Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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Breathtaking intricate palaces, tropical landscapes, and exotic culture are just a few of the many reasons people worldwide flock to Thailand for their vacations. With its palm trees, pristine sand, and clear water, stepping on Thailand’s coast is like walking into paradise. While you’re in the country, a visit to a few of Thailand’s beaches is a must.
It might be hard to believe, but it can be stressful to decide which beach in this beautiful country you should visit first. There are so many options, each with unique qualities that could make it the perfect getaway spot for you. Whether you’re planning to visit 1 beach or 10, this list will help narrow down your options.
Ao Noi Na is a quiet little beach that’s perfect for relaxation. With calm, clear water and soft sand, it’s a popular destination to get some sun or relax on the shore with a book. The beach is mostly frequented by guests at the nearby resorts, so some of the sand is reserved, but all visitors can enjoy going for a walk or taking a dip in the water.
There isn’t much on the beach as far as activities are concerned. If you’re traveling with small children or anyone else who might get bored easily, you’ll want to bring some entertainment with you.
If you want to have the beach virtually to yourself, plan to stop by in the evening after 5 p.m. Most tourists clear out by then, so you’ll be able to catch the sunset and look for shells.
If you’re looking for a natural beach experience while still remaining relatively close to civilization, Ao Wai is an option to consider.
The sand is largely self-maintained and lined with greenery, which can offer some shade on sunny days. However, that does mean you might find seaweed washed up on the shore. The beach doesn’t get much tourist traffic, so the wildlife can thrive and has acclimated to small numbers of people in the area.
If you decide to wade in the water, you’ll see dozens of fish swimming a short distance out. They’ll even swim around your legs if you walk a little deeper. However, you’re not in the middle of nowhere here. There’s a small restaurant nearby that offers local cuisine. There’s also a resort you can book a stay at if you want access to more amenities.
Black Sand Beach is a sight to behold. To get to this unique stretch of Thailand’s coast, visitors are instructed to follow a raised walkway path through a natural and wild forest. While on the pathway, keep an eye out for monkeys, birds, and other wildlife in the trees to the side.
The 0.3-mile walk itself is enough to make visiting worth it, but Black Sand Beach is one of the only beaches of its kind. While dark or gray sand isn’t uncommon, very few shorelines can claim that their sand is actually black like this one.
However, don’t expect to swim at this beach. The water’s visibility is somewhat affected by the sand’s color, and the underwater environment here can be damaged by swimmers. The beach is free to access, but donations are welcome to maintain the area and contribute to its continuous nature conservation efforts.
Cha-Am Beach is over 3.5 miles long and offers tourists a well-rounded beach day with multiple activity options to curate an ideal visit.
If you want a simple day of relaxing on the sand, you can lay a towel under one of the many trees that line the shore. Sticking around the restaurants and umbrellas ensures you’ll be near the bustle of people, but you can walk a few minutes to find more peace and quiet.
However, if you want a little more excitement, you can take a banana boat tour or let your children enjoy a pony ride. The water here is clear, even when sand gets kicked up by swimmers, and it’s gentle with few waves.
Hot Tip: Weekends can get crowded, so make sure to come early if you want to find a good spot on the shore for the day.
Despite being one of Thailand’s most popular beaches, Hua Hin Beach never feels very crowded. With its open landscape and clear water, it’s an idyllic tropical destination to spend a day on the coast.
The beach is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and other businesses you might need to stop at before or after you go for a swim. However, while you don’t have to worry if you forget to pack a lunch or a towel, you’ll want to make sure you have sunscreen or a sun hat before you get to the sand.
A few palm trees are lining the shore, but they don’t provide much shade, and the sun can be intense between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The beach is also a popular nighttime location for tourists and locals who want to catch a glimpse of the moon’s reflection on the water.
Sai Kaew Beach is a lively little beach that’s suitable for a variety of travelers, from families to those on a solo trip. It’s a popular tourist beach but hasn’t become overly commercialized. Instead, you can get a taste of Thailand’s culture and its natural beauty. The water is clean and bright blue, and the sand is velvet-soft.
There are numerous restaurants and shops as well as other activity options if you want a break from the water while you’re visiting. Speed-boat cruises are particularly popular among visitors. There are even all-age-appropriate fire shows, concerts, and other forms of entertainment held in the evening.
Be prepared for crowds while you’re here. While it likely won’t get intrusively loud, it can be hard to find some seclusion, peace, and quiet if you visit on the weekend or in the afternoon.
