Thailand has no shortage of stunning beaches, with long stretches of shoreline along both the Andaman Sea and Gulf Coast in addition to more than 1,400 islands and islets. The nation is often said to have some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches; here are 15 of the most beautiful to add to your bucket list.
Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay is often heralded as one of Thailand’s most sublime beaches. Made famous in the hit movie The Beach, many visitors flock to the bay to walk in Leonardo DiCaprio’s footsteps. While tourism is definitely leaving its mark, there’s no denying that the beach is still stunning. The soft white sands of the curved bay meet clear and sparkling karst-studded waters, with the dense jungle background adding to the visual magic.
The stunning Morakot Cave is only accessible from the sea. Clear sparkling waters yield a small opening in the greenery-covered craggy rocks of Trang’s Koh Muk. Swim through the opening, with the booming sounds of waves crashing outside and filling the darkness, to arrive in a small but sublime lagoon. High, jagged rocks enclose a stretch of white sand, lapped by waters of the deepest emerald green.
One of Krabi’s many pretty beaches, Railay Beach is especially photogenic. With the sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea to one side and dramatic jagged cliffs to the other, this little slice of white-sand paradise can only be reached by boat. Quiet and laid-back, the views are incredible. Long-tail boats bob on the waves, the calls of birds fill the air and monkeys swing through the dense foliage that clings to the rocks.
Known in English as Lime Bay, Ao Manao is a beautiful beach close to Prachuap Khiri Khan town. With spectacular karst scenery and white sands to rival those in the more famous southern province of Krabi, Ao Manao has much smaller crowds. You can enjoy the gorgeous crescent-shaped beach in relative peace and quiet; it truly is a little slice of beach heaven. Access is through an army base, adding to the novelty factor, and there are several seafood restaurants and accommodations close to the tree-lined beach.
While Koh Phangan may be more famous for its wild Full Moon Parties and other raucous events, the island boasts beautiful sandy beaches and wildlife-filled patches of jungle too. One of the loveliest beaches is Bottle Beach. Accessible only by boat, the secluded nature keeps the beach peaceful and serene.
Ao Kwang Peeb
Ao Kwang Peeb, on the island of Koh Phayam, couldn’t be much more enchanting if it tried. A small but truly outstanding white-sand beach, large rocks poke up out of the clear waters and dot the sands at one end of the beach. The waters are suitable for swimming, offering a great way to cool down in the heat. Dense greenery encloses the beach and there’s only one (bumpy and rutted) track to reach the sands. Look out for hornbills in the trees, lazily swing from a strung-up tyre and enjoy the tranquility of this secluded beauty.
Donald Duck Bay
One of the most striking beaches on the Similan Islands, Donald Duck Bay can be found on Island 8. It takes its name from a large boulder formation that bears a resemblance to the popular Disney character. Powdery white sands meet deep blue waters that are teeming with aquatic life and the lush jungle is home to an array of interesting flora and fauna.
Freedom Beach is a crowning jewel on the island of Phuket, a destination that is known for its many sublime sandy beaches. You need to either scramble down a steep path or catch a long-tail boat to the beach, meaning that many people choose to stay on the easier to reach beaches. Those who do make the effort, however, will be rewarded by a 300m (984ft) stretch of super-soft white sands surrounded by jungle and hills. The atmosphere is chilled out and there’s little to shatter the air of tranquility.
Although Southern Thailand’s Koh Lipe is starting to draw bigger crowds, Sunrise Beach still feels like an undiscovered pristine tropical paradise. Boasting turquoise waters, white sands and a relaxed ambience, a day here is nothing short of wondrous. Wake up early to welcome the new day and watch a glorious sunrise from the shores.
Hat Khlong Chao
A stunning beach on the gorgeous and quiet island of Koh Kood, Hat Khlong Chao attracts a diverse mixture of travellers and holidaymakers. Palm trees sway in the gentle breeze, providing welcoming shade in the strong sunshine. The sea is clear and blue and the sands are clean and white. There’s a waterfall close to hand, along with a selection of places to eat, drink and sleep, whilst the beach is a great place from which to watch a beautiful sunset.
Phra Nang Beach
Krabi’s Phra Nang Beach is often ranked among the most beautiful beaches across the globe. Catch a long-tail boat from the party beach of Ao Nang to marvel at the stunning views and soak up the relaxed vibe. The white sands are flanked by towering cliffs, limestone rocks rise majestically from the shimmering waters and there’s an interesting cave filled with phallus-shaped offerings. Add coral reefs, sea caves and a sprinkling of food and drink vendors and it’s a veritable tropical beach haven.
Haad Puk Tian
An offbeat beach in Phetchaburi Province, Haad Puk Tian has golden sands lapped by bluey-green waters. The coastal views are lovely, the large literary statues that dot the shore really add to the appeal. Characters from one of Thailand’s most famous epic poems, Phra Apia Mani, sit along the sands, in the water and on rocks.
Ao Sai Daeng
Combining soft pinkish-tinged pale sands, rugged rocks and sparkling waters, the off-the-beaten-track Ao Sai Daeng can be found on the island of Koh Tao. You can see Shark Island close by and coral reefs create an interesting underwater world; snorkelling is possible right from the beach. Clean, attractive and quiet, it’s a pleasant place to unwind for a few hours, soak up the sun and admire the captivating views.Ao Sai Daeng
A remote beach on Krabi’s island of Koh Lanta, Kantiang Beach is located within Mu Koh Lanta National Park. Turquoise waters meet golden sands and an old lighthouse sits atop the cliffs. Although rare, you may even spot monkeys walking along the sands! The beach isn’t crowded and it’s not uncommon to find just a handful of other sunbathers at any given time.
Koh Samui’s Taling Ngam boasts awesome views of the small green islands and islets that speckle the blue waters to form the gorgeous Angthong Marine National Park. Hidden by wildlife-rich jungle, the sandy beach has a lazy and unhurried air. It’s also a top spot to watch a spectacular sunset.
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