In this blog we already have a quite extensive section on islands in Thailand. Obviously, almost all of the best beaches in Thailand are on those islands, although I have also chosen a beach that is not on an island, but on the mainland coast.
A list coming from my personal experience of over 10 years visiting beaches in Thailand
Making a good selection of the best beaches in Thailand is very complicated, since the country has a coastline that stretches for over 3.000 kms, and hundreds and hundreds of kilometers with beaches. And of course making a good selection of beaches requires having visited many of them. For over one decade I have been traveling the land of smiles very extensively, and been to hundreds of beaches in Thailand. I love the beach, and I love even more to explore Thai islands riding a rental scooter or on board of a long-tail boat, riding the waves and stopping to enjoy the excellent snorkeling that the Thai seabed offers.
This hobby has led me to, not only visit almost all the islands of Thailand, but to explore them extensively while trying to know as many beaches as possible. Thus, the list that I bring you below is the result of this long hobby and the experiences it brought me while traveling across these small Thai paradises.
The 25 Best Beaches in Thailand
This is not a ranking, but a list
Before I start, I would like to comment that it is very difficult to rank beaches, maybe even pointless, so I have simply decided to make a list of which, in my opinion, are the 25 best beaches in Thailand. Of course I have left several great beaches out of this list, some of them intentionally. For example, there are islands such as Phi Phi that have several beaches worthy of being in this list, but I’ve prefered to leave them out in order to make room for more territorial variety.
🏝️ Laem Haad, in Koh Yao Yai
Laem Haad is one of those beaches that once visited you’ll never forget. I still remember when I saw it live for the first time, while getting off the long-tail boat that took me there from neighboring Koh Yao Noi island. It was impressive to moor the boat to that gorgeous, thin strip of sand with its few palm trees almost touching the water. The only people there were the boatman, a couple and me, drone in hand, nervous to start flying it and photographing so much beauty from the sky. And, despite being so amazing, Laem Haad, like the entire island of Koh Yao Yai, is very little known.
😀 Pros: Little-known postcard beach located on a huge fishing island that maintains that ‘little-explored place’ atmosphere.
😐 Cons: To say the least, I would say that the water around Laem Haad’s sandy tip is rather greenish. If it were turquoise blue, the place would already be totally paradisiacal and ideal for instagramers. So perhaps it is good news that Laem Haad beach has a little imperfection, since otherwise it would possibly be crammed with tourists looking for the perfect picture.
🏝️ Koh Wua Ta Lap, in Ang Thong
Ang Thong National Marine Park is an archipelago of 42 virgin islands located in the Gulf of Thailand. It can be visited from the coast, specifically from Surat Thani, although the most common is to visit from Koh Samui island. The main island of the archipelago, Koh Wua Ta Lap, is where the national park offices are, and it has bungalows and tents available to visitors. Next to it there is a gorgeous beach that will satisfy the most demanding traveler. Nearby there is also an impressive viewpoint that offers impressive views over the beach and dozens of the surrounding islands that form the archipelago. Probably one of the most impressive seascapes in Thailand.
😀 Pros: Being a National Park, all of its islands are protected. Spending the night in their tents is just a fantastic experience. Also, the park has some pretty decent snorkeling spots.
😐 Cons: In high season and before Covid19, there were many daily tours that sometimes made the islands too crowded.
🏝️ Hong Island Beach
Leonardo Di Caprio’s movie ‘The Beach’ could have been shot perfectly on this incredible beach. If so, today it would be one of the 3 most famous beaches in Thailand. For better or worse, that fame was taken by Maya Bay (closed since June 2018 to recover from too many years of tourist exploitation). Hong Island Beach is a spectacular unspoiled beach, also protected as a National Park, excellent for spending a whole day relaxing. They have recently built a viewpoint from which we can have a spectacular view. In addition, in the interior of the island we find the famous blue lagoon.
😀 Pros: It is a short boat ride from Ao Nang (Krabi) town, making it very accessible.
😐 Cons: In recent years it has become quite popular so do not expect to be alone there.
