Better Beaches: Philippines or Thailand?

Choose your paradise: Thailand or Philippines? Find out which destination offers the ultimate beach experience for travelers in our guide.

Tobi Miles
July 5, 2024
Choose your paradise: Thailand or Philippines? Find out which destination offers the ultimate beach experience for travelers in our guide.

Thailand vs Philippines Beaches

Thailand & Philippines, both amazing places they each have their own charm, culture, traditions, sights, sounds and of course amazing beaches!

Lots of backpackers integrate both countries into their trip with cheap flights using Air Asia Airlines. For vacation tourists Thailand is definitely the more popular at the moment and has seen a true explosion in visitor numbers!

However, is this because it's better? or simply because it's trending? The truth is it's a combination, but don't rule Philippines out it is definitely coming up the rear and rapidly gaining popularity.

Lot's of people travel for different reasons for some it's culture, for others it's nature but most people wouldn't feel like they have been away without access so a beautiful paradise beach!

Which has the best beaches Thailand or Philippines?

We believe the Philippines wins hands down! Why? The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, it is a prime destination for exotic beaches, island hopping and a laid back lifestyle!

With over 9,600 square miles of reef areas, (Making up approximately 9%  of the world's total reef area! So you have sheer quantity of beaches but also an immense quality. With less tourists numbers than Thailand and quieter shipping lanes the coral is still going strong in alot of the Philippines.

Scuba divers make a regular pilgrimage to the islands and  love the clear waters and abundance of Sealife.

So wait...I know what your thinking wasn't the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo Dicaprio filmed in Thailand with the entire premiss being a paradise getaway of beautiful beaches! Correct! However, that movie was made in the year 2000, nearly 20 years ago i feel old!

These days the world famous Maya Beach (Located just of the Phi Phi islands) is still a beautiful, pristine beach...but wait there is a catch.  Due to shear number of tourists and pollution caused by the increase in boats around the is now closed permanently! Due to the coral damage.

I was in Thailand in January 2019 and i did visit the famous beach on a boat trip along with 50 other boats all anchored just outside the restricted zone, it was ridiculous!

Don't get me wrong Thailand still has some beautiful beaches in the north west of Phuket, the Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Ko Lanta, Koh Phanghan etc. Below i've detailed a review of each and some helpful thoughts.

Best Thailand Beaches

Koh Phi Phi:

Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the whole of  Thailand. With gigantic limestone cliffs, caves (such as the famous Pirates cave) and long white sandy beaches.

A boat ride up to Phi Phi from Krabi or Phuket is amazing the shear size the limestone cliffs look like something out of a King Kong movie, a lost tropical paradise!  This island and the surrounding areas probably had the best beaches in Thailand.

The reason I say had is that due to the sheer number of tourists numbers which have exploded in recent years and thus extra shipping pollution, litter etc.

This has resulted in the majority of the once beautiful and vibrant coral to die. Don't get me wrong though are still some beautiful parts and I would recommended a visit for a couple of days or a day trip from Krabi or Phuket.

1. Maya beach/Bay

This is a beautiful white sandy beach surrounded by crystal clear waters and idyllic scenery.

As I mentioned previously access to this beach is now restricted due to coral damage, however you can still see it on an island boat trip which takes you from Maya bay, to monkey beach, pirates cave and around the coast. Most boat trips allow you to snorkel near the beach area which can be pretty nice in the clear waters.

Maya Bay in Thailand | By Jeff Britto via Wikimedia Commons

2. Bamboo Island Beaches

Bamboo Island (or Ko Pai )is tiny  island located around  5 km from the northern tip of Phi Phi Don Island. It takes 45 to get here by longtail boat from Ton Sai Beach On the north and east sides of the island are beautiful sandy beaches. A small bar serves drinks and snacks.

3. Loh Dalum Bay Beaches

On the opposite side of island from Tonsai Village, Loh Dalum Bay is considered one of the most scenic  beaches in Ko Phi Phi, surrounded by gigantic limestone cliffs , an emerald sea fills the shoreline exquisitely. By night the famous beach bars/ club have spectacular fire breathing/dancing shows  with partying and music going on throughout the night. Although a great beach it can get busy.

