Picture this. Splashing about in clear blue water, laying with your toes in soft sand, and an endless supply of sedap Thai food at budget-friendly prices. Thailand beaches are the stuff of dreams kan? And we’re lucky to be just a short flight away from all of it. Few places in the world are better suited for island than Thailand’s beaches. There’s loads to explore and each beach has a slightly different vibe.
For starters, here are the best beaches in Thailand. We’ve marked out who each beach is best suited to. Kalau nak lepak jer, semuapun boleh lah… But there are some better for beach parties, some great for a budget trip, others great for splashing out on a romantic luxury beach resort.
Best Beaches in Thailand
Koh Phi Phi
Thai beach great for: Trip with friends, Nightlife
At first sight, don’t be surprised if Koh Phi Phi immediately makes your jaw drop. Jagged limestone karsts, pure white beaches, curvaceous hillside jungles. Yep, this island ticks all the right boxes.
Attracting a young, exuberant crowd year round, Koh Phi Phi is a haven for those in search of new friends and fun times. It is well-known as one of the best beaches in Thailand, and a great launch pad for some island hopping adventures. Popular activities include snorkelling, cliff jumping, and daily boat trips to Koh Phi Phi Leh, renowned for harbouring the majestic Maya Bay.
I’m off to eat kaya in maya… bay
Best Beaches on Koh Phi Phi
Thai beach great for: Budget travellers, Families, Luxury Hotels
Drawing a steady crowd of budget travellers, families, and high-end vacationers, Koh Samui’s charm lies in its capacity to please everyone. A highlight of many Thailand itineraries, days here are spent swimming, sipping cocktails, and watching the world go by.
Chaweng Beach is the island’s chief stretch, known for its slinky bungalows, luxury resorts and spirited nightlife. For a quieter experience, head to Laem Set, a beach haven on the island’s southeast coast.
I accept the mission: Sip Mai Tai in Koh Samui
Best Beaches on Koh Samui
Thai beach great for: Couples
Ao Sunset Beach / CC by 3.0 / Vyacheslav Argenberg
Calling all hopeless romantics, honeymooners, and experienced sunbathers – Koh Lipe is the island for you.
What makes the ‘best beach in Thailand’ is of course subjective. Koh Lipe is the best for lovers seeking some quiet slice of paradise to enjoy without throngs of people around. With far fewer tourists than Koh Samui or Koh Phi Phi, this stunning island is valued for its remoteness. One of the 51 islands that make up Tarutao Marine Park, Koh Lipe is small enough to venture on foot.
Highlights include excessive strolling on Pattaya Beach, snorkelling day trips to the surrounding islands, and couples’ massages in plush resorts.
Do Not Disturb: Swimming with my sayang
Thai beach great for: Trip with friends, Nightlife, Friends, Backpackers
Haad Rin Be ach / CC by 3.0 / Davidlohr Bueso
Koh Phangan + Full Moon Party. The two go together like nasi lemak and chilli.
You’ve probably heard the stories; the swarms of gyrating, sand-stomping, bucket-swilling backpackers that take over Haad Rin Beach for the night. It’s the party of the year, but it happens every month, and if this is the kind of thing you’re after, Koh Phangan doesn’t disappoint.
Strangely, outside of full moon mania, the island basically gets forgotten. If you’ve come for the party, think about staying a little longer. The beaches open up, the hammocks are in full swing, and serenity becomes the status quo.
Werewolf mode on. Ready to dance under the full moon
Best Beaches on Koh Phangan
Thai beach great for: Trip with friends, Diving
Koh Tao Beach / CC by 3.0 /Björn Groß
Though smaller in size than its neighbours Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao revels in its one distinct advantage: world class, accessible diving right of its beaches.
Whether you’re a novice wanting to learn, or a seasoned pro itching to get back in the water, Koh Tao caters for all diving needs. But this isn’t the island’s only drawcard.
Take a hike through wild coastal jungles, soak it up on Sairee Beach, or salute the sunset from any of the water-facing restaurants.
going down now to Koh Tao
Best Beaches on Koh Tao
Thai beach great for: Quiet escape
Koh Kood / CC by 3.0 / Gilad Rom
Whiter than white beaches, supernaturally clear water, swaying coconut palms: look up Koh Kood in the dictionary and you may very well find the word ‘paradise’.
It’s an island of interior waterfalls, sleepy fishing villages, and a refreshingly absent nightlife. Koh Kood promotes an attitude of extreme relaxation, in which the most strenuous activity is getting in and out of the hammock. From budget hotels to luxury resorts, this remote slice of heaven caters to the quiet-seeking crowd.
Koh Kood is best for those who want to leave the beach and go out and have some adventures in other natural landscapes. Waterfalls are always a win in my book!
Don’t care what TLC says, I’m chasing waterfalls
Best Beaches in Koh Tao
Thai beach great for: Easily accessible, Most Popular / Touristy, Food, Fashion
It’s hard not to include the island of Phuket on this list. It’s the biggest of the bunch, and the perfect place to really go all out. Patong is the island’s main city, jam-packed with deluxe resorts, trendy fashion boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and a stretch of sand that rivals the very best in Thailand. It may not be the best beach in Thailand if you’ve actually explored. In fact, even Kata Beach a 15min tuk-tuk ride away has clearer waters and is much more serene. But Patong is certainly popular and very accessible. Despite Soi Bangla’s seedy nightlife, even families with young children do visit.
Despite being one of the busiest destinations in the country, Phuket still harbours a few pockets of serenity, like the jungle-shrouded Nai Harn Beach, and the remarkably secluded Mai Khao Beach. There aren’t many villas or beachfront properties in Patong but you will find some amazing beach resorts as you explore the quieter sides of Phuket.
Pluck me up and drop me in Phuket
Best Beaches in Phuket
Thai beach great for: All-Round
Koh Lanta / CC by 3.0 / Rushen
Koh Lanta has a little bit of everything: stunning coastlines, exotic dive sites, plush resorts, authentic bungalows, ancient rainforest, great food, friendly beach bars, fishing villages, and even mangrove kayaking. No one attraction outweighs the other, which makes it one of the best, all-round escapes in Thailand.
Within easy reach to Koh Phi Phi and other small islands, Koh Lanta serves as the ideal base for exploring the famous Andaman Sea.
On my way to kayak into the sunset
Best Beaches on Koh Lanta