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Thailand Beaches


This area was damaged by by tsunami waves but is working hard to rebuild. Khao Lak and Phi Phi Don were particularly badly hit and are mostly still a mess. They will need some more time before they become pleasant to use.

The best time to go to Thailand's beaches is Dec - March, apart from peak holiday times.
The worst time to go is probably May - Oct, especially on the Andaman [west] Coast [heavy rains].

The Gulf [east] Coast has a much less heavy rains than the west coast but longer, from June - Dec.

Thailand's best overall sightseeing time is the cool season, Nov- Feb.
Worst is April - Sept, hot and sticky. March -May is the hot season. The rainy season is June - Oct.

The 'curse of the longtails' makes many previously desirable places a pain in the head now. These typical Thailand taxi boats are fitted with unsilenced truck engines, so put 2 or 3 together on water and it sounds like a 747 coming...and going....and coming....
Beaches that are only accessible by boat, or used as a longtail terminal have drone and diesel smell problems. Notably noxious are Krabi and the Phi Phi islands. Hey Mr Thai Environment Minister, put a noise suppressor on them!

The west [Andaman] coast has buckets of rain May-October.

Khao Lak
An hour's drive north of Phuket airport , this strip of medium-fine yellow sand and clear sea is little developed, with no buildings over two stories and mostly good quality bungalows scattered under the palms and casuarinas [a kind of fir tree] beside the beach.
The beach is winding, narrow in parts and has character, with rocky outcrops and a lovely cluster of stlit bars and restaurants at one end. Waves can be a problem for small children, especially at the start of the season, i.e. December/January.
The bungalows aren't cheap but the location - Andaman Sea on one side, wildlife-rampant rainforest the other, and Thailand's scuba superb Similan islands 64 km offshore makes them worthwhile.
Tour groups haven't got here yet, tho' plenty of North Europeans have.
The one horse town of Khao Lak provides basic shops and restaurants. Best time Nov-March, but showers may happen anytime.

Phuket Island beaches, best time Nov-March. Worst May-Oct [rough seas and winds]
Phuket is one of the world's most famous international resort islands. It is the largest, the most expensive and the most touristy of all Thailand's islands, with busy sand and an international airport.
Patong beach is particularly crowded and unpleasantly pushy, but comfortable, quiet beaches do exist here, mainly far NW or far SW:
- Nai Harn beach, SW Phuket - for those with money, this beach is quiet, clean, safe, pretty and has 2 hotels. The superb Le Meridien [Phuket Yacht Club], and less expensive Nai Harn Resort. Big waves in December.
- *[Bugbog's choice] Nai Thon beach, NW - very, very quiet, just a couple of simple bars/ restaurants/ hotels, but wonderful squeaky white sand, clear water, no boats, few cars, no package people, no clubs and an adjacent nature reserve. Romantic! Big waves in December.
- Mai Khao beach, NW - if you're looking for real solitude try the least visited, hugely long Mai Khao Beach, turtle hatching area [Nov-Jan, waves permitting]. Medium grain yellow sand, clear water, big waves in December. Only one little bungalow operation in 13km, under the trees and run by a friendly family, no air con.

Ko [island] Phi Phi Don [Picture top left] and Ko Phi Phi Leh
A hidden tropical paradise until the movie 'The Beach' was filmed there, now another Thailand tourist mecca, the Phi Phi islands have turquoise water, white sand and palm trees, and 1 million visitors a year in a tiny area.
The infrastructure cannot support the numbers, though judging by the building debris lying around the cramped new bungalows on Phi Phi Don the owners of the islands are trying to host the world.
Facilities like power and sewage are unreliable, rubbish litters the ground, coral is dying and perfect isolation? Hah!
However, if you stay well away from noisy, frantic Ton Sai bay - the transport hub - even just across the neck at Loh Dulum bay, you will get some serenity, lovely sand, turquoise water and those sensational views.
Phi Phi Leh is half an hour by boat, has no accomodation at all, but still suffers the 'Curse of the Longtails' - noisy boats packed in the bays, awaiting their tourists.
Day trips by boat from Phuket are also popular. Best Dec-March.

West Railay , the Krabi Coast
Accessible from Ao [bay] Nang in a few minutes by longtail boat, West Railay is stunningly pretty, has restrained developement, reasonable prices, soft white sand and clear water, tho' longtail taxis park there, cluttering the view, impeding swimming and not helping the water purity. Still, it's better than paying the extortionate prices at Thailand's Rayavadee Premier on the next beach - Laem Phra Nang - and still getting the longtails and their day trippers cluttering up the beach. Best Dec-March.

Khlong Dao and Phra-Ae beaches, Ko Lanta island
Ko Lanta is a relatively new resort island in Thailand, with a winning combination of big, soft, sandy beaches on the upper west side, calm clear waters, relaxed locals and cheap accommodation, though the road running down the centre is an unnattractive mess. Beaches are only accessible via hotels.
The longest and the most popular beach is Khlong Dao - where the best hotels are [Bugbog's favourite was Lanta Villas] , but Ao Phra-Ae [Long Beach], 2km south, has a more placid atmosphere.The further south you go the cheaper the 'hotels' get and the worse the beaches. Best Dec-March.

Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, Ko Tarutao
Ko Tarutao National Marine Park is a natural beauty, with about 50 mostly inhabited islands. The beaches in the park are considered the least spoilt and the most magnificent of all Thailand's beaches. Some simple accommodation can be found at Pak Bara on the mainland, or three bigger islands [Ko Tarutao, Ko Adang, and Ko Lipe] have bungalows and restaurants.
The park is closed mid-May to mid-November, due to the rains. Best Dec-March.

Hat Farang, Ko Mook
Ko Mook, known for its Emerald Cave, is popular with budget travelers and not commercial yet. The island's best beach is Hat Farang, extremely peaceful, with excellent swimming, snorkelling, and perfect for sunset slumping. Best Dec-March.


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