8 ideas for a great vacation in Khao Lak and Ao Nang

In 2015 my brother joined me on a fantastic vacation in Thailand. We stayed one week each in Khao Lak and Ao Nang as we left the cold November rain for tropical heat, turquoise water and fresh fruit in the country of my favourite cuisine.

02 Pakbia islandThis trip was the first time either of us left Europe and I smile when I look back on all beginner’s mistakes we made. However, we had lots of fun while we dealt with the heat, effects of arriving totally jet-lagged, language barriers, and cultural differences. 03 Ao Nang beach self portraitAlthough Ao Nang was surrounded by scenic limestone cliffs I liked the quiet Khao Lak more. Both towns offer many day tours and activities, here are some ideas for an awesome vacation:

1. Stay at a beachfront resort
04 Sensimar khaolak beachfront resort sunriseWhy choose between pool or sea when you can get both? We stayed at Sensimar Khao Lak Beach Front Resort. Everything about this hotel was excellent – especially the food, the staff and its location right on Nang Thong beach. 05 Nang Thong beach

2. Visit Similan islands
06 Similan island no 8The Similan islands are stunning! The crystal clear water is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving, but I was just as happy to wander around on the beautiful islands. The view from Sail Rock on Koh Similan is pretty spectacular too. 07 Similan island Sail Rock view

3. Eat fresh fruit for breakfast and drink milkshakes by the sea
Normally I’m not very hungry in the morning, but the buffet breakfast at Sensimar was extraordinary. I had the best cantaloupe melon and pineapple ever, and I still miss the strawberry milkshakes!

4. Walk on a white sand beach
08 Tachai island
For the first time in life I got to experience a paradise beach myself, and it truly felt like being teleported into a travel agent’s catalogue. Even if you prefer to sun bake at the pool you should make it a mission to see at least one paradise beach.

5. Go snorkeling with Nemo’s friends

We spent half our vacation swimming and snorkeling. I never found Nemo (my brother did), but instead I got to swim with hundreds of colourful fish. It was like putting your head into an aquarium!

6. See Phi Phi islands
11 Pih Leh Bay
Phi Phi islands were everything at once – a scenic paradise and an overexploated trash can. Those of you who want to see Maya Bay should arrange your own transport and get there early. Joining a day tour will not make you feel like Leo di Caprio in The Beach.

7. Get some exercise at The Tiger Cave Temple
14 Tiger Cave Temple view
Have you ever felt the urge to climb 1237 steps in tropical heat? I know – I’m sick who like that kind of challenges. To get to the top of The Tiger Cave Temple you need to conquer some really steep stairs, but the amazing view is totally worth it!15 Tiger Cave Temple

8. Visit Hong island
18 Hong islandKoh Hong was the most beautiful island in the Krabi region. It had a lovely natural lagoon with shallow emerald water encircled by tall limestone cliffs. 19 Hong island lagoonWe had two unforgettable fast-paced weeks of adventures in Thailand. Rock climbing, cliff jumping, discovering scuba diving at Similan islands, swimming with bioluminescent planktons at night and watching flying paper lanterns at the Loi Krathong festives were some other great memories.

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Mathias is a travel addict who loves cherry blossoms, sunsets and the sea.

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