And the million dollar question is…
Is there surfing in Thailand?
So here’s the deal:
Can you surf in Thailand? Yes.
Is it world class? Not really.
But even so:
If you’re looking for beginner friendly waves, easy going beach breaks, and uncrowded surfing spots, Thailand should definitely be on your radar.
This article is going to go through the basics of what you need to know about surfing in Thailand, including the Thailand surfing season, where the best surfing locations are, and who to rent your boards from.
Where’s the best surfing in Thailand?
You’ll find most of the best places to surf in Thailand along the Andaman side on the southwesterly coast.
There’s also some surf in the Gulf of Thailand, but most of the time the waves are smaller and less consistent.
Catch it at the right time, and surfing in the Gulf of Thailand can be super fun and particularly good for beginners.
Why you should consider going surfing in Thailand
So, Thailand may not have the perfectly hollow pipes that continuously crash against the shore in Bali or Siargao, but you can still easily score yourself some awesome waves there.
Thanks to the mostly mellow conditions and safe, sand bottom beach breaks, surfing in Thailand is ideal for beginners, longboarders, and SUP surfers- and it can be plenty of fun for advanced soul surfers, too.
On top of that:
Thailand’s cheap cost of living, year round tropical weather, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, and (as of yet) pretty uncrowded lineups make the country an epic destination for travelers looking to get their fix on some fun little waves.
Thailand is an extremely diverse place and each of the surfing spots listed below offers tons of other activities and adventures, which can be a deal breaker if you’re planning on traveling with some non-surfing friends or family members.
When’s the best season for surfing in Thailand?
The end of April/start of May through October is the southwest monsoon season, which is when the biggest and most consistent swell hits Thailand’s shores.
This is when the Andaman surf spots (and eastern Gulf spots) are at their best.
Paired with the occasional southwest groundswell or, more commonly, wind swell, the best waves normally come after a few days of windy weather and messy, unsurfable water conditions.
During the winter season (Nov-March) the Andaman spots switch off, the wind direction changes, and the western/southern Gulf spots get some swell.
Let’s take a gander at each of these surfing locations in a little more detail:
Best spots for surfing in Thailand
1. Surfing in Phuket
Best time for surfing in Phuket: April-October
Best spot for surfing in Phuket: Kata, Surin, Kalim, Nai Harn, Nai Yang
Wave size Phuket: 0.5-3 meters
Suitable for: all levels
Where to work remotely in Phuket: CocoWorking, HATCH, Sentio
If you’re wondering “can you surf in Phuket”, the answer is absolutely yes!
The local surf tribe widely considers Phuket to be the main hub of surfing in Thailand thanks to its long, westerly facing coastline, reliable wave season, plentiful beaches, and thriving community.
Phuket regularly hosts surfing competitions like the Phuket Surf Series, the Cherngtalay Surfing Contest, and the Kata Beach Surfing Contest (which, impressively, just completed their 17th edition).
The Phuket surf season runs from April-October when the southwest monsoon is at its peak, during which time you can surf somewhere in Phuket on most days. You can also surf in Phuket outside these months, but it’s going to be a hit or miss kind of situation, so you shouldn’t bank on a successful surfing holiday based on the hopes of getting offseason swell.
When it comes to where to surf in Phuket:
The south westerly facing Kata Beach is arguably the most popular of the Phuket surf spots, with Kata Noi, Bang Tao Beach, Pansea Beach, Surin, Patong, and Nai Harn also acting as local favourites.
More advanced surfers can check out the reef break at Kalim which offers a frothy ride on a left hander; while those looking to learn to surf in Phuket should head for the sheltered beach break at Kamala.
Karon Beach is another option. The squeaky white sand and 3 km stretch of beach initially seems like an appealing place to set up camp, though the shifting sand banks mean that it’s not the most reliable surf spot. If you’re going to give it a bash anyway, make sure you head there at high tide.
For those looking to squeeze in a session just before their flight, make your way to Nai Yang Beach, just 300 meters south of Phuket airport. The underwater reef and crystal clear water are a perfect match for the long, lazy rights that roll in here.
