In this blog we will show you that by ditching island destinations in favour of mainland Southern Thailand, you can fly to Bangkok, take a domestic flight south and be checked in to your secluded beach resort in under 14 hours.
If you want to skip this blog here is a great website with details of all domestic airports in Thailand along with links for online booking – http://www.sawadee.com/thailand/transfer/ but we hope you enjoy our 4 picks too.
Does it get more adventurous than Koh Samui or Phuket?
Absolutely, and you don’t need to sit on a bus or take a 5 hour taxi transfer to get off the beaten track in Thailand. Most tourists flying to Thailand for a short beach holiday will opt to take a domestic flight from Bangkok to either Phuket Island or Koh Samui Island. Phuket and Koh Samui are the only islands that have airports but if you fly south within the mainland, you can find some amazing and much less developed beaches for your holiday.
How can I use domestic flights in Thailand to get away from it all?
Why not fly south from Bangkok to either Chumphon, Surat Thani, Trang or Hatyai. Then ditch the transfer to the islands and stay on the mainland of South Thailand.
You would normally fly to:
- Chumphon Airport to take the ferry to Koh Tao Island
- Surat Thani Airport to take the ferry to Koh Phangan Island
- Trang Airport to head to the islands nearby
- Hatyai Airport to take the boat to Koh Lipe Island
Fly into any of the above airports and it will still take another 4-6 hours to get to your resort on any of the islands. However each of these mainland Thai airports are close to some undeveloped, local and beautiful beaches. Ideal!
The main benefits of being on the mainland are:
- You can really explore the local culture
- You can make some authentic Thai friends
- You can visit provincial capitals
- You can avoid the crowds
- You can avoid that lengthy island transfer
As usual there is a helpful map at the bottom of this blog which shows you all of Southern Thailand.
Chumphon Airport direct to Thung Wua Laen Beach
Chumphon is where you catch the ferry to the island of Ko Tao, however the beaches surrounding the town of Chumphon are great places to step off the bandwagon and try something more local and less crowded.
14km south of the town are the 3 beaches of Pardaorn, Sairee and Makham which are on a little peninsula and are easy to get to by public transport or motorbike. A little further south are the bays of Makham Yai and Makhan Noi. Makham Yai has a small fishing village along the beach area, but Makham Noi is uninhabited. Both bays are sheltered so are calm all year round and islands just offshore are good for snorkelling too.
North of Chumphon and heading towards the airport is Thung Wua Laen Beach. This wide bay has several resorts and restaurants and is the busiest beach area on the mainland of Chumphon. Further north and close to the airport is a stunning beach area that is hardly developed called Pathiu. It is on this beach that you will find our recommended resort for the area – Sara Resort. There are lots of backpacker and 2 /3 star places to stay in Chumphorn but Sara Resort is a much loved 4 star that has found a place in many tourists’ hearts for it’s beauty, seclusion and friendly staff.
Surat Thani Airport and Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport direct to Khanom Beach
Surat Thani is the big town you go to if you want to take the ferry from the mainland to Koh Phangan, (and the ferry to to Koh Samui if you don’t want to splurge on flying in direct.) However, only an hour away from Surat Thani airport or even closer, 45 minutes from Nakhon Si Thammarat airport is the mainland beach area of Khanom.
Halfway between Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat, Khanom is overlooked by tourists who flock to the islands. This pristine coastal beach area is a great option for those wanting a fairly well developed beach setting without big brand hotel chains. The beaches are long, sandy and unspoilt and yet close enough to a domestic airport to be a great option for a short stay. Don’t expect to find nightclubs or aquaparks here, just peaceful secluded resorts and friendly locals.
The long coastline which stretches over 18km is generically called Khanom but is actually made up of many beaches including Na Dan Beach, Nai Phlao Beach (which is the largest beach of Khanom,) Thung Yi Beach and Thong Yang Beach which are all stunning. Thong Yang Beach can only be reached by boat, and it is easier to take the boat from Sichon Fishing Village which is to the south of Khanom Town. There are also some remote beaches around Sichon Villlage.
As with Chumphon you don’t need to book your whole holiday before you arrive. Book online for a few days and then explore the area. Our recommended place of stay in Khanom is Leeloo Paradise
Hatyai Airport direct to Samila Beach
If you look at the map of Southern Thailand (below) you can see that Hatyai (or Had Yai as it is sometimes called) is situated close to both the eastern and western coastline. You’ve probably only heard Hatyai because it is one of the drop off points if you are on your way to the famous Koh Lipe on the west coast. Koh Lipe is the only inhabited island in the group of National Park islands called Turatao. Koh Lipe and the surrounding marine national park is stunning but takes a long time to get to. It is a 90 minute drive to get from Hatyai to the ferry port and then another 60km by boat to the island.
However, on the opposite coast – the east coast of the Thai mainland, there are some lovely and quiet beach resort options about 45 minutes from Hatyai Airport.
Near the town of Songkhla are some pretty and often almost deserted beaches that are pine fringed and have a laid back atmosphere that is authentically Thai. The main beach is Samila Beach which is good for swimming. Just 3km south of Samila is Kao Seng village, and the beach here (also called Khao Seng) is long, straight and although dotted with rocks, is fine for swimming and also very quiet.
If you really want to get away from it all, also one hour from Hatyai and also on the less famous east coast is the quiet and beautiful national park area of Sathing Phra where you can find the our recommended beach side resort called Ao Thai.
Trang Airport direct to Pak Meng Beach
The final mainland region this blog covers, that has flights direct from Bangkok, is Trang. Like the other regions we covered it is in South Thailand and is also is often overlooked in favour of it’s famous islands.
Just north of the town of Trang, and only 30 minutes from the Trang Airport is the beach area called Pak Meng, which is 5 km of pristine white sand, surrounded by limestone cliffs and woodland. Pak Meng is the most beautiful stretch along the coastline of Trang. Pak Meng Beach has some good accommodation to suit all budgets and a few restaurants. 9km north of Pak Meng are the beaches of Chao Mai and Chang Lang which are also very pretty and even quieter.
The mainland of Trang is ideal for exploring the local islands via half day and full day boat trips. Our hotel choice on mainland Trang is the 5 star luxury Anantara Si-Kao Resort. It’s simply stunning.
How do I book my domestic flights in Thailand?
We found this really helpful website which shows all the airlines, where they go and links directly to their website for online booking. Remember that if you fly from a foreign country into Bangkok you will fly into the international airport called Suvarnabhumi. Most (but not all) domestic flights leave Bangkok from a smaller airport 25 minutes away called Don Muang. There is a free shuttle bus between the 2 airports. Check which airport your domestic flight leaves from and give yourself enough time for the transfer.
Should I book my entire stay?
There is no need to book your entire holiday in this area as no where is ever full. We recommend you book yourself into a place for 2 nights, hire a motorbike or car and find your own piece of paradise for the remainder of your stay. If it is all too quiet for you, you can always take the ferry to the islands afterall.
Map of Southern Thailand
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Pictures courtesy of Flickr.com – Featured image is of Khanom Beach by Kai ‘Oswald’ Seidler, Beach near Chumphorn by Ringo Ichigo, Khanom Beach by Phuket@photographer.net, Samila Beach by FGMB and Pak Meng beach by Vyacheslav Argenberg.