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When most tourists fly into Phuket, they immediately head south on arrival, making a beeline for the famous areas of Patong, Kata, Karon and other mainstream beaches. Little do they know there is an equally good reason to head north: the beachside town of Khao Lak. Located just 90 minutes from Phuket International Airport, the drive northward is mostly through a verdant stretch of highway that culminates with a lovely view of Khao Lak’s long, sandy beaches. Located on the gorgeous Andaman seaboard, this is one of Thailand’s most peaceful resort destinations.
SIMILAN & SURIN ISLANDS
The majority of boat tours to the wildly popular Similan or Surin islands originate in Khao Lak. Most organized tours will pick you up from your hotel around 8am and whisk you off to a nearby pier. From there it’s an easy and comfortable speedboat ride out to the islands. You can choose to stay for a day or even overnight. Both of these island archipelagos offer some of Thailand’s most stunning dive sites as well as colorful snorkeling. Do not be surprised if you see a turtle. By choosing to stay in Khao Lak, you will eliminate about 3 hours of round-trip transit time. And as we all know, every minute is precious when you’re on holiday!
REST & RELAXATION
Khao Lak is the perfect beachside haven for unadulterated rest and relaxation. At Outrigger Khao Lak, guests can relax by the pool or gaze out at the azure ocean from beach chairs, conveniently shaded by casuarina trees. There are fun daytime activities to entertain the more active guest, and for those feeling social in the evening, an open-air bar and live music. Due to its small population and somewhat obscurity (compared to its neighbors), Khao Lak remains a quaint seaside town. Albeit one still boasting nice restaurants, a few bars, international supermarket, welcoming spas and a local market. There is nothing rowdy or loud here, along the lines of what you would see in the rowdier beachside destinations of Pattaya and Phuket. That’s why many parents choose Khao Lak for their family holiday.
ACTIVITIES & TOURS
You can explore Khao Lak and its environs by boat, songtaew (covered pick-up truck), car, quad bike and even elephant. There are no shortage of activities on offer: safaris in Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park; canoeing in Khao Sok on the Sok River; fishing around Khao Nayak Island; ATV touring in Phang Nga; waterfall trekking in the surrounding national parks; and so much more. And that’s just the ones above ground; below the water there is a whole ocean to explore! For those wanting to connect with the local culture, everything from Muay Thai, cooking, fruit carving and massage therapy can be studied. Khao Lak really offers something for everyone, no matter his or her age, fitness or interests.
It might not be an island, but with kilometers of unspoiled beaches right on your doorstep, Khao Lak has all the best parts of a deserted island escape, without the hefty price tag or sacrificed amenities. For those looking to enjoy paradise in privacy, Khao Lak is an ideal place. Morning walks along the beach can turn into hour-long treks where you hardly see another living soul (besides say a fisherman or two). The opportunity to pack a picnic and find a secluded slice of paradise with someone special is easily within your reach. If long walks and serenity are top of your list, head to Bang Sak, Pakarang or Khuk Khak beaches. If you’re after something a little more lively, check out Nang Thong or Bang Niang.
Local street or night markets operate throughout Thailand and the Khao Lak area is no exception. Of particular note is the one held daily from the early afternoon onwards at Bang Niang. While the market is open every day, Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the primary days with a wider selection of goods on offer. The majority of customers are local Thais, so you will find a plethora of inexpensive goods on offer, from food and clothing, to trinkets and cheap electrical goods. Extremely colorful, often noisy and frequently unusual (in a good way), visiting a local market is a fantastic means to get up close and personal with the local Thai culture. For adventurous travelers, this is not to be missed.