Board rentals are widely available at all of Phuket’s main surfing spots.
Need some help to get your first wave? Book a surf lesson through our partner Adrenaline Hunter!
2. Surfing in Khao Lak
Best time for surfing in Khao Lak: May-October
Best spot for surfing in Khao Lak: Na Nan, Nang Thong, Bang Niang
Wave size in Khao Lak: 0.5-3 meters
Suitable for: all levels
Where to work remotely in Khao Lak: No coworking spaces in Khao Lak, but you can work from digital nomad friendly cafes like Mata Cafe and Take a Seat Kaffee
Khao Lak may only be 60 km north of Phuket, but in terms of atmosphere it’s worlds apart.
Phang Nga, which is Khao Lak’s home province, is a picturesque, remote area filled with teetering limestone cliffs and teeny weeny islands.
Secluded as it may be, the surf scene in Khao Lak is really starting to kick off, with events like the Khao Lak Surf Contest And Festival drawing promising crowds.
And it’s no wonder why:
The coast is lined with reef and scattered with capes and sandy beaches, creating a solid mix of reef, point, and beach breaks.
There are quite a few surfable beaches that run along Khao Lak’s 25 km coastline, including Na Nan, Thai Muang, Nang Thong, Bang Niang, and Long Beach- the latter of which is home to a bunch of fun beach bars, like Baba Beach Club.
Memories Beach is the star of the show, though. Head here to score the biggest and best waves and hook up with the local surf crew at Pakarang Surf Shop for lessons and rentals.
The main season for surfing in Khao Lak runs from May-October, peaking between June and September when the southwest monsoon is at its strongest.
Lucky for all you surfing nomads heading for Khao Lak, the surf season is the opposite of the tourist season- so you can expect empty beaches and uncrowded lineups.
The only thing you need to be careful of when you’re there is the powerful rip current; make sure you know how to identify and avoid a rip before you go out on the water.
3. Surfing in Koh Lanta
Best time for surfing in Koh Lanta: April-October
Best spot for surfing in Koh Lanta: Klong Dao Beach
Wave size Koh Lanta: 0.5-3.5 meters
Suitable for: all levels
Where to work remotely in Koh Lanta: KoHub
With its chilled island vibes, gorgeous nature, and growing backpacker culture, Koh Lanta is one of the best places to visit in Thailand for nomads looking to get stuck into some outdoor adventures.
But best of all?
The surf in Koh Lanta is pretty awesome.
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It still surprises me there are waves on this island. The wind dropped after a couple of weeks of very average weather. I hired a tuk tuk (no driver) and strapped on my long board for a drive up to Khlong Dao beach (this is the best beach for surf on Koh Lanta because it doesn't have rocks). I was the only person out! No one surfs here and there are no boards for hire. So much fun today. I haven't caught that many waves before so I'm feeling worn out after being sick with Dengue not long ago. I'm also feeling the stoke 😃. #surfkohlanta thanks @showdoggy_slow_travels for the 📷. . . . . . . #surf #surfthailand #thailandsurf #kohlanta #khlongdao #longboarder #thaiairways #canon5dmkiii #canon #vitaminsea #diveasia #scubadiverslife #sunset #surfsup #surfshots #thailand #tropical #stoke #mrtrippytravel #waves #surftrip #kohlantamarinepark #kolanta #nspsurfnsup
Klong Dao Beach is the main spot for surfing in Koh Lanta. Located on the north of the island, the beach is 2 km long and features a shallow, sandy bottom beach break. You can rent your boards from Koh Lanta Watersports.
There’s a row of sandbars just offshore where the waves break left and right, and on a good day, some locals report riding 3-4 meter waves for up to 90 seconds.
Head there while the tide is rising or falling to catch the best conditions.
The wave at Klong Dao isn’t particularly fast or powerful, which means surfing in Koh Lanta is 100% suitable for beginners.
The wave works best during the southwest swell (April til October, peaking in June and July). Like in Phuket, this is conveniently the opposite of the tourist season, meaning the best waves come when the least people are around.
