I'm planning a trip to Thailand with my husband and parents. We will be traveling in around May next year, and my parents will be flying out to meet us in early July (planning very early I know!) They are fit and relatively young but like nice accommodation (not resorts) and one of the main things they are hoping to do in Thailand is visit a beach. They will only be in Thailand for 2 weeks, and we only plan to spend around 4 of those days at a beach.
My husband and I have been to Thailand three times already but really don't enjoy the backpacking beach party thing. The main reason we travel is for the food (street food mainly) and we enjoy the idea of local seafood dinners on the beach with some beers but not so much bars and definitely no nightclubs or partying. We want to avoid the hordes of backpackers and tourists whose only interest is getting wasted, and package tours and full english breakfasts.
We were thinking Hua Hin, but the more research I do the more I find people saying it's ugly, not good for swimming and becoming very touristy. Is this true? We are willing to fly as we are on such a short time limit, and so were thinking Krabi? But some of the googling I've been doing makes me think it's just another party destination? Is it? I've been doing some searches on Travelfish and but haven't been able to find a whole lot, the things I have found are a couple of years old and with the rate of development in the areas I'm looking at I'm sure things will have changed!
Basically is anyone here able to give some up to date information? Or think of anywhere that better suits our requirements? As this will be the trip of a lifetime for my parents, it's important to me to get it right, and Travelfish seems to be the place to find some answers.
Thanks in advance
#1 daisymayyy has been a member since 10/7/2012. Posts: 4
I've yet to visit Krabi so can't give any advice there, but I've spent some time in Hua Hin and I personally think it's over-rated. Ugly, yes, that too. Or, tacky is more the word I'm looking for. The beach is really not great, at least when compared to the ones down south. It's considered a good place for families, which I guess it is when compared to Pattaya or the seedy parts of Phuket, but it's hugely touristed (predominantly Europeans and Russians), and when you say, "package tours and full English breakfasts", you pretty much hit Hua Hin on the head. There are some seedy parts too and plenty of partying going on.
I was thinking of recommending Khao Lak and/or Ko Kho Khao, both of which have some fine, long beaches and are easily accessible to tourists, not full of backpackers, and generally have more of a "wholesome" vibe. There are also some great one to two day trips in this area (Ko Similan, Ko Surin , Phang Nga Bay, Khao Sok National Park, Tsunami memorial and Baan Nam Kem, old Takua Pa, etc.). The problem is that June isn't a very good time to go there. It's really wet at that time and a lot of the accommodations close down. In fact, Ko Similan and Ko Surin are closed completely from May to October. Still, it might be worth considering if you don't mind some rain - generally it rains later in the day but not all day.
Have you considered Ko Samui, or even Ko Tao ? It's far dryer on the east coast in June. I'm not an expert on Samui (have been once for a week)... It's obviously very touristy, but from what I understand there are plenty of quiet and beautiful beaches still there. Ang Thong National Park looks pretty amazing too and it can be visited by day trip from Samui. Ko Tao has the whole diver scene going so it does have that sort of super laid back party element, but there are also some lovely and isolated beaches there, especially to the south. It does have some beach oriented nightlife, but Ko Tao is nowhere near Ko Phangan or Ko Phi Phi in terms of the party scene.
At least on Samui or Tao you're guaranteed some outstanding beaches and good food. I mean, if you only come to Thailand once and you want to do the beach thing, I feel like you owe it to yourself to find a better one than Hua Hin.
That's about all I've got - I'm sure others will have some good advice soon.
Ko Samui has nice beaches but it's very touristy compared to Krabi and much more of a party destination plus more expensive. Tao is very small and more of a dive destination. Never been but the youtube videos make it look badly overdeveloped in parts and totally isolated in other parts. Not great for older people.
#3 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
Hua Hin is ok but nothing flash. Not a lot to do there and it's best if you have a car.
Krabi has lots of hotels but May-July it's very quiet. I wouldn't call it a party destination at all. It's more of a family type destination. I recently spent 10 nights there and most of the hotels were so quiet only 3,4,5 rooms were occupied. The main areas are Ao Nang and Railay near the beach. You also have Khlong Muang where the Sheraton is, nice beach but more isolated. Krabi Town is 20 minutes away by car and a fairly normal Thai town with a small number of tourists added.
