Beach Resorts Thailand
The tropical island resort of Koh Chang is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket, and is made up of stunning white beaches, lofty mountain peaks, pristine rainforests and cascading waterfalls. Koh Chang is easily reached from Bangkok, a few hours away by road, and yet it remains relatively undeveloped and laid-back.
Koh Chang Island is home to exotic flora and fauna, abundant marine life and untouched, colourful coral reefs, making it an attractive holiday destination for adventurers, hiking enthusiasts and scuba divers, and the beautiful scenery, friendly locals, quality restaurants and trendy nightlife make it appealing to everyone else!
There is an array of accommodation options for visitors on the island, ranging from simple beach huts and bungalows to upmarket villas, suites and apartments. Daily flights from Bangkok, Phuket and Ko Samui arrive at the airport in Trat, from where ferries are available to Koh Chang.
Far from the crowded resorts of Pattaya or Phuket, Koh Jum is the ideal place to escape from the world. A tiny island situated between Koh Lanta and Krabi Town, Koh Jum has not yet been invaded by the tourism industry, and its jungle-clad mountains and yellow-sand beaches are largely unspoiled. There is no jetty or dock, and no luxury resorts on Koh Jum (none of the resorts even have air-conditioning); the few bars and restaurants are fairly low-key, and the most popular activities are snorkeling, swimming, and simply relaxing in the sun.
Koh Lanta is a popular resort area in southern Thailand. Consisting of two islands, Koh Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi, pretty much all of the tourist development is on Koh Lanta Yai, often referred to as simply Koh Lanta.
The island is a great place for travellers looking for a beach holiday away from the parties and crowds of Phuket, and is popular with slightly older tourists who populate the resorts and bungalows that line the beaches.
There are plenty of things to see and do on Koh Lanta, including exploring the Khao Mai Kaew Caves on foot or elephant-back, visiting the orchid nursery farm at Long Beach (Pra Ae Beach), and sunning on the beaches of Klong Dao, Kor Kwang, and the beautiful Kantiang Bay. Visitors can also get a taste of the culture of Koh Lanta by visiting Lanta Old Town and the Sea Gypsy Village.
Koh Pha Ngan
The beautiful little island of Koh Pha Ngan is a fantastic holiday destination lying in the centre of the Gulf of Thailand, about 62 miles (100km) from the mainland, and home to 8,000 or so people and hundreds of thousands of coconuts. Coconut exports and fishing have long been the mainstay of the locals, but in recent years tourism is becoming increasingly important as visitors flock in on ferries, lured by the island’s magnificent beaches and the world renowned monthly Full Moon Party.
The site of Koh Pha Ngan’s legendary parties is the crescent-shaped beach of Haad Rin on the island’s south-east corner, which is besieged by up to 10,000 people from around the world at full moon each month. As dusk falls thousands of lamps are lit on tables along the beach and the music is cranked up, sending party-goers into a frenzy under the rising orb of the moon.
Visitors on holiday in Pha Ngan generally stay in one of about 200 thatched bamboo bungalows that line the island’s beaches and are let out for a pittance. Those after more luxury can choose from three holiday resort hotels: First Villa at Ban Tai Beach, the Pha Ngan Chai Hotel in the main town of Thongsala, and the Thong Nai Pan Beach Resort at Thong Nai Pan beach. Wherever you stay, the holiday is wiled away pleasantly with snorkelling, swimming or relaxing on the white sands.
Facilities in the Koh Pha Ngan town of Thongsala are limited, but there is a bank, police station, clinic and pharmacy. Motorcycle taxis can be waved down, or mountain bikes hired to explore the more remote beaches. Some beaches can only be reached by sea, and water taxis are available in the town.
A small island near Ranong and the Myanmar border, Koh Phayam is a small but growing resort in southern Thailand popular with budget travellers. The Sea Gypsy Village itself is relaxed, with not a fast food restaurant or convenience store in sight, and the tourism infrastructure is mostly limited to a few budget bungalow-style resorts.
There are no cars on Koh Phayam, but scooters are available for hire as the best way to get around the island. Visitors can have a Thai massage, take guided snorkelling or fishing trips, or simply relax on the sparkling beaches. Koh Phayam has two main beaches: Aow Khao-Kwai, which is quiet and sheltered on the north side of the island, and Aow Yai, which is busier and has better surf and views of Myanmar.
Because of its location on the far west of Thailand’s coast, Koh Phayam is popular for travellers returning from a visit to Myanmar.
