Where are Bangkok’s Best Beaches?

April 23, 2013
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I often receive letters from people asking for information about beaches near Bangkok. The islands in Southern Thailand, like Koh Samui and Phuket, are world famous. But, sometimes people want to go somewhere a bit closer to Bangkok. The nearest beach to do as a day trip is Bangsaen in Chonburi. It is less than 90 minutes from Bangkok. Not exactly the cleanest beach as this is the point where mangrove forest and mudflats become sandy beach for the first time. However, it is very popular with Thai people.

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Further down the same coast is the beach resort of Pattaya which is only 150 minutes away from Bangkok. This is still not a tropical paradise but it is slightly cleaner than Bangsaen. You could just about do this as a day trip but it is better to stay the night. Some people find Pattaya too sleazy and prefer to go to the southern end of the city and stay on Jomtien Beach or head out to Koh Larn. Pattaya is a good place to go if you want to be surrounded by foreigners and signs in English.

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An alternative to Pattaya are the beach resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin on the opposite coastline. The King used to spend a lot of time here so the city has remained more family orientated. Cha-am, which is about 3 hours south of Bangkok, is popular with Thai people during long weekends. A bit further down, you will find Hua Hin which caters for more upmarket tourists and has a mixture of both Thai and foreigners. The quality of the sand and sea is better than Pattaya.

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So, where do I go for my beach holidays? I have been to all of the beaches mentioned above and I like them all for different reasons. I also enjoy my trips to the beach in Bangkok. Not many people know about that one. It is not in any guidebook that I own. It doesn’t exactly have any sandy beaches but you can enjoy the fresh sea breeze. But, that isn’t my favourite. You won’t find the beach I like to visit in any guidebooks. It only takes me two hours to drive there. It has clean beaches and clear water. Where is it? Well it is the mainland of Rayong. As I have my own car, it is easy to find an isolated stretch of beach here.

What about you? What is your favourite beach within 2-3 hours from Bangkok?

27 Responses to Where are Bangkok’s Best Beaches?

  1. Paul Hamon
    April 23, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Pran Buri Beach down to Sam Roi Et is very nice. Got married on the beach in the sand there 🙂 Lovely.

    It’s past Hua Hin!

    • Richard Barrow
      April 23, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      I haven’t stopped there yet but I have heard its better than Hua Hin. I will put it on my list.

  2. Marcel
    April 23, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Hi Richard – I always went to Koh Mak. The island is a bit far but ok, people there are nice it is not too touristy. Downside is the boat trip, which can be awful (staff not nice and boat motor breaks down TiT etc)

    • Richard Barrow
      April 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      That’s another island I haven’t been to yet. I went to Koh Chang 19 years ago before car ferries and roads. Now I hardly recognize the place. The smaller islands in this province are probably a better alternative.

      • Marcel
        April 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm

        Koh Chang I found horrible, I even had a free stay at the Amari resort there but I went home before the voucher expired. Try Koh Mak! The resorts vary in quality and price, but it is generally quite ok. Marcel (former fish gallery)

        • Richard Barrow
          April 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

          Thanks Marcel for the tip

        • Tony Wilson
          April 24, 2013 at 7:14 am

          I was very disappointed in Koh Chang. The road from the ferry port to the beach area is dangerous and even more dangerous on the return trip especially if it has been raining. Like so many places in Thailand the island has been spoilt by poor, uncaring development with rubbish strewn everywhere and down-market shop houses. Ugh! The areas of Khao Yai national park bordering the main through road are of the same down-market quality – dreadful advertising boards everywhere and broken down corrugated iron roofed huts totally out of keeping with the scenery. But this is all too typical of Thailand – no attention to detail.

  3. fred norris
    April 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    we have spent our last three breaks at the monsane river kwai resort which is 5 ks south of kanachaburi, north of the hotel is a public beach, on the lake which is almost unknown except for thai families. areally decent place to take the kids, clean fresh water and beach and great street food from the cafes, i am sorry i cannot be more accurate because my google earth will not speak to me in english, but if you find the hotel and move slightly north up the lqake you will find the beach.

  4. Jørgen
    April 23, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Koh Samet! Start early in the morning, 2-3 hours drive, speedboat or slow boat over to the island (I prefer slow boat, but it takes 45 minutes each way). No other beach within one day’s travel from Bangkok comes remotely close. The drive to Ban Phe is slightly longer than to Hua Hin, but the road is better and faster most of the way. There’s parking at the ferry terminal.

    • cpt
      April 24, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Full ack. Koh Samet is very nice!

      I was there last weekend. White sand, blue beach and not crowded.