By Caitriana Nicholson via Wikimedia Commons

Phuket Beaches:

Although Phuket is a very busy island there is still some scenic and magnificent beaches to go to. My advice is to avoid Patong beach, unless you like crowds as it can get really busy. Luckily for Phuket there are plenty of beautiful beaches.

4. Kata Beach, Phuket

If you staying in Patong or Kata I would recommend heading to Kata beach over Patong beach it is a mere 10 mins scooter ride or taxi from Patong but it's a much nicer beach. It can still get busy but not to the extent of Patong. Kata is more of a family area so expect a more family oriented vibe. As it is surrounded by alot of restaurants and bars it makes a very social beach, great for lunch.

Kata Beach 2019 Copyright Ben@TownandTourist. Best Beaches Thailand. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

Costs for extras at the Beach:

Sun-loungers &  umbrella's available for low cost rental (Approximately 150 baht ($5) all day). Fresh coconuts (50 baht each $1.70) and beers (80 baht each,  $2.70)

5. Layan Beach, Phuket

If you would like peace, quiet, beauty and more seclusion check out Layan Beach. This is a beautiful beach with soft white sand, crystal waters and more of a relaxing vibe. Usually, you would expect to find substantially less people than Kata beach, no annoying touts trying to sell you things and no loud speedboats and jet skis on the waters. Come here if you would like to fully relax!

6. Karon Beach, Phuket

Located on the west coast of Phuket. This beach is especially popular among families and couples, and less popular with singles than Patong. With a Hilton hotel close by it's great for people who would like more of a relaxed vibe.

The best part about the beach is that it is not over crowded and has an international crowd. Fewer restaurants and minimum disturbance by the sale touts. Number one place to watch the sunset!

Sunset on Karon Beach Copyright Ben@TownandTourist. Best Beaches Thailand. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

Koh Samui Beaches:

Koh Samui does have a beach, but due to such a high tide by 1pm which practically engulfs the entire beach! Your best bet would be to relax in one of the coastal or hotel beach clubs on a lounger to avoid getting washed out! This is not an exaggeration.

Koh Phangan Beaches:

Koh Phangan, the must see tropical rain forest style island is just a short ferry ride away from Koh Samui and has some of Thailands most natural, secluded and breathtaking beaches!

7. Malibu Beach:

The Malibu Beach is located at the  Malibu Beach Resort  in the northern village of Chaloklum. The sand is brilliantly white and is surrounded by an array of palm trees, wonderful turquoise waters and a small bar.

8. Haad Son (The Secret Beach)

Haad Son is located in a hidden bay along the west coast of the island. Some people call it the “Secret Beach”. There is a small restaurant and resort located nearby. This is a great place for snorkelling with its crystal waters.

The beach is a small dreamy beach with wonderful white sands surrounding by scenic tropical views. The only downside is a lack of shade spots which can be an issue during high season if it gets busy. Still it’s definitely one to visit and our favourite here at Town and Tourist.

13. Bottle Beach (Haad Khuat)

The infamous Bottle Beach is a well known beach on Koh Phangan. However, as it is only accessible by long tail boat or the notorious bottle beach trek through the mountainous forrest (If your feeling adventurous!

This means the beach remains a secluded paradise for the most part.

The sand is fine and smooth and the crystal water is fantastic. My favourite part is that you are surrounding by a lush mountainous wilderness, which really makes you feel like your on a tropical island. Don’t worry about being trapped on here forever though (although I wouldn’t mind!) there are regular boat taxis from the beach and a restaurant which offers food, drinks and those mouth watering fresh coconuts.

Bottle Beach View after 2 hour Trek Copyright Ben@TownandTourist. Best Beaches Thailand. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

Krabi Beaches:

14. Railay Beach (Phra Nang Beach)

Railay Bay is a gorgeous, unspoilt beach area, when you see those classic “Thailand” photos it’s probably from here or Phi Phi islands which is a short boat ride away.

Although the area of Krabi has plenty of beaches within the vicinity, Phra Nang beach is one of the most spectacular! If you would like to experience the majesty of nature, relax and bronze in the sin then your in for a treat with this place.

