Corona Virus important information
Best Beaches in Thailand | Insight Guides

15 best beaches in Thailand

In addition to unique culture, delicious cuisine, year-round sunshine, forests cloaked in dawn mists, time-honored ancient temples, and the non-stop buzz of spirited Bangkok, Thailand also offers countless palm-fringed, white-sand beaches. Here is our guide to the best beaches in Thailand.
Ao Loh Dalum on Phi Phi Don Island, Krabi Province, Thailand. Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock
Ao Loh Dalum on Phi Phi Don Island, Krabi Province, Thailand. Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

Looking for the best beaches in Thailand? For many travelers, a trip to this dazzling country consists of a brief flirtation with the bright lights of Bangkok before escaping to the sun-kissed coastline or an island getaway. The clear azure waters of the Eastern Seaboard, Andaman Coast to the west and the Gulf of Thailand along the east, are among the world's best for scuba diving, snorkeling and sailing, as well as simply relaxing on an idyllic beach. 

Once the preserve of cash-strapped backpackers and tour groups, many of Thailand's beach areas now cater to a far broader mix of travelers, offering stylish boutique resorts, spas, clubs and fine restaurants. However, tranquil hideaways also exist, Thailand still offers near-deserted beaches and remote islands too. It is a safe, family-friendly country, with plenty to see and do – and who needs an excuse for a beach holiday, anyway? Read on for our look at the best beach areas in Thailand and Thailand's best beaches.


Thailand's best beach areas

The Eastern Seaboard

Miles of sandy beaches with relatively calm seas all year round, dozens of islands offshore, wildlife centers, and tangled jungle with hidden waterfalls – you can find all this and more on Thailand’s most developed and easily accessible shore. The small, pretty island of Ko Samet is a favorite weekend escape for young Bangkok residents. Ko Chang is Thailand’s second-largest island and part of an extensive marine national park, which is a key eco-tourism destination.


The Gulf of Thailand

Heading south, the Gulf of Thailand’s winding coast has shores fringed with powdery white-sand beaches backed by mountains. The most accessible and popular is family-friendly Hua Hin, which has an air of exclusivity due to its patronage by Thai royalty. 

Experience it for yourself on Insight Guides' Hua Hin Getaway trip

Pranburi is fast making a name for itself, too, with its cluster of cutting-edge and design-conscious resorts. Out at sea, Ko Samui, the biggest of some 80 islands constituting the Samui Archipelago, is a significant draw, and can be combined with visits to neighboring Ko Phangan, well-known for its full moon beach parties, and Ko Tao, a renowned diving destination.

Koh Nang Yuan, Gulf of Thailand. Photo: Bule Sky Studio/Shutterstock


Phuket

Lapped by the blue-green waters of the Andaman Sea, along the west coast is Thailand’s largest island, Phuket. The kingdom’s premier island vacation spot is also a base for trips to several world-famous dive sites. If brash Patong proves overwhelming, you can escape to one of the island’s 16 natural coves, carpeted with blinding white sand, that are strung along its western shoreline. Or head to Phuket Town to see its market and temples. 

The stunning white-sand beaches along the 48km (30 miles) of the island’s west coast are separated by picturesque headlands. Some are small and pristine with intimate hidden coves, while others teem with crowds of sun-worshippers, and vendors selling colorful sarongs and souvenirs. 


The Andaman Coast

Further south are Ao Phang Nga and Krabi, and islands such as Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta, with their craggy limestone towers teetering skyward from clear azure waters. This region is also home to some of the most amazing beaches in Thailand. At sea, kayakers are drawn to caves carved out by underground streams and lagoons hidden within cliffs. Further out, renowned dive sites near Similan and the Surin Islands beckon the world’s scuba-diving fraternity. Heading south, Trang, Satun and Songkhla, all breathtakingly beautiful, remain relatively untouched by tourism.

Choose to relax beach-side or explore island coastlines at your own pace on Insight Guides' Krabi Beach Escape trip.

Undersea world of the Surin and Similan Islands, Andaman Sea, Thailand. Photo: Phuketian S/Shutterstock


The best beaches in Thailand

1. Ao Hin Khok, Ko Samet

Almost all of the sandy beaches on Ko Samet run down the island’s east coast, gradually getting more isolated as the island narrows. The bay of Ao Hin Khok is separated from the busier Hat Sai Kaew by a rocky promontory. Travelers tend to stay here and at the next bay, Ao Phai, which has an equally nice white sandy beach. Most activities here are relaxed and beach-bound, think snorkeling, sunbathing and leisurely strolls.


