If you want to escape the crowds, one of the best places to go is Khao Lak. You’ll find it around two hours’ drive north of Phuket. This peaceful cluster of villages is completely enveloped by dense, green jungle, and it’s become a front-runner for relaxed getaways in comparison to bustling Phuket. Khao Lak has a great postcode, too. It’s just over an hour’s speedboat ride away from the world-famous Similan Islands, making it the perfect base for exploring dream-like beaches. Plus, it’s the ideal place to immerse yourself in southern Thai culture, too. Make time to check out the quirky town of Takua Pa, which dates back to the 13th century, and was once used as a tin mining and port centre. Fast forward to today, though, and it’s the blush-coloured architecture, bustling food markets, and friendly locals that really give it charm.
Khao Lak and luxurious getaways go together like caviar and Champagne thanks to its water’s-edge location. Here, you’ll have easy access to some of Thailand’s best national parks, including Khao Sok National Park, the Similan Islands and Phang Nga Bay, to name a few. Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park has bright green waters, and is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, vast jungles and spectacular caves. You can spend the day exploring this hidden gem by traditional Thai longtail boat and exploring the jungle. The thick trees will shade you from the hot sun – and don’t be surprised if you spot boisterous monkeys jumping across the twisting branches as you go. Then there’re the Similan Islands, which are made up of 11 protected atolls, with just four open to the public. You’ll know when you’ve reached them as you’ll be surrounded by the bluest water you’ve ever seen. Day trips here are all about snorkelling through Nemo-filled waters, relaxing on sugar-white sands, and exploring famous landmarks like Donald Duck Bay – a rock formation that looks like the famous Disney character. Phang Nga Bay meanwhile is marked by rainbow-shaded coral reefs, more than 100 limestone cliffs, and some of the most impressive sunsets in Thailand. The best way to see it all is by speedboat, where you’ll have unobstructed views for miles.
Khao Lak is the cream of the crop when it comes to family getaways. You can expect huge strips of beaches, action-packed day trips, and tonnes of activities. Stay at the TUI BLUE Mai Khao Lak if you’re travelling with little ones and you’ll be right next to a huge swath of golden sand, making it easy to switch between the pool and the sea. This place really does pull out all the stops – it boasts three outdoor pools, four different restaurants, and an endless list of activities that’ll leave the whole family spoiled for choice. Activities includes tennis, volleyball, and Thai boxing. And when it comes to downtime for the adults, there’s nothing quite like a classic Thai massage down by the beach, while taking in those orange-tinted sunsets. If you fancy swapping days spent by the pool for something more adventurous with your brood in tow, Khao Sok National Park is an excellent choice. Day trips here will have you trekking through thick jungle, cruising the Khao Sok River on traditional bamboo rafts, or swimming through waterfalls. Plus, you’ll likely spot gibbons, tapir and fish eagles as you go, so it’s great for nature-loving little ones.
It’s no secret that Thailand is an extravagant destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stick to a budget while you’re out there. At Takua Pa’s early morning market for example, you can gobble a breakfast of vegetable noodle soup, or a spicy Thai salad, for less than £1.00 or 50 baht. And if you’re a culture vulture as well as an early bird, arrive early enough (5am) and you’ll catch a glimpse of local monks dressed in tangerine-coloured robes, collecting offerings of food and blessing the friendly residents. You’ve also got modern towns, like Bang Niang, where there are tonnes of great little bars if you do fancy a cocktail or two, and restaurants along the main road boasting stacks of cheap eats. Plus, three times a week, Bang Niang hosts a night market with food, clothes and accessory stalls where you can get your hands on some bargains.
Here’s where you can find out more about the best markets in Thailand.
Ready to try out the Land of Smiles for yourself?
Browse our holidays to Thailand. And if you fancy ticking off more than one destination on your Thai holiday, our Multi-Destination holidays help you do exactly that. Pair your beachfront hotel stay with tours of the lesser-trodden north, including places like Chiang Mai, the Golden Triangle and more in one easy-to-book package.
Author: Olivia Hunt
The TUI BLUE Mai Khao Lak offers private villas in its accommodation catalogue, and it’s set on an unspoilt beach.
A beachfront setting, massages for two and a gourmet restaurant are all on offer at this adults-only hotel.
With its lagoon-side setting and small, sandy beach, TUI BLUE Lagoon Mauritius is a real tropical hideaway.
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