19 Top-Rated Beaches in Thailand

Written by Meagan Drillinger
Updated Jan 19, 2024
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The southern regions of Thailand are home to some of the most visually stunning and exotic beaches in the world. Not only that, Thailand has more beaches than you could ever explore in a lifetime of vacations. On my last trip to the country, I spent three months traveling around the various islands in southern Thailand and still barely scratched the surface.

Koh Poda
Koh Poda | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

If you are looking for quiet serenity, stroll the beaches overlooking the towering limestone monoliths and caves in the green water of Krabi Province. For a more active beach scene, you can head on over to popular Phuket Island. On the other coast, the Gulf of Thailand is home to islands ringed with powdery soft beaches, as well. Koh Samui is the jumping-off point from which to explore Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

The southern tip of Thailand is a beachgoer's paradise no matter where you choose to lay out your beach blanket. Choosing the right beach for your getaway depends on how you want to spend your time, whether you're looking for adventure or simply to soak up the rays, be social, or disconnect.

While some beaches are easy to get to, and therefore always crowded, other hidden gems are tucked away on islands, requiring a bit more effort to find. Figure out what suits you with our list of the top beaches in Thailand.

1. Railay Beach

Railay Beach
Railay Beach

The majestic Railay Beach is one of the best beaches in Krabi and one of the top attractions in Thailand. It is only accessible by longtail boat since it sits on a small peninsula, but it is well worth the effort to get here. The soft white sand on the beach is only one part of the experience. Railay Beach is surrounded by cliffs and caves, limestone monoliths, jungle landscapes, and lagoon-like swimming areas.

Several smaller beaches make up Railay Beach, and all are within close proximity. This stretch of coast is perfect for combining traditional beach time with some exploration around the island.

The luxury accommodations at the Rayavadee Resort and Bhu Nga Thani Resort and Spa bring you close to nature, surrounding you with lush gardens, elaborate pools, and views of the beach even when you head back to the room to relax.

2. Nai Harn Beach, Phuket

Nai Harn Beach, Phuket
Nai Harn Beach, Phuket

Though Nai Harn Beach can get quite crowded, it is still one of the most popular beaches in Thailand. Located on Phuket, the beach is known for crystal clear water, white sand, and waves that are not overbearing when swimming.

The beach is one of the most popular because of its consistent climate and weather conditions that make it suitable to visit year-round. Nearby restaurants and local food vendors make it convenient to stay a full day at the beach. A number of resorts like the Navatara Phuket Resort, The Nai Harn, and Sunsuri Phuket are within walking distance of the beach.

Read More: Top-Rated Beaches in Phuket

3. Haad Rin, Koh Phangan

Haad Rin, Koh Phangan
Haad Rin, Koh Phangan

Haad Rin Beach is one of the most popular of the nearly 30 beaches on the small island of Koh Phangan. The long stretch of white sand and blue water surrounded by coconut trees and cliffs makes it a picturesque beach day. The beach is generally an active scene, with spontaneous games of volleyball, people swimming, and vacationers enjoying water sports like jet skiing and kayaking.

Nearby lodging ranges from private villas at Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas to full-service resorts, like the Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa, and even hostels on the beach for those who are on a tight budget. The best time to visit is outside monthly full-moon events, when the area can get quite crowded with young beach-goers.

4. Phra Nang Cave Beach, Krabi Province

Phra Nang Cave Beach
Phra Nang Cave Beach | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

For a beach surrounded by a stunning landscape and outdoor adventure that few others can match, visit the Phra Nang Cave Beach in Krabi Province in southern Thailand. Characterized by outcroppings of cliffs that are popular for rock climbing, the shallow water of this beach makes it a favorite stop for tourists and families looking for safer waters to swim. It can be overcrowded at times, but it is one of the most unique beaches in Thailand.

The beach is located around the rocky outcrop from Ao Nang in Krabi, which means visitors can only get there by boat. This helps to keep the crowds at bay, but this is also the same stretch of land where you'll find Railay Beach, so you may see spillover from there.

