Everyone dreams of going to a beach filled with white sand and crystal clear waters. You know, the type of dream where you are sipping a coconut in one hand as your hammock gently sways to the sound of the gentle waves. Yeah, that dream. In Thailand, most of the beaches have exactly what people are looking for which is why it’s a top destination for beach goers and travelers. Escape the busy urban jungle in Bangkok, instead, head on over to the islands as soon as you can. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Given the amount of Islands, choosing which ones to visit is difficult so we’ve narrowed it down for you, compiling a list of the best beaches in Thailand. Although some of the beaches can get pretty crowded and touristy, catch it at the right time and you will think you’ve died and gone to paradise.
- 1 Ao Yai, Koh Phayam
- 2 Koh Tarutao
- 3 Railay Beach, Krabi
- 4 Koh Tachai, Similan Islands
- 5 Ton Sai Beach, Krabi
- 6 Koh Kradan Beach, Trang
- 7 Ao Leuk, Koh Tao
- 8 Haad Saikantang, Koh Pha Ngan
- 9 Nang Beach, Krabi
- 10 Ko Kut (Ko Kood)
- 11 Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe
- 12 Koh Nang Yuan
- 13 Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park
- 14 Bamboo Island, Koh Phi Phi
- 15 Kata Noi Beach, Phuket
- 16 Best Time to Visit the Beaches of Thailand
- 17 The Gulf of Thailand
- 18 Andaman Sea
- 19 Transport around the Islands
- 20 Useful Guides When Traveling Around Thailand
Ao Yai, Koh Phayam
Koh Phayam is the second largest island in the Andaman Sea and is greatly underrated, which is pretty perfect because we like it that way! You can reach it by flying or taking a bus to Ranong where you can then get on a boat to reach this stunning island. Unlike the places in Koh Samui or Phuket, a trip to Koh Phayam is like going back in time. Ao Yai is a stunning 2km long white sand beach where you can enjoy the islands without the looming amounts of tourists or vendors. The sunsets in this place are also incredible. Sit back, relax, and watch the sky turn into different shades of purple and pink.
What we love: The amount of time you spend trying to get to the island makes it one of the most perfect getaways in Thailand. Here, you will be able to enjoy a pristine beach without too many people. No big parties, no big resorts. Just a beautiful beach and laid back island living.
How to Get Here: Koh Phayam is a 2-hour slow boat or a 30-40 minute speed boat ride from the pier of Ranong. From Bangkok, you can either take an overnight bus/train towards Ranong or fly there from Don Mueang Airport using Nok Air.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Phayam
Editor’s Note: Traveling around Thailand? Check out our personal recommendations on the Best Places to Stay in Thailand
A former work camp prison, Koh Tarutao is great for those that are looking for both adventure and deserted beaches. Located an hour away from Koh Lipe, this island definitely has a little bit of everything for everyone. You can camp in their National Park (they rent out tents) or you can opt to stay in a simple bungalow. The island is full of fun things to do and is perfect for those active beach enthusiasts.
What we love: Not only do you get deserted beaches all to yourself but you can also bike, kayak through mangroves, and hike here.
How to Get Here: As Koh Tarutao is located in the Satun Islands near Malaysia, getting here can be quite a mission. Despite the tedious journey, it is highly worth it as Koh Tarutao is one of the most peaceful islands in Thailand. To get here, you can take a bus to either Trang or Hat Yai. From either point, it’s a minivan and boat ride to reach Koh Tarutao.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Tarutao
Resources: Things to do in Koh Tarutao
Railay Beach, Krabi
Railay can only be reached by boat, which makes the beach even more spectacular with its high limestone cliffs in the background. West Railay Beach is the most popular side for people searching for the best beach area. Visitors can spend the day at the beach filling their bellies with some street food and local fruit shakes. Try to avoid going here during peak season as the beach can get too crowded. Off season however, is another story.
What we love: The long stretch of white sand beach is pretty spectacular. The whole island has a very chilled out vibe as well making it ideal for a day of lounging around doing nothing.
How to Get Here: If you’re coming from Bangkok, you can take a flight to Krabi and from there, Railay is a short long tail boat away. If you’re taking a bus or train, head towards Surathani.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Railay Beach
Resources: Where to Stay in Krabi
Koh Tachai, Similan Islands
This island is one of the latest additions to the Similan National Park together with the island Koh Bon. Its 800km pristine sandy beach faces the east while behind it is a sprawling rainforest. The waters here are world renowned for snorkeling and scuba diving. There is a basic campsite on the island with a small restaurant but that’s pretty much it. If you stay for the night, there are guided tours around the island where you can explore more of the animals and wildlife.
What we love: The sea is incredible and is rich in marine life. The dive spot on the southern part of the island, “The Pinnacle” is world renowned and is a popular spot to see whale sharks, leopard sharks, and manta rays.
How to Get Here: While there are direct tours running from Phuket, a cheaper alternative is getting a transfer directly from Khao Lak. Direct tours from Phuket take you around 3-4 hours depending on the boat you take. If you are coming from Bangkok, most buses heading north make a stop in Khao Lak and from there, you can catch a 2-hour boat ride to the Similan Islands from Thap Lamu port.