🏝️ Pattaya Beach, in Koh Lipe
What to say about the small island of Koh Lipe that has not already been said? Koh Lipe is one of the most beautiful marine areas in Thailand. It has almost perfect turquoise blue waters and beautiful white sand beaches. There is only one downside: the urban development of the island has been chaotic, and the central area is not well-kept. It is usual to find runes, garbage and buildings disrispectful with their beautiful surroundings. And it’s a shame. Still, the main beach on the island, Pattaya Beach, is just gorgeous and deserves a mention on this list.
😀 Pros: It is a small paradise from which, in addition, we have access to many virgin islands of the Koh Tarutao National Marine Park.
😐 Cons: The development on the island has taken away some of its charm.
🏝️ Emerald Cave, in Koh Mook
The Emerald Cave, or Tham Morakot, is a dream-like location. One of those places that, if you visit, you will never forget. Can you imagine swimming into a long sea cave until it gets almost totally dark and, little by little, light starts to shine and get gradually brighter at the end, until suddenly appearing on a spectacular beach in the interior of the island? Well that would be Koh Mook’s Emerald Cave.
😀 Pros: Besides the cave, Koh Mook is a spectacular island.
😐 Cons: To visit the cave you have to join a tour, for safety issues.
🏝️ Haad Ao Kuak, in Koh Similan
The Similan Islands are also known as the ‘9 pearls of the Andaman Sea’. Nine small islands surrounded by turquoise waters and protected by the Thai government as part of the Mu Koh Similan National Park. The main island of the park, Koh Similan, has only one visitable beach, Had Ao Kuak, which is simply spectacular. On that beach we find a viewpoint known as ‘Sailing Rock’ from which we can take a panoramic photo of this magnificent beach. In fact, the huge rock in this viewpoint has become a symbol of this park.
😀 Pros: It is a totally unspoiled beach.
😐 Cons: It is quite isolated, and it must be taken into account that it gets easily crowded in high season.
🏝️ Koh Nang Yuan, in Koh Tao
Koh Nang Yuan is made up of three small islands linked together by a sandbar. That impressive sandbar is Koh Nang Yuan Beach, which is often used as a tourism promotional image for the island of Koh Tao or all of Thailand. Koh Nang Yuan is very close to the island of Koh Tao, the third island in the Gulf of Thailand, near Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
In addition to its beach and spectacular landscape, Koh Nang Yuan has a very interesting seabed many dive centers go to frequently. The so-called Japanese gardens are a set of pinnacles with a bustling and colorful marine life.
😀 Pros: Easy to get to from Koh Tao.
😐 Cons: As always, in high season it can get extremely crowded.
🏝️ Maya Bay, in Koh Phi Phi Leh
Maya Bay is probably the most famous beach in Thailand and one of the best known in the world. It is located on the small island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, within the archipelago of the Phi Phi islands. It became immensely popular after being a scenario for the movie ‘The Beach’ in 2000, starring a young Leonardo Di Caprio. Since then the popularity of the beach skyrocketed and many tourists to Thailand flocked to visit it. This prompted the Thai government to close the beach in 2018, so its fragile ecosystem could recover. Since then the corals have been reborn on its seabed and a large group of sharks frequent the beach. Now the beach can only be visited from 300 meters into the sea.
😀 Pros: It deserves the fame it has.
😐 Cons: Since 2018 its sand can no longer be stepped on. You have to see it from afar.
🏝️ Monkey Beach, in Koh Phi Phi Don
Since I have mentioned a beach in Koh Phi Phi that cannot be visited, I have decided to add another that can be visited. In fact, on Phi Phi Don island there are many beaches well worth a visit. Almost all of them are really beautiful, but I have chosen Monkey Beach. It is a 150 meters long virgin beach in which there are no hotels. It is inhabited by friendly macaques who usually entertain visitors, although it is recommended not to interact much with them and, of course, not to feed them.
😀 Pros: It is an ideal beach to stop at while doing a boat tour of the Phi Phi archipelago.
😐 Cons: It’s not allowed to overnight, so we can only enjoy it for a while.