For a more private beach experience, stay at a resort like the Rayavadee Resort, which secludes guests in the forest surroundings, with a low-profile pool and beach area. Short trails near the beach take you through caves and showcase the area's landscape. Try some fresh fruit from a floating vendor to cool off in the heat. The best times to visit for decent weather and fewer crowds are May and October. High season is November through April.

5. Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi

Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi
Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi

The shallow, azure waters of Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi, one of the most beautiful islands in Krabi Province, are almost entirely surrounded by huge limestone monoliths. The aerial view of the beach makes it easy to see why this location was used as the backdrop for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach. The steep hills that surround the water make it feel like a private paradise, even though it is a far cry from what you see in the movie.

The beach was closed in 2018 for a rejuvenation project of the coral that had been devastated by rampant tourism. The beach only reopened in 2022 and did so with regulations in order to help keep it preserved and special.

New entry rules mean that boats are not able to enter the bay. Drivers must drop passengers off at a pier on a different part of the island, and visitors will have to walk in to find the beach. Only eight speedboats are allowed at a time, with a maximum of 300 tourists allowed per trip. Swimming is no longer permitted in Maya Bay.

6. Pattaya Beach

Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach

About an hour south of all the attractions in Bangkok is Pattaya Beach, a popular tourist beach on Thailand's Gulf coast. The most notable feature is the hillside temple that sits above the sand. The area that was once a fishing village is now modernized with resorts and shopping. Large resorts like the artful Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa and the trendy Royal Wing Suites & Spa are among them.

This is a great beach if you want to do water sports like parasailing or Jet Skis that you will not find on smaller beaches. Like other beaches near Bangkok, Pattaya Beach can be a bit crowded at times but still ideal if you enjoy strolling the crescent coastline or promenade area. The best time to visit Pattaya Beach is March through May, when the weather is typically fine but there are fewer tourists.

7. Chaweng Noi Beach, Koh Samui

Chaweng Noi Beach, Koh Samui
Chaweng Noi Beach, Koh Samui

The popular beach of Chaweng on the island of Koh Samui can be quite crowded, which is why its smaller and more secluded version down the coast, Chaweng Noi, is a top choice. The shallow water, calm surf, and quiet beachfront make this beach perfect for a day of relaxation away from the crowds.

Enjoy lunch from one of the many small beach restaurants with tables in the sand, or melt your worries away with an ocean-front massage from a local vendor. Luxury resorts like the Sandalwood Luxury Villas and Bo Phut Resort & Spa near the beach make you feel like you are on your own private island. Planning a visit between late December and April gives you the best beach weather on the island.

Read More: Best Beaches in Koh Samui

8. Freedom Beach, Phuket

Freedom Beach, Phuket
Freedom Beach, Phuket

Spend a day relaxing or snorkeling in the clear waters of Freedom Beach in Phuket. It is best to take a longtail boat from Patong to reach the beachfront, as it is difficult to access by land. Be aware that you will need to pay a small entrance fee, but the view is worth it.

The Avista Hideaway Hotel has a small path to the beach if you are up for a short hike. Freedom Beach is typical of the picturesque, unspoiled beach scene that you expect to see in tropical Thailand. The best time to visit is December through February.

9. Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan

Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan
Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan

Like other popular beaches in Thailand, Bottle Beach can be crowded in high tourist seasons but for good reason. It is primitive and naturally beautiful. Other times though, this beach can be almost secluded and tranquil. Most visitors come here on day trips, so staying overnight will give you a chance to have the beach almost all to yourself in the early morning.

You can stay in a bungalow on the beach at Bottle Beach 1 Resort, but many visitors stay on the island's east coast, in full-service accommodations at Buri Rasa Koh Phangan or Panviman Resort and take a longtail boat to the beach. Small bungalows and shacks on the beach give you shade from the Thailand sun in between your swims in the warm water.

10. Ao Prao Beach, Ko Samet

Ao Prao Beach, Ko Samet
Ao Prao Beach, Ko Samet

With 14 white-sand beaches in Ko Samet there are plenty of choices in this area, but Ao Prao Beach is one of the best. The area is a weekend retreat for locals in Bangkok because of the jewel-toned water and soft white sand. Another great beach for families, visitors here can enjoy calm waters for swimming during the day and indulge in local seafood at a beachside restaurant in the evening.

