Hi, we are going to Vietnam and Cambodia for 6 nights each and wanted a 8 night Thailand beach break at the end (28th Nov - 6th Dec) but I am really torn as to where to choose! We want somewhere with a nice beach and a good choice of local restaurants and chilled beach bars that we can sit in until late (not night clubs nor somehwere where everything closes at 11!). Would like to be able to do a couple of trips, bit of shopping and some scuba diving. We have loved everywhere we have been in Asia (Seminyak & Ubud in Bali, Phuket & Chiang Mai in Thailand.) so I was thinking between Koh Lanta, Khao Lak and Ao Nang? Any help you can offer to narrow my decision would be really helpful. Thanks - Oh and we are a couple in our late twenties if that helps! :o)
Ao Nang doesn't have great Thai food but Krabi Town does - 20 mins from the beach.
Lanta has some good local food and decent beaches - diving u can do a tour to Trang islands just south of there.
Not much shopping on Lanta but you can stop by Ao Nang/Krabi town along the way.
I've yet to visit Lanta but have heard good things. Both Khao Lak and Ao Nang are pretty much exclusive to tourists -- expect high prices for not the greatest food. Between the two, I liked Khao Lak better simply because the beach is a lot nicer. Some of the best diving in the world is also reachable directly from Khao Lak (Richileu Rock / Similans). In terms of beaches, neither Ao Nang or Khao Lak are in the same league as some of the islands, although the beaches at Railay (short longtail ride from Ao Nang) and the Similans (usually a day trip from Khao Lak) are some of the best in Thailand. The beach at Ao Nang, in particular, is nothing special but the one further north at Haad Nopphara Thara isn't bad. Two other places that come to mind based on what you wrote are Ko Lipe and Ko Tao. Both offer great diving opportunities, good food options, outstanding beaches and chill nightlife. Personally I'd be looking at islands rather than the coast.
Koh Lanta is probably perfect for your needs - that time of year will be the most busy, but still nowhere near as hectic as other islands like Phi Phi, Samui and Pha-Ngan. It has a huge variety of accommodation and restaurants, and a number of beaches, and you can spend days exploring the island on motorbikes which is also very enjoyable.
Ao Nang, while I haven't spent much time there seemed a bit more similar to Phi Phi, with larger amounts of younger backpackers. Railay beach near Krabi was similar.
Who sais you can't get good and cheap authetic Thai food in Ao Nang?
There is a good authentic restaurant. The place is called Wangsai Seafood (98 Moo 3 Ao Nang, www.wangsaiseafood.com)
If you walk along the beach, the beach to your left, you have to walk all the way to the rock to the next bach. Wangsai is the first restaurant on your lefthand side. Almost no tourists there but mainly thai people. So give it a try!
There is another small restaurant next to Ascot Hotel (one block ahead of Ascot if coming from the beach), the food there is quite good too, but dont expect too much.
Another option is the restarant in soi 11, but that one is really hard to find, it is past "The Cliff" ressort. But they have quite good food too. The restaurants at the beach can be avoided.
"further north at Haad Nopphara Thara isn't bad"
It's muddy and not good for swimming.
Best beaches are Phra Nang, Railay and Khlong Muang.
" Ao Nang , while I haven't spent much time there seemed a bit more similar to Phi Phi, with larger amounts of younger backpackers"
That's wrong. It's more families.
"Who sais you can't get good and cheap authetic Thai food in Ao Nang?"
You can get some ok Thai food in Ao Nang but a lot of it isn't very good. Your directions indicate Wangsai is at Noppharat. The restaurants near the Noppharat boat pier served up some decent seafood.
But along the Ao Nang area much of it isn't very good, however you can get a decent pizza.
If you want good cheap Thai food Krabi Town is more reliable. Otherwise you can try the afternoon/night market at Nopphorat or the one up over the hill at Ao Nang.
