With its sandy beaches that stretch for miles, not to mention once-in-a-lifetime scenery, Khao Lak holidays are a great way to get a dose of peace, quiet and natural beauty on your 2017 holiday.
Have your breath taken away by the region’s diverse surroundings that combine bright blue waters with golden sands, jagged limestone rock structures and turquoise lagoons. Forest-covered hills surround the coastal areas, making for spectacular views from the beach and calming, warm oceans beyond. The emphasis here truly is on natural beauty – islands of rock and trees, peaceful beaches, long boats floating in the waters and incredible wildlife.
A network of interesting little towns and villages full of bustling markets, seafood shacks and lively bars ensure that you’re never too far from civilisation in Khao Lak, for that true taste of Thai hospitality and culture.
Browse the atmospheric open-air marketplace at Bang Niang, a vivid glimpse into the fast-paced Thai urban life. It opens its doors to the public three times a week and sells everything from grilled fish curries to embroidered bags. It’s a great introduction to your Khao Lak holiday and a good place to get your souvenir shopping done early.
For a dose of the incredible natural beauty that the region has to offer, head to Lam Ru National Park, immediately south of Khao Lak town. The huge park is a colourful mix of iconic sea cliffs, forest-covered hills, waterfalls, lagoons and hidden coves. Keep a lookout for wildlife including monkeys, lizards, tapirs and even bears. Seek out the scenic open-air restaurant perched atop a shady hill overlooking the sea, a great place to have lunch with a view. It’s also a good starting point for a short nature walk.
Wine and Dine
Thai food, with its invigorating flavours and spices, is popular the world over. Soothing coconut, salty fish and fiery chilli flavours dominate the majority of cooking here, with seafood such as squid and sea bass frequently grilled over open fires and sold on the streets. Land produce such as pork and chicken is also popular, whilst Thai beers such as Chang are cherished after a hot day in the sun.
Restaurants such as Jai, at the northern end of Khao Lak, serve up huge servings of fresh grilled seafood, stir fires, curries, rice and soups. Go Pong is a great place for rubbing shoulders with locals tucking into aromatic noodle soups by the roadside, whilst eateries such as PhuKhaoLak do a roaring trade in international cuisine that’s sure to appeal to all tastes.
The gently lapping waters of Khao Lak are ideal for families and children. Whilst the number of large resorts with staffed beach clubs and kids’ activities is relatively small, a number of loveholidays hotels cater to kids. The JW Marriot in particular is a good choice for families, with a playground, pool tables, beach volleyball and Thai cookery classes.
Active families will enjoy hiring bikes and pottering through the quiet country roads around Khao Lak, as well as taking rides on long boats along the coastline. Kids with adventurous palates will love giving new and exciting dishes a try at one of the area’s markets, going swimming under waterfalls and witnessing the incredibly colourful marine life whilst snorkelling across the surface of the Andaman Sea.
All in all, Khao Lak holidays aren’t ‘off the beaten track’ enough to put off families, however they offer just the right amount of peace and quiet away from more adult-oriented resorts such as Pattaya and Phuket.
Action and Adventure
From white water rafting and canoeing through sea caves to bathing with elephants and riding across mangrove forests, there’s plenty to do on a Khao Lak holiday away from the calming lure of the beaches.
Companies such as Eco Khaolak organise excursions to elephant sanctuaries, where the ‘no ride’ policy ensures that the animals are exceptionally well treated and looked after. Board a speedboat to the Similan Islands and go swimming with sea turtles around the coves, go diving in the deep waters or simply perch atop the rocks and relax in the sun.
Hop aboard a white water raft and navigate through the rapids, jump on a motorcycle and explore hidden trails, or take a ride through unspoilt forests, villages and a turtle nursery at Koh Prathong. All of these activities are sure to provide your Khao Lak holiday with a little exhilaration.
Life's a Beach
Fewer places on earth boast beaches as jaw-droppingly spectacular as Thailand. Holidays in Khao Lak will involve a serious amount of relaxing on the golden white sands, so be sure to pack those swim shorts, plenty of sunblock and a good book. Whilst certain areas get inevitably busy, there are still plenty of spots in which to relax with your feet dipping into the warm and clear waters.
Bangsak Beach is a pretty quiet option and is a long, curved stretch of white sand. It’s popular with locals coming for a picnic and is home to a few small seafood stalls – the grilled fish dishes are favourites amongst residents.
Nestled beneath the mountains of the national park, Khao Lak’s southern beach is a peaceful spot, too, however for something a little livelier then Nang Thong Beach is your best bet. Here you’ll find bars, shops, diving schools and watersports including snorkelling.
Thai nightlife is renowned for being cheap, fun and easy going. Visitors enjoying a Khao Lak holiday will experience the quieter side of this, with the vibe on a night out being akin to that of a buzzing and bustling village pub back home. Cold beers with friends, a few games of pool and incredible handmade cocktails are the order of the day, whilst many visitors grab beers to take away and retreat to the balconies of their hotels and apartments for a sunset drink.
Should you want to really let your hair down, that can be arranged, too. Once a month the famed full moon parties rock up around Khao Lak, although on a far smaller and arguably more refined scale than more notorious events in Kho Pha Ngan. Mr Aek restaurant prepares fresh food throughout the night and is open until 5am, so this is a great place to soak up some authentic atmosphere and conversation after a night out in Khao Lak.
Few things are more romantic than the incredible orange sunsets of western Thailand, its forest-backed sandy beaches or amazing waters. The long and isolated sands are tailor-made for lovers looking to escape the hustle and bustle, so Khao Lak holidays are sure to be a hit in romantic terms.
Whilst the pace of life here is quite laid back and would suit those happy to relax on a beach with a beer and book, it’s possible to indulge in some truly loved-up excursions. To the north lies a network of small back roads running across coconut plantations and empty countryside, an idea area for exploring by bike. You could also take a boat to the Similan Islands in the west, or venture south to the incredible Phang Nga Bay and its rock structures and green waters that you may have spotted before in a Bond film.
Alternatively, strap on the snorkel masks, venture a little out to sea and explore the pretty coral reefs together.
The spiritual heritage of South East Asia is not to be underestimated. Buddhism has been a way of life for locals here for generations. A short trip down to Phang Nga will reveal three magnificent temples, each with its own incredible architecture, sculptures and statues. At Takuapa you can visit a Thai bakery, wander through the local market and see 200-year old houses built in typical Thai style. A visually stimulating show, Siam Niramit, provides a world-class performance of Thai art and culture. The cabaret show and dinner is a great way to experience local culture after dark.
Come in February for the Chinese New Year celebrations, enjoyed heartily by the large Chinese community here, or visit in March for the annual release of baby sea turtles hatched in captivity, a cultural event geared towards educating visitors about the beautiful endangered sea turtle.