Thailand is known for its amazing coastlines and islands. Thai beaches, with their azure waters, white sands, and breathtaking views, rank among the best in the world. Plus, many are full of family-friendly activities and resorts for an unforgettable time with your loved ones.
Consider heading to one of the following beach destinations on your next holiday — we’ve picked the most popular locations as well as the ones easily accessed from Bangkok by road.
Popular Beach Destinations (Requiring a Short Flight or 5+ Hour Drive from Bangkok)
Krabi, located on Thailand’s Andaman side, boasts some of the most incredible natural geographic formations you will ever see. With emerald seas and gorgeous windswept beaches, it is one of the loveliest destinations, with resorts and family-friendly hotels in every price range.
The vibe is totally geared for families, with plenty of natural activities such as visiting hot spring waterfalls and crystal clear jungle pools. It also has some amazing beaches, like Ao Nang and Railay Beach. Your family will have the option of relaxing on the sand or partaking in any number of athletic activities like rock climbing or trekking. Plus Ao Nang has spectacular shopping and some pretty tasty street food options.
2. Koh Samui
The jewel of the Indian Ocean, Koh Samui is unparalleled in beauty. Although weather conditions on this wonderful island can be a little unpredictable, people who visit Koh Samui have differing opinions on the rain. If you are worried about the cloudy weather, it is a good idea to avoid the rainiest months from September to November. However, if you do find yourself here during a rainy day, there are plenty of ways to occupy your time indoors, like shopping at the Central Festival Koh Samui mall or enjoying brunch on beautiful Lamai Beach.
Make sure you visit the Big Buddha in the island’s north and stop in at one of the famous night markets to try traditional Thai dishes and have a unique local experience. You can also take your family on tours to see the spectacular jungle waterfalls in the middle of this island. Of course, don’t forget to spend time at the many beaches.
Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is one of the best holiday destinations for families as it’s full of kid-friendly activities. From visiting a world-class aquarium to seeing glorious Koh Phi Phi and Maya Bay by speedboat, Phuket has something for everyone. Whether you love to relax on the beach or go exploring, you’ll enjoy your stay.
If your family loves the movies, do not miss a trip to Ao Phang Nga National Park, popularized by several famous films. Also, visit the famous coral islands for a close-up view of some of the most intriguing tropical fish and marine wildlife. Families can even charter a boat and go island hopping for the day. The cost to rent a boat is fairly reasonable, and you’ll get a first-hand view of different off-the-beaten-track beaches. You can even get some snorkeling in!
4. Koh Chang
Koh Chang is an island in Trat province, not far from the border with Cambodia. You can drive or fly to Trat from Bangkok, and get on the ferry to Koh Chang (you can bring your own car on board too, but this should be arranged in advance; also, the process of getting your car on and off the ferry is quite slow). Either way, this is a great vacation destination with some of the most breathtaking natural scenery plus plenty of intriguing wildlife. The beaches are pristine and there are also plenty of resorts that cater to families, dotted over the most famous beaches.
As with many popular Thai islands, you can charter a boat from Koh Chang and check out some of the nearby isles such as Koh Wai, Koh Mak, Koh Rayang Nai, and Koh Kham.
From Trat, you can also get to Koh Kood, which also has an array for fabulous resorts. Fringed by a number of immaculate white sand beaches, especially on its western coast, Koh Kood is perfect for those who want to spend tranquil days playing, swimming, and lounging around. The island’s interior features largely untouched jungles and waterfalls, some of which can be explored.
Within Driving Distance (3 Hours Max.) from Bangkok
5. Bang Saen
Bang Saen is probably the closest beach from Bangkok, and it is popular with locals. It is more low-key (and very quiet on the weekdays), with cheaper prices than Hua Hin or Pattaya. The town houses a major university, Burapha University, which has a decent aquarium called Bang Saen Aquarium (at the Institute of Marine Science) that is open to the public.
Come for the day or stay overnight; there are many small resorts located on the main road running parallel to the public beach. While the beach has white sands, the waters are not clear due to the water-churning patterns that occur in the area. Nevertheless, relax and enjoy the ocean. Conveniently, you can purchase a variety of things, from food to clothing and souvenirs, from beach vendors. There are also vendors who rent jet skis, inner tubes, and banana boats for some fun in the sea.
