Ang Thong National Marine Park near Koh Samui, Surat Thani Province, Thailand

To each their own – four ways to explore the Gulf of Thailand

The Gulf of Thailand – few destinations in the Kingdom conjure up a more paradise-like image, with half-moon-shaped crescents of powdery beach, crystal-clear waters and coconut-bearing palm trees along its endless shores. What, that’s not what you’re seeing?

That must be because the region, which includes the famous islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and the vast Ang Thong National Marine Park, is incredibly diverse. To get exactly what you’re looking for (and a little more, still!) out of your trip to the Thai Gulf, check out the four most popular ways to explore the many facets of this beautiful corner of the Kingdom!

Dive into Koh Tao

Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, Thailand
Smile for the camera – you’ll come across all sorts of amazing wildlife in the waters of Koh Tao!

Don’t be fooled by this island’s relatively small size… Koh Tao packs a punch, ranking among the world’s most legendary diving and snorkelling locations. There’s a large number of diving schools on the island, many of which operate in several languages, and all of which will get you that much closer to the Gulf’s magical underwater landscapes!

Famous dive sites include pretty Koh Nang Yuan, just off Koh Tao’s coast, as well as the Chumphon pinnacle, which your school will take you out to via boat: it’s here that you’ll have the best chance at encountering some truly ‘big fish’, from manta rays to majestic whale sharks!

Party it up in Koh Phangan

Full moon party on Koh Phgangan in the Gulf of Thailand, Thailand
Turn it up – Koh Phangan’s Full Moon parties are fun, friendly and super flirty. Photography courtesy of Full Moon Party Thailand

Koh Phangan’s nightlife is the stuff of legends. The tropical island just south of Koh Tao impresses with some of the best parties in all of Thailand, and the scene down here is fun-loving, international and, most importantly, ultra inclusive.

Haad Rin on the island’s southern tip is arguably its nightlife hotspot, as the pretty beach hosts the original Full Moon parties that have become infamous throughout the world! Thousands of travellers come together here once a month to dance with their feet in the sand and welcome the full moon in the spirit of love, unison and celebration – this one’s for the bucket list!

Get cultured in Koh Samui

Wat Plai Laem on Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, Thailand
Need a hand? The magnificent statues at Wat Plai Laem add to Koh Samui’s cultural offering.

A stone’s throw from Koh Phangan, Samui offers perhaps the most upscale experience on offer throughout the Gulf. But it’s not only the island’s luxury resorts that lure travellers to its shores: instead, Koh Samui is home to the most awe-inspiring temples and shrines to be found in the Gulf of Thailand!

Luckily for visitors, two of Samui’s most stunning sacred sites are a mere fifteen minutes walking from one another… Wat Plai Laem is an active Buddhist temple whose extravagant, massive statues of deities are a photographer’s dream, while the golden Buddha of Wat Phra Yai radiates an atmosphere of peace and contemplation. Needless to say, culture vultures feel right at home in Samui!

Explore paradise in the Ang Thong archipelago

Ang Thong National Marine Park near Koh Samui, Surat Thani Province, Thailand
Welcome to paradise – Ang Thong National Marine Park is the stuff of dreams.

It won’t get much more magical than this: the protected Ang Thong National Marine Park can be visited on a day trip from Koh Samui, though staying overnight certainly adds to the experience – so long as one of only six simple bungalows and a few tents on one of the archipelago’s islands, Koh Wua Talab, is still available!

But whether you overnight or not, the park’s 42 islands are a tropical paradise marked by striking limestone formations, dense rainforest and pristine, blonde beaches. If ever you dreamt of exploring a world of natural wonders with a remote, Robinson Crusoe feel, Ang Thong is the place to go… A little adventure never hurt nobody!