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Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Sussex
Level Contributor
7 posts
2 reviews
Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Just back from a lovely week spent at the Ramada in Bang Niang. We've posted a review of the hotel under its page (should be up soon) but thought it worth expanding on a couple of things on Khao Lak more generally.

Before we do that, though, we just want to say thanks to everyone on this forum for all their really helpful posts. We lurked on this site for several weeks before we left and the tips we picked up were invaluable. Hope we can do a little to return the favour, and apols if we go on too long.

The Beach:

It's really nice - about 2km long, and very quiet. Only a couple of long-tails and one or two forlorn hawkers. But don't expect absolutely crystal clear water (the rivers at either end deposit quite a bit of silt, esp after the rainy season), and the sand isn't absolutely Similan-white.

Mix of people:

Be under no illusions - fully 90% of the tourists are going to be Swedish and German. But they're the most laid-back Teutons you're going to meet, so don't worry about needing to reserve your place at the pool. As it happens about half of them are same-gender couples, which I suspect has something to do with it.

Restaurants:

Even though it's not as big as La On, we were still spoilt for choice at Bang Niang, both on/near the beach and towards the main road - and we never felt need to explore more widely. They're almost all good (we have very little bad food on our whole trip, but we generally stuck to Thai), and if you follow the rule of thumb of going into any place that looks busy, you'll be fine.

We'd particularly recommend 'Coconut Grove', at the north end of the beach, and the 'Tsunami Restaurant' on the road to town (both great for fresh fish), but we ate well at several others, and almost always for less than 7-800 Baht for 2 including a couple of drinks (our fears about resort prices, definitely didn't materialise). Don't expect silver service, though - rough and ready can be part of the charm. We did have bad experiences at Chong-Fah (service) and Amanusa (food) - both on the beach - but we may just have been unlucky.

The abundance of cheap local eateries seems to hit the hotels, though. Certainly the restaurant at the Ramada, but also I think at other hotels on the beach (Mukdara, Flora, Ayara etc), was never full. This has an upside and a downside. The upside is that they slash their prices (I'd recommend the Ramada in particular if you want a fancier setting for, say, 12-1500B for two with a couple of drinks), but the downside is the slight air of desperation in thw way the maitre'd and the rest of the staff try to corral guests in at night. It did feel a little like the Great Escape when we ate somewhere else.

Massage:

Loads and loads of places, for about 250-300B for an hour of Thai massage, with the choice being on the beach (but hot), or off the beach (but with a/c). All pretty good, but we didn't find any that were quite Chiang Mai standard.

Snorkeling:

We did day-trips to both Similan and Surin Islands, which were both spectacular, and if you're at all interested, we'd recommend doing both. Thanks to tips on this forum, we used Khao Lak Land Discovery for the Similans and were really impressed. They're a very professional outfit, had a snorkelling-only boat and were particularly good with kids. One thing though - they don't hire out wet-suits, something we'd reccommend if you're at all fair-skinned (not because the water's cold!), so we got some in advance from Michael at Private Holidays (opposite Tsunami restaurant) for 200B each for the day. The beaches on the islands themselves are absolutely spectacular, though they are getting a bit crowded at this stage.

If anything the snorkelling on the Surin islands is better (more life on the sea-bed, and more varied coral) and it's also much quiter. But it is a slightly longer journey, and the outfit we went with (Greenview Kuraburi, which I think has some sort of monopoly) isn't quite a slick. Still worth doing though - and we got to see some Macacque monkeys and a flying fox.

That's enough for an already overlong post. Hope it's of some use though.

Effandpee

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
Level Contributor
45,458 posts
107 reviews
1. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Excellent report. Can't wait to return to Khao Lak in January, this time at Bang Niang for first time so your review was particularly useful.

Newport Pagnell...
Level Contributor
1,614 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

We're off to Khao Lak in January so your post was most welcome and informative.Thanks

MARGARET

Khao Lak
Level Contributor
51 posts
3. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Hi,

thanks a lot for this sincere report about Bang Niang Beach.

The business people there there deserve a little honest promotion, as they have been neglected lately in the Lonely Planet Thailand guide book, but also in various forums.

Just one remark: At Amanusa you might have been a little unlucky, because normally their food is considered of good standard.

Thanks again, we all love reports like yours,

J.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
4. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

I was wondering, how were the speedboat rides out to the Similans and Surin? Was it ok and not too bumpy, wavy, dangerous? How long did it take to each place?

I had a bad experience once in Belize with a speedboat trying to go places it shouldn't have...so a bit skittish about them.

Would love to hear what your experience was like.

Regards,

Doug

Newport Pagnell...
Level Contributor
1,614 posts
9 reviews
5. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Jonathon

I'm sure you gave the number of a taxi driver in Khao Lak a while back.

We are arriving in Phuket (January 18th to 25th) and need to get a taxi to Baan Khao Lak.

Would this person be able to collect us or,should we just get a taxi at theairport?

MARGARET

Sussex
Level Contributor
7 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Doug,

We were blessed with completely calm waters on the Similans trip, and the boat had room for 20-25, so we didn't have any problems - it took about 90 mins.

The sea was a little rougher for the Surins trip (60 mins), so we were bouncing around a bit, but it we didn't find it unmanageable. Young kids could have been a little scared, though

Most good companies won't let you go snorkelling anyway if the sea is too rough, and that usually kicks in as a factor before the the trip gets too bumpy.

(Btw, both companies offered us sea-sickness pills beforehand and that certainly helped).

Cheers,

Effandpee

western australia
Level Contributor
708 posts
297 reviews
7. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Margaret

Johnathon gave us this info for our trip in October-

"Mr. Roth at +66 81-9781598. He speaks decent English. Or ask him by email to songyos_rtran@hotmail.com "

He was great, airport pickup no problem, we emailed him and he was very prompt in his replies

Gill

Newport Pagnell...
Level Contributor
1,614 posts
9 reviews
8. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

Thanks gillg.

What was the cost and what about tip?

MARGARET

western australia
Level Contributor
708 posts
297 reviews
9. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

We paid 1800 B for large minivan for 4 of us with luggage and golf clubs- that was from Club Med on Kata Beach . I believe it is about 1400B from the airport for 3 persons, we tipped 10%.

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
10. Re: Some thoughts from a lovely week on Bang Niang beach

EFFANDPEE, Hallelujah!

Finally someone who's taken the day snorkel trip to the Surin islands.! I emailed Greenview about 10 days ago to ask questions & NEVER heard back from them.

Please describe the size of the boat (about how many people were on it?) & what were you sitting on? (padded seats?)

Does it depart from a dock (so that it's not too difficult to board)?

How long was the drive from the Ramada to the Surin Islands departure dock?

Would you advise a self-drive instead of a hotel pick up (we are renting an SUV & I'd rather depart later so I can eat breakfast at our hotel to avoid an empty stomach)?

You said seasick pills... what were they? did they cause grogginess?

Once you got to the Surin islands, is there a dock or does the boat anchor in the water? is getting off difficult?

How was the food at the restaurant?

Is it possible to hire a sea gyspy longboat driver once there to go on a private snorkel excursion? (we own our own stuff)

I am mildly handicapped, can't climb a ladder, but I am petite & my husband very tall, so he can usually pick me up & hand me to someone in the boat... providing it's not a giant boat anchored out in the water... so your descriptions would be most helpful since I can't get a straight answer from a few of the other tour operators & Greenview never replied.

THANKS !

I find it interesting that the Ramada is catering to a gay clientel... we'll be at the Khao Lak Orchid Beach.

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