If I went again I'd stay here:
(wotif had rooms here starting from 1250 baht, 64 sqm, that's much bigger than most hotel rooms)
Awesome pool and big rooms. I stayed at a resort above it and saw it. Wish I knew about it before as it's better than the one we picked. only about 3 years old so new rooms. Located at the start of Nopphorat just around the corner from Ao Nang. Quiet area. Some decent street food 300m away.
The night food market at Nopphorat is on Wed and 1 other night. Great food. Not far from this resort. A bit of a walk or get a tuk tuk or ride a bike.
There are lots of day trips you can do in Krabi starting from 600 baht.
Hot springs and Crystal lagoon
Koh Poda and Koh Gai
Kayaking Bor Thor and Thalen Bay
Nosey Parker's if you want to ride an elephant
Low season you can do tours real cheap - all 1000 baht or less for full day incl lunch plus room costs are low this time of year.
Got any more questions feel free to ask.
I also recommend Trang town, awesome night market but limited hotels and not much to do during the day unless you do a tour. Good for 3 nights though.
#5 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
"I also recommend Trang town, awesome night market but limited hotels and not much to do during the day unless you do a tour. Good for 3 nights though."
A friend of mine loves Trat and goes there fairly often. They stay at a nice hotel (per their description) and it's close to an excellent beach. But sadly I don't know the hotel or beach name.
I would say the challenge you face is that you want to go somewhere where your folks will feel comfortable and have the familiar (which means western things available) while avoiding tourist areas. That's a little tricky. My mother and I and my wife and daughter stayed in North Pattaya (which, of course, is the anti-thesis of what you seek). The hotel was outstanding (but, of course, full of tourists). We had two rooms and the large one was magnificent with a great view, beautiful wood floors, wide screen TV, huge bath... the works. The infinity pool was wonderful and my daughter loved it. The beach was private and clean (cleaned continuously I think). Pattaya had every food choice you could imagine. BUT... it is full of tourist and it has an in your face sex industry.
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
"would say the challenge you face is that you want to go somewhere where your folks will feel comfortable and have the familiar (which means western things available) while avoiding tourist areas. That's a little tricky."
Not really. You can do that in Krabi . Ao Nang has the western food, Krabi Town and Nopphorat the local flavour.
Pattaya is a dive, avoid that place.
#8 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
"Pattaya is a dive, avoid that place."
It is a dive - sort of. BUT, and it's a big but, Pattaya has everything. Literally. You like to golf, there are some excellent courses there. You like jet ski or parasail..., you like to dance or bowl or you name it. Pattaya has just about everything to do that you can think of. And like I said, the hotel I stayed in (and I got a great deal on it from AGODA) was five stars - and I mean really five stars. My mother (who is very conservative), my wife and my daughter all loved it. My wife and I ate at a great Indian restaraunt that was both nice and inexpensive. I mean, I agree Pattaya isn't for everyone and if in your face sex for sale bothers you, you'll hate it. And it's congested and dirty. BUT, lot to do there and some great hotels.
#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
The beaches are terrible. Worst beach location I've been to (out of about 20). You've been to 1 only in Thailand - Pattaya. It's dirty all right. Disgusting place and I'm not talking about the women. The streets are like a dump.
#10 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
"The beaches are terrible. Worst beach location I've been to (out of about 20). You've been to 1 only in Thailand - Pattaya. It's dirty all right. Disgusting place and I'm not talking about the women. The streets are like a dump."
The private beach was good though. Really nice. White sand, nice view... I'm not a beach guy anyway, but my mother is, and she liked it. And she's been to some nice beaches. But yeah, the public beaches are nasty. And yes, it's dumpy. BUT, can't ignore the fact it has a lot of other things going for it. The backpacker crowd hates it because it represents everything they hate about hedonistic tourism. But everyone ain't a backpacker. Not even everyone who comes to travelfish.
#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
"but not so much bars and definitely no nightclubs or partying. We want to avoid the hordes of backpackers and tourists whose only interest is getting wasted, and package tours and full english breakfasts."
They don't want clubs, partying and loads of tourists. That rules out Pattaya.
#12 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
"but not so much bars and definitely no nightclubs or partying. We want to avoid the hordes of backpackers and tourists whose only interest is getting wasted, and package tours and full english breakfasts."
