Thailand is world-renowned for its lush tropical surroundings and beautiful beaches. Here are a few of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches which your family will love:
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Noppharat Thara Beach
Noppharat Thara Beach is stunning. Its long stretch of golden brown sand is bookended by karst limestone mountains on either end. You will love that this beach is very clean with hardly any garbage and your kids will love collecting their favorites from the thousands of seashells along the sand.
The water stays extremely shallow for a very long time and had very small waves (which we understand is typical in the ‘dry’ season). This beach shows good signs of being healthy with thousands of tiny little (harmless) crabs and snails calling it home. It’s rare to see this kind of life on a tourist beach and it was really welcome to see.
Noppharat Thara Beach is considered the ‘other’ beach in Ao Nang as it is not along the main tourist strip of town. As a result of its location, it’s less popular than Ao Nang, but in our opinion, that’s a good thing. It’s a short tuk-tuk ride from the main strip or a 20-30 minute walk.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which is less than a minute walk to this beach. We stayed in a Family Room, which are two adjoining rooms one with a king sized bed and the other with two twins. They have an excellent buffet breakfast which made feeding our kids in Thailand a little easier. We paid our own way at this hotel and would recommend it to you if you like the sounds of this beach. If you are looking for something a little more upscale, there is a Holiday Inn Resort right next door.
Ao Nang Beach
It only took us a few moments on the sand at Ao Nang Beach to realize that we didn’t like it nearly as much as Noppharat Thara Beach. It was lined up with a lengthy row of long-tail boats, ready to take tourists to nicer beaches further afield. The spot where we were standing smelled really bad due to the large sewer pipe draining right on to the beach and there was a noticeable amount of garbage (beer bottle caps, etc) in the sand.
We quickly abandoned our plans to spend time on this beach and hopped into a long-tail boat and set sail for Railay Beach.
While we didn’t love the beach, the town of Ao Nang is central to the region and is full of great shopping and restaurants. It’s a great place to stay as a base for day trips from Ao Nang to better beaches.
Railay Beach is famous for being one of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches. Railay Beach is a truly beautiful beach, with towering limestone mountains on all sides, including out in the water. In fact, these mountains cut Railay Beach off from the mainland and are the reason it can only be reached by boat.
The long-tail boat trip to Railay Beach is quick, but very scenic. The long-tail boats hug the rugged coastline, dotted with the dramatic limestone mountains the area is famous for. Get your cameras ready, but also be careful to keep them dry as the speed of the long-tail boat gets everyone a little wet.
The sand is soft and golden, but due to its popularity, there is very few of seashells, etc. left for little kids to collect. Given we were there on a sunny day in high-season, it was busy with lots of people, but to be honest, I had expected worse.
The ocean stays shallow for a very long time, but there are a quite a few rocks on the seafloor, so we recommend water shoes. The water was very tranquil with the only real waves coming from the non-stop flow of long-tail boats. Facility-wise, there are a few oceanfront restaurants and a mini-mart in case you need some food or supplies.
It costs 400 baht (~$13USD) for two adult return tickets from Ao Nang Beach, with small kids riding for free. You buy your tickets at the long-tail boat collective booth and then wait for enough passengers to fill a boat.
Everyone needs to get knee-deep in the water to climb a short ladder into and out of the long-tail boat. Everyone is required to wear a lifejacket, but they only had kid sized ones 1 time out of 4. If this concerns you, consider bringing your own (as we did).
The long-tail boats dock in a big cluster in the center of Railay Beach. Beachgoers who wish to have a stretch of sand without the long-tail boats in front of them can go to either end of the beach where there are large areas roped off to protect people from the boats.
To get home, bring your return tickets to the area where the long-tail boats are and one of the captains will help. We had heard that you need to wait for at least 8 passengers for the ride back, but our guy loaded up the four of us and away we went.
There are plenty of activities at Railay Beach, ranging from kayaking, snorkeling to rock climbing. We rented a 3-person kayak and had a great time gliding through the tranquil water and seeing the amazing limestone karst islands up close. Again, consider bringing your own lifejackets for kayaking at Railay Beach with kids.
Railay Beach is one of Thailand’s most scenic beaches and is a must-visit for families. If you’d like to use this small piece of paradise as your base, check out these great hotels.
Ko Hong is a great family day trip from Ao Nang. Long-tail boats can be hired from the collective on the north end of Ao Nang Beach. It’s possible to take a non-private long-tail boat to Hong Island for 500 baht (~$16USD) each, but a minimum of 5 passengers is required. Given Hong Island isn’t as popular as the other beaches, it may take a while to get that many people. A private boat from Ao Nang to Hong Island costs 2500 baht (~$79USD) total, so if you have a larger group it may be worthwhile simply getting a private boat.
If you’d prefer to see several islands, or to do a little snorkeling, check out these day trips to Hong Island.
