You don’t need to be a travel expert to know that Thailand offers some of the most stunning, crystal-clear waters and powder-sand beaches on earth. With over 8,000 islands and 2,000 miles of pristine coasts though, pinning down Thailand’s best beaches can be a challenge. We wanted to whittle them down to a top 10, but even that was too tricky.
12 Thailand Beaches That Will Take Your Breath Away
Hint: the most picturesque ones are the most secluded ones. While most travellers pick well-known destinations (and hope for the best beach in return), it’s actually worth exploring a little further. Stunning stretches of powder-soft sands aren’t always advertised. We pinned down 12 of them to save you the trouble.
- 01 Railay Beach, Krabi
- 02 Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe
- 03 Phra Nang, Krabi
- 04 Koh Nang Yuan, near Koh Tao
- 05 Surin Beach, Phuket
- 06 Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi
- 07 Chaweng, Koh Samui
- 08 Kata Noi, Phuket
- 09 Pakweep Beach, Khao Lak
- 10 Donald Duck Bay, Similian Islands
- 11 Kantiang, Koh Lanta
- 12 Thong Nai Pan, Koh Phangan
Krabi: And Its Famous Railay & Phra Nang Beaches
Pretty much ticking every box for paradise is the world-famous, rainforest-wrapped Railay Beach Thailand. Accessible only by a short boat trip and surrounded by the Andaman Sea’s turquoise-blue waters, Railay Beach stands out for its craggy, limestone cliffs, picture-perfect setting and three-sided peninsula location. The entire Krabi coastline offers blissful beaches, but Railay is the most famous. It’s literally the stuff of dreams- bobbing longboats, lapping waters and sun-drenched sands.
Phra Nang Beach is Krabi’s second-most-famous. Set on Krabi’s southernmost tip, commanding views here stretch out dramatically to the Andaman Sea, although the unique cave formation framing it will attract a fair few backpackers. It’s a worthwhile day trip, but for an upmarket escape from the crowds, try Klong Muang and Tubkaek or the getaway Koh Jum island.
Then there’s the magic of those low-lying, castaway islands just off the coast of Krabi. You literally pay a fisherman a few pennies, see where they take you, and you can quite possibly wind up with an entire island to yourself. “Bamboo Island” is definitely one to bookmark.
Images: Railay, Phra Nang, Bamboo Island
Phuket: Golden Sands, Wide Bays, Temples, And A Party Pulse
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island. With everything from developed towns to isolated hideaways, Phuket is on the hotspot list for a reason. While the South offers waterfalls and the North has national parks, it’s the beaches that people just keep raving about.
Patong Beach is the island’s most famous, but more for its 24/7 nightlife than the beach itself. If the Phuket party life isn’t your scene but you still want the nightlife option and a good mix of things to do, the neighbouring resort of Karon Beach is ideal.
Karon Beach is where you’ll find warm, golden sands, clear-blue waters, wide bays and lots to do in the bustling Karon Centre- from Buddhist temples to buzzing bars. You’re also a few minutes from the next bay, Kata Beach. Here, it’s white sands, picturesque rocks, palms and a family-friendly restaurant and bar scene. The small headland bay of Kata Noi Beach is next to Kata (and it’s widely regarded as Phuket’s most stunning shore).
For a more peaceful escape, head further north to the long-stretching Bangtao Beach or the neighbouring Surin Beach, both of which are truly spectacular. This region is home to Phuket’s most-prestigious hotels, villas, varied dining scenes, and Surin’s epic seafood and barbecue options. Alternatively, for something a little different, head to Freedom Beach. It’s only accessible by boat, so the desert island feel is spot-on.
Images: Karon & Kata Bays, Surin Beach, Freedom Beach
Islands Between Phuket & Krabi: It Isn’t Just About Phi Phi
Scattered between Phuket and Krabi, you’ll find countless beautiful islands known for their
sleepy fishing villages, long-tail boat rides, coral waters and dive sites.
The Phi Phi islands are the most well-known. The Beach was filmed here, and until the recent “no boats” ban on the bay (that’s what you get from mass tourism), thousands of people would flock here daily to visit Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh. Leonardo DiCaprio basically made the spot legendary. The underwater corals, exotic fish, towering rock shelters and green-against-blue settings can still be snapped from a boat, though.
Another favourite is Monkey Beach on Phi Phi Don (the clue is in the name). Monkey Beach can get crowded, but the photo ops are priceless. Phi Phi has gotten quite commercial in recent years, however most visitors head there on day trips. This intriguing archipelago is nevertheless worth a night or two if you’ve got the chance.
