Seaside getaways: Beaches & Islands Near Bangkok

Many people come to Thailand to visit one or more of its amazing islands. For some travellers, though, their itinerary doesn’t allow them much time. If you are looking for an island near Bangkok for a quick getaway or are just looking for the closest beach to Bangkok, locally based travel writer, Stephen Christopher, has come up with a few of his favourites to share with you today.

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The good news is that there are islands near Bangkok. Two of them are in adjoining provinces, and two more are a couple of hours away. And if you have more time on your hands, overnight stays on some beautiful islands deep in the Gulf of Thailand are must-see destinations.

But even if you’re only in Thailand for a few days, you can still visit an island. Let’s start our journey there:

The 2 Closest Islands near Bangkok

I’ll start my island-hopping adventure in Bangkok. There are two islands very close by. Now, these aren’t the tropical islands you’ve seen in brochures; there are no sandy beaches here. But they are unique and well worth visiting, especially if you’re here for a weekend and have limited time.

Bang Kachao Island

The closest island to Bangkok is located just south of the capital, across the Chao Phraya River from Khlong Toei. It’s actually a man-made island known as Bang Kachao Island. It was carved out of a bend in the river.

Coconut island at Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park And Botanical Garden on Bang Kachao

There are numerous cultural activities and historical sites here, including the Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market. Cafes and restaurants by the river are plentiful, and you can bicycle around the island.

Bang Kachao is affectionately known as ‘Bangkok’s Green Lung’ as the dense population of trees on the island provides much-needed oxygen right near the concrete jungle of the city.

While you can go to the island every day, many activities, like the floating market and some restaurants, are only open on weekends.

How to get to Bang Kachao Island

There are a number of ways to Bang Kachao, the best will depend on where you are staying.

  • You can get there very easily by ferry from the Wat Bang Na Nok pier in Bang Na. Take the BTS to Bang Na, then a taxi to Sanphawut Pier, ferry to Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok Port.
  • Take the MRT blue line to Khlong Toei Station, then grab a taxi to Khlong Toei Pier. The ferry ride is less than 10 minutes. Once you arrive you can rent a bike from near the pier.
  • You can take BTS to Phrom Phong or Thonglor, taxi to Khlong Toei Pier, ferry to Bang Kachao Pier or jump of at Ekkamai BTS and get the no 72 bus.
  • You can also drive to the island via the Rama IX and

Distance to Bang Kachao from Bangkok: 20km by road.

Koh Kret Island

The next closest island to Bangkok is situated 20 km north of the city centre in the neighbouring province of Nonthaburi, and it’s called Koh Kret Island.

Koh Kret Island sits on a bend in the Chao Phraya River. Back in 1722, workers carved a canal through the mainland, to create a shorter route to Ayutthaya and in the process creating another man-made island in Bangkok.

Home to the Thai-Mon people for over 300 years, during the week things are very quiet. It’s best to visit weekends when more is open including the floating market.

Ko Kret Golden Temple
Ko Kret’s Wat Paramaiyikawat

The island is well known for the leaning pagoda Phra Chedi Mutao and the pottery crafted by the locals. There are several restaurants, cafes, markets, and some homestay accommodations.

Visit a pottery shop where you can purchase tradition Mon style pieces.

However, one of the biggest draw cards to Ko Kret is the craft beer on offer at Chit Brewery, which draws lots of Bangkok locals each weekend. It’s open midday till 9pm.

How to get to Koh Kret from Bangkok

There are a couple of ways to get from the centre of Bangkok to Ko Kret.

  • You can take a bus #166 from Victory Monument, or bus #505 from CentralWorld to the end of the line at Pakkret. Walk to Wat Sanam Neua where you will find the pier to Ko Kret.
  • Ride the Green flag ferry from Sathorn Pier to Pakkret (N33) or take the Orange flag express ferry to Northaburi Pier (N30) then the public bus (32) to Pakkret.
  • Access is a short boat ride from Wat Klang Kret Pier, directly opposite the island to Koh Kret Pier.
  • A taxi from the centre of Bangkok to Wat Sanam Neua pier will take you about 45 minutes. From here you join the very short boat ride across the Chao Phraya (10-15 THB per person) .

Distance from Bangkok to Koh Kret: 20km

The Closest Beaches to Bangkok

Many people who visit Bangkok ask if there are any sandy beaches nearby, and there are. Within a few hour’s drive, you can lie on a beach chair, sipping a drink and listening to the gentle lapping of the waves in the Gulf of Thailand.

Bangsaen Beach

A well-kept secret is that there’s a beach, less than 90 minutes’ drive from the Bangkok city centre. It’s called Bangsaen Beach, and it’s a popular weekend getaway for many local Bangkokians. From Monday to Thursday, it’s a quiet seaside town. By Friday night, it starts to get regional visitors; by Sunday, it’s at peak capacity.

