45 Best Sights in Phuket and the Andaman Coast, Thailand

Bakantiang (Kantiang) Beach

Fodor's choice

The last beach before the national park on the southern tip of Koh Lanta, crescent-shaped Kantiang Beach is small but truly stunning. The fine white sands are favored by those who want to get away from the busier beaches. The village that backs the sand is the friendliest on the island, and there are a few food stalls and roadside cafés that serve some of the tastiest food on Koh Lanta. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming.

Big Buddha

Fodor's choice

This huge, white marble Buddha on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Katais is one of the island's most revered landmarks. It's 45 meters high, and the site offers the best 360-degree views of the island. Take the road from Phuket's main artery—it's a must-visit island destination.

Wat Tham Cave

Fodor's choice

Wat Tham Suwan Khuha, also known as the The Buddha Cave, is an impressively large cavern filled with a broad and beautiful variety of Buddha statues. It's mostly known for its giant gold statue of a reclining Buddha, before which a stage is set so visitors can light incense and pray under his gaze. There are an abundance of gray monkeys around here, so if you want to interact, have some peanuts, bananas, or coconut handy but be warned they can be very grabby. There are several tourist stalls around selling snacks and other items such as jewelry and souvenirs.

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Ao Nang Beach

Fringed by palm trees, this long stretch of soft white sand is the main beach in town. There's a long, winding promenade stretching from one end of the beach to the other. Ao Nang Beach is the jumping-off point for longtail boats to Railay and Tonsai beaches, and to the limestone islands of Ko Hong, Ko Poda, and Ko Gai. Amenities: food and drink; parking (fee); toilets. Best for: solitude; sunset; surfing; swimming; walking.

Bamboo Island

It's a 45-minute trip by longtail boat to Bamboo Island, but there's a superb beach and the colors of the fish and the coral are brilliant. You can sometimes spot reef sharks, too. There are several places to get food and drinks. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; snorkeling; solitude. 

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Bang Thao Beach

The beach itself is a long stretch (4 miles) of white sand, with vendors offering a variety of sports equipment rentals, inexpensive seafood, beach massages, and cocktails. The beach is good for swimming in the hot season, the lagoon for kayaking anytime. The atmosphere is relaxed, making this a beach well suited to young families. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

Soi Ao Bangtao, Bang Thao Beach, Thailand

Chalong Bay Distillery & Bar

Phuket's first and only rum and gin distillery is set in a sugarcane garden and offers distillery tours, cocktail workshops, and a variety of weekly events. Traditional French production methods are used to distill the gin and rum, and bottles are available for purchase. The onsite SUAY x Chalong Bay restaurant serves international cuisine and Thai-fusion dishes curated by local celebrity chef Tammasak 'Noi' Chootong. 

James Bond Island

Known familiarly as "James Bond island" because the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed here, Koh Phing Kan has fallen victim to greedy tour operators and merchants and become overrun with tourists, though it's still stunningly beautiful. Visiting the island (with a stopover often not longer than half an hour) usually involves a day trip that combines this with several other stops and lunch.

Kamala Beach

Kamala Beach is unremarkable but endearing, particularly to pensioners who return here year after year for the beach's more reserved ambience. Kamala can get cramped during the day and offers numerous accommodation and dining options, but if you're staying, don't expect a lively nightlife. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: swimming.

Karon Beach

A long stretch of white sand and good dry-season swimming are the big appeal here, though the beach is more open than most in Phuket, and there's very little shade. Amenities: food and drink; showers; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming; walking.

Karon Beach, Thailand

Kata Yai Beach

Of the popular beaches on the west coast of Phuket, Kata Yai, in central Kata, has the calmest waters, and a shaded sidewalk runs the length of the beach. Club Med dominates a large hunk of the beachfront, keeping the development frenzy to the southern end. There's also a committed group of regulars here who surf the small local breaks. This is one of the calmer beach scenes in Phuket, and so is especially good for families. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming; windsurfing.

Pakbang Rd., Kata Beach, Thailand

Khao Lak Beach

The beaches of Khao Lak, fringed by palm and casuarina trees and with sand as soft as powder, are south of the national park. Most resorts and dive operators purporting to hail from Khao Lak actually line the coasts of Nang Thong, Bang Niang, Khuk Khak, and Bang Sak beaches to the north. There are a few local vendors selling drinks and snacks, and most beaches here have access to a few restaurants. From November to May, the ocean is calm and clear. During the green season, from June to October, the waves are rough and it can be dangerous to swim. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming; walking.

