On the hundreds of islands on Thailand’s coast, there are thousands of fantastic beaches to choose from. Whether you want to party hard with a vodka bucket, or just relax in a beachside bungalow, Thailand has it all – so, taken from the latest guidebook, here’s our rundown of the best beaches in Thailand.
If you’re just arriving and want to stay on one of the less accessible beaches, it might be a good idea to go with one of the touts who meet the ferries at Mae Hat, the island’s main village. To the north of the island's main landing point, Mae Hat, and beyond a small promontory, you’ll find Hat Sai Ree – Ko Tao’s longest beach.
Ao Hinwong, Ko Tao
For a particularly remote, almost desolate escape, head to Ao Hinwong – one of many sheltered inlets on the east coast. As the most northerly habitation on Ko Tao, this is a deeply recessed, limpid bay strewn with large boulders and great coral reefs.
It's home to a wide range of fish, including blue-spotted fantail stingrays, sweetlips pufferfish and boxfish, as well as hawksbill turtles. All the more reason for its place as one of the best beaches in Thailand.
Laem Thian, Ko Tao
In the middle of the coast, the dramatic tiered promontory of Laem Thian shelters, on its south side, a tiny beach and a colourful reef, which stretches down to the east coast’s most developed bay of Ao Ta Note. Ta Note’s horseshoe inlet is sprinkled with boulders and plenty of coarse sand, with excellent snorkelling just north of the bay’s mouth.
Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Tao
Just 1km from Ko Tao, this close-knit group of three tiny islets provides the most spectacular beach scenery in these parts. This is thanks to the causeway of fine sand that joins up the islands surrounded by a variety of sites, with assorted hard and soft corals and an abundance of fish:
- View Point Resort - SHA Plus
Where to stay on Ko Tao?
Set in Koh Tao, a few steps from Chalok Baan Kao Beach, View Point Resort - SHA Plus offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a garden. Boasting a terrace and a private beach area, this property is situated near attractions such as Shark Bay Beach, Freedom Beach and Chalok Viewpoint. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a shuttle service, room service and free WiFi.
- Sai Daeng Resort
Sai Daeng Resort has a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and shared lounge in Koh Tao. With free WiFi, this 4-star resort offers water sports facilities and room service. The resort has a garden and offers a sun terrace.
- Koh Tao Heritage
Located in Koh Tao, within 500 m of Mae Haad Beach and 700 m of Sairee Beach, Koh Tao Heritage provides accommodation with a restaurant and free WiFi as well as free private parking for guests who drive. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. Certain rooms at the property include a patio with pool view.
Hat Pattaya, Ko Lipe
A shining crescent of squeaky-soft white sand, with its offshore reef and relaxed, anything goes atmosphere, Ko Lipe island – another of the Ko Tarutao National Park archipelago – is attracting an influx of Westerners, Thais and Malaysian backpackers and families. As so many flock to this pristine stretch of sand, it's secured a firm place up there as one of the best beaches in Thailand.
Ao Nuan, Ko Samet
Accessible by climbing over the headland to the north (which gives a fine panorama over Hat Sai Kaew), the secluded Ao Nuan is Samet’s smallest and most laid-back beach. Because it’s some way off the main track, it gets hardly any through-traffic and feels quiet and private.
Ao Nuan Beach on the island of Ko Samet in Thailand © Muzhik/Shutterstock
Ao Hin Kok, Ko Samet
One of the many beaches on Ko Samet’s east coast, and much smaller than its busier neighbour, this stretch has more of a travellers’ vibe. Just three sets of bungalows overlook the petite white-sand beach from the slope on the far side of the dirt road – surely making this not only one of the best beaches in Thailand, but one of the best secrets, too.
Hat Sai Kaew, Ko Samet
Otherwise known as “Diamond Beach”, Hat Sai Kaew was named for its long and extraordinarily beautiful stretch of luxuriant sand, so soft and clean it squeaks under foot – a result, apparently, of its unusually high silicon content. Unsurprisingly, it’s the busiest beach on Samet, but the northern end is slightly more peaceful.
