There’s a pretty standard route people follow through the Southern Islands of Thailand. All of them offer buckets of booze, people twirling sticks on fire, beaches and bungalows. So people often ask if it is worth traveling to the next island. After hitting most of the islands twice, here’s my cheat sheet on their differences:
East Coast Islands;
Ko Pha-ngan – Parties (Full Moon, Half Moon, Black moon, Jungle, Coral Bungalow Pool Party, and then some). When a party isn’t going on it’s a ghost town. Most of the parties are confined to Haad Rin beach, so plan accordingly.
Ko Samui – Resorts. If you want that small island feel but prefer sitting at your infinity pool with drink service while overlooking the ocean, this is your place. The popular beach is Chaweng and where you’ll find most of your resort options.
Ko Tao – Scuba diving. This is the quietest Island and the last to get touristy. It has multiple dive sites all over the island, some which are ranked in the top ten worldwide. Also, with approximately 52 dive schools to choose from, prices are competitive which makes it one of the cheapest places internationally to dive and get your certifications. I dove with Roctopus Dive and would highly recommend them; top notch people and way more personal than some of the others.
West Coast Islands
Phuket – Everything. It’s huge, so if you want it they have it. Where it differs is prostitution. You can literally walk into a bar and order a girl/lady boy by number (If that’s your thing).
Ko Phi Phi – No cars allowed and Leonardo DiCaprio. Very touristy and feels like one giant resort. Regardless, it’s a cool spot and many travelers favorite island. You walk alomost everywhere and it is where you can take a day trip to the beach, from the movie “The Beach”.