World-class diving, tropical park treks and unspoiled beaches
Khao Lak’s winding roads cross forest-clad slopes to reach a chain of pristine, silky-white beaches. The sands, overlooked by palm trees and tropical vegetation, enjoy an enduring sense of untainted isolation. And the improbably turquoise, clear waters of the Andaman Sea, with their near-perfect swimming and snorkelling conditions, are irresistible.
There’s enough to keep scuba divers distracted for years, regardless of experience. Off Bang Sak beach, a sunken tin-mining ship teems with marine life, including barracuda and scorpion fish. Boats leave daily from most Khao Lak beaches for the isolated Similan Islands National Park, one of the finest places to dive in Thailand. There are always new sites to explore, daubed in every colour on the spectrum, thanks to efforts to protect lively coral gardens and their populations of clown and angel fish.
Fresh tropical fruits and succulent street foods perfume the air of Bang Niang market. Fresh-caught seafood, including blue crabs and green mussels, adorns the menus of many beachfront restaurants, with tables set out on powdery sand between Pakarang and Bang Sak beaches. It’s customary to slow things down here, dining in simple style as the sun sets over the sea.
Further inland, national parks such as Lak-Lam Ru and Si Phang-nga provide outdoor pursuits from waterfall hiking to boat trips and wildlife-spotting tours. Hulking limestone mountains rise above a calm lake in Khao Sok National Park, where you can trek through the ancient jungle, home to snakes, wild elephants and leopards, accompanied by a persistent insect cacophony.