Thailand draws more visitors than any other country in Southeast Asia, and it’s easy to see why. From the shrine-studded mountains of Mae Hong Son and the lush islands of the Andaman Sea, to the pulsing dance clubs of Bangkok and the tranquil villages along the Mekong River, Thailand is a feast for travelers, satiating all forms of wanderlust. Yet the one aspect that attracts the most people from around the world to visit the shores of Thailand are, well, the shores of Thailand.
With its extensive coastlines, numerous islands and tropical waters, the country is a haven for the Beach Blanket Bingo set. In fact, the beaches are so attractive, so idyllic, that everyone started going there. Once they arrived, they quickly wanted to escape the throngs of tourist and find a secluded, isolated beach of their own.
In Search of ‘The Perfect Beach’
This dogged pursuit for the perfect, secluded beach is a fascinating quest many enjoy undertaking, especially in a coastal playground such as Thailand. It even prompted a best-selling novel—Alex Garland’s The Beach, published in 1997 and later made into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The book traces the fate of a small, loose-knit commune of international drifters who establish their own beach paradise on an island in Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park.
To reach the beach in the novel, the backpackers had to obtain a secret map, swim across shark-infested waters in the middle of the night from one island to another and cliff-dive off a 50-foot waterfall. There’s a simpler way to finding Thailand’s more remote beaches: ask a travel agent. Finding a beach for your own spoils in Thailand that no other tourist has visited is unrealistic; however, a good travel agent can easily set you up on a remote shore, far away from the hectic beaches on the package-tour circuit.
For travel agents know the two essential rules for finding remote beaches in Thailand. Rule number one: stay as far away from airports as possible. Many travelers choose the closest beach, so further trekking improves your chances of finding a remote one exponentially. Rule number two: forget about palm trees. Many tourists associate palm trees with the exotic, so they fill up Thailand’s numerous palm-fringed beaches. Yet the beaches lined with casuarinas or sea pines are so bare and laid back, you just might have to pack your own lunch.
Koh Chang, aka Elephant Island
An island that exemplifies both rules is Koh Chang, where paradise has set up permanent residency. Koh Chang (Elephant Island) is the second largest island in Thailand and the largest of the 52-island Koh Chang Marine National Park, all of which are virtually untouched by modernization with their abundant natural resources blissfully intact. With no towns, few roads and 70 percent of the island covered in rainforests, Koh Chang is a true island hideaway—undeveloped, untouched and left idle for decades—which many feel is a blessing in disguise.
A blessing in your eyes is what some may call Nai Yang beach on the island of Phuket. It would seem impossible to find a haven on Phuket, one of the most famous island resorts in the world, not bursting at the seams with tourists. But Nai Yang developed as a wildlife preserve, and now it’s a stunning isolated beach and snorkeling mecca. Nai Yang does enjoy some developed attractions, such as the Pearl Village Beach Hotel, where you can ride an elephant into the surf.
There are no elephants on Mae Nam beach on the island of Koh Samui. Quiet and calm, with just a few hotels and small bungalow resorts, Mae Nam is four kilometers of sandy beach tranquility. The water is calm, perfect for swimming, and families enjoy strolling past the small shops and restaurants set along main street before returning to the eastern end of the beach each evening to witness a magnificent sunset ignite the calm ocean waters with gentle orange flames.
Ignite your next vacation by asking your travel agent to find you the perfect remote beach in beautiful Thailand. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, travel agents can connect all the dots—from your home to Bangkok to your transport to the marina and your ferry ride to your island paradise of choice, until your room key is in your pocket and a tropical drink is in your hand as you lie on the beach watching the sun set over the islands.