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Thai beach breaks? Dive in.

Thailand’s known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They range from secluded bays –some of which are only accessible by boat –to busier, seemingly endless stretches of sand. While many of Thailand’s beaches draw big crowds, there are still plenty that retain the feel of an undiscovered tropical paradise.

You’ll find many of Thailand’s best beaches in the south of the country, on the Malay Peninsula. The west coast overlooks the Andaman Sea, while the eastern stretch faces the Gulf of Thailand. Beaches on both sides boast sparkling blue waters, dotted with traditional long-tail boats which bob along just offshore. Powdery soft sands range from gold to white –or if you visit Koh Chang you’ll even find a beach with black sand. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot where you can laze in a hammock or somewhere to party until dawn, there’ll be a Thai beach somewhere that’s right for you.

If you’re planning a Thailand beach holiday, popular choices include Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe. But it’s not all about the islands. There’s also an abundance of beautiful beaches to explore on the mainland. Hua Hin, with its lively markets and golf courses, is one of Thailand’s oldest beach resorts, while Cha-Am is a popular weekend getaway for families and students living in Bangkok.

Khao Lak–thestring of beaches which hug the west coast of Phang Nga Bay–offers opportunities for snorkelling, diving, and hiking in the surrounding national parks. Or to see some of the most striking scenery in the country, head to Krabi. It’s characterised by craggy, jungle-cloaked karsts, and dense mangrove forests. Beach resorts here include Ao Nang and Railay Beach, which is one of the best places in Asia for rock climbing.

Best time to go

Snorkelling

Film locations

Nightlife

Best time to visit

Nobody likes getting rained on at the beach, so if you’re planning a beach holiday in Thailand choose your timing carefully. Broadly speaking, Thailand has two seasons – wet and dry. In Central and Northern Thailand, the dry season is November to May. But in the south of the country – where most beaches are found – there are seasonal variations between the east and west coasts.

The east coast, on the Gulf of Thailand, gets far less rain than the rest of the country. This is where you’ll find the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, all of which usually stay dry from January to August. Although it’s warm all year round, March to May are the hottest months in this part of the country. January and February, which are typically a few degrees cooler, are usually the best times to visit.

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On the west coast lies the Andaman Sea and the islands of Phuket, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. The dry season here runs from November to March, with the optimum months for a beach holiday being December and January.

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Snorkelling and diving

The clear, deep waters off Thailand’s beaches offer some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. Below the surface, colourful coral gardens teem with an exciting array of marine life. Manta rays, whale sharks, parrot fish, moray eels and hawksbill turtles are just some of the creatures you might encounter during a beach holiday in Thailand.

The island of Koh Tao is a particularly popular dive spot. Its sheltered position in the Gulf of Thailand means wave heights are low, while its mild climate makes diving possible all year round. It attracts everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned professionals. If you’re looking to get certified during your Thailand beach holiday, Koh Tao’s the place to go.

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Less crowded but just as spectacular are the Similan Islands. Considered by many to be the most beautiful islands in the whole country, they’re renowned for their clear turquoise waters, white sands, and interesting rock formations. All 11 islands sit within the Mu Koh Similan National Park and are protected by the Thai government. There aren’t any hotels on the Similan Islands – only campsites and bungalows – but plenty of tour operators run day trips from Phuket and Khao Lak.

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Film locations

Thailand's stellar good looks haven’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Its beaches have long been a hit with filmmakers as well as tourists. The most famous location of all is undoubtedly Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh. Used as the backdrop for Danny Boyle’s adventure drama The Beach, this jaw-dropping spot bears significant responsibility for the massive spike in Thai tourism. Sadly, 18 years after the film’s release, environmental concerns caused authorities to close the beach indefinitely. Loh Samah Bay on the opposite side of the island is a great alternative, though – although far smaller, it’s just as stunning.

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Another familiar spot you can still visit is Khao Phing Kan. Tucked away in Phang Nga Bay, between the mainland and Phuket, this dramatic limestone islet played a starring role in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. Commonly known as James Bond Island, it’s home to two small beaches and a number of caves. And in 2011, the wedding scenes in The Hangover Part Two were filmed on Tubkaek Beach in Krabi, half an hour from Ao Nang. So, if you’re a film fan heading off on a beach holiday in Thailand, there are plenty of star-studded destinations to explore.

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Show Less

Beach parties

Beach holidays in Thailand can be peaceful and relaxing – or they can be positively hedonistic. If you’re looking for a lively Thailand beach holiday, then you should definitely consider Koh Phangan. This beautiful island is the home of Thailand’s legendary Fully Moon Party. The boisterous celebration takes place every month on Haad Rin beach. But it’s not the only beach party you’ll find here. Half Moon Parties happen every two weeks, either side of the Full Moon Party, while the lesser-known Black Moon Party occurs on Baan Tai beach.

