The enchanting region of Khao Lak sits on the western coastline of Thailand, looking out to the Andaman Sea. It’s an area that, more recently, has been synonymous with natural disaster, following the 2004 tsunami that was the deadliest natural event on record. Thousands of people were killed, dozens of holiday resorts were destroyed, and the region’s tourism industry took more than a decade to rebuild. Fortunately, the natural beauty of Khao Lak was preserved and tens of thousands of visitors are returning to explore its attractions. If you are looking for the best day trips from your holiday base in Khao Lak, here are our top picks.
KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
Located just 40 kilometres north-east of Khao Lak is the oldest evergreen rainforest on the planet. Khao Sok National Park is a majestic place to explore, both on foot and by canoe. Some 5% of the world’s animal species live within this park, including elephants, wild boar, tigers and white-handed gibbons. It is open 365 days a year, so whenever you visit Khao Lak you will have a wonderful experience here.
PHANG NGA BAY
If you enjoy exploring the sights and sounds of Khao Lak and western Thailand on water, you’ll cherish a trip to Phang Nga Bay. With tall limestone karsts that stand imposingly within the sea, as well as many fascinating caves to meander through by sea kayak, it’s a wonderful adventure. There’s also the famous ‘James Bond Island’ nearby, which is the scene for Scaramanga’s hideaway in The Man With the Golden Gun. It’s very touristy but offers stunning photo opportunities.
If you enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving and exploring sea life, be sure to book a day trip to the Similan Islands, situated 50 kilometres off the Khao Lak coastline. With crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, it’s a great escape for a day and even brief overnight trips.
If you wish to explore more of Thailand’s traditional culture, visit the Buddhist temple of Wat Tham. It’s one of the most popular landmarks in the Phang Nga province. The reclining Buddha statue is undoubtedly the most memorable attraction here, located deep within this limestone temple cave. Outside the temple, macaques regularly socialise with the tourists, allowing you to feed them with nuts and bananas if you so wish.
It is truly remarkable the way in which the community of Khao Lak has managed to rebound and rebuild since the tsunami. Coastal areas and resorts have been reconstructed and repaired and new ones are being built all the time. By the end of this year, the region will be home to more than 9,000 hotel rooms. With warning sirens installed across the Khao Lak coastline to provide two-hour warnings of future tsunamis, this western coastline of Thailand is once again a safe place to explore, so don’t hesitate to book your ticket to Khao Lak! Regular readers of The Aussie Flashpacker will know that we’ve absolutely loved our travels through Asia and are always planning trips back!