The islands of Southern and Central Thailand have long been essential destinations for any beach-bum. Whether your guests are looking for a wild time spent partying on the beach at Ko Pha Ngan, or relaxing on a hidden gem of a beach on off-the-beaten-track Ko Chang, there is a beach destination among the Thai islands for them.
Kayaking in the Chumpong Archipelago.
Starting with the Chumpong Archipelago in the gulf of Thailand, there are three main islands. First and largest is Ko Samui, where the long Chaweng and Lamai beaches are filled with luxury resorts catering to those who prefer a quiet time at the beach on a sunbed, drink in hand and service never far away. Neighbouring Ko Pha Ngan is ringed by spectacular beaches, some busier than others. Every month during the full moon, Haad Rin beach explodes in a cacophony of partying as the infamous 3-day long Full Moon Party unfolds. Meanwhile, the small island of Ko Tao is a great place to go not only for scuba diving and snorkelling (which the island is renowned for) but also for some wonderful beaches. Unlike its bigger brothers, the beaches here are much more secluded, providing a more peaceful atmosphere. Additionally, at several of the beaches, like Freedom Beach and Hin Wong Bay, there are myriads of colourful schools of fish, sure to delight any guest.
Snorkelling in Hin Wong Bay.
Hopping to the opposite side of the Malay Peninsula, the Andaman Sea is host to a number of islands. Most famous among these are the Phi Phi Islands, not far from Phuket. While the most famous beach on the two islands, Maya Beach, has been closed down indefinitely to allow it to recover from the impact of mass tourism, there are still great beaches to enjoy on what is considered Thailand’s most beautiful islands. The beaches range from extremely crowded at Loh Dalum and Tonsai (situated on the narrow strip in the middle of Phi Phi Don Island) to quiet and peaceful at Phak Nam Bay and Bamboo Island.
Gorgeous sunsets from Klong Nin Beach on Ko Lanta.
Known for a more “grown up” and relaxed atmosphere than the neighbouring Phi Phi Islands, Ko Lanta is a great beach destination for families or those looking to completely disconnect from the world. Kantiang Bay provides peace and relaxation in droves, while the rock-free shallow waters of Klong Dao makes it an ideal spot for family travellers. The beach bars at Klong Nin is a great place to enjoy a beautiful sunset, while trips to Klong Khong is great for budget beach tours looking to get a little bit of partying done, without the sheer madness of other party beaches on the islands.
Koh Phangan is famous for both beautiful nature and beaches, as well as wild full-moon parties.
Finally, near the Cambodian border off the coastal town of Tran lies Ko Chang. Compared to the crowded islands further west, this peaceful heaven sees very few tourists, and gives guests a better chance to appreciate authentic Thai island life, something that has long since disappeared from the likes of Ko Samui or Ko Pha Ngan.
The fame of the Thai islands is well deserved, and naturally its beaches are the main draw. Any type of beach-focused itinerary can be crafted from these destinations, and there will be plenty of types of beach available no matter what island you choose to include in your trip.