When thinking of the North of Thailand many beach locations pop into mind such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi. You hardly ever hear anyone start about Khao Lak, even though its a beautiful area to go to. Yes, there is way less things to do then in neighbouring Phuket, but the area offers incredible beach front resorts, with enough other activities to keep you busy. Khao Lak Town offers several nice restaurant and some tourist markets, with many hotels and resorts around to choose from.
Besides the long stretches of white sandy beaches, the area is surrounded by forested hills and therefore give you the possibility of going out and enjoying some of the beautiful National Parks that the area is known for.
How to get there?
Khao Lak is often sold as a Phuket destination, probably because the closest airport is Phuket International Airport. However this lovely little village is located in Phang Nga province – which is on the mainland of Thailand – and is about a 75km drive from Phuket Airport. It’s a nice drive taking the Surasin Bridge, right into Phang Nga province, with many forested roads before you reach Khao Lak itself.
If you want to go to Khao Lak, the easiest thing to do, is to fly to Phuket International Airport and from there take a car or a bus to Khao Lak. Many of the hotels in Khao Lak offer transportation options, so check out what the possibilities are to be picked up from the airport.
What to do?
Khao Lak is mainly known for it’s beautiful beach – it stretches out about 20km and is nice and wide – and that’s why we came to visit. Just to relax and do nothing but enjoy some quality relaxation time on the beach. Most of the hotels are located on the beach and therefore anyone can easily enjoy the beach and its lovely surroundings. Bring a book (or whatever makes you relax) sit down and enjoy it!
If you have a nice and clear evening, make sure to head out to the beach to enjoy a lovely sunset. Do put on some mosquito repellent before you do this, as they come out at sunset… Here a time laps of the sunset we had the other day:
During the infamous tsunami in December 2004, Khao Lak was hit very hard with almost 3,000 people being killed. Among these where many tourist and locals who were hit so suddenly by this force of nature.
When driving through Khao Lak there is an open field nearly 2km from the shore, with a big police boat in the middle. This boat was carried more than 2km land inwards and has been kept here as a memorial. Almost 10 years later, it still is the most prominent reminder of this natural disaster. The site itself is large, but there is nothing much to do, besides seeing the boat in the middle of the field. There is a small shed on the side, stating “Tsunami Museum” but it does not show a lot of information. However, I still thought it was pretty impressive to walk around.
Close to the boat they are now making a museum and memorial, which I think is very important to have, so that the people that passed away can be remembered in the right way.
There are many other things you can do in Khao Lak, such as:
Elephant Trekking: Always wanted to join an elephant trek in Thailand, well this is your chance to do so. Close to Khao Lak Beach area you can find the Asia Safari Park Khao Lak [http://holiday-service-khaolak.com/en/asiasafaripark.php]. They offer a 1 hour tour, or you can go into the park at an entrance fee of THB50 to see the elephants.
Alternatively you could go up to Khao Sok (a National Park about 1hr drive from Khao Lak) where you could have an Elephant Trekking through the National Park.
Diving and Snorkeling Trips: There are many different companies that organise diving and snorkelling tours in the area, as there are some amazing sites in the vicinity, such as Similan Island and Surin Island. Boats leave from Tap Lamu Pier, which is about 25min drive from Khao Lak.
Waterfall: There are several waterfalls around Khao Lak, such as Lampi which is a 30min drive from Khao Lak (on the way to Phuket). However there are some closer such as Chong Fah and Siarung. Check in advance whether there is enough water in the waterfalls, as during high season it can be very dry and so the waterfalls are less impressive.
Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park: In the Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park there are many different walks you can do. Definitely a recommendation for when you get bored with the beach.
Where to stay?
There are many resorts and hotels to choose from in Khao Lak, most of them situated at the beach. Take a look at Tripadvisor and select the hotel that comes closest to your needs. That’s what we did before we headed up to Khao Lak and we stayed at JW Marriot.
JW Marriott Khao Lak
Staying at JW Marriott Khao Lak is a real treat – given the price to stay is not cheap, but it really has everything you want for in a resort hotel. The rooms are spacious, and many of the lower rooms are connected to their pool – which is the longest pool in Asia with a length of more then 3km. In the morning you can just step into the pool and take a swim, or sit at your terrace enjoying a nice book and slowly waking up.
The three restaurants the hotel has to offer are well thought of, with a Thai, Japanese and a Mediterranean restaurant offering you plenty of different dining choices while you’re staying at the resort.
When going to this hotel, you quickly notice it’s a very family oriented place. Not only because of the huge swimming pool, but also due to all the activities they have to offer and the huge kids club.
However, they have also thought of their guests without kids, offering a special area in their huge pool that is reserved for 12years and up. Here you can easily enjoy some peace and quiet without kids running and splashing around. I really think they have thought about everything in this resort!
When to go?
November to February are the best times to visit as it’s dry season, the sea is calmer and the water is much more clear. But this also means that hotel prices are high and it will be very busy in and around Khao Lak.
In the low season – from April to October – the sea is much rougher and often impossible to swim in safely, but as long if you can avoid the heavy rainy season of September, weather is quite nice with the occasional downpour by the end of the afternoon. In this season hotel rates dip and the area is nice and quiet.