2. Hat Tha Nam, Ko Chang

Thailand’s second-largest island, after Phuket, Ko Chang (Elephant Island) is part of a national marine park that encompasses 52 islands. Development over the last 20 years has resulted in some stylish hotels with spas. However, the island still has a relatively untouched hilly interior, a mangrove forest and some lovely beaches. The main beaches line the west coast, with Hat Sai Khao (White Sand Beach) being the longest and most developed stretch, with its swathe of powdery sands backed by forested hills. South down the coast the lovely stretch of Hat Tha Nam, or Lonely Beach, is the last vestige of Ko Chang’s hippie traveler scene. It’s no longer such a haven of solitude, with plush resorts starting to edge in. Just over 1km (0.5 miles) long, this fine-sand beach is the island’s best for swimming, although there is a steep shelf at the northern tip.


3. Hua Hin

Prachuap Khiri Khan is Thailand’s narrowest province and its coast is fringed with mountains and lovely quiet beaches, the most popular of which is the 5km (3-mile) sandy stretch at Hua Hin. Located around 200km (125 miles) from Bangkok, it’s as little as two hours away by car. Hua Hin has long had an air of exclusivity, thanks to the private residences maintained by Thai royalty and Bangkok’s wealthy elite. Partly because of this, it retains more of a family ambience than other Thailand beach destinations.

Hua Hin Beach, Thailand. Photo: Kaban-Sila/Shutterstock


4. Hat Choeng Mon, Koh Samui

On Koh Samui’s north west coast, the other side of the headland from Hat Bangrak Beach, is Hat Choeng Mon, a small but serene white-sand bay backed by casuarina trees. It has a relatively undeveloped ambience, despite being home to several of the island’s premier beach resorts. The Imperial Boathouse, Tongsai Bay, and Sala Samui Resort & Spa all occupy prime positions along this idyllic stretch of beach.

Hat Choeng Mon Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand. Photo: LongJon/Shutterstock


5. Hat Kuat (Bottle Beach), Ko Phangan

Hat Kuat on the north coast on Ko Phangan is one of the island's best and most secluded bays. The splendid white-sand beach is backed by steep hills and, like elsewhere in Ko Phangan, most accommodation is very affordable. For many years, no access by road meant the only entry point was by boat from Ao Chalok Lam. Nowadays, you can rent a scooter and cruise there through the island’s jungle scenery.

Bottle Beach, Ko Phangan, Thailand. Photo: Hartrey Media/Shutterstock


6. Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Tao

A short boat ride off Ko Tao's northern tip is the picture-perfect Ko Nang Yuan, a gathering of three islets joined together by mere wisps of sand that can be walked across at low tide. The setting is incredible, both above and below sea level, so much so that dive trips and boat tours from around the island, as well as Ko Samui and Ko Phangan all converge here. With simple bungalows spread across the three outcrops, only the Nangyuan Island Dive Resort has the rights to operate here, with outside visitors charged just to set foot on the islands.

Ko Nang Yuan, off Ko Tao, Thailand. Photo: Huw Penson/Shutterstock


7. Khao Lak Beach

When arriving from Phuket, located 80km (50 miles) to the south, the view over Khao Lak is quite stunning – the narrow mountain road winds down to the beaches below, turquoise waters lapping against the sands. Khao Lak is in fact made up of a string of beaches separated by rocky outcrops. From north to south, the beaches are Bang Sak, Pakarang Cape, Khuk Khak, Bang Niang, Nang Thong and, finally, Khao Lak. The last is a relatively small beach stretching for around 800 meters. Most of the development is centred on Bang Niang, Nang Thong and Khao Lak. Swimming conditions in high season are excellent on all the beaches. 

Khao Lak Beach, Thailand. Photo: Netfalls Remy Musser/Shutterstock


8. Hat Nai Thon, Phuket

The smallest of Sirinat National Park’s three beaches, Hat Nai Thon is one of the most isolated on the island of Phuket. Due to its location at the foot of a series of high hills, traveling to the beach requires a journey on a long winding road through jungle and rubber plantations. The beach is not totally deserted, however, and there are a few sun beds available for hire. Nat Thon is sheltered from the wind and waves and offers good swimming and snorkeling along its rocky headlands, which attract rich marine life year round. 

Enjoy the delights of Phuket's best beaches, including Hat Nai Thon, as part of Insight Guides' Thailand Discovery trip.

