Thailand has an abundance of stunning shorelines. From the Thai Gulf to the Andaman Sea, there are countless bays and beaches that offer the tropical idyll. Many of Thailand’s more popular coastal destinations are well-developed, with great tourist infrastructure and a lively social scene, yet there are still quiet, pristine beaches to be found when a luxurious ‘castaway’ escape is called for. Here is our pick of Thailand’s top beaches for exclusivity.
Pansea Bay, Phuket
Just north of Surin Beach on Phuket’s northern coast, Pansea Bay is a quiet crescent of Andaman shoreline shared by only two resorts. While technically there are no private beaches in Thailand, Pansea Bay is protected by virtue of its surrounding topography, which makes it physically impossible to reach unless you’re staying at Amanpuri. Included in the room rate is a virtually deserted crescent of golden sand, private loungers and umbrellas, turquoise waters that become moodier as the monsoon sets in, and acre upon acre of hilly tropical gardens.
While Pansea Bay is as private as they come, it’s only a 10-minute walk from Surin Beach, which possesses a generous mix of upscale beach clubs and restaurants geared towards Western travelers. There are stylish bars and clubs within a short walk, making it easy to mix action with relaxation should the seclusion of this VIP beach ever get too much.
Crystal Beach, Samui
Between Chaweng and Lamai, this tranquil, protected bay is perhaps the best beach in Samui. Bookended by boulders and home to a shallow reef, Crystal Beach – or Haad Thongtakian – offers fine, white sand and calm, clear waters. There’s a handful of resorts here and a popular Western restaurant – Rock Salt – so it’s not deserted, but it’s never crowded, and there are barely any visitors before midday. The water is most refreshing in the mornings; in the afternoons it warms up to meet the ambient temperature.
Snorkelers should bring their own gear as there are no vendors on this beach. Visitors should also visit during high-tide, as low tide shrinks this tiny bay by half. Even though there are resorts lined up behind the tree line, this snug little enclave still feels like a secret. For absolute privacy and exclusivity, however, the luxurious Banyan Tree resort just over the crest of the hill offers it in style. Sporting a small, pristine bay of its own and pool villas with unspoiled ocean views, it’s a supremely private property.
Loh Paret Beach, Koh Yao Yai
Located just off the coast of Phuket in Phang Nga Bay, the slender, mountainous island of Yao Yai still maintains somewhat of a ‘hidden gem’ status. Serene and largely undeveloped, its beaches look out over the otherworldly blues and greens of Phang Nga Bay’s craggy karsts and turquoise waters. There are a number of small, clear bays and beaches to choose from on Yao Yai and its twin Yao Noi, but the most exclusive, and the one in possession of the finest white sand, is the long arc of Loh Paret Beach.
On Loh Paret there’s a handful of resorts across the price spectrum – all share the same balmy seas and spectacular sunset views. The most upscale resort is Santhiya, offering gorgeous Thai-style wooden suites, with intricately carved details, spacious decks and, in most cases, a sea-facing private pool. For something even more luxurious that’s only a short boat ride away, we highly-recommend Six Senses Yao Noi, which boasts a real “wow” factor through its combination of indulgence and rustic charm, along with its own private beaches. Pure beach bliss.
Railay Beach, Krabi
Krabi is one of Thailand’s most picturesque beach destinations. Ao Nang Beach serves up crisp golden sands, with longtail boats bobbing between limestone karst cliffs. It’s difficult to find a more quintessential representation of Thailand. The most exclusive beach in Krabi is Railay, only accessible by boat. During the day in high season it heaves with day-trippers from Ao Nang, but in the evenings and mornings, it becomes a quiet, perfect paradise.
Railay beach makes the perfect day trip for guests staying at the exquisite Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay – a six-star resort complete with personal butler service, private plunge pools, and everything you need to ensure your stay is nothing short of sheer bliss.
Hideaway Bay – Similan Islands
The Similan islands are well-known for their incredible diving opportunities, and their beaches are no less stunning than what lies beneath their crystal waters. Made up of nine granite islands, the Similans are beautiful and exclusive enough to have garnered the attention of the Thai Royal Family, with the Princess having built a cabin on one of them not long ago. Tourism is so nascent in this area that the islands are not often referred to by their proper names – and are instead referred to as numbers (ie. Island #2, Island #9).
While all of the islands offer incredible beaches, it’s Island #4, also referred to as Koh Miang, that truly captivates. Located in the center of the archipelago, this island works together with #5 and #6 to form Hideaway Bay – one of the best spots in Thailand to anchor your liveaboard – being protected in all directions from the elements. Modest facilities do exist on the island, but we think the Similans are best experienced aboard a private yacht, fitted with all modern conveniences and comfort for the most exquisite stay in one of Thailand’s most exclusive areas.
The southernmost island in the Chang Archipelago, this quiet island is often ranked amongst Thailand’s most beautiful. An enclave of mid- to upscale resorts, the beaches here are all equally stunning, with crystal clear waters, coral reefs to explore and a thick crop of coconut palms waving gently at the shore. Most beaches of Koh Kood are publically accessible via a walking track or narrow trail for bikes, and while day-trippers from Koh Chang or Koh Maak might arrive during the day, most are blissfully empty by afternoon.
It’s difficult to choose which is the best beach on Koh Kood because they’re all so close to perfect; it boils down to opinion. A spin around the island on motor scooter is the ideal way of finding a personal paradise. Alternatively, for ultimate exclusivity – travelers can stay at the Soneva Kiri resort, which boasts its own ‘private’ parcel of ivory-hued sand in a quiet, baby-blue bay. A decadently rustic Robinson Crusoe ambience emits from this eco-friendly property, with its spacious wooden villas, private pools and emphasis on sustainable luxury.