Khao Lak Mini Guide
Coming Back After the Tsunami
Khao Lak was one of the worst affected areas by the 2004 tsunami in the whole of Thailand with possibly up to 10,000 losing their lives – there is no accurate figure as there were so many locals who were not registered in any way. Much of the local economy was devastated as the area relies heavily on tourism and fishing, both of which were so badly affected. Now, though, almost seven years on, the hotels have been re-built and the tourists are back. The fishing fleet has new boats and those whose livelihoods were obtained in other ways are almost totally back to normal.
The Changed Coastline
Much of the coastal landscape of Khao Lak and it's surrounding area was destroyed by the tsunami, but some re-planting has begun and the resort itself has been almost re-built. The main things attracting visitors to Khao Lak are it's wonderful beaches and these have been cleaned and you would never know there had been that terrible disaster not so long ago.
One constant reminder of it though is Police Boat 813 which you can see washed up exactly where the tsunami deposited it. The boat was guarding the grandson of the King of Thailand who was on holiday in Khao Lak at the time – he and the entire crew of another police boat died, so Boat 813 is memorial to those who died and an historical landmark.
Bang La On
This is the centre of Khao Lak where you will find the most going on. It has shops, plenty of ATMs to encourage you to spend money – although you generally get good value for it in this part of the world and of course, lots of restaurants. It is the more family orientated part of Khao Lak, with primarily more affordable 3 and 4 star accommodation well suited to children. Khao Lak is not normally known as a party place – people who prefer that kind of holiday normally go to nearby Phuket. Couples wanting a quieter, more romantic break are normally to be found in Bang Niang
Diving Around Khao Lak
The Andaman Sea around Khao Lak is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. If you're not a swimmer or can't dive, you can see wonderful coloured fishing just swimming around your legs in the crystal clear waters. Snorkeling gives you a slightly better insight into the world of the deep, and the Surin Islands, to the north west of Khao Lak are ideal as some of the best reefs do not need scuba gear.
If you want to really do it properly, then the diving there is fantastic, there are live coral formations just off the coast and also a nearby wreck dive. Or take a trip to the Similian Islands which are 55km due west of Khao Lak, these are renowned amongst divers for amazing underwater sights down to 30m.
Khao Lak is a tranquil part of Thailand, far removed from the bustle of Phuket to the south. There, beautiful, unspoilt and uncrowded beaches tempt you to slip into a hammock and doze in the cool breeze. Once refreshed, you can hire a car and explore the coastline, discovering the wildlife of the national park that hugs the coast.
Some may want to spend a few days on board one of the diving boats and discover the underwater beauty of the Similan Islands. Whatever you do there, you’ll come away at peace with yourself having unwound completely.