The long-tail boat ride to Ko Hong takes 45-60 minutes each way and the water can get quite choppy, especially if there has been a recent thunderstorm in the area.
A visit to Hong Island’s hidden lagoon is a must. Take a look on Google Maps and you can instantly see how special this place is. As you slowly enter the lagoon through a very narrow passage, the water gets quite shallow and turns and incredible shade of turquoise. Completing the idyllic setting is the tall, lush green hills all around. It’s a very beautiful spot, only slightly dampened by the boat congestion within.
The long-tail boats cannot park at the main beach, so they drop you off on a dock of a long, floating pier. Be sure to note your boat number and agree with your captain what time he will pick you up at. There are National Park employees at the dock who collect your 300 baht (~$10USD)payment for admission into the park (small kids are free).
After paying, you walk along a long, floating pathway from the dock to the beach. This walk can be quite a challenge if the waves are big (as they were when we visited) as the pathway will rise and fall along with the waves. There are ropes on either side to help you balance, but watch your kids closely!
There is a stretch of sand immediately north of the floating pathway where you can swim, but most people walk to the very north end of the beach where a small lagoon resides. This area is nicely protected from the open ocean and has calm water. Swimmers are encouraged via signs and (somewhat annoying) loudspeakers to wear their lifejackets while in the water, although no explanation is given why. There is a decent amount of bleached coral chunks and seashells in the shallow water, so bring water shoes.
At first, we thought Railay Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches we’d ever seen, but Hong Island gives it a run for its money. The beach at Ko Hong has true white sand, which produces a beautiful turquoise blue water in the lagoon when the sun is out (Railay’s sand is nice, but it’s golden, not white). The sand here is so soft, it’s like talcum powder (although it sticks to you like crazy). Both beaches have towering limestone mountains around them, but Hong Island’s are closer and feel more imposing.
Ko Hong is a popular stop on snorkeling tours. Be sure to take 15 minutes to you can enjoy the island’s nature trail. There are a lot of good English interpretive signs along the trail, including some interesting (and chilling) ones about what happened on the island after the December 26, 2004 tsunami. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the water monitor lizards who call this place home. They are so large, they are often confused with Komodo Dragons!
Kamala Beach is a very likable beach, with soft golden sand. The ocean floor is also nice and soft with little in the way of seashells or rocks, so your kids can probably get by without water shoes here. It’s not a very long beach though, which makes it feel more crowded.
If you are lucky enough to be there as the tide is going out or before the hordes of jet skis arrive, the water can be quite tranquil, but the water sports activities such as jet skies and parasailing mean that there will be large waves coming unexpectedly; some of them can be large enough to knock over small children who may be unaware, so watch your kids closely at all times.
There are lots of family-friendly hotels within easy walking distance of Kamala Beach. We stayed at an Airbnb, but we walked past the Kamala Beach Resort several times and thought it looked like a great place for a family to stay.
Bang Tao Beach
Bang Tao Beach is one of the best beaches in Phuket due to its 8km long stretch of unbroken beach. We had read that the southern half of Bang Thao Beach is the busiest as that’s where the most of the resorts are. We had also read that many of these resorts own an elephant and bring it into the water to play with guests. We like to avoid crowds when possible and we would never support cruelty to animals, so we looked at satellite shots on Google Maps and found a nice place north of all the development.
We had asked our Grab driver to go here, but he let us out here. This part of the beach had a bunch of local Thai food stands with pigs and chickens running wild. This looked like our kind of place, so we decided to simply go where fate wanted us to go and it turned out to be a very nice stretch of the beach. It was close to the family-friendly 5-star Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort, but the beach is so big that it didn’t feel that busy.
Just north of here is a deep manmade ditch in the sand which connects the resort lagoons to the ocean. At first I thought it was ugly, but what our kids saw were two super-cool 10-foot tall walls of sand and it didn’t take them long to start running up and sliding down them. We quickly saw the charm in this and made ourselves little butt seats in the sand and watched the kids play happily for a long time at this unique sand formation.
The ocean got deep very quickly and the waves were larger than we felt comfortable with, so we always went into the water with the kids. The waves were crashing in the shallow water, so we just held the kids in the deeper water and jumped in time with the wave bumps as they went past. Although this was fun, the kids really prefer to play themselves in the shallow water; it just wasn’t safe enough to do here with our small kids.
Bang Thao is a very beautiful beach with turquoise water and super soft, golden sand. It’s so long that it can absorb a ton of people and it doesn’t feel as busy as it is. The ocean floor was very smooth, with no sign of rocks. The part of the beach we were on had no treasures for kids to find (no seashells, etc) and had very little in the way of sea life (we only saw a few crabs and no fish).
There are lots of family-friendly hotels within easy walking distance of the beach, although please avoid those which exploit elephants.
If you’ve visited a great beach in Thailand with your family and would like to contribute to this post, please contact us at [email protected]