Most tourists heading to the south of Thailand have only one thing on their mind - the beach. However a drive down the south coast can be a great way to discover Thailand. Peninsula Thailand has good, fast roads and fabulous beaches as well as some great national parks such as Kraeng Krachan, Thailand's biggest park, or Sam Roi Yot, arguably Thailand's most scenic with its hundreds of limestone peaks and caves waiting to be explored.
Another gem waiting to be discovered is Khao Sok National Park. Well known to the backpackers, this unspoiled rainforest is close to Phuket, Samui and Krabi, yet is rarely visited by the hoards of tourists that flock to the beaches. Elephant Hills, an eco-resort on the edge of Khao Sok, is a fantastic place to spend a few days. Exotissimo can offer a range of tours that include Khao Sok.
A really nice touring journey is to drive south to Pranburi and visit Sam Roi Yot National Park, continue to Chumphorn and then onwards to Khao Sok via Wat Suan Mok temple or Surat Thani monkey training school. After a few days exploring khao Sok head to any one of the beaches of Krabi, Khao Sok, Phuket or Samui. Alternatively fly to Phuket and then take a self-drive tour of the south. We will book your hotels, deliver the car and provide a map and roadbook.
What To SEe
Thailand's beaches are the stuff of legend. Whether you are looking for a classic palm-fringed hideaway, a friendly family resort or all night partying, Thailand has it all. And there is quite a wide range of choices too. Everybody has heard of Phuket and Samui, but the last decade has seen the growth of many new beach destinations, such as Krabi, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Yao, Koh Chang and Koh Tao and it is often at these lesser known beaches where the real paradise feeling can be found.
One of the neatest things about heading for a Thai beach is the fact that with two weather systems which bring the tropical rains at different times of the year, it's possible to enjoy Thailand's beaches year-round. From January to September you can choose a beach in Koh Samui or Koh Phangan where you will have the best chance on sunny and dry weather while from October to April a beach like Krabi, Khao Lak or Koh Samed and Koh Chang offer the best chance of getting an even tan.
To try and make your decisions just a little easier here is a super fast guide to Thai beaches:
- Phuket for pure luxury, great facilities, lots for kids to do, wide choice of restaurants and plenty of nightlife.
- Krabi for deluxe resorts, activities, shopping and nightlife if you want it.
- Khao Lak for pristine beaches, lazy days and early nights, wide choice of resorts and some shopping.
- Koh Lanta for pristine beaches, lazy days, moderate nightlife.
- Koh Yao for pristine beaches, lazy days, early nights and luxury resorts.
- Phi Phi for diving, quiet resorts (around the edge) or backpacker mayhem (in the middle).
- Trang for remoteness and comfort. Koh Hai for real remoteness.
- Samui for a hip-beach scene, boutique resorts and lots of nightlife.
- Phangan for pristine beaches and backpackers.
- Koh Tao for great diving, good beaches and lots of backpackers.
- Hua Hin for great hotels, restaurants and shopping but only average beaches.
- Koh Samed for pristine beaches, lazy days, moderate nightlife and only a short drive from Bangkok.
- Koh Chang for pristine beaches, lazy days, moderate nightlife, wide choice of resorts and some shopping.
Phuket is Thailand's number one beach resort and one of the world's most famous holiday destinations. Here you find the best of the best. Super luxury hotels, yachts, restaurants, fine wine, golf courses, shopping and miles and miles of great beaches.
Yes Phuket is full of tourists and you will see tour buses all over the place but this is a big island (the size of Singapore) and there are plenty of places to hide away if you want. Phuket is the place to head to if you are looking for a luxury destination or if you are with your family and want lots of facilities. It is not the place to find small charming hotels at reasonable prices.
The best beaches and most of the best hotels are in the north of the island. The southern beaches of Patong, Kata or Karon are busy, noisy and not very classy. Hotels we recommend to our luxury clients are Trisara and Amanpuri, where the elite traveler will be treated to top service and extraordinary luxury. After that you should try the Trisara and Siri Panwa both of which are fabulous options for a stylish stay. Other favorites include Indigo Pearl, SALA Phuket, Mom Tri’s Villa and Vijitt Resort all of which offer great value and lots of class. Although not on the beachfront, we like the beautiful Twin Palms while those traveling on a budget will enjoy Adamas Resort and Andaman White Beach for a beach getaway.
- Anantara Layan Phuket
- Anantara Mai Khao Phuket
- Banyan Tree Phuket
The beaches in Krabi area were first discovered by the backpacking crowd and have developed slowly into international standard resort destinations while retaining plenty of charm. Krabi is home to a string of beaches and islands. The scenery is amazing with limestone karsts exploding out of the sea and jungle everywhere.