Secret Sunset Beach is a bit of a natural coastal sanctuary among the new developments in Koh Kood. Visitors are greeted with a calm environment and tranquil water without many other beach-goers. The road to the beach is a bit rocky and uneven. It also gets narrow the closer you get to the coast, so walking or biking is recommended for a smooth trip.
However, that could change in the coming years. For now, the shore is secluded, but there are plans to build nearby hotels which will make the sand more accessible. It’s still unclear if the beach will become a private coastal stretch once construction is finished or if it will remain open to the public.
The beach itself is wide and open but hidden from sight by thick greenery. As the name would lead you to believe, it has a particularly beautiful view of the horizon around sunset.
If you hope to get home from your tropical getaway with a deep and even tan, make sure to plan a few days at White Sand Beach. Though there’s both natural and artificial shade along the sand, you can find plenty of places to lay in the sun.
The beach is narrow, so it can fill up quickly on busy days between November and March when the tourist season is at its highest.
If you want to get away from the tourist crowds, head to the northern edge of the beach, which tends to be quieter than the central and southern stretches. You’ll also find more seashells on the sand in this area.
Check the weather before your visit, though. When storms are in the forecast, the tide levels tend to be higher, impacting your ability to lay out on the sand.
Bottle Beach is a secluded stretch of Thailand’s coast that’s separated from the bustle of civilization by a 15-minute hike through the trees and down some, at times, steep inclines. Unfortunately, that means it’s not a very accessible shore for people with mobility concerns unless you make arrangements to take a taxi boat.
The beach is worth the effort, though. It’s a pristine stretch of the coast that has the soft, light sand and turquoise blue water you’d expect from a tropical getaway. Multiple palms and other trees line the beach, which offers plenty of shade if you want to relax without worrying about getting sunburned.
The water here is calm and safe for swimming. You can wade into the water without sudden drop-offs, making it a good choice for younger or inexperienced swimmers. There’s even a restaurant so you can spend all day here.
If you’re hunting for a lively atmosphere while in Thailand, Chaweng Beach is the perfect coastal spot to visit.
The beach is lined with restaurants and shops that play music and give the area a pleasant hum of activity without getting too wild or chaotic during the day. You can still go in the water or lay out on the sand in relative peace.
In the evening, the nearby resorts and beach clubs get more popular, which turns the shore into more of a party environment. The tide here can be a little unpredictable for tourists. Some days the water is higher and the current is strong, while others are gentle and still.
Hot Tip: The waves that can come out of nowhere at this beach do make it a great choice if you want to try paddle boarding or kayaking. The surf here isn’t ideal, though.
Haad Khom Beach is a calm stretch of Thailand’s shore that’s perfect if you want a relaxing day by the water. It’s a pristine beach that doesn’t have the numerous resorts, shops, and eateries that characterize more touristy areas. As such, you can get in touch with Thailand’s natural beauty a little more.
If you spend the entire day at this beach, you might get lucky and see wild monkeys at the edge of the treeline that borders the sand. If you’re in the water, seeing schools of fish swimming around you is also likely.
The water here is pretty shallow and very clear, so snorkeling isn’t necessary to admire the underwater world at Head Khom. This beach is particularly popular at night when the moon is full because it reflects brightly on the water. Sunrise is also a picturesque time to be on the sand.
Hat Sai Ri Sawi is a quaint and quiet little beach that’s relatively unknown to tourists but beloved by those who have stumbled on it.
The beach is relatively natural, with few signs of civilization once you get to the sand. In April and May, the stretch of greenery that lines the shore blooms with flowers. During the rest of the year, it’s lush and vibrant.
This beach is a premier spot for seashell hunting. Since it’s not a very high-trafficked area, you’re able to find countless shells of different varieties on the sand; watch where you step if you aren’t wearing shoes.
On the other hand, this isn’t the most swimmable beach. The current can be surprisingly strong. Wading in the shallow areas near the shore is safe, though. The beach is relatively clean thanks to a cleaning initiative done by local schools.
Lamai is a long, crescent-shaped beach that offers a well-rounded coastal experience for Thailand’s tourists. There are numerous businesses where you can get food, refreshments, or other essentials without ever leaving the sand. However, if you want a little more peace and quiet, you can just walk a few minutes to find a space with fewer people.
This is a family-friendly beach. While there are restaurants and nearby resorts, there aren’t many clubs on the shore, so parties are pretty rare. The water is also safe and calm for swimming, though you might notice seaweed buildup near the sand, which keeps the water from becoming the vibrant turquoise you’d expect.
