We’ve all heard of the same beautiful beach escapes in Thailand like Koh Samui, Phuket, and Koh Phi Phi. But, let’s face it: these spots are becoming overrun and overdeveloped. Tourist traps, if you will. We’ve mined the rest of Thailand to bring you an updated list of the country’s best beaches minus the oppressive crowds so familiar in many spots. It may mean an extra boat ride or a short hike, but with a little research and dedication, you’ll be on your own deserted shoreline in no-time.
The sandy coast of Hua Hin is located just about 200km for Bangkok and is already a popular spot among expats in retirement and Thai’s on weekend getaways, but it does not come with all of the hoards and over development that other beaches do. A laid back attitude only adds to the serene, 5km stretch where white sands meet turquoise waters. Besides sunning yourself in the sand or at any of the luxury accommodations that dot the shoreline, there’s tons to do in the surrounding area including a bustling night-market with delicious seafood cooked on the spot, Buddhist temples and towering waterfalls. That is, aside from the usual activities like cooking classes, elephant rides, snorkelling and diving and golf.
Also known as Koh Kut, this gem of an island in the Gulf of Thailand is the easternmost island before the Thai/Cambodian border. The island has been part of border disputes between the two countries in the past, but those issues have now passed and the dispute has only helped to keep the island undiscovered. It won’t stay quiet for long, though, because beautiful beaches on the west coast are quickly luring resorts and travellers to the island. Sand flies can be a problem, depending on the season and the beach, but that is no reason to stay away from this newly discovered paradise. The largest town on the island, Ao Salat, is home to just about 300 people who base their existence off of fishing. It’s worth a visit if you can find a scarce car to take you. You can catch a boat to Koh Kood from Trat, on the mainland, or Koh Chang to the north. Koh Mak, smaller and beautiful in its own right, is not far from here and can be reached twice daily by speedboat.
This spot, although on the coast of mainland Thailand, is only reachable by boat, and thus, still relatively quiet. It’s well-known to climbers around the world for its limestone rock formations jutting out of its clear blue waters. There is a small strip here with restaurants and bars, budget accommodations and some upscale resorts on West Railay. There are caves and jungle trails to explore, and rock climbing excursions for beginners and experts alike. Railay is accessible from popular Ao Nang, with boats making the short trip repeatedly every day.
Easily accessible from popular tourist areas like Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta (actually made up of two islands) has remained less commercialised and crowded than the former two. It’s great for older people or families who aren’t particularly looking for that party culture that Thailand is known for, but still want to enjoy blue waters, great diving opportunities, white sands, and beautiful sunsets. Four kilometre long Long Beach (or Phrae Ae,) on Koh Lanta Yai is one of your best beach options. It is dotted with accommodations and restaurants but it always manages to seem quiet empty. The same even goes for the island’s most popular beach, Klong Dao, and for the pristine Kantiang Bay.
Sometimes, you just can’t avoid Phuket. It has become one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations for a reason, after all. The resort island has beautiful beaches, amazing accommodations and all the modern conveniences that a traveller could ask for. When choosing a beach, however, it’s important to consider that many places in Phuket are crowded and overdeveloped. Enter Nai Harn Beach. Although secluded Nai Harn is well off the beaten path of the tourist parade, it does have a few restaurants and hotels that make it easily accessible as a day trip from other locations on Phuket or as a destination in itself. Paradise comes with a catch, however. Be aware that waters off Phuket beaches can sometimes have strong currents. Heed any warnings or red flag displays to enjoy your holiday safely.
Little Koh Ngai sits just off of one of our other favourites, Koh Lanta. Again, it offers impressive, white sand beaches, great snorkelling accessible from shore, beautiful forests and wildlife, and a laid-back feel. Here, your daily view from the beach will be iconic karst formations jutting out of the sea that are so familiar a site in Thailand. Take a day trip to nearby Koh Rok, another idyllic location, for world-class snorkeling, or even camping, if that’s your thing.
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