Choosing the Perfect Thaisland (Thai Island)
Do yourself a favor and Google the word “Thailand”. I know, right? All those fantasies you’ve had of laying in a cabana being fanned by a giant banana leaf and savoring grapes one by one as they are dangled in front of your face – that fantasy takes place in Thailand.
Now that I’ve convinced you to spend your next holiday in the land of the smiles, allow me to assist you in identifying the perfect Thai beach to relax on.
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand is a shallow arm of the South China Sea. The Gulf provides very warm and relaxing waters with few waves.
Perfect for: A weekend get-away from Bangkok
Koh Samet is the closest Thai island to Bangkok, making it perfect for a quick stop when visiting the busy, metropolitan hub of Thailand. The journey takes about 3-hours via bus and ferry. Check out the Naga Bar on Ao Phi beach for games, body paint, and glow in the dark drinks at night. Close by is the Aphai Mani and mermaid statues on Hat Sai Kaeo Beach.
Perfect for: Travelers seeking luxury
Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui, is busting with tourist resorts and sandy beaches. The Koh Samui airport makes it an easily accessible destination from many places in Southeast Asia. If you are looking for a convenient and comfortable getaway, consider Koh Samui and its many options for relaxation. A personal favorite on Samui is the Rock Bar on Lamai beach. A series of different tiered platforms over the ocean crashing upon rocks, Rock Bar was built by a group of local friends who live right next to the bar. Rock Bar is directly next to the famous Grandma and Grandpa Rocks (Hin Ta and Hin Yai), named after the gendered genitalia they resemble.
Perfect for: Inebriated Backpackers or Curious Beach-goers
Koh Phangan is famous for its Full Moon Parties, held once a month on the Haad Rin peninsula on the south of the island. However, there is much more to explore than a beach full of inebriated backpackers. There is also a Half Moon Party with inebriated backpackers in the woods. No, but really. Rent a motorbike and get lost. Koh Phangan is huge and there are many diverse beaches to explore. A personal favorite is Koh Ma off the north of the island. You can only get to Koh Mah during low tide. Be careful or you could get stuck out there!
Perfect for: Aspiring divers
Koh Tao, or Turtle Island, is known for being the least expensive place in the world to become a certified scuba diver. Backpackers from all over flock to the island to strap a tank to their back and spend hours exploring under the sea. After diving lessons, the island provides many beautiful and relaxing spots to enjoy. A personal favorite is Freedom Beach on the south side of the island. Visitors use shells and driftwood to create mobiles to hand from the low-branched trees on the beach.
The Andaman Sea of Thailand is famous for the limestone cliffs gutting out of the crystal clear waters. The beaches of the Andaman Sea boast some of the most spectacular ocean side views in the world.
Perfect for: Climbers and explorers
Krabi is known for having some of the best rock climbing in the world. Massive limestone cliffs line the coasts and there are many climbing companies will to help you explore them. A city surrounded by great beaches, Krabi has an airport with direct flights from Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The most popular sports around Krabi are Railay Bay for families and Tonsai for backpackers. You can hike up to a viewpoint over Railay Bay and even further to a hidden lagoon. Most people who visit Krabi enjoy a day of island hopping on a long boat. Activities include snorkeling, cliff jumping, and visiting the locals on Monkey Island.
Koh Phi Phi
Perfect for: Backpackers seeking a fun resting spot
Remember that 2000 movie The Beach where Leo DiCaprio shows us exactly what paradise looks like? Well, it exists. Visit Koh Phi Phi and be able to say you have swam in the same crystal blue waters as Leo. Koh Phi Phi was hit hard by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and has been rebuilt as a haven for backpackers. The central part of the island does not permit vehicles and travelers can explore on a series of footpaths. There is a great viewpoint overlooking the two bays on the island right out of the center of town. Like Krabi, there is a lot of climbing and hiking trails to adventure on. A personal favorite was the hike to Long Beach- a quiet relaxing spot away from the backpacker hustle of the main beach in Loh Dalam Bay.
Other Islands to Consider:
Koh Lanta – A quiet place with less development and backpacker culture
Koh Lipe – A “new” Thai island – more difficult to get to but very little tourism
Koh Chang – Known as the last cheap Thai Island – huge national park