- Sleek seaside sugar cubes
- Sultry Siam shores
- Rustic-chic castaway
- Yao Noi island hillside
- Secluded tropical retreat
- Hidden gardens of Khao Lak
- Unpolished luxury
- Far-flung patch of Phang Nga
Phang Nga Overview
- Andaman marineland
- Coast life
- Ducking and diving
Imagine the perfect beach and Phang Nga can probably beat it. This postcard-spectacular south-western Thai province hugs the Andaman Sea, with crystal-clear waters and jaw-dropping bays giving way to sheer limestone cliffs and dense tropical jungle.
On land, the region nurtures mangrove ecosystems and ancient primary rainforest; offshore, the Similan and Surin islands beckon with some of the world’s most gasp-worthy dive spots. Exuding a laid-back vibe, Phang Nga’s hub – and diving jump-off point – coastal Khao Lak lacks the razzle-dazzle of Phuket and Krabi, but that’s just the way visitors like it. Sun-soakers, nature-lovers and thrill-seekers won’t fail to be awestruck.
Perfectly Phang NgaThere are few places left in Thailand that retain an untouched, undiscovered air, yet the Khao Lak coast in Phang Nga is far less developed than other Andaman hotspots, and any recent building work has been carefully monitored. Although it’s beginning to make a bigger bleep on the tourist radar, this gorgeous southern province still offers a tranquil escape from modern life.
- Outside of resort areas, you’re more likely to find motorcycle taxis (for short hops), tuk tuks and shared jeep-style pick-up trucks rather than regular taxis. You can rent motorbikes too – owing to strict fines for not wearing a helmet, Khao Lak has a lower accident record than elsewhere, although you still ride at your own risk.
- Tipping culture
- A 10 per cent service charge may be added to your bill, but don’t assume this will get as far as the staff. A tip, where appropriate, is always welcome. For cabs, simply round it up to the nearest 10 or 20 baht.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Most folk come to Phang Nga for adventure or to unwind, so it’s all about early nights and dawn starts. Shops, bars and restaurants follow suit – it’s rare to find anywhere that stays open much later than 10pm.
- Packing tips
- If you plan on flopping beachside, stock up on books and magazines before you arrive as they’re quite rare in these parts. The laid-back diving culture extends to the dress code.
- Recommended reads
- Edited by Robin Nagy, Children of the Tsunami: Khao Lak – A Story of Hope is an absorbing and often heart-wrenching collection of stories, poems and pictures by kids who were affected by the region’s 2004 tragedy.
- Regional specialities
- The Andaman Sea is awash with delicious seafood – whether you order it grilled, steamed or fried, your tastebuds will thank you. Southern Thai cuisine tends to be sweeter and spicier than that found in the rest of the country, with a distinct Muslim influence. One popular dish is earthy massaman curry, usually made with beef, potatoes and peanuts. Khao yum is a healthy mix of rice, lemongrass, chilli, lime, coconut and a syrupy fish sauce – it’s a traditional breakfast, but makes for an equally fab lunch.
- Thai baht.
- Time zone
- GMT +7
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Thailand: 66; area code for Phuket: 076. Remove the ‘0’ when calling from overseas.
- Do go/don't go
- Sunshine is an everyday occurrence from November to April, when waters are clear and calm. Low season (May–October) can be a little stormy and wet on the Northern Andaman Coast, but you’ll find it much quieter – to the point where it can seem a tad deserted. If you’re diving at the Similan Islands National Marine Park aim for December to May (it closes mid-May–early November due to rough seas).
Don't go home without...
visiting the turtle sanctuary at Thai Muang National Park (www.thailandecoportal.com), south of Khao Lak. Dating back to pre-dinosaur times, these creatures are among the oldest and rarest to inhabit the planet, but their existence is threatened by over-fishing and development. From December to February, you can visit the beach after dark, accompanied by a ranger, to watch females lay their eggs in the sand. Then, for seven magical days during March, hatchlings are released back into the sea.