The Khao Lak area's most popular beach is Nang Thong, where you'll find mid- to high-end resorts along the sand and plenty of cheaper options on the main road. Two kilometres further north, Bang Niang also has a good group of beach resorts to go with a more laid-back atmosphere. Things get even quieter as you continue north up to Bang Sak, while those looking for a glimpse of Southern Thai fishing life might spend a night up in Baan Nam Khem.
Nang Thong beach (commonly referred to itself as Khao Lak) is the area's major hub and this is where you'll find the biggest concentration of dive shops, nightspots and accommodation to suit the broadest range of budgets. A few kilometres further south is Khao Lak beach, with a smattering of top-end resorts, and the Thap Lamu pier, the departure point for the Similan National Park.
Nestled around a small pond in a shady, spacious area, Green Beach offers simple but stylish accommodation in a secluded but prime location directly facing the northern part of Nang Thong beach. A sign in the middle of the resort reads, Happiness is all around here, and we have to agree. Staff were very friendly and sincere, and the overall laid back atmosphere makes you want to kick back and... Read our full review of Khao Lak Green Beach Resort.
Set back down the side street behind Khao Lak Seafood, Baan Noen Thong is a true guesthouse that offers simple but clean, comfortable and modern rooms at budget rates. Rooms have a minimalist theme going with comfy beds, shiny white tile floors, clean bathrooms, and fridges (but no TVs), and whether you choose air-con or fan you can expect a clean and fresh smelling room. The rooms also have... Read our full review of Baan Noen Thong.
Situated down a quiet lane that's still close to the action of central Nang Thong and a five minute walk to the beach, Banana is a cheerful and friendly spot run by an enthusiastic group of young Thais. Bright, clean and comfy white bungalows are set close to one another around a small swimming pool. Offering solid value, all rooms come with TVs, desks, simple hot water bathrooms, good sized... Read our full review of Banana Bungalows.
Golden Place is a four storey building that, despite seeming a little out of place, offers shiny new serviced apartment style rooms that are a good option for saving some cash without sacrificing comfort or an almost beachfront location (it's just across the street from Nang Thong beach. Rooms come in three sizes, all of which have air-con and feature shiny white tile floors, comfortable beds,... Read our full review of Khao Lak Golden Place.
A lavish resort amid the national park, the buildings here are fairly packed in and it feels more run-of-the-mill than Khaolak Paradise Resort next door. The rooms are fully kitted out and come equipped with fantastic four-post beds. Facilities include two pools, a gym, mini-mart, sauna and even a tailor shop on site. The resort's terrific low-season rates are valid until the end of October 2006.... Read our full review of Khao Lak Palm Beach Resort.
Looking to live the high life? Occupying a massive area of well groomed land right on Nang Thong beach, Khao Lak Seaview is one of the more decadent choices in the area. Rooms come in several styles and sizes, but all are impeccably decorated throughout. The more expensive rooms feature his and her separate bathrooms, private swimming pools facing the sea, and ensuite whirlpool hot tubs. A good... Read our full review of Khao Lak Seaview Resort.
A very stylish high-end resort on the hill at the southern end of Nang Thong beach, Paradise lives up to its name. The resort feels like it's set in the heart of the rainforest even though you also have a stunning stretch of beach at your fingertips. The pebble-encrusted chalets are elegant inside with polished hard wood floors, traditional art, and plenty of space, and they fit reasonably well... Read our full review of Khaolak Paradise Resort.
Nang Thong Bay Resort is located right in the middle of Nang Thong beach and offers some stylish and well equipped beach front villas that resemble many others we saw in the area that go for double the price. Thoughtfully designed with a traditional Thai gold and black colour scheme, soft lanterns, and well placed paintings of lotuses, all rooms are fresh and modern with spotless tile floors,... Read our full review of Nang Thong Bay Resort.
Walker's slogan is more than just a guesthouse, and we find this to be true — it's more like a backpackers institution. The bright and cheery fan dorms with shared baths that feature brand new showers are not only Khao Lak's best dorm option but also its cheapest. Simple, private fan rooms are solid value as well, although if looking for air-con it's possible to get slightly more comfortable... Read our full review of Walkers Inn.