Thanon Phet Kasem, Khao Lak, Thailand

Khao Lak Lamru National Marine Park

Stretching from the sea to the mountains, Khao Lak Lamru National Marine Park covers more than 325 square km (125 square miles). There's a secluded sandy beach, several waterfalls with swimmable pools, and an abundance of pristine tropical evergreen forest. Wildlife includes wild pigs, barking deer, macaques, and reticulated pythons. Walking trails lead to waterfalls with swimmable pools. Three rudimentary cabins are available for overnight stays, as are tent rentals for visitors who do not have their own. The park headquarters, on the road from Khao Lak Beach to Khao Lak town, provides information about exploring or staying in the park.

Khao Rang

If you want to get your bearings, there's a fine view of Phuket Town, the island's interior, and even the 45-meter-high Big Buddha from atop Khao Rang, a hill north of town. From the town's center, take either Ranong or Thalang Road west and turn north on Khaw Sim Bee Road. Follow the winding, ascending, forested road. There are a few restaurants and a picnic area once you reach the top, where you can relax after soaking in the vista from the large viewing platform next to a tower (which you can't ascend).

Klong Dao Beach

Klong Dao Beach is a 2-km-long (1-mile) beach on the northern coast of Lanta Yai. Most resorts along Klong Dao are larger facilities catering to families and couples looking for a quiet environment. The water is shallow but swimmable, and at low tide the firm, exposed sand is ideal for long jogs on the beach. Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

Klong Muang

West of Ao Nang on the mainland, the beaches of Klong Muang and Tubkaak are beautiful stretches of sand with amazing views of the limestone karst islands on the horizon. These beaches are largely occupied by upmarket resorts such as the Sheraton and The Tubkaak, though, and none of the amenities come free. Amenities: food and drink; toilet; water sports. Best for: solitude; sunset; walking.

Klong Nin Beach

Klong Nin Beach, approximately 30 minutes south of Phra Ae Beach (aka Long Beach) by car or boat, is one of the larger, nicer beaches toward the southern end of Lanta Yai. Klong Nin is less developed and more tranquil than Phra Ae Beach. A typical day on Klong Nin can be a long walk on the silky soft sand interrupted by occasional dips in the sea, a spectacular sunset, a seaside massage, and a candlelight barbecue beneath a canopy of stars. Central Klong Nin is the best for swimming, as rocks punctuate the rest of the shoreline. Kayaks are available from some resorts, and longtail boat taxis are for hire along the sea. Most resorts here rent motorbikes, as the road to the south is much smoother than the road from Phra Ae Beach. Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: solitude; sunset; swimming; walking.

Koh Miang

Koh Miang, where the park headquarters is located, has bungalows with 24-hour electricity and even some with air-conditioning; some bungalows have ocean views as well. Beachside camping is also available on Koh Miang (the park rents out roomy tents, large enough to stand in, which have two camping cots). Koh Similan has no bungalows, but has the same large tents for rent, as well as an area for visitors to set up their own tents. If you choose to visit the island to stay at the park, expect to pay B2,500 to B3,000 for a round-trip boat transfer. Once on the island, you can hire a longtail boat to explore the other islands.

The park is extremely popular with Thais, so book well in advance if you're planning a visit during a Thai holiday. The islands are more enjoyable, and more explorable, if visited midweek.

The park entrance fee is B500 per visit. Note that the islands are normally closed to visitors from mid-May until early November.

Koh Panyi

The island of Koh Panyi has a Muslim fishing village with houses built on stilts. The whole village backs onto a looming limestone cliff, giving it some protection from nature. The village is an interesting study in marine sustainability, but it does have the feel of a tourist trap—quirky floating soccer pitch aside. Restaurants here are expensive, tripling their prices for tourists.

Laem Singh Beach

Lovely little Laem Singh beach has become more off the beaten path since road access was cut off when the adjacent land was sold to a property developer in 2017. These days it's only accessible by water: You can hire one of the small orange boats from Surin Beach for just B100 per person. There are no facilities on Laem Singh, so bring refreshments.Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; swimming.

Laem Sing Beach, Thailand

Laem Son Beach

On the western edge of Noppharat Thara National Park, Laem Son Beach is a long stretch of sand with a few vendors selling Thai specialities. There are a few inexpensive beachside bungalows to stay at, too. Amenities: food and drink; parking (free). Best for: solitude; sunset; swimming.

