Some people come for the food, others for the culture and still others for the natural scenery, but Thailand has and probably always will attract visitors to its miles upon miles of powdery white sand beaches. Whether you’re looking for a raging party under a full moon or a quiet, secluded spot to relax, you’ll find it in Thailand.
Thailand’s Best Beaches
The lion’s share of Thailand’s beaches are located in the southern third of the country, along its south and east coasts and on the islands dotting the waters. The question of which is Thailand’s best beach is largely a matter of taste; they’re all gorgeous, but they each have a distinctive flavor that you may like or dislike depending on what you want out of a beach vacation.
Thailand’s beaches have a long history with the party crowd, and every month on the full moon, the sands of Ko Phangan fill with scantily-clad, body painted revelers moving to the beats of trance tunes well into the morning hours. If your perfect beach getaway involves a good party, Pattaya, Phuket and Ko Samui make good choices as well.
On the other side of the spectrum from the party-goers sit the seclusionists — the beach lovers who prefer blissful serenity in the sun and sand, and Thailand has plenty of beaches that cater to this crowd as well. In general, opt for the smaller islands, like Ko Tao, Ko Mak or Ko Kut. A variety of water sports are available at almost any beach you choose.
Beaches Near Bangkok
If you can’t make it south, you can still soak up a little Thai sun at one of the few beaches near Bangkok. For a quick day trip to the beach, hire a car to take you to Bang Saen beach, located 63 miles (102 kilometers) from the city. The water isn’t as clear as in the islands, and the sand isn’t quite as soft, but it’s a perfect place to kick back and enjoy some good seafood alongside the Thai locals who frequent this off-the-beaten-path beach.
A half-day’s travel from the capital, you’ll find the island of Ko Samet, a blissful retreat with 14 sandy beaches. Go during the week to avoid the rate hikes on weekends, when it seems that half of Bangkok’s population flocks to the shore. If you have the time to spare, consider taking a few days to enjoy Ko Chang, one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands.
Best Time to Go
Strictly in terms of climate, there isn’t really a bad time to enjoy Thailand’s beaches. It’s warm all year long, and the only thing that changes is the amount of rain. If you want to avoid afternoon showers that occur almost daily during the monsoon, plan your visit between November and February.
Unfortunately, the dry season coincides with the high season for tourism, particularly in the islands, with prices skyrocketing during December and January. If you don’t mind having to duck into a beach-side bar to escape a downpour to escape the heavy crowds of high season, plan your visit during April, May, June, September or October.