Paradise found: our three favourite beach escapes in Thailand
This Southeast Asian nation is famous for its beautiful shores both on the mainland and on the thousand or so kohs (‘islands’). The sugary white sand, clear warm waters and colourful coral reefs make for the perfect retreat. Mass tourism may have ruined some of Thailand’s coastlines but many are still idyllic. Here, our experts have handpicked their favourite beach hideaways:
Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood
A short hop in a small plane from Bangkok will take you to the unspoilt island of Koh Kood, home to Soneva Kiri. The jungle villas at this tropical retreat ooze understated luxury. From a six-bedroom clifftop house to a one-bedroom seafront villa suite, there’s something for everyone. Rooms are kitted out with outdoor bathrooms and private pools, and in some cases, gyms and steam rooms.
There is plenty to do here, from lazing on North Beach – where you can try your hand at paddle-boarding or kayaking – to rainforest walks, cooking classes, spa treatments and scuba-diving. We can also arrange private speedboat expeditions where you can snorkel over the Koh Rang Yai National Marine Park’s vibrant coral reef. We like to set up an exclusive dinner in a bamboo ‘treepod’, where you will feast encircled by the ancient canopy and overlooking the spectacular shoreline.
Although Soneva would suit couples or groups of friends, it is particularly good for families. Some of the villas have a tree house and a waterslide, and all come with a butler on hand to look after the children, so you can sit back and relax. There is an outdoor cinema, a chocolate and ice cream room, and a giant bamboo playground, known as ‘the den’, which will keep the little ones entertained for hours.
Having undergone a major facelift last year, Aman’s first property is now as slick as can be. Its architecture reflects the style of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam, and its elegant decor features handmade silks, bespoke furniture and striking artworks. Situated on the mainland, just a half-an-hour drive from Phuket International Airport, Amanpuri is very accessible and has everything you could wish for.
With all the pavilions and villas boasting oversized terraces overlooking lush gardens or the turquoise Andaman Sea, it is a peaceful haven. There is also a palm tree-fringed swimming pool, four tennis courts, a wellness centre and several top-notch restaurants dishing up delectable food, including Japanese, Thai, Italian and South American. Days here are spent by the pool, in the spa, on boat trips, waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing, snorkelling and scuba-diving, as well as exploring the 30 nearby Buddhist temples.
In our opinion, this spot is unparallelled in Thailand for couples and honeymooners, although children are welcome too. It is spoiling, romantic and discreet, and the service is second to none.
Six Senses Yao Noi, Koh Yao Noi
Set on the island of Koh Yao Noi, Six Senses is a short boat ride from mainland Phuket. With limestone pinnacles protruding from the mirror-like waters of Phang Nga Bay, its surroundings are breathtaking. The vibe here is barefoot luxury through and through, and the spacious villas and suites all have private infinity pools. Our favourite is the Ocean Panorama Pool Villa because of its jaw-dropping, 180° sea views.
We can design any outing that appeals, from watersports and scuba-diving adventures to sailing and island-hopping by longtail boat. There’s also a Six Senses Spa village, which uses natural and ethical products in its long list of soothing treatments. The mangrove forest here harbours interesting wildlife and birds, such as the iconic oriental pied hornbill.
The restaurants serve scrumptious food – ranging from farm-to-table European cuisine in The Dining Room to Thai dishes in The Living Room – and you can sip punchy cocktails in The Den. In the past, we have arranged a memorable private dinner in the Hideaway Pool Villa, high up in the treetops.
It is difficult to say who this would suit best as we believe it ticks every box. The kids’ club and ice-cream station will keep the children happy, while honeymooners and older couples will be blown away by the privacy and tranquillity of this amazing beach escape.
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