We have just finished our first trip to Khao Lak, spending 10 days from 27th June until today, 7th July.
We had been to Phuket twice before, and wanted to expand our horizons a bit. Since our last trip to Phuket in 2010 I had seen Khao Lak mentioned a few times on Tripadvisor, and we decided to try it out.
I wanted this to be a special trip, so I splurged on a Private Pool Villa at the Ramada. This was a good choice - very nice hotel and room, and having our own private pool was fantastic. We couldn't have been happier with the hotel or the location, right on the beach.
For the first 4 days we had tremendous weather - hot and sunny without a sign of rain. The next 4 days were solid rain, torrential at times. The last 2 days have been mainly fine with the odd shower or two.
We ate at several restaurants around Khao Lak and found them all very good. I would say that the restaurants are slightly cheaper than Phuket, massages are about the same price, and market stalls are slightly dearer. We visited the market at Bang Niang a couple of times and really enjoyed it, trying several food stalls and buying fruit and clothes. We also went elephant trekking (in the pouring rain), visited the Tsunami museum and Police Boat and wandered around the streets a bit.
Overall we really enjoyed our time in Khao Lak. It is MUCH quieter than Phuket, and the people, including shop-holders, are very friendly and not pushy at all. This is probably its weak point as well - when it rained for 4 solid days there wasn't a lot to do. Many of the people around were German and Swiss, a smattering of other nationalities, and quite a few Aussies. I heard from a couple of people that the bookings at Ramada in July were over 70% Australians.
If you want a quiet, relaxing holiday Khao Lak is definitely worth considering, especially if you are interested in visiting the national parks around it.