🏝️ Phra Nang Beach, in Railay
The impressive Railay Bay in Krabi shows, in my opinion, one of the most representative landscapes in southern Thailand. It is a bay surrounded by huge limestone cliffs full of vegetation and a couple spectacular beaches. The most impressive one is gorgeous Phra Nang beach, where we only find one hotel, the luxurious Rayavadee Resort. However, even if we are not staying at this hotel, we can visit the beach and spend as much time as we want.
😀 Pros: It is only 15 minutes by boat from Ao Nang town.
😐 Cons: The interior area of Railay Bay could be much better kept.
🏝️ Klong Chao Beach, in Koh Kood
Quiet and long Klong Chao Beach, on Koh Kood island, is an ideal place to spend a few lazy days, staying in a good resort next to a beautiful beach. Klong Chao has several great 4* and 5* hotels right next to the sand. In addition, Koh Kood island has other good beaches such as Klong Hin.
😀 Pros: It is a super quiet beach on a spectacular island.
😐 Cons: It is a very quiet island, not suitable for those looking to party.
🏝️ Banana Beach, in Phuket
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, with a reputation for being highly overdeveloped. Well, that’s true, but it is true as well that some of its many beaches, like Banana Beach, are true hidden gems that the large tourist groups have not yet reached. Banana Beach is located in the island’s north-central coast, in a very quiet area only accessible by motorbike or boat. To go down to the beach you’ll have to park on a very narrow road, so driving by car is not recommended.
😀 Pros: It is a small paradise on a very accessible large island.
😐 Cons: To get there you will probably have to drive for a long time.
🏝️ Long Beach, in Koh Ngai
Koh Ngai is one of the islands of Trang… and all of them are amazing. We have chosen to mention Koh Ngai because we are in love with it, and we think it deserves to be on this list. We are talking about a tiny island, barely 4 km long by 2 km wide. On one of its sides we find Long Beach, which is spectacular and where most of the island’s resorts are located, all facing the sea. In the mountainous area of the beach there is Koh Ngai Cliff Beach Resort, which has a swimming pool with outstanding views.
😀 Pros: It is a very little known island and yet it is spectacular.
😐 Cons: Getting there will take you almost a whole day.
🏝️ Leela Beach, in Koh Phangan
Among the 3 main islands in the central region of the Gulf of Thailand, we believe Koh Phangan is the one that has the best beaches. It is difficult to choose just one of its beaches, since there are many gorgeous ones. Even so, giving our apologies to beaches such as Bottle Beach or Haad Yuan, we have chosen Leela Beach. Why? Well, because in addition to being a small cove with spectacular transparent turquoise water and very beautiful white sand, it is located right next to the main beach of the island, Haad Rin, which makes it super accessible.
😀 Pros: Koh Pha Ngan is a very easily accessible island. Just fly to Koh Samui and it’s only half an hour by boat.
😐 Cons: During the Full Moon Party days that area of the island is an absolute chaos.
🏝️ Ao Wai Beach, in Koh Samed
Koh Samed is a small island not far from Bangkok, about 2 or 3 hours by road. It is an excellent option for those who want to visit a tropical Thai island without having to take a plane from the capital or from north Thailand. On this small island of 13 km2 there are quite a few beaches. Among them, my favourite is Ao Wai, a little cove located in the south of the island. It is a little-developed beach that still maintains a sense of virginity and nature.
😀 Pros: You can easily get there from Bangkok by road.
😐 Cons: On weekends it gets crowded with domestic tourists.
🏝️ Ao Yai beach, in Koh Phayam
Koh Phayam is one of the hippest islands in Thailand. Located in the southwest of the country, near Myanmar, Koh Phayam has always gone unnoticed by large tour operators, and that has made it an alternative tourism destination. The fact that its narrow road only allows small vehicles and that it does not have large resorts, explains why it is only visited by independent travelers who already know Thailand quite well, either expats or seasoned travelers. It is rarely a first-time destination. It has two outstanding beaches and the main one, Ao Wai, deserves to be on this list. Not for being a super pardisiac postcard beach, but for having a great atmosphere and being a perfect place to disconnect.
