The allure of Thailand’s islands and beaches is immense. Sugar white sand. A wealth of activities, from diving to rock climbing to sailing. Raucous beach parties. But all these pleasing options can actually cause a big headache. With literally hundreds of beach and island choices, spread between Thailand’s west-facing Andaman Coast and the eastern-facing Gulf of Thailand, visitors will be hard-pressed to choose where lay their towels. Not to mention many of us have limited vacation time and budgets.
So how do you properly choose the right beach for your upcoming Thailand adventure? It was exactly the problem I faced last month as I began the last leg of my trip through Southeast Asia. Fortunately, I had the luxury of time on my side. I would check out as many beach spots as I could. From the upscale to the budget, from peaceful to packed, I was on a mission to uncover Thailand’s perfect beach. It was truly a dreadful task, I assure you dear reader, but I suffered through my investigation as best I could.
So did I finally uncover the perfect beach in Thailand? If you’ve ever wanted to take a Thai beach vacation, keep reading below for South by Southeast’s handy guide to picking the perfect stretch of sand.Finding the perfect beach in Thailand is all a matter of what you’re looking for, whether it’s partying till dawn, partaking in some active pursuits or getting in touch with your inner castaway. To help you figure out what’s best for you, consider the following categories:
Get Away from Me, World
Thailand’s islands and beaches are firmly on the tourist trail these days, but there are still a few spots you can get “off the beaten track.” For the best chance of success, consider sticking to the Andaman Coast, particularly the islands closer to the Malaysian border, like Ko Adang and Ko Bulon Lae as well as Ko Chang (the one on the Andaman Coast, not the Gulf of Thailand). Though there are still visitors, these are the types of islands where it’s still possible to grab a quiet bungalow, get lost and have a swim on a deserted beach.
I’m on a Budget
With all the exclusive resorts going up on islands like Ko Samui these days, you might get the impression that finding a beach paradise in Thailand is going to be expensive. But it’s not. For backpackers watching their dollars, check out islands like Ko Phangan, which manages to maintain scattered bungalows that are a downright bargain. Another good choice is Ko Tarutao, a protected national park island where you can score a tent or longhouse for less than $10/night.
The Active Adventurer
Does sitting on the beach make you antsy? In addition to nice stretches of sand, Thailand’s beaches are also the perfect place to enjoy a variety of active pursuits, ranging from kayaking to rock climbing to scuba diving. The limestone rocks at Railay are among the best spots in the world to try to some climbing. Is diving more your style? Check out Ko Tao or the Similan Islands, home to teeming schools of fish, turtles and sharks. And for kayakers? Head for either Ao Phang Nga or Ang Thong National Marine Parks.
I Came Here to Party!!!!!
Thailand is home to some world-class nightlife, and the country’s beaches and islands certainly don’t disappoint. For all the fire twirling, dance music and whiskey buckets you can handle, check out the islands of Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phangan and Ko Samui. Some travelers hate these islands. Others think they’re paradise. We’re not here to judge…just give you the facts. Check out this account of Ko Phangan’s infamous Full Moon Party from Gadling writer Stephen Greenwood for more info.
From raucous Full Moon Parties to deliciously deserted beaches, Thailand has the beach for you. With all this choice, the problem isn’t finding what you want – it’s trying to pick. Have any favorite island experiences or tips that we missed? Share them with us in the comments.
Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann is spending the next few months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.