Khao Lak – How Byron Bay Used to Be

Andrew Leeson


Khao Lak

There’s a good chance that if you have been to Thailand, you would have visited Phuket. Or at least if you have spent a decent amount of time in Thailand you will visit Thailand’s largest island at some point.

Like with most places around the world that have been tourist Mecca’s for decades, the infrastructure has kept pace with tourism in Phuket, so that there is seemingly an endless number of attractions to keep you occupied, and your credit or debit cards working. Coupled with Phuket’s natural beauty I can certainly see why the island attracts the tourist numbers it does.

I particularly like the southern part of the island; Nai Harn beach is my favourite Phuket beach and has some great waves in the wet season. I love the beach restaurants for their rustic beachside vibe. 

Khao Lak Trips

Want a change of pace? Try Khao Lak

Only about 75km north of Phuket International Airport, Khao Lak is refreshingly laid back with an abundance of natural beauty. The area is not just one town though, it’s a group of towns and a stretch of white sandy beaches approximately 25km in length.
Old Byron Bay
Old Byron Bay

Khao Lak reminds me of the old Byron Bay

I grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s not too far from Byron Bay in northern NSW. As kids, my parents used to drive our family regularly to Byron often for fish and chips on the beach and a swim in the ocean. Byron back in those days, however, was a very different town than it is today.
In the mid 1970’s there were approximately 2,750 residents living within the town of Byron Bay. Pre Covid the town had almost 3.5M visitors per annum.
I find Khao Lak has striking similarities to the old Byron that I grew up with. Before the tourists, celebrities and much worse, the ‘influencers’ found it. Khao Lak and its surrounds is what a beach town should be. Set on the Andaman Sea, the area is more family orientated and best suited to people that want to relax and wander the somewhat underdeveloped streets at a country pace.
Khao Lak Beaches

What’s there to do around Khao Lak?

It has loads of postcard perfect white sandy beaches and authentic markets and shops. It’s surrounded by national parks with plenty of natural hikes and waterfalls. It is also the staging point for the Similan Islands, which has the clearest waters you will ever see and is considered by many as the best diving spot in Thailand.

Khao Lak Wildlife

There are plenty of bars and places to eat, just don’t expect Phuket. There are plenty of places where you can go barefoot too if that’s your style.

It is a fast-growing tourist hotspot though and I can see in the future it being progressively developed, so now is a great time to visit. The area caters for all budget types with plenty of accommodation options.

Best time to visit is between November to April. If you would like to go off-peak as I did you will find plenty of great deals. In any case, no matter when you go it’s well worth a visit. 

Khao Lak Night Life

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Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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