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So many Khao Lak questions!

Chicago
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So many Khao Lak questions!

Hi there -- we will be in in the KL area (first time visit) in February for about a week. Since this is our first time to Thailand I seem to have a lot of questions and am hoping someone out there can enlighten me with firsthand knowledge. Many thanks in advance:

We're staying at the Le Meridian and only chose to do so b/c we can get several nights free from Starwood pts. It seems the consistent opinion on these boards is that the service is poor and the food just okay. Would you reco eating elsewhere for our stay? We are going to be renting a car so are free to come and go as we please. Also, is the hotel overpriced for spa stuff? We like local flair and don't need to stay at the hotel for things like this if better is elsewhere.

We will be in KL for about 6-7 days, does anyone think changing over to the Sarojin for the last two nights for something a little special would be worth the extra $$?

We're big divers and so far haven't reserved any of our dives. Would you reco doing so beforehand or just waiting until we get there? We're just wanting to do day trips, no liveaboards. Any outfits reco'd over others? Any to beware of?

And finally, we enjoy active days and any recos on day trips/excursions that we shouldn't miss in the area would be greatly appreciated.

I know this is long and jam-packed with questions, but thought it best to post all at once rather than multiples. Again, all your help is very appreciated for these two first time Thailand visitors!

Caloundra, Australia
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1. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Hi there Melhog

The Le Meridien is a great hotel so dont be disappointed about having to stay you will love it.I would not choose the Sarojin over Meridien .I admit that I only ate breakfast at the hotel which was sensational by the way and most of our other meals were at the beach shack restaurant called RIM TALAY it is to your left as you walk onto the beach The food is unbelievable .

JAI RESTAURANT is in town and has great Thai food and well worth the trip in.

The spa.... all hotel spas are expensive compared to the street prices but compared to USA it is very reasonable.

Day trips...... Khao Sok National Park is a must visit it is about 1 and a bit from KL .

I hope this helps enjoy your stay it will be great .

Pete

Durham, United...
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135 posts
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2. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Hi Guys

I do not think you will be disapointed with Le Meridian. The quality of the food is good to excellent and while the service can go a bit pearshape in busy times it is friendly.

Spa prices are fair for the experience and facilities and again there are much cheaper options on the beach

Have not stayed at the Sarojin it looks good though.

As my namesake says there are some great restaurants on the beach and loads of choice in Bang Lang On 10-15mins drive away.

A car means you can get around the area easily, however we booked trips at the tour office in Le Meridian. The girl there is very helpful and can book diving for you.

Also elephant trekking, rafting, national parks etc.

Sure you will love Khao Lak

Pete

Poulton Le Fylde...
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for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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3. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Agree entirely with my two compatriot Petes. The service at Le Meridien can get a bit iffy, but all that is needed on your part is patience and a smile. Breakfast is excellent with loads of choice, full American to Oriental and loads in between. We lunched always at the Rim Lay on the beach. Very simple but great food or you can walk further around the headland, past the Similana and just before the Sarojin there are another 3 very good beach restaurants. The Thai restaurant at Le Meridien offers some more classic Thai cuisine (at more classic European/international prices!!) and has an air-con interior if you want to dine inside for a change. There is also another excellent oriental/international restaurant on site which is open to non-residents and, therefore, cheaper.

In Baan La On (main township) there are loads of restaurants, more opening almost daily, as Khao Lak, thankfully, makes an incredibly successful resurgence after the dreadful 2004 Tsunami.

Some of our favourites are the Somsri (next to the Nang Tong Supermarket, the Sala Thai (across road from it), the Jai, the Pooh Khao Lak, the Takieng (which is on the main highway from Le Meridien next to the Police Boat Tsunami Memorial (you can't miss it!) etc. etc. Pinnochio's across the road is a good pizzeria and the Viking Steak House in La On great for steaks and pizza (as well as Thai).

We look forward to sampling these and new additions when we return in January.

Enjoy!

I look forward to

London, United...
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4. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Hi Melhog,

Firstly, congratulations on choosing Khao Lak for your first visit to Thailand. We took a few years to find it and first went in 2003, but now go there once or sometimes twice a year. You will find that it is the friendliest place in Thailand, where nothing is too much trouble.

As you had many questions, this answer will not be brief.

Regarding car hire, I would recommend Budget, where you can either pick up the car at the airport, or have it delivered to your hotel. Delivery is free for rentals of 6 days or more. You will need an IDP and I recommend taking the Super CDW insurance option. Thais drive very differently to the UK or US, on main roads there will always someone who wants to go faster than you and they will overtake with oncoming traffic. The technique is to drive as far left as possible, so the 3 cars can pass safely. We drove at night quite often, but you do have to be very aware of pedestrians and mopeds who are either wearking dark clothing or have no lights.

I would recommend eating out in Bang La On or Bang Niang. La On has many restaurants, shops and banks. restaurants I would recommend are Jai, Ruen Mai and Pu Khao Lak in La On and The Takieng in Bang Niang (we have had many meals at these and never a bad one). You should also try one of the three beach restaurants between the Similana and Sarojin (about a 15 minute walk from Le Meriden) which are excellent. If you don't have a car, most hotels offer a shuttle bus service and there are plenty of taxis.

We have stayed at the Sarojin. It is very nice, but of course very expensive. The Garden and Pool rooms are probably less private than you would expect for a 'boutique' hotel. The only rooms with a proper sea view are the Suites which are on the top floor of each block.

For excursions, there are of course many, Khao Sok is great for a boat trip on the lake or trekking through the jungle to the many waterfalls (take proper footwear!) There are of course other tours like elephant trekking, canoeing, shopping in Phuket, Takuapa old town and market, Similan Islands, etc etc. I recommend Eco Khao Lak Adventure as the local tour company. You can email them on kwaneco@gmail.com.

