If there’s one thing Thailand does well, it’s beaches. Some of the best stretches of sand in the world can be found here, each one being a tropical paradise. Yet with so many to choose from, it’s hard to know which specific destination is right for you. With that in mind, here’s my pick of the top 10 beach holiday destinations in Thailand.
The biggest of Thailand’s islands, Phuket is a highly developed resort with millions of people visiting every year, making for some very crowded beaches. Even so, there are still some hidden gems, if you know where to look. One such beach is Pansea, a small, secluded stretch of sand on the west coast of Phuket. It ticks all the boxes – coconut trees, turquoise waters and pearly white sands. The beachfront can only be reached via two luxury hotels – Amanpuri Resort and the Surin Phuket Hotel – so you’ll need to book a room, but it’s definitely worth it.
The province of Krabi is located between Phang Nga and Trang in Southern Thailand. It presents a picture-postcard image of Thailand, with white sand beaches nestled up against a tropical rainforest backdrop. There are so many spectacular beaches in Krabi that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Ao Nang Beach, next to the resort town of Ao Nang, is a good option if you’re looking for a beach that can be easily reached, and it’s surprisingly quiet, despite its central location. Railay Beach, accessible only by boat from Ao Nang or Krabi, is a great choice if you want a bit more isolation – apart from the usual swimming and snorkeling, there’s not much to do there, so take a book with you and just relax. With so much snorkeling you might decide to bring your own snorkeling gear. Have a look at some general information about Krabi for more on beaches and what there is to do in the area.
Situated just off the coast of Krabi, Koh Lanta has, so far, managed to escape the over-development that’s happening in many other parts of Thailand. You won’t find sprawling resorts and high-rise hotels here. Driving along the single-track roads, it still feels like you’re in a rural Thai community, rather than a tourist destination. This intimate feeling continues into Koh Lanta’s beaches, with overcrowding rarely being a problem. If you’re looking for some solitude, Kantiang Beach is a good choice, while Klong Dao Beach offers more options in the way of hotels, bars and restaurants.
Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui is situated in the Gulf of Thailand. With its palm-fringed beaches and aquamarine waters, it attracts budget-conscious backpackers and luxury-seeking travellers alike. Offering spa resorts, sightseeing opportunities, scuba diving and more, there’s something for everyone on this island. Many who visit Koh Samui relax on the beach during the day, before partying it up at night. The bars and restaurants surrounding Lamai Beach really come alive when the sun goes down and during the day, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Koh Phangan is a party island and one of its beaches, Haad Rin, is famous for the full moon parties thrown once a month. If you enjoy exciting nightlife but still want to be able to lie on the beach and soak up some rays, Koh Phangan and Haad Rin beach could be the perfect holiday destination for you. When the night’s festivities end, the golden sands and beautiful scenery surrounding Haad Rin beach await you.
Further north of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan is the smaller island of Koh Tao. Particularly popular with divers, it has been described as a more chilled-out version of Koh Phangan. There are no wild parties happening here – in fact you’ll probably be heading to bed early, because you’ve got to be up at 5am for a dive. Koh Tao has plenty of quiet white sand beaches, where you can take it easy for a while.
Just two and a half hours from Bangkok is the seaside resort of Hua Hin. If castaway islands aren’t for you, the beaches of Hu Hin provide the ideal alternative. A popular destination for both local and international visitors, Hu Hin’s beaches offer ample opportunity for playing and relaxing. Hu Hin Beach can get very busy during the high season, but its proximity to other sites and activities makes it ideal for families looking for more things to do and see.
Koh Chang, an island in the far east of Thailand, remains relatively unknown among international tourists, in part due to its remoteness and the difficulties in getting there. As word has started to get out about this picturesque island, however, locations such as White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach have begun to get busier. In contrast, Klong Kloi Beach, in the far south of Koh Chang, remains a haven, with just a few small resorts conveniently hidden behind the tree line.
Koh Phi Phi
Phi-Phi Don and Phi-Phi Leh, known collectively as Koh Phi Phi, are two islands in Thailand’s Andaman Sea. With pure white sands, crystal clear azure waters and captivating jungle interiors, these islands are archetypal Thailand. If you’re more the partying type, head for Koh Phi-Phi Don, otherwise, you might want to opt for chilled out Koh Phi-Phi Leh. Take a boat to Maya Bay in Phi-Phi Leh and spend the day relaxing on one of Thailand’s most scenic beaches, or if you’re on Phi-Phi Don and want to get away from the crowds, head to the beach at Phak Nam Bay.
The fine white sands and endless aquamarine sea of Koh Samet make this tiny Thai Island a favourite among Bangkok residents looking to escape the city at the weekends. Only 200 km from Bangkok, Koh Samet offers a vibrant nightlife on the northern beaches and a more sedate haven for tourists staying near the southern beaches.