Less-known and less-crowded than Phi Phi are Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. Crowds aren’t an issue here, so it’s one big dose of paradise. Think secluded bays, laid-back days and tranquil evenings. If you want to experience what Thailand was like before mass tourism – this is it!
For some people, total island seclusion is missing one important factor- the comfort of a developed resort. If that’s important to you, Koh Lanta is the answer. Located just off the coast of Krabi, it’s easier to reach than some of the more remote islands, plus it’s got a great range of luxury hotels. Beaches here are nothing short of jaw-dropping, like the famous Kantiang Beach.
Images: Mango Bay, Monkey Beach, Freedom Beach
Khao Lak: Not Just a Sleepy Coastline
Khao Lak’s coastline stretches north from Phuket, boasting endless stunning beaches which roll on for miles. The most famous here is Pakweep Beach, but all of Khao Lak’s shorelines offer long, wide stretches of powder-white sand. You can literally walk miles here.
Three national parks, sweeping hills and tropical forests hug this region, making it a spectacular place to visit. Compared to Thailand’s more-developed resorts, Khao Lak is more peaceful, although the main centre is quickly growing with plenty of bars, restaurants and lots to do, day or night. On the plus side, it isn’t so developed that you’ll struggle to find a deserted stretch of sand to enjoy.
Khao Lak also places you perfectly for exploring the island hideaways of the Similan and Surin islands. If you head here, make sure you visit Donald Duck Bay, a unique beach thanks to its interesting rock formations (which look remarkably like a duck).
Images: Pakweep Beach, Khao Lak Coast, Similan Islands
Koh Samui & Kho Phangan: From Idyllic Beaches to Full Moon Parties
Once a sleepy island, Koh Samui is now a well-established tourist hotspot, with Chaweng Beach being the island’s main hub. It’s also the only bustling resort to make our top 12. Despite the crowds, it’s hard to deny this island’s beauty. Expect wide, long-stretching sands lapped by emerald waters and a thick, palm-lined coastline contrasting them. To escape the crowds, head to Maenam or Lip Noi Beaches. For something in between, Lamai and Bo Phut Beaches are definitely ones to add to your list.
Legendary full moon parties on Haad Rin Beach are mostly what made neighbouring Kho Phangan famous. This island still has its quiet spots though, like Bottle Beach on the island’s north. Nearby Had Yao has more of a wilderness feel, excellent scuba diving and there’s a coral reef nearby. For reggae bars and chilled vibes, head to Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach.
Also, if you’re in this region, you absolutely have to take a day trip to the unique Koh Nang Yuan. This formation of three tiny islands connected by a sandbank is picture-perfect. You’ll see what we mean when you get there.
Images: Chaweng Beach, Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach, Koh Nang Yuan
Koh Lipe: About As Remote As It Gets
Located as far south in Thailand as you can get and accessed by boat from Langkawi, Koh Lipe is the island that couldn’t be more remote. It’s what gives it that dreamy appeal. Come here, and you’ll be all set for Thailand’s second most-stunning beach, Sunrise Beach.
Pattaya & Hua Hin: An Easy Addition to Bangkok
Bangkok is the slightly chaotic, massively buzzing mega-city that’s well-placed for visiting Pattaya Beach, Thailand’s original beach resort. This beach stretches for over two miles along the city centre and is packed with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and the famous Beach Road and Walking Street.
Don’t think that all beaches here are super-lively, though. Jomtien Beach is calmer and more serene. Wong Phra Chan Beach is perfect for swimming. For somewhere really isolated, the headlands around Buddha Hill have smaller coves and bays. The great thing about Pattaya is that you’ll find everything from bar-lined strips and all-inclusive resorts to romantic boutique setups. The only downside is the shortage of actual beachfront resorts and a high-rise skyline that doesn’t quite conjure up the “picture-perfect” beach scene you’d expect from Thailand.
On the opposite side of the gulf, you’ll find Hua Hun which stretches north up to the more-tranquil resort of Cha-am. Also accessed by road from Bangkok, this resort is distinctly quieter than Pattaya and popular with Thai families- even the Thai Royal Family heads here for their breaks! The authentic Thai feel and stunning beach here are the main draw, although with the wealth of day or night activities, the only downside (for some) is that it’s fairly built-up.
Images: Sunrise Beach, Pattaya, Hua Hin
Make It Yours
Whether you want blissful silence, jaw-dropping scenery or great nightlife, Thailand’s beaches will offer it. Browse our today or get in touch for a tailored quote. Make sure to ask about our hotel recommendations, too. We know this country inside out.
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