What better way to escape the downtown traffic than with a break to the beach, where you can get that unmistakable feeling of sand between your toes and gentle waves lapping at the shore? There’s no need to take a flight to the south, either – take a look at our pick of the best beaches within easy reach of Bangkok, perfect for a weekend (or better still a long one) and just about doable even as a dawn-to-dusk day trip.
Situated on the Gulf of Thailand is Hua Hin. While it’s certainly a tourist destination, you’ll find that many local Thais live and vacation here, as well. The king made Hua Hin his number one vacation spot back in the 1920s. Since then, everyone has wanted to know what the hype surrounding Hua Hin was all about. There are many ways to fill your time here. If you get “beached out,” which we believe to be highly unlikely, you’re left with a plethora of activities to choose from. Hua Hin has a great nightlife, with bars situated within walking distance of some of its nicest beach fronts. There are also a handful of colorful, diverse markets in Hua Hin, all within walking distance or a short tuk-tuk ride from its sandy shores. Hua Hin is about three to five hours from Bangkok.
If you are looking for a quiet stay on one of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches, be sure to cross Pattaya off your travel itinerary. Pattaya is known as one of the biggest sex capitals in Thailand, with massage parlors lining the streets adjacent to go-go bars. Visiting Pattaya may almost feel as though you’ve left Thailand altogether, with high-rise condominiums, resort hotels, and one too many shopping malls. That being said, Pattaya does have some pretty incredible beaches. You can also escape the busy, coastal city and opt for visiting one of its nearby islands, including Koh Larn or Koh Pai, otherwise known as Bamboo Island. It can take two to three hours to get to Pattaya, depending on traffic.
Ko Samet is one of our favorite islands in all of Thailand. The water is crystal clear. The seafood is abundant and delicious. This is also one of the only islands that doesn’t seem to be overrun with tourists on the weekend. While you’re here, be sure to check out one of the best bars on the island, Ploy Bar. This bar has evening fire shows that’ll have you in awe, as well as large, alcoholic buckets for a fair price. Ko Samet is a bit trickier to get to. The ride to Ko Samet takes about three to five hours, depending on traffic. Once you arrive in Ban Phe, it’s about an hour’s ferry ride to the island of Ko Samet. You can also get a speedboat to Ko Samet, although this option is much pricier.
Just south of Hua Hin you’ll find Pranburi. This fishing town is certainly off the tourist itinerary track. If you want to escape the throngs of foreigners at some of the other beach destinations on our list, this is the place to go. The area is named after the river that runs through it. You can still find more than a handful of resorts and hotels here, but they’re not stacked on top of one another, like in Pattaya. Instead, they’re spread out and run along the length of Pranburi’s beautiful beaches and are able to retain privacy for those who visit. Pranburi is about three to five hours from Bangkok.
In the eastern Thai province on the Gulf of Thailand is Rayong. It’s in this coastal province that you’ll also find the island of Ko Samet. If you don’t feel like trekking to Ko Samet via ferry and want to stay somewhere a bit cheaper and off the beaten path, Rayong is the place to go. Rayong has over 100 kilometers of coastline, with beautiful beaches throughout. One of these beaches is Hat Mae Ramphung, where tourists are scarce. This beach is adjacent to a fishing village, giving it a much different feel from any of the others listed here. It takes about three to four hours to reach Rayong from Bangkok, depending on the traffic.
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