Although not commonly thought of as a surf destination, Thailand does have a small surf scene, making it more than just a backpacker’s destination. Although you’ll probably never go to Thailand exclusively to surf, if you are already in the area, there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a few waves between your coconut curry and full moon beach parties!
The Surf: Predominantly short-interval swell on beach breaks in the Phuket area, with the odd reef thrown in for good measure. In general, this is a beginner surf destination.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Kalim Reef: One of Thailand’s rare reef breaks, this righthander can provide long rides and has a few surf shops in the vicinity.
- Karon Beach: A righthand beach break setup in Phuket with an established surf scene.
- Kata Beach: A series of beach break peaks in Phuket with a nearby surf shop.
- Koh Lanta: A soft beach break peak with nearby surf shops, this is a great stop for someone looking to learn how to surf.
- Koh Kraden Island: Koh Kraden, an island off the west coast of Thailand, is rumored to have some of the biggest and best waves in the country.
The Water: Phuket—and southern Thailand in general—is famous for its crystalline, tropical waters (ever see The Beach?). Surface temps hover right around 84 F (30 C) year round.
The Season: The swell in Thailand is typically caused by local monsoon weather, so you’re best bet will be between April and November.
The Vibe: Extremely laid back. Although there is a fledgling surf scene in Thailand, the waves are not consistent or good enough to result in any kind of serious localism.
Things To Do: There are nearly infinite forms of entertainment in Thailand—it all depends what you are looking for. Full moon parties are infamous in the beach and island areas, and the seedy streets of Bangkok are a sight to behold. Other activities include scuba diving in the south, hill trekking in the north, visiting temples, taking cooking lessons, enjoying legendary massages—if you can dream it up, it’s probably available.
Where To Stay: Thailand is ground zero for the backpacker scene, and you will find virtually unlimited accommodation options at unbelievably low prices.
What To Bring: A fish or a longboard—or you can leave them at home and just rent boards when you get there. Flip-flops and bathing suits to enjoy the southern beaches. A pair of hiking shoes for the northern mountain areas. An open mind and a taste for adventure.
Getting There: Bangkok is a major travel hub in South East Asia, and Bangkok International Airport will be your main gateway into the region. Tourist visas available upon arrival. Airport code: BKK.