Whether you want to lie back on the beach, dive down to hidden worlds, or trek through the jungle, holidays to Khao Lak have got it sorted.
Thailand’s quiet side
Thailand’s southwest coastline isn’t short of knock-out beach scenes. But deserted sands and a ban on over-development set Khao Lak apart. Three world-class national parks and 20 kilometres of powdery white beaches are the main draw here, but the lack of crowds is a close second. If it’s Thailand’s serene side you’re after, this is where to find it.
Set against a backdrop of national parkland, the beaches nuzzle up to acres of limestone cliffs, waterfalls and tropical forest. Hundreds of species of wildlife call these giant nature zones home. And they’re prime territory for long walks and canoeing.
Explore the depths
Under the water, Khao Lak is as much of a looker as it is on the surface. Home to the Similan Islands – a bucket-list destination for divers, this place serves up dream conditions for underwater exploring. The sea here has visibility for 30 metres, so you’ll have no trouble spotting its spectacular marine life.
Things to See and Do in Khao Lak
You won’t find Gucci or Prada in these parts, but tailors are ten-a-penny, so you can have a bespoke outfit whipped up in just a few days. And, unlike in the UK, a made-to-measure outfit won’t break the bank. You can pick a design from the tailor’s books, or bring a photo and ask them to recreate it.
You’ll find a decent selection of clothes, swimwear and souvenir shops around the bigger beach areas and in Khao Lak Town. There’s a small shopping plaza in Nang Thong, too, with stores selling, clothes, jewellery and hand-made crafts.
If you’re after a bargain, make for the market in Ban Niang. It’s open every afternoon and evening, but the best days for stopping by are Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. You can haggle over everything from clothes and jewellery to spices and edible bugs.
Most of the big hotels in Khao Lak have their own restaurants, often with beachfront settings. Look out for hotels showing Thai cultural shows for a night of traditional music and dancing. In Bang Niang there’s a Thai Boxing stadium, where you can catch electrifying Muay Thai matches each Friday.
For a late night, head for Khao Lak Town, AKA Bang La On. You’ll find plenty of bars, plus a few live music venues. In Bang Niang, there are a handful of late-night bars along Jerung Street, Soi Bang Niang and the main highway.
You’ll find this noodle-based dish on the menu everywhere from street stalls to top Thai restaurants. There are loads of variations, but you’ll usually find the noodles stir-fried with eggs and fish sauce, and garnished with meat, prawns or tofu. The whole lot is topped with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts and a few drops of chilli oil.
This sweet and slightly spicy curry is made with beef or chicken, which is cooked in a mixture of spices, coconut milk and curry paste. It’s bulked out with potatoes and roasted cashews or peanuts, and served with rice.
This aromatic rum is one of the biggest drinks in Thailand, and you’ll find bottles of it lined up in most bars. It’s won international awards and the makers are so proud they put gold medals on the label to celebrate. Drink it neat, or pour it over ice and mix with fresh juice.
Thanks to a prime seaside spot, Khao Lak’s restaurants offer up some of the freshest seafood going. Have yours grilled on the barbecue, baked in a banana leaf or served in a creamy coconut sauce. Fish cakes cooked in a fragrant herb-and-spice mix are a regular on the street food scene.
This soup is practically a national dish, and brings together sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours in typical Thai fashion. The centrepiece is usually prawns or chicken, served in a broth of tomatoes, fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal, chillies and lime leaves.
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