Last Friday was a public holiday in Thailand, so we decided to take a getaway outside of Bangkok. We were looking for a beach, but we didn’t want to go too far, or have to take a boat. So of course our goal was to choose the best beach near Bangkok. After living and touring Thailand for over 10 years, I thought I already knew all beach options near Bangkok. The most beautiful beaches not far from the capital of Thailand are on the island of Koh Larn, in Pattaya.
Is Koh Larn the Best Option?
Koh Larn is a phenomenal island, with idyllic beaches and postcard crystal clear waters. The problem with Koh Larn is that it is usually crowded with tourists. Russians and Chinese from Monday to Friday, plus an extra load of Thais on weekends. There are often so many people that it is not really worth going. And this weekend we decided that we would’nt even consider that option, as we didn’t feel like waiting long to catch the ferry, only to land on the island and find it so crowded that we couldn’t even spread our towel on the sand.
There are also other beaches near Bangkok. In fact the closest beach to Bangkok is Bang Saen, but it is not really a beautiful beach. It’s a good option if you just want to have a drink facing the sea, but Bang Saen beach is not pleasant for swimming or sunbathing. Hua Hin, which is cool, is a bit further south, and being a small city everything is more complicated (access to the beach, parking, etc.). In addition to this, Hua Hin has a lot to offer the visitor, which is why it is recommended for longer stays rather than quick getaways.
Sai Kaew, the Best Beach Near Bangkok
This time, we went to explore an area that I did not know, because until then I mistakenly thought it was restricted to foreigners. This area is located at the tip of Chonburi province (whose most important destination is Pattaya), where there is a large area of very green coastline with several beaches and islands. That territory belongs to the Thai army and is often restricted. This is the reason why it is so well cared for, and why urbanistically it remains basically undeveloped.
Some time ago I went to one of the islands in that military region, the beautiful Samae San island, and I was allowed there just because my Thai partner was with me. Foreigners are only allowed in Samae San if we are traveling with someone local.
Despite being aware of that, we decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be the right decision. We discovered that of the 3 or 4 beaches in the area, there is a really beautiful one to which foreigners are allowed. It is Sai Kaew beach, a beautiful long cove, about 500 meters long, with clean and transparent waters. A beach that you would only hope to find on one of the best islands in Thailand.
Sai Kaew beach is less than 3 hours by road from Bangkok, and it is a beach that many Thais go to on weekends. But, being quite large, it never gets extremely crowded. Thus, it will always be better to visit on a weekday, but if you go on a weekend you will enjoy the experience as well.
Sai Kaew beach also has several beach bars, restaurants, parking lots, bathrooms, showers and everything you might need to spend a fantastic day at the beach. From now on, Sai Kaew beach will be my top recommendation for those who ask me about beaches near Bangkok. I seriously doubt that in the future I will find any other option that beats Sai Kaew as the best beach near Bangkok.
How to go to Sai Kaew beach and how much does it cost?
You can only go to this beach by private transport. You will have to pay an entrance fee of 100 THB for foreigners (50 THB for Thais). At the entrance access control, visitors must leave an identity card, which will be handed back when you leave. Then, after traveling a couple of km, you have to stop to buy the ticket. It is allowed to stay on the beach until 6pm.