After October, the waves almost completely disappear until the following spring, so don’t bother heading here to surf offseason.
4. Surfing in Koh Phayam
Best time for surfing in Koh Phayam: mid October-mid December
Best spot for surfing in Koh Phayam: Ao Yai beach
Wave size Koh Phayam: 0.5-2 meters
Suitable for: all levels
Where to work remotely in Koh Phayam: no coworking spaces in Koh Phayam, but you can work from digital nomad friendly cafes such as Cha Chai Home
Just off the coast of Ranong and only 4 km from Koh Chang, Koh Phayam is a remote, untouristy, and vastly undeveloped island that receives beautiful waves in the early ‘winter’ months.
The 18 square kilometer island is covered in jungle, forest, hills, and beaches- perfect for exploring and enjoying some outdoor adventures.
Not only are there no cars on the island, but hot water, electricity, and WiFi are also unreliable.
If that sounds like a nightmare to you, go ahead and skip on to the next section.
But if you’re anything like us:
Koh Phayam probably sounds like an absolutely ideal place to go for a digital detox and soul surfing getaway.
And it is.
Ao Yai is the main spot for surfing in Koh Phayam. The 2 km crescent-shaped beach faces southwest and is perfectly positioned to receive swell from the Andaman Sea.
Mid October through until mid December bring sweet conditions for beginner and intermediate surfers:
Offshore wind and glassy waves up to 1.5 meters bash against the coast nearly every day for these few months.
From the end of December until January, the waves become smaller and occasionally disappear altogether. You might luck out with a big wave day, but don’t rely on it at that time of year.
February and March are wave-free months, so don’t plan to surf in Koh Phayam during that time.
Wait until mid April when the monsoon kicks back in, then the waves reach up to 2 meters easily. The only downside is that the onshore wind makes the conditions quite rough and unpredictable; fun and challenging for experienced surfers, but a write-off for beginners.
Surfing in Koh Phayam is made all the better when you can round off your session with a cold beer and your feet in the sand. Check out Phayam Surfers for board rentals and post-surf chillouts.
5. Surfing in Koh Kradan
Best time for surfing in Koh Kradan: April-October
Best spot for surfing in Koh Kradan: Sunset Beach
Wave size Koh Kradan: 0.5-3.5 meters
Suitable for: intermediate, advanced
Where to work remotely in Koh Kradan: No official coworking spaces in Koh Kradan, but you can work in the digital nomad friendly cafe at Paradise Lost Resort
Just a hop and a skip away from Malaysia’s Trang Islands, Koh Kradan is a small islet covered in forest and surrounded by reef- and man, no wonder it’s been pegged as one of the most beautiful islands in Asia.
“If you want white sand beaches with bright blue water, go to Koh Kradan” said Lindsay from Frugal Frolicker.
And the sunrises- don’t even get us started on the sunrises…
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Beautiful sunrise on Koh Kradadan. Picture by @jessicanaval . . Book your transport to Koh Kradan through our website. link in bio. . . . #thaibeachtravellers #kohkradan #kohkradanisland #islandhopping #islandhoppingthailand #islandlife🌴 #wonderfulplacestogo #wanderlust #vacation #exploretocreate #instapassport #traveltheworld #globetrotter #travellove #traveljunkie #wanderingsoul #travelvibes #postcardplaces
Not only is the reef surrounding Koh Kradan great for diving, but the 250 meter wide Sunset Beach on the western side of the island gets battered by big, clean waves from April until October.
Koh Kradan has even been touted as having the biggest waves in Thailand.
How d’ya like them apples??
Surfing in Koh Kradan is most suitable for experienced surfers, since the wave breaks 50 meters from shore and is pretty powerful (at least by Thai standards). On top of that, the shore is quite rocky and can be dangerous if you aren’t fully in control of yourself and your board.
The good news is:
If you’re thinking “HELL YEAH, this place is for me!”, you won’t have to struggle to look for a nice place to stay.
