Khao Lak, Thailand
Khao Lak is a great option for people wishing to visit the beautiful Andaman Sea but are looking for a less touristy and crazy experience than Phuket. Khao Lak was badly hit from the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 but is slowly turning into a popular tourist destination. Khao Lak has white beaches and surrounded by the tropical jungle. It is a great location to take day trips to Similan Islands, Phang Nga Bay and Khao Sok. It also is an easy 1.5 hour drive from Phuket International Airport.
Bang Niang Market
The Bang Niang markets are a great way to experience the Thai culture allowing visitors to try different Thai street food dishes as well as plenty of opportunities to buy clothes, handbags, shoes and headphones (which are all real btw). There will be many tuk tuk drivers wanting to take you to the markets located in Bang Niang and the markets are open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons to evenings. I have had a dinner here costing $2. It is a real experience. You may want to try the crickets and cockroaches.
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is a prime destination for those wishing to visit tall limestone karts rising from the sea with various cave systems and tunnels leading to tranquil lagoons in the caves. Phang Nga also features Koh Panyee which is a fishing village built on stilts. The village is a great stop for lunch and easy to wander round on foot. Koh Phing Kan (James Bond) is famous for its scenery used in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. Many day trips include cruising through the bay visiting the fishing village, seeing James Bond Island and then heading kayaking in the caves. The kayaking is sensational as you can enter many caves in the limestone cliffs where you can reach hidden lagoons. The lagoons are hard to reach and are due to the tide of the sea. You may also be told to lie flat down in order to reach the lagoon and have a base of a cave only 20cm away from your face! It is a memorable experience lying in a pitch black tunnel and then entering a tropical lagoon with limestone cliffs.
Koh Tachai is a small island belonging to the Similian National Park. It offers outstanding snorkelling and has white powder sandy beaches. This tropical paradise allows visitors to relax on the beach, swim and snorkel in the crystal water or go for a jungle trek. Koh Tachai is also only open in season and is an alternative option to visiting the Similian Islands as you can relax in the one location.
The Similian islands are 50km of the coast of Khao Lak. Visiting Similian you will be rewarded with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and superb snorkelling seeing turtles and colourful coral. Taking a day trip here you will ride a speedboat and visit various locations around the islands. There are a variety of different beaches and snorkel coves. Take the short walk up to the Sailing Boat rock for an awesome view! You can also take liveaboard cruises around the islands for divers. Please note that the islands are only open in SEASON. Season runs from November to the end of April. After April the islands close for regeneration and monsoon weather.
Khao Sok National Park is an easy day trip from Khao Lak. Khao Sok is rich with nature with tall limestone formations coming out from the emerald lake and tropical jungles. It is a beautiful place to visit for kayaking, jungle trekking and swimming. For a more detailed account of Khao Sok, please read my other blog post: https://wanderlustingdaisy.com/2017/04/07/khao-sok-national-park-highlights/
International Tsunami Memorial
The Tsunami Memorial shows the devastating effects of the tragedy that occurred in Khao Lak on the 26th December 2004. There is a museum which explains the effects of the tsunami and the warning signs of tsunamis. In Bang Niang you can also see the remains of a Thai Navy boat that was out at sea and when the tsunami hit the large vessel was carried 2km inland! Visiting the memorials is important to understand what the local community in Khao Lak experienced. It is located in Bang Niang and across the road from the local markets.
Wat Tham also known as the monkey temple is a landmark in the Phang Nga Province. There is a large Buddha statue in the limestone cave and a second cave can be visited at the back of the main cave. You can also buy bananas and peanuts sold by vendors at the entrance. You will have the opportunity to feed the monkeys that are at the entrance to the temple. BE AWARE THEY ARE CRAZY FOR FOOD!
Sai Rung Waterfall
This one of the easiest accessible waterfalls to Khao Lak. It is an easy walk to the falls where you can have a refreshing spot to have a quick swim. The admission is free as well. You can also visit the other waterfalls around Khao Lak like Lampi waterfall and Ton Chong Fa Waterfall.