Looking for the perfect blend of city adventures and beach bliss in Thailand? These sun-kissed gems are just a stone’s throw from the vibrant heart of Bangkok, easily accessible by road or boat within a matter of hours.
Live like royalty in Hua Hin
Hua Hin is a cosmopolitan seaside town with a royal touch – it’s home to the Klai Kangwon Palace, the summer residence of Thailand’s Royal Family. There’s an appeal for both families and couples, with activities ranging from waterpark thrills to wine tasting, and a string of beachfront hotels with different vibes. Cape Nidhra Hotel hits the mark for a boutique break, with dreamy plunge-pool suites and a trendy rooftop bar. In contrast, the sprawling, colonial-style Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin has a storied history and is nothing short of an architectural marvel.
Beyond days by the pool, there’s plenty of opportunities to soak up the culture. Don’t miss a trip to Phraya Nakhon Cave to see a hidden Thai temple, illuminated by natural light streaming through the cave's open roof. Another must-see temple is the hilltop Wat Khao Takiap, just south of Hua Hin’s centre, which has a towering golden Buddha and a lively troop of monkeys. When the sun goes down, Hua Hin's lively night market springs to life with aromatic food stalls. Be sure to sample Som Tam Pu Ma, a fresh fusion of papaya salad and chunky blue crab.
A day trip delight: Bang Saen
If you need time out from the urban jungle, Bang Saen Beach is the closest beach to Bangkok and is a favourite among locals. Hop in a taxi to get there ('Grab' taxis are like Uber and very reasonable); it’s about two hours from the city and an hour from Suvarnabhumi Airport. The toffee-coloured sands run the length of a working fishing town, so its charm lies more in authenticity rather than blow-you-away beauty.
There’s a strong café culture here so we recommend the first thing you do is to stop for a latte in one of the seafront cafes. We Cottage has great coffee, cakes and an oh-so-instagrammable ceiling of flowers. For lunch, there’s no better place than the Japanese-style fish market, serving up cheap and tasty seafood. Stroll the beachfront promenade, hit the waves with watersports and then cab it back to the city after sunset.
Slow the pace on Koh Samet
Koh Samet is a whisp of an island with sun-soaked beaches and leafy jungle trails. At just a three-hour drive and a 45-minute boat ride from Bangkok, you can leave the city early and be relaxing by the water by lunchtime. You may feel inclined to dive straight in – the sea here is crystal clear and beckons for snorkelling and diving adventures.
There are both lively and laidback sides to the isle. In the north, Sai Kaew Beach lights up after dark with beach parties, live music and fire shows, whereas off-the-radar spots like Ao Prao Beach have a more peaceful feel. This is the setting of Le Vimarn Cottages & Spa, a collection of hillside cottages centred around a calm cove- the Duplex Villa Suites are especially charming, with two floors and a jacuzzi tub on the terrace.
Further south is away-from-it-all Ao Kiew beach, where you’ll discover our second hotel gem: Paradee Resort. Dubbed affectionately as ‘The Sixth Heaven’, this idyllic haven is nestled on a slender strip of land, offering both sunrise and sunset views over the surrounding ocean. There are only 40 villas here, tucked in greenery, high on the rocks or right on the beach, many with private pools. Perks here include daily seasonal fruit and a sumptuous afternoon tea, as well as complimentary kayaks and paddle boards. There’s a low-lit spa for massage therapy and a restaurant serving up western and spicy Thai dishes, but you’ll find us on the deck of the sunset bar sipping Vanilla Sky cocktails.
Rainforest adventures in Koh Chang
A little further west, close to the Cambodian border, Koh Chang has an air of newly discovered charm. It may be Thailand's third-largest island, but it retains an untouched allure due to its National Park status- 70% of the island is blanketed in rainforest.
The west coast is scattered with pretty beaches. Backpackers flock to Lonely Beach and White Sand Beach for the cheap bamboo bungalows and reggae bars, whereas families and couples will love the serene atmosphere of Klong Prao Beach, home to the magnificent Santhiya Tree Koh Chang Resort. There's a lot to admire about this palatial Thai-style retreat, like the charming elephant fountains by the pool and sweeping sunset views from the sea-facing restaurant. But the top marks go to the villas and suites. Each one has a draped four-poster bed, hand-crafted teak furniture and a huge bathroom with an oversized tub and rain shower.
Leaving the resort's peaceful cocoon opens doors to exciting island adventures. Hike through mangrove forests, trek to waterfalls for refreshing dips in natural pools and visit the abandoned Ghost Ship hotel, an eerie and photogenic spot that’s full of mystery and intrigue.
If you’d love to pitch up under Koh Samet’s palms, live like a king in Hua Hin or snorkel off the coast of sleepy Koh Chang, talk to us and we’ll design your perfect city and beach Thailand holiday flying direct to Bangkok with EVA Air. Can’t decide which island is for you? Take a look at our Thailand Authentic Suggested Itinerary, which combines temple-hopping in Bangkok and Chiang Rai with time to unwind on Koh Chang and Koh Samet.