With coastline on both the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean, Thailand’s dozens of beaches are among the kingdom’s most renowned tourist destinations. Several of these beaches, such as Phuket and Koh Chang, have become heavily touristed, serving more to facilitate partying than relaxation. Peaceful, quiet beaches do still exist in Thailand, however.
Off the coast of southeast Thailand’s Trat province, Koh Mak is a small island approximately 5 miles south of Koh Chang — but worlds away in terms of its atmosphere and crowds. While larger Koh Chang has developed into a full-fledged tourist hub, with companies offering trekking and other ecotourism excursions away from the island’s dozens of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, Koh Mak’s shores are comparatively virgin. A string of hotels lines the island’s southern coast and the bungalow-style Koh Mak Resort dominates the eastern seaboard, but dirt roads and stretches of sand completely devoid of people aren’t uncommon sights on Koh Mak.
Koh Larn and Koh Sak
When translated from Thai, “Koh Larn” means “Coral Island.” The waters just off the island are replete with coral, anemones and tropical fish, particularly those surrounding Koh Sak, an even smaller island just off Koh Larn’s northeastern coast. Although the islands sit just 7 miles out from bustling Pattaya, Bangkok’s de-facto beach resort city, almost all of the beaches you find there provide relaxed, quiet surroundings for sunbathing, swimming or whatever else you like to do while on the beach. The exception, perhaps, is Rai Beach near Rai Pier on Koh Larn.
Located in southern Thailand on the Andaman Sea, part of the Indian Ocean, Krabi is a less-busy alternative to nearby Phuket. Krabi’s beaches are dominated by limestone karstes — or columns — that present the option of rock climbing to visitors who don’t just want to relax on the beach. Krabi’s mainland beaches can get crowded during Thailand’s high season — October to April — but all it takes is a quick boat ride to offshore islands like Ko Lanta Yai or Ko Jum to escape the crowds when and if they do come.
Koh Phi Phi
The Phi Phi islands are also in the Andaman Sea, a one-hour speedboat ride away from either Krabi or Phuket. Renowned for their sugar-white sand and crystal clear waters, the Phi Phi islands’ distance has kept tourists largely at bay, with only Koh Phi Phi Don having a permanent population center. Take a boat to Koh Phai or Koh Yong for an especially secluded experience.