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Wide and sweeping Khlong Dao beach was home to Lanta's very first bungalows back when it was still hidden from the mainstream traveller radar. Though now fully developed, the four-kilometre-long stretch of luscious white sand leaves plenty of room for isolated sun-bathing or even tossing a frisbee around.
The beach is popular with families and older folks thanks to the many midrange resorts that attract boat loads of Scandinavians and Germans in high season. With typically calm water and a gentle drop off that's almost completely free of rocks, this is a fine spot for young children to go for a splash.
The main road from Saladan cuts straight south into Haad Khlong Dao, making the two areas blend together. A bunch of alleyways cut from the main road to the beach, and some solid flashpacker accommodation is available just off the sand for those who don't mind foregoing the sea views. To the south, Khlong Dao is separated from Haad Phra Ae only by a high hedge of rocks.
Haad Khlong Dao widens to the north as it meets Ao Kaw Kwang, a secluded bay and peninsula that forms Lanta's northwestern tip. You'll find a few excellent luxury resorts in this quiet area.
The central to southern stretches of beach have a few inexpensive bungalows mixed into mostly long-running midrangers that lack character but are perfectly comfortable. A couple hundred metres away from the sand, the main drag is lined with cafes, restaurants, book shops, fruit stands and convenience stores.
You'll find several beach bars to go with sunset volleyball games and fire-spinning shows on southern Khlong Dao beach, but it's more of a "chill-out and relax" rather than "let's get smashed and dance" scene after dark.
While seclusion seekers should head further south on Lanta, Khlong Dao is a good choice if you're after family-friendly comforts and conveniences.
By David Luekens.