Show More
Show Less

Phuket – Thailand’s largest island – is also famed for its nightlife. Patong Beach, in particular, prioritises fun above all else. Nearby Bangla Road has an excessive number of after-dark entertainment venues which run the gamut from wooden reggae shacks to super glitzy nightclubs. Back on the mainland, Pattaya Beach puts on a party every night of the week. Just a few hours from Bangkok, on the Gulf Coast, it’s earned itself a reputation as Thailand’s Sin City.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit

Nobody likes getting rained on at the beach, so if you’re planning a beach holiday in Thailand choose your timing carefully. Broadly speaking, Thailand has two seasons – wet and dry. In Central and Northern Thailand, the dry season is November to May. But in the south of the country – where most beaches are found – there are seasonal variations between the east and west coasts.

The east coast, on the Gulf of Thailand, gets far less rain than the rest of the country. This is where you’ll find the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, all of which usually stay dry from January to August. Although it’s warm all year round, March to May are the hottest months in this part of the country. January and February, which are typically a few degrees cooler, are usually the best times to visit.

Show More
Show Less

On the west coast lies the Andaman Sea and the islands of Phuket, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. The dry season here runs from November to March, with the optimum months for a beach holiday being December and January.

Show More
Show Less

Snorkelling

Snorkelling and diving

The clear, deep waters off Thailand’s beaches offer some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. Below the surface, colourful coral gardens teem with an exciting array of marine life. Manta rays, whale sharks, parrot fish, moray eels and hawksbill turtles are just some of the creatures you might encounter during a beach holiday in Thailand.

The island of Koh Tao is a particularly popular dive spot. Its sheltered position in the Gulf of Thailand means wave heights are low, while its mild climate makes diving possible all year round. It attracts everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned professionals. If you’re looking to get certified during your Thailand beach holiday, Koh Tao’s the place to go.

Show More
Show Less

Less crowded but just as spectacular are the Similan Islands. Considered by many to be the most beautiful islands in the whole country, they’re renowned for their clear turquoise waters, white sands, and interesting rock formations. All 11 islands sit within the Mu Koh Similan National Park and are protected by the Thai government. There aren’t any hotels on the Similan Islands – only campsites and bungalows – but plenty of tour operators run day trips from Phuket and Khao Lak.

Show More
Show Less

Film locations

Film locations

Thailand's stellar good looks haven’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Its beaches have long been a hit with filmmakers as well as tourists. The most famous location of all is undoubtedly Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh. Used as the backdrop for Danny Boyle’s adventure drama The Beach, this jaw-dropping spot bears significant responsibility for the massive spike in Thai tourism. Sadly, 18 years after the film’s release, environmental concerns caused authorities to close the beach indefinitely. Loh Samah Bay on the opposite side of the island is a great alternative, though – although far smaller, it’s just as stunning.

Show More
Show Less

Another familiar spot you can still visit is Khao Phing Kan. Tucked away in Phang Nga Bay, between the mainland and Phuket, this dramatic limestone islet played a starring role in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. Commonly known as James Bond Island, it’s home to two small beaches and a number of caves. And in 2011, the wedding scenes in The Hangover Part Two were filmed on Tubkaek Beach in Krabi, half an hour from Ao Nang. So, if you’re a film fan heading off on a beach holiday in Thailand, there are plenty of star-studded destinations to explore.

Show More
Show Less

Nightlife

Beach parties

Beach holidays in Thailand can be peaceful and relaxing – or they can be positively hedonistic. If you’re looking for a lively Thailand beach holiday, then you should definitely consider Koh Phangan. This beautiful island is the home of Thailand’s legendary Fully Moon Party. The boisterous celebration takes place every month on Haad Rin beach. But it’s not the only beach party you’ll find here. Half Moon Parties happen every two weeks, either side of the Full Moon Party, while the lesser-known Black Moon Party occurs on Baan Tai beach.

Show More
Show Less

Phuket – Thailand’s largest island – is also famed for its nightlife. Patong Beach, in particular, prioritises fun above all else. Nearby Bangla Road has an excessive number of after-dark entertainment venues which run the gamut from wooden reggae shacks to super glitzy nightclubs. Back on the mainland, Pattaya Beach puts on a party every night of the week. Just a few hours from Bangkok, on the Gulf Coast, it’s earned itself a reputation as Thailand’s Sin City.

Show More
Show Less

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