Bangsaen Beach in the late afternoon

Street vendors selling local Thai food and drinks are up and down the 3km stretch of beach. You can hire a beach chair from 50 baht and up, depending on the location and how many of you there are.

Expect to pay tourist prices for everything from coffee and local food to accommodation.

How to get to Bangsaen Beach From Bangkok

Bangsaen Beach is easy to get to from Bangkok.

  • Take the BTS to Ekkamai, where you will find the Southern Bus Terminal. Vans take 1.5 hours in good traffic or a little longer in peak hour.
  • You can catch a mini van direct to Bang Saen or jump on one heading to Pattaya and Rayong via Chonburi. Get off at Nong Mon Market on Sukhumvit Road and take a songtaew to the beach.

Distance from Bangkok to Bangsaen Beach: 105km, travel time by car 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Pattaya Beach

Pattaya Beach really doesn’t need much introduction. It’s been a playground for tourists and expats for decades. It’s around 2 hours from Bangkok via the number 7 motorway and can be visited as a full-day tour, but it’s best an overnighter.

Pattaya city is well known for its red light district, and if you visit any of the bars across the road from the beach, you’ll be obligated to buy a drink, or ten, for the hostess taking care of your table.

Pattaya Beach

The beach has undergone some maintenance since Covid, and it’s lovely to visit during the day. Beach chairs here are 50–100 baht each, and you can get local Thai food cooked and delivered to the chair.

Just around the corner from Pattaya Beach is Jomtien Beach; it has a very similar setup, but many LGBTQI tourists find what they’re looking for in Jomtien.

How to get to Pattaya Beach From Bangkok

  • You can take a bus from either Mo Chit bus station or Suvarnabhumi Airport.
  • A taxi will cost you about 1500 Baht. The trip takes about 2-3 hours depending on your departure point.

Distance from Bangkok to Pattaya Beach: 147km, travel time by car is approximately 2 hours.

Tropical Islands Near Bangkok

Okay, so most of you are here because you want to visit one of those tropical beach islands plastered all over Instagram. And you’re in luck; three are not far from Bangkok. In fact, you could visit either of these in a (very long) one-day trip.

Koh Si Chang

The closest island to Bangkok, with a beach, is Koh Si Chang. It’s a small 17.3 km2 island in the Gulf of Thailand just off the coast of Thailand in Chonburi province.

Pagoda buddha Footprint of Buddhism on big hill in Ko Si Chang Island Chonburi province,Popular tourist destination in Thailand.
View over Koh Si Chang from the Wat

No cars are allowed on the island, and your best way to explore Koh Si Chang is by motorcycle, which you can hire at the port for 300 baht per day (you may need to show an international driver’s licence depending on who you hire it from).

There are many things to see and do on Koh Si Chang Island besides lying on one of its many pristine beaches. It’s been the playground for many former kings, and the revered Rama V (King Chulalongkorn)’s summer palace is still there and can be visited.

While you can visit for a day, there’s a stack of accommodations ranging from homestays to luxury hotels. Food options are endless, with seafood restaurants being the main attraction.

How to get to Koh Si Chang from Bangkok

  • To get to from Bangkok from Koh Si Chang you can take a bus from Ekkamai’s Southern Bus Station will take about 2 hours.
  • You can take a taxi, the approximate cost is about 2000 Baht.
  • Take a 45-minute ferry ride from the port at Sri Racha, which is just under a 90-120 minute drive from Bangkok.

Distance from Bangkok to Koh Si Chang: 75km

Koh Larn Island

The next closest island to Bangkok is called Koh Larn. It’s a little further down the coast from Bangkok and Sri Racha.

Koh Larn is even smaller than Koh Si Chang at only 5.6 km2. In my opinion, it’s one of the best islands near Bangkok and one of my favourite getaways in Thailand.

Koh Larn Thailand

White sand beaches are dotted right around the island, with Monkey Beach at its southern point, with views across the sea to Pattaya and Jomtien. Koh Larn has earned the nickname ‘Coral Island’ due to the immense coral reefs nearby — great for snorkelling or scuba diving!

In the very centre of the island, on top of the mountain, is the Big Buddha. It’s a 250 (steep) step climb, but absolutely worth it with spectacular views of the entire island and the Thailand coast.

Travelling around the island is the same as Koh Si Chang, with motorcycles available to hire at both ferry piers and almost every hotel.

My tip is to ride your motorcycle to the west coast of the island to the viewpoint to watch the incredible sunset from there.

Accommodation at Koh Larn is also very similar, ranging from guest houses and hostels to luxury resorts.

How to get to Koh Larn from Bangkok

  • Take the bus from Eastern bus station at Ekkamai to Pattaya. You can also take the 389 bus from Suvarnabhumi to Jomtien bus station. The drop off point in Bali Hai Pier.
  • You can access Koh Larn via a 40-minute ferry ride from Pattaya’s Bali Hai Pier to either Na Baan Pier on the east coast of the island or Tawaen Beach Pier on the west coast. (30 Baht)
  • You can also choose to take a speedboat for (200 Baht)

Distance from Bangkok to Koh Larn: 152km

Koh Khram Yai

Many islands near Bangkok get an influx of tourists, and some of the beaches and facilities suffer over time.

