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Top 5 Best Alternative Thai Beaches

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While my original list of Thailand's best beaches appealed to a broad group of travelers, this list is different. It's for those who don't like big crowds or lots of development, who'd trade loud discos and tons of beer for pretty vistas and unexplored areas, even if it meant spending a little extra time gettingthere, or perhaps not finding lots of other folks who speak English. There's nothing second rate about any of these beaches (two are on the original list), it's just that they're not as popular, and for some, that makes them even better.

1. Khao Lak

photo copyright Khao Lak Meridien

Just north of the popular island of Phuket (and a short drive from the Phuket International Airport), is this gorgeous swath of beach on the mainland. The coast is arguably as nice or nicer than most of the beaches on Phuket, but because it's not an island, some find it automatically less appealing. Although Khao Lak has developed significantly in the past few years, and there are enough resorts, restaurants and dive shops to keep any traveler occupied, it's still much less developed than Phuket.

2. Koh Lanta

Otto Stadler/Getty Images

Pretty beaches, a small but good selection of resorts and bungalows, and a convenient location near Krabi and Phuket are what Koh Lanta has to offer. What's missing? Full Moon parties, big crowds of party animals and shopping malls. Though Koh Lanta is an island, like Phuket it's very close to the mainland and easy to get to from Krabi's airport.

3. Koh Mun Nork

photo copyright Suzanne Nam

This small island about 3.5 hours from Bangkok is the type of idyllic desert island that seems to exist only in legend. There's only one small resort on Koh Mun Nork, no bars, no shopping, and not even any streets (it's so small you can easily walk it) so you'll spend most of your time lounging in a hammock or swimming in the Gulf of Siam. 

4. Khanom and Sichon Beaches

photo copyright Suzanne Nam

These two beach areas near Nakhon Si Thammarat and Koh Samui have big sweeping views of the Gulf of Siam, inexpensive beach-front resorts and not much else. Mostly Thais and some Europeans vacation here, though never in large numbers. Looking for a convenient, attractive beach to visit that none of your friends have ever heard of? Pick one of these.

5. Koh Chang

Koh Chang is big, convenient to get to if you don't mind driving, and just developed enough that there are restaurants, resorts and other tourist infrastructure. The island is fast growing in popularity, though, so visit soon!

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