The beach is lined with greenery, and there are a few trees tall enough to offer shade, but you might want to bring a sun hat and plenty of sunscreen to keep from burning.
Phraek Muang Beach is a local favorite that often escapes the notice of tourists. While it can attract large crowds, especially in the evening, it doesn’t feel like a typical vacation spot and has a much more authentic atmosphere.
This isn’t a great beach for swimming out to sea because the waves can be choppy and rough. However, wading is perfectly fine and can be a refreshing way to escape Thailand’s humidity. In recent years, there’s been extra effort put into cleaning up the beach from debris that washes on shore or blows in from elsewhere.
You don’t have to worry about bringing food if you want to spend the day here. There are a handful of small restaurants a short walk away that also offer a little shade since you won’t find much of that on the beach.
If you’ve filled your trip with excitement and you want a little time to relax and unwind, plan to stop by Phum Riang Beach for a few hours during low tide. It’s a quiet beach that’s usually calm, even on busy weekends.
The beach is publicly accessible, but there’s a nearby resort with access to the sand as well, so if you book a stay there, you can head out for some daily vacation relaxation. The beach is a popular place to go for long walks since the sand is firm yet soft. However, when the tide comes in, much of the shore gets wet, so the sand is often muddy.
There are no lifeguards at this beach, but the water is shallow and generally calm, so it’s safe for families with children who like splashing around. You can also entertain yourself by shell hunting.
Sai Nuan is a calm and relaxed beach that’s perfect for people who don’t want to deal with large crowds while on vacation. Though there’s a nearby restaurant, the beach has, in general, maintained a natural look without much development.
It’s a great spot to do some slightly more adventurous excursions as well. Snorkeling is a popular activity due to the active underwater environment with colorful fishes. Just be aware that sharks have been seen in the area. They’ll likely leave you alone, but it can be startling if you don’t expect them.
For the best underwater visibility, stick close to the rockier parts of the shoreline where less sand is kicked up. However, doing that is only recommended for expert swimmers. If you’d prefer to stay mostly dry, you can relax on the soft sand or climb the shore’s rocks for an interesting view of the horizon.
Talumphuk Cape Beach is nestled near a fishing town that doesn’t see too many tourists, so it’s still a hidden gem for most people. While you’re here, you’ll have the beach virtually to yourself, or, at most, you’ll be sharing it with a handful of locals.
The road to get to this beach is relatively easy to navigate and takes you on a scenic tour of the area. The beach has a designated parking area near the sand. Don’t expect to find many organized beach activities here, though. It’s a quiet beach that’s great for walking, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of snorkeling, surfing, or beach parties.
The beach is naturally maintained, so you might encounter debris buildup that’s washed in from the ocean. However, clean-up initiatives are in the works to keep the area in pristine condition all year.
Ao Nang Beach might be a small beach, but it’s bustling with activity, making it an excellent spot for social travelers.
In the morning hours, the shore tends to be pretty calm. However, as the day goes on, more tourists file in to create the lively atmosphere people anticipate when they visit. This beach also has a bustling nightlife with multiple eateries open late and steady foot traffic well into the nighttime hours.
Despite the crowds, this is a generally family-friendly beach, though the ambiance might get a little too exciting for young children shortly after dusk during the November to March tourism season.
As a beach on Thailand’s west coast, sunsets are particularly beautiful and dramatic. Watching the sun sink down over the horizon is the perfect way to end a day of swimming.
In 2004, Bang Niang Beach was almost completely destroyed by the Boxing Day Tsunami. In the years since, the area has rebuilt and bounced back to create one of the best beaches in Thailand.
The beach is long, so your visit will change slightly depending on where along its coastal stretch you decide to set out your towel for the day. The southern half of the beach is characterized by calm water and gentle currents that make swimming possible even during high tide. This portion is also quite calm and family-friendly if you are looking for some relaxation.
The northern half of the beach is more vibrant and lively. There are multiple bars, restaurants, and hotels that create a pleasantly busy atmosphere. However, the water here can sometimes be a little choppy and rough if you venture too far from the shore.
Freedom Beach offers its visitors a nice balance between relaxation and adventure. The beach is generally pretty quiet, without any loud or obstructive parties or music to interrupt your relaxation. There are even beach umbrellas you can rent for a little shade by the water.
However, you can also try your hand at a few exciting activities as well. Snorkeling is a favorite among tourists thanks to the area’s active and colorful fish population.