Fun Fact: Close by there is a particular and strange looking “rocky phallus shrine” embedded into the rocky cliff. Some believe this helps in fertility! Who knows! Either way it’s a great rock climbing area if your feeling adventurous.

Railay Beach Beach | By Sergio Tittarini via Wikimedia Commons

Koh Lanta Beaches:

Koh Lanta, is a tasty little island just of the coast Krabi, expect wondrous beaches and exquisite natural beauty. It is widely renowned for its coral-fringed beaches, mangrove tree, limestone cliffs and lush rainforests.

Mu Ko Lanta National Park stretches over several islands, including the southern end of the largest island Ko Lanta Yai, home to semi-nomadic sea people known as the Chao Leh. The park contains the Khao Mai Kaew cave network and Khlong Chak Waterfall.

How to get to Koh Lanta?

Passenger ferries leave regularly to Koh Lanta. If you are on foot the best way to travel to is by passenger ferry. Grab a taxi from Krabi Airport to the pier in Krabi Town for around 350 baht, which takes around 15 minutes, or to the pier in Ao Nang for around 600 baht, which takes 30 minutes.

This is a more hidden jewel of Thailand, less well known that the bigger islands but a will quench your wanderlust indeed!

15. Klong Dao Beach - Best for Families.

Located in the north of Koh Lanta YaiKlong Dao is a vibrant and probably the most popular beache in Koh Lanta. Spanning for close to 4 kilometres of fine white sands. The beach also is an ideal place for families due to it's shallow waters during the day and many amenities close by. From Restaurants, shops and even a few bars for the adults!

16. Kantiang Bay - Best for Couples.

Kantiang Bay is widely renowned as one of the most gorgeous beaches on the island of Koh Lanta.

Situated at the south of Koh Lanta’s main island (Koh Lanta Yai). With a lush rainforest surrounding the perimeter you really do feel like your in a rugged paradise! Also it doubles as shade if things get too hot. There is a more secluded andquieter feel to the beach. This is great for couples and anyone who wan't to snap real high quality photos in PEACE.

Katiang bay  Photo by Salparadis / Shutterstock. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

Philippines Beaches - The Ultimate Island Destination.

As mentioned previously the beautiful Philippines has over 7000 islands so plenty of beaches to choose from! Here at Town and Tourist we have shortlisted some of our favourites for you to check out.

1. Boracay, Aklan -

No1 Beach Island in the Philippines 2019.

Perhaps the most popular tourist destination in the Philippines and you can see why! With it’s golden white sands and pristine turquoise waters.

Boracay island was named “Best island in the world” and it’s famous “White beach” was named the “Finest beach in the world” in our Town and Tourist Best Beach Island Destinations 2019.

According to CNN's 100 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World list, Puka beach on the northern side was up there!

Due to the great beaches, it has been magnetised to become one of the most purpose built vacation destinations in the world with with over 350 hotel resorts. The massive range will suit everyone from the budget conscious travellers to those wanting all out luxury!

Activities at Boracay Beaches:

The island also the most fertile environment for a sheer a number of activities from snorkelling, scuba diving, boating and water sports!

So what is Helmet diving?? This is where you put on a helmet with glass windows around it, then you proceed to climb a ladder onto the sea bed around 10 feet. From their you can walk on the sea bed, imagine walking on the moon but surrounded by water…similar vibe!

If going under water is not your thing, Boracay island has a bubbling nightlife which adds a great contrast to the relaxing beaches with a spicy selection of bars, and restaurants.

Puka Shell Beach - Boracay (C) (Rafael Katayamam/Shutterstock). Best Philippines Beaches. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

Location of Boracay:

Boracay is a small island approximately 315 km south of Manila in the province of Aklan.

How do I get to Boracay?

There are no direct flights into Boracay, all travellers must fly to either Caticlan (the closer airport) or Kalibo (a more distant airport 60 kilometres usually has lower cost flights!). Then take a vehicle to Caticlan Jetty Port, and then take a boat from Caticlan Jetty Port, where there is a 10-20 minute boat ride to Boracay.

By Plane to Boracay:

From Manila: From Manila NAIA Airport, you may fly to either Kalibo or Caticlan.

