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It should come as no surprise that the best beaches in Thailand also rank as some of the best beaches in the world. For this reason, Thailand holds the number one spot for having some of the best beaches in Asia. Beautiful sandy white beaches dot almost every coastline on the islands of Thailand. With so many to choose from, picking the perfect beach for an island vacation might be more difficult than you think.
- Koh Hae
- Surin Island
- Koh Lone
- Koh Samui
- Koh Jum
- Koh Phangan
- Koh Nang Yuan
- Koh Tao
- Koh Chang
- Phi Phi Island
- Koh Samet
- Koh Lanta
- Koh Naka Yai
- Koh Klang
- Koh Racha Yai
- Similan Island
- Koh Rang Yai
Best Beaches in Thailand: The Andaman Coast
Patong Beach Image Source
Patong is the largest beach on the island of Phuket. It has been Thailand’s number one beach destination for years. Once a fishing village, it is now one of the island’s two cities. Patong is the main tourist and entertainment district on the island of Phuket, with a large number of pubs, bars, and restaurants catering to every nationality.
Patong Beach stretches 4 km in length and has a wide coastline with silky white sand and warm water. There are a number of water sports to be enjoyed here, including jet skis, windsurfing, wake boarding, water skiing, and para sailing. Accommodation in a Phuket hotel can be more expensive than other areas of Thailand, but there is a wide variety of accommodations to choose from; everything from budget hotels to five star suites.
The beach is lined with lounge chairs and sun umbrellas which are available for rent. Food, drinks, and clothing are all available from hawkers who sell their wares on the beach all day.
Karon Beach is the second largest beach in Phuket. Despite the large resort complexes in the area, there is not a lot of development on the beach itself. However, the ongoing development of bars, nightclubs, and luxury hotels in the area has already begun to wreak havoc on the environment.
Karon is less crowded than Patong and offers a full range of beach facilities and activities. There are also several fine dining establishments in the area. The sand here is a bit coarser compared to other beaches in Phuket.
The southern point of Karon Beach has a gorgeous stretch of coral reef which is perfect for snorkeling. Sun chairs and umbrellas are also available for rent here.
If you’re looking for a quiet beach in Phuket, Kata Beach is your best option. Palm trees, warm water and stunning scenery haven’t found juxtaposition alongside massive shopping malls and luxury hotels just yet.
Kata Beach is well-known as an excellent surfing beach, but is less than ideal for families with young children, especially during the low season. There are a number of water activities on Kata Beach, including diving, banana boats, and jet skis. Kata also has several 4 star hotels, seafood restaurants, and shopping places located along the beach.
Just a short distance from Phuket, Koh Similan is located 84 km northwest of Patong Beach. As one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, Koh Similan has become a favorite destination for tour groups and yachts, and is generally thought to be one of the most interesting dive spots in the world.
In Malay, Similan represents the number nine. This small island archipelago is comprised of nine islands, each with its own name and number. Running from north to south, the islands are #9 Koh Ba Ngu, #8 Similan, #7 Payu, #4, #5 and #6 Miang, #3 Payan, #2 Payang, and #1 Hu Yong.
#6 is also called Hin Pousar, otherwise known as Elephant Head Rock. Lying 17 nautical miles north of Koh Ba Ngu lies Koh Bon, which is also part of the Similan National Park and should be granted status as No. 10.
Why go to Similin Islands?
Similan Island stands in sharp contrast to the dramatic limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay and Krabi. Instead, the island is covered in low-lying formations and thick forest. The most striking feature of these islands are its empty white coral-sand beaches and the huge boulders that stud the western and southern shores on several islands. The islands are also home to some of the most spectacular coral growths in the world, offering a veritable playground for scuba enthusiasts.
Home to a number of luxury resorts, Surin Island is a place that many celebrities retreat to when they want some beach R&R. The island is also known as Millionaire’s Row, not only because of its prestigious clientele, but also because of the one million dollar homes which sit proudly atop the hills overlooking the turquoise waters and white sand beaches of the Andaman Sea. Don’t expect a busy resort town when you go though. The area may offer numerous high-end restaurants and wine bars, but it feels more like visiting a little village on the coast.