Resources: Check out Best Diving in Thailand and Similan Island Liveaboard Diving: Best Budget and Luxury Reviews
Ton Sai Beach, Krabi
Situated right next to Railay Beach is the unassuming Ton Sai Beach. Although the beach front is a bit rocky and isn’t ideal for swimming, the entire vibe of the island makes up for it. During low tide, people are able to walk from Tonsai Beach to West Railay Beach by walking over the rocks. A lot of rock climbers opt to stay here as the value for accommodation is a lot better compared to Railay.
What we love: The cool reggae beach bars and the awesome laid back island vibe.
How to Get Here: If you’re coming from Bangkok, you can take a flight to Krabi and from there, Ton Sai is a short long tail boat away. If you’re taking a bus or train, head towards Surathani.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Ton Sai Beach
Koh Kradan Beach, Trang
Koh Kradan Beach is located just off the coast of Trang and is a little slice of paradise. The water is so clear that often, you can just sit by the shore and watch fish swim about. The white sandy beach is perfect for swimming when it’s high tide and low tide gives you the chance to walk endlessly due to the long sandbar that stretches along the island.
What we love: Compared to the other well-known beaches, this one is just slowly kicking off which means the beach isn’t as crowded as most places.
How to Get Here: To get to Koh Kradan from Bangkok, you need to fly into Trang and get a minibus to Pak Meng Pier or Hat Yao pier. Alternatively, you can also get a train or a bus to Trang where you can catch a minivan and boat connection to Koh Kradan. Boat rides are also available from Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Kradan
Ao Leuk, Koh Tao
Ao Leuk is located on Koh Tao and it is popular with both tourists and the locals. Beautiful white sand surrounds the protected cove and many people find that the snorkeling is superb here. The crystal blue waters stretch as far as your eyes can go! If you want something a little bit more remote, you can also go to Haad Sai Daeng where you have the possibility of seeing sharks when you snorkel.
What we love: The beach is fantastic and has great snorkeling! The long 200 meter stretch of white sand is just too alluring and difficult to resist.
How to Get Here: If you are coming from Bangkok, you have three options. You can either fly, take a bus, or take the train. If you are planning to fly, you can book a flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport which runs 5x a week or you can also book one from Don Mueang International Airport to Chumphon. For those thinking of taking a bus or a train, regular boat combos run almost daily and is available for purchase either directly in the train station or through any travel agent.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Tao
Haad Saikantang, Koh Pha Ngan
Before the whole full moon party madness happened, Haad Rin used to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Nowadays, it is over-developed and is no longer what it used to be. For a postcard perfect looking beach, head over to Haad Saikantang otherwise known as Leela Beach. The clear waters are perfect for swimming, although the water is a bit on the shallow side. Diving in Koh Pha Ngan is also pretty remarkable so make sure you don’t miss it!
Why we love it: This palm-fringed beach is so picturesque. Plus, we love the fact that the parties are accessible from here by just a short 10-15 minute walk.
How to Get Here: To get to Koh Pha Ngan, you can either fly to Koh Samui from Bangkok or take an overnight bus or train to Surathani. Most travel agents sell bus and boat combos which would bring you straight to the islands after an overnight trip.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Phangan
Nang Beach, Krabi
Phra Nang Beach a very remote beach situated in the middle of Krabi and Ao Nang. Everyone needs to take a boat to reach the beach, but once there they are able to rent kayaks, explore the many caves and take rock climbing lessons. It is located right next to Railay but is inaccessible by land.
What we love: We love the fact that there are no resorts on this beach! Although there are a lot of people who visit the beach for the day, if you go early enough or leave late, you might catch this place and have it all to yourself.
How to Get Here: If you’re coming from Bangkok, you can take a flight to Krabi and from there, Nang Beach is a short boat ride away. Alternatively, bus and trains from Bangkok heading towards Krabi bus terminal are easy enough to get.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Krabi
Resources: Where to Stay in Krabi
Ko Kut (Ko Kood)
With a limited number of accommodation and establishments, Ko Kut is definitely a great place to get away from it all. Located to the south of Ko Chang and Ko Maak, this entire island is dotted with beautiful beaches. Rent a motorbike and drive around the island, stopping at beaches along the way. Oh, and did we mention that the sunsets on this island are pretty magical?
What we love: We love it for its ruggedness and its many picture perfect beaches. Plus you also know that the island isn’t over developed when it doesn’t have a 7/11 or ATMs for that matter.
How to Get Here: Ko Kut or Koh Kood is located in the Trang Islands and is best reached by arranged transport as there are limited ferries and busses. Check out the link below to get an idea of costs of bus/train and boat combos below.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Kut
Resources: Information on Ko Kut Island
Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe
Sunset Beach or Hat Pramong in Thai is located on the West side of Koh Lipe and was named after the spectacular sunsets that you can see while on the island. But I’m pretty sure you guys figured that out. Apart from its epic sunsets, the area is known for its delicious seafood.
What we love: Because we are suckers for good sunsets. But then again, who isn’t? We also love that compared to most parts of Koh Lipe, this particular beach feels less developed and still exudes that island vibe that we all love.