On the island’s north coast, known as Ao Noi Na – even though it’s not strictly a single bay – has a refreshingly normal village feel compared to the rest of Samet. There are an increasing number of places to stay along the narrow coastal road here, offering serene views across the water to the mainland hills, and one white-sand beach of note at the far western end.
Ao Sang Thian & Ao Lung Dum, Ko Samet
A favourite with Thai students, who relish the beauty of its slightly wild setting, “Candlelight Beach”, and contiguous Ao Lung Dum display almost none of the commerce of other beaches on this island. The narrow, white-sand coastline is dotted with wave-smoothed rocks and partitioned by larger outcrops that create several distinct bays.
- Holiday Inn & Suites Rayong City Centre, an IHG Hotel
- Hotel Fuse Rayong
- Star Convention Hotel (Star Hotel)
Where to stay on Ko Samet:
Set in Rayong, 100 m from Passione Shopping Destination, Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Rayong City Centre is set in Rayong. Boasting a rooftop pool and bar as well as a fitness centre, this hotel offers accommodation with free WiFi and free parking.
Set in Rayong, 20 km from Emerald Golf Resort, Hotel Fuse Rayong offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. The property is situated 26 km from Eastern Star Golf Course, 33 km from Khao Laem Ya National Park and 38 km from Bira International Circuit Pattaya. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a shuttle service, room service and free WiFi.
Star Convention Hotel (Star Hotel) features a sauna, pool and fitness centre. It offers air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi in public areas. The hotel also has a nightclub, karaoke facilities and a business centre.
Our tailor-made 8-day travel trip to Bangkok and Pattaya is the perfect opportunity to have a much closer look at Samets' island beauty.
Ao Khung Kraben, Chanthaburi
This is a deep, lagoon-like scoop of a bay that’s occasionally visited by dugongs and is edged by a dense mangrove forest. A wide swathe of this mangrove swamp is protected under a royal conservation project and crossed by a kilometre-long boardwalk. The uniqueness of this area makes it one of the best beaches in Thailand you can add to your bucket list.
Hat Khlong Phrao, Ko Chang
One of the island’s nicest beaches, this sweeping, casuarina-fringed bay is yet to see the clutter and claustrophobic development of its neighbours. It begins with a nice 1km-long run of beach that’s interrupted by a wide khlong (canal), whose estuary is the site of some characterful stilt homes and seafood restaurants. The southern beach is partly shaded by casuarinas and backed by a huge coconut grove.
Inspired by our best beaches in Thailand? Try a new tailor-made travel service and enjoy a fully personalised trip planned by a local expert.
Lonely Beach (Hat Tha Nam), Ko Chang
Named “Lonely Beach” before it became Ko Chang’s top place to party, this stretch of sand has, despite the creeping concrete, some creatively designed little wood and bamboo bar restaurants. Some offer chilled, low-key escapes from the loud dance music, all-night parties and buckets of vodka Red Bull that the beachfront places are notorious for.
Ao Kao, Ko Mak
On the southwest coast, the longest and nicest beach on Ko Mak is a pretty arc of sand overhung with stooping palm trees and backed in places by mangroves. The beach is divided towards its southern end by a low rocky outcrop that’s straddled by a couple of resorts, while the long western beach is shared by a dozen other sets of bungalows, most of them around the pier.
Ao Suan Yai, Ko Mak
Long, curvy Ao Suan Yai is not as pretty as Ao Kao on the opposite side of the island, but it's still one of the best beaches in Thailand. The sand is fine and the outlook is beautiful, with Ko Chang’s hilly profile filling the horizon and Ko Kham and other islets in between.
Planning to travel to Thailand solo? Find some tips for solo travellers to Thailand.
