National Park in Thailand

The town is best noted for it’s scenic strip of bronze coloured beaches, it’s close proximity to the Similan Islands and the nearby Lam Ru National Wildlife Park It lies just 70 kilometres or 42 miles north of Phuket airport and halfway between the west coast towns of Takua Pa and Thai Muang. The area here extends across three separate beaches with two of them located north of Lam Ru National Park on a rocky headland and one a little further south.

The ever winding Nang Thong beach occupies the central stretch. It’s the most popular of the three. Apart from spending your leisure hours relaxing, swimming or playing any number of ball games on the beach, you can also take a day trip to Sai Rung known as the rainbow waterfall. It’s about 16 kilometres or 10 miles north from Nang Thong in Bang Sak and is great as an alternative to the beach.

When the tsunami struck these shores, almost every seafront business, home and hotel was vaporized. Now the main road alongside the beach is once again packed with new shops, restaurants, dive agencies, and guest houses. Visitors are also coming back again to enjoy this lovely part of the Andaman coastline.

The aftermath of the tsunami are still evident if not only for the visible signs of destruction to land and buildings. More than that, the emotional and social scars left behind by residents who once lived and worked here, may take much longer a time to heal. So much so that many survivors have since left the area in search of new jobs in northern cities. Those who stayed here have many a story to tell.

The most northerly beach in this region is Bang Niang. For the most part, it’s a beautiful long stretch of golden sand free of rocks and excellent for swimming. The very best time to enjoy this beach is between November and April when the weather is at it’s coolest. Because of the rather flat topography here, Bang Niang was the worst hit by the tsunami with many parts continually being rebuilt.

Derelict land and remnants of abandoned buildings display huge holes guttered by the enormous and devastating waves, still visible in many parts. In some areas there are even Land for Sale signs on forlorn and deserted plots left behind by their owners who are afraid that another wave may come along again anytime.

Two kilometers inland from the highway is a beached police boat a sad reminder as to what happened on that fateful day in 2004. It has now become an informal memorial to the extraordinary powers that tsunami waves can cause. The boat was propelled there while patrolling the waters in front of the beach resort. Five kilometers east of Bang Niang is Chong Fah Falls and easily accessible by road.

South beyond the headland is Khao Lak beach. It’s the least developed beach of the three and surprisingly also the least affected by the tsunami. Inland from the beach across Highway 4 in a northerly direction, a trail runs to Tong Pling Falls. Quite a few of the waterfalls here form part of the Lam Ru National Wildlife Park.

The once quite coastal town of Khao Lak will for many of us, never be forgotten as what was deemed to be another glorious day in paradise was without warning, struck by one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. On the morning of 26th December 2004 a devastating tsunami hit the shores here as well as many other coastal regions of southern Thailand. I had left the area two months prior to the catastrophe but will forever remember the aftermath left behind that day.


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