5 must-visit islands in Thailand*

[Sponsored] After the frenetic craziness of Bangkok, Thailand is probably most famous for its numerous islands, each with its own unique offerings—from long, sandy beaches to walk along to crazy parties to dance the night away at.

And with Air Asia‘s numerous weekly flights to Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi, not only can you fly affordably to Thailand, you will also get to visit some of the country’s smaller, more remote (and undisputedly more beautiful) islands via the seamless Island Transfer packages. In a single booking, you can sign up for flights, transfers and ferry rides that will get you to your final destination effortlessly.

Krabi: Rock Climbing & Nature

With gorgeous views of the Andaman Sea, Krabi is less about crazy parties and more about slow living and a bit of adventure. Enjoy the restaurants and cafes of Krabi Town, but do make time for a speedboat ride to one of the neighboring beaches.

A visit to Railay Beach is a must, thanks to its towering limestone karsts that have attracted tourists from around the world. Even if you aren’t very fit, make some time to try out one of Krabi’s 700 different rock climbing routes. There are plenty of climbing schools that offer day courses with all equipment included. If you just want to take lots of pretty pictures, there’s Than Bokkhorani National Park, home to the limestone cliffs and white beachs of the Hong Islands. On the largest islands, Mu Koh Hong, you’ll find a 400-meter nature trail that explorers mustn’t miss out on. 

Many choose to stay close to the bustling beach of Ao Nang—which is all about lots of great Thai food, massages, yoga classes and sunset drinks. A short drive away is the Emerald Pool, a hot-water lagoon in nearby Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve. The vivid color comes from the high quantity of calcium carbonate deposits in the 30-50 degree water. A dip in the pool is the perfect way to end the walk through the nature reserve.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies direct to Krabi seven times a week. Prices starts at $50.

, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*

Phuket: Culture & Nightlife

Party places are also abundant in Phuket, whether you’re in the mood for all-night raves or simply to chill out over drinks. Seduction Nightclub (70/3 Bangla Rd., +66 93 581-8126) is Patong Beach’s biggest nightclub and is decked out in trippy freeform chandelier sculptures and  blue illuminated tables. Plus, the huge complex also has an open-air terrace and a VIP area. 

There’s also new restaurant and bar The Avenue (46/11 Moo 5 Tambon Vichit Muang, +66 61 251-6706), a bistro serving Thai, European and American food by day and a downtempo cocktail and craft beer bar by night. The homey decor makes it a perfect place to unwind with beers from Rogue and Baird breweries and fresh cocktails.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies direct to Phuket International Airport seven times a week. Prices start at $55.

, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
Fire Dance

Koh Tao: Diving & Snorkelling

Koh Tao ranked #10 in the world in the Best Islands in the World list in TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards 2014. It’s easy to see why with its turquoise waters, white beachs, dramatic forest-covered hills and world-class scuba diving.

Don’t miss snorkelling and scuba diving on this beautiful island, which is an important breeding ground for hawksbill and green turtles. Chumphon Pinnacle is a popular place for diving with tons of sea life. There are bull sharks, stingray, barracudas and even whale sharks to spot if you’re lucky. There’s also Sairee Beach on the west coast of the island with a bit of everything—from yoga to massages. However, there’s a great diving school Sairee Cottage Diving (10/1 Sairee Cottage, +66 77 456-374) that specializes in PADI certification. Dive trips around the island depart four times a day.

If you aren’t dive-certified, opt for snorkelling instead. Ao Thian Ok, locally known as Shark Bay, is where you’ll get to see the most sharks and fish without having to dive. Head to New Heaven Resort (+66 77 456-462) where you can hang out, grab some food and snorkel in the pristine waters. Remember, the sharks here are pretty shy so have some patience.

GETTING THERE: As with Koh Samui, fly to Bangkok then Fly-Thru to Surat Thani and hop on a ferry (a different one this time) to get to Koh Tao. The Island Transfer package, including flights, starts at $109.

, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
Anthong Marine Park

Koh Samui: Swimming & Shopping

Slightly more upmarket than its counterparts, Koh Samui has plenty of top restaurants and five-star resorts. But look closely and you’ll find affordable options that don’t skimp on style.

Koh Samui is a great jumping off point for Anthong Marine Park, one of Thailand’s most pristine marine reserves and home to over 40 islands covered with dense rainforest. Don’t miss the lovely Na Muang Waterfall, which is especially strong between the months of Sep-Mar, it’s where you can also go swimming. 

Koh Samui also hosts two major walking streets: the Friday Bophut Walking Street (held on the famous and busy Bophut Beach) features shophouses occupied by restaurants, cafes and shops. Street vendors sell cute beachy trinkets and souvenirs. For a more food-centric market, there’s the Maenam Walking Street, which takes place on Thursdays. Just buy your food and grab a seat at one of the simple metal folding tables.

GETTING THERE: Take one of AirAsia‘s 42 weekly direct flights to Bangkok, do a Fly-Thru to Surat Thani and then a ferry to Koh Samui—all seamlessly done via AirAsia’s Island Transfer package. Prices start at $109.

, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
Santhiya Spa

Koh Phangan: Partying & Massage

It’s similar to Koh Samui with its crazy full-moon parties. While most beach bars have crazy all-night raves, head to Sramanora for an alternative jungle and waterfall party experience. This tech-house bar is flanked by psychedelic neon paintings and brings in tons of international DJs. Here, full moon parties, full of UV Paint, bucket cocktails and jugglers, happen twice a month. 

For a true beachside party, go to Drop In (154/2 Haad Rin, Baan Tai) where the full moon parties start at 8pm and can continue until the crack of dawn. The Haad Rin area is famous for its bar and this place is all about games like fire rope jumping.

When it’s time for some much-needed rest and relaxation, there’s no better place to get pampered than Santhiya Resorts & Spas (22/7 Moo 5 Bantai, +66 77 428-999). You’ll not only find traditional Thai treatments like massages and body scrubs, but also the resort’s signature Ayurvana spa with scrubs, steams and aromatic massages, all done in pretty outdoor pavilions.

GETTING THERE: Hop on a flight via Bangkok and do a Fly-Thru to Surat Thani. Island Transfer packages that include flights start at $109.


4 Perks of the Fly-Thru at Bangkok’s Don Mueang

1. No lines. There’s no immigration check at transit.
2. Free hands. No baggage to collect until your final destination.
3. Shops galore. Duty free, cosmetics and more. Plus: Thai crafts and Thai food.
4. Life’s essentials. Also known as free WiFi.

4 Great Add-ons When You Pre-Book with AirAsia

, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
1. More meal choices. When you pre-book your meal online, not only do you get 20% off, you also get more options, including several mouth watering Thai classics.
, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
2. Check in baggage. It’s a no-brainer. You save up to 54% when you pre-book your baggage online! What’s more, you have the option to pack anything from 20kg-40kg.
, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
3. Priority boarding with hot seats. When you pick a seat, you get a head start with priority boarding. Not only that, having hot seats means extra legroom for additional comfort.
, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
4. Premium flex. Travel like a boss. Check in at the dedicated Premium Flex counter and enjoy flexibility to change your flight details two hours before departure and up to two times without extra charges. What’s more, get complimentary 20kg baggage allowance, get a delicious in-flight meal, choose where you want to sit at no cost and be the first to board.
, 5 must-visit islands in Thailand*
Eating Well on Board
Let’s face it: Thai food is half the thrill of visiting Thailand. And on AirAsia, you get a sneak peek at all the classics before you even touch the ground. All flights to Thailand offer a range of iconic Thai dishes, such as green curry, mango sticky rice and, everyone’s favorite, basil chicken. Meals start at $5 when you pre-book online.


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