They don't want clubs, partying and loads of tourists. That rules out Pattaya
Well, the "loads of tourists" element I agree probably rules it out. In fact, tourists tend to stay in hotels - so this one seems tough to me. You stay at a hotel on or near a beach, chances are it's going to have a lot of tourists staying in it.
#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Koh Chang might be an option but not a lot of street food. It's a big island with a few bars but not a big party place. Again more of a family type place.
#14 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
"You stay at a hotel on or near a beach, chances are it's going to have a lot of tourists staying in it."
Not always the case. Krabi was really quiet in June/July this year. Our hotel was 4 star and had 4-6 guests the whole time. Most other hotels much the same. Low season can be very quiet away from phuket/phi phi/samui/kpn/tao/pattaya - most beach tourists go to those places.
Last year I went to Chang and our resort again 4 star with great bungalows had 6-8 guests.
#16 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
3 years ago I went to Phi Phi low season and I'd guess 1000-3000 tourists were there.
Krabi which is much bigger I'd guess 500 and Chang maybe 400.
These are rough guesses mind u but give u an idea
Pattaya/Samui and Phuket would have 10,000+ all the time
#17 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
From what others have said and having visited Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Krabi and Koh Chang being the consensus, I would opt for either Nopphorat/ Ao Nang or Koh Chang.
I enjoyed both my visits to Ao Nang (in low season) as it faces the water, few tourists and the seafood restaurants overlooking the water at the northern end (which is just south of Nopphorat).
I enjoyed both my visits to Koh Chang staying in the White Sands beach area. Most backpackers stay further south at Lonely Beach area. Many hotels right on the beach. Even in low season there were many tourists but they are mainly made up of Scandinavian families on package trips.
If I were recommending between these two with your parents in mind I would go with Longbeach's suggestion of Nopphorat. Very few tourists, more of a Thai culture feeling, the beach there is supposed to be very nice, short tuk tuk ride to Ao Nang for dining out, shopping, exit point for Railay Beach, Koh Phi Phi etc.
Wow! This is all really, really helpful!
DLuek - Thanks for the information on Hua Hin, definitely sounding like somewhere we don't want to go, especially given the short time frame and the fact it'll be my parents first (and possibly last!) trip to Thailand. Khao Lak and Ko Kho Khao do sound good but as you said, the rainy weather (and wind mentioned by longbeach) stops them being first choice. I've been to Ko Tao and didn't really enjoy the vibe there, longbeach is totally right, it's completely overdeveloped in parts, but if you choose to stay away from those parts it becomes impossible to get around. About Samui, I haven't really been keen on anything I've heard about it but the beaches do look beautiful.
longbeach - Thanks so much for your input. You are making me think Krabi may be the best option, especially as it will be low season when we visit. I also really like the fact there is a town there as it means more food options I'm sure. Hotel looks wonderful as well so thank you for the rec, love the fact there is street food nearby and a night market (for me enough reason to visit anywhere!) I will look into the daytrips you recommend also. Info on tourist numbers from experience in low season is also very helpful as I was wondering how different these places would be when we planned to visit. I will research Koh Chang also as that seems it could be another option.
MADMAC - Thank you for your info. I think my parents are fine without Western food etc, so that's not a huge consideration, I just meant accommodation like rickety wooden bungalows with squat toilets would be pushing it a little! The hotel you mention and (especially!) infinity pool sound amazing but I think you're right in calling Pattaya the antithesis of what we are looking for.
Thanks all again, your knowledge is exactly what I needed!
#19 daisymayyy has been a member since 10/7/2012. Posts: 4
stoneman - Thanks, I'm thinking I'll definitely go with Nopphorat, both yours and longman's descriptions of it make it sound perfect, good beach, great food and good atmosphere. The accommodation looks excellent as well. Now I just have to wait a year in rainy England before I can be there...!
#20 daisymayyy has been a member since 10/7/2012. Posts: 4
Nopphorat beach isnt that good. The scenary is nice around the area but it's not so good for swimming. The markets and being quiet appeals. The best beaches are railay/phra nang and khlong muang but really the best beach experiences are done on boat trips. Koh Hong has an awesome beach and much quiter than Phi Phi (although that place is worth a daytrip with it's fine snorkelling).
The problem with staying at Railay (10 mins away by boat) is lack of food options although the beach there is better.
