Travelling from Chaweng Noi southwards, you'll pass by a couple of smaller bays before arriving in Lamai proper, in order from north to south, you'll hit Coral Cove first, followed by Thong Ta Kien, which is also known as Crystal Bay.
Of the two, we prefer Thong Ta Kien and with clear waters, beautiful sand and enough shade, it makes for a great daytrip destination, or, if it fits within your budget, as somewhere to stay. The location is excellent – far enough away from the "scene" at Lamai to be quiet, but not too far that a night out requires a level of planning akin to ascending Everest.
You can easily spend your day soaking up the sun and then jump on a scooter or a songthaew for the run into Lamai – it is just a very short ride, though not a pleasant walk. The road passing behind Thong Ta Kien (and Coral Bay) is spitting distance from the beach, so you will pick up some traffic noise here.
On Thong Ta Kien the sand is dust-like, white, and squeaks up between your toes. Quite reasonable snorkelling can be found offshore amid huge boulders that protrude from the clear water and around the boulders which bookend each side of the bay. Expect plentiful fish and clear visibility rather than coral.
Accommodation wise, there is a range of options, mostly from flashpacker through to comfortable midrange digs, with Crystal Bay Resort being our favourite. If you're on a tight budget, you're better off to stay in Lamai and visit here on a daytrip, but those in the midrange to more expensive budgets should be well satisfied with what is available on the beach.
All the restaurants on the beach proper are attached to the various resorts, though you're just a short ride away from Lamai for a wider variety of options. A few fancy restaurants take advantage of the views from the Ring Road between here Coral Cove and Chaweng. Prices tend to be high, but the views are great, and taking a splurge at somewhere like the Cliff can make for a good indulgence – and a change from barbecue corn.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 21st September, 2016.