Thailand’s best beaches are difficult to define; it all comes down to taste after all. This country is world renowned for having amazing beaches and an incredible climate, providing long hours of blue skies and sunny conditions. Imagine your idea of a tropical, beach paradise and you will find it in Thailand, many times over. Other people will have their own favourites of course, and the sheer volume of beaches in this incredible country’s armoury, will mean that some will disagree. I have chosen these purely on the ‘feel’. I have also tried to avoid the trap of picking three or four beaches from the same island or location.
1. Railay Beach, Krabi
One of the most idyllic places on earth, Railay Beach lies on a peninsula on the mainland across the Andaman sea about 25 miles from Phuket. It is to the South of Krabi and the north of Ao Nang. Although it is on the mainland, the high cliffs that surround it, mean that it is only accessible by boat. This of course only adds to the idyllic nature of the place. There are several beaches here but the real gem is the West Beach, which quite frankly must make it onto anyone’s list of Thailand’s best beaches. It is truly wonderful, the high limestone karst rocks tower imperiously over the golden sand and crystal blue clear water.
2. Salad Beach, Koh Phangan
This is a delightful beach on the north of Koh Phangan, which itself is off the northern coast of Koh Samui, in the Eastern Sea. The island is of course known for its famous, or should I say, infamous, Koh Phangan Full Moon Party. However it also has magnificent tropical paradises like Salad Beach. It is a shallow beach making it particularly safe for swimming, and at high tide times of the year it is very popular as a dive site; there being a superb reef about 150 yards from the shore. The close vicinity of the fabulous Salad Beach Resort means that it is ideal for those seeking a bit of paradise, whilst living in luxury.
3. Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi famous among Thailand’s best beaches
Probably the best known of Thailand’s best beaches, due to the 1999 Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Beach. It is a victim of its own success, though still worth a visit nonetheless. It is stunningly beautiful and whilst it does get crowded in the high season, it can be quiet at other times of the year. It is only accessible by boat. If you want seclusion this is not the place for you, but for aching beauty, pure white sand, crystal azure seas and exquisite corals, it takes some beating. The entire bay is one large reef and the main beach is about 200 yards long.
4. Kantiang Beach, Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is a superb island close to the mainland in the very south of Thailand in the east of the Andaman Sea. It is only about 100 miles from Malaysia. Kantiang Bay lies at the southern most tip of the island. This is tranquility at its best; having only a few bars and hotels. Right on the edge of the National Marine Park, it s a wonderfully scenic place. Less than three quarters of a mile long, it is a beautiful strip of white sand beach, fringed by crystal clear water. This is one of Thailand’s best beaches for divers wishing to experience the very best of what the country has to offer.
5. Bophut Beach, Koh Samui
Nowhere near as busy as the Island’s Chewang Beach, Bophut Beach is quieter, prettier and has the benefit of the terrific nearby fisherman’s village, home to the island’s best restaurants. The village consist of old wooden Chinese shop-houses, with a few modern buildings in between that are still in keeping with the traditional style. It has a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Koh Samui is underrated in the search for Thailand’s best beaches. The garish busy Chewang gets all the publicity, but once you move away from that area it is delightful. To the North of the beach is the Famous Big Buddha Statue, which is worth a visit. Close by is one of the strangest sights you’ll ever encounter. A famous Monk died and instead of cremating him, they put him in a glass box and he still sits to this day, outside a local Temple.
6. Bang Bao, Koh Chang
Koh Chang is one of Thailand’s nicest islands. It sits just a couple of miles from the coast, close to Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. Bang Bao is on the southern edge of the island. Originally Bang Bao was a simple Thai fishing village where life centred around a small pier of traditional wooden stilt houses. Boats would be moored up ready for the fisherman. Much has changed today, as tourism has taken over from fishing as the main source of income. The village has established itself as the island’s main departure point for trips that set off daily to explore the archipelago and boats carrying divers off to the many dive sites.
7. Nai Harn Beach, Phuket
Next up on this list of Thailand’s best beaches is Nai Harn Beach. This is an extremely tranquil and languid place to visit. Nai Harn is not Phuket’s biggest beach, but it sits on the most beautiful lagoon on the island. The central part of the beach is dominated by the ancient Nai Han monastery. This has prevented much development and is the reason why the beach is normally less crowded than other locations on the southern part of Thailand’s most well known island. It is located about 10 miles south of Phuket Town.
8. Hua Hin Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
This might not be on many lists of Thailand’s best beaches, but it is underrated, and it’s location just a couple of hours drive from the nation’s capital makes it a great place to chill out. There is a good stretch of sand here and it is normally quite easy to find a quiet spot. When the tide is low, monks in orange robes stroll along the beach at day break as locals come out to greet them and give alms. This was a favoured spot of the King of Thailand and the Royal family still have a home here. Many middle class Thais use Hua Hin as a weekend getaway. Close by is the world’s number one spa destination, the luxurious Chiva-Som
9. Hat Sai Ree, Koh Tao
Ko Tao, the name means, “Turtle Island”, is an island on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It forms part of the Chumphon Archipelago. It is a particularly beautiful island and a huge draw for backpackers and tourists alike. Hat Sai Ree is Ko Tao’s longest beach and is located to the north of the island’s main landing point, Mae Hat. This gorgeous strip of white sand stretches for about a mile and a quarter in a gentle curve It is fringed by pretty coconut palms and scores of bungalow resorts.
10. Hat Pramong, Koh Lipe
Hat Pramong or Sunset Beach is located on the stunning little island of Koh Lipe. The beach is situated on the west side of the island facing the Butang Islands. The beach gets its name from the stunning scenes that accompany every sunset. As the sun slowly descends it casts an exquisite glow all along the coast. This is the most stereotypical sunset on a tropical beach that you could ever wish for. This is a very quiet spot, accommodation options are limited, but it really is worth taking the time to arrange something and visit an area that reminds you of what Thailand used to be all about. This place should never be left off any list of Thailand’s best beaches.