We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
80 posts
29 reviews
Save Topic
Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

I am planning a trip (my first) to Thailand in early-2007 and am keen to stay at Khao Lak, primarily because I hear Phuket and Samui have already become over-developed tourist-traps. This place is touted to be 'the last unspoilt part of Thailand" and thats exactly what my partner and I need. Morover, a trip to the Similan islands and a cruise around Phang-Nga bay are definitely on our agenda.

How long does it take to get to the S. islands? Can one do this in a day-trip? We are not avidly into snorkelling etc and would rather not spend nights on a boat!

The hotels we have short-listed are Le Meridien and the Similana (recent reviews here about the Sarojin confirmed my suspicions that it is overpriced and pretentious) and of the two, I am fascinated by the latter. Le Meridien seems to be a typical 5-star resort from a big hotel-chain....with typical 5-star prices, especially for the food! Been there done that, ad nauseum. The Similana, on the other hand, seems to offer a truly different experience, particularly in one of their Beachfront Tree-houses. However, it being a small local boutique hotel, we are concerned about levels of efficiency, cleanliness and professionalism, which the larger outfits (sometimes!) tend to get right. But I know my doubts could be prejudicial....so are there any comments?

Another concern was the presence of rocks all over the beach near the Similana, as seen in the hotel's website pictures. While the beach near Le Meridien is said to be perfect. Again, any frank comments/advice would be most appreciated....

And thanks for reading!

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
Level Contributor
43,199 posts
100 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

First of all general answers:

*Similan Islands is certainly a day trip. Time taken is 2 to 3 hours depending whether you take a fast boat or a "slow fast boat"!!

* There aren't rocks "all over the beach near the Similana". They are a natural extension of the headland that separates the two parts of Pak Weeb Beach between the Sarojin/Similan and Le Meridien.

* I think your conclusion from the last two reviews of the Sarojin that it is over priced and pretentious is misconceived. Look at ALL the reviews to gain a balanced view and the separate thread on the Sarojin that those reviews have provoked.

As for Le Meridien versus Similana, if you search this forum for posts about Le Meridien you fill find my name featured frequently as a staunch supporter of what I and my wife regard as being the best all round value for money quality resort we have stayed in, certainly in Thailand (which we have visited extensively) and other parts of the world, especially SE Asia. It is certainly NOT "a typical 5-star resort from a big hotel-chain....". It is a big resort with many excellent facilities but is most definitely not one of those where you could "close your eyes and you could be in a Holiday Inn anywhere in the world." It was planned, financed and built by a Thai wit Thai tastes, Thai furnishings and decor and modern Thai architectural influences. Then SPG bought it and are managing it. It DOES have a fabulous beach (better than Similana/Sarojin in my view, but only marginally so. Yes, the food prices are expensive in comparison with local prices, but not, again in my view or experience, expensive for a 5* resort. They are certainly not as expensive (or in fairness extensive in choice or variety) as the Sarojin, but are not that much more expensive than the Similana and there are more restaurants, hence more choice.

You class the Similana as a boutique resort. That is a popular description these days but also potentially misleading. Le Meridien is a 5* resort, as is the Sarojin. The Similana is 3 to 4*. It is a VERY typical Thai beach resort but in fairness you are not comparing like with like. They are all on the same long stretch of beach but are entirely different in character and facilities, both of which you pay for.

I think you need to decide what you want most out of your resort, neither Khao Lak nor Pak Weeb Beach will disappoint you, nor will the real taste of Thailand as it used to be that you will find in Khao Lak Town, but if cost of your accommodation is the deciding factor, go for the Similana. You pay pay for what you get.

I make no apologies for supporting Le Meridien. It is the ONLY hotel in our privileged journeys around the world that we have ever felt inclined to return to - so we are, next March!

Photos of Le Meridien and beach at

http://photos.orange.co.uk/album/3635279

Photos of Similana and beach at

http://photos.orange.co.uk/album/3635297

Photos of Sarojin and beach at

http://photos.orange.co.uk/album/3635293

Phang Nga Bay is a MUST from wherever you chose.

