the POSH Guide

the best of travel destinations and gear

 

Phang Nga Province

Khao Lak Beach
The beach at Khao Lak.

The time was when visitors to Phang Nga province were confined to day trippers from Phuket who came by bus or boat to see the fantastic scenery of Phang Nga Bay . That began to change around the turn of the century, and by 2005 the area around Khao Lak beach was attracting thousands of travelers, and international hotel chains were beginning to build in the area. When the tsunami hit Asia the day after Christmas in 2004, Khao Lak was the worst affected area of Thailand, with an official death toll of more than 4,000 people (unofficialy, 10,000 people).

Off the coast of Phang Nga are the Similans , a group of eight islands that Skin Diving magazine rated among the ten best places on earth. Even for non divers, the islands, as well as the mainland, are home to some beautiful scenery.

Further to the north are the Surin islands, where the diving is considered less interesting that to the south, but the scenic islands are good for snorkeling.

Getting to Khao Lak

Khao Lak remains somewhat inaccessible, which is part of its charm for many people. The beach lies about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Phuket, which is the closest airport. There was talk of building an airport in Phang Nga province, but these plans where shelved after the December 2004 tsunami wiped out much of the tourist infrastructure in the area.

For now, the best way to get to Khao Lak is to fly to Phuket, then arrange for ground transfer to Khao Lak. Many of the better resorts offer complementary transfers from Phuket airport. If you want to arrange your own transportation, a limousine service from the Phuket airport will set you back 2,500 Baht. There's also a van service, which costs about 800 Baht. However, Phuket taxis have a bit of a reputation problem, with many reports of stops at tour agencies and other rip-offs.

Khao Lak Hotels

The December 2004 tsunami had a devastating effect on Khao Lak. Almost all of the area's 80 or so resorts were severly damaged or even completely destroyed. Many have since been rebuilt, and joined by new resorts. We've selected a short list of the hotels now available in Khao Lak. Among these, the Sarojin is getting the most positive reviews from guests I've heard from, although the Ramada looked surprisingly nice on my last visit.

Additional Hotel Options

Exploring the Outdoors Around Khao Lak

There's a lot to see around Khao Lak away from the water. Not far from Khao Lak beach is the Khao Sok National Park, which is home to one of Thailand's largest remaining tracts of virgin rain forest. Trails marked through the forest are relatively easy going, and lead to fantastic views of limestone mountains, waterfalls, caves and lakes.