If you’ve seen all those stunning pictures of Thailand with crystal clear sea lapping against pristine white sand and you want a bit of that, you can. Those pictures do not lie!
After days of research, reading countless unbiased reviews and talking to the people at Thailand Tourism who know, I’ve whittled this list down to 8 stunning beaches that are not yet overrun with tourists so you can bask in the sun, swim, take those fancy National Geographic photos and create memories of a lifetime.
Railay is a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang. What makes it so special is that it’s only reached by boat due to towering limestone cliffs that are a magnet for rock climbers with at least 500 trails. You’ll find five-star resorts on West Railay, as well as bungalows and medium-priced accommodation for spending your day on the white sandy beach, cut off from the mainland.
Koh Kood (also known as Ko Kut)
Thailand’s fourth largest but least populated island with beaches likened to the Maldives. It is on the eastern side of the Gulf. There is no nightlife, so if you’re after a bit of evening hustle and bustle, this is not for you. But conversely, if that’s the last thing you want to do, then read on. The west coast has breathtaking beaches and this is where the resorts are. Visit Klong Chao waterfall where you can also swim and other activities like kayaking, hiking and motorbikes can be arranged.
Hua Hin, Malay Peninsula
My first visit to Thailand was to Hua Hin, 200km south of Bangkok. This fishing town is the holiday destination for local Thais (and royalty) who love the 8 km stretch of impossibly white sand. There are several beach front resorts to choose from, a busy fascinating food and produce market, shopping and restaurants. I took a cooking class here (beware the hot chilli peppers!) The beach is uncrowded, but the nightlife is lively enough to enjoy wandering from place to place and soak up the vibe.
Stay at one of the posh resorts on this beach (Chedi or Amanpur) and you get exclusive access to this stretch of paradise. But as beaches in Thailand are not legally private, if you really want to play on this tiny 250-wide beach, there is a steep path that is virtually hidden next to Surin Beach. Good luck!
Nai Harn Beach, Phuket
For those in the know, Nai Harn is one of the most popular beaches in Phuket. The good thing is, not many know! It has great swimming from November to April (strong undertows can occur between May and December). Snorkellers and divers head just south to the sandy cove of Ya Nui.
Kamala Beach, Phuket
Just north of busy Patong and it’s shops, crowded beach and nightlife, is the much quieter Kamala Beach. It is a fishing village enclosed in a bay and surrounded by hills covered in forest. It’s really off the map for most tourists but those who like peace and quiet will love this. Get a beach massage, have swim, drink at one of the bars and eat at local restaurants. There is also a bit of stall shopping when your wallet needs letting loose.
Freedom Beach, Phuket
Considered to be the most beautiful beach on Phuket, take a long tail boat 15 minutes from Patong to quiet Freedom Beach and step ashore onto the soft white sand in this private bay. Snorkel with tropical fish, swim, rent a chair and umbrella. Some days it’s a bit crowded, some days you’ll get the whole beach to yourself. Restaurants are at the southern end (where the best snorkelling is), or bring a picnic with you.
Lamai Beach, Samui
Quieter than it’s bigger neighbour Chaweng, but still with plenty to offer in terms of places to stay, eat and shop. You’ll notice the trend of moving away from “cheap and cheerful” though into more high end offerings. Check out Lamai Night Plaza which is a mini version of Bangkok’s Patpong with lots of cheap knock offs.