The beach is about a 20-minute walk through the jungle away from the parking area. Make sure you’re wearing reliable hiking shoes, so you don’t slip. While on the hike, take the opportunity to look out for pigs, birds, and even dogs that can be seen peacefully meandering the trails.
When the beach is busy, a small fee is sometimes charged to access the beach. However, most days, it’s free for the public.
With its golden sand and natural shade, Karon Beach is a peaceful place to enjoy the water and the beautiful weather while you’re on vacation.
The beach is nearly 2.5 miles long, and the sand is firmly packed without being too coarse, making it an ideal place to go for a walk. The water is warm and gentle, so if you’re traveling with small children, you can let them splash around without worrying about any strong currents or steep drop-offs.
You can rent a chair on the sand, or you can find your own spot down by the water to lay out a towel for the day. There are restaurants and cafes where you can find food and refreshments. No businesses supply beach towels or sunscreen, so you’ll need to bring your own or pick it up in town.
If you want to see what Thailand’s sea has to offer, consider adding a trip to Laem Tanyong Po to your itinerary. The shore is made up of a mix of sand and rocks, which allow a variety of sea life to thrive even during low tide.
Thanks to the extremely clear water, you can see glimpses of the coral reef and the fish that call it home off the coast when the water is low. Instead, you’ll find plenty of shells on the sand if you want to add some to your collection.
This isn’t an ideal swimming beach, though. The current can be a bit unpredictable once you leave the shallow areas of the water. You’ll also find it difficult to set up a picnic on the beach as the sand is often muddy to sit on comfortably. If you want to spend the day here, consider stopping at one of the nearby restaurants for a meal.
Railay Beach is tucked against Thailand’s coast and hidden by limestone cliffs. Accessing this beach on foot is too dangerous, so you have to take a boat to get to the shore.
Since the beach is so remote, you won’t find any signs of development on the sand, so make sure you bring all your beach-day essentials with you. In recent years, Railay Beach has become more popular among tourists. The beach can get a lot of traffic during the day, which can, sometimes, make finding a place to sit back and relax difficult.
Crowds don’t normally form early in the morning, so take the first boat available to get the area virtually to yourself. Alternatively, it tends to empty out a bit in the mid-afternoon around 3, which is another good time to visit for a calm and quiet trip.
Surin Beach is a popular tourist spot, and it’s not surprising to see why. Whether you prefer to stay dry or you want to go for a swim, you can have a beach day full of fun here.
Like everywhere in Thailand, the high season for tourism is between November and March, but even on the busiest days, the water here stays clean and clear. It’s beautiful all year as well, though the currents tend to get stronger during the off-season, from April until October, so keep that in mind if you’ll be visiting with kids at that time.
There are plenty of shops and food booths to visit as well if you want a break from the water. Or you can sit under one of the many trees lining the shore to relax, listen to the waves, and enjoy the coastal breeze.
Adventure-seekers love Ton Sai Beach. Surrounded by cliffs and trails, it’s an ideal vacation destination for avid hikers and rock climbers who want a one-of-a-kind view of the coast. Even if you’re a more relaxed traveler, Ton Sai still has plenty to offer.
You can grab lunch at the beach and spend your day lounging on the sand or wading in the shallow, blue water. If the beach starts to get too crowded, you can take a break from the shore and head to the nearby pier.
The beach is a central meeting area for a lot of the island’s activities, so you can ask locals if there’s anything exciting happening while you’re there. You can even go on a sailing excursion by renting one of the long-tail boats on the shore.
Hot Tip: There’s not much in the way of shade, so bring sun protection to avoid getting sunburned.
Thailand has no shortage of beachy paradise options for you to visit. Whether you’re looking for some relaxation on the sand or you’re up for a bit of a hike, there are options for you at this tropical vacation destination. We hope that this list has helped you figure out which one to visit first.
You can swim safely at many of Thailand’s beaches. However, there are multiple parts of the coast that swimmers aren’t recommended to visit due to strong or deep waters. Double-check with locals before you head out to make sure you visit a swimmable beach.
Many of Thailand’s beaches are clean from pollution because they’re kept in pristine condition. In general, the beaches closest to large cities like Bangkok are more likely to be less clean because they have more visitors. Thailand’s islands, on the other hand, are cleaner.
Thailand’s beaches are generally safe both in and out of the water. You can easily ask if a coastal area is safe for swimming or if it has dangers like deep water or underwater rocks.
Sharks are often seen off the coast of Thailand. Many of them stay away from the shallow beaches most swimmers visit, and they prefer to leave people alone. You’ll find them all year, but there are usually larger concentrations from April to June and October to December.
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