Koh Tao (Thailand)
Known as one of the most interesting islands in the world, Koh Tao means “Turtle’s Island”, because it alludes to the fact that sea turtles inhabit this area. While the sea turtles are no longer as plentiful as they used to be, you can still witness green and hawksbill turtles, especially on the Thian Og Bay. The clean crystal water allows you a wonderful diving time to witness the lively colorful coral reefs. There are several main magnificent sites.
Koh Samui Islands (Thailand)
Similar to other wonderful islands in the Gulf of Thailand, the Koh Samui cluster is blessed with crystal water, amazing coral reefs, thriving marine life, and green fresh forests on the ground. And on top of that, Koh Samui island is the second largest island in Thailand. You’ll never feel disappointed if you want to keep your head under the water with a snorkeling mask!
Furthermore, those of you who love waterfalls should definitely not miss the Namuang Waterfall. The lower cascade flows down into a cool scenic natural pool. 30 minutes walking uphill from there will take you to a smaller, inviting cascade blending softly into the forest landscape. There is no entrance fee for this natural beauty so go enjoy.
Koh Chang (Thailand)
Part of the Mu Koh Chang National Park, this is Thailand’s third largest island and it’s a lot less busy than the first two. Accommodations are available for every budget. There are various beaches on the island:
White Sand Beach: Its north site is the most bustling beach on the island, where you can find bunches of souvenirs shops, tattoo stores, hotels, and restaurants. The south is a bit quieter. If you are looking for a good cocktail this is the place for you but know that the beach is not as attractive.
Kai Bae Beach: This beach consists of several lovely boutique resorts and beach bungalows, suitable for a family trip. Lonely Beach: lots of budgeted accommodations can be found on this beach, making it ideal for travelers who seek local culinary taste rather than a fancy hotel.
Salakkok: Mangroves are the most significant feature of this area. This type of plant is the nurse of the ocean, fostering the life of marine species and resident birds. Kayak in this area and you won’t be disappointed. Here, you can also witness how the locals are trying to preserve the environment and the traditional way of life on this island.
Phu Quoc Island (Vietnam)
Phu Quoc, the largest island of Vietnam, has been serving as an outstanding travel destination for years. Here, you can choose a luxury resort to hide away from the lively hustle, and let your heart peacefully sing with the pristine beauty of the sea. You can also book a casual hostel on the northern side of Long Beach, where either the busy beach or the bustling market is just a few steps away. We’ve covered here a break-down of areas to stay and recommended accommodations to choose in Phu Quoc.
Nam Du Islands (Vietnam)
Nam Du cluster of islands has recently just emerged as one of the most attractive places to visit in the South of Vietnam. There are 21 islands and islets in the cluster, that all preserve the pristine sandy beaches settled gently between the green coconut forests and the crystal sea. In the dry season, the cluster is perfect for a trip of discovery and relaxation.
The very best island that you should visit if you wish to experience either the local life or the beautiful nature is Hon Son. There is somewhere between 2,000 families living on this island, with a history that traces back to hundreds of years ago. Here, you should discover Ma Thien Lanh hill, filled with many peaceful sanctuaries, an outdoor Buddha statue, and relics of the local people of the past. If you only seek stunning natural sites, I recommend Hon Mau, a small islet with only 200 households, but many magnificent beaches.
Hai Tac (Pirate) Islands (Vietnam)
This cluster was actually named after the regular attacks and robberies on the sea happening near this cluster of islands in previous centuries. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the pirate problems were solved. The islands retain their pristine natural sites and a simple lifestyle of the locals. People here fish to earn their living. I recommend spending most of your time on Big Hon Tre, where the Tien Hai town is located, if you wish to feel the local life. There are neither hotels nor hostels on the islands, so plan to visit the site for half a day.
Koh Thmei (Cambodia)
For a bit of the heavenly Vitamin Sea in this temple country, don’t hesitate to choose Koh Thmei. Koh Thmei is a part of the Ream National Park. It is here that you can travel back into the days when people were still living in harmony with nature. Although in 2016 this island underwent a renovation to boost the tourism industry, the island luckily preserves its pristine shores and charming forest. There are roughly 200 people living on this island, in the small fishing village of Koh K’chang. Magnificent coral reefs are even right at your fingertips (but don’t touch), inviting you to scuba dive. Surfing and kayaking are also available for the adventurous spirit.
What is particularly interesting about this island is its biodiversity, of which 150 species of birds thrive. Imagine the scene upon first entering the tropical forest. Stunned, a wide range of feathered-creatures such as cockatoos, parrots, canaries and sea eagles will greet you! There are eco-tours that take you deeper into the islands, which will grant you an even deeper insight into this invaluable biosphere reserve.