  5. Andy
    April 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Richard
    As for me i Love the Dolphin Bay in prachuap khirikhan its like a Paradise

  6. Tony Waltham
    April 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    The island of Ko Si Chang is also well worth visiting and is a 45-minute ferry ride (leaving every hour, on the hour) from Sri Racha whicvh is between Bang Saen and Pattaya and about a 90-minute drive from Bangkok. The motorised samlors on the island are not expensive (a half-day island tour was offered for 150 baht) and there is a decent beach — Tham Pang beach — along with plenty of accommodation and some good restaurants. There are other attractions – the Rama IV Summer Palace and Gardens, a large Chinese temple and a Buddha’s footprint to name a few. This makes for a nice escape that is not too commercialised despite its proximity to Bangkok.

    • Richard Barrow
      April 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      I’ve done this as a day trip but never stayed overnight. I remember it as a nice place.

  7. Rene
    April 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Ban Amphur Beach in Ban Amphur, Na Chomtien (Jomtien). It’s clean (sort of) and quiet.
    By the way, Jomtien is on the south side of Pattaya.

  8. Movienang.com
    April 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Don’t forget Ko Sichang in front of Sri Racha

  9. fred norris
    April 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    my memory is failing because i had forgotten Sattahip beach, which is on the naval base south of pattaya. you need transport to get there and there may be a fee or the sailors check ids, but the cleanest beach anywhere near pattaya and it is not overcrowded,,,,, kept secret by the thais i think, wisely.

    • Richard Barrow
      April 24, 2013 at 6:06 am

      I thought they didn’t allow foreigners on their beaches? Like the aircraft carrier which is open to Thai tourists but not foreigners.

      • fred norris
        April 24, 2013 at 9:10 pm

        i only just picked up your reply about sattahip and it made me think, i was in a car with four thai friends and there was no problem and my memory tells me there was other farangs on the beach, but you made be correct, i will try and research it and let you know. interestingly i was with the same thai friends at dusit zoo and they insisted i was a thai and i paid the thai price, i either have persuasive thai friends or maybe it was because of the impending flood and they needed any bhat.

      • LIz wilton
        August 3, 2013 at 10:20 am

        We’ve been to Sattahip naval beach a few times( we’re English ) haven’t had any problem getting on to the beach. It’s a beautiful drive down the the naval base and often see monkeys hanging around. You pay about 20b a person to get on the beach .It is very thai and lots of Russians there too! Be very careful if going out to snorkel in the small alcoves. I severed my foot on rock/glass and was rushed to bangkok pattaya hospital with 8 stitches and crutches for 2 weeks! Apart from that, it’s quite a nice beach, not the best but ok.
        and you can do water sports such as banana boat, jet skiing ect. Provided the jet ski is not broken!( which has been twice!) be aware the weekends it gets very busy with thai families eating all day.

        • Tony Wilson
          August 3, 2013 at 11:26 pm

          My advice, is keep off all of them, particularly in Pattaya where the people of the night use what beach there is as a urinal(there are none within spitting distance). As for all the others, you take your chances. Thai beaches may look good in brochures and from a distance but I am afraid they fail miserably when it comes to cleaning them. But they will always take your money!

  10. Andrew
    April 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I’m surprised to hear the negative comments about Koh Chang, which is my favorite for more than a long weekend. It is so big and has so many options; it’s not hard to find clean and deserted beaches, if you have your own wheels! On the other hand Samet is great for a long weekend, beach holiday. However, I’ve also stayed there for two weeks without wearing shoes once! Koh Sichang is nice for a weekend, but not really a beach scene. Koh Larn, more so, but Pattaya type crowds, though like Koh Chang, with your own wheels you can escape them. Rayong is a theoretically good option for when you don’t have the time to deal with a ferry, but I’ve honestly found it a bit boring, though it is clean and very Thai. Oy, Bang Saen? Once, maybe! Shoot, I rode my motorcycle right up to that base in Sattahip and didn’t even think of trying to go in!

  11. fred norris
    April 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    it was nang ram beach which we visited about two years ago and there was no problem getting in, it may be a case of suck it and see, if you cannot get on the beach, go to silver lake vinyard well worth a visit and not too big a diversion, but as always you need a car or bike.

  12. aditi madan
    October 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Hi! I was planning to drive to some beach with a non Thai friend …any idea of a good beach within 5 hrs drive from Bangkok?

  13. eli
    February 26, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Do you know what time is the last minivan/bus leaving Bang Saen to Bangkok?

  14. Sal
    May 10, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Good day, my partner and I will be visiting Bangkok for the first time this year(2016) in July. I would like to find out what are the best sights to see in Bangkok best accommodations and how can we be safe from taxi drivers who rips people off? And which beach would you recommend? Thanks.

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