HomeAttractions7 Top Alternatives to Koh Samui You Should Consider

7 Top Alternatives to Koh Samui You Should Consider


Koh Samui is unarguably one of the most beautiful Thai islands. It has magnificent beaches, lively culture, and excellent dive sites. I did visit Koh Samui and had a memorable experience.

However, many, Thais and foreigners alike, are looking for an alternative. The reason is straightforward. The island has become too “touristy,” and all the prices have increased too sharply for travelers to create trips at reasonable prices. Others (like me) are just bored and want to get a unique traveling experience elsewhere.

This post thus aims to help fellow tourists find the right destination that offers a similar or even better traveling experience to Koh Samui despite paying far less than its price.

1. Koh Kood (Koh Kut)

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, albeit on a different side to Koh Samui, Koh Kood is my favorite.

As the fourth largest of all Thai islands, Koh Kood has several white-sand, secluded beaches with crystal clear waters comparable to those of the Andaman sea. This fact makes Koh Kood become known as the “Eastern Andaman” island.

Koh Kood is the best alternative to Koh Samui

Despite its well-reserved nature, the island has few tourists, primarily due to its remote location. As a result, there are no lively events like Koh Phangan or Samui. Koh Kood thus suits tourists who desire exclusivity and prefer private or peaceful relaxation.

Koh Kood offers a wide range of accommodations, ranging from world-renowned resorts ($200-$700 per night) to affordable guesthouses ($20-$50 per night). Thus, finding the one that suits your budget is not too challenging.

The only drawback is that traveling to the island can be a bit challenging. This is because Koh Kood is mainly separated from the rest of Thailand. You will need to go to the pier in the Trat province and catch a speedboat or ferry.

2. Koh Tarutao and Koh Lipe

Koh Tarutao archipelago is Thailand’s first underwater national reserve. The archipelago used to host the country’s worst prisoners almost a century ago. However, things have changed since then, so it has become a popular tourist destination.

The entire reserve comprises 51 islands. Although Koh Tarutao is the largest, Koh Lipe is the most popular. Many travelers choose to stay at Koh Lipe since it has the most developed infrastructure (4-star hotels are available) and then buy tours to visit other islands.

Koh Lipe's beach

Other islands offer pristine beaches and top-notch dive sites. I would say that the underwater abundance of marine life there can match any island in Thailand.

Furthermore, with a guide, you can explore the untouched rainforest and its caves at Koh Tarutao through the hiking trails. The biosphere has flourished floras and faunas, some of which are near-extinct.

You can visit Koh Tarutao and its archipelago by first getting to a port at La-Ngu, a part of the Satun province in the southernmost part of Thailand. The best way is to fly into Hat Yai and then catch a bus, van, or private taxi to La-Ngu.

Once you are there, take the ferry to Koh Lipe or the island of your choice.

3. Trang and its Islands

Trang is another southern Thai province with many islands with deserted beaches and outstanding coral reefs. Below are some that you may want to visit.

Koh Libong – Koh Libong is the largest island in the archipelago of the Trang province and has plenty of seagrasses. Thus, it has the best spots for Dugong watching.

Also, do not forget to watch the sunset. The atmosphere there is undeniably pristine, which is best for honeymoon couples.

Koh Mook – Known for its hidden beautiful beach, which tourists can only visit through the Emerald cave when the sea water recedes, Koh Mook is many Thais’ favorite destination, especially for adventure lovers.

Ko Chueak – Ko Chueak (Chueak means rope in the Thai language) offers a somewhat adventurous snorkeling experience. The island has the most prosperous marine life in the archipelago, but the current can be overwhelming. Hence, every visitor needs to hold the rope when snorkeling, which is how the island gets its name.

Koh Kradan
Koh Kradan

Koh Kradan – This island is famously known for underwater weddings, where a couple can go through marriage ceremonies under the sea. Because of the best beaches and crystal-clear waters in the archipelago, Koh Kradan is an excellent option for any beach holiday.

Apart from the above, Trang has several other islands where mass tourism is still not entrenched. You can do island hopping without bothering about the chaos of the crowd.

Each island has several resorts and guesthouses where you can stay to immerse yourself in nature. Alternatively, you can find accommodation on the mainland as well.

Getting to these islands is straightforward. Just fly into Trang and take the ferry. However, I recommend booking a tour package in advance so your guide can pick you up at the airport and drive you to the pier. Also, having a tour guide with a boat makes island hopping much easier.

4. Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta in the Krabi province is an excellent alternative to Koh Samui. The island features beautiful beaches with full-fledged facilities and rich coral reefs, which makes it an excellent snorkeling site.