This isn’t the case with the primarily unknown Koh Khram Yai. This island is unique as the Royal Thai Navy protects it, and the number of tourists is restricted. The pristine beaches and protected fauna make this one of the best islands near Bangkok.

You can’t just show up and grab a ferry to Koh Khram Yai, as there isn’t one. You must book in advance, or you can sometimes secure a private tour on the day with one of the local tour operators at Sattahip if you’re lucky.

There are times of the year during the sea turtle mating season when the island is totally off-limits.

At 13.9 km2, it’s the largest of the three islands near Bangkok, and swimming, snorkelling and paddle boarding are popular water sports here.

For white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, Koh Khram Yai is one of the most beautiful islands near Bangkok.

How to get to Koh Khram Yai from Bangkok

To get to Koh Khram Yai your best bet is to make your way to Pattaya or Sattahip and then book a private boat to take you to the island for the day

Distance from Bangkok to Koh Khram Yai: 122km

Islands to Visit if You Have More Time

For those of you with a few nights to spare, I encourage you to travel a little further away from Bangkok and experience one of the other islands deeper into the Gulf of Thailand.

Koh Samet

One of the most famous islands near Bangkok is Koh Samet. It’s an excellent holiday destination that can be fully booked during high season and special events.

It takes some time to get to Koh Samet. Firstly, it’s around a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Bangkok to Rayong. Then you take the speed boat (15 minutes) or the ferry ride (45 minutes) from Ban Phe Pier to Koh Samet Pier.

Summer at Koh Samet – Hat Sai Kaeo.

Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular beach activities here, as are eating, drinking, and partying. The nighttime beach parties here on this fun filled island during festival seasons are some of the best in Thailand. One of my best-ever New Year’s Eve was spent on Koh Samet at one of these parties.

Koh Samet is the smallest island near Bangkok at only 5.13km², so the best way to get around is by motorcycle. You can hire one just about anywhere on the island.

Accommodation ranges from 1 to 5 stars, and I highly recommend staying in one of the many beach bungalows — if you book early!

How to get to Koh Samet

  • You can catch a bus from Ekkamai Bus Terminal to Ban Phe, this takes at least 3.5 hours
  • A taxi from Bangkok to Koh Samet will cost about 2,400 Baht and takes about 2-3 hours.
  • Ferries to the island leave from Ban Phe in Rayong and take about 40 minutes.
  • It is a good option if you have spending time in Pattaya.

Distance from Bangkok to Koh Samet: 168km

Koh Chang

The last island near Bangkok that I’ll cover today is Koh Chang. Located in Trat Province, very close to Cambodia, nicknamed Elephant Island because of the shape of the headland, this tropical paradise is everything you’ve seen in the brochures and more.

Lonely Beach Ko Chang
Lonely beach, Koh Chang

Koh Chang is the largest island near Bangkok at 213 km2, and cars and 4WD vehicles are permitted on the island and can be hired to get around, as can motorcycles.

Like Koh Samet, beach parties are common here, and the fire-spinning shows must be seen to be believed – but don’t stand too close!

There is a stack of quality accommodations available on the island at various price ranges.

The best time to visit Koh Chang is during the cool season, from December to February. May to October is the rainy season, and there are fewer tourists here as the weather is the most unpredictable, but the hotel prices plummet, so that awesome deals can be found then.

How to get to Koh Chang from Bangkok

A trip to Koh Chang requires some planning.

  • The bus trip from Bangkok’s Ekkamai bus terminal to the ferry pier at Laem Ngop is around 5 hours.
  • In comparison, Trat Airport is only 20 minutes from the pier.

Distance from Bangkok to Koh Chang: 350km

Visit One of the Many Islands Near Bangkok

It’s easy to visit an island when you’re staying in Bangkok. Koh Kret and Bang Kachao are literally on your doorstep.

  • If mainland beaches near Bangkok are what you’re looking for, both Bangsaen Beach and Pattaya Beach can be reached within a couple of hours.
  • For an extended day trip and to visit an island with a sandy beach, you can go to Koh Si Chang, Koh Larn or Koh Khram Yai.
  • Venture further afield, have an extended island stay and go to either Koh Samet or Koh Chang. Be sure to book in advance during the high season to avoid missing out.

Enjoy your time at one of the many islands near Bangkok.

About the author: Stephen left Australia in 2016 with a one-way ticket to Thailand
and hasn’t been back since. Seven years later, he’s “living the ex-pat dream”, married and settled down; he and his partner travel across Thailand competing in half-marathon running events and sampling coffee at cafes.