The architects didn't hold back on this one — with a fitness centre, games room, beauty salon, clinic, ballroom, conference room and no less than five pools, Merlin is the luxury traveller's idea of magic. Regular rooms aren't huge, but they're nicely done and many have views over the pools (even from the bathrooms). It's about ten minutes south of the shops at Nang Thong and isn't really... Read our full review of Khaolak Merlin Resort.
Ready to give Walkers Inn a run for its money, Seaweed is a recent arrival on the scene that's aiming at the younger, budget backpacker set. Less than a five minute walk from the beach, Seaweed is situated smack in the middle of Nang Thong, and its hip, laid back atmosphere certainly does make it noticeable. The lobby is decorated in a bright, artsy theme with surfboards painted on the walls... Read our full review of Seaweed Hostel.
Offering better but pricier rooms than nearby Jai Bungalows, Khao Lak Seafood is a popular place to stay and eat right along the main road in Nang Thong. Rooms are set back in a quiet, lush garden area behind the restaurant. Fan rooms are spacious, simple and clean with comfortable beds on raised bamboo platforms, cute little desks and mirrors, towel racks, clean and pleasant hot water bathrooms... Read our full review of Khao Lak Seafood Family House.
Located along the main road on the way out of Nang Thong to the north, Srichada doesn't look like much from the outside. Inside however, the rooms are a very pleasant surprise, and they offer perhaps the most bang for your buck if considering only the rooms themselves. All rooms are set in a three storey building with big back porches facing the mountainous jungle nearby — a good spot for a... Read our full review of Srichada Motel.
Jai's offers slightly less value for money than the similarly set-up Khao Lak Seafood nearby. The bungalows out the back of this restaurant are more expensive, but older and tattier, and the grounds aren't anywhere near as pleasant. There'll be construction going on nearby for most of 2006 as well. A good budget choice, but certainly not the best in Nang... Read our full review of Jai Restaurant and Bungalows.
Situated two kilometres to the north of Nang Thong, Bang Niang beach and surrounds offers a more laid back atmosphere, some well done high end resorts, and a couple family run budget gems.
With its façade of bright yellows, oranges and blues, Chong Fah appears to perhaps be on the tacky side from outside, but nothing could be farther than the truth. The Resort sports modern architecture that blends well into the surroundings with a huge deck and pool with tasteful waterfalls at its centre. There are little ceramic pools around the grounds with floating flowers for cleaning the... Read our full review of Chong Fah Resort.
Set towards the end of a quiet side road in Bang Niang, about a five minute walk from the beach, the Sandy House is probably the best true budget option in this area. It's a family run spot with rooms in a four storey building situated over a gift shop, and the enthusiastic ladies who work there are very welcoming. For these prices, and in this area, rooms are a pleasant surprise too. Whether fan... Read our full review of Sandy House.
Directly across the street from Thup Thong Guesthouse, The Shambhala occupies a great beach front location and is one of our favourite higher end spots in the area. As far as amenities go, the resort is on par with the best — an excellent beachfront restaurant and bar, a swimming pool overlooking the sea, and rooms that are not only impeccably clean and well equipped but also very stylish. They... Read our full review of The Shambhala Resort.
Tucked towards the northern end of the road that fronts Bang Niang beach, Thup Thong is the only true budget guesthouse on this stretch, and thankfully it's a good one. The three storey guesthouse features large, airy and bright fan rooms with comfortable beds, fresh smelling linens, large fridges, several screened windows, sitting areas both inside and out side on spacious porches, and quality... Read our full review of Thup Thong Guest House & Bungalows.
Set along either side of Bang Niang beach, Ayara offers classy but pricey beach front villas and luxurious rooms in a three storey building a short walk to the the beach, which are set around a massive swimming pool. Inside the rooms sport a deep yellow and white theme and are both comfortable and stylish. We liked the funky, dimly lit lanterns and kitchen style sink outside some lovely... Read our full review of Araya Villas.