If you mean with over the hill, hilltop, they serve some quite OK food. The view is amazing, the starters are OK but a little overpriced. But it is hard to get to hilltop, especially with a scooter by 2. Better to get off and ride the scooter up the hill by yourself. Best time is 1 hour before sunset. Get a drink, a starter and go. For dinner dinner you can go to Wangsai. Try the softshell crab, I always go for this one.
About Pizza, well they are OK, in the low season they charge between 150 to 180 Baht, high season rate is 250 to 280 which is overpriced. Best is don't eat at the beach.
"We want somewhere with a nice beach and a good choice of local restaurants and chilled beach bars"
I'm thinking you can get these asks in all three of your places but I reckon Lanta may do it best. Seems to me the further south you get the more you are likely to hit the Muslim cooking influence and Lanta certainly has enough visitors to get the variety you want. Beaches aren't shabby either. I'd be staying on one of the first two beaches off the ferry, Klong Dao or Long Beach (Ao Phrae). Some real nice laid back beach bars and restaurants and a host of the latter up on the main road behind the beaches. Even more the short distance into the main town, Ban Saladan. Very big variety of seafood places along the waterfront west of the pier - you will see them as your ferry comes in.
If you are a budget traveller you may prefer Klong Khong a bit further south. No shortage of beach bars and restaurants, fewer joints on the main road and maybe 10-15 minutes into Saladan by motorbike sidecar taxi or hire moped.
Some of the best diving in the world is also reachable directly from Khao Lak (Richileu Rock / Similans). In terms of beaches, neither Ao Nang or Khao Lak are in the same league as some of the islands, although the beaches at Railay (short longtail ride from Ao Nang) and the Similans (usually a day trip from Khao Lak) are some of the best in Thailand.
#10 sabsia has been a member since 13/5/2013. Posts: 2
Thanks to everyone for all the advice, has been really useful indeed! From whats been mentioned I think we may be leaning towards Koh Lanta. As you have all been so helpful, one other place brought to my attention was Koh Chang - does anyone know anything about there and how it would compare to Lanta?
Koh Lanta rules! You won't be disappointed! Look out for a restaurant out on its own along the main road with a full-size snooker table - they will barbecue a fresh whole red snapper for about 200B as far as I remember, some of the best seafood I've ever had! In fact, lots of restaurants will barbecue fish for you, but I just loved that one because of the snooker table and their friendliness
I haven't been to Koh Chang, but I have heard it's a different vibe to Lanta - more developed, busier etc. One plus is that it's quite close to Bangkok compared to Lanta.
Big Ko Chang will meet your asks. One factor - you are talking elsewhere about either Tao or one of the Andaman islands. It's a hell of a transfer from big Chang across there if you are time/fundsshort.
Best idea if you are in the big Chang area is to also check out the islands to the south - Whai, Mak, Kud and/or spend some time on Samet on the way back to Bangkok. All these will also meet your asks although Chang's immediate neighbours tend to be laid back and will have a more limited choice of diving. So to does Samet but it probably comes #2 in the quest for similar islands to Ko Tao as you were asking on another thread.
One plus point about the Chang/Samet area. You were asking about rainfall on the other thread - the monsoon tends to end earlier in the eastern Gulf and quite often there is very little rain after the start of November. I have already mentioned on the other thread about the Tao area at this time - in the Andaman, dry season starts to kick in sometime in November but you can still get a bit of rain. Hasn't stopped me making this time one of my favourite periods for Andaman trips.
"I haven't been to Koh Chang, but I have heard it's a different vibe to Lanta - more developed, busier etc"
I've been to both a couple of times and I would say Chang is better. It's a bigger island and I found the food better and there's more things to do. I wouldn't say it's much more developed as both islands have lots of hotels. But neither is as busy as Samui or Phuket.
You can do diving/snorkeling south of Chang. Very nice islands in that region.
If I had to pick between Chang and Lanta I would pick Chang. If choosing between Chang and Krabi/Lanta it's pretty even.