Thailands 10 best beaches

There’s lots of exceptional beaches here

There’s lots of exceptional beaches here

By Andrew Bond

If there is one thing Thailand is really famous for, it must be its beaches. Forget the cheap shopping and fiery food, or beguiling Thai smile and nightlife, it’s the sunshine, sand and sea that attract the majority of the country’s tourists. As there’s good reason, the Andaman coast boasts some of the world’s most remarkable seascapes, rimmed with gorgeous white sand and aqua waters.

Here’s our pick of the 10 best beaches in Thailand to laze on. Of course you could find some hidden tropical paradise miles from anywhere but we’ve chosen those that have a place to stay and are less than five hours travelling time from Bangkok by air and transfer. We have, however, reserved three places on the list for exceptional beauty spots that don’t meet these criteria. They’re revealed here in no particular order.

Kata Noi, Phuket
There are plenty of superb beaches on Phuket, by some are heavily developed and get crowded, this one doesn’t. It’s a lovely small beach, separated from the main Kata resort area by a small headland and is easily reachable for a day of exclusivity if you can’t afford one of the half dozen resorts that are squeezed in here. The beach is nice, the waters swimmable and the facilities all on hand if you need them. More about Phuket beaches.

Tham Phra Nang, Krabi
Perhaps the most stunning seascapes in all of Thailand with a dramatic overhang right above your head and gorgeous waters in front of you as you stare out at karst islands offshore. The accommodation here doesn’t come cheap but it’s a five minute walk from Railay beach which comes in a close second. Fairly exclusive, never gets too crowded and no beach loungers or vendors. More about Railay Beach.

Loh Dalam, Phi Phi Don
Everyone who comes to Andaman ought to visit the Phi Phi islands and this beach is a gorgeous crescent facing a deep bay with stunning karst to stare at from your deck chairs. It can get a bit busy in the season but they are mostly day trippers and there is accommodation on the island. The Tsunami returned it to a more natural state, at low tide the water is shallow and warm though. You can find quieter alternatives elsewhere on the island with even better views. More about Phi Phi beaches.

Get away from it all on this Lanta beach

Get away from it all on this Lanta beach

Khantiang Bay, Koh Lanta
This island is full of unspoilt beaches where most of the resorts enjoy beachfront locations, free of touting tuk tuk drivers, noisy girlie bars or street vendors. This particular beach sits in a gorgeous bay with a modest selection of natural resorts, giving you enough choice but without more than a handful people on the beach at any one time. It’s at the southern reaches of the island and full four hours from Phuket airport. More about Koh Lanta beaches.

Choeng Mon, Samui
A curious choice among the many lovely beaches of Samui but much quieter than popular Chaweng, yet only a 10 minute ride away. It’s a small exclusive beach, with a limited number of resorts, nice water and picturesque views. Stop here for lunch if you’re staying elsewhere. More about Samui beaches.

Thong Nai Pan, Koh Pha Ngan
This island is one of the least spoilt and most down-to-earth of the popular islands, and if you arrive outside of the full moon party week you get exceptional value for budget travellers. This sweeping beach in the northwest is quiet, perfect for swimming and has a decent selection of places to stay and eat. No parties, just a nice relaxing time. More about Koh Pha Ngan.

Klong Prao, Koh Chang
Thailand’s so called eco-island is beginning to feel the strains of tourism on White Sands beach, which is its most popular. Klong Prao is the next one along and comprises miles of sandy beach all to yourself. Lined with casuarinas trees and hidden resorts it also has several pretty mangrove lagoons emptying onto the beach and these make for gorgeous resorts. More about Koh Chang beaches.

And the three undeveloped beaches…

Maya Bay, Phi Phi Ley
Perhaps Thailand’s most famous beach, since it featured in the Hollywood blockbuster The Beach, this gorgeous karst bay almost seems like a private lagoon, rimmed with sheer rock faces. The beach is pristine (when the tour groups have departed), the water aqua and the nature stunning. Don’t forget to wander through the small valley to the tidal cove on the other side.

Hong Island, Krabi
Similar to Maya Bay, the beach here is stunning and only ever sees day trippers. The waters are beautiful and the scenery stunning, with a small nature area to explore. It’s just off Ao Nang and part of a popular day tour which includes a spin around the enclosed lagoon in the island centre which is reachable only at low tide through a sea cave.

Beacon Beach, Similan islands
Few people get the privilege to visit the beaches of the Similans other than those who can afford a live aboard dive trip, or make the arduous trip to the National Park camp and charter a longtail boat for the day. Therefore these beaches are all but deserted and see only a few visitors, they are real ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experiences, with the added attraction of crystal clear water, great beaches and strewn with boulders for ideal snorkelling.

Getting the most out of Thailand’s beaches depends on your expectations, tolerance for crowds (afterall everyone else is seeking the same), need for facilities like loungers, beer vendors and watersports, as well as the hassle needed to reach them. Obviously the more difficult it is to reach the beach the more likely you are to have it to yourself. You might even get a bit lonely!

About the Author

Andrew Bond is a travel writer who has been living in Thailand and writing about the region for more than 10 years, contributing to numerous local magazines and major web travel brands. He travels around South East Asia by tuk-tuk, bicycle, cyclo, jeepney, taxi, moto, elephant or foot in search of new smells, sounds, sights, and atmosphere. Share your travel bits with him on Google +

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