Thailand is the ultimate beach destination. Soft white sand and palm trees line up the coast and the views are unparalleled. The small offshore islands tend to have the best beaches, mainly because these are less developed so you can enjoy snorkeling, hiking or simply resting on clean sand and enjoying the salty air without the distractions of modern life. Whether you’re looking for peace or a chance to enjoy the outdoors, the beaches in Thailand won’t disappoint.
Maya Bay Beach
Location: Koh Phi Phi
Best feature: Isolation
The lowdown: Maya Bay was used as the filming location for Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Beach.” Although in real life is not as isolated or people-free as you see in the movie, it’s still a far cry from the busy, bustling beaches of Phuket or Krabi’s mainland. For even more privacy, visit during the low season (which runs from May through October).
Set just a few steps away from Ko Phi Phi, Maya Bay is surrounded by tall limestone cliffs and reachable only via boat. This makes the beach feel very private, like you’re on your own patch of paradise. Because there are no accommodations on the island, you can only visit it as part of a day trip.
Best feature: Scenery
The lowdown: Another beach accessible only by boat, Railey Beach is very popular with rock climbers thanks to its towering limestone cliffs (and the incredible views you get from the top). Accommodations abound on the island no matter your budget, so visitors often come here to spend several days. There are no buses or cars on Railey Beach. No roads either –Only small paths carved through the thin jungle surrounding the beach. The blue warm waters of the Andaman Sea, the long stretches of empty sand and the amazing snorkeling make this one of the best spots in Thailand.
Location: Koh Samui
Best feature: Cultural legacy
The lowdown: Also known as Fisherman's Village, Bophut Beach is a far cry away from the other two beaches mentioned here. Bophut Beach area is well developed, surrounded by old Chinese shop-houses, a long wooded pier and the famous Ang Thong Marine Park. This gives Bophut Beach a different kind of charm without compromising its peaceful natural atmosphere. Palm trees line up the beach and you can still the fishermen boats floating about in the distance. Across the waters is the island of Koh Pha Ngan, where the (infamous) full moon parties are held.