Khao Lak – one of Thailand’s best holiday sites : When we think of Thailand, we imagine great beaches spread over miles and miles ahead, smooth soft white sand, clear turquoise-blue waters, palm trees and green forest around the beaches, wonderful resorts on the water line, far away mountains with evergreen jungles, great family fun, plenty of restaurants and pubs, welcoming, smiling Thai people asking us how we are doing even if we didn’t buy anything from them…. in short, we imagine Khao Lak!!
Khao Lak is the name of a region in Thailand which offers great beaches! Some of the prettiest beaches in Thailand are found there. These lovely beaches are spread over 20 Km. They are surrounded by a crown of jungle covered mountains as an addition to the already wonderful scenery.
In Khao Lak you will find wide beaches with smooth soft white sand and lots of palm trees. The sea waters are crystal clear with a marvelous turquoise-blue color.
There is a government low that forbids building resorts and hotels higher than a palm tree in Khao Lak, so that although there are plenty of resorts in the area, they don’t stick out so much, but rather blend with the view and look as if they are part of the natural beauty of this region.
Khao Lak and the surrounding area: apart from the fact that Khao Lak is a wonderful good quality holiday area, with plenty of great beaches, hotels and resorts, restaurants and pubs and they all come with well-kept nature – Khao Lak is also the starting point of cruises to some of the greatest tourist attractions in south Thailand.
Khao Lak is an ideal starting point for scuba diving and snorkeling cruises to Ko Surin (Surin Islands), Ko Tachai and Similan Islands which are located right across from Khao Lak – these are considered some of the world’s best snorkeling sites!
Khao Lak is only an hour away by car from the beautiful Khao Sok National Park and an hour and a half away from the amazing Cheow Lan Lake. In addition, a short drive away from Khao Lak you can find Ton Pariwat National Park with its many tourist attractions and especially its white water rafting – click here for additional information about Ton Pariwat National Park.
The national park area is approximately 125 Square Km. and it is spread over many beaches, cliffs, mountains and evergreen forests. The mountains rise up above the pretty beaches and together they make up an amazing sight and create a wonderful relaxing atmosphere.
Lak Mountain sort of indicates Khao Lak region’s southern end. I will elaborate more about this area in another article.
Khao Lak geography: Khao Lak region is located in Phang-Nga province and in Takua Pa district. It is located approx. 75 Km. away from Phuket airport.
When you drive to the area from Phuket, you will see a sign “Ban Khao Lak” on your 803 Km. after which you will be going up a winding road to Khao Lak mountain top. At the end you will arrive at Ban Bang La On which is really the center of what is called Khao Lak area.
There is some confusion regarding the exact location of Khao Lak area and its borders. Part of this confusion is intentional, (created by local agencies and resorts), and it can make finding your way around a bit tricky – so I have decided to dedicate a few words to clear things up.
There are plenty of hotels and resorts in Khao Lak region as well as many small business which are basically located in 3 populated areas – all of them identify themselves as Khao Lak – which off course can confuse tourists. So I will put some order there for you.
The main 3 populated areas from south to north are called:
Bang La On (south), Bang Niang (center), Khuk Khak (north). All 3 populated areas are located north of Khao Lak mountain extension which indicates the area’s southern border and together they make up Khao Lak region – it is highly likely that your hotel will be located in one of these 3 populated areas. I will elaborate more about these areas later on.
The municipal division of the region also adds to the confusion – almost all of Khao Lak area, apart from the little town called Khao Lak Beach, is under Khuk Khak municipality, (Takua Pa district), so that the name Khao Lak will not show on the hotel, resort, business, diving center address when you look for it.
Once we understand that the name Khao Lak will not appear on the hotel/business located at Khao Lak region…. and once we understand that Khao Lak has basically 3 populated areas: Bang La On, Bang Niang and Khuk Khak and their beaches, then we understand that we should read more about it. I will elaborate some more on each of the areas:
Bang La On: this is the central area as far as business goes, (shops, banks, restaurants, diving centers, other business), and many tourists call it Khao Lak by mistake. If you arrive by bus and ask to go to Khao Lak you will be dropped at Bang La On although your destination may be one of the other 2 populated areas – so you should be more specific.
As I wrote, there are plenty of restaurants, stands, shops and other business. Many tourists go there in the evening and stroll along the area. I highly recommend a French-Thai restaurant called Smile found in this area. Bang La On beach is called Nang Thong.
Bang Niang: Bang Niang area, (its beach has the same name), is located 2-3 Km. north of Bang La On. You can clearly identify it by its 7/11 shop. This is where Khao Lak’s night life is found with an abundance of great restaurants, pubs, disco clubs, massages, and different shops. The place is full of tourists till very late at night.
* I recommend you try a great Italian restaurant there called “Pinocchio”.
Khuk Khak: there are more local people than tourists in this area. It is located a few more Km. to the north of Bang Niang area. This is where you will find the amazing Merriott hotel. You can identify this area by the big sign showing the hotel’s name.
** Transportation in Khao Lak – many tourists rent a bicycle but you can also rent a mini-Bike. Most traffic is done by “Songtao” – a local type of a pick-up truck found in many places in Thailand.
Summary: many tourist attractions are located in the Khao Lak region. They are enchanting and impressing, but not the show-off kind – wonderful beaches surrounded by mountains and evergreen forests, untouched nature, an abundance of hotels and resorts which blends well with the view as well as restaurants, pubs, and pleasant, good quality nightlife.
Tourism in the Khao Lak region is well developed but it does not damage the peaceful Thai way of living.
The region is also an ideal starting point for scuba diving and snorkeling cruises to some of the world’s best sites, (Surin Islands and Ko Tachai Island), and to Khao Sok National Park, which is considered one of the best national parks in Thailand. You can also travel to other beautiful nature sites, (National Parks, beaches, waterfalls), including bicycle trips which are very popular here.
In addition, you can also go to Ton Pariwat National Park with its especially beautiful nature, which is located in the same province. You can find the world’s biggest flower, called Rafflesia, as well as white water rafting all year long, enjoy ATVs, take an elephant tour or simply enjoy walking there.
Phang Nga bay with its pretty James Bond Island is only a short drive away from Khao Lak so you can combine a cruise of the bay with Ton Pariwat National Park’s tourist attractions and sport activities.
Khao Lak area is the complete opposite of Patong Beach, (located in Phuket), which has long lost its natural charm and became crowded and very noisy and is turning more and more into a tourism money machine. Anyone who comes to Thailand for the exotic nightlife, (combining prostitution with drug queens), or sitting on the beach and buying T-shirts and fake watches from the local dealers found on the beaches – will not enjoy Khao Lak.
Khao Lak region attracts many tourists nowadays, mostly families, couples or young people looking for a high quality, relaxing place in order to enjoy a pleasant holiday, combining cruises to the local national parks and diving sites.
** if I may say something on a personal note – out of all the holiday sites I have been to in Thailand, (and I have been to most of them many times), Khao Lak is the one I like best!
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