6. Pattaya / Satthahip
Pattaya and Satthahip are great places for an easy weekend getaway. Family-oriented resorts are aplenty, especially in Pattaya, with a favourite one being the boutique Birds and Bees Resort. The range of activities for children is astounding, from water parks like Ramayana and Cartoon Network to indoor themed attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Frost Magical Ice of Siam, and Siam Serpentarium. Underwater World Pattaya aquarium is also worth a stop, with its focus on marine life education for children.
If Pattaya’s beaches are too busy for you, head to the peaceful Sai Kaew Beach in Satthahip (not to be confused with Had Sai Kaew on Koh Samet). This clean and beautiful one-kilometre stretch, along with a picturesque mountain backdrop, has plenty of trees around for shade and a shallow coral reef. The beach is part of the Chumpol Sattahip Naval School, so there is a a small entrance fee.
7. Rayong / Koh Samet
Rayong, on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, features a 100-kilometre long coast. It’s also a city known for fresh inexpensive seafood, tropical fruits, and kid-friendly places to stay. For those who like historical tourism, the Shrine of King Taksin the Great and the 10-metre high pagoda on an island in Wat Samut Khongkha or Wat Pak Nam are worth a visit. The beaches are decent; some are better (and cleaner) than others. Laem Mae Phim is a tranquil, less touristy area to check out, with a nice mix of history, beach, seafood restaurants, and nature.
Many visitors opt to bypass Rayong altogether, taking the ferry (or speedboat) out to Koh Samet. With lots of child-friendly resorts at every price point, the isle is famed for its fine white sand beaches and placid, shallow, and clear waters. Most beaches have food vendors serving delicious fare all day long; others like Hat Sai Kaew feature a lively nightlife scene. Hat Praow is the most private and peaceful. Regardless of your choice in accommodations, you can certainly relax on the beach, swim in the sea, and soak in the island’s laid back setting.
8. Cha-Am / Hua Hin / Pranburi
Cha-am and Hua Hin have always attracted families, thanks to their long beaches, mellow settings, and comfortable, family-oriented resorts. Each area has its own character, but both offer a variety fun things to do like horse riding on the beach, visiting night markets, and spending the day at a waterpark. The beaches are generally clean and serve as good spots for children to play and explore.
Drive out a bit further to Pranburi, and you’ll find a peaceful stretch of beach that’s full of shells. Resorts that cater heavily to families include Aleenta and Dolphin Bay, which are great for those with babies and toddlers (and no energy to leave the resort’s premises). Excursions include boat trips to see nearby isles as well as exploring Sam Roi Yot National Park and its limestone hills. The park’s main attraction is Phraya Nakhon Cave, accessed via boat and a semi-challenging uphill trek, with huge chambers and an iconic royal pavilion illuminated by sunlight.
9. Koh Si Chang
Just two kilometers off the shores of Sri Racha in Chonburi, Koh Si Chang has a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, making it a haven from the hustle and bustle of the Thai capital (as well as nearby Pattaya).
In addition, Koh Si Chang boasts some interesting history and culture; former kings (Rama IV, V, and VI) vacationed here with their families, and several palace structures remain, open for visitors. The island also houses a small museum, temples, restaurants, and bungalow-style resorts. Take a day trip from Bangkok or stay overnight for a fuller experience, including seeing the beautiful sunset.
For an easy getaway from Bangkok, spend a few days in Petchburi on the Gulf of Thailand. As it is often overshadowed by the more popular nearby towns of Cha-Am and Hua Hin, Petchaburi offers a low-key setting with few foreign tourists and quiet beaches, such as Had Chao Samran and Had Puk Tian. The former is great for children, with its warm waters, gentle waves, and diverse wildlife, including sandpipers, hermit crabs, sea anemone, snails, and clams.
Also, explore the Laem Phak Bia project, initiated by the late King Bhumibol (Rama IX). The project tackles the environmental issues of wastewater through oxidation treatment ponds; and grass, wetland, and mangrove forest filtration systems. Families will enjoy spotting the animals that dwell in the different habitats contained within the project’s expansive grounds.
Above photo: Koh Kood
About the author: Riya is an inspired writer passionate about traveling and lifestyle and encouraging small businesses. As a freelancer, she understands the importance of productivity at work. Connect with Riya via twitter, @sanderriya.