Crystal blue water. Squeaky soft sand. Tropical islands covered in jungle. This is the picture of Thailand that is commonly lusted after by holiday makers and planners. However with over 29 million visitors a year, is it difficult to find a patch of paradise that’s not covered in crowds all vying for the same bit of sand. Finding a beach outside of the tourist areas is off-putting if you don’t know where to go. Also the garbage situation is horrendous; much of the coastline is incredibly dirty, full of trash spat out from the rivers from villages, or washed up by the tide, derelict buildings and shrimp farming operations running drains to and from the water.
But if you know where to go, and follow the locals you can find beaches that are raw and naturalistic, beautiful and clean – with local towns and villages, and cheap accommodation. Following the 401 Highway along the coast and dipping into the back streets, many quiet spots can be found in the southeast between Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat, with Khanom and Sichon being bigger coastal towns.
Most of the beaches don’t have any facilities, and so are great for camping, but there are pockets of little resorts and even one or two of the luxurious kind. As we had left all our camping gear back in Singapore, awaiting the Japan leg, we were specifically looking for beaches that had cheap accommodation. These were our favourite and all of them were found very close to each other in the Nakhon Si Thammarat region.
These are small quiet local beaches, frequented by Thai’s, and usually have a couple of shops, a small town, local food etc. Expect Thai to be spoken almost everywhere. Everyone we met were lovely, kind, generous and slightly surprised we were there. It’s difficult to find the exact beach/cove names so I’ll put in the coordinates of the places that we stayed at, which were on or near the coastline, and you can explore at your will.
First up is Loma Beach Resort, Klai: 8.860002,99.9211893. The beach, with soft clean sand and clear water, stretches out for kilometres.
The resort is so well organised you can get WiFi on the beach. Which makes for a pretty spectacular work day.
We stayed in one of the two beach huts for 400 baht/$15 AUS. These have a mattress, a fan and a mosquito net, with a built-in verandah and benches for lounging. A shower and toilet block is a couple of metres away.
Warren and his wife Sao are amazing and their restaurant is such a great place to hang out with a fully stocked bar, and a Western and Thai menu, even doing a full Sunday roast. They’re very popular with the English teacher/local crowd, and also have more luxurious bungalows with ensuites.
Next up is P.N Seafood Resort in Lang Suan: 9.971945,99.151413. The beach is empty, except for a few fishing boats.
This beach is covered in huge whole seashells, millions of tiny crabs the size of a pinhead, and no litter. Hermit crabs, which are everywhere, have the pick of the shells.
With no one but a fisherman or two bringing in his catch.
The resort property is massive but we were there mid-January and we were the only guests. A little self-contained bungalow, with air-con and an ensuite was 600 baht/$23 AUS. Breakfast was also included, just a bit of toast and coffee.
And finally Stella Resort, Khanom: 9.190861,99.864211. This is situated 600 metres from the beach but we liked being a little quiet. The actual beach has quite a few resorts, beach chairs etc so it’s nice to be separate from it. Plus it was much easier to access the town for cheap local food than being stuck eating at the overpriced beachfront resorts.
Can’t escape the dogs in Thailand, they’re everywhere, even following to join you in the surf.
Stella Resort was a gorgeous family run place, English fluent, and they do massages too. It was so comfortable we stayed three nights instead of one. A room with air-con, a fridge and an ensuite was 450 baht/$17 AUS.
So if you’re looking for small quiet local beaches, we highly recommend these. All of three of the places had strong WiFi as well, sweet owners, clean sand and cheap local food options. So jump on a scooter, motorbike or bicycle and find an empty patch of sand to claim as your own.
Of course our ultimate ULTIMATE beach deserves a whole post to itself – coming soon, stay tuned!