Khao Lak (‘Lak mountain’) is a little area on the west coast of Thailand just north of Phuket (60km), or as I like to call it, ‘a little piece of heaven’.
Despite being a popular tourist destination Khao Lak is nothing like the other ‘Thai popular destinations’. It has a more chilled, family-vibe, and the beaches are not crowded. There are loads of restaurants and some bars, but again all really chilled, really family-friendly; not a party destination at all.
WHERE TO STAY
Depends what you’d rather be close to:
Want a bit more restaurants/bars/shops, village life?
Stay at Bang La On, Nang Thong beach. The beach is lovely (not picture-perfect but really really nice), and so long you won’t bump into people. The sunset here is absolutely stunning.
You’ll also be close by to the main village where you’ll find loads of different restaurants, nice shops, supermarkets, some street food (delicious), etc. And you can easily rent a bike/bicycle to go anywhere you wish!
We stayed at B&B Wandee and could not recommend it more. The family is lovely! We stayed at one of their bungalows and it was perfect. A 20min walk to the beach, and a 5min walk to all the main shops and restaurants. It’s been one of our favourite places yet (oh but digital nomads please know, the Wi-Fi is not great).
Want paradise beaches/ resort life?
Then defo stay at Coconut beach or White Sandy beach, closer to Pakarang Cape, past Bang Bang Niang village. Here, the main hotels will be a bit far out from village/shops/restaurants etc. (albeit there are always the beach restaurants), but the beach is pristine.
*Note: it’s a 20 min ride between the two places.
(Here’s £15 off on Booking.com when you use this link to book your stay)
WHAT TO DO
Go to the beach!
There are so many beautiful beaches it will be hard to pick from. We tended to go to Nang Thong beach more because it was the one closer to us. But we’d walk loads, so not sure how many beaches we actually visited on that stretch of sand.
You should defo visit Coconut beach and White Sandy beach which are absolutely stunning, and not too crowded either – you just need to walk a bit further from any of the main ‘entrance’ points and you’ll be all right.
Explore: there are so many more beaches around grab a bicycle/motorbike and go explore!
Take a trip to Similan islands
We took a snorkelling trip to the Similan islands and it was fantastic. We booked with Khao Lak explorer diving centre and it was perfect as it was a small group (about 14 of us?) and a great experienced crew, which trust me, makes all the difference.
We took the early bird trip, which is slightly more expensive, but means you avoid the crowds coming from Phuket. This was totally worth it because we got to see the first island without any people (well, nearly any people). Snorkelling was pretty cool too, even though some of the coral reef is still pretty damaged due to the Tsunami, life is slowly finding it’s way back. And we saw a giant turtle! (Part of the Similan islands are closed to tourism due to a turtle hatching protection program and reef conservation efforts).
By 11 am the place will be full of boats and tourists (way too many) and it looses its charm a bit. But our crew was great and took us to a less crowded snorkelling spot.
I loved this trip and would recommend it, despite the crowds.
Take a trip to Surin islands
We couldn’t afford any more trips so didn’t do this one, but all the tour operators in Khao Lak will advise you to take this one rather than Similan claiming that the boats from Phuket don’t go here, but that’s not what I read online. Anyway, they told us it’s much better for snorkelling, but that the islands aren’t as ‘white sandy’. So if you’re looking to book a trip mostly for the snorkelling, maybe go here?
There are loads of liveaboard boats/ trips available to book in Khao Lak and, to be honest, sounds pretty amazing. It’s a bit expensive but I’m sure once you wake up and have paradise islands just to yourself it will be totally worth it.
(but I guess you need to be a boat person)
*tip: which reminds me, the sea here can be a bit rough sometimes. We had to delay our trip twice, so be prepared for that (seasick pills, plastic bag, whatever does it for you).
Visit the Khao Lak National Park
There’s a beautiful national park just around the corner from Bang La On. There are loads of activities such as Bamboo rafting, hiking, trekking to waterfalls, or fly through the forest on a zipline. Just whatever you do, DON’T RIDE THE ELEPHANTS.
Other than that, enjoy nature and all that!
WHERE TO EAT
There are so many restaurants in Bang La On, it’s literally a street full of them, so you’ll have no problem finding a food one. Still, we’re nice people so here are our top two:
At Number 9, not only is the service impeccable and super friendly, the food is delicious. The best things we ate here were: Tom Yum, Tom Kha, Chicken Satay, Thai Green Curry and Pineapple Fried Rice.
Where? Khuekkhak, Takua Pa District, Phang-nga 82190, Thailand (close to the streetlights crossroad, across from the supermarket).
Verdict: Must go. Money: $ Food rate: Heaven Doors. Price/ Quality: Very Good.
Ddee Restaurant and Bar
Ddee (which we called Dede ‘cause we’re not sure how to pronounce it) is simply a food haven. The lady who cooks (who we also call Dede) is a cooking goddess and all the food she touches turns into deliciousness. After our first try we were hooked. We came here every day, it was that good. It’s a proper local place, so don’t expect it to be fancy or anything. While all the other restaurants had fairy lights to shame Santa Claus (it was Christmas), they had a few balloons. But you know what they also had? Local customers. Need I say more?
The best dish? Pad Thai and Khao Pad. Any. Every day. It’s as I said, the best Padthai we’ve ever eaten in our lives, and the one we’ll always compare all the other ones with. So far, none has outshone it, not even in Thailand.
Where? Khuekkhak, Takua Pa District, Phang-nga 82190, Thailand (close to the path that leads to the beach and The Sands by Katathani
Verdict: You’d be crazy not to go. Money: so cheap I can’t even put a $ sign on it. Food rate: Heaven. Price/Quality: impossible to beat.