Thailand's 10 best beaches
With so many drop-dead gorgeous shores to sun yourself on, really, asking us to select the best beach in Thailand is like asking us to choose a fave One Direction member (jokes!). I mean, it’s got to be Harry, right? (Jokes again!) Seriously, Thailand has more sandy white coves, blue waters, idyllic islands and dramatic coastlines than you can poke a satay stick at. From the brilliant emerald green of the Andaman Sea to the as-seen-on-screen perfection of Ao Maya (from The Beach), each Thai haad (beach)and ao (bay) has its own appeal and attributes. So we applied the Student Flights rating (beers, bars, babes, beauty) to find Thailand’s best beaches. Where would you like to be right now?
1. Ao Maya, Ko Phi Phi Ley
The super of Thailand’s bays, Ao Maya has a model-worthy comp card. Brilliant white sand and calm turquoise waters in a compact bay protected by towering cliffs makes for a postcard-perfect spot to sun yourself on the Phi Phi islands. Leo or no Leo, being used as the defining movie location of The Beach is good enough for us.
2. Haad Kata, Ko Phuket
Thailand’s most popular party island, Phuket, has the tourist mecca of Patong, but head south to Kata Beach for sugary white sandy granules that crunch satisfyingly underfoot. Lined with palms, this sandy stretch in the Andaman Sea is also popular with surfers from May to October.
3. Haad Rin, Ko Pha-Ngan
You can’t holiday in Thailand without getting your gear off at a full moon party on Haad Rin - or is that just us? Or at a half-moon or quarter-moon party, for that matter. Less a synchronised party than a free-for-all rave on the beach, the hedonistic hotspot is a simply marvellous for a moon dance.
4. Ao Wong Deuan, Ko Samet
Talking of moons, the beautiful crescent-shaped Wong Deuan beach on Ko Samet is a fave party spot for young Bangkokians to let off some steam. Just 3.5 hours from the Thai capital, chill out in the fine sand and wade in the clear waters of this chilled-out party paradise.
5. Haad Hua Hin, Hua Hin
The original Thai beach resort just 200 kilometres south of Bangkok - originally for royals, no less - Hua Hin beach in Hua Hin province may not be the prettiest, but, heck, it’s got personality. Step around boulders on the beach on a pony ride and find yourself a prime people-watching possie on the sand.
6. Ao Lamai, Ko Samui
The most popular beach on Ko Samui is Chaweng, which is still a tamer version of Phuket’s Patong, but head to laidback Lamai for shallow coral reefs, crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches with plenty of accommodation, restaurants and facilties nearby.
7. Haad Chao Ley, Ko Lipe
Also known as Sunrise Beach, this long stretch of sand sits in a wide shallow bay that’s sheltered from monsoon weather in low season and boasts balmy breezes come high season. This small island off the tourist track near Malaysia is ideal for wrecks and relaxing.
8. Haad Phra Nang, Krabi
Located on the Rai Leh peninsula and accessible only by boat, Phra Nang is easily one of the most stunning scenic spots to sun yourself in the Thailand province of Krabi. The dramatic cliffs mean you can climb the karsts right from the beach or just stay planted in the soft, white sand.
9. Ko Yung
This remote narrow island north of Ko Phi Phi Don also goes by the less appealing name of Mosquito Island, due to the clouds of black mossies that descend come sunset. Don’t let that put you off – this is a popular spot for snorkelling, diving and sunning yo’self. Just leave before dark!
10. Haad Taa Toh Lek, Ko Tao
Hyped as the new, new Samui, Ko Tao (Turtle Island) has the backpacker ambience sought by many travellers to Thailand. Haad Taa Toh Lek (a.k.a. Freedom Beach) is a small and intimate shore with soft, white sand, a generous sprinkling of palm trees and the crystal-clear Taa Toh Lagoon. Ahhh, bliss!
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