9 Thai Beaches That’ll Rock Your World (if You Never Leave, We Won’t Judge)By Chelsea Stuart
One thing about Thailand that’s simply indisputable? The Southeast Asian country is lined with some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. From the palm-fringed stretches in lush and exotic Koh Phi Phi to the popular shores of Phuket, these are the best beaches in Thailand.
Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi
Full disclosure: Maya Bay is always teeming with snorkelers, beach bums, and every other type of tourist imaginable, all shuttled in by ferries, catamarans, and long boats from Phuket and Krabi. But that said, the lush cliff-sheltered bay — with its silky white sands, exceptionally clear waters, and exotic marine life — still warrants a visit.
Oh, and if it looks familiar, you’re probably a Leonardo DiCaprio fan (I mean, who isn’t); this is where The Beach was filmed, after all.
Mae Nam Beach, Koh Samui
Mae Nam Beach may be popular among families and backpackers, but it’s still a degree removed from Samui’s hyped-about spots, making it one of the best beaches in Thailand. With more than four miles of silky white sand lapped by calm surf, finding a relatively private chunk of shore isn’t too hard. The mellow spot also affords cloud-capped views of Koh Pha Ngan to the north, all enjoyed under the shade of an umbrella or coconut tree.
Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe
On the west side of Koh Lipe — Thailand’s southernmost isle — facing the Butang Islands, is the bungalow-dotted Sunset Beach. Despite its status as one of KL’s three main stretches of sand, the smallest coastline of the bunch has miraculously maintained a low-profile and laid-back vibe, popular mostly among local Thai and Malaysian visitors.
Named for the incredible sunsets that light up the horizon each nightfall, dusk is arguably the prime time to hit the sand.
Thong Nai Pan Noi, Koh Pha Ngan
The remote and tranquil Thong Nai Pan Noi and its twin cove – Thong Nai Pan Yai, sprawl out on the eastern shore of Koh Pha Ngan, catching first sight of the island’s sunrise each morning. The long crescent beach and the small village of Noi still gives off a decidedly bohemian vibe thanks to old-school tattoo shops, raging full moon parties and backpacking crowds.
Phra Nang Beach, Krabi
The southernmost piece of Railway Bay along the glittering Andaman Sea, Phra Nang Beach is accessible only by long-tail boat — about a 20-minute ride from Ao Nang (in Krabi Province). The velvety sand is best from May to December, during low-season, when you can rent a sea kayak to explore the sandstone karsts and limestone caves just offshore, go snorkeling among the shallow water’s coral reefs, or try your hand rock climbing without competing for space.
Long Beach, Koh Lanta
Long Beach’s 2.5-miles of gently-sloping sand are fringed not by palms, as one might expect, but by large pines. Any aerial shot of the coast will show that though plenty of bars, and restaurants sit shoulder to shoulder along the stretch, they’re all set back from the sand, leaving the beach uncluttered.
Much of Long Beach is also undeveloped, so if a serene spot is what you’re after, a little searching will surely uncover it. While Long Beach sunsets are unmissable, if you want to see what else is around, Klong Dao Beach meets Long Beach to the north, while Relax Beach unfolds to the south.
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao
Lazily sprawling for more than a mile along Koh Tao’s west coast is Sairee Beach, the island’s longest and perhaps most adored slice of sand.
The narrow shore’s shallow waters make it ideal for families, but past the little ones’ bedtimes, the bar- and restaurant-lined strip continues to rake in foot traffic as it comes alive with lantern-lit bars who blast techno music, dole out drinks by the bucket, and put on choreographed fire shows.
Kata Noi Beach, Phuket
Avoid the hoards of tourists on Phuket’s bustling Kata Beach, and head instead for sleepy Kata Noi. The town is oft regarded as out of the way, so those who do venture out are rewarded with soft sands that are all their own.
The northern end of the beach is popular with the surfing set, especially during monsoon season – May through October. While you’re in the area, take a 5-minute drive to Kata Viewpoint for a panoramic vista that includes Kata, Kata Noi, and Karon Bay.
Lamai Beach, Koh Samui
On Samui’s southeast coast, Lamai Beach provides a quieter alternative to bustling sister beach Chaweng. The deepest water is found along the southernmost section of the beach, but up and down you’ll wade through ultra-fine sand and come across a few puzzling ’emergency vinegar stations’ – yes, vinegar stations.
Koh Samui’s waters are home to quite the active box jellyfish population – particularly in wet season, October to early December – but don’t let them scare you away, just keep your eyes peeled.