Koh Lanta, top Koh Samui alternatives
Koh Lanta

However, what makes Koh Lanta unique is the presence of the locals, whose traditions and cultures remain intact. During some parts of the year, you can observe their ceremonies believed to thwart evil spirits.

Currently, there are various accommodations on Koh Lanta to select from, ranging from a luxurious five-star resort to affordable bungalows.

Getting to Koh Lanta is effortless. Just fly into Krabi and take the ferry at the pier.

5. Koh Tao

Koh Tao is an island in Surat Thani province, not very far from Koh Samui. It has become famous among Thais and foreigners due to its scuba diving training facilities.

Thus, if you want to explore the seabed on your own, Koh Tao is the place to help you get your first diving qualifications.

Besides scuba diving, Koh Tao, and its neighbor Koh Nangyuan, have magnificent beaches and bays, where you can relax or enjoy numerous activities, including sightseeing, kayaking, banana boat riding, and many more.

Koh Nangyuan

Like Koh Samui, there are several restaurants and beach bars on Koh Tao where you can try tasty Thai food while immersing yourself in the sea breeze.

Compared to Kho Samui, the pricing range of accommodations is considerably cheaper, but you will have far fewer options. Still, finding the one that suits your budget will not be too difficult.

Traveling to Koh Tao is very easy. Just take the ferry from either Chumphon or Surat Thani province. The entire trip will take 90-120 minutes. Alternatively, you can also visit Koh Tao by taking a ferry from Koh Samui.

6. Koh Chang

Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand (after Phuket.) Like Koh Kood, the island is near Trat province, but its location is much closer to the mainland.

Once on the island, you can visit many of Koh Chang’s beautiful beaches, hike through the trails, ride an elephant, or try water sports.

Koh Chang

However, Koh Chang itself is not the place to dive. If you want to do so, I highly recommend buying a 1-day tour package to other islands, including

  • Koh Rung – Situated halfway between Koh Chang and Koh Kut, Koh Rung is famous for its pristine beaches and well-reserved coral reefs, which are optimal for snorkeling.
  • Koh Kra – This island has the same name as the one in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. However, Koh Kra near Kor Chang is way smaller, but it has clear sea water and prosperous marine life.
  • Koh Yak Yai – Koh Yak Yai is a tiny island surrounded by well-reserved blue corals and a school of big-eyed fish. This place is excellent for scuba diving.
  • Koh Mapring – Favored by scuba drivers, the sea around Koh Mapring is rich with marine life, particularly barracuda and lionfish. In some rare cases, scuba divers spot whale sharks as well.
  • Koh Wai – A small island where most tour guides will drop you off for resting after several dives.

Compared to Koh Kood, Koh Chang has much better tourist facilities. There are many stores, restaurants, pubs, and bars where you can try local food and interact with fellow travelers.

Accommodations on the island are numerous and inexpensive. You can even stay at a 4-5-star resort by paying less than $100 per night. Despite that, more affordable options are also available.

Getting to Koh Chang is effortless. Take a bus or drive to Trat province and take the ferry, which will take you and your vehicle onboard. The entire ferry takes no more than 30 minutes to drop you off at the port in Koh Chang. You can then drive to your accommodation with ease.

However, if you visit Koh Chang during the peak season, you may have to wait hours to get on the ferry. Based on my experience, I did wait three hours, which was an unfavorable experience.

7. Koh Lan

Suppose you are in Bangkok and do not have time to travel south to Koh Samui but still want to see the magnificent Thai island. You may want to visit Koh Lan.

Koh Lan is an island off the coast of Pattaya. You can visit it pretty quickly by taking the ferry from the city.

Koh Lan

The best part of Koh Lan is that it has a long and spacious beach named Tha When beach, where the sea water’s colors match the sky.

Also, the entire beach is equipped with comprehensive facilities so that you can engage in various water sports, such as kayaking, banana boat riding, and jet skiing. Others can relax at beach bars, admiring nature and listening to live music simultaneously.

Most accommodations at Koh Lan are inexpensive (albeit with few luxurious options). You can get a room with excellent amenities at $70 or lower per night.

The Best Time to Visit

Koh Lanta, Koh Tarutao & Koh Lipe, and Trang are parts of the Andaman sea. Hence, the best time to visit is during the dry season, from November to March.

Koh Kood and Koh Chang are located in the Gulf of Thailand, but the best time to visit is almost the same as those on the Andaman side, which is from November to May.

Koh Tao, like Koh Samui, has its peak season during the middle of the year. It would be best if you visited the island from March to September.

Pun Anansakunwat
Pun Anansakunwat
As a person passionate about traveling, I love to explore new places, meet new people, and learn about culture and history.

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