Ao Phra-Ae, Ko Lanta Yai
With its lovely long parade of soft, white sand, calm and crystal-clear water that’s good for swimming and shady fringes of casaurina trees, Ao Phra-Ae (also known as Long Beach) is strikingly beautiful and the best of Lanta’s many long beaches. The middle section of the beach has variable sands but some interesting, artsy places to stay, at Hat Khlong Khong, Hat Khlong Nin and Hat Khlong Nam Jud.
Ao Bang Bao, Ko Kood
The fourth-largest island in Thailand, Ko Kood (also spelt Ko Kut and Ko Kud) is a wild and largely uncommercialised island. Though it’s known for its sparkling white sand and clear turquoise water Ko Kood is as much a nature-lover’s destination as a beach-bum’s. This is definitely one of Ko Kood’s prettiest beaches.
Beach holiday is a great way to spend your time with family. Find out more places to travel with your kids.
Ao Phrao, Ko Kood
Just one hour by speedboat from the mainland, this long, unspoilt, stunning beach of white sand, backed by densely planted palms and the slopes of Khao Chom, is the perfect place to relax after the chaos of Bangkok. Behind Ao Phrao, the tiny fishing village of Ban Khlong Phrao occupies the mangrove-lined banks of Khlong Phrao (which extends another kilometre inland).
Want to get to know Thailand better? Read 18 facts you didn't know about Thailand.
- Koh Kood BED's l SHA Extra Plus
- Koh Kood Garden View
- Shantaa Resort, Kohkood SHA Plus B4140
Where to stay on Ko Kood:
Boasting a shared lounge, garden and views of the garden, Koh Kood BED's l SHA Extra Plus is set in Ko Kood, less than 1 km from Sai Daeng Beach. Around less than 1 km from Bang Bao Beach, the property is also a 12-minute walk away from Ao Ngamkho Beach and offers free WiFi. Guests can have a drink at the snack bar.
Located in Ko Kood, within 300 m of Klong Chao Beach and 1.2 km of Ao Ngamkho Beach, Koh Kood Garden View provides accommodation with a garden as well as free private parking for guests who drive. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation features an ATM and currency exchange for guests.
Boasting a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, garden and free WiFi, Shantaa Resort, Kohkood SHA Plus B4140 is set in Ko Kood, 2 km from Ao Tapao Beach and 2.2 km from Ao Noi Beach. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a sun terrace. Rooms are equipped with a balcony with sea views.
All guest rooms at the resort come with a seating area. At Shantaa Resort, Kohkood SHA Plus B4140, all rooms have air conditioning and a private bathroom.
Ao Thong Nai Pan, Ko Pha Ngan
Ao Thong Nai Pan is a beautiful, semicircular bay. It's backed by steep, green hills and looks as if it’s been bitten out of the island’s northeast corner by a gap-toothed giant, leaving a tall hump of land dividing the bay into two parts. With lovely, fine, white sand, the longer, more indented southern part is the marginally better beach, but both halves of the bay are sheltered and deep enough for swimming.
Once you get here you’ll find most of the basic amenities you’ll need: internet shops, travel agents, dive outfits, ATMs and a tiny post office (on Thong Nai Pan Yai).
For a few on-foot excursions once you’re all beached out, head to Ao Sone on Ko Tartuao – part of the Ko Tarutao National Park archipelago. Named so because of the casaurina trees that fringe the beach, this is a 3km sweep of flawless sand that has a one-hour trail leading up to Lu Du Waterfall at the north end. There's also a 90-minute trail to Lo Po Waterfall in the middle and a mangrove swamp at the far south end.
For the first-time Thailand beaches experience try our incredible 6-day tailor made tour to Krabi.
Ready for a trip to the best beaches in Thailand? Check the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Thailand's Beaches & Islands or the Rough Guides to Thailand. If you travel further in Thailand, read more about the best time to go, the best places to visit and the best things to do in Thailand. For inspiration use the Thailand itineraries from The Rough Guide to Thailand and our local travel experts. A bit more hands-on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
We may earn a commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.
Top image: Khlong Phrao beach on Ko Chang © ronemmons / Shutterstock