When people refer to Khao Lak, they're usually talking about a series of white-sand beaches that line Phang-Nga's west coastline about 70km north of Phuket, along Hwy 4. Southernmost Hat Khao Lak is a beach for those who shun the glitz and cheesiness of Phuket’s bigger resort towns, but still crave comfort, shops and plenty of facilities.

Khao Lak proper (Khao Lak Town) – a hodgepodge of restaurants, tourist markets and low-rise hotels along grey Hwy 4 – is bland but convenient, and you’ll probably spend your days on the beach or further afield. With expansive sandy stretches backed by forested hills, warm waves for frolicking and easy day trips to the Similan and Surin Islands, Khao Sok and Khao Lak/Lam Ru National Parks, and even Phuket, the area is a central, kick-back base for exploring the northern Andaman.