There are a number of high-end resorts, with options like luxury beachfront villas at Paradee Resort to comfortable cottages and spa amenities at Le Vimarn Cottages & Spa. Ao Prao Beach generally has decent weather year-round, but the best months to visit are October through February during the milder season.

11. Sairee Beach, Ko Tao

Sairee Beach, Ko Tao
Sairee Beach, Ko Tao

One of the best views of a spectacular Thailand sunset is from Sairee Beach on the tiny island of Ko Tao. This is the happening spot on the island, with plenty of restaurants and water sports like diving and snorkeling. The long, narrow beach is great for walking, with unobstructed views of the sunrise and sunset, so it is a popular beach for photographers.

This is also the main area for lodging on the entire island. You will find rooms at places like The Tarna Align Resort, designed for a perfect view of the sunsets. Sairee Beach is ideal to visit from February to September.

12. Hua Hin Beach

Hua Hin Beach
Hua Hin Beach

With over four kilometers of sandy beachfront, Hua Hin has something for everybody: plenty of family-friendly activities such as banana boats and pony rides, great windsurfing and parasailing schools, and sun loungers and umbrellas as far as the eye can see. Hua Hin Beach has a more relaxed vibe than other beach destinations in Thailand, attracting visitors looking for rest and relaxation.

At the far end of Hua Hin Beach, behind Khao Takiap hill, there's the small, palm-fringed Suan Son Beach. And, for those up for a day trip, the spectacular Sam Roi Yot National Park is not far from Hua Hin and home to Laem Sala Beach, a secluded stretch of sand that is hard to access but is always peaceful with stunning water views.

There are plenty of places to visit in Hua Hin and near the beach, including restaurants, world-class golf courses, and many shopping destinations. Plus, Hua Hin has many high-end resorts and luxury accommodations, such as the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort, which offers 119 guest rooms and suites and a private beachfront, and the exclusive V Villas Hua Hin, which offers private villas, infinity pools, and a private beach.

13. Koh Poda

Koh Poda
Koh Poda | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Visitors to Krabi will find that it's common to get off the mainland to explore the more secluded, deserted islands nearby. One of the most famous islands off of Krabi is Koh Poda within Hat Nopharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.

Koh Poda is uninhabited, but it is possible to visit with an authorized tour group. Several tour companies offer island-hopping tours from Koh Phi Phi, Krabi mainland, and Koh Lanta, which will take visitors on a day trip to experience the secluded, postcard-perfect views from Koh Poda.

This dreamy beach island is so small that you can circumnavigate it in about 20 minutes. Fringed in powder-soft, white sand, it's a beautiful beach no matter which angle you come from. The calm, gently lapping water and towering limestone cliffs only enhance the idyllic, deserted beach experience.

14. Klong Muang Beach, Krabi

Klong Muang Beach
Klong Muang Beach | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Krabi's main beach town on the mainland is Ao Nang, which is often overrun with thousands of tourists any day of the week. But if you head to the next beach town to the north, Klong Muang, you will be experiencing a completely different world – and one of the best beaches in Thailand

Klong Muang is a small village about 10 minutes from Ao Nang. It's a sleepier village, with just a few hotels and guesthouses and a handful of beachfront restaurants. If Ao Nang is the Playa del Carmen of Krabi, the Klong Muang would be the Puerto Morelos. It's slower, much more laid-back, and infinitely quieter. The beach is simply spectacular, stretching for 1.5 kilometers of golden sand and bright turquoise water.

When the tide is low, the beach landscape changes dramatically, creating a glassy, sparkling stretch of sand for walking. In fact, it's almost possible to walk out to the jungle-covered offshore island in the distance.

By day, Klong Huang Beach is tranquil and hardly occupied. In the evening, things liven up considerably when the beach restaurants fill up, but by and large, the vibe here is the complete opposite to that of Ao Nang.

15. Koh Gai, Krabi

Koh Gai
Koh Gai | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Typically if you are visiting Koh Poda on an island-hopping tour from Ao Nang or Krabi, that tour will also include Koh Gai. Koh Gai translates to "Chicken Island," and it will be easy to see why – the rocks at the tip of the island make it look like a giant chicken rising out of the sea.

