Bang Saen is the closest beach resort to Bangkok, but the beaches are OK rather than great. Foreign tourists rarely visit it. Next is the rather 'in-your-face' resort of Pattaya where the sea isn't clean. About the same distance from Bangkok (@ 3 hours) are Rayong and Huahin on opposite coasts. Beyond Rayong you can get to Koh Samed.Edited: 26 September 2011, 06:39
Or catch a boat from Pattaya to Coral Island - very nice!
I suggest you check out the Hua Hin Forum. 2 hour 40 min drive from Bangkok. Beautiful white powdery sand. Horseback riding along the shoreline. They have recently completed a floating market.
There is a couple of night markets. One night market becomes a foodie market. The food is fabulous. Cheap, delicious seafood and fresh! The beach in front of Sofitel Hotel is the best beach area. You can stay at a big 4 to 5 star hotel right on the beach or a 3 star clean budget hotel walking distance on the main street to the beach.
You can hire a driver to transfer you from hotel in Bangkok to hotel in Hua Hin than be picked up and returned to Bangkok hotel 4 days later. 4000Baht return in peak season. 65US each way.
Lots of retied foreigners live her. It's is also a Thai week-end get-away. It is a lot tamer than Pattaya and the beach really is beautiful!
I would suggest Huahin or Koh Samed but if you should decide on Pattaya be prepared for a very over commercial resort with lots of sex tourists make for Jomtien if you go to this area at all.
Hua Hin is nice and relaxing wqith long stretch of beach.
If you are looking for quality beach hotels / resorts 5 star range the Sofitel is excellent, one of the best hotels in Asia.
There is also Intercontinental, Hyatt Regency and just north of town Sheraton.
There is also a Marriott Resort, Anantara, Cape NBdhra with pool rooms/suites, Asara Villa and Suites.
All of these are absolute beachfront.
There are also many others 4 star, small luxury and boutique places.
Hua Hin is smaller and more tame / sedate than Pattaya with beach and over the water restaurants, night market, sidewalk cafes, bars etc.
Cultural and historic and nature attractions close by.
From Bangkok 2.5 hrs taxi or limo, 3 to 4 hrs by train.Edited: 26 September 2011, 10:34
I missed the Hua Hin Hilton, though that is high rise, but there are lots of choices depending on your budget and the style of place you like.
Koh Samet is a lovely place. The further away you go from where the ferry stops the quiter it tends to get
Agree with many on here. My first choice would be the beautiful relaxing resort of Hua Hin which is less than 3 hours from Bangkok.
However if you want a nice relaxing island Koh Samed is also about 3 hours from Bangkok. Just take a bus (Ekkamai) or white van (Victory Monument) from Bangkok to Ban-phe. The ferry ride from Ban-phe is about 35-40 minutes.
Both would be great choices and ideal for 3-4 days with Hua Hin having the better hotels.
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