Help ! Feb: Khao Lak or Bang Tao ?

Dec 17th, 2004, 10:34 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 50
Help ! Feb: Khao Lak or Bang Tao ?

My husband and I are traveling to Thailand in Feb. Planning to stay several days on/near Phuket, so we can dive the Andaman sea and Surin Islands. We don't want to do Phuket because it is too busy. Have hear that Khao Lak or Bang Tao are nice but perhapts too remote. Suggestions ? We like smaller places, w/lots of local flavor, on/close to beach, not over $150/ngt.
Diana5531 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2004, 08:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The Khao Lak area can no longer be described as remote! It is a Phuket in the making. Coming from the Phuket end, you start with Khao Lak Beach. Most of the resorts here appear to have been built a few years ago, and there is not that much building work going on in the resort area. There are masses of tourist oriented shops along the main road, and the clientele appears to be predominantly Scandinavian, Belgian and German.

As you head further North (only 2 -3 miles) through Nang Thong, Ban Niang, Khuk Khak, Laem Pakarang, Pakweeb and Bangsak (in that order heading North), the resorts are generally newer. Some areas have been fully developed. In other places there is masses of building going on. So if you do not get in the right place you could get lots of disturbance, even in upscale places.

We landed up staying in a half built hotel at Bang Niang. Sounds awful, but we just turned up on spec and found this great beach and a notice saying 'soft opening' on this little resort directly on the beach. We planned to stay 2 nights and landed up there for 12. The building work did not disturb us and we had the benefit of really low prices ($25 per night when we were there - will have gone up by now becuase the building was almost finished).

If you are reasonably adventurous, my recommendation would be to pick up a hire car in Phuket, drive up to Khao Lak and then look directly for accom while you are there. That way you can check out what building work is going on where at the time.

With all the talk of building, I may have put you off, which is not what I intended. We loved Khao Lak - away from the actual Khao Lak beach area it is still pretty laid back, the beaches are great, it is close enough to Phang Nga and several national parks to do day trips, and only about an hour's drive from Phuket.

Electricity only came to the area 18 years ago, and locals told us that tourist development didn't really start until 5 years ago. I think that in 5 years time it will be another Phuket, although without the high rise buildings.

There are plenty of dive operations to Surin and Similan from Khao Lak.

If you are go in Feb you may be lucky enough to see a rafflesia (world's largest flower), if you are prepared to go on a trek. A couple popped open out of season last month and we were lucky enough to be able to take a 3 hour trek to see them. Worth the time and effort, in my opinion.

Happy to get into more detailed info if you just let me know what you want. I can also email scans of local maps if that helps.
SueJ is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 08:21 AM
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Sue, Thanks for the repply. YES ! I would appr. the maps: [email protected]. I was initially looking at it because I was hoping it may be as you described it. Is the building everywhere, or centered on a prt. area ? We have looked specifically at: Wanaburee Resort, Baan Khao Lak Resort. Suggestions ? Is there any good snorkeling off any of the beaches ?
Diana5531 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 09:33 AM
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Will scan in the map we picked up while we were there and mail it to you.

I don't recall either resort, but in terms of area Baan Khao Lak would be in the busy touristy bit, and Wanaburee is a few miles further North in the quieter area.

There's no good snorkelling without going to either the Similan or Surin islands. That was the only thing missing for us - we intended to move on to one of the Islands South of Phuket for some snorkelling.......but it was so laid back that we never got round to moving.

The building is scattered all over the place - that's why I'd recommend not booking ahead, and just taking a look at what is happening at the time. There is plenty of accommodation, so I guess that at anything except peak time going without a reservation would be fine.

The one place that we stopped at, but didn't stay at that I remember as being particularly nice was Theptaro Lagoon - all individual villas. I vaguely recall that they offered us a rate of about 3500 Baht inc tax and breakfast, against a rack rate of somewhere between 5000 and 6000.

Some of the places we looked at were aimed fairly and squarely at the package market, but many were not. There is a complete range of accomm from backpacker up to luxury, so I am sure you'll find something that suits you.

If you get as far as deciding to go there, we can point you at a few local places that we found to eat, plus a good non-touristy market, and a wonderful bread shop (we just had 'home made' breakfast on our balcony every morning watching the sea).
SueJ is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 08:46 PM
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Khao Lak looks like an interesting place. Can anyone tell me what the shopping and night life is like?
austine is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 10:12 PM
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We're not really into night life, so weren't out looking, but thre are a number of bars in the Khao Lak beach area that look as if they stay open late. I think there are also a couple of clubs.

Shopping-wise, it has roughly what you'd expect in a tourist area that until recently was pretty rural - lots of souvenir places, a smattering of clothes shops, some tailors, small supermarkets, pharmacies, etc.

If you are into shopping and nightlife then it may not be for you, but then Phuket is only an hour away. You could always do a few days in laid back Khao Lak and then head for the bright lights of Phuket.
SueJ is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 11:51 PM
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We stayed at the Similana Resort - which is a couple of mile north of Khao Lak. The restaurant and public areas are set out on the top of the hill and rooms are spread throughout the forest down the hill to the mangroves and beach. We had a beachside treehouse which was not ultra luxurious but clean, comfortable and good value for the price. It over looked a fantastic (and very large) beach which was usually deserted. The only downside was the distance from Khao Lak - you really need to rent a car. There are plenty of dive schools in Khao Lak which will fix up a liveaboard to the Similan/Surin islands - the diving will be fantastic in Feb!
crellston is offline  
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