Once on the island, you'll be able to explore the powder-soft, white-sand beaches and the shallow, crystal-clear water that surrounds it.

From Koh Gai, you can see two other islands: Koh Tub and Koh Mor. If the tide is low, it's possible to walk between the three islands on a streaked, bleached white-sand bank. It makes for some really wonderful photo opportunities. Even if the tide is up, though, this is a beach experience you won't want to miss.

With mainland Krabi fading softly into the distance, a visit to Koh Gai will make you feel like you've drifted far away from civilization.

16. Maenam Beach, Koh Samui

Beach furniture on Maenam Beach
Beach furniture on Maenam Beach | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Seven kilometers of beautifully golden sand stretches along this northern Koh Samui beachfront. Maenam is a small, relatively quiet town, home to laid-back hotels, beachfront bungalows, small shops, and restaurants. It also happens to be home to Koh Samui's Chinatown.

What makes Maenam Beach so lovely is how expansive it is. While other beaches along Koh Samui's 75-kilometer coastline are also spectacular, many tend to be overcrowded. Maenam, however, paints a different picture of laid-back tranquility.

It's also one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, with views out to Koh Phangan in the distance out over the gently rolling green-blue water. Maenam is the perfect destination for beachgoers who want to avoid the fray, but not be so far removed that they are inaccessible.

17. Bophut Beach, Koh Samui

Bophut Beach
Bophut Beach | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Tucked between Maenan Beach and the Big Buddha temple is a swath of pinkish-white sand called Bophut Beach. The Bophut area is one of the best areas on Koh Samui to be based because it's close to the airport and the facilities of Choeng Moen/Chaweng, but far enough removed to be a little less chaotic. Don't misunderstand, though – Bophut beach is also the closest beach to Fisherman's Village, so expect some crowds.

Aside from Bophut's beauty, it is also quite convenient because of its proximity to Fisherman's Village. You are never more than a few steps away from a restaurant or shop. On Friday nights, a night market takes over the area, too. Some of the best hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops are located right along the street behind the beach.

18. Lipa Noi, Koh Samui

Lipa Noi Beach
Lipa Noi Beach | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

The west coast of Koh Samui is the far less traveled track. What it lacks in services it makes up for in rugged, undeveloped coastal beauty. Lipa Noi Beach is one of the best beaches on the island, and one of the best beaches in Thailand, particularly if you're interested in epic sunsets.

Lipa Noi offers three kilometers of fine white sand. The shallow, warm waters are free from rocks and coral, making this a lovely place to swim. Don't expect many services on Lipa Noi. The reason it stays so pristine is because it is mostly undeveloped. But that's one of the main reasons why those in the know love it.

19. Long Beach, Koh Lanta

Long Beach, Koh Lanta
Long Beach, Koh Lanta | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

The first two weeks of my recent adventure in Thailand were on the island of Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta quickly became one of my favorite islands in Thailand because of its laid-back nature, its relative off-the-grid experience when compared to other islands, and its blend of digital nomad energy with local culture.

The best beach on Koh Lanta is Long Beach, otherwise known as Pra-Ae Beach. The west-facing beach stretches for more than three kilometers and is dotted with boutique hotels and guest houses, as well as several open-air restaurants. Since it faces west, you can rest assured that you will have some of the most explosive and fiery sunsets from this sandy perch.

My favorite restaurant along Long Beach is Fat Turtle, which gets quite popular at sunset for its idyllic views. The water here is calm and warm, perfect for swimming, and the menu at the restaurant serves a nice blend of Western and Eastern dishes. The Thai beef salad, hamburger, and curry noodles in particular are menu items I ordered repeatedly.

Another beautiful stretch of Long Beach is directly in front of Lanta Casuarina Beach Resort. This powder-soft stretch of white sand is lined with swaying palm trees, with a gently lapping shoreline of bright blue water. The resort itself is not the most luxurious in Thailand, but it is a very comfortable resort with a beautiful beachfront restaurant, decent rooms, and a seafront swimming pool. You can't beat the location or the price.