Thailand is famed for its white-sand beaches, sultry palm-lined shores, and inviting tropical waters. But with so many world-renowned beach destinations to choose from in the country, how do you know where’s right for you?
This guide runs through nine of Thailand’s best beach destinations. They are the places where you’ll find the Land of Smiles’ famous mix of sand, sea, sun, and more. They cover all corners, from the dramatic Andaman Sea in the south to the balmy Thai Gulf that rolls to the border with Cambodia in the east.
Whether it’s laid-back island or a hit of reggae-fueled partying on the coast, our list has it all. We’ll also guide you on where to stay depending on the holiday style you are after, with some top hotel suggestions in each place. So, without further ado…Thailand’s best beach destinations…
Patong Beach, Phuket
Thailand’’’s largest island, Phuket, is a sprawling urban paradise but also boasts some of the best beaches in the country. Patong’s vast run of powdery white sand is lined with luxury resorts, vibrant shopping areas, and attractive nightlife. It’s considered the liveliest resort in the area, ticking the boxes for both partiers and families.
Those looking for a tranquil beach escape might want to consider heading elsewhere. Patong is a fizzing mishmash of go-go bars and seafood kitchens, massage parlors and water sports outfitters – just a quick stroll down the sleepless Bangla Walking Street should give you an idea as to the vibe.
But it’s picturesque at the same time. A curving run of cotton-hued powder runs in front, with low-lying hills dressed in jungles to the south and north. The town also offers excellent access to a whole string of other top beach towns, like romantic Karon and Kata beach to the south or the more secluded Bang Tao Beach to the north.
Where to stay in Patong Beach:
- Amari Phuket ($$$) – This five-start hotel is the best of the best in Phuket. Just a stone’s throw from Patong, the Amari benefits from panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, two infinity pools, a luxury spa, and its own private beach. Find tranquility and calm here on Thailand’s busiest island.
- BYD Lofts Boutique Hotel & Apartments ($$) – Just 300 m from Patong Beach, BYD Lofts provides stylish self-contained apartments for you to do Phuket at your own pace. Surrounded by shops and nightlife, you’ll be right in the center of the action but with the privacy of your own home.
- Bodega Phuket Party Hostel ($) – Soak up Phuket’s true party spirit with nightly pub crawls and tons of like-minded backpackers to meet. A bed in a dorm starts at just $7 a night, so you can save your budget for Phuket’s cheap alcohol.
Railay Beach, Krabi
Although Railay Beach isn’t on an island, it is only accessible by boat, so it sure does feel like an island. Cut-off from the nearby resort town of Krabi by a backbone of rugged karst mountains and thick jungle, this beach town is known for its majestic limestone cliffs They jut out of the water and surround the beaches. They also make it a rock climbing mecca, and there are several climbing schools to keep the adrenaline junkies occupied.
Even if you don’t want to climb, you can spend whole afternoons gawping up at the daredevils from the seaside restaurants below. And Railey is also a great place to sunbathe and relax. It’s main beach, on the western side of the peninsula often graces the front of postcards, and there’s a clutch of pool-ready hotels hiding in the jungles just behind.
Backpackers who want something a bit more like the Thailand of 10 years ago can ask the longboat driver to take them one more rock around the coast, or hike the jungle path over. That opens up the bay of Tonsai, where bamboo-built coast bungalows are hidden in the karsts.
Where to stay in Railay Beach:
- Diamond Cave Resort & Spa ($) – Set to the backdrop of Railay’s impressive limestone cliffs, you can watch climbers scale the rockface all day as you relax beside the kid-friendly pool.
- Railay Great View Resort ($$) – Enjoy the privacy of your own bamboo cottage and wake up unspoiled sea views over Railay Bay. Better yet, enjoy an unlimited buffet breakfast included in the price of all rooms.
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao
This bohemian island paradise used to be an exclusive base for divers, but Koh Tao has shown it’s got far more to offer than that in the last 10 years or so. Today, the smaller member of the gulf chain over in eastern Thailand boasts a bumping nightlife scene (much of it around Sairee Beach itself) and a range of boutique eco hotels hiding in the forests up in the hills.
By day, the warm shallow waters of Sairee Beach are an ideal place to snorkel, sunbathe, and cool off in the sun. Colorful beach shops adorn the mile-long stretch of golden shoreline, and there’’’s no shortage of beach bars to grab a coconut or watch the sun disappear behind the horizon. We would recommend sticking to the north end of the beach, away from the ever-busy Mae Haad Pier where the boats come in.
Nightly pub crawls, beach parties, and fire shows are all-the-rage in Sairee Beach. Koh Tao remains a diving hotspot, but the party scene draws backpackers aplenty. Still, the nearest airport is on Koh Samui, and Koh Tao can only be reached by boat, keeping the crowds on the small side compared to other islands in the region.
