Is there anywhere else in the world more known for its beautiful beaches? Southern Thailand is pure tropical paradise, with over 2,000 miles of coastline and approximately 8,000 islands to choose from. 

A typically Thai beach scene is perfect powdery white sand, overhanging palm trees, and gentle azure waters at perfect bath-like temperatures. Add in the amazing hotels, mouth-watering food, and world-famous Thai hospitality….it’s hard to look past Thailand as the world’s best beach destination. 

Not sure of where to base yourself for the perfect Thai beach break? We’ve got you covered – with our guide below to the very best beaches in Thailand, with something to suit all types of travelers. 

Ao Nang Beach, Krabi

Krabi

Railay Beach

Krabi sits on the Andaman coast of southern Thailand, looking from the mainland across to Phang-Nga Bay and Phuket beyond. The scenery here is staggering, with limestone karst peaks towering over pristine beaches and verdant tropical forests. As well as the beaches, Krabi is also a paradise for rock climbing, snorkeling, and boat trips into nearby national parks. 

Railay Beach is the most famous in Krabi so gets the nod here, but honorable mentions must also go to nearby Ao Nang and Phra Nang beaches, proving Krabi really is the most striking of Thailand’s established beach areas.

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Bang Tao Beach, Phuket

Phuket

Kata Beach

Set across from Krabi also on the Andaman side, Phuket is Thailand’s busiest and most well-known island destination. With a regular population of around half a million people, easily doubled by tourists during the high season, Phuket is a busy place with nearly all beaches have some level of development. 

With so many beaches to choose from – Patong, Karon, Nai Harn, Ao Sane… – we have opted for Kata, which offers a good balance of facilities and amenities without feeling over busy.

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Bang Niang Beach, Khao Lak

Khao Lak

Bang Niang Beach

Back on the mainland and an hour’s drive north of Phuket, the Khao Lak area stretches over around 30km of coastline. With no defined main town or center, development here is largely low-key and well-spaced out, giving Khao Lak a more laidback and mature feel, and appealing to a higher-end crowd. 

Our favorite beach here would probably be Bang Niang with good amenities and lots of tall palm trees under which to take shade. Our favorite hotels in the area each have their own private beaches, offering total exclusivity.

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Tonsai Beach, Koh Phi Phi Don

Koh Phi Phi

Ton Sai Beach

A 45-minute speedboat from Phuket or Krabi, the Phi Phi islands are among Thailand’s most photogenic, with perfect white sand coves backed by soaring karst cliffs and mesmerizing coral waters. Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest of the island group, with its famous twin beaches Loh Dalum and Ton Sai housing most of the island’s eateries, shops, and activity providers. 

Day trips by longtail boat can be taken to the famous Maya Bay, the inspiration behind the 90s’ book and film The Beach. Guests can also enjoy day trips around the surrounding Andaman islets, with snorkeling and diving here among some of the best in Thailand.

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Klong Dao Beach, Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta

Klong Dao Beach

Completing our tour of the Andaman Islands, Koh Lanta is a larger and lesser-visited island, known for its long, quiet beaches and untamed jungle interior. At around two hours’ transfer from Krabi, its isolated location helps keep away the crowds and ensures its unspoiled nature continues to thrive. 

The busiest beach where is Phra Ae, but our pick would be Klong Dao, the next cove to the north, which has the right mix of facilities, restaurants, and high-end accommodation.

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Bophut Beach, Koh Samui

Koh Samui

Bophut

Switching over to the Gulf of Thailand, the island group just off mainland Surat Thani on the western side of the Gulf contains some of Thailand’s most well-known and most attractive islands. 

The largest is Koh Samui, second only to Phuket in international renown. As with Phuket, it is a busy island with plenty of accommodation and amenities to be found on all beaches. Bophut, on the northeastern corner of Samui, gets the nod for boasting very good accommodation while retaining a calm, unhurried atmosphere.

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Thong Nai Pan, Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan

Thong Nai Pan

The next island north of Koh Samui is Koh Phangan. Thong Nai Pan Yoi and Thong Nai Pan Nai are a pair of pristine white sands beaches that house some of the best accommodation on the island. 

Situated on the underdeveloped northern coast of the island – a world away from the full moon parties in busy Haad Rin – these twin perfect coves have that perfect ‘goldilocks’ level of development, with a couple of great hotels, a handful of beach bars, and local restaurants, but are otherwise very quiet and unspoiled.

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Sairee Beach, Koh Tao

Koh Tao

Sairee Beach

The final major island in the chain is Koh Tao. World-renowned for its underwater attractions, Koh Tao attracts divers and snorkelers from across the globe to explore its incredible coral reefs and mysterious wrecks. 

A largely small and undeveloped island, Sairee Beach marks the main town of Koh Tao and is your base for budget and mid-range accommodation, local cheap eats, supermarkets, and dive centers. The beach itself is a thin white sand sweep with a low rake, perfect for introductory snorkeling.

Bang Bao Beach, Koh Chang

Koh Chang

Bang Bao

We now swing over to the far eastern side of the Gulf, exploring the islands off Trat and Rayong provinces as the Thai mainland slopes down towards Cambodia. Koh Chang is the largest and most well-known island on this side of the Gulf. It has a good mix of large resorts and boutique or budget options, attracting both beach enthusiasts and adventure seekers looking to explore the dense jungle interior. 

While the western beaches are busy and a little brash, Bang Bao at the southern end of the island is picturesque and largely unspoiled, and a great base for diving and snorkeling trips.

Ao Klang Beach, Koh Samet

Koh Samet

Ao Prao

We end finally in Koh Samet. At just a 4.5 hour drive south of Bangkok, Koh Samet attracts weekend escapees from Bangkok and can be very busy on the northernmost beaches – particularly Sai Kaew, which has a lively nightlife scene and seemingly hundreds of budget restaurants. 

Ao Phrao, on the western side of the island, is the total opposite. Here you’ll find a visually near-perfect beach, with tranquil aquamarine waters and a smattering of low-rise, high-end accommodation. Resorts are spaced far apart to ensure each feels like it has private access to the amazing beach.

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