Although Bangkok is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River where it opens up into the sea, Bangkok does not have any beaches. If you did try to make your way to the sea in Bangkok you will eventually come across muddy estuary and mangrove flats. So if you want a beach of the sandy variety you will need to be prepared to travel a little further afield. Luckily there are some great beaches within easy reach of Bangkok.
Bang Saen Beach
Probably one of the closest beaches to Bangkok at around one hours drive. Because of this reason Bang Saen is very popular with Thai day-trippers from Bangkok and can get very busy at weekends. The beach at Bang Saen is a lot wider than the beach at Pattaya and although not the cleanest still scores better then the beaches at Pattaya/Jomtien. The beach is lined with deck chair vendors but as the beach is quite wide here they do not dominate the beach, the rear of the beach is lined with attractive palm trees and beyond this the beach road runs directly behind the beach.
The beaches at Pattaya and Jomtien are far from the best you will find in Thailand. Decades ago Pattaya was just a small fishing village but rampant development in Pattaya and the nearby port of Laem Chabang has changed Pattaya forever, there is now a large busy and bustling city right behind the beach. Floating rubbish and debris washed up on the beach is common. The beach is also very busy with arriving and departing speedboats, noisy jet-skis and most of the sandy beach area is taken up by scruffy groups of beach chairs and parasols. The busy 3 lane beach road which is situated just behind the beach does not help things. Pattaya does have plenty to offer away from the beach but if you wanted specifically to visit just a beach then maybe Pattaya beach will not be the best choice. Jomtien although a little quieter does not score much better in the cleanliness department. However all is not lost as the small island of Koh Larn is situated oat only a 25 minute speedboat ride from Pattaya where you can still find some great beaches
The small island of Koh Larn is situated just off the coats of Pattaya. The beaches on Koh Larn can easily be visited on a day trip from Bangkok and if you are staying in Pattaya this is the place to head to if you want to enjoy some quality beach time. There are three main beaches on Koh Larn which attract most of the visitors, Hat Tawean, Hat Tian, and Hat Samae. Hat Tawaen is by far the busiest beach, the sand is squeaky and white here and the water crystal clear, however this beach is spoilt somewhat by the shear number of visitors (mostly day trippers from Pattaya), the sprawling deck chair operators and the coming and going of speedboats and jet skis. If you want a quieter and more relaxing beach experience then head to Hat Tian or Hat Samae. Hat Tian is a personal favourite of mine, although not as sheltered at Hat Tawaen the beach is a lot quieter with less people, speedboats and development behind the beach.
Hua Hin/Cha Am Beach
Travel time to Cha Am and Hua Hin can be around 3 hours so maybe hard to justify for a day trip but if you are thinking of spending a night or two here then the travel time will not be such an issue. Both Cha Am and Hua Hin attract many visitors from Bangkok seeking out some beach and leisure time close to the capital. The beaches here are long and wide and the sea is usually fairly clean. The areas behind the beach are well built up with hotels and restaurants. Still far from the prettiest beaches in Thailand but if you are in Bangkok, short on time and want to get in some beach time then a stay in Hua Hin can be pleasant. There is around 15km of distance between Hua Hin and Cha Am but both beaches are of similar quality, with Hua Hin being the busier spot and larger town.
Koh Samet could be visited on a day trip from Bangkok but would be hard to justify the 6-7 hour return travel time, but if you have a bit of time to spare for an overnight trip then it is well worth making your way out to Koh Samet to check out some of the great beaches on this island. There are numerous beaches on the island all situated in cosy small bays, some more developed than others. By far the most developed beach is White Sand beach and for this reason probably best avoided in preference for some of the prettier bays and beaches further south on the island. White sand and crystal clear waters are the norm here! There is also plenty of accommodation choices to suit all budgets if you want to overnight on the island.
You will need to allow a bit more time to travel to Koh Chang. At 5-6 hours one way travel time from Bangkok you will probably want to spend at least a couple of nights here but still it is a truly beautiful beach destination and a lot closer to Bangkok and less developed than some of the popular beach destinations in southern Thailand. Koh Chang is Thailand’s second largest island and down the west side of the island there is bay after bay of white sandy beaches, some relatively developed and others hardly touched! The choice of accommodation is great on Koh Chang and there is something for all budgets ranging from classy 5 star resorts to simple bamboo bungalows right on the beach!