Holidays on Thailand west beaches
Best Weather in the West
The best time to hit west coast beaches is December – March, with high temperatures of about 28C in December rising to 30C in March. Naturally prices rise dramatically and accommodation availability falls between mid-December to early January’s peak holiday period.
April- May weather should also be OK in the west but it’s starting to get very hot, up to 35C, and there is a possibility of haze from slash/burn farming throughout Asia and showers can be expected in May, not necessarily a bad thing if they are short, sweet and reveal bright blue skies afterwards!
The worst time to be on west coast beaches is July to November due to heavy rains.
• The ‘curse of the longtails‘ makes many previously desirable places a pain in the head now.
Beaches that are only accessible by boat, or used as a longtail terminal have drone and diesel smell problems. Notably noxious are Krabi and the Phi Phi islands.
• If you go around the rainy season beware another downside. . . Rips (strong currents heading away from the beach). Around Phuket visitors drown at the rate of one per month in this season. Do NOT ignore red flags, even if you are hot and drunk. .
Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh beaches
A hidden tropical paradise until the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed there, the Phi Phi islands are now a tourist mecca but still offer turquoise water, white sand and palm trees framed by delightfully craggy rock formations and over a million visitors a year!
Visits to Phi Phi Leh (‘the beach’) are no longer permitted as the tourist overdose of the recent years has seriously damaged the environment there. We believe nearby Phi Phi Don is currently running as a decent place to stay but check before you book flights/hotels etc!
The infrastructure is, however, third world and cannot support the tourist numbers so services such as power and sewage are unreliable on the core island of Phi Phi Don, rubbish litters some areas, coral is dying all around and longtails add their cacaphonic roar to the babble of foreign visitors.
However, if you stay well away from noisy, frantic Ton Sai bay – the transport hub – even just across the neck at Loh Dulum bay, you can find some serenity, lovely sand, turquoise water and those sensational views.
Phi Phi Leh is half an hour away by boat and has no accommodation at all but still suffers the ‘Curse of the Longtails‘ with roaring longboats coming and going endlessly.
If you hire a private longtail take a trip to Bamboo Island after Phi Phi Leh; it’s a tiny tranquil place devoid of structures and massed visitors.
Day trips by boat from Phuket to the Phi Phi islands are also popular. Thailand west beaches are best December-March.
West Railay, the Krabi Coast
Accessible from Ao Nang in a few minutes by longtail boat, West Railay (aka Rai Leh) is stunningly pretty, has restrained development, reasonable prices, soft white sand and clear water, tho’ longtail taxis still park there cluttering the view, impeding swimming and not helping the water purity. Still, it’s better than paying the extortionate prices at Thailand’s Rayavadee Premier on the next beach – Laem Phra Nang – and still getting the longtails and their day trippers swarming the beach. Best December-March.
Khlong Dao and Phra-Ae beaches, Koh Lanta island
Ko Lanta is a relatively unspoiled resort on Thailand west beaches, with a fine combination of big, soft, sandy beaches on the upper west side, calm clear waters, relaxed locals and cheap accommodation, though the road running down the centre is an unattractive mess. Beaches are only accessible via hotels.
The longest and the most popular beach is Khlong Dao – where the best hotels are – but Ao Phra-Ae (Long Beach), 2km south, has a more placid atmosphere, as has Kantiang beach.
The further south you go the cheaper the ‘hotels’ get and the worse the beaches.
Just south of Lanta is a small island called Koh Kradan with an attractive and quite unspoilt 2km beach.
Best December -March.
Koh Tarutao National Marine Park, Koh Tarutao
Ko Tarutao National Marine Park is a natural beauty, with about 50 mostly inhabited islands. The beaches in the park are considered the least spoilt and the most magnificent of all Thailand west beaches. Some simple accommodation can be found at Pak Bara on the mainland, or three bigger islands (Ko Tarutao, Ko Adang, and Ko Lipe) have bungalows and restaurants.
The park is closed mid-May to mid-November, due to the rains. Best December-March.