Located along Phet Kasem Rd just before the turn off for Bang Niang beach, Riverside is set along more of a muddy creek than a river, but their rooms exceeded our expectations. Dirt cheap fan rooms are small and basic with little more than a firm bed and windows overlooking the creek — no TVs or hot water in the small bathrooms — but for the price, you could do a lot worse. Air-con rooms are... Read our full review of Riverside Guesthouse.
North of Bang Niang lies Khuk Khak beach, Cape Pakarang and Bang Sak beach, and there's some fantastic, albeit more isolated places to stay in this area. There's no tourist centre here of the likes of Nang Thong, just a few villages and some very relaxing landscape. There's also a couple of good bamboo-hut restaurants on the road that runs along Bang Sak beach.
Owned and operated by a laid back Thai woman and her chatty German husband, Lake View is a small, relaxed resort spread over a quiet and shady stretch of land across the street from a small lake and just a three minute walk to Khuk Khak beach. Rooms are easily the best we saw in this price range in the whole area. Each are a little different, but all were designed and built by the owners... Read our full review of Lake View Bungalows.
Of all of the top-end resorts along the Khao Lak coast, the Sarojin has become the most famous, and many believe the best. With stunning villas, tranquil grounds and impeccable staff, it's hard not to fall in love with the place. A perfect honeymoon spot, the villas are large, luxurious, secluded and many come with private pools. Villas are thoughtfully set around two huge lotus ponds with... Read our full review of The Sarojin.
Set amidst a dazzling white sand beach near the point of Cape Pakarang, White Sand offers plain but comfortable concrete and wood bungalows to go with a great beachside restaurant and one of the best beach bum atmospheres in the area. All bungalows come with air-con and large front porches with furniture, and are simply furnished with basic hot water bathrooms, a couple of cheap chairs and some... Read our full review of White Sand Beach Restaurant & Bungalow.
A kind, gentle and sincere local man who lost most of his family in the 2004 Tsunami, Amnat speaks good English and generously opens his house to anyone who wants to stay with him. He stopped advertising the two brick bungalows that The Mercy Foundation helped him build after the tsunami, but if you can find him he is still usually available, and this could be a wonderfully memorable cultural... Read our full review of Amnat's place.
Located just past Amnat's if heading north on Phet Kasem Rd, Nanta is a family home with a few rooms out back that could be another great homestay experience, especially if Amnat is not around. Rooms here are set back behind the main house and mini mart, and they are decent sized and comfortable with ceiling fans, fridges, TVs, nice big windows, and a table large enough for two to share a meal.... Read our full review of Nanta Guesthouse.
About a half km from the beach, Pakarang is a small, family run budget resort with pleasant and functional fan and air-con concrete bungalows set around a small pool and jacuzzi. Bungalows only have one window and the fan offerings are a bit on the musty and hot side, but not bad value for what you get — free WiFi, TVs, fridges, comfy and clean beds, quality desks, and clean hot water... Read our full review of Pakarang Bungalows.
With its traditional northern Thai theme, Takolaburi is a refreshing break from the sprawling resorts of Khao Lak, so many of which seem like clones of one another. Set around lotus ponds and several fountains, the tastefully designed lobby could almost pass as a historic site in Chiang Rai (well, almost). Standard rooms in a three storey building don't have nearly the same charm, but they are... Read our full review of Takolaburi Cultural Resort.
Few travellers stop in the pretty little fishing village of Nam Khem, about 7 km southwest of Takuapa and 30 km north of Bang Thong beach. While it's not a typical place to stay it's worth a day trip to experience life in a Thai coastal village, and to visit the Tsunami memorial. Ko Kho Khao can also be visited in a day from Nam Khem, and if you like it so much you want to stay put for a night or two Nam Khem does have one great budget place to stay.
Tucked between a river and a charming series of narrow lanes with traditional homes, Tara Resort comes as a pleasant surprise. It's chic, modern theme and ambience are markedly out of place in the otherwise old fashioned fishing village of Nam Khem, but if looking for a comfortable spot from which to explore the area, Tara goes above and beyond what we would expect for the prices. Concrete... Read our full review of Tara Resort.