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is an extraordinary holiday destination. The twin Phi Phi islands, 30 miles (48km) east of Phuket, are world-renowned, particularly since the making of the Leonardo di Caprio film, The Beach. Phi Phi Leh, the smaller of the two islands, was the setting for this movie, and now draws scores of day trippers from Phuket, just a 45-minute boat ride away. The island has no accommodation and is accessible only by boat, but offers sensational snorkelling and trips to the Viking Cave with wall paintings.
Phi Phi Don, the larger island, has idyllic tropical beaches lining its shores and Ton Sai Bay, the main tourist centre on Phi Phi, may be a little overdeveloped for some visitors wanting a relaxed beach holiday. Although overrun by tourists, the islands retain their spectacular quiet beauty.
The T-shaped island of Koh Samet is within easy distance of mainland Thailand, and at only 124 miles (200km) from Bangkok a great weekend excursion to get out of the city. A popular island for both foreigners and locals on holiday in Thailand, Koh Samet is a small island known for its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Koh Samet has just one (rather bumpy) main road, and getting around the island is accomplished either by songthaew (a pick-up truck-style taxi), or by hiring a motorcycle or ATV. This way tourists can visit the stunning beaches on Koh Samet, including the busy Hat Sai Kaew, quiet Ao Hin Khok, and romantic Ao Wai.
Most of the activity is centred on Hat Sai Kaew, where holidaymakers can enjoy activities like swimming, windsurfing, jet-skiing, yachting or just sunbathing. There are also nightly fire-twirling shows at 6pm and 10:30pm. The tourist centre of Koh Samet, tourists can also enjoy excellent Thai seafood restaurants and lively bars, and take classes in Muay Thai boxing or fire-spinning.
A sun lover’s holiday paradise, Koh Samui (‘the coconut island’) is Thailand’s third largest island resort and no longer the footloose and fancy-free backpacker’s secret hideaway it once was. Koh Samui now rivals Phuket as one of Thailand’s most popular holiday destinations, with regular flights arriving at its own airport disgorging keen holidaymakers. There are a range of accommodation options on Koh Samui, from modest beach bungalows to luxury holiday resort hotels. The island still retains its laid-back atmosphere though, with friendly locals, good food and some not-too-commercial local attractions, like a crocodile farm and butterfly garden, to keep visitors entertained. Night time is party time with open-air discos and music bars throbbing in the darkness.
Koh Tao (‘Turtle Island’) has been described as offering ‘heaven under the sea’, its main holiday attraction being the incredible snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities afforded in its clean, clear waters. Situated to the north of its more famous sisters, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, the island is a typical tropical paradise, with rich jungle in the centre surrounded by quiet, palm treed beaches.
Although tourist development has exploded in recent years, turning Koh Tao’s traditional dirt-road villages into a montage of holiday resorts, souvenir stalls and restaurants, there are still plenty of unspoilt spots both on the coast and inland. The main beach is Sairee Beach, stretching about one mile (2km) along the west coast, offering a range of reasonably priced holiday accommodation, dive centres, restaurants, beach bars and other facilities.
The tiny Thai province of Krabi, 500 miles (800km) south of Bangkok, is a magical, as yet unspoilt paradise and one of the country’s most enchanting coastal holiday resort destinations. The tranquil Krabi coast is made up of pristine, coral-fringed white beaches, a myriad of caves and waterfalls, and numerous exotic islets washed by the azure sea. Beyond the Krabi beaches lie lush jungles where giant trees trail lianas, and rivers fall over high cliffs or swirl lazily through mangrove forests. Visitors spend their holiday scuba diving in the Andaman Sea, climbing the cliffs above Ao Phranang and Railay beaches, hiking to mountain-top pagodas, discovering hidden temples set in the valleys, exploring caves, seeking out offshore paradise islands, or simply relaxing beneath a palm tree on an unspoiled stretch of white sand.
The small city of Krabi can be flown to direct from Bangkok and a number of other cities, with flights landing at Krabi Airport, which is situated conveniently close to the city.
Pattaya, situated about 100 miles (160km) south of Bangkok, was once just a quiet coastal fishing town. Today it teems with holidaymakers, both local and foreign, and is packed with hotels, shops, restaurants and bars. The tourism boom came with the Vietnam War, when Pattaya was chosen as a popular venue for American GIs to enjoy some ‘R&R’. The town has developed something of a reputation for sex tourism, an image it is trying to shake off, although most of the night-time entertainment is centred around spicy cabarets, massage parlours, go-go bars, and beer-bars with girls for hire. The town however, has a multitude of other attractions on offer, from its rather over-crowded and well-used beaches to some first-class restaurants, hundreds of recreational activities, bazaar-type markets, and excursions to nearby more peaceful spots and offshore islands.
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