Thailand's Top 10 Romantic Beach Resorts, Gulf of Thailand

choosing most romantic beach resorts – who and why the Gulf of Thailand

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With almost 1,300 beachfront accommodations in Thailand qualified by this Club, choosing the ten most romantic is difficult, and perhaps unfair to the many excellent candidates that miss out. Therefore we have separated the resorts into their two natural geographic divisions, those on the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman sides of the country, and chosen a Top 10 selection from each.

For a little background on the writer, and his qualifications to make such choices, see the prologue to the Top 10 most romantic resorts on Thailand's Andaman coast. As the photos in this website show, the writer/photographer has visited and photographed virtually all of those1,300 resorts, and has over 30 years experience in Thailand, most of it in business related to photography, publishing, tourism and beach resorts.

Experienced or not, the writer found the choosing difficult, for there are just so many beautiful, interesting and potentially romantic resorts in even half of he country. The building of beach resorts in Thailand has now been raised to a high art, and we can find amazing beachfront creations in the most unlikely places. We recognize that many excellent candidates did not make it to this list, not because of any failings of the resort, but simply because 10 is so limited.

Santhiya Resort – romantic perfection on Thong Nai Pan Noi beach, Koh Phangan

To brew up an irresistible love potion, a beachfront hotel needs the full range of ingredients, and nowhere in the country are they so obviously present as at Santhiya Resort & Spa : a stunning hillside location with grand ocean views; one of Thailand's most spectacular beaches at its fingertips, and a small private beach at its toes; a natural forest environment to bring out your wild instincts; the most luscious swimming pool within miles; all modern comforts expected of a top-end resort. If all this sounds like an exaggerated recipe for snake oil, not romance, check out our own Editor photos of this truly exceptional resort.

The location on Koh Phangan's northeast corner puts Santhiya in the 'remote, but not too far range'. After landing at Samui's airport the trip across 27 kilometres of water in the resort's speed boat takes just 45 minutes, but do time it for one of two daily departures.

Santhiya has employed wood with Thai architectural forms and motifs throughout the rooms, restaurant and public buildings, giving it a warm and luxurious feel – one that builds upon the awe first felt upon arriving in this spectacular location. If Santhiya's potent mix of tropical ingredients doesn't fire your romance, we suspect you might have arrived with the wrong person.

Kamalaya Koh Samui, Laem Sett, Koh Samui

Do you and your loved one need a healthy little paradise in which to rejuvenate body, spirit and emotional connections? Feel like getting lost in a gorgeous tropical forest with someone special? With lots of amenities and comforts, nearby, of course, plus a stunningly beautiful beach? As the photos of Kamalaya Koh Samui suggest, this resort lost on the far southern shore of the island, is one of the island's best-kept secrets, wrapped up in one of its most natural resort environments.

It's not so surprising, for Kamalaya is essentially a health retreat advocating natural ways and healthy lifestyles. In such natural, tranquil surroundings the body will automatically shed stress, and move towards inner calm. But Kamalaya's varied programmes can also help achieve other goals, such as weight loss and detoxification.

Health-giving activities don't have to occupy the whole day, and Kamalaya's beautiful beachfront is just one of several areas of the resort that are ideal for couples to relax, reconnect and rekindle.

New Star Beach Resort – choose hill-view or sandy, Chaweng Noi, Koh Samui

The beach where New Star Beach Resort slumbers on a hillside, gazing out across wide sand and calm ocean, is one of the finest on Koh Samui. Being a southern extension of Chaweng, the island's busiest beach with the most nightlife and entertainment, this enjoys both separation and connection. It's far enough away to be peaceful and quiet, yet close enough for a short ride to daytime shopping and evening entertainment.

New Star has the luxury of lots of space, with bungalow-style rooms spread through beautiful lawns and gardens. Its stylish beachfront chalets are so close to the beach that just a single step takes one – squelch – right onto soft white sand.

This could make an ideal spot for couples who want a relatively quiet beach, a good measure of privacy in a green environment, yet also want proximity to explore the restaurants, bars, markets and discos that have made Chaweng famous.

One of the toughest choices in New Star is this: high or low? Take a room high on the hillside and enjoy those gorgeous vistas, or a room right down by the sand and water. Of course there's a nice big swimming pool in between, with rooms close by too. Romantic? All you need is the right person, this can easily supply the rest.