The Phra Nang peninsula is an idyllic retreat, and the beaches of Railey are among the most beautiful in Thailand. The Rayawadeeis a magical combination of luxury and nature. Accessible only by boat, giving a true 'desert island' ambience you stay in a villa surrounded by coconut palms and towering limestone cliffs. The rest of Railey beach is lined by family run resorts the best of which is Railey Bay Resort with Sea Sand coming next. Rock climbing has become a hugely popular activity in this area and Phra Nangis now recognized as one of the hottest climbing spots in the world and the islands and mangroves make for superb sea kayaking opportunities. The new international airport at Krabi has seven flights a day to Bangkok, making the entire area easily accessible.
Ao Nang is still the vibrant tourist centre of Krabi but the beach can be disappointing and the village is crowded. The best option here is Krabi Resort as it has its own beach. Further north Khlong Muanghas become the choice for those seeking an up-market resort. One of our favorites in the area is the Tubkaak Resort, a hip luxury resort, providing a touch of class and style that make Khlong Muang an exciting new beach destination.
Just south of Krabi on an island of its own is the charming Koh Jum Resort. Managed by a French couple this is one of those great little secrets you hope stays just the way it is. Backpacker Deluxe is a good way of explaining the style and comforts. If you don't need an Aman but want to get away from the crowds this could be for you.
- Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Phi Phi ✪
The islands of Phi Phi have been immortalized by many Hollywood movies, most recently the Beach starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Badly damaged by the tsunami in December 2005, Phi Phi is now almost recovered and is back in business and welcoming tourists. The beaches are cleaner than ever and the small town in the centre has reestablished itself - although it must be said it is something of a scruffy backpacker's ghetto. On a secluded beach the Zeavola has established itself as the best on the island and offers a nature-chic alternative to the more established choices such as Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort. Avoid the backpacker throng in the centre of the island, unless of course you are a backpacker.
Located behind the Swissotel Nai Lert Park, this famous Buddhist shrine was once a spirit house built by Nai Lert, the hotel's original owner, for Jao Mae Tubtim, a female spirit thought to live in a large ficus tree in the garden. The shrine is noted for the collection of wooden and stone phallic sculptures that surrounds it. Women seeking to conceive leave offerings of flowering jasmine and lotus blossoms.
- Belmond Napasai
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
- Six Senses Samui
Where To Stay
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Voted repeatedly as one of the best hotels in the world by reputed magazines including Institutional Investor and Conde Nast Traveler, The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is ideally situated on the banks of the Chao-Phraya River and in close proximity to Silom’s shopping and business districts.Bangkok’s sky-train may be reached within 3 minutes by hotel shuttle-boat.Since opening its doors in 1876 The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has captured the hearts and minds of royalty and heads of state, industrialists, authors and artists, as well as famed travelers from far away places.
The Peninsula Bangkok
Developed as one of the finest hotel properties in Bangkok, its riverside location inspired the wave-shaped design, capitalising on the uninterrupted panoramic views from every room and adding a distinctive architectural statement to the Bangkok skyline.The Peninsula Bangkok brings together world renowned Thai hospitality and a gift of warm service with the Peninsula tradition.The hotel is situated on the west banks of the Chao Phraya River with a spectacular view of the Bangkok skyline, close to the Sathorn Bridge.
The Siam Bangkok
As the only riverside luxury resort to be located in the heart of Bangkok's palace and historic district, The Siam offers you the unique opportunity to explore the Kingdom's finest restaurants, markets, artists, galleries, shopping, temples, museums, palaces, historic sites, neighborhoods and architecture. Choose from the city’s most spacious suites, as well as 11 Pool Villas with private gardens, swimming pools and roof terraces. Master the art of Thai cuisine at the intimate cooking school, or simply savor meals at one of three restaurants. Enjoy the pampering of the Opium Spa, or spar in the world's first luxury Muay Thai boxing studio.
The St Regis Bangkok
Timeless traditions and impeccable service are the hallmarks of the St. Regis experience, now residing in the heart of Bangkok, one of the world’s most vibrant cities. Experience extraordinary pampering at the Elemis Spa. Unwind in an inviting outdoor pool and lounge area with panoramic views. If you are business traveler, enjoy the ease of having a 24-hour state-of-the art business center on site. Cocktails at the hotel's 12th floor Sky Lounge offer the perfect transition from day to evening and dining. Whatever your pleasure, signature St. Regis Butler service and one of the city's finest multilingual concierge teams are always at hand.
The Sukhothai Bangkok
The Sukhothai Bangkok, nestled in 6 acres of landscaped tropical gardens, has the unique advantage of being conveniently located in the heart of the city. It’s just minutes away from the entertainment and shopping districts, embassies and tourist attractions. Recapturing the serenity of Thailand’s golden age, the hotel takes its inspiration and its name from the renowned 13th century Sukhothai kingdom.