Where to stay in Sairee Beach:
- Ban’s Diving Resort ($$) – Mixing the island’s true diving spirit with its lively party scene, Ban’s features a sizeable PADI-certified dive pool and modern Thai interior. The resort is also home to the iconic Fish Bowl Bar, a starting point for many pub crawls on the island.
- Pond’s Hostel ($) – Enjoy friendly vibes and a family feel at Pond’s hostel in Sairee Beach. Each dorm has sea views, and you can book triple bed private rooms if traveling with friends or family.
Long Beach, Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is one of the true jewels of the Andaman Sea. Its rustic shoreline pulls backpackers for budget beach bungalow stays and cheap eats, but it’s also becoming more popular with families looking for slow-paced island life.
Long Beach is one of the longest in all of Thailand. It clocks up something like two whole miles of uninterrupted golden sands and makes a change from the other rocky beaches on the island. Calm waters and the perfect sunsets – like, PERFECT! – only add to the draws.
You’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars along the beach. However, Long Beach practically shuts down from May to June, with just a handful of businesses still open. This might be perfect if you want the sands to yourself. Otherwise, visit in the high season, which starts in November, for more variety and even a little bit of a party scene.
Where to stay in Long Beach:
- Long Beach Chalet ($$) – These rustic garden bungalows set you right on the edge of Long Beach for direct beach access and picturesque views. Fall asleep to the sound of the waves and enjoy an excellent breakfast included in the room price.
- The Traveler’s Friend ($) – Cheap and cheerful, these air-conditioned bungalows are complete with their own living room and private bathroom for a fraction of the price at nearby resorts. Meet like-minded backpackers and settle in for the long haul with great long-stay discounts.
- Layana Resort & Spa ($$$) – Head to Layana for true five-star luxury in Long Beach. Splash out on a Garden Pavilion room and enjoy views of the ocean, the extensive grounds ad direct access to the beachfront infinity pool.
Lamai Beach, Koh Samui
The famous paradise island of Koh Samui is probably the most developed and built up on the gulf side of the country (Phuket being the most developed in the western Andaman). But Lamai Beach is an alternative in Koh Samui if you’re looking to escape some of the crowds while soaking up some of the island’s best scenery.
Warm, azure water, clusters of palm trees, and powdery white sand make Lamai the tropical haven you’ve been searching for. The southern end can get busy in the high season with a few lively bars and hotels lining the seafront. But head to the majestic rocks on the northern end for privacy and serenity.
There are also some great alternatives to this one if Lamai doesn’t quite tickle your fancy. Take Mae Nam Beach on the northern shores of the island. That’s long and very quiet towards its eastern end. Then there’s Lipa Noi to the west, which is close to the port and generally favored by backpackers.
Where to stay in Lamai Beach:
- Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort ($$) – With the beachfront infinity pool fringed with palm trees, you can relax in your own exotic little paradise right in the middle of Lamai. Enjoy this four-star resort’s two in-house restaurants any time of day.
- Lamai Inn 99 Bungalows ($) – Enjoy rustic beach life from your very own beachfront bungalow. Each one is equipped with a fan and a private bathroom. You can wake up to Lamai Beach on your doorstep, even on a backpacker’s budget.
White Sand Beach, Koh Chang
White Sand Beach does precisely what it says on the tin. This picturesque stretch of sugary sand was once a hippie paradise, but the growing resort scene means there’s now ample accommodation and beach eats lining the palm-fringed shore, suitable for a whole medley of different types of travelers.
Koh Chang is one of the easternmost islands in Thailand and has its own wild energy that’s incomparable to anywhere else in the country. Closer to Cambodia than Phuket, the dense jungle landscape and steep rolling hills here meet the clear blue waters and offshore coral reefs in grand style.
White Sand Beach has a backpacker party scene, and the island is still primarily considered a budget beach destination. But Koh Chang is also growing in popularity with families and holiday-makers. Oh yeah, and it’s a mere six hours drive from Bangkok, making it accessible from the big capital.
Where to stay in White Sand Beach:
- White Sand Beach Resort ($$) – With air-conditioned beach bungalows, private bathrooms, and stocked minibar, White Sand Beach Resort has everything you need for your little island getaway.
- Kacha Resort & Spa ($$) – With two outdoor pools, two on-site restaurants, and a swim-up pool bar, Kacha Resort & Spa is a little slice of luxury right on the White Sand Beach front. Better yet, breakfast is included with the room price.
Haad Rin, Koh Phangan
On an island best known for its iconic Full Moon Parties, Haad Rin manages to offer a fine balance between hedonism and R&R. Located on the eastern side of the peninsula of the same name, the spot comes alive with the famous festivities once a month. The Full Moon Party brings tens of thousands of tourists, and the all-night event takes over the island with music stages, entertainment, and fire shows.
Still, you’ll find a relatively tranquil atmosphere in these parts during the rest of the calendar, although nightlife is never too hard to come across. Much of the beachfront accommodation will likely have its own stretch of private sand for you to enjoy – so you’re only steps from the water.