From Kalibo, air-conditioned vans and buses can bring you to the Caticlan Jetty Port, which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes by road.

If you fly to Caticlan you can easily take a fun motorised tricycle from Caticlan airport to the Jetty, just three minutes away.

2. Siargao Island

Siargao island is an island located in Surigao del Norte. It has the largest mangrove forest in Mindanao an amazing seed of rich marine biodiversity. As you might have guessed this makes it a popular location for snorkeling, diving and even surfing!

If surfing is your thing you will love this island and it’s coast! An international surfing crowd makes use of the large waves which form at the cloud nine reef. Where the Siargao surfing cup is held annually.

Siargao | By ChaasPrime via Wikimedia Commons

3. Pagudpud, iiocos Norte.

Otherwise known as the “Boracay of the North” because of its fine white sands, crystal blue waters and the sheer number of water sports available (for people staying at resorts.

However, this place has a simpler more laid back feel then Boracay. Don’t hope to see large shopping malls, cinemas and other large venues, as the infrastructure is that of a true “island”, with not a single ATM on the island! So make sure you bring cash. The great news is you probably won’t need much as the most beautiful beaches in life are Free!

Nearby Attractions include:

Blue Lagoon Beach, Kabigan falls and Kapurawan Rock Formation just a short drive away if you drive to Pagudpud from Laoag City.

4. Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.

Puerto Galera boasts stunning white sand beaches that are great for swimming, sailing ,snorkelling and of course diving!

Another great diving destination, according to a recent study by the University of Philippines the diving sites near this island have the densest population of marine species.

Location: Puerto Galera is located in Oriental Mindoro Province approximately 130 km south of Manila.

5. Samal Island:

This island is a beach resort paradise with over 70 various resorts dotted around the island. Great to suit all levels of budget and tastes from simple cost effective but still great resorts to more luxurious resorts.

If your after more developed vacation destination which suits more of a vacation style traveller than a backpacker, then this is the island for you.

World renowned resorts include, paradise island, the wonderful pearl farm and Kaputian Beach Resort.

See our hotels comparison page for a link to these great resorts!

Location of Samal Island:

The wonderful island is located approximately 2 kilometers away from Davao City, the capital of Mindanao. With the capital Mania a gigantic 1400 kilometers away!

Sunset on Samal Island | By Lachlan Fearnley by Wikimedia Commons

El Nido, Palawan

[Town and Tourist] No1 Bucket-list Island!

This is also one of our favourites, with 50 white sand beaches on the island, you will not be short of choice! If your a nature lover this amazing place includes five types of rain forest and three major marine habitats.

According to CNN travel, El Nido in Palawan is one of the Philippines’ best beaches and island destinations because of its "extraordinary natural splendour and ecosystem."

You can see why, the crystal water is rich with exquisite sea life, dolphins to exotic fish and over 200 hundred species of coral.

Bird wildlife is also a major attraction here, as the island is home to the swiftlets

[Town and Tourist] Fun Fact: Apodidae birds build nests from threads of their own saliva, the same ingredient also used in the famous bird's nest soup!

El Nido Beach: Source: (C) Dmitry Pichugin/shutterstock. Best Philippines Beaches. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

Best time of year to Visit El Nido?

The best time to visit is between the months of December- March this is dry and sunny with fewer visitors and slightly cheaper prices. The High season is between the months of April - May, this is also a good time to visit but be prepared for more tourists and slightly higher prices.

How do I Get To El Nido, Philippines?

By air:Method 1:

The most popular way is to fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa

Then grab a taxi or minibus up to the tip of mainland Palawan. From there you’ll hitch a ride on an outrigger boat to reach parts of El Nido.

Method 2:

Fly Manila to Puerto Princesa, and then take a four-hour bus ride to Taytay.

SEAIR also flies from Manila to Taytay daily.

Method 3:

For more private and high-end flights, Islands Transvoyager Inc. have a route from Manila to El Nido directly. The small private airport in El Nido is only serviced by a chartered aircraft.

Island Hopping in Thailand Copyright Ben@Town and Tourist. Philippines Vs Thailand Beaches

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Tobi Miles
Article updated:
July 5, 2024 11:07 AM

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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