Launching a fantastic series on the best places to stay on the beach around the world, Andrew Spooner picks 10 Thai beach pads from £4.50-a-night huts to a smart, family-friendly resort
Part two: 10 more budget beach pads in Thailand
While the nearby gulf islands of Samui and Phangan have been long-term draws for beach-loving travellers, the smaller Koh Tao has only recently emerged as one of Thailand's headline destinations. Primarily Tao is famed for its diving – shallow waters, easy currents, epic corals and whale sharks pull in the crowds – with numerous scuba-diving schools based here. But much of this small island still has a tranquil get-away-from-it-all vibe, and the pick of the places to indulge that atmosphere is the Sai Thong, the only resort on the tiny Sai Nuan beach. Sai Thong's tidy wooden fan-cooled bungalows are simply furnished and all have balconies, hammocks and private bathrooms. The owners are incredibly friendly, the food's excellent and vistas include the almost-private white sand beach and a massive boulder-strewn headland. Superb snorkelling, plenty of nice spots to lounge and an unforgettable arrival by long-tail boat complete the picture.
• saithongresort.info, no phone, rooms from 500 to 2,500 baht a night (around £11 to £55) depending on the room and season