Perhaps best known for its distinctive limestone karsts jutting out of the emerald-green water, Phang-Nga Bay offers a beautiful opportunity to get away from the trappings of Phuket. Cruise through mangroves, admire the stunning limestone islands, and stop to enjoy a quiet beach along the way.
The two main attractions of this bay are James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, but don’t expect to beat the crowds. These are fairly busy tourist sites year round.
James Bond Island, also known as Koh Tapu (which means Nail Island) is famous for its role in 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. The tipsy looking island stands next to Koh Ping Ghan, which is one of the best ways to view the island.
Koh Panyee is a small island with hundreds of huts, shacks and restaurants build on stilts over the shallow water. This floating gypsy sea village is home to approximately 1,485 people from 315 families. All the inhabitants of this village are descendants of Toh Baboo and his family and friends. They were the first people to settle Koh Panyee over 200 years ago. Fishing used to be the sole industry of this Muslim community. Today, just over 60% residents service the tourism industry. The village is fairly self sufficient, with its own school, mosque, health center and several large restaurants. Just recently, bungalows have been constructed for overnight accommodations and can be rented for as little as 300 baht.
Khao Lak Image Source
Beautiful Phang Nga, located just north of Phuket Island, is famous for its rugged limestone outcroppings jutting from the sea and its haunting landscape. One of Thailand’s most peaceful resort destinations, Khao Lak, can also be found here, and its gorgeous coastline is home to some of the best beaches in Thailand. This area also embraces three national parks, encompassing a tropical forest, wide white sandy beaches, and stunning beachfront accommodations.
After the area was hit by the 2004 tsunami, refurbished hotels providing quality accommodations have sprung up all over the region. Visitors here can now enjoy infinity pools, lush green gardens and serene lotus ponds.
Khao Lak’s proximity to a tropical forest draws nature lovers of all kinds. There are a number of eco-tours available here, as well as activities like rafting, hiking, elephant trekking, and exploring temple caves.
Railay Beach Image Source
With some 83 islands scattered within the area, all within short reach of each other, the islands of Krabi are an island-hoppers paradise. During low tides, some of these islands are accessible by sandbars and you can literally walk on water from island to island.
Clear blue waters embrace Railay Beach. You might be surprised to learn that this tropical paradise, accessible only by boat, is technically part of the mainland. Railay Beach is nestled amongst towering limestone peaks and surrounded by lush jungle. Although the beach here is small, it, it is still quite popular during peak season. Throughout the rest of the year, beach lovers looking for a quiet beach vacation will be pleasantly surprised by the serenity of the area. Facilities here are limited, as are hotel rooms.
Phra Nang Beach
Railay’s fine sand main beach offers a stunning vista of the area’s rugged beauty. It is flanked by limestone and stalactite-rimmed cliffs where visitors can experience the thrill of jumping into clear turquoise waters. Railay is accessible by long-tail boat from Krabi and Ao Nang. It can get really crowded during peak seasons.
Tup Island near Phi Phi Island Image Source
Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi Island is well-known for its silky fine white sand beaches, stunning limestone rock formations, natural cave systems, clear trurqoise water, and a rich variety of marine life. There’s no small wonder that Phi Phi Island is the most beach destination on the Andaman Coast after Phuket.
Most visitors might be surprised to learn that Phi Phi Island is actually two islands. The larger of the two, Phi Phi Don, offers a variety of accommodations to choose from. Its clean, beautiful beaches are perfect for sunbathing and frolicking in the water.
Phi Phi Ley, on the other hand, is popular for its cliffs, natural caves, and water-filled canyon. Phi Phi Island offers just about everything you could ask for in an island. If it’s adventure travel that you’re after, scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, and rock climbing activities can all be found on this tropical paradise.
Ao Nang Beach Image Source
Ao Nang Beach
Out of all of the beaches in Krabi, Ao Nang Beach is widely considered to be the best. Despite being the most developed beach in the area, Ao Nang also claims the cleanest environment, and it is generally less crowded and quite a bit quieter than other nearby beaches.
