These beaches are worth the drive.
| Oct 17, 2017
Home to fishing villages and a cute little town situated on a long stretch of white sand, Ban Krut sits 70km south of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Low-key and chill, its under-the-radar reputation makes the perfect alternative to the bustle of Hua Hin, letting you take in the sea breeze minus the crowd.
What to do: The beautiful, crowd-free beaches are the obvious lure, but you’ll also find some tempting attractions. Wat Tham Khiri Wong is a cave temple inside which dwells a large reclining Buddha, while the hillside Khao Tong Chai monument features an even larger Buddha statue and golden pagoda overlooking the ocean. It’s also the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Head down to the coastline for dozens of local seafood restaurants at affordable prices.
Where to stay: At Baan Klang Aow Beach Resort (www.baanklangaow.net), you’ll find beach bungalows surrounded by lush green gardens that start at B2,300/night. Keeree Waree Seaside Villa & Spa (www.keereewaree.com) has eco-friendly villas built from natural materials that start at B2,143/night.
Distance from Bangkok: 380km, about five hours’drive
Balcony Seaside Sri Racha hotel
It might not have the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, but Sri Racha offers a quiet seaside getaway nonetheless. From a network of fisherman’s villages, the city has since undergone big-scale industrialization, but the seafront and downtown area remain unfussy and pretty quiet. In the morning, you’ll see fishermen cruising quietly out to sea, while the locals continue to go about their business in the town markets without adjusting for the tourists.
What to do: Khao Kheow Open Zoo (B250) is home to 300 animal species that roam over a 5,000 rai area. Off the coast, Koh Loi Island connects to Sri Racha by a 500-meter-long bridge where locals go fishing. It also makes the perfect spot for a late afternoon jog before sunset.
Where to stay: Balcony Seaside Sri Racha hotel (www.balconythailand.com) has an easy-going vibe, modern-luxurious interiors, a beachside pool and even a Japanese Onsen. Check into a Seaview Suite that comes with panoramic sea views and a Jacuzzi. Weekdays cost about B3,690/night, which rises to B4,790/night come Fri-Sat. Another option is Nara Residence (www.nararesidence.com), where apartments come with a kitchen and living room. The one-bedroom pool suites sleep up to four at B3,750/night.
Distance from Bangkok: 90km, two hours’drive
South of Hua Hin town, on the secluded beach called Hat Sai Noi, you’ll find crowd-free, beautiful shores that are also a cultural paradise. The impressive temple complex spread across several caves contains shrines, Buddha statues and other important figures.
What to do: On top of Khao Tao Cave you’ll find a scenic viewpoint that offers the perfect Instagram shots of blue skies meeting the clear seawater if you can manage climbing up the steps that lead to the top of the hill. The giant seated Buddha that sits in the cave is also a highlight thanks to delicate carving on its pure white surface. Nearby the cave, the quiet Khao Tao beach has some of the clearest waters on the coast, as well as beach restaurants serving delicious local seafood dishes.
Where to stay: Check into The Blue Sky Resort, where a Retro Villa comes at B3,499/night, or add B500 more and you’ll get a suite with your own private pool. The resort is only 10 minutes’drive from Hua Hin Night Market and 15 from Hua Hin Airport.
Distance from Bangkok: 220km, three hours’drive
Crowd factor: 5/10
Bang Tabun is probably the best-known fisherman’s village in the Central region thanks to its idyllic seascape featuring tiny floating huts dotting the horizon. It’s also one of Thailand’s biggest spots for cockle production. We recommend an early start to catch the sunrise, when the serene shoreline turns golden.
What to do: It may come as a surprise but Bang Tabun offers one of Southeast Asia’s top whale-watching experiences. Nowhere else will you see whales so close and over such regular periods. You can also take a ride along the Bang Tabun River, which is home to more fishermen’s villages as well as mangrove forests. For some more fresh air, stroll along the picturesque wooden path through the mangrove forest at The King’s Royally Initiated Laem Phak Bia Environmental Research and Development Project (032-441-264-5). Chances are you’ll come across endangered birds, mudskippers and various species of crabs. At the end of the pathway, you can climb down a ladder for Sai Med Raek View Point (First Sand Viewpoint), considered the first beach of Southern Thailand.
Where to stay:iTara Resort & Spa (www.itararesort.com) offers seaview rooms starting at B2,500. Or you can check in at the seaside boutique resort Chez Nous (cheznous-resort.com), where the Sea View Suite costs B3,900-5,300/night.
Distance from Bangkok: 100km, about two hours’drive.