Most visitors to Khao Lak come from the south, along Highway 4, from the direction of Phuket. The first beach they reach before continuing over the mountain into the main townships of Khao Lak is Khao Lak South Beach.
Just a hundred meters or so from the highway, it has only 5 resorts of various sizes, sitting side by side along a promenade fringing the beach and ocean. The fine, golden sand is contained to the north by the mountain with no access past it other than by road or by sea.
There are no sun loungers on the beach. Instead, they are located on the fringes of the resorts. This is a feature throughout Khao Lak, which differentiates it from other areas in Thailand. The natural beauty is much more apparent as there are no sun loungers creeping all the way up to the waterline.
To the south it continues down to Poseidon Beach. This is largely unspoiled, with just a few beach restaurants/bars and massage shops. It is marked with large rock outcroppings and wonderful views over towards the nearby Tap Lamu.
Khao Lak South Beach is also closest to the starting point (Tap Lamu) for most trips to the Similan and other islands. In addition to the beach front restaurants of the resorts (all open to non-residents), there are many local restaurants on either side of the highway within easy walking distance.
Visitors who want a greater choice of restaurants, bars and shops can take the 10 minute ride over the mountain by hotel shuttle or local taxi into Bang La On, the principal township.
After coming across the mountain on Highway 4, visitors pass the Headquarters of Khao Lak Lamru National Park. They start the descent to the main township of Bang La On, catching their first spectacular glimpse of the coastline. A sight of the beaches to the north as far as the eye can see!
The first of these beaches is the most aptly named Sunset Beach with a handful of resorts accessible from the highway. Accommodation and facilities are located down the hillside all the way down to and along the beach.
The beach has fine, golden sand with the ocean being safe for swimming. Just be careful of the few rocky outcrops. It often has crystal clear water that offers some limited snorkeling from the beach. Sunset beach is also completely free of sun loungers. There are no independent restaurants on the beach, but visitors are welcome to use those of any of the resorts.
Visitors can also walk along the beach into Bang La On in about 15 – 20 minutes but this is not recommended after dark. There is a rocky outcrop to be traversed before going onto the next beach and then up to the town. A leisurely stroll down the walkway adjacent to the highway offers beautiful views over the coastline and an inexpensive taxi back up takes just 5 minutes.
Nang Thong Beach continues on directly from Sunset Beach. It serves as the beach for the main township of Bang La On. It runs roughly roughly parallel to the main highway through the town. It is a short walk away from a string of resorts of various size and type (hotel style, bungalow or mixed) that line the southern end of the beach. Although there are no independent restaurants or bars on this part of the beach, its proximity to Bang La On’s many restaurants, bars and shops, makes it one of the most sought after areas in Khao Lak.
Further to the north, after the last of the resorts, there is a beautiful unspoiled stretch of golden sand. This leads to a lovely small bay with rocks offering limited snorkeling and a few small restaurants, bars and massage shops. It is popular with visitors from inland resorts or those without swimming pools as they offer loungers (generally free) set back at the beach edge. These continue up to the creek and river inlet leading across to Bang Niang Beach.
Bang Niang is the second largest township in Khao Lak. Just 5 minutes or so by car from Bang La On, along Highway 4, is a beach lined with resorts, restaurants, bars and massage shops.
Whereas Bang La On runs along the main highway, Bang Niang is quieter as most of the town is centred around a smaller road adjacent to the main highway.
Resorts vary in size and classification. Everything from new 5 star hotels to established traditional beach bungalows and variations in between will suit most budgets and requirements. The width of the beach varies, being widest at its north and south ends where it shelves gently into the ocean. It very popular for families with children. Fishing and other excursions take place by longtail boat from near the creek at the southern end.
Visitors can cross to Nang Thong Beach without wading through the fairly deep inlet on a simple, but effective, hand pulled “ferry”. The northern end is marked with the transition between beaches of an inlet at the south end of Khuk Khak Beach. The depth of these inlets and ability to traverse them depends primarily on the time of year and the state of the tide.
Khuk Khak Beach is one of the longest (sometimes wild but always beautiful) beaches in Khao Lak. It’s fine, white granular sand stretches for several kilometers but only contains four resorts. There are a handful of beach restaurants, bars and massage shops, mostly near the JW Marriott. The beach is divided in two by an inlet to a lagoon. In times of rough weather or extreme high tides the ocean can become very rough and not suitable for swimming. On other occasions, generally all throughout High Season, its gentle shelving into the ocean makes it safe and popular for swimming.
Khuk Khak is also very popular for walking. Other than the facilities of the restaurants, resorts and the small businesses, the beach is clean and natural. The restaurants are among the best in Khao Lak, especially for seafood, and offer wonderful venues for dinner at sunset. As the resorts here are quite remote, visitors need to go by shuttle or taxi into Bang Niang or Bang La on, 15 or 20 minutes away respectively. The southern end of the beach goes across to Bang Niang Beach. Across the creek to the North is the beautiful Pak Weeb Beach.
Considered by many as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Khao Lak’s beaches because of its picture postcard turquoise sea and brilliant white sand fringed by coconut and casuarina trees. Pak Weeb beach is located at the northern end of Khuk Khak Beach and stretches several kilometers. It runs from Cape Pakarang up to Bang Sak Beach. At its northern end, near the Cape, it is rugged at low tide with rock pools along its edge. At the southern edge a rocky outcrop surrounds a beautiful small bay where local fishermen fish from the rocks and scrape off oysters.
Some of Khao Lak’s top resorts run along this stretch of beach. Several restaurants offer alternative dining options to guests in the resorts as well as visitors who come for the day. The beach restaurants make a superb setting at any time but especially at sunset.
Pak Weeb is also the home of the famous Ao Thong or White Sand Beach. Once Khao Lak’s best kept secret, this small stretch has just three restaurants each with bungalow accommodation. This is one of the most popular day trips for anyone staying in the Khao Lak area. The beautiful white sand gently sloping into the ocean makes it ideal for families with children. Visitors can hire loungers and sun umbrellas or lie under the natural shade provided by the casuarina trees. The main townships of Bang Niang and Bang La On are about 20 – 25 minutes away by shuttle or taxi.
Last but not least of the Khao Lak mainland beaches, is the most unspoiled beach in the area. Bang Sak Beach is where you will find the delightful Bang Sak Promenade. Running along the beach are several local seafood restaurants (visitors made most welcome). Dining tables and gazebos are set up in the shade of the trees overlooking the beach and ocean.
You know the food will be both delicious and reasonably priced by the amount of Thai locals that dine here. It is great for a lazy seaside lunch and a beautiful walk along natural and unspoiled stretches of Thailand’s real beaches. Laze on the beach, dip in the sea or even better, kick back for the freshest seafood dinner and watch the wonderful sunset.
If you enjoy having long stretches of deserted beach all to yourself, Koh Kho Khao is the place. The island might be too quiet for many people, but if you are seeking solitude and deep relaxation, you may consider Koh Kho Khao. In some areas the beaches have the interesting mix of old wood and trees from the coastal area, but most of the beaches are uncluttered and clean. It is as beautiful, if not more so, than any of the beaches in Khao Lak. If you are looking for solitude and relaxation, Koh Kho Khao is the Island for you.
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Khao Lak is in close proximity to an abundance of stunning snorkeling sites. The Similan and Surin Islands and increasingly popular Koh Tachai are teeming with marine life and beautiful corals.
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