Railay Beach in Krabi: This remote beach is a about a two-hour ferry ride from Phuket. How remote? You literally hop from a ferry to a traditional Thai boat that transports travelers closer to shore. Then you jump in the knee deep water with bags/suitcases over your head and wade to shore. From the moment your feet hit the sand, relaxation takes over in this laid back village. With limestone cliffs plunging into the Indian Ocean, Railay beach is a rock-climber’s paradise. Days here are spent climbing, trekking and kayaking.
Phi Phi Islands: Made famous by the movie "The Beach," the islands offer endless white sand beaches and a variety of marine life -- excellent for scuba diving and snorkeling. During a full moon, expect exciting nightlife complete with mesmerizing Thai fire dancers.
Patong Beach: This was my first stop in Phuket where it isn’t unusual to get a $6-$10 hourlong Thai massage on the beach. Patong is full of action, restaurants with fresh (and inexpensive) seafood, bars and nightclubs. Be sure to at least try the Red Snapper, Tiger Prawns or Lobster. Rows of beach chairs and water activities line the wide beach where travelers can seek relaxation. At night, stroll through Bangla Road for live music and nightlife. Be sure to pack bug spray or buy some at a local shop before dusk. This is also a great location to stock up on inexpensive souvenirs (remember to always try for a bargain).
Karon Beach: This region is full of upscale resorts and is ideal for families looking for all needs met on site or just a short walk away. Along with being quiet and calm, Karon is known for its “big Buddha” perched atop a mountain -- which indeed can’t be missed while walking along the beach or driving into town.