Thailand is blessed with some truly stunning beach locations, some of which are among the most beautiful to be found anywhere on the planet, with beautiful clear warm waters, lovely sands and breathtaking views in abundance.   

Unfortunately, the experience can occasionally be diminished somewhat by the sound of the outboard engines of the long tail water taxis that ply their, albeit very useful, trade between resorts. Until recently, on the very busiest beaches, unsightly cigarette butts were a also a problem feature left by disrespectful tourists, but smoking has now been banned on the beaches.

Another potential marring of this paradise is the nightlife scene at some of the busiest resorts, characterised by the overt presence of prostitution and, in recent years, binge drinking by mostly British teenagers. Careful choice of resort can however avoid these issues.

The most visually stunning beaches are to be found in the southwest of the country, in the area encircling Phang Nha Bay between Krabi and Phuket. Phang Nha Bay is beautifully scenic, somewhat reminiscent, though smaller, of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam and filled with many interesting shapely islands and delightful beaches. At the southern entrance of the bay are the lovely Phi Phi Islands.

Close to Krabi at the eastern edge of Phang Nha Bay, West Railay also has a couple of majestically beautiful beaches, whilst on the other side of the bay, the west coast of Phuket has several very attractive classic crescent beaches and high quality resorts.

South of the bay, Ko Lanta and beyond to Tarutao National marine Park are home to some beautiful stretches of sand.

The best time to visit the west coast is between November and April, with the period between May and October known for heavy rain and potentially dangerous rip tides in some locations.

The islands off the east Coast of Thailand, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Koh Tao, all have an abundance of very fine beaches and a good spread of resorts for all tastes.

Koh Samui, with its own international airport, is by far the busiest and most developed. Ko Phangan is much quieter, and surrounded with good beaches, though the resort at Had Rin beach is legendary for its full moon party and other similarly raucous events. Ko Tao has a pleasant if less developed feel and is very popular with divers. The diminutive pretty triplet of Ko Nang Yuan sits just offshore from Ko Tao.

Further north, Pattaya, because of its relative proximity to Bangkok, is Thailand’s oldest and busiest resort, and, in common with the capital, is notorious for its sleazy nightlife and is probably best avoided by those not attracted by its less clear waters, noisy water sports and dubious night offerings. Surprisingly however, it nevertheless remains a very popular family destination with both Thais and international travellers alike.

Further along the north coast, the two island resorts of Ko Samet and Ko Chang offer far more pleasant locations for a beach getaway.  

The best time to enjoy Thailand’s east coast is between December and April, with the rainy season falling between June and November.