Coral Cove Chalet – hideaway among huge granite boulders, Coral Cove, Koh Samui

Where Samui's big mountain meets the sea, and hurls huge boulders down to meet it, many, hidden coves have been formed. Forest spreads over rocks and sand, while coconut palms sway above, creating idyllic settings for escapist resorts. Coral Cove Chalet is a master of such tranquil escapes, fitting its rooms among the rocks and trees, placing some high for the views and others at the water's lapping edge. Choose among room types that are sequestered in environments dominated by beach, rock, forest and ocean view.

Coral Cove's quiet hillside location midway between Samui's two most famous beaches offers the advantage of its own small beach at Coral Cove, plus equal access to the two bigger, more active beach scenes at Chaweng and Lamai. Having your own transport here is a real advantage, for without it getting around is difficult. Of course, couples who find complete satisfaction within their relationship might find the private, rocky coves and beach here are an entirely romantic location with no need to see the rest of Samui.

Jamahkiri Resort – ultimate luxury island escape, Thian Ok Beach, Koh Tao

High on a headland with magnificent ocean views, or lying low in a cool coconut garden – in this spectacular resort guests can take their choice of two locations so different they are like two separate resorts. And few resorts enjoy a location, beach or headland, that is nearly as beautiful as either of the two offered by Jamahkiri Resort & Spa .

The headland zone is one of modern buildings woven Mediterranean-style among the big granite boulders that stud the hillside and dominate the shore. The swimming pool and one restaurant are elevate here, with views all the way to Koh Samui on a clear day. The resort has the luxury of its own jetty by the big rocks below, facilitating boat tours and diving trips.

Thian Ok Beach is one of the most natural and beautiful on Koh Tao, and Jamahkiri holds all land behind it save a small pinch at the west end. Its beach bungalows are scattered through a delightful, green coconut garden.

Few visitors to Koh Tao ever find Thian Ok Beach, leaving it largely to guests of this resort. With a stunning tropical beach almost to itself, and headland elevations, this luxurious resort enjoys the maximum of natural privileges on Koh Tao. These, complimented by the resort's modern luxuries make Jamahkiri the outstanding resort on this interesting, escapist island. And things simply don't get much more romantic that this on Koh Tao.

Anantara Hua Hin Resort – green, tropical oasis, Hua Hin, close to Bangkok

When building on a poor quality beach, smart resorts find ways to compensate. And with all of the beaches high in the Gulf of Thailand being rather poor, or just OK at best, this resort is the champion at creating a luxurious, tropical world-within. Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa actually sits on one of the nicest parts of Hua Hin's long, but generally boring beach, yet it has still built the most pleasant, relaxing resort experience within its walls.

Lots of space, lush foliage, expansive swimming pools and low-rise accommodations spread through tropical gardens are the hallmarks of this exceptionally attractive resort. It's then spiced up with innovative tropical design motifs that begin right in the parking lot. Anantara is naturally relaxing, and has enough space, facilities, pools and beach to keep both families and couples happy, and out of each others' way.

Proximity to Bangkok is a major selling point here, for both city residents and foreign visitors walking out of the international airport can put themselves by Anantara's pool in under three hours. For couples seeking a quick, romantic interlude Hua Hin provides a convenient answer. And while no beach in the upper Gulf of Thailand resembles the tropical beauties of the southern islands, Anantara Hua Hin goes a long way in seducing the senses and transporting one to a tropical paradise, or the best resemblance of one close to Bangkok.

Sunset Park Resort – a separate world at Bang Saray, not far from Pattaya

How to find a romantic resort in the Pattaya area? Drive 20 kilometres south to rustic, undeveloped Bang Saray. Pattaya's high rise buildings are visible from the beach here – on the horizon – but that's the only reminder that an over-built, crowded and noisy beach resort is less than half-an-hour away. Here in Bang Saray everything is distinctly tranquil, slow-moving and relaxed.

Sunset Park Resort takes its guests even further from the concrete jungles to the north, sequestering them in a genuine, natural forest that comes as something of a surprise, for virtually all original forest has been cleared from this part of Thailand for agriculture and development. Many of Sunset's park rooms are set over a small natural waterway, but still among the trees.

The hotel's beachfront area, shaded by more native trees, is genuinely relaxing. The pool is also here, surrounded by a wooden deck. The use of concrete has been minimized to help preserve the blend with the natural surroundings. Interestingly, this resort has a sister establishment nearby, Sunset Village Resort Pattaya , sharing many of the same good attributes.

As peaceful and romantic as these two Sunset resorts might be, some guests still want to venture out to dip a finger or two into the pot of excitement that Pattaya brews up each evening. It's easy if you have your own transport (as guests from Bangkok do); otherwise make the 20 minute drive with a resort car, and return by taxi.

