Avoid the Backpacker Trail. Thailand's 10 Best Hidden Beaches

Nov 8

Written by: admin
11/8/2013 

Thanks to its incredible natural beauty, interesting history, and friendly population, Thailand has emerged as one of the world's most well-known and celebrated tourism destinations. With white sand beaches and huge marble cliffs, tropical rainforests and lush rice fields, huge cities and some of the world's best small beach towns, it's no wonder that Thailand consistently ranks in the top-ten most visited countries worldwide.

However, many visitors don't get quite what they expected upon their arrival in the Kingdom. The stunning beaches they saw in promotional materials and travel blogs are still there, but instead of a single traveler lounging in a hammock, they're packed with package tourists and families out to get their annual dose of sun before returning home for the winter.

Paradise, it seems, is pretty darn popular. From mega-populated resort islands like Phuket to less well-known destinations like Koh Tao, almost all of Thailand's beachside wonderlands have been taken over by tourists. Sunburned holidayers rule the shores, overpriced tour operators adorn the beachside walking streets, and kitsch trinkets have taken the place of authentic products.

It can be a nightmare, particularly for travelers in search of a unique, authentic, and more personal experience on their vacation. As stunning as Phuket's best beaches are, it's tough to enjoy them with thousands of other sun lovers fighting for every inch of space. Those pictures of isolated beaches go from being a reality into a lost dream, and many travelers lose hope and fail to return.

There are, however, many such beaches to be found within the Kingdom of Thailand. From perfect white sand beaches to stunning SCUBA diving reefs, it's possible to have the perfect beach holiday in Thailand without being surrounded by thousands of other people. In fact, with just a little bit of basic research, having a tourist-free, picture perfect beach holiday can be cheaper than visiting the most popular resorts.

Read on to learn about our ten favorite tourist-free, well hidden, and picture perfect Thai beaches, each boasting views that would make even the most experienced traveler step back and enjoy their day. If you're a fan of big resorts, brash beach parties, and annoying hawkers, it's a good idea to stop reading now. If you like peace, quiet, and tranquility, however, make sure you keep reading.


1. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi

Just a few minutes from Ao Nang, Phra Nang is a great escape from the noise and mass tourism of Krabi.
Just a few minutes from Ao Nang, Phra Nang is a great escape from the noise and mass tourism of Krabi.

Home of massive limestone pinnacles, colorful underwater reefs, and more beaches than any other provide in Thailand's 'deep south', Krabi province is a Thai tourism hotspot for good reason. Known for the famous Railay Beach and its limestone cliff faces, Krabi province is one of Thailand's most popular destinations, hosting millions of tourists every year from nearby Phuket and Bangkok.

However, despite its popularity, there are hidden gems in the area. Phra Nang Beach is accessible only by boat from nearby Ao Nang, the region's main beachside town. Catch a longtail boat from the main Ao Nang beach and you'll arrive at this well hidden beach within twenty minutes. For a better price on the boat, consider traveling with a larger group of people and sharing the fare.


2. Surin Beach, Phuket

Despite its location on Phuket's west coast, Surin Beach is peaceful and largely resort-free.
Despite its location on Phuket's west coast, Surin Beach is peaceful and largely resort-free.

What's this? An isolated, well hidden beach in Phuket!? While Thailand's most well-known island has seen its fair share of mass tourism, it still has hidden gems that are off the radar of most package tourists. One of them is Surin Beach, a charming bay located on the island's western shore, and just a tiny distance from overpopulated tourist hotspots like Karon, Patong, and Kata beaches.

Despite being hit heavily by the 2004 tsunami, Surin has recovered nicely, offering some of the best views and private swimming opportunities on Phuket. In winter, the beach's rough waters make it a hit with surfers, although for swimmers the mid-sized waves can be dangerous. Surin beach is best visited during the island's cool season, which lasts from November until early March.


3. Bottle Beach, Koh Pha Ngan

Ko Pha Ngan's Bottle Beach was once a naturist hangout, but is a relaxing beach resort these days.
Ko Pha Ngan's Bottle Beach was once a naturist hangout, but is a relaxing beach resort these days. Photo by Christian Haugen

Known as Haad Khuad to locals, this small beach was once a nudist hangout in the early 1970s. A hotspot for hippies and artists, it's no longer clothing-optional, housing four small resorts along its stunning beachfront. Known as 'bottle beach' due to its shape, rather than the island's party culture, it's a quiet, relaxing destination for visitors to an island known for its brash, exciting atmosphere.

Haad Khuad is accessible by boat for most of the year, although during winter the rough seas can make it difficult for water taxis to approach the beach. Many visitors access the beach using small walking tracks built around nearby resorts. For those staying on the beach, it's best to speak with your hotel about transportation to the beach in advance, as it's not centrally located.


4. Koh Jum, Krabi

If Krabi's limestone cliffs are giving you vertigo, consider escaping to Koh Jum island.
If Krabi's limestone cliffs are giving you vertigo, consider escaping to Koh Jum island. Photo by kynancheng

Located just twenty-five kilometers from tourist hotspot Krabi, Koh Jum is a tiny island with none of the mass tourism that's spoiled its nearby neighbors. Untouched by tourism until ten years ago, it offers some of the most pristine beaches in southern Thailand without the crowds that many visitors are used to.

However, despite its lack of crowds, Koh Jum isn't quite as visually stunning as nearby Railay and Phra Nang beaches. The island is mostly flat, save for a small mountainous section known as Koh Pu. With simple bungalows and basic hotels serving up the island's accommodation options, it's not a destination for those that need pampering, although it's perfect for the adventure lover.