Even though Koh Kradan is still fairly remote, there’s now plenty of options in terms of accommodation for backpackers and luxury seekers alike (which is a big change from just a few years ago when there was hardly a single hotel on the island).
That said, there are still no real roads, 7-11s, or ATMs on the island, so be prepared to go Robinson Crusoe for the time you’re there.
6. Surfing in Hua Hin
Best time for surfing in Hua Hin: Nov-Feb
Best spot for surfing in Hua Hin: Khao Takiab, Wanakorn beach
Wave size Hua Hin: 0.5-1.5 meters
Suitable for: beginner, intermediate
Where to work remotely in Hua Hin: Surf Spot Hua Hin, Coworking Space Hua Hin
If you’re wondering where to surf in Thailand during the winter months when most of the Andaman spots turn off, Hua Hin is a good place to start looking.
Unlike Thailand’s western surf spots which get swell from the southwest summer monsoon, the Gulf of Thailand and easterly surf spots get swell from the northeast winter monsoon that blows down from China and Japan.
This may all sound totally gravy, but:
It’s worth remembering that the winter swell is a lot less powerful and consistent than that of the summer.
But hey, some small waves are better than none, right?
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The gift has arrived at Hua Hin from East China Sea!!!! It’s small size, very easy and so clean!!! so fun so stoked!!! Photo by @kenyashiro #thaisurf #thaisurfer #thailandsurf #lostsurfboardthailand #lostsurfthailand #lostsurfboards #patagoniathailand #patagoniasurf #nixon #huahinresort #huahinsurfing #instasurf #instasurfing #instasurfer #instasurfers #puddlejumper #libtech #libtechpuddlejumper #worldsurfinsta #surfing #surfasia
Khao Takiab Beach is the best spot to head for if you’re hoping to catch some good surf in Hua Hin. Between November and February the waves are at their peak, which makes for fun conditions for beginner surfers and surf SUPers.
With onshore wind, paddling can be a challenge and the waves aren’t always super clean. The upside, though, is that Khao Takiab isn’t a kitesurfing beach (unlike the main Hua Hin beach just up the road), so surfers will have the waters to themselves.
Even lesser known are the surfable beaches at Hat Wanakorn National Park, 23 km outside of Hua Hin city. The park occupies 36 square kilometers of reef lined coast, beach, forest, and islands. The waves aren’t huge, but the scenery is beautiful and the beaches are near empty most of the time.
You can also surf further down the coast at Prachuap Khiri Khan. The waves tend to be bigger than in Hua Hin, but the conditions are unpredictable, the surf messy, and it can be dangerous for less experienced surfers.
7. Surfing in Rayong
Best time for surfing in Rayong: May-September
Best spot for surfing in Rayong: Mae Ramphueng Beach
Wave size Rayong: 0.5-2 meters
Suitable for: all levels
Where to work remotely in Rayong: Pause Coworking Space, Coffee Plus+ Cafe & Coworking Space, Whitebeam Cafe & Coworking Space
Rayong’s surf scene is picking up in popularity, with local surf shops now offering rentals and lessons (check out Laem Yah Surf Club), and local competitions working to push the sport further into the public eye.
Apart from being one of the nicest places to learn to surf in Thailand, Rayong is one of the closest surf spots to Bangkok (worth noting for all you city slickers!).
The slow rolling, medium sized waves are easy going and very forgiving for newbies who haven’t yet perfected their stance and board control.
Mae Ramphueng is the main beach for surfing in Rayong, while the nearby Khao Laem Ya National Park offers its own sets of nice little waves for beginners, longboarders, and SUP surfers.
Though it is located inside the Gulf, the westerly facing shoreline means that surfing in Rayong is best during the summer monsoon. The season runs from June to September, peaking between June and July.
Now, the colour of the water isn’t always as crystal clear and shiny blue as it is in the southern islands, but forget the cosmetic differences for a second and just remember that it makes no difference to the quality of the surf- or the fun you’ll have in the waves.
Check out this video of the local boardriders and surfers in Rayong, which reminds us you don’t have to be riding massive monster waves to have a good time on the water.
