Among the many things Thailand is famous for, one is its beaches and islands. World-famous amongst travelers are the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, while Koh Phangan is famous with backpackers and Koh Tao with scuba divers. But, with two major coasts featuring over 3,000 km of coastline and dozens of smaller islands, many of which have accommodation of some sort, Thailand has island and beach destinations for nearly every type of traveler. On this episode of Talk Travel Asia podcast, we’ll chat with David Luekens, a travel writer specializing in Thai islands, who will share some tips to help you plan your next fun-in-the-sun holiday in coastal Thailand. 

Thailand beach podcast with David Luekens
Khlong Hin, Koh Kood (Photo courtesy of David Luekens / Thai Island Times)
Introduction: Trevor and Scott’s experience on Thai beaches and islands

Trevor: I started my travel writing career specializing in Thai beaches and Islands. First doing the Andaman Coast and Samui Archipelago chapters for Fodors’ Thailand, and then updating subsequent Fodors and National Geographic books featuring Thailand’s many beaches and islands. When I was a kid, that’s all we did for holidays: explore beaches and islands. Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and eventually Hawaii, where my parents settled thirty years ago. Becoming a travel writer specializing in beaches was almost the job I was destined for. 

Scott: In 1995, I first traveled to Koh Phangan and Samui. I was just knocked out by the beaches and islands when I first moved here in 1999. I remember thinking we’d be at the beach every weekend, but then the reality of city life and commuting got in the way. That said, in my first year we made it to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Samet, and Ao Nang in Krabi a few times. My barometer for what a nice beach was quickly peaked and spoiled. After traveling to other gorgeous beaches and islands in Asia, I can honestly say that Thailand has some of the best beaches and islands in the world.

Trevor: When I first moved to Thailand twenty years ago this May, the first thing I did was spend six weeks on Koh Tao. It was so awesome back then. A year or so later, I published my first travel story: an article about Koh Chang. Since then, I’ve become something of an expert on Thai beaches and islands, even if my experience is getting a bit dated now.

Ko Bulon Leh, Ao Panka Yai (Photo courtesy of David Luekens / Thai Island Times)
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Guest Intro: David Luekens

David Luekens is a travel journalist and creator of the e-newsletter, Thai Island Times. Specializing in islands, coastal areas, and environmental issues in Thailand, David spent eight years as a staff writer for and has also contributed to CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, and other outlets over the years. He joins us online from his home in Bangkok.

Listen to Episode 129 – Thai Islands and Beaches with David Luekens to hear David’s answers to the following questions: 

  • Where did you live and what did you do before moving to Asia?
  • What first brought you to Thailand?
  • What got you into this very niche blog topic: Thailand’s beaches and islands?
  • How long ago did you start the newsletter about Thai islands and beaches? 
  • What do you love most about the beaches and islands of Thailand?
  • What do you think makes Thai islands and beaches so popular as a global tourist destination? 
  • Tell us about a couple of the key sea people/cultures on some Thai islands and beach areas.
  • Tell us a bit about how you got involved in environmental concerns on Thai islands and beaches. 
  • You mentioned coral rehabilitation projects and efforts to combat ocean rubbish and coastal erosion: Which have you seen the most success with?
  • After the government closed down some of the islands post-tsunami, the ecosystems around some of the off-limits Thai islands seemed to really flourish. Do you think something similar is happening while the tourists have been away because of COVID?
  • Can you share 2-3 of your favorite, lesser-known Thai islands with us?
  • How else do you see the Thailand beach and island scene changing post-COVID?
  • What visitors should keep in mind when planning their Thai island/beach vacations?
David Luekens in a Thai longtail boat (Photo courtesy of David Luekens / Thai Island Times)
A few islands and beaches in Thailand for certain categories of travelers: 
  • Active water sports: Koh Phangan and around Hua Hin.
  • Family-friendly: Phuket, Silver beach, Koh Samui.
  • Romantic: Koh Kradan, Koh Kut 
  • Long beach walks: Long Beach, Koh Lanta 
  • Party: Koh Phangan, Lonely Beach, Koh Lipe
  • Natural Beauty & wildlife: Marine Park Ang Thong, Mu Koh Surin and Similan National Parks, Bungalows on Koh Tarutao. 
  • Quiet and contemplative: Koh Jam, Koh Phra Thong, Koh Libong. 

Check out a Google MAP of Thai Beaches and Islands

Scott at Railay Bay, one of his favorite beach areas in Thailand.

Links to learn more about David and Thai beaches:

To learn more about Scott & Trevor

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