5. Sarikantang Beach, Koh Pha Ngan

Unlike Koh Pha Ngan's other beaches, Sarikantang is neither cheap nor packed with partygoers.
Unlike Koh Pha Ngan's other beaches, Sarikantang is neither cheap nor packed with partygoers. Photo by joestump

A small, private beach on the island's southern tip, Sarikantang is Koh Pha Ngan's best beach for lovers of peace, tranquility, and privacy. Gone are the huge hotels seen in Phuket and nearby Koh Samui – instead, accommodation options are limited to the two or three local resorts and bungalow complexes. Noise levels are low, as is the presence of party animals that the island is known for.

With immense natural beauty and one of the best beaches in the Gulf of Thailand, Sarikantang is a perfect destination for couples and those needing to escape from noise and business. This focus on high-end travelers is somewhat reflected in the beach's prices – rooms tend to be more costly than their counterparts on other Koh Pha Ngan beaches.


6. Mango Bay, Koh Tao

Popular with daytime SCUBA divers, Mango Bay is more secluded and peaceful than Koh Tao's other beaches.
Popular with daytime SCUBA divers, Mango Bay is more secluded and peaceful than Koh Tao's other beaches.
Photo by bboylanky

While Koh Tao is mostly known as a mecca for amateur divers, it's also a great place for beach lovers to get their annual dose of sun. Located to the north of Koh Samui, this island is typically accessed by boat from Surat Thani or Chumphon, on the Thai mainland. Its main beaches aren't particularly attractive, except for SCUBA divers, although its hidden beaches offer some of the most stunningly beautiful relaxation points in southeast Thailand.

Take a water taxi to Mango Bay, a small beach surrounded by cliffs and accessible only by boat or a treacherous mountaintop pathway. Two independent resorts offer accommodation at the beach, with a variety of beautiful hotel rooms available to visitors. While SCUBA divers use the bay during the day, it's completely private after four in the afternoon.


7. Similan Islands, Phang Nga

Due to its national park status, Koh Similan has none of the mass tourism found on other Thai islands.
Due to its national park status, Koh Similan has none of the mass tourism found on other Thai islands.

The Similan Islands National Park is home to some of Thailand's best diving sites, most stunning beaches, and ideal relaxation spots. Located northwest of Phuket island, it's accessible by private boat from Phuket's well-known Chalong pier and nearby Phang Nga province. A national park, the islands are not open to mass tourism, and as such are home to Thailand's most unspoiled beaches.

Visitors to the Similan Islands will have to pay a modest entry fee – typically around 600THB per day on the islands for non-Thai residents. Koh Similan, the biggest island in the chain, is home to Ao Keurk, one of the country's most celebrated and frequently photographed beaches. Boasting an incredible untouched reef, it's considered the country's best snorkeling and shallow diving spot.


8. Koh Bulon Lae, Satun

Electricity on Koh Bulon Lae is hard to find after generators switch off at 9PM.
Electricity on Koh Bulon Lae is hard to find after generators switch off at 9PM. Photo by YXO

A small island light in infrastructure, Koh Bulon Lae is a dream come true for ecotourists and beach lovers. With no on-site electrical infrastructure, the island's few resorts and bungalows are serviced entirely by generators. After nine, electricity is cut and visitors have few options but to pass out for an early night, in preparation for beachside relaxation and some light reading the next day.

Located in Satun province, Koh Bulon Lae is accesible by speedboat and ferry, with trips from the nearby town of Satun departing frequently. Visitors to this area should be aware of the violence in southern Thailand, which is located in nearby Songkhla province. If crossing the border to or from Malaysia, ensure that adequate transportation is provided and that your luggage is secure.


9. Mai Phai Bay, Koh Lanta

Located on the quiet-yet-not-undiscovered island of Koh Lanta, Mai Phai Bay (literally 'don't want to go' in Thai) is quiet, tranquil, and unquestionably relaxing. With a small coral reef located just a short distance into the ocean, the beach itself is calm and free of waves. Visitors can easily access the reef for snorkeling, although the bay's lack of depth means that few large fish can be seen.

For visitors seeking peace and quiet, Mai Phai Bay may be Koh Lanta's best option. The beach has just one resort, which offers moderately-priced accommodation. While it's far from five-star luxury, few visitors will be disappointed with the quality. Independent access is time consuming – generally speaking, it's best to ask your hotel to pick you up from Saladan and take you to the beach.

Note: Mai Phai Bay, and Koh Lanta as a whole, are relatively conservative Muslim regions. While the locals are fine with bikinis and swimwear, swimming or sunbathing topless is considered rude and disrespectful.


10. Klong Prao Beach, Koh Chang

While Koh Chang is catching on quickly with European tourists, it's still much less developed than Phuket or Koh Samui.
While Koh Chang is catching on quickly with European tourists, it's still much less developed than Phuket or Koh Samui.

Unlike Phuket and Krabi, both of which are located on Thailand's Andaman Sea coast, or Koh Tao and Samui, which are located on the Gulf of Thailand's west coast, Koh Tao is found far to the east of Bangkok. A four-hour drive from the capital, this island is less touched by mass tourism than its southern counterparts, resulting in tourist-free beaches and inexpensive accommodation.

While White Sands beach is quickly becoming Thailand's new tourism hotspot, most of the island's other beaches are completely untouched by resorts and bungalows. Our recommendation is Klong Prao – a long white sand beach to the south of the island's major population centers. Aside from a few small beachside restaurants, it's untouched, giving visitors a rare slice of Thai nature.


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1 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Avoid the Backpacker Trail. Thailand's 10 Best Hidden Beaches

This is exceptionally well written and provides some GREAT detail... but quick-question; have you ever been to any of these beaches???

Even if you haven't it's a great article! Just wanted to get some personal insight... that's all!

By Martha3 on   11/13/2013

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