Thailand is one of the most popular picks when it comes time to dip your toes in the sand, feel the salt on your skin and soak up some rays in blissful peace that comes with a foreign sense of exoticism. But where’s the best kind of paradise? Here are our top four picks when considering a beach holiday in Thailand.
Phuket is the famous front-winner – well-known for its bustling atmosphere, colourful culture and beachfront seduction. With clear waters and a long string of sandy stretches to choose from, variety is what it’s all about and some of the world’s best beaches can be found here.
That frenetic pace that Phuket is synonymous with comes to a climax in Patong – a hive of activity for locals and tourists alike. Expect plenty of cheesiness and hype and have fun with it – it’s colourful and intoxicating for the senses. But there are plenty of quieter shores too, all with ample accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury with prime beachfront views.
Away from the shores in Phuket Town, there’s a different side of the area to unearth. Discover arty coffee shops, interesting galleries and textiles stores nestled among eateries and guesthouses all adorned in beautiful Sino-Portuguese architecture. Phuket Town is slowly becoming more and more popular with travellers, not necessarily to stay but simply to visit and explore.
Krabi is a region spoiled with beautiful beaches, islands, corals, caves and bays where the water is incredibly clear and the beaches stunning at every turn. A distinct feature of Krabi is its eye-catching limestone karsts jutting into the air out of the ocean – with Phang Nga Bay being the iconic spot to admire this stunning scene. This interesting landscape makes rock climbing a fun pastime for the adventurous – or else sea kayak your way around to explore from every angle.
Krabi is also fabulous for diving. Some of Thailand’s most diverse waters can be explored in depth to see schools of reef fish, amazing soft corals and a myriad of marine life from sharks to barracudas. Some popular diving spots include Anemone Reef, Shark Point and Kingcruiser Wreck.
When it comes to deciding where to stay, the options are as wide and varied as the region itself. The top picks include the authentic Krabi Town, Ao Nang Beach, Koh Phi Phi Islands and the hippy-chic Railay Beaches – all well-known and very accommodating for tourists. But there are some more secluded spots to retreat to also. Klong Muang and Tupkaek provide an upmarket escape from the touristic bustle while Nopparat Thara is An Nang’s up-and-coming neighbour.
Situated in the Malay Peninsula, Hua Hin is Thailand’s oldest beach town, built in the early 1900s as a getaway for King Rama VII. It remains the site of Klai Kangwon Palace, which is still used by Thai royalty to this day. A favourite getaway for locals and travellers alike, there’s eight kilometres of paradise offering ample sun and sand with a cosmopolitan city by the sea vibe.
Keen golfers will love Hua Hin for more than just its seaside location – it is home to the highest concentration of golf courses in the country. A standout is the incredible Black Mountain Golf Course, which has hosted a number of international tournaments and touts natural mountain valley scenery and a great layout designed by Phil Ryan.
Another major benefit of choosing Hua Hin as your beach escape is that it’s easy to get to from Bangkok, being just a three hour bus ride or a four hour train journey away. The facilities are ample, there’s an abundance of fresh seafood to enjoy and you’ll get to holiday with plenty of locals in your midst.
For a quieter seaside sojourn, don’t look past Khao Lak. Located about 70 kilometres north of popular Phuket, expect fewer crowds and less touristic hype yet still enough comfort and facilities to keep you more than satisfied. The beaches are no less beautiful either – enjoy white-sand shores backed by beautiful forested hills.
At the centre of all the fun is Khao Lak Town, home to a maze of restaurants, markets and low-rise hotels that make it convenient but not necessarily luxe. Hat Bang Niang is brimming with first-class accommodation options and beautiful beachfront scenes, while Hat Pakarang and Hat Bang Sak provide a truly remote slice of sand to discover where peace and quiet comes guaranteed.
Khao Lak also offers some great day trips on its doorstep. Sail away to the Similan and Surin Islands for new beaches to explore, explore the Khao Sok and Khao Lak/Lam Ru National Parks for wilderness encounters and a change of scenery, or simply make the trip to Phuket to get a taste for what it’s all about while keeping your distance from the sometimes exhausting buzz of it all.
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