How to Get Here: The quickest way to get to Koh Lipe is to fly to Had Yai or Trang then take a minibus to Pak Bara. Alternatively, you can also take a train or bus from Bangkok to Had Yai. Here, Koh Lipe is a boat ride away.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Lipe
Resource: Ultimate Guide to Koh Lipe
Koh Nang Yuan
This beautiful island is located a shortboard ride away from Koh Tao. Although it gets very busy during the day due to the many day visitors that come, if you stay on the island, you can catch it in all its glory during the mornings and afternoons. The island has a viewpoint which shows off the beauty of the island perfectly.
What we love: The white sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters are phenomenal. Oh and the snorkeling in this area is pretty great too!
How to Get Here: From Koh Tao Island, Nang Yuan is a short long tail boat ride away. You can join any tour or better yet, just charter a boat directly and arrange for them to drop and pick you up.
Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park
This right here is the epitome of beauty! Easily accessible from either Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Samui, this national park is home to 42 different beaches and islands. Spend the day exploring the different islands on a boat or simply park yourself in one and enjoy the peace and quiet. The dramatic limestone islands and crystal clear waters make exploring this place one of the best activities to do in Thailand.
What we love: The peculiar shapes and number of islands make it a perfect day trip to do. There is also a great viewpoint which you can climb to see the scattered islands amidst the turquoise colored waters.
How to Get Here: The best way to get to the Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park is by boat. Daily trips run from Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui via slow boats or speed boats.
Bamboo Island, Koh Phi Phi
Located just short boat ride away from Phi Phi Don is this stellar island with absolutely nothing on it. Yep, you heard me right. No fancy resorts or bars. Instead, you have the sand, the sea, and hopefully some sunshine. Apart from that, there is a small National Park which you can explore. Although this is an uninhabited island, it is still a popular day trip destination but it us nowhere as busy as Maya Bay.
What we love: There is something about uninhabited islands that pull on our heartstrings and gets us all excited. Plus walking around the island is pretty cool (it takes about half an hour)
How to Get Here: From Bangkok, you can easily catch a train to Surrathani before getting on a bus and boat to Ton Sai Pier, Phi Phi. Alternatively, you can catch a bus straight to from Bangkok to the pier.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Koh Phi Phi
Resources: Where to Stay in Phi Phi Island
Kata Noi Beach, Phuket
Kata Noi is just one of those places that haven’t changed over the years. Although it is gaining more popularity, you can still find peaceful solace in this palm fringed beach. The seabed is mostly sand making it an ideal place to swim. During the day there are some stalls selling cold refreshments and light snacks.
What we love: Despite being on the busy island of Phuket, this beach is still relatively peaceful and quiet, making it a nice getaway from the islands
How to Get There: From Bangkok, you can catch a bus directly to Phuket Bus Terminal. While you can get a train heading to Surrathani then catch another bus, the direct express buses are the best way to go by land. Alternatively, you can fly directly to Phuket airport in under an hour and a half from Bangkok.
Check Transport: Bangkok to Phuket
Best Time to Visit the Beaches of Thailand
Although you can generally still go to Thailand all year round, you wouldn’t want to be stuck on a beautiful island while it’s hammering down with rain. In general, the rainy season runs throughout July to October and High Seasons runs from November to May. During High Season, expect prices to go up as there is a high demand for accommodation and tours. In terms of the beaches and islands, you can split it up into two areas. We personally love traveling during off season as we can score good deals on accommodations but you have to be willing to be flexible with your travel plans. Generally, during the low season (July-October), some islands shut down, marine parks are closed for rehabilitation, and the boat services aren’t as consistent.
The Gulf of Thailand
(Koh Samui, Koh Phan Ngan, Koh Tao, Hua Hin, Pranburi, Cha Am, Koh Chang)
Expect good weather from December to February. The weather is cool with light rain showers. During the months of March to May, the weather is scorching hot and is ideal for those that want sunshine all throughout their trip. June and July are good shoulder months except for the occasional one-hour downpours usually in the afternoon. August to November are the peak months for rain.
(Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Khao Lak, Koh Lanta)
The west coast of Thailand by the Andaman Sea gets its best weather from November to March. March and May can be quite hot but by the beginning of late May, you can expect random rain showers which peaks from September to October.
Transport around the Islands
While getting to the islands is fairly easy, it all comes down to how much time you have. If you don’t have long, consider booking a 1 and a half hour flight rather than doing a bus/train combo which all take around 12-13 hours. For convenience, we use 12 Go Asia as you can check schedules and book buses and trains months in advance! They also have lots of information regarding the connections between places.
There you have it guys! Hopefully, the guide, along with the resources listed below will come in handy when planning your vacation to the Thai islands. In case you haven’t checked out our other articles on Thailand, you definitely should as there are loads of useful tips and information.
Useful Guides When Traveling Around Thailand
- What to Eat in Thailand
- Street Food You Shouldn’t Miss When in Thailand
- A Guide to Choosing the Right Thai Islands
- Reasons Why Not to Visit Thailand