West Coast Beaches and Islands
The western side of the Thai peninsula captures the essence of an idyllic beach escape. Home to many sublime tropical islands, including the famous island of Phuket, and truly exclusive properties, it entices visitors from around the world, year after year. The white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are a beach-lovers paradise, and the warm turquoise waters are home to some of the best diving and snorkelling in the region.
The largest of Thailand's islands, Phuket is nestled in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of the country and is home to some of the most exclusive hotels. Connected to the mainland by a causeway, it is famed for its turquoise seas, limestone outcrops and white sandy beaches, making it a perfect place for relaxation. The many chic resorts, luxurious spas, high quality cuisine and the cosmopolitan atmosphere make it one of richest and most developed provinces. Golden beaches fringe the island, and whilst the multitude of luxury resorts and beachfront towns make Phuket feel busier than its neighbours, there are still stretches of deserted beaches to be found, if you know where to look.
On the mainland, Khao Lak is a peaceful destination, with no less than three national parks and hills that sweep down to the wonderful coastline, its beaches stretching for miles. This small resort can also be reached by road, making it easily accessible from Phuket airport. Khao Lak differentiates itself from the rest of the west, with its quiet, upscale but secluded resorts, a lack of crowds, family friendly night time environment and laws preventing the construction or buildings beyond the height of the palms. It all makes for a pristine and laid back beach escape, with some excellent off-shore diving to be found.
The classic image of a Thai beach originates from the region of Krabi, known as "the emerald of the Andaman Sea", with its towering limestone cliffs and outstanding natural beauty. The iconic longtail boats chug across these tranquil turquoise waters, taking visitors to hidden coves and beaches amongst the karsts of Phang Nga Bay. Nearby, Koh Lanta island has similar scenery but is less developed, with deserted beaches and a dense rainforest interior. With its slow pace of life and laid back atmosphere, Koh Lanta echoes a Thailand from decades ago, but it’s not hard to find nightlife in amongst the vibrant restaurants and beachside bars. For the more adventurous traveller, sea-kayaking and diving are on offer here, alongside plenty relaxing on the swathes of white sand.
Situated between Phuket and Krabi, and easily accessed by boat, the group of islands known as Koh Yao have escaped the developers and remain largely untouched. Koh Yao Noi means ‘beautiful island’, and it truly lives up to its name. Mountainous at the interior and with beautiful beaches on the east coast which are perfect for swimming and snorkelling, the island also has a picturesque blend of rice flats and mangrove trees. Birdlife is abundant here, and hornbills are frequently seen flying through the lush tropical canopy.