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Note: The Le Meridien Khao Lak Resort I refer to in this post is now another resort. However, Marriott has recently opened a brand new dazzling Le Meridien Khao Lak Resort in the same area.
Into every month-long trip, a little pure relaxation must fall…and on this summer’s trip, it fell squarely on the sleepy beach town of Khao Lak Thailand.
Normally, on my round-the-world trips, I make one stop at a Thai beach destination. But since the summer months are the rainy season, I decided to hedge my bets and throw in two beach stops in Thailand figuring it will increase my odds of good weather.
For my second foray into southern Thailand in as many weeks, I chose to fly into Phuket and make the drive north up the coast to the quiet town of Khao Lak Thailand.
I discovered Khao Lak years ago, on Round the World #4, primarily due to the beautiful and extremely reasonably-priced Starwood (now Marriott) property located there, Le Meridien Khao Lak.
I’d stayed at Le Meridien Khao Lak twice on previous trips and always loved it. The only real downside is the hour or so drive from Phuket which means it’s best to have a car.
Not really a downside as far as I’m concerned, considering there is typically nothing relaxing about the crowded beaches of Phuket. Certainly not when you visit during Chinese New Year, as I once did.
After that trip, I swore that I’d never stay in Phuket-proper again. Though I do still love the Krabi area.
The Drive from Phuket to Khao Lak
So when Angela and I touch down around 8:30pm from Bangkok, we have a bit of a drive ahead in the dark.
But, since I’ve done the drive myself a few times, I remember it being pretty easy. I’m not even worried when the Avis rent-a-car counter doesn’t have a map that goes as far north as Khao Lak.
I’ve done this drive before, right? I’m practically a local! How hard can it be?
Cross the main bridge off Phuket Island and head north up the coast until you see the hotel. Piece of cake.
The drive to Khao Lak
Angela volunteers to drive since – as the resident Australian among us – she is fully accustomed to driving on the “wrong” side of the road. That leaves me as the intrepid navigator.
And we were doing just fine, for a while. Chit-chatting away, tuning in radio stations…and completely missing the first turn for Khao Lak.
I swear there wasn’t a sign. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a sign.
I realize almost immediately we are headed toward Krabi which I know is the wrong direction. So we quickly make a u-turn and get back on track.
Unfortunately, we miss another turn (again, not clearly marked at all) about 30 minutes later which results in still more backtracking.
Apparently, this straightforward drive up the coast is a lot easier in the light of day.
The drive that should have taken us a little over an hour quickly turns into a solid two hours. To keep our spirits up, we stop in a market for wine, beer, and Pringles to celebrate with once we finally arrive.
At nearly 11:00pm, we finally pull through the gates of Le Meridien Khao Lak.
Arrival (eventually) at Le Meridien Khao Lak
The front desk staff are clearly waiting for us (I told them we’d arrive an hour earlier) and seem a little worried that we arrived so late.
But they are terrific and check us right into our upgraded spa villa. I stayed in a villa room both times before and I’m thrilled to score the coveted upgrade again.
The spacious spa villas have a private terrace with lounge chairs overlooking a pond filled with swans. They also have giant bathrooms complete with a garden tub and indoor/outdoor shower.
We settle in, unpacked a little, and crack open the still-cold beers in victory.
Day 1 in Khao Lak
The next morning we sleep in a bit after our late arrival.
I got up and hit the gym. Meanwhile, Angela heads to breakfast and will then secure us some prime beachfront real estate for the day.
By the time I’m done at the gym and grab breakfast, I find her comfortably seated in a lounge chair by the ocean.
Last night, when we checked in, we discovered that the resort was graciously providing us with two massages and a complimentary dinner at the restaurant of our choice…hooray!
So, after leaving the gym, I stopped by the spa to make our appointments for later this afternoon.
It appears our day is set. Lounging on the beach, followed by afternoon spa appointments and dinner at the resort’s fine-dining Thai restaurant, Baan Thai.
Can you ask for anything more?
The rainy season in Thailand
And we even got a bit lucky with the weather that first day. Despite a passing rain shower or two, we enjoy a mostly sunny day despite the fact that we are visiting during the summer rainy season.
In fact, as it turns out, Angela and I get remarkably similar weather for our 3 days in Khao Lak as Shannon and I “enjoyed” a few weeks ago in Krabi.
The first day is beautiful, the second day questionable and the last day is a complete washout. Not too bad actually, and we certainly make the best of it by getting the most out of the resort’s excellent spa.
That afternoon we thoroughly enjoy our massages at the spa. So much so, that I book another treatment for the next day using my points. Back in the villa we clean up for dinner and decide to head down to the beach and check out the sunset.
It’s still pretty cloudy so our expectations are low but we do get lucky right at the end when the orange glow of the sun peeks below the clouds just before it dips below the horizon.
A Thai lantern ceremony
Next, we headed to the lobby for the nightly Thai lantern ceremony. We noticed it on the activities board earlier today and I remembered how beautiful the small ceremony was that I’d seen last year on Koh Samui.
It’s a much smaller affair since just a few guests attend, but we watch as the staff helps guests unfold their lanterns, light them and make a wish before releasing them into the sky.
It’s really such a beautiful ceremony, I would love to attend one of the larger festivals one day where thousands of lanterns float into the sky. I bet it’s an amazing sight to see. After the lantern ceremony, we savor a terrific dinner at Baan Thai and call it a night.
Here comes the rain…
The next day the weather takes a turn. I start my day again in the gym and then meet Angela poolside after breakfast. Yesterday, we discovered that the spa pool area is restricted to 16 and up which means it’s the only part of the resort that is totally kid-free.
Spa pool, party of two.
The rest of that day and the next we fill with spa appointments, beach yoga, rain, trips into town for dinner and massages, rain, relaxing poolside sheltered by an umbrella from the rain and, for me, a little work from the villa.
It’s a perfectly relaxing couple of days and a much-needed break from our hectic schedule in Myanmar last week.
The Le Meridien Khao Lak is a spectacular property on a lovely stretch of beach and I have no doubt I’ll return to the Khao Lak area again.
But for now, it’s time to say goodbye to Angela and head back to China on my own for my long-awaited stop in Tibet.
Big thanks to Ang for joining me for the past week in Myanmar and Thailand!
It’s been so great to travel together again after meeting in Antarctica earlier this year. Hopefully, she’ll be game to hit more random destinations with me in the future!
Next stop, Tibet!
Disclosure: Spa treatments and Baan Thai dinner provided by Le Meridien Khao Lak.