When you first think of Thailand, you may think of the more tourist orientated areas of Phuket or Ko Samui. However, when we were looking for somewhere to base ourselves for the first leg of our two week Thailand trip, we stumbled across the stunning Khao Lak. Just a short one hour drive from Phuket airport, Khao Lak is a hidden jewel in what is becoming an ever more popular destination in Thailand to visit.
We wanted somewhere that was laid back and peaceful, yet still easily accessible to attractions such as waterfalls, night markets and stunning deserted islands. Here’s where the best place to stay in Khao Lak is and a three day itinerary.
Where to Stay in Khao Lak
If you’re looking for an intimate resort, with privacy, luxury and peace, look no further that X2 Anda Mani. Pronouced ‘Cross To’ this stunning resort boasts just nine rooms and villas, meaning you’ll never need to be up at the crack of dawn to secure a sun lounger or wait twenty minutes to be served at the bar. No, this place is in a world of it’s own and it truly is other worldly.
From check in to check out, the staff really couldn’t do enough to make our stay as comfortable and relaxing as possible. They preempted everything and answered our questions before we even asked them. We were kindly upgraded to an Ocean Front Villa, which truly is one of the most stunning hotel rooms I have ever stayed in. It can’t even be called, “a room” it was a palace, the bathroom alone was larger than my room in university halls of residence. They had thought of everything from coffee pods to complimentary snacks and fresh fruit in the fridge on arrival to a beautiful oil diffuser. I think the nicest gesture of all had to be the ready filled bath tub, which was a welcome surprise after nearly 24 hours of travelling. With an array of different bath salts and oils I couldn’t be more excited to dive in (literally, because it was the size of a small swimming pool).
What’s more, X2 offer a unique experience when it comes to breakfast. They understand not everyone wants to confirm to the standard breakfast hours of 7am to 10am, so they offer breakfast from 7am to 6pm. Yep, that’s right and if it couldn’t get any better, they offer unlimited champagne between those hours too. Whether you’re a late riser or have already had a morning filled with adventure, you can sit down to a freshly cooked meal of anything from western food to classic Thai dishes, hot drinks, fresh juices and of course, a crisp glass (or glasses) of champagne.
X2 is located on the stunning Lam Kaen Beach, I’d say from our bedroom door to the beach it took a mere 30 steps. It’s situated on the quieter end and really feels very private. Plus, a few steps to the right of the hotel are some fabulous rocks to climb, or if you’re less adventurous like me, take photos with.
It’s also the perfect spot to sunset watch and the kind staff were more than accommodating by moving some comfy beanbags and a table for our champagne onto the beach to enjoy it.
If you’re looking for somewhere that thinks of everything, X2 Khao Lak is for you. You’ll never want to leave.
What To Do in Khao Lak
We arrived quite late in the evening and didn’t head out to find somewhere to eat until about 9pm. However, our hotel is located just a short walk from a small selection of bars and restaurants so we set off to find somewhere that could fill our empty stomachs. We stumbled across Siam Tumeric, the delicious smells from the BBQ out front and the friendly Scottish host where hard to walk past. Ran by a Glaswegian/Indian, this place is epic and has everything from Indian, to Thai, to fresh fish and barbecued meats. He recommended some barbecued pork that wasn’t on the menu for Tom and a mixture of vegetables and king prawns stir fried Thai style for me. Wow, it was delicious and the atmosphere was so fun.
After far too much food and one too many Chang Beers we headed back to our palatial room but a bath and a not so early night.
After far too many hours on airplanes the day before and with our body clocks adjusting to the 6 hour time difference, we decided a lazy day was i order. Thank goodness X2 offers breakfast so late, because we certainly weren’t alive before 10am. The most extravagant and tasty breakfast was savored, then it was time to walk off the gluttony. We stepped out from our room, onto the beach and took a little stroll. It was here we realised we really were staying on the most perfect section of the beach, as further down it gets a little busier and crowded, with sun loungers and snorkellers. However, it’s still just as beautiful.
With the mornings caffeine wearing off, we thought it the perfect time to head back to the hotel and enjoy our free and unlimited champagne in the afternoon sun. From reading our books on our rooms private terrace with personal sun loungers, to watching the sunset on the beach, it really was the most perfect afternoon and X2 made it so special.
For dinner we returned to Siam Tumeric. Now when we’re on holiday, we usually make an effort to try different places to eat and drink. But this place had such a vast menu and was so tasty the night before, we couldn’t resist. Plus we had a totally different meal to the night before. I enjoyed a whole red snapper and Tom had some delicious fresh lobster. Nothing tastes better than freshly caught-that-day fish.
