Taxi from the airpoty (turn right outside the Arrivals Hall and go to ticket kiosk) is about 1500baht. I think the Merlin Beach is in Patong, yes? If so, the return trip will be about 1800, I would think.
Just across the highway opposite the road down to the Merlin is the Asia Safari and Elephant Village for elephant trekking and a lttle zoo. I think you can book river rafting there too. Depending on when you are going there are day or overnight trips to the Similan and Surin Islands, two world class diving and snorkeling sites - closed May to October. About an hour and a half north of Kl is Khao Sok National Park.
Have a look at the following link for a sample of some of the tours available from Khao Lak:
As for restaurants, the Merlin is about 10 minutes by taxi over the mountain to Bang La On, the main centre of Khao Lak with loads of restaurants bars and shops, mostly Thai but also an Indian, Italian and international (steaks). Among those which receive regular good reports are the Jai, Phu Khao Lak, Khao Lak Seafood, Sala Thai, Viking (for steaks) and our favourite, the Everyday.
Near the Merlin is the excellent Jo Seafood and there were some new additions up near the highway last March, probably more now.
Thank you so much for your promp answer. I will be travelling to Khaolak on 31st July for a week with a further 5 nights at The Merlin Beach near Patong. Any info you can give me will be appreciated. Are there many restaurants open at this time as it is the low season but the perfect time for us to escape the Australian winter.
I think Jo Seafood will be open. Don't know about the few near the highway. However, in Bang La On, while some restaurants do close it is the better, more established ones that remain open. You will have no problem at all in finding exceellent, reasonably priced places to eat.
By reasonably priced I mean, about 40 baht for a starter, 80 for a main (more, of course, but not a lot for fish or seafood), 50-80 for a small beer, 80-100 for a large. The Sempfer Cafe on the main street just before the Nang Thong Supermarket has great coffee and delicious cake/pastries as well as good sandwiches and snacks.
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