Regards and enjoy chosing!

Alan

Phuket
Level Contributor
2,979 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

I have to agree with Arandora that the Similana is definitely not a boutique resort. It is, however, a truly Thai resort. I also agree with his star ratings of the resort - 3 or 3+ would be mine.

As a real Thai resort - yes - efficiency is NOT at a premium and cleanliness is good, but certainly not at 5 star levels. But, then again, the prices are real bargains off season.

Phuket
Level Contributor
2,979 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

Forgot to mention a couple things - as I am dashing this off before heading to work :-(

The rocky areas are only here and there - and actually great for hunting shells. I love Pakweeb Beach for its great beachcoming early in the morning - you never really know what will wash up on the shore. I have been sternly warned by the Mrs. to not bring home any more flotsam, jetsam, shells - or anything else from the beach.

At the Similana I would prefer the "Deluxe Chalets" vs the Beach front tree house. Just my opinion - a bit more private and a view from higher up on the bluff - only a 1-2 minute walk to the beach.

Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
285 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

I am posting from Khao Lak, I am staying at the Similana in a beach front villa.

As mentioned, Similana is not a boutique hotel. The beach does not have rocks all over--it's a beautiful and wonderful beach. Many shells and coral bits keep it from being that squeeky pristine sand, but it's gorgeous. The water is a brilliant color and the beach is quiet...you have to try to find the other hotel properties.

Personally, I love the Similana--it was exactly what I expectic. Swiss family Robinson. Accommodations are fairly rustic, but they maintain continuity with the design of the place. The bathrooms are clean and hot water is plentiful, as is A/C. But as mentioned it is not going to be as high level a property as the Sarojin or the Le Meridian. The staff have been really wonderful and accommodating, but they don't all have matching uniforms etc. To me, it's been our most authentic Thai experience of the trip thus far. It's likely a high 3*/low 4* property.

Please note that the properties along Pak weeb beach are fairly remote from the town of Khao Lak. Not really a problem, but you should expect to rent a car or scooters for efficiency sake. I imagine the taxi fees will really add up otherwise, and would therefore recommend staying closer in town.

Additionally for some of the overnights to the Similana's (not that we've done it, just looked into it) do not provide housing on the boats. Rather it's tents or bungalows.

Enjoy!

Mumbai, India
Level Contributor
80 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

Thanks everyone for writing in! Please feel free to ask if any of you ever need any info on India....

Rancho Cucamonga...
Level Contributor
19 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

You're right on about the Sarojin...I posted one of the negative reviews and could provide more details...again, nice looking place but bad service.

Dorset
Level Contributor
25 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

Just to confuse you further if you are looking for a Thai boutique hotel consider the Paradise on Sunset Beach. We've just come back and absolutely loved it there. I will be posting a full review in the next couple of days if this helps,

Claire

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
Level Contributor
43,199 posts
100 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

Hi Claire,

So glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to your review.

Alan

Phuket
Level Contributor
2,979 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

RandC,

Yes - the Paradise is a beautiful resort - with well-trained staff. Probably the most lovely grounds of anywhere in the area.

USA
1 post
Save Reply
10. Re: Best beach in Khao Lak? And other matters....

Hi, Ted...My wife and I are planning to be in Khao Lak from January 8th through January 11th. I know that you are a staunch supporter of the Royal Meridian. My inclination is to stay here; however, my wife currently prefers the Royal Bankgsok. At the Royal Bangsok, we would have a room with view of water, whereas at the Royal Meridian, we would most probably have a garden view room.

If we were to have a Garden View Room, would this be noisier (i.e. closer to the pool, or the disco)?

As an additional point, how far driving time is Khao Sak National Park?

Many thanks in advance for such detailed and honest reporting--it really helps people travelling from distances or are weighing how best to spend precious time/money.

Best, Julius (jbirnba2@jhmi.edu)