Laem Tong Beach

Accessible by boat only, Laem Tong Beach is more secluded than some of the other Phi Phi beaches. The turquoise waters are warm and the beach is bordered by jungle. All this gives Laem Tong more of a tropical-island-paradise feel than other busier Phi Phi beaches. Local fishermen can bring you here and take you to other nearby destinations on their longtail boats for less money than organized trips.

Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; swimming.

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Loh Dalum Beach

On the other side of the Phi Phi Don Island from Tonsai Village, Loh Dalum has all the hallmarks of a tropical paradise: clear emerald waters, views onto the beautiful bay, and a white sandy beach. However, it's also touristy, busy, and noisy—an unfortunate symptom of Phi Phi's popularity. Beach bars put on spectacular fire shows at night, and the partying lasts well into the early hours. Swimming is best at high tide. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; swimming.

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Long Beach

Long Beach, a few minutes' longtail boat ride from Tonsai Pier, affords visitors a calmer and more relaxing experience away from the madding crowds. The white sands are almost silky underfoot and there are gorgeous views of Phi Phi Leh. Day-trippers often only stay for a dip and lunch, so the rest of the time it's pretty peaceful. Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

Long Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Mai Khao Beach

This is Phuket's northernmost beach and it's still a haven for leatherback turtles that lay their eggs here between November and February. The J. W. Marriott here has a beach club if you're looking for a bite to eat and the next-door Sirinath Marine National Park is worth a visit to learn about the turtles. Mai Khao connects with Nai Yang Beach to form Phuket's longest stretch of sand, and is ideal for long walks or a jog. It's dangerous to swim during the monsoons. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: solitude; sunset; walking.

Mu Koh Similan

The Mu (group) Koh Similan National Marine Park consists of the nine Similan Islands, as well as Koh Tachai and Koh Bon, which are farther north. The diving around the Similan Islands is world-class, with visibility of up to 120 feet; abundant blue, green, and purple coral; and rare marine life, such as the whale shark, the world's largest fish. In addition to sparkling, crystal-clear water, the Similan Islands also have ultrafine, powdery white-sand beaches and lush tropical forests. The National Park Service allows visitors to stay on the beaches of Koh Miang (Island 4) and Koh Similan (Island 8).

If you plan to dive, contact a dive operator in Phuket or Khao Lak; there are no dive shops on the islands, though snorkeling gear is available for rent from the ranger stations.

Nai Harn

South of Kata Beach the road cuts inland across the hills before it drops into yet another beautiful bay, Nai Harn. On the north side of the bay is the gleaming-white Nai Harn resort, beyond which lies the tiny bay of Ao Sane. But the main attraction is Nai Harn Beach itself, with plenty of surf to play in, and a favorite anchorage for yachts.

Nai Harn, Thailand

Nai Thon and Layan Beaches

A few miles north of Bang Thao Bay, follow a smaller highway off the main routes (4030 and 4031) along a scenic coastline reminiscent of California's Pacific Coast Highway. These beaches are good for swimming and snorkeling in the dry season. Layan is a wildlife hot spot, as the lake behind the beach attracts lots of wildfowl. Nai Thon is 1 km long and still has few accommodations. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang Beach is really a continuation south of Mai Khao, making a long stretch of sand good for a jog or swimming in the dry season. Casuarina trees line the gently curving shore offering shade. It's a far quieter beach than most, with a strip of trees and a small string of beachside restaurants and bars, tour guides, tailors, and shops. Fishing boats anchor nearby, making for picture-perfect sunrises and sunsets. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; sunset; swimming.

Nai Yang Beach Rd., Phuket, Thailand

Nang Cape/Railay Beach

The four beaches that make up Railay Beach are connected by walking paths, and each has its own attractions. Tonsai Beach, with a pebble-strewn shore and shallow, rocky water, caters to budget travelers and rock climbers. West Railay has powdery white sand, shallow but swimmable water, gorgeous sunset views, and many kayaks for hire. East Railay, a mangrove-lined shore unsuitable for beach or water activities, draws rock-climbing enthusiasts, as well as younger travelers looking for late-night drinks and loud music. Phra Nang Beach, one of the nicest beaches in all Krabi, is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and rock-climbing. Amenities: food and drink; toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming.

Railay Beach, Thailand