😀 Pros: It is a good alternative destination to the best known islands and beaches.
😐 Cons: It is seasonally ‘dead’ during the rainy season, from May to October.
🏝️ Hidden Beach
We have already mentioned this beach in some other InThailand articles. The first time we were there, we did not know its name (nor did we know if it had one), so we named it ‘hidden beach’. We sid that it is located in Krabi province, although we did not specify in which island. We received some complaints, and caused some debate on social networks with people asking for its location… which we finally revealed in another article. But let us keep playing for a bit. If you want to discover where this spectacular beach is, you will have to find the article in which we talk about it on this blog, or ask us on Instagram after following us;)
😀 Pros: It is a small paradise surrounded by limestone cliffs that leave you speechless.
😐 Cons: We couldn’t fly our drone much because the island walls blocked the GPS signal.
🏝️ Ban Krut Beach
I visited Ban Krut beach in 2020 during the covid pandemic. By then, in Thailand we did not have confinement, so I took the opportunity to travel a lot around the country, driving one of our travel agency vans. On the way south they told me about this little beach, and I decided to stop there. I instantly fell in love with it. Despite not being a travel magazine cover beach, in my opinion it is a long beach with dense vegetation and a spectacular atmosphere. Total relaxation in a super local area where you can eat very well spending little money. In addition, in Ban Krut there are great accommodation options by the sea, such as the SalaCoco, run by a very friendly couple of men.
😀 Pros: Maximum tranquility on a beach with a 100% Thai atmosphere.
😐 Cons: It is not the postcard beach that one, perhaps, may be looking for.
🏝️ Lonely Beach, in Koh Chang
Koh Chang island, east of Bangkok and near Cambodia, is a large, super mountainous and fairly quiet island. It is a great alternative for those looking for a large island where they can move around driving a rented vehicle, in which there is an atmosphere but without large crowds. One of our favorite beaches, which has unfortunately declined, is Lonely Beach, also known by its Thai name ‘Haad Tha Nam’. It is Koh Chang’s backpacker beach, once a small paradise with just a few bamboo hut resorts. Over the years it has developed in a chaotic way and has lost some of its charm… but I have also decided to include it in this list, although I admit this choice is based on the memories I have in it. Who knows, hopefully in the post-Covid world it will go back to what it was.
😀 Pros: A destination for backpackers in search of tranquility or alternative parties.
😐 Cons: The steep roads of Koh Chang are quite dangerous for those riding a motorcycle.
🏝️ Ao Pra Beach, in Koh Mak
Koh Mak is a small island of about 16 km2 and 400 inhabitants, located near Cambodia. It is another of the little-known islands where few tourists go. Ideal for those looking for a quiet alternative destination, ideal to indulge in total relaxation. The island has several beaches, but I have chosen Ao pra beach for this list, which is almost 100% virgin. There are no hostels, bars or restaurants. You can reach it by walking from neighboring Ao Kao or Ao Suan Yai. When I went there was absolutely no one but me, and it was a great experience.
😀 Pros: Absolute tranquility.
😐 Cons: The island is far away, and it is a bit tedious to get there.
🏝️ Sai Kaew Beach
If you’re looking for a beach near Bangkok that you can visit by road as a daytrip, look no further: Sai Kaew is your best option. Sai Kaew beach is beautiful and very easily accessible. It belongs to the Thai army, and is close to the city of Pattaya. You have to pay a small entrance fee of 100 THB. There are probably better beaches not mentioned in this article, but none of them closer to the capital of Thailand. For that reason I think it deserves a place on this list.
😀 Pros: Beautiful and very close to Bangkok.
😐 Cons: You have to pay an entrance fee.
🏝️ Poda Beach, in Poda Island (Krabi)
Small Poda island is relatively close to Ao Nang’s coast, in Krabi. On the island we find some spectacular beaches, the kind that are really close to perfection. The main beach of the island, Poda beach, is one of them. This beach is usually visited on a boat trip to what they call ‘the 4 islands’ of Krabi. Going to Krabi and missing this island would certainly be a mistake!