How does Sunset Park compare on the romance scale? It is difficult, even unfair, to compare resorts on the mediocre beaches along the upper portions of the Gulf of Thailand with those on the seductively beautiful island beaches to the south. But in this part of Thailand close to Bangkok we vote this small, intimate resort one of the very best.

Panviman Koh Chang – Thai-style, plush & private, Klong Prao Beach, Koh Chang

Panviman Koh Chang Resort is a famous name among wealthy Thais who love the combination of plush facilities and beautiful natural environments in its three resorts in Thailand. The Koh Chang property does proud to that reputation with a beautiful location on Klong Prao Beach, its attractive Thai-style architecture and the luxury of expansive green lawns and tropical gardens. The blending of traditional Thai architecture and styles with modern facilities is not uncommon in Thailand, but is achieved with special finesse in Panviman.

The resort has an especially large, winding pool surrounded by gardens and open-air restaurant, all looking out over the beach, ocean and sunset. The twilight hours are especially atmospheric here as the last rays of the falling sun shoot through the old coconut plantation that still envelopes the resort.

Panviman enjoys a high measure of privacy at mid Klong Prao, with few hotel neighbours. But both ends of the beach are within walking distance, as is the small village along the main road behind. Location thus provides the options of a complete hideaway vacation, or the chance to experience some of the island life outside. Shops, a small fresh market and convenience stores are within a kilometre, while a few small, atmospheric restaurants along Klong Prao canal are also easy to reach.

As a romantic escape with outside options, Panviman is among the best on Koh Chang, while the island itself is already outside the well-worn trails of mass tourism. For a romantic time, all the ingredients are certainly here.

Bhumiyama Beach Resort – comfort & style on Koh Chang's 'Lonely Beach'

Once nick-named 'Lonely Beach' by the international backpackers who flocked here during the 1990s, Ta Nam Beach (the real name) has moved up a development notch with the arrival of a few mid-range, 3- and 4-star resorts. Bhumiyama Beach Resort is part of that upgrading, taking an attractive stretch of sand at the south end of the beach. Now 4-star guests dance in the sand with the youthful traveller crowd at the late-night party venue close to Bhumiyama.

Ta Nam Beach is one of the most beautiful, and natural-looking beaches on Koh Chang. The sand is white, soft and plentiful, and the water quite deep for swimming at the north end. Green mountains push it tight to the water, and except for a few shops on the back road, there is no permanent community for miles. Just mountains and forest.

But Lonely Beach is not so lonely anymore. Young visitors from around the world are attracted by its decades-long reputation, and they flock to the beach cafes and mats in the sand during the sunset hours for meeting and connecting.

Many young couples are seen close together on the sand near Bhumiyama, while the glimmer of expectation in the eyes of the newly-met suggests romance blossoms easily around here. Thus, Lonely Beach shines as Koh Chang's most romantic stretch of sand (and we have included this on the list of Thailand's female-friendly beaches). Bhumiyama stands out as its most comfortable, full service resort with nice pool, gardens and relaxed atmosphere.

But can Ta Nam/Lonely Beach do anything for couples seeking to stoke fire in a cooling furnace? Or for those eager to turn a flame into a bonfire? There is no place on Koh Chang with as many sparks in the air, and Bhumiyama Resort lies right in the middle of it, on not-so-lonely, Lonely Beach.

Aleenta Resort – a little style & luxury on Pranburi Beach, close to Hua Hin

Pranburi is often seen as a satellite resort of Hua Hin, and a place for those seeking a quieter and more peaceful environment. Pranburi is both of those, but still close enough to Hua Hin that guests in the small, relaxed resorts here can access the many attractions, activities and restaurants around the older, busier beach resort. And a by-pass road makes the driving time from Bangkok to the two resorts about the same, two hours and a bit.

Pranburi's small collection of beachfront hotels mainly serves Bangkok's weekend exodus, but a few visitors from further afield have discovered it, with some appreciating the especially quiet environment here. If any Pranburi resort qualifies as romantic, it has to be Aleenta Resort & Spa , a name associated with creative design and architecture. Here those qualities have been employed to make create a pleasant, relaxing environment within the narrow resort space between road and beach.

Aleenta has broken up its space to create a patchwork of small beachfront rooms, pools, gardens and sundecks. It's creative, it's pretty and it's private – ideal for a couple seeking a pleasant beach hideaway in this part of Thailand. Close to Hua Hin, just a short jump from Bangkok.

by John Everingham

Expert advice on beachfront hotels and Thai beaches is available free from True Beachfront’s founder, the guy who’s also inspected and photographed over 1,100 Thai beach hotels and hundreds more in other Southeast Asia countries. E-mail john@beachf.com

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