8. Surfing in Chanthaburi
Best time for surfing in Chanthaburi: June-September
Best spot for surfing in Chanthaburi: Laem Sing, Kung Wiman, Chao Lao
Wave size Chanthaburi: 0.5-1.5 meters
Suitable for: beginners, intermediate
Where to work remotely in Chanthaburi: Best working from digital nomad friendly cafes like Mililin Cafe & Eatery
Just 3.5 hours south of Bangkok, Chanthaburi is another good surf destination to consider if you’re based in the city but hoping to get away for a quick surfing break.
At its best between June and September, Chanthaburi is home to a handful of surfable beaches, including Kung Wiman and Chao Lao.
Laem Sing is another local favourite, with its exposed sandbar that breaks the waves and creates rows of small, beginner friendly rollers.
The Chanthaburi Surf Tribe is very active in the area, along with Surfaholic Thailand, both of whom were involved with the hosting of Nature Active Camp, a surf/yoga/wellness experience that kicked off in summer 2018.
With a growing number of clubs hosting events in the area, along with its close proximity to Bangkok, there’s a good chance that surfing in Chanthaburi will grow in popularity over the coming years.
9. Surfing in Koh Phangan
Best time for surfing in Koh Phangan: Nov-Feb
Best spot for surfing in Koh Phangan: Haad Rin, Ban Tai, Chaloklum
Wave size Koh Phangan: 0.5-2.5
Suitable for: all levels
Where to work remotely in Koh Phangan: Koh Space
Word on the street is that there’s no surf in Koh Phangan.
Zero. Zilch. Flat as a pancake.
But speak to the right locals, and you’ll find out that’s not actually true.
There’s a small window between December and February when the swell in Koh Phangan peaks and sends sweet little waves rolling towards the island at one of three different spots:
From November on, the reef break at Ban Tai occasionally receives clean swell.
The waves aren’t ever big at Ban Tai, but they’re long and offer a fun, lazy ride on a longboard or a SUP. Unfortunately, it’s rare that you get these waves here, so Ban Tai isn’t a spot to rely on as much as one to be pleasantly surprised by when it actually works.
In December, the most consistent surf spot in Koh Phangan in Chaloklum, whose soft rolling waves are some of the best that Koh Phangan ever sees.
In January, Haad Rin is the place to watch.
The exposed beach is easterly facing, so when that dead east swell comes in, you’re perfectly positioned to make the most of it. The surf at Haad Rin isn’t too powerful, and only gives you a short run of about 50 meters or so, but it’s plenty of power for beginners and longboarders.
Check out these stats to see the wave records in Koh Phangan over the years. February looks like a pretty tasty month, judging from these numbers.
10. Surfing in Koh Samui
Best time for surfing in Koh Samui: Nov-Feb
Best spot for surfing in Koh Samui: Chaweng
Wave size Koh Samui: <1 meter
Suitable for: beginners, intermediate
Where to work remotely in Koh Samui: No official coworking spaces in Koh Samui, but plenty of digital nomad friendly cafes. Check out this humongous list of cafes and their digital nomad friendliness ratings
Like Koh Phangan, the surf in Koh Samui isn’t reliable- it’s hit and miss at best.
Now, Koh Samui is one of those ones that many travelers like to include in their Thailand itinerary, particularly because of its great infrastructure, beautiful beaches, and buzzing party scene. It’s also pegged as one of the best islands to visit with kids.
All that aside, Koh Samui isn’t the sort of place you should specifically head for if you’re hoping to surf, but it’s not unheard of to be able to do so if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.
Speaking of right places, the only one you really need to know about in Koh Samui is Chaweng beach.
The best you can hope for is a 1 meter beach break at mid/high tide, which produces a long left hander best suited to longboards and SUPs.
Apart from the messy swell, the other thing you need to be aware of at Chawen is the tides. It might look fine from the beach, but if the tide is too low then it’s probably not deep enough to surf safely.
Got a question about traveling or surfing in Thailand? Join the Extreme Nomads Facebook group and pitch your queries to a collective of people with first-hand knowledge of the surf in Thailand!