😀 Pros: It is totally unspoilt as it is part of a National Park.
😐 Cons: It is not allowed to overnight there.
🏝️ Wua Laen Beach, in Chumphon
I visited Wua Laen beach during the 2020 pandemic. In Thailand that year there were hardly any restrictions and, having no tourism, I took the opportunity to travel to places in Thailand that I still did not know. One of those was Chumhpon province, and I absolutely loved it. Of this province, I would highlight the beautiful beach of Wua Laen. The beach is quite large and has some resorts, but in general it is very quiet. An excellent option where to stop on the way to Koh Tao or anywhere else in southern Thailand. Again, I chose to include this beach in the list in order to highlight some mainland beaches besides the ones on Thai islands. By the way, from Chumphon it is possible to take good snorkeling trips.
😀 Pros: Super quiet.
😐 Cons: At low tide it is not so pretty.
🏝️ Chong Kaad Bay, in Surin Islands
The Surin Islands archipelago is a National Park 60 km off the coast and north of the Similan Islands. It has 2 large islands and 3 islets. As it is a National Park, there are no hotels or resorts in them, although it is possible to overnight in the Park’s bungalows and tents. We can eithrt visit the islands on a day tour or overnight. The camping area is in Ao Chong Kaad, a small bay with a couple of beautiful beaches. In addition, a large community of the Moken ethnic group, also known as the ‘sea gypsies’, lives in the islands of this National Park.
😀 Pros: The Surin Islands are just spectacular.
😐 Cons: Getting to them requires some effort.
🏝️ Shark Bay, in Koh Tao
Koh Tao’s Shark Bay, or Haad Thien beach, is located in the south of the island. It is medium in size and has very beautiful turquoise blue water and white sand with abundant vegetation almost caressing the sea. In addition, there are two resorts on the beach, although they are 4* on the expensive side. A good alternative is to stay in the cheaper Chalok Bay, which is very close. As the name suggests, small sharks can be seen quite easily when snorkeling in Shark Bay.
😀 Pros: The perfect beach to stay, relax and do some snorkeling.
😐 Cons: Koh Tao is a bit far.
Practical information to visit the beaches
☀️ The weather on the beaches of Thailand
The climate in the marine areas of Thailand differs a lot between the east and west coasts. The Andaman Sea area (west) has better weather from November to April, while the Gulf of Thailand area (east) also has good weather in June, July and August, but can get very rainy from October to December. You’ll find more info about the climate of Thailand in this link.
🌊 The water temperature of the beaches of Thailand
The water on the beaches of Thailand is warm. When you bathe in Thailand you rarely have a temperature shock. When you get into the water it may feel cool compared with the heat outside, but your body will fully adapt instantly. The water temperature is usually around 28ºC, unlike other much cooler seas such as the Mediterranean where at its hottest, in summer, is usually 23ºC.
🏄♀️ What to do on the beaches of Thailand
The beaches of Thailand are not just a beautiful place to lie in a hammock and sunbathe with a cocktail in hand, but they are also base camps from which to explore the surrounding land and sea areas. There are usually many activities on offer in the beaches of Thailand: boat tours to other islands, excursions through the jungle in the beach surrounding area, snorkeling and diving trips, quad tours, kayaking and almost whatever you can think of. You can hardly get bored on a Thai beach since, as we say, the offer of activities is usually wide.
🩱 What to wear on the beaches of Thailand
Just take the same you’d bring to any other beach, in addition to what you need to spend a few days in an island guest house or hotel. In almost all Thai islands there are 7Eleven minimarts, so you can always buy anything you forget, such as anti-mosquito spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, sandals, etc.
🛺 How to get around on the beaches of Thailand
Once you get to the islands by boat (only Phuket and Koh Samuihave an airport) you will have to use songthaews or rent a vehicle to get around and get to the best beaches. Songthaew cost around THB 100 one way, while renting a motorbike can cost anywhere from THB 100 to 300 per day. More info about transport in Thailand.