosquito spray has no effect. I have an allergic reaction to these bites, so I give islands with sand flies a wide berth. In addition, my favorite pants disappeared from a laundry on this island.

A sailfish on display in a restaurant

Charlie beach

Charlie beach is the most beautiful on the island.

There was also a path to a viewpoint through the jungle, but I had expected more from the view.

Emerald Cave

The island’s main attraction is an 80-metre-long cave through which you can swim at low tide and then reach an open grotto with steep rock faces.

Trip to the cave

The end of the cave seen from the grotto. I wasn’t able to take photos of the grotto itself as there were already tourists there early in the morning, but also because of the narrowness of the place.

Koh Lanta

The last island on this trip around Thailand was Ko Lanta. At 21 km, it is quite long and the most touristy island on my trip. This was a good thing, as I found amenities here that I missed on the other islands.

Pra-Ae beach

I stayed at Pra-Ae beach. It’s ideal for swimming and jogging and has a few good restaurants.


The kind of müesli you only find on tourist islands.

The small town of Lanta consists only of historical buildings, a rarity in Thailand.

Live concerts only took place once a week. That’s why they were well attended. There was a good atmosphere and people danced to the music.

Kan Tiang Beach

All along the west coast of Ko Lanta there is one beach after another. Each one has a different atmosphere and a different crowd. One of the most beautiful beaches is Kan Tiang Beach.

View from Puh Pah View Restaurant over the beach

Ko Lanta National Park

The national park is located in the very south of the island. A hiking trail leads through the jungle.

The monkeys also feel at home.

Hike to the Khlong-Chak cave and waterfall

A hiking trail leads along a stream to the Khlong-Chak cave and on to the Khlong-Chak waterfall.

The cave

Bats slept on the walls.

The path continued to the waterfall.

A magical place!

The waterfall

That was the end of my island hopping in the south of Thailand. I liked Ko Lanta the best. On the one hand, there is a lot to see on the island and the tourist infrastructure is sufficient, on the other hand, mass tourism has not yet overrun the island.


I flew back to Bangkok from Krabi. I actually wanted to spend the night near the airport as I was flying to Sri Lanka the next day. As I arrived in Bangkok in the morning and still had to do some shopping, I decided to spend the night in the city, very close to the train to the airport. I had to replace the pants that had disappeared and the flip flops and buy a webcam, as the camera built into my laptop stopped working. New water shoes were also on the shopping list, as well as fins for my trip to the Maldives and my time on the Red Sea. Thanks to good preparation, I found everything in one long afternoon.

Advertising for Switzerland

Surprisingly, I saw an advertisement for Switzerland on the elevated train.

After deciding to spend the night in Bangkok, I immediately reserved a table at the 1-Michelin-star restaurant ‘Signature’ with its chef Thierry Drapeau.

Signature Restaurant at Hotel Vie

I opted for the 8-course menu ‘Le Grand Bouquet’.

One of the courses was Icelandic Arctic char (red at the bottom), leek and leek cream, caviar and flame flowers. A dream!

One of the desserts

I was able to choose one variety from the pralines on the left. Why not all of them? The chocolate egg on the right was for breaking.

A few Grand Cru chocolate pralines were revealed. Heavenly!

This marked the end of my 30-day trip to Thailand. Sri Lankan Airlines had the best connection from Bangkok to Addu City in the south of the Maldives. So the next morning I flew to Sri Lanka, where I indulged in idleness for 10 days on Hiriketiya Beach in the south of the island. Unfortunately, I was bitten by a dog there, so I had to visit the provincial hospital in Matara, 22 km away, three times during the 10 days for rabies booster vaccinations.


This text is an automatic English translation from the German original by