Which are the cleanest beaches in the Kingdom this year?
The results of Thailand's annual 'beach star rating' study by the Pollution Control Department are in and 13 beaches around Thailand have been awarded five-star ratings.
According to the Pollution Control Department, this year's beach evaluation was based on four important criteria. The Department studied water quality that included both solid waste and pollution in the sea; plastic and oil pollution and residue; coastal and beach trash management; condition of reefs and national park resources; environmental control, and tourism management.
This year, the Department has rated 13 beaches around Thailand as five-star. These include:
Toei Ngam Beach in Sattahip (under the supervision of the Royal Thai Navy), Chon Buri
Laem Sala Beach in Sam Roi Yot National Park, Prachuap Khiri Khan
Ao Manao (under the supervision of the 5th Aviation Division), Prachuap Khiri khan
Ao Ka Beach, Sam Sao Beach and Tham Rang Beach in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, Surat Thani
Thai Mueang Beach in Khao Lampi - Hat Thai Mueang National Park
Ao Kuek Beach in Mu Ko Similan National Park
Mai Ngam Beach in Mo Ko Surin National Park, Phang-nga
Laem Tanot Beach and Ko Rok Beach in Mu Ko Lanta National Park
Bileh Beach in Than Bok Khorani National Park, Krabi
Li Di Beach in Mu Ko Phetra National Park Satun.
Many of these beaches are in Thailand's National Parks that are closed during the low season, which allows for natural rejuvenation during almost half the year.
Even so, Thai beaches and coastal marine environments are constantly under threat from travellers, both foreign and domestic, who feed fish, pollute coral reefs, and catch starfish and other marine life - all of which is strictly forbidden.
The Pollution Control Department launched its beach star rating in 2002 and has continued to expand the scope of its study each year. So far it has evaluated 390 beaches around Thailand.
From the total, Bileh Beach in the Than Bok Khorani National Park, Krabi has continued to receive the highest possible rating as a five-star beach multiple times.