We are not divers, so I am unable to comment personally there, but have a look on mykhaolak.de, where you will find listings and contacts (this is a German site, but it's easy to follow).

Have a great time!

Stockholm, Sweden
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5. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Being a avid diver and just home from a trip to Similans I highly recommend Sea Dragon both me and my gf discussed our experience with various diveoperators and we rank Sea Dragon as the best of them all.

Previously we have been diving for the last 10 years in Egypt Elqesir/Dahab/Sinai/ Sharm, Australia, Miami, Borneo, Aruba so we have samples quite many diveoperators. Just so you get a picture of our comparisonpool.

As said before - Sea Dragon is highly recommended!

/Rolf

Nottingham, United...
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6. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Firstly, I am very jealous that you are going to Khao Lak. Me and my boyfriend spent our first holiday together there last April. We stayed in the Royal Bangsak, which was absolutely amazing, couldn't fault it.

With regards to the reviews of Le Meridian saying the service and food is poor/okay; when going to Khao Lak this isn't a problem. We brought basic food from the 7/11 and put in our hotel fridge for lunches, as some of the restaurants in Khao Lak only open in the evening, or so we found when we went there. I highly recommend leaving the hotel at night to eat at various restaurants in Khao Lak. The food is unbeliveably cheap and is delicious.

I highly recommend O'Conners Bar. Don't be put off by the fact that it is an Irish bar, the service is brilliant, the food is the stunning (especially the thai red curry) and the cocktails are delicious.

I cannot remember what it was called but I do not recommend the large restaurant next to Nancys bar. (Although I do recommend Nancy's bar for a mean cocktail and a competitive game of Connect 4 with Nancy), the food we had here was the only bad food we had all holiday and not the cheapest.

I recommend the elephant trekking and river rafting at Khao Sok National Park. Really well organised day and the scenary is stunning along the river. Definately a Kodak moment or ten. I also recommend snorkelling at the Similan Islands, definately a day to remember, with great chances of seeing Dolphins and even a Whale on the way to the islands as we did.

Enjoy your holiday in Khao Lak and feel free to message me any more questions you have.

Chicago
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7. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

As always, the wonderful members of this site do not disappoint. Thanks for adding even more to my earlier post (I thought it was long gone by now and that no one else would be adding their two cents). I'm especially excited about the restaurant recommendations. My husband and I are renting a car while we're there so we're open and excited about getting out and about. The Irish pub you mention (O'Connors) is the second reco I've received for that one, and I think the red curry was mentioned the first time! We'll put it on our must-do list as well.

I've heard about many folks coming down ill by eating/drinking the wrong things while visiting Thailand. Any tips on what to avoid? Obviously, drink only bottled water...should I also avoid berries and such? What about cocktails? Everyone mentions them, but I'm guessing that as long as I avoid the ones with ice, I'm all good?

Many thanks to you all again!

Durham, United...
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8. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

Hi Melhog

We do not worry about ice, fruit and salads at hotels in Thailand like Le Meridian and also at a lot of the restaurants where tourists go as they use bottled water for making ice and washing food. Tend to be more wary on trips and more 'local' restaurants, avoiding ice and only eating freshly cooked food and drinking bottled drinks.

We use hand wipes and the alcohol gel, like they use in hospitals, before eating etc. as you can pick up all sorts of bugs as you go round from things you touch even from the money. And some loos don't have soap or clean towels.

We go easy on dairy products for the first few days so your system adapts and drink lots of fluids.

We have not had problems in Thailand, unlike some other countries, and are a lot more relaxed about eating and drinking out there.

Just hope i'm not tempting fate saying that!

Enjoy you trip

Pete

Nottingham, United...
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9. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

During our two weeks in Khao Lak, neither me or my boyfriend had upset stomachs. Just stick to bottled water, and like others have said if you go to smaller local restaurants, ask for only bottled drinks. However, don't avoid the cocktails, they are absolutely fantastic, especially the banana colada in O'Conners bar, which I had with ice and had no problems at all.

Enjoy your holiday!!

Cape Panwa, Thailand
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10. Re: So many Khao Lak questions!

HELLO,

I have just come back from le meridien and what a fantastic gorgeous hoteL we did not want to leave. All the food we had in the restaurants was very good and enjoyable especially the italian. Allthough it is cheaper to eat outside or in the town. There is a fantastic restaurant to the left on the beach we had a few meals here. I also had a walk down to the sarojin and i was glad we were at the le meridien the beach there was not as nice. The meridiien is on a beautifull stretch of beach with loads of sports. We took out kayaks , mountain bikes, and also a catamaran one day which we were not charged for all the rest is free also windsurfing it was marvellous. The rooms are really nice as well i was quite impressed. My husband loved it that much he is coming back for 3 weeks this february and leaving me at home as we can not get a house sitter for the animals.Also the woman in the travel tour shop at the hotel is very good. We went to the surin islands booked through her with kuraburi greenview travel it was a fantastic day out if you like swimming and snorkelling and much quieter than going to the similan islands.Also the le meridien has floating pontoons in the sea which were great to swim out to and sun loungers on the beach the sarojin does not have any on that stretch of beach and there was also longtail fishing boats on their beach.I did not use the spa so did not take note of the prices. Car hire would be good if you dont mind driving but we did not have one and it was easy to get around we did not miss a car. We used the hotel shuttle into khao lak ang got a taxi back at night. For diveing there is a dive place at the hotel called sea bees which is supposed to be good also have a look at mantapoint.com. Places to eat Jai's in town also Mr Poos opposite the merlin hotel. If you want any clothes making go to Montys in khao lak what i had made was outstanding.I am sure you will have a fantastic time i am just sick that i cant come back with my hubby.

Julie

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