Views #1516 | Intermediate (B1)

Thai Island Life

Jerri explains the features of many of Thailand's islands.

Todd: So I’m here in Bangkok with Jerri and she is Thai. And, Jerri, I thought we would talk about Thai islands.

Jerri: Of course.

Todd: So there are some major islands. Can you first talk about the major resort islands in Thailand?

Jerri: Yes. So as most of you know, Thailand is probably visited because of its islands. So the most well-known ones would be Phuket and Koh Samui, which are both down South in Surat Thani. And yeah, I think those are like the main destinations. They have changed quite a lot since the last 10 years. It’s quite developed, so it’s an island where, you know, if you really want like a very nice resort and have like a convenient place, like malls are everywhere. There’s also like international schools so a lot of people now move to live at Phuket or Koh Samui. It’s like a little Bangkok but by the beach.

Todd: Oh, really? Wow. And Phuket really developed quickly after the terrible tsunami, right? So it’s really rebounded and now it’s quite vibrant. Correct?

Jerri: Yes, yes, yes. Correct, yeah.

Todd: Okay. So both Samui and Phuket are the more traditional maybe tourist package islands.

Jerri: Yes.

Todd: Are there some smaller islands or less known islands that you would recommend?

Jerri: Yes. We have a lot of islands in Thailand. Just near Koh Samui, you have Koh Phangan, which is also known for its full moon party. That is the high season, but Koh Phangan is actually really nice apart from the full moon. If you visit the other less well-known beaches, Hat Rin, which is where the full moon party happens. There’s a lot of hidden beaches that is very quiet, very relaxed, and it’s not as developed as Koh Samui so you still feel that island lifestyle. There’s a lot of small businesses, local shops.

Todd: Oh, that sounds nice. You know, I actually have not been to Koh Phangan but I’ve been to Koh Tao. And that’s the diving island, correct?

Jerri: Yes, yes, yes.

Todd: Yeah. Can you talk about that?

Jerri: Yes, of course. So Koh Tao is known for its crystal clear water and corals for diving, so a lot of people go there to get their diving certificate. That’s actually the best place to do it. And you can spend like three days there, do the course, and then the island itself is also quite remote. So there’s a few stores, not as much as in Koh Phangan. But yeah, it’s nice and quiet, and…

Todd: Oh, that’s beautiful. There’s some other ones too, right? So there’s Koh Chang. Can you talk about that?

Jerri: Yes. Koh Chang is closer to Bangkok so you can drive there. It takes about five hours. It’s in Trat Province. Koh Chang is a big, big island. And yeah, some people like it, some people don’t, because it’s less vibrant, I would say, compared to like Koh Samui or Phuket. But there’s a lot of big resorts there and the beach is also really beautiful.

Todd: Yeah, I have to confess. It’s my favorite island by far.

Jerri: Yeah, yeah.

Todd: So I first went there 25 years ago and it was really quiet then. I mean, incredibly quiet. And the movie came out, The Beach.

Jerri: Right.

Todd: I remember when I saw that movie, I’m like, “Oh, that’s Koh Chang.” There was nothing to do on the island, and so that’s… It’s beautiful. It’s a natural park, correct?

Jerri: Yes, yes. Correct, yeah.

Todd: There’s another little one near Bangkok called Koh Samet, correct?

Jerri: Right. Yes, yes. That’s a very popular one, especially for Thais to go during the weekend. It’s like a two-hour drive from Bangkok, in Chonburi Province. All you do is you drive there and then you take a quick boat, about 30 minutes. It’s also a national park so there’s entrance fee, but it’s really nice. The beaches are smaller but there’s like different beaches and a recommended activity would be just to rent a bike and then drive around the island. Takes about like a half a day but all the beaches have their own unique character, which is nice to see.

Todd: Oh, that’s so awesome. Actually, when I was there years ago, I don’t think they had the road around the island.

Jerri: Yeah.

Todd: But I remember they had… It was just amazing, beautiful beaches.

Jerri: Yeah.

Todd: So there’s two more that are quite famous or one that’s very famous, and that’s Koh Phi Phi. That’s way down in the South. And there’s also Koh Lanta which is not too far away, I think, as well. So can you talk about those?

Jerri: Yes. These two I haven’t visited. I don’t remember visiting them but I know a lot of people go there for its clear water. And Koh Phi Phi, I believe, has the well-known sand in the middle of the ocean that you can walk across one island to the other, and it’s known for taking a boat and the water is very clear. And Koh Lanta… Yeah, Koh Lanta, I think it’s also known for the same reason as Koh Phi Phi, for its crystal clear water and there’s beautiful resorts there, too.

Todd: Great. Okay, so I’m going to put you on the spot. If you had to choose one island to visit, recommend one place, where would you go?

Jerri: Koh Phangan.

Todd: Koh Phangan!

Jerri: Without thinking, yes. Absolutely, yes.

Todd: Really? And why?

Jerri: It’s always… It’s a place that feels like home to me because my mom is there, as well. So we know the locals, which makes a difference. And also, I think the island hasn’t – you know, it’s not developed but there’s also like things to see and you really feel like you’re on holiday, really feel like you’re going on an adventure.

Todd: Oh, man. I think I want to go there right now.

Jerri: Yeah.

Todd: I’m serious. I have a week and I’m like, “I’m going to go an island!”

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

tourist package


Samui and Phuket are tourist package islands.

A tourist package will take tourists to important places on a schedule. Notice the following:

  1. The tourist package included all the major temples.
  2. John didn't like his tourist package because the tour bus always left too early in the morning.

high season


That is the high season.

High season is the busiest season for a tourist destination. Notice the following:

  1. When my friend went skiing, he tried to avoid the high season.
  2. Summer is high season at the beach.

less vibrant


It’s less vibrant.

If a location is less vibrant, it doesn't have a lot of interesting activities. Notice the following:

  1. During the winter, the town around the resort becomes less vibrant.
  2. He didn't want to go to northern Alaska because the small towns are less vibrant than the big city.

have to confess


Yes, I have to confess.

When you say you have to confess, you realize what you say might offend or surprise someone. Notice the following:

  1. I have to confess. I forgot to put salt in the soup.
  2. He had to confess to his daughter that he didn't like the stew she made.

by far


My favorite island by far.

When you say something is by far, it's the greatest or best. Notice the following:

  1. That chocolate cake was by far the best I've ever tasted.
  2. The lion in the zoo roared the loudest by far.

the locals


We know the locals.

The locals are people who have lived somewhere for a long time. Notice the following:

  1. When Jane travels to other countries, she likes to taste all the food the locals make.
  2. The locals always talk about their cows.

Vocabulary Quiz

tourist package • high season • less vibrant
have to confess • by far • the locals
  1. Well, I that she was right and I was wrong.
  2. December is tourists in Florida
  3. It was the best movie I have ever seen.
  4. Most of do not go to the touristy restaurants.
  5. The included the flight and hotel but not meals.
  6. The suburbs are than the downtown area.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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1518 Bangkok Transport
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Getting around in Bangkok.

1517 Island Stress
1517 Island Stress
Problems facing Thailand's islands.

1516 Thai Island Life
1516 Thai Island Life
The wonderful features of Thailand's islands.

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Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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