Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches of Ao Nang, Thailand

The beaches around Ao Nang offer up stunning scenes of an idyllic Thailand
The beaches around Ao Nang offer up stunning scenes of an idyllic Thailand | © Silvan Wick-tropical / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kim Gregory
6 February 2020

Towering limestone cliffs, white sands and turquoise seas make Ao Nang a picture of Thailand paradise. Each stunning beach has its own character and selling point. Kim Gregory is our guide as we hear what’s best to do at each, from sunset-watching to cave exploration.

Ao Nang Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Beach of Ao Nang
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Right in the centre of town, you’ll find a paradise you’ve probably stared enviously at on Instagram many times before. Ao Nang Beach is a 1km(0.6mi)-long stretch of soft sand lined with colourful longtail boats and overlooked by those famous limestone cliffs. The huge, jagged rocks with their luscious greenery protrude from the sea, and this landscape makes Ao Nang Beach the perfect spot to catch the sunset. Grab yourself a Chang (refreshing local beer) from a nearby shop and watch the sky flush with colour as the sun dips behind the sea. For some true Thailand magic, perch on one of the rope swings to the left of the main sitting area. They’re fit for two and, as the stars come out, you really can’t beat it.

Nopparat Thara Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Nopparat Thara Beach
© Nuttapong Wannavijid / Alamy Stock Photo

What better way to spend a day than enjoying a picnic on the beach? At Nopparat Thara, you’ll find locals doing just that. Visit nearby food markets for the best street food, then join Thai families and friends on the sands to the west side of Ao Nang. Nopparat Thara Beach is less busy than the main stretch and thus much more peaceful. There are lots of tall trees providing shade, which makes it a good sitting spot for lunch or dinner. There are nice restaurants there if you fancy a cocktail or two after sunset, and the port is nearby, where you can see traditional wooden boats nestled amongst palm trees. Perhaps best of all, when the tide is low, enjoy a walk through the shallow sea to explore the tiny island of Koh Khao Pak Khlong. It’s the perfect day out.

Pai Plong Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Pai Plong beach in Krabi province
© leonovo / Alamy Stock Photo

Awaken your explorer’s spirit by navigating the mysterious Monkey Trail, starting at the east side of Ao Nang Beach. Cross the wooden bridge, then climb the rickety steps up into the hillside. They’re pretty steep, and you’ll have to rely on bamboo rails for support, but the views of the bay are breathtaking. As the name suggests, you might just come across a few furry friends. After your ten-minute mini-adventure, the towering trees part to reveal one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. Pai Plong Beach’s white sands and turquoise sea boast the colours of a tropical paradise. It’s lined with perfect palms and a pretty, unobtrusive resort. Take your towel for an idyllic day of swimming and sunbathing on this quiet hidden gem.

Railay Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
There’s more to explore in Ao Nang than just the main town area. Take a quick trip in a boat to nearby Railay Beach. The journey across the waters is enjoyable and relatively cheap (around 100 baht/£2.50) – a little adventure in itself. You may have to climb in and out of the water to access the boat, so dress appropriately. Railay Beach is a traveller’s favourite thanks to its combination of untouched natural sites and vibrant nightlife. You’ll arrive on west beach, which is the best for swimming, as east is a tangle of mangrove trees, and it’s easy to explore the area by foot. Railay does get busy due to the number of day-trippers, but the many food and drink stalls on the beach make for a fun and easy visit. There’s an incredible viewpoint, accessible via a tough climb, to look out over the islands dotted throughout the sparkling Andaman. You can also hire paddle-boards or kayaks – the perfect way to watch the sunset out at sea. If you want to stay overnight in Railay, there are lots of hotels to choose from and you’ll never be far from a chilled-out bar with a long list of refreshing beers and cocktails.

PhraNang Cave Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Phra Nang cave on Phra Nang Beach
© Nadezda Murmakova / Alamy Stock Photo

Once you’re at Railay, walk over to PhraNang Cave Beach. The huge rock formations are otherworldly. Inject some excitement into your break by climbing inside the cave mouth and exploring. If the tide is right, you can even swim in; floating underneath the gigantic stalactites is truly awesome. For a bit of the unusual, visit the smaller cave next door, called Princess Cave. Locals have created a shrine to the gods of fertility where, in difficult times, they leave wooden penises. Marvel at the hundreds lined up inside the rocky walls and bask in the power of the hopes and prayers left here over the years.

Tup Island

Natural Feature
Map View
Tup Island
© Jordan Rooney / Alamy Stock Photo

This tiny paradise, accessible by a short boat ride from mainland Ao Nang, is unique in its set-up. Two lovely beaches are connected by a sandbank, so explorers can hop between them via a refreshing walk through the shallow part of the sea. If visitors are sparse, sit on the bank and spot tropical fish as the gentle waves lap over you. Make sure you’re back at the beach where your boat landed before the tide engulfs the walkway, or be prepared to wade through the water.

These recommendations were updated on February 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"