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Saturday 21 May 2022

Roads less travelled reveal a different Thailand

Just an hour north from the popular beach resorts of Phuket, visitors can discover a different side of Thailand. 

Think deserted stretches of sand with a hammock to call your own, white-water rafting and award-winning restaurants in which you may well be the only non-Thai in the room. 

For a slice of authentic Thailand that's not too far off the beaten track, Khao Lak delivers plenty of variety. 

Khao Lak is in Phang Nga province and is known for its palm trees, endless golden sand beaches and long winding roads into the hills. 

If you are looking for somewhere stylish to chill out that also offers plenty of activities for younger family members - including a kid's club and a dedicated pool for youngsters - then the recently opened Avani+ Khao Lak Resort delivers.

Opened just a couple of months ago (and still with some work to do on the gardens and signage), the 327-room seafront property on Bangsak Beach offers the chance to stroll almost deserted beaches but also enjoy modern luxuries within the resort - including some superb villas with their own plunge pools and some snortingly good cocktails at sunset.

For more active types, the property is home to an AvaniFit complex offering endurance and resistance training, aerobics and high-intensity interval training. Guests can also sign up for boxing or tennis classes or try their hand at hanging yoga and indoor or outdoor climbing walls. 

Outdoor activities include kayaking, on-property PADI lessons and surfing nearby. But there are no jetskis, noisy motorbikes, or loud ladies offering "massaage".

There are - and more to my taste - several pools, family-friendly amenities and drinking and dining venues with Andaman Sea views. 

A range of room categories features deluxe lagoon pool rooms for couples and solo travellers to spacious and very well equipped family pool suites a separate living room and dining area, king and twin beds and a private balcony. 

The on-site AvaniSpa offers pampering treatments and healing therapies, while the two-storey AvaniKids club, Khao Lak’s largest, is complemented by a splash park and a skate park - both well away from the accomodation. 

Elements is a standard hotel eatery while the beautifully located Beach House (below) is the spot for sundowners and a melange of Thai and European menu options. You can even try a glass of Thai chenin blanc with your dinner.  

It is the many local experiences on offer, however, that set the resort apart. 

Enjoy a cycle trip along the coast to check out nearby Bang Niang market or take an excursion to the Similan Islands, Phang Nga Bay or Koh Phi Phi. 

Maybe take a day trip to the Takuapa Old Town or go rafting on bamboo rafts through a local forest. 

Two of my favourite activities, both arranged through the hotel, were exploring the ‘Little Amazon’ of Khao Lak rafting along the Wang Kiang Ku River, and the authentic southern-Thai Chinese-influenced cuisine at Nai Mueang Restaurant, where I believe I was the only tourist tackling the spicy, tasty food. 

Check those activities out here: 

For bookings, deals and further details see: 

The writer travelled with assistance from Jetstar, which has resumed regular direct flights from both Melbourne and Sydney direct to Phuket. 

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