Ht Nai Thon, Phuket, Thailand. Photo: Filk/Shutterstock


9. Hat Nai Harn, Phuket

Just past the headland from Karon is Hat Kata Yai (mostly referred to only as Kata), one of the most scenic of Phuket’s beaches. Kata is blessed with white sand and clear waters that are good for swimming and snorkelling, meaning that the beach can get quite busy. 

South of Kata, lying between two ridges is the stunning white-sand Hat Nai Harn, certainly one of the best beaches in Thailand but relatively undeveloped despite its charms. For this we can thank the Samnak Song Nai Harn Monastery, which occupies a large portion of the beachfront land and has thwarted development. Quieter than the island’s other beaches, there are nevertheless conveniences in the form of a few small bars and restaurants.

Hat Nai Harn Beach in the south on the Phuket Island. Photo: amnat30/Shutterstock


10. Ao Patok Beach, Ko Racha

Around 20km (12 miles) off the south coast of Phuket, Ko Racha Yai is one of the most exclusive islands, as it is the site of The Racha luxury resort on the northeast coast along Ao Patok Beach. The shoreline of the beach is picturesque, the sand almost talcum powder-like and the waters crystal-clear turquoise. Watch out for the small corals and rocks, however, as you wade out into the waters.


11. Ao Kantiang, Ko Lanta

Not far from Hat Khlong Hin on Ko Lanta, lies the idyllic Ao Kantiang. This bay has a secluded and private feel to it as it is framed on both sides and to the back by jungle-covered hills. To the north and high up on the hill are a handful of small resorts, from where there are lovely views. The southern end of this bay is anchored by the upmarket Pimalai Resort and Spa, which is set in expansive natural tropical surroundings and has direct access to the 1km-long stretch of pure white-sand beach.


12. Hat Tham Phra Nang, Krabi

Undeniably, the prettiest beach in Railay Bay, if not the whole of Thailand, is Hat Tham Phra Nang. The extravagant and ultra-expensive Rayavadee Resort occupies prime position here (there is no other accommodation) and has direct access to the beach. Set amid expansive coconut groves and surrounded by limestone cliffs, Tham Phra Nang is endowed with the softest of white sands, limpid turquoise-blue waters, and beautiful coral reefs offshore. 

Hat Tham Phra Nang Beach, Thailand. Photo: gurb101088/Shutterstock


13. Ko Kradan

Off the coast of Trang, Ko Kradan is arguably the most beautiful island in the area. Its beaches are blinding-white and there are some nice reefs offshore. Most of the accommodation on the island is rather ramshackle, one exception being the luxury Seven Seas Resort, which is mainly visited by day-trippers who come to laze on its beaches and snorkel.

Ko Kradan, Thailand. Photo: anathomy/Shutterstock


14. Ao Lo Dalam, Ko Phi Phi

Opposite Ko Phi Phi’s main beach, Ao Ton Sai, and only a few minutes’ walk away, Ao Lo Dalam is a quieter and prettier bay with a lovely curve of white sand skimming clear blue waters. What makes it even nicer is that, following the 2004 tsunami, reconstruction along Ao Lo Dalam has been slower compared to at Ao Ton Sai. You can still enjoy a secluded feel on the beach, especially compared to its ferry-full neighbor.

Longtail boats at Ao Loh Dalam beach, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock


15. Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe

One of the 51 islands in the Andaman Sea that encompass the Ko Tarutao Marine National Park, Ko Lipe is the most developed and popular. The park is only open during the dry season, typically mid-November to mid-May, with boat trips leaving from the fishing town of Pak Bara, 60km (40 miles) north of Satun Town. Boats arrive at Hat Na Ko, where there is some accommodation. A short walk away Sunrise Beach stretches along the Ko Lipe’s east coast and is its most beautiful beach. It harbors a few small scale resorts and offers wonderful swimming and snorkeling. When long tail boats moor off the beach, take a walk up to its far northern point to enjoy the perfect powder white sand and crystal clear waters.

Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand. Photo: Sirintra Pumsopa/Shutterstock


Ready to take a trip to Thailand?

Insight Guides can help you plan incredible trips in Thailand. Simply get in touch to let us know your ideas for the trip and when you would like to travel. Our local experts will then create a personalized itinerary especially, which you can amend until it's exactly how you want it before booking. You can browse our pre-planned itineraries for inspiration, and keep in mind that they can all be tailored to suit your specific needs.


Updated 27 November, 2019