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Information about Thai Beaches and Islands

Thailand is well known for its wealth of beautiful islands and beaches, as you would expect with around 3,200 km of coastline lapped by tropical seas.

The islands of Thailand are famous for their tropical ambience and of course the strips of white sand, palm trees and clear seas.

There are several distinct areas of the long coastline that are home to a good assortment of beaches with a wide range of activities.

Of course there have been several films featuring Thai beaches and islands - James Bond included!

When we refer to the beaches in Thailand, we are not simply talking about a stretch of sand with blue water - and blue sky for most of the time. We are talking of beach life and activities which are second to none.

Many of the beaches are white coral sands, lapped by azure blue or emerald green water.

There are still secluded beaches - especially in mid-week periods, but most beaches are large enough, with enough in the way of activities, to cater for their growing popularity.

Thailand has an extensive coastline - over 2,000 (3,000kms) of it - dotted with tropical Thailand islands - all having superb beaches. Beaches to laze, dine, do things or simply to relax in the sun - or shade.

The beaches of course are also jumping off places for the islands, coral reefs and snorkeling bays that abound.

Each of the six areas that we concentrate on, has its own unique character - in part because of the topography and geographical differences, in part because of the varied climates, in part because of the local cultural practices, and not least because of the localised activities of the millions of visitors who come to the beaches of Thailand.

The East coast for instance, is very different to the Andaman - or the neighboring Upper Gulf.

The Thai weather systems play a large part in determining how the different areas present themselves during the generally accepted three season year! One thing all the beach areas have in common is the provision of sunshine for most of the year - even in the rainy season.

The Gulf of Thailand: China Sea

The Eastern Seaboard (South East Thailand)

The area of the Thai Eastern Seaboard has a good all year climate, thanks to being well sheltered by the mountains of neighboring Cambodia.

Whilst this area is well populated, and the home to much of Thailand's industries, the east coast beaches are superb, lush National Parks, and (in places) night life famed the world over.

Thailand Upper Gulf

This area is on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand - is bordered to the West by the mountainous region of Myanmar - Burma that was - and again is in a well-sheltered situation from the East - sitting snugly in the bay.

The Thailand Upper Gulf beaches are virtually all white sanded, and clear but azure seas. It is a well sought out area for scuba, wildlife, natural beauty, and a slightly more relaxed way of life than that of east coast or of nearby Bangkok.

Thailand Lower Western Gulf

This region takes in the remainder of the Gulf of Thailand waters before giving way to the Deep South. There are land-based national parks of stunning beauty, and also several sea based national parks - not least being the Ang Thong Marine National Parks. The Lower Gulf in Thailand is also host to the stunning islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

The South of Thailand

The Deep South - as it is known - is a different area to any other in Thailand. The South of Thailand adjoins Malaysia, has a Muslim-based culture, and is rich in cultural and historic heritage - which is not found in any other area of Thailand.

The Andaman Sea

On the other side of the land mass of southern Thailand we have the Andaman Sea and coastline. It is part of the Indian Ocean, (as distinct from the China Sea which is host to the Gulf of Thailand.)

Probably the most famous name on this side - The South West of Thailand - is Krabi - with Koh Phi Phi running a close second. It is deservedly described as the most beautiful place in the world. Some will disagree.

We hope to demonstrate that Krabi is not the only place of note on this coast of the Andaman. The seas are invariable green blue with pure white sand beaches. Look away from the sea and you are sure to see the spectacular cliffs that adorn this area - beloved of rock climbers.

The beaches have a wide range of 'sporting activities, and if you have never seen sea life close up, then this is the area to be gently introduced to snorkeling.

Again the limestone cliffs and beautiful greenery behind you as you laze about - or are active - on the many beaches of this area. Pristine is a word often used for its own sake. Here we have pristine beaches galore.

The Upper Andaman Coastline is also home to the 'island' of Phuket. The beaches of Phuket are varied - full of life, but also with a sprinkling of sanity! Phuket is awash with luxurious beach hotels, but there are other more reasonable options.

The Upper Andaman Coast is also home of the famed Surin and Similan Islands - some of the finest dive venues in Thailand with - as yet - relatively unspoiled coral reefs.

Heading north from the Upper Andaman, Thailand becomes beach-less, as Myanmar (Burma) lays claim to the rest of the Andaman.

Beaches in Thailand

There are three basic areas with coastline:

  1. Thailand Eastern Seaboard beaches which are sheltered in the Gulf of Thailand and include famous areas such as Pattaya - stretching from Bangkok to Cambodia
  2. The Andaman coast - being home to Krabi and Phuket and filtering out at the border with Myanmar or Burma as once was in the North and the top of Malaysia in the south
  3. The Upper Gulf of Thailand - part of the South China Sea - and home to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumpon, with the Lower Gulf area lapping the South of Thailand provinces before joining up with Malaysia.

As well as the mainland beaches there are also many beaches on the numerous islands that are sprinkled about the two main seas - so much so that they often block out the true horizon.

Thai Beaches by Province

Eastern Seaboard Beaches

Lower Gulf Beaches

Upper Gulf Beaches

South of Thailand Beaches

Upper Andaman

Lower Andaman

Islands in Thailand

Many of the most popular beaches in Thailand are situated on the islands that Thailand is famed for.

The popuarity of the islands in Thailand was of course dealt a helping hand with James Bond doing his stuff down on the Andaman coast.

But there are many other superb islands that 007 didn't visit. You could be forgiven for thinking all of the islands are in the Andaman sea. We hope to persuade you different.

Gulf of Thailand

The gulf of Thailand is the longest stretch of coast in Thailand and is not without some spectacular and deservedly popular islands.

The sheltered Gulf of Thailand is part of the China Sea and is home to Thailand's most easterly island is that of Ko Kood - just off the end of Thailand, as it joins up with Cambodia on the narrowest strip of land in Thailand in Trat province.

The furthest island going East off the coast of Trat is Koh Kut Island which is often called Koh Kood.

More famed in that area of the eastern gulf is Koh Chang - second in size to the Andaman's Phuket. Kho Chang can best be described as a circle of beaches, enclosing a mountainous forested interior.

Moving west - towards Pattaya - Koh Samet Island is the next island of size, and being near enough to Bangkok for a weekend getaway, is extremely popular.

It is not just its nearness to Bangkok that forges this popularity, for its white sand beaches and clear blue sea are stunning.

Pattaya lays claim to the offshore island of Koh Larn Coral Island, with gorgeous white sands and clear water.

It is a short boat ride – ferry or speedboat – from Pattaya, and again is liable to being ‘bustling’ at weekends. Its ease of access is also putting it on the itinerary for the package tour visitors – especially those from China.

Busy, busy little Koh Sichang is next along the coast in a westerly direction. Koh Si Chang is nearer still to Bangkok, but also just a short boat trip from the industrious Sri Racha and of course Chonburi. Enough said!

The Upper and Lower Gulf areas complete the picture on Thailand's easterly side, and whilst there are myriads of small islands before reaching down to Surat Thani province, it is the offshore gems of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngnan, which are the big draw, for their beaches and interiors alike.

Koh Samui has its own airport, making it even more popular – not that it needs airspace for that.

Andaman Coast

The island that immediately spring to mind when talking of the Andaman, is of course Thailand's largest Phuket. Most are surprised at first visit, at its size, and the fact that in many respects, it does not resemble and island. But, island it is - even if it is not referred to as Koh Phuket!

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