Mai Khao is Phuket’s lengthiest stretch, unravelling along the coast for an impressive 11 kilometres. Although Phuket’s a popular spot with tourists, this white-sand beach is well-protected, too, as part of the Sirinat National Park, so the scenery’s pretty much untouched and you can almost always find a quiet spot for some peaceful sunbathing. Plus, if you’re visiting between November and February, make sure you keep an eye out for sea turtles. They visit in droves every year to lay their eggs.
If you like your sunbathing with a side of atmosphere, pick Patong Beach. Take a couple of steps off the sand and you’ll find a beehive-busy selection of bars and restaurants. And once it gets dark, the main strip’s closed to traffic and the partygoers take over. Back on the beach itself, you’ll find all the tropical trademarks – we're talking turquoise waters, coconut-white sand and swaying palm trees.
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Chaweng Beach is a crowd-pleaser if ever we’ve seen one – there's a reason it’s Koh Samui’s most popular stretch. Whether it’s bars, restaurants, street food stalls, watersports or massage parlours that you’re looking for, this stretch has you covered. And it’s all set on a five-kilometre belt of caramel-tinted sand. Snorkellers are set, too, thanks to the light blue waters and coral reefs.
The tiny island of Koh Taen sits on the southern tip of the Samui archipelago. It’ll only take you half an hour or so to get there from Koh Samui, but it feels like it’s worlds apart. If you're looking for lots of sand-side facilities, this isn’t the place for you – there’s only one restaurant. But if you want to get away from it all, Koh Taen’s castaway credentials are just the thing. Inland, you’ll find mangrove forests, while on the shore, powder-soft sand’s the order of the day. Pitch up on the southern coast of the island for the best snorkelling scenes.
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Not only is the Thai Muang Beach protected by national park status, it’s also managed to fly under the tourism radar, so you can expect pretty spotless scenery. Its icing sugar-white sands are lapped by clear waters and there’s plenty of space to roll out your towel for a sunbathing session. The beach stretches out for an impressive 13 kilometres. Thai Muang Beach is also home to a sea turtle conservation centre, which you can visit. This place releases thousands of endangered sea turtles back into the wild every year.
Pak Weep Beach does a great job of balancing its peaceful vibe with its handy facilities – its golden sands are backed by a selection of highly rated restaurants and bars. What’s more, the ROBINSON Club Khao Lak is set right on the sand, a set-up that’s unusual in Thailand. So, if you want to make your holiday all about the beach, this hotel’s your best bet. You’ve got four restaurants and four bars to take advantage of, too.
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Ao Nang might be small, but it’s a perfectly formed beach resort. Its bevy of bars and restaurants has food and drink well covered and its bright-white sand isn’t crammed with sunloungers. This place has secured a two-kilometre stretch of Krabi’s coastline and its waters are known for being great for swimmers. Tradition’s not been forgotten, either, look out for the long-tail boats that bob in the shallows.
Railay Beach gives you a proper taste of Thailand – monkeys swing through the trees that brush the limestone cliffs and the views of the Andaman Sea will have you struggling to stop taking photos. Plus, if it’s seclusion you’re after, you can’t do much better than this spot. Railay Beach can only be reached by boat. Visit at sunset for the best views.
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The ROBINSON Club Khao Lak strikes the perfect active-unwind balance with plenty of pools, a busy sports schedule and a tranquil on-the-sand postcode.
The TUI BLUE Mai Khao Lak offers private villas in its accommodation catalogue, and it’s set on an unspoilt beach.
A beachfront setting, massages for two and a gourmet restaurant are all on offer at this adults-only hotel.
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