If secluded beaches, island hopping and Thailand’s best Mojitos sound like your dream holiday retreat, look no further than Khao Lak, Thailand.
In July 2015 my family and I escaped the Australian Winter and travelled to Thailand for three weeks. The last week of our trip was spent beachside in Khao Lak, Thailand.
Khao Lak is a 1.5 hour drive north of Phuket airport. It is far enough to avoid the over-commercialism Phuket is becoming known for, yet close enough to take advantage of the various tours departing from Phuket Marina and to visit the famous Phuket night markets.
It’s the perfect holiday destination for those looking for a peaceful, secluded beachside getaway that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
We flew with Thai Smile from Chiang Mai to Phuket. Thai Smile is a budget airline similar to that of Jet Star in Australia. The staff were friendly and the plane was clean. A complimentary snack was provided for the 2 hour flight although no vegan option was available, luckily I always carry snacks with me!
There are various beachfront resorts in Khao Lak as well as budget accommodation not far from the beach. My family and I stayed at The Sands by Khatathani, Khao Lak, a modern 4-star resort on Nang Thong beach. Read more about The Sands here.
Khao Lak is not exactly a foodie’s paradise although there are a handful of places worth mentioning.
The street vendors in Khao Lak come out at night. The most popular vendor sells crepes, both savoury and sweet, not far from Smile Restaurant on the main road by Nang Thong Beach (Petchkasem Road). I went to this stall a few times for the mango and sticky rice and every time it was sold out!
The Bangniang Markets hosts a great variety of food stalls from fresh produce to cooked meals to cocktail stands. Open Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays – read more about the Bangniang Markets below.
When in need, a quick feed or snack is always available from the 7-Elevens, various convenience stores and a few fast food stores such as McDonald’s which are spread out along the main road.
Beaches – Khao Lak was hit hard by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and traces of the devastation the small village experienced is still evident along the coastline in some areas. Beaches in the area include – Khao Lak, Nang Thong, Sunset, Bang Niang, Bang Sak, Pak Weeb and Khuk Khak.
James Bond Island – A must-see attraction! James Bond Island (pictured above) was featured in the James Bond movies The Man with the Golden Gun and Tomorrow Never Dies. Be prepared for crowds as this island becomes quite busy even during low tourist season.
Tours – The easiest and most popular way of seeing Khao Lak and it’s surrounds is by joining a tour. Tours can be booked through hotels or tour offices which can be found scattered along the main road.
Open Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays this mid-sized market is full of fresh produce, street food, souvenirs and cheap clothing and accessories. There is a Mojito stand at Bangniang Markets that makes a killing shaking and serving fresh, delicious Mojitos. I would go so far as to say they were the best Mojitos I’ve ever tasted.
The largest night market of Phuket sells anything you can think of. It’s open 4-9 weekends and is situated on Chao Fa West Road. We took the hassle out of travelling to and from the Phuket market in the rain by hiring an air-conditioned taxi for the 1.5 hour drive. We fueled ourselves for winding through aisle by aisle of crowded market stalls by visiting the food section first. One stall was filled with locals so it had to be good. Upon entry you choose your base (peanut sauce, curry, soy, meats, etc) then join a communal table where a central platter is filled with vegetables, spices and other additions for you to add to your meal.
Souvenir stores, convenience stores and a few boutiques can be found along the main road (Petchkasem Road). Unless you are desperate, save your time and dollars for the markets.
Transport in Khao Lak is similar to the majority of Thailand, sans railways.
Tuk tuk – The cheapest form of transport (besides walking, which we did a lot of) can always be found waiting on the main road. Negotiate a price before agreeing to ride. Rule of thumb is to offer half of what the driver quotes then negotiate from there.
Motorbike – Hire a bike from 250 baht per day.
Taxis – hail a taxi from the main road or book an air-conditioned taxi through a tour agency or hotel reception.
Besides leave allowances and events, most plan their Thailand trip according to the weather.
Dry Season – November to April
Wet Season – May to October
My family and I travelled to Khao Lak in July during the wet season although it only rained for one hour on one night of our stay. By the morning all evidence of the rainy season had dried up. I like visiting during the “rainy” season because it means less lines!
Soi Dog is a Phuket based not for profit organisation that rescues cats and dogs throughout Thailand. Visitors can volunteer their time while in Thailand by socialising and/or walking the cats or dogs at the Phuket shelter. The organisation also accepts donations and runs a Sponsor a Dog program.
Do you prefer relaxed or adventurous holidays? Would you choose dry or wet season?
- Best time to visit | Dry season for great weather or wet season for less crowds
- Must do | Tour the islands, shop at the markets and indulge in a massage by the beach
- Vibe | Laid back, secluded
- Rating | 4/5
Travel Guide: A Day Tour of Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Travel Guide: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Hotel Review: The Sands by Khatathani, Khao Lak, Thailand