Patong Beach is a party all in its own, and in my opinion kind of overrated. The surrounding islands will leave you breathless though, and slightly depressed that you have a return ticket. I first got hooked on Thailand by Matt Kepnes – author of Nomadic Matt – that’s where his travel obsession began, as well as mine after visiting!! Below you will find a tried and true Phuket island hopping guide.
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As you walk around the streets of Patong, you will notice they are adorned with tour vendors for island hopping.You ARE allowed to bargain.
I never paid full price for a package. Although I went during peak season, the prices were still pretty decent for island hopping tours. They offer pickup and drop-off at your hotel, and lunch is included (the food is amazing, so don’t worry)! For your convenience, I made a list of some islands to book a tour for.
Just outside of Koh Yao Yai is this tiny island, with a few huts and lounge chairs, a bar and you can walk end to end within 2 minutes. It’s the perfect sized island for ultimate relaxation, so grab your favorite cocktail, and let the island life sink in.
Phi Phi Islands
As an icon and must-see of Thailand (but only for about a day), these have to be in your itinerary. The islands are comprised of Koh Phi Phi (Tonsai Beach, Monkey Beach), and Koh Phi Phi Lee (Pileh Lagoon, Maya Bay).
Breathtaking, no matter what time of day you’re there. At low tide, you will be able to interact with the monkeys on the beach. At high tide, the boats will float around while you take in the beauty of the icy blue water reflecting off the limestone cliffs; creating a green hue. Monkeys will be climbing the limestone, and may jump onto the boat, so make sure to have your camera out!
Maya Bay is now well-known and highly populated because of Leonardo’s famous movie “The Beach”. Don’t let that deter you from visiting, it still has all the views. Make sure to take the pathway that leads past the restrooms. It comes out to another beach on the other side! Our tour didn’t allow us enough time to explore it, but we saw so many people coming through.
Our speedboat took us directly across from the beach to a roped off section for snorkeling, which many enjoyed except me, as it was my first time. I almost had a panic attack after jumping in and getting water in my mask. Surprise, there’s water in the ocean. I really thought I was dying. Laugh away…
Moment of truth – I’m pretty much deathly afraid of being in water. I have been that way my whole life, unfortunately. I’ve seen Jaws one too many times. Thanks Mom. I eventually overcame my fear (kind of) and snorkeled at Koh Hey a few days later because I was not about to leave Thailand without snorkeling.
Coral Island (Koh Hey) a.k.a Banana Island
Allow this paradise to turn you into a beach bum the second you step onto the shore. There is a cocktail bar, a dance floor, and quality snorkeling. People travel here specifically because of the massive amount of deep coral reefs it possesses.
Banana Beach – the main beach – was breathtaking. The water is warm and clear, perfect for snorkeling for hours and hours. Just on the other side of Banana Beach, there is a very secluded snorkeling haven! This is one of the few places in the world this dense with coral.
Phuket Island Hopping: Transportation
Phuket island hopping would not be complete without explaining how to get to the islands. You have the option of hiring a longboat (around 30 bucks a day), private speedboat, or book a tour through the kiosks on Patong Beach
(shop around to negotiate the best price). The tours I booked were all inclusive: transportation from and back to the hotel, food, with snorkel gear to rent (roughly $2-3 per person).
Phuket once had world renowned beaches, but along with popularity comes dirtiness. With the option to base yourself there, if you’re budget conscious, and island hop – you can take advantage of those aqua blue waters that Google images portrays. Head over to booking.com to book your hotels now, or use the map below!
Are you packing for a trip to Thailand? Check out my guide for conservative countries here!