#21 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
"They will only be in Thailand for 2 weeks, and we only plan to spend around 4 of those days at a beach."
I would recommend staying at least 5 nights to get the most out of it. You need to do a couple of tours to get the best out of it.
Bangkok 4 nights
Kanchanaburi 3 nights
Krabi 7 nights
Something like that would be good.
#22 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
My partner and I have been to Krabi on a couple of occasions and have looked aorund quite a few of the hotels there. When people say Krabi a lot of them mean Ao Nang , which is the main tourist town. Its set right on a large beach and has lots of shops, restaurants and hotels etc. Yes its touristy but also laid back and you dont have to stay there, although there are hotels to suit every taste and budget. Railay is only accessible by boat (unless they have built a road in the past three years) and as July is low season the water can get pretty rough - so this may not be the best place to base yourselves - although it is lovely and worth a visit if you can get there. Between Ao Nang and Railay there is a private beach which houses the Centara Grand hotel. Very nice but for us somehow lacking something special. Further up the coast is Tubkaak beach. About 20 mmins from Ao Nang but still accessible by taxi. Here you will find quite a few large hotels - Amari, Sofitel etc but also a place called the Tubkaak resort. Its a boutique hotel - we visited for a look see and it is lovely. Nice rooms and pool with lovely setting on the beach and views across to the islands. Have a look at tubkaakresort.com. An alternative might be to go in the other direction from Krabi airport down to Ko Lanta. This will be quiet out of season and i can recommend a place called the Layana resort. We had lunch there and its beautiful - set right on the beach - huge one - and has only 40 0rooms and no kids allowed. Worth having a look at their website. We went for lunch and i have always wanted to go back but not managed it yet. Anyway hope that is of some help. Chris.
#23 chris2012 has been a member since 10/7/2012. Posts: 1
TubKaek is very isolated. Expensive to be getting taxis everyday. Beach is alright but Khlong Muang is a bit better. TubKaek was extremely quiet when I rode out there last week.
#24 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
July and steet food are the killers here.
Normally there is no contest between Hua Hin and Krabi (Railay area). The former is everything you have heard - the latter has some of the best landscape/seascape in Thailand. Plus way better beaches. And Railay aint no party place.
The only problem is Krabi is in wet season in July (still not a big reason not to travel - I have had great wet season beach holidays in the Andaman, always enough sunshine). The Hua Hin side tends to be considerably drier.
What you want is a nice beach on the Hua Hin side of the south Thailand isthmus.
Okay Ko Phangang's Thong Nai Pan does this. If you are happy with flashpacker standard, Longtail resort does the trick. If you want to go upmarket, Google for Panviman (make sure you don't land on the Ko Chang Panviman - Ko Chang can be real real wet in July).
Now you aren't going to get street food at Thong Nai Pan. But you are going to get a selection of beach restaurants can do your seafood thing.
Thing is, you have plenty of time before your parents arrive to get your street food hit.
Forget about rain. Just spent 10 nights there and it rained once for more than 3 hrs. Big deal. Forget about the rain nazis with nfi
One sunny day after another or overcast which was good as it wasnt as hot.
June/July is perfect for Krabi
#26 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
Longbeach, I agree you can't plan around the rain... but before we say "forget about it" it just rained here last week for four straight days. Really annoying.
#27 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Yes, but that can happen anywhere out of season. Last year Thailand had some very strong unseasonal rain - La Nina.
Before we went south we looked at 2 weeks of forecasts. Nearly everyday they predicted rain and the forecasts were way off. Really only 2-3 day forecasts are close to being accurate.
I've found that May and August get more rain in the south. In the middle it's better for some reason.
#28 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
longbeach - I can live with having to travel for a nice beach and for good swimming as the location seems to suit us in every other way and we are definitely interested in doing some day trips to other beaches so that's fine. Thank you also for itinerary suggestion.
chris2012 - Thanks for your information. I think I'm definitely going to go with Krabi, it seems like the best all round option but I will look into Ko Lanta.
tezza - I think I'll probably go for Krabi, despite the possibility of rain. Obviously it would be really awful if the whole 5 or 6 days was a washout, but I definitely can deal with a few rainy afternoons or even one whole day of rain and will probably risk it. I will research Thong Nai Pan though, and the hotels you suggested, thank you!
#29 daisymayyy has been a member since 10/7/2012. Posts: 4