Whether you're looking for a peaceful, secluded strip of sand to tan on or a lively beach that offers cocktails and curries by the sea, you won't struggle to find your ideal place on the coast during a holiday to Khao Lak. With restaurants and bars lining some shores and nothing but the beauty of nature to marvel at elsewhere, this stunning destination in southern Thailand is a beach-worshipper's dream.
At the northern end of Khao Lak, you'll find perfectly peaceful Bang Sak. This five and a half kilometre sunbathing spot is spacious enough for little ones to run happily around on with a shoreline that slips only gradually into the sea, making it a top spot for paddling or cooling off at the water's edge.
This is the place to go if you're looking to get away from the crowds on your Khao Lak holidays, but it does mean you won't find busy bars and restaurants nearby. Pack a lunch and make your way here for a taste of private island life.
If keeping it quiet isn't your style, take a trip to Bang Niang instead. Backpacking hostels here have been replaced with luxury resorts, and with them have come bars, shops and restaurants galore. Along the waterfront you'll find plenty of places to eat and drink, as well as the Bang Niang Market on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, selling everything from Thai delicacies to posters and souvenirs.
When you aren't sipping cocktails at the Gecko Bar or tucking in to a freshly fried Pad Thai, try your hand at diving with a little help from Similan Dive Centre, located right on the sand.
White sands and clear blue seas lend an idyllic feel to this popular southern bay, which boasts delicious cuisine only moments from the waters' edge. This beach is totally family-friendly, with small shops and good restaurants, but none of the rowdier nightlife you'll find on other beaches in Thailand.
While the ocean can get choppy during the wet season, visitors arriving in the summer months can take advantage of warm, shallow waters to bask in at their leisure.
Why this beach isn't busier is a mystery to us all, but Nang Thong is another great option for those wishing to relax with a little peace and quiet. Just south of Khao Lak beach, the clean sands and the shade of the palm trees nearby make this an obvious choice for lazy days in the sun, and if you find yourself here in the evening you'll witness some truly amazing sunsets.
Unlike some destinations, sunloungers here can be used for free and rearranged as you wish. Take a walk along the coast and you'll discover a selection of places to find flavoursome local food and cooling cocktails to ease you through the day.
Just north of Khao Lak south beach is Pak Weep, where you can really unwind with a massage on the sand. There are no loungers here other than those used by the massage vendors, but there are around a dozen shacks and restaurants where you can grab a cold beer or spicy Thai curry, and yet more picturesque visions of golden sand and crystal waters.
Not far from bustling Bang Niang, this four kilometre haven is perfect for swimming and comes with access to boat trips and lagoon excursions.
A short walk from the water you'll find Baan Khuk Khak, a small village where you can pick up snacks and suncream, but there are still a few places to eat on the beach if you can't tear yourself away from the beautiful views out across the Andaman Sea.