Unfortunately for me that night Manchester United were playing and of course Tom, being a lifelong fan couldn’t miss a game, so it was a visit to a sports bar and £1 cocktails. I couldn’t really complain about the latter.
We woke up to rain, to be expected when you visit Thailand in low season. Breakfast consisted of Pad Thai, fresh eggs, fruit and refreshing ginger tea, then it was off to Ton Thang waterfall. This place is just a 20 minute taxi from the hotel and was probably better to visit on a rainy day because there were A LOT of steps. There are four different levels of the waterfall you can access and that’s not to mention the initial 2km hike to get to it. Tackling that on a blistering hot day, would not have been fun. It’s only 200 baht (£5.50) per person to visit and you can swim in all of the levels. Plus the first pool has fish which will give you a little pedicure if you’re so inclined, I passed.
After the waterfall and rather damp, we took a taxi to Bang Niang Market. This popular night market, really comes alive as the sun sets, so I would recommend visiting around 4pm if you want to avoid the crowds. It has the usual tat, but if you search hard you can find some fabulous trinkets. I couldn’t help myself and purchased a straw bag, pashmina (for £1!), metal elephant and coconut bowls. We enjoyed some street food, including butterfly barbecued prawns and a nutella roti. I was slighty wary of eating from a market vendor, however the stomach was fine and I had nothing to worry about.
That night we had the most beautiful meal at the hotel, under the stars, literally. Three courses included vegetable spring rolls and pork gyoza, a delicious mix of grilled chicken, prawns and fresh vegetables and finished with raspberry panacotta and a speciality Thai coconut jelly. With great food, cocktails, wine and good company and our last night at X2 was filled with joy and sadness as we knew we were leaving the next morning.
We checked out early, waved goodbye to our friendly X2 family and embarked on our journey to Khao Phing Kan or more commonly known as, James Bond Island.
Before coming to Thailand, I thought we needed to pre-book all tours, When looking for the James Bond Island tour, I saw it advertised for £90 each online. Thank goodness we waited until we arrived to book. We paid 1400 baht each (£35) for a full day tour, which we had no problem booking the night before we departed from a vendor in Khao Lak.
We were picked up by the minibus from our hotel and taken to a local market. This is where we accidentally bought 20 bananas instead of 2, thinking the price of 20 baht (50p) was per banana and not the bunch. It was a quick way to make friends with our fellow travelers by dishing out free bananas. We drove to the pier and took a longtail boat through mangroves before the stunning limestone cliffs were revealed.
They’re simply stunning, I’ve never seen anything like them before, they’re rather striking and the photos don’t do them justice. Our first stop was to take a canoe around the cliffs, through the mangroves and into some caves. We had a very friendly guide who paddled the boat for us, told us he was high as a kite and bonded with Tom over Manchester Untited. Yep, no matter where you go in the world, you can always bond with a stranger over football. He let us stop at the so called, “floating 7/11” or a longtail boat selling refreshments, where we enjoyed fresh coconuts and bought our new found friend a drink also.
Post canoe trip and it was onto the main event, James Bond Island. It was understandably busy, but it didn’t feel too crowded. In high season I can imagine it being unbearable. There’s lots to do here, from having a swim up to the iconic rock, shopping at the markets for real pearls, climbing the rock steps for a birds eye view and chilling on the beach on the other side of the island.
After our fill of taking in all the action, it was time for lunch. Back on the longtail boat, we stopped at a floating village, or a village on stilts. This is muslim village so you won’t find any alcohol here, but lunch was very tasty and all included in the cost of the tour. There’s a market that weaves through the village, which homeowners use their front porches as displays for their wares. There’s also a beautiful mosque that you can see and there are some great views of the cliffs.
Next stop was at a Buddhist temple and monkey village. Be careful the monkeys are cheeky and they’ll grab anything they can get their hands on! We swiftly exited and headed to the temple. It’s beautiful inside and very peaceful. It also smells amazing, as incense sticks were burning everywhere.
The final stop was at a rather pretty waterfall, although it didn’t compare to the much larger Ton Thang waterfall we had visited the day earlier. A very kind German couple from our tour, sweetly took a Polaroid shot of us on their camera in front of the waterfall which is currently sat on my desk at work.
It was back for a final glimpse at X2 before heading off to Khao Sok National Park. Discover more about our Thailand adventure.
Have you been to Khao Lak? What did you do? Where did you stay?