Thailand: Mainland or Island?

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So, you’ve decided you want to take a trip to Thailand? Well, the next big decision to make is whether you fancy an island

Well, the next big decision to make is whether you fancy an island getaway or a mainland retreat. Here’s a few pointers to help you decide which is right for you, with a look at a couple of potential islands and mainland destinations, and the pros and cons of each. Whichever you decide on, make sure you get in some diving while in Thailand. If you are looking for the Ultimate Guide to Diving in Thailand, have a look at They offer day trips, liveaboards and much more for your Thailand diving trip.

Tropical Nomad Blog Koh Tao Beach Thailand


This is probably the most famous of the Thailand beach resorts; it’s an incredibly scenic island that is connected to the mainland by a road bridge, so it’s easy to reach from the mainland. Hotels are located all over the island and allow visitors to choose from some beautiful secluded getaway spots, or from several small towns that offer more opportunity for shopping and nightlife.

Patong is one of these towns and is popular with younger travellers and backpackers looking for a party. For something a little more peaceful go for the smaller towns of Kamala, Karon and Kata. These have access to smaller and less crowded beaches. If you go for a Phuket island getaway there’s plenty to do, from scuba diving to golf – so you definitely won’t be bored!

It’s important to remember that on Phuket, as on most of Thailand’s islands, different areas will suit very different kinds of traveller, so make sure the area you choose is suitable for you before you book anything.

 koh tao to chiang mai

Chiang Mai

 Unlike island destinations, the ancient capital city of Chiang Mai is located far away from the sea in the hills of northern Thailand. It’s incredibly culturally rich, with many architectural reminders of its history.

Within Chiang Mai city is “The Old City” which is delineated by a rectangular moat and the ruins of an ancient wall. The eastern side surrounding Tha Pae Gate is the main tourist area being home to many hotels and a centre of nightlife. The well-known Night Bazaar shopping area is within walking distance and is also a popular area to stay.

For a quieter spot to rest your head go for a hotel on the banks of the nearby winding Mae Ping River, where there is also a selection of restaurants to enjoy. From here you can explore the area on guided walking tours, or even go on an elephant trek if you’re feeling adventurous! You can also try your hand at rock or mountain climbing, but if you do, make sure extreme sports are covered by your travel insurance.

Chiang Mai offers a chance to really experience Thai culture in a pleasantly laid back atmosphere. The residents are used to foreign visitors and are friendly without so much of the hard-sell tactics that can be experienced in the other tourist hot spots.


Chiang Mai Cookery School


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