This beach is also very kid-friendly, with a nice, long, shallow coastline for kids who love to play in the water. There is also a wide range of accommodations and facilities, including food, boat tours, and adventure hikes. When the tide is low, Pai Plong Beach is easily accessible on foot.
Koh Lanta consists of two islands: Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi. Most visitors head straight for Koh Lanta Yai, which harbors a number of tourist facilities and a wide range of accommodations. There are a number of beaches in the area, including Ba Kan Tiang, Khlong Khong, Khlong Nin, Khlong Dao, Kho Kwang, and Phra Ae. The headquarters for Mu Koh Lanta National Park are located at the southern end of the island. The eastern side of the island is also popular with visitors, who come to see the sea gypsy village and an old community of Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta Noi houses the district office.
Best Beaches in Thailand: The Gulf of Thailand
Ko Mun Nork
Beach lovers looking for a dream beach destination on a deserted island need look no further than this small private island in the Gulf of Siam. A 45 minute ferry ride and only one resort on the island guarantee a truly private and uninterrupted vacation.
Hua Hin Beach (Prchuab Khiri Khan)
The Gulf of Siam is home to a number of gorgeous, flat stretches of beaches, making it a dream destination for beach lovers around the world. Hua Hin Beach, located in the beach town of Bang Saphan, is a popular beach destination for both locals and international visitors, and it is especially easy and convenient to reach from Bangkok. Being less than 400 km away from Bangkok, Hua Hin can be reached in under five hours traveling over land, making it a prime beach vacation spot for families. There are several hotels, resorts, guesthouses, and bungalows in the area, as well as a number of local and expat restaurant s.
Ko Mun Nok (Desert Island)
If it’s a true desert island experience that you’re after, head for this small, private island in the northern part of the Gulf of Siam. With only one resort on the island and a 45 minute ferry ride from the mainland, you’re pretty much guaranteed a quiet vacation away from the crowds. Bring a good book or two. The white sand beach here is surrounded by palm trees, providing the perfect escape from reality.
Best Beaches in Surat Thani Province
Surat Thani Province is the largest of the southern province of Thailand. It’s located on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand. The province is divided up into 19 districts, 131 subdistricts and 1028 villages.
- Mueang Surat Thani
- Don Sak
- Ko Samui
- Ko Pha-ngan
- Tha Chana
- Khiri Rat Nikhom
- Ban Ta Khun
- Tha Chang
- Ban Na San
- Ban Na Doem
- Khian Sa
- Wiang Sa
- Chai Buri
The most important cities and towns in Surat Thani are: Surat Thani City, Ko Samui, Tha Kham, Na San, Talat Chaiya, Don Sak, and Ko Pha-ngan.
Haad Rin Beach, Ko Pha-ngan, Surat Thani
Home of Thailand’s full moon parties, Haad Rin beach offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience and has held the title of being the number one backpacker haven in Asia for many, many years. Tens of thousands of travelers flock to the island every full moon to engage in a nights of pure hedonism. The fantastic food, beach front restaurants, and buckets of cheap alcohol promise a night that you’ll want to remember forever.Haad Rin Beach, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand
Best Beaches in Trat Province
Ta Pho Beach, Koh Kood (Koh Kut), Thailand
The Guardian rates Ta Pho Beach on Koh Kood island as one of Thailand’s last unspoiled island getaways. Rainforests, stunning beaches, charming fishing villages, coconut plantations, top notch snorkeling and a tiny local population of 2,000 residents guarantees you a beach vacation paradise. Koh Kood is located in Trat Province in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s the easternmost island before Cambodia.
Koh Kood’s remoteness might sound like it will be a huge expedition to get there, but it’s just an hour’s flight from Bankgok to Trat’s small local airport. Accommodations on Koh Kood, like everything in Thailand, is varied, with a good array of budget hotels and luxury resorts. If you’re looking for a slow vacation with nothing to do but sit and relax, Koh Kood might be the perfect option for you.