Koh Phangan also has a growing holistic scene, with several health and wellness resorts popping up on the island in recent years. So, whether you’re getting up at the break of dawn for yoga or you’re still partying from the night before, this one has something for everyone. More relaxed alternatives run up the west and north coasts of the island, in the form of Haad Salad and Bottle Beach.
Here’s where to stay in Haad Rin:
- Skymoon Resort ($$-$$$) – A very cool place to bed down with views of the white sands. The suites here are grand to say the least, sporting marble bathrooms and massive queen beds.
- Palita Lodge – SHA Plus ($$) – A popular family choice that has a very large pool and walking access to the beach.
Loh Dalum Beach, Koh Phi Phi Don
Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Koh Phi Phi’s quaint walking streets, Loh Dalum Beach is one of Thailand’s best beach destinations for its sunset alone. Sink your feet into the soft white sand to the chorus of birdsong before the sun disappears behind the horizon and the strip comes to life with the island’s signature beach parties.
With virtually no waves all year round, the turquoise waters here are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and taking a kayak out to explore the nearby coves. Loh Dalum offers an escape from the main port area’s traffic-choked waters on the other side of the bay. The surrounding limestone cliffs that almost totally enclose Loh Dalam also make it one of the most picturesque beaches in Thailand.
If you’re not a partygoer, you might want to head elsewhere on the island before the sun goes down. There are plenty of places to stay in Koh Phi Phi to escape the crowds and the relentless nightlife, like Monkey Beach or Loh Moo Dee Beach.
- Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort ($$) – Removed from the craziness of Phi Phi Don’s town center, the Relax Beach Resort dominates its own private stretch of Pak Nam Bay. Accessible by boat from Tonsai Pier, you can escape the hoards of tourists and get the desert-island treatment, all within 2 km of Lo Dalum.
- Phi Phi Villa Resort ($) – This beachfront three-star resort has its own private pool, deluxe villas, and great breakfast included with the price. Better yet, they standby a sustainability promise so you can feel good as an eco-tourist during your stay.
- Coco Bella Hotel ($) – Just 100m from Lo Dalum Bay, Coco Bella is a cheap and cheerful guesthouse-style accommodation, with garden bungalows, a private pool, and breakfast included.
Hua Hin Beach, Hua Hin
This long run of mainland beachfront is regarded by many as one of Thailand’s best beach destinations reachable from Bangkok. With vibrant night markets, city shopping, and a student atmosphere thanks to the accredited university, Hua Hin is a fantastic beach getaway that’s within a day’s striking distance of the big city. You can even get here by train!
The beach slopes gently off into the gulf, meaning the shallow waters are perfect for families and light snorkeling. There are tons of activities and watersports available along the developed beach and a famous spa and wellness scene to boot.
You’ll find many five-star hotels overlooking the sands where you can enjoy high-quality fine dining all year round. The nearby main strip of Hua Hin also remains busy, with vibrant nightlife and a restaurant scene.
- Golden Sea Hua Hin ($$) – Soak up the sun from the privacy of your own pool, just 150m from the hustle and bustle of Hua Hin beach.
- Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas ($$$) – Fancy a spa hotel and private villa all-in-one? Centara Grand Beach Resort is your one-stop destination for luxury settings and world-class hospitality.
Thailand’s best beach destinations – our conclusion
There are just so many choices when it comes to picking Thailand’s Best Beach Destinations that we’d need 20 articles to get through them. This list whittles it all down to just nine options, but offers something for a whole host of travelers. It’s got the wild party areas of Haad Rin on Koh Phangan for the hedonists, for example, plus the relaxed family resort of Long Beach in Lanta. On top of that, there’s the diving mecca of Koh Tao and the wonderfully dramatic mainland beaches of Railay.
Which part of Thailand has the best beaches?
Southern Thailand has the best beaches. The region of Krabi is home to the stunning limestone cliffs of Railay Beach and Koh Phi Phi. But head east to the Gulf of Thailand, and you’ll find all of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui clustered together. This triumvirate of islands is home to some of the most famous golden shorelines with perfect diving conditions and vibrant nightlife.
What is the best beach town in Thailand?
Phuket, the “pearl of the Andaman” sea, is one of Thailand’s most popular beach towns. Perfectly balancing bustling city life with exotic island paradise, there’s beauty at every turn in Phuket but no shortage of modern amenities, luxury resorts, and fine restaurants. On the other hand, Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Lanta are some of the best beach towns for laid-back island life and a taste of authentic, rustic Thailand.
Does Thailand have white sand beaches?
Yes, Thailand has lots of white-sand beaches. The most famous lie on the island of Koh Lipe in the south, and along the eastern side of Koh Samui in the Thai Gulf. But not all the sands here are white. Many of the most poplular islands – Koh Lanta, Koh Phangan – are actually known for their golden-sand beaches, or beaches topped by rugged karst cliffs.