Khaolak is a part of the national park, occupying a vast area of 150² km and covers Amphoe Thai Muang, Amphoe Kapong, Amphoe Takua Pa and Amphoe Muang. Khao Lak is becoming increasingly popular, mainly with European visitors. It is easy to reach, quiet and, as yet, not overdeveloped. It is something like Phuket's past 20 years. You can walk northward along the sand for many kilometres, almost as far as Bang Sak beach.
The main problem is that, in the off season starting in May, although the hotel prices are much cheaper, many of the shops and restaurants are shut down for the season (prices are still OK though). This is because of the predominately European tourism here.
Most larger hotels will run a shuttle bus service into Bang La On, often described as Khao Lak ‘centre’ although these may be at limited times and may be chargeable. There are plenty of taxis as an alternative.
Bang Niang is a small ares of Khao Lak zone. You will find the majority of visitors to Bang Niang are couples whereas at Bang La On it’s mainly families. In Bang Niang there is a large range of accommodation from the 4.5 star Ramada to bungalow resorts like The Sanuk Bungalows.
Khuk Khak is still quite small with a handful of restaurants and a few shops. In the high season all of the restaurants will be open including a wide range of both independent and hotel based beachfront restaurants.
In Bang La On the accommodation is primarily 3-4 star, for example, the Baan Khao Lak on Nang Thong Beach and The Paradise on Sunset Beach, the next beach going south.
Just south of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park there is Khao Lak beach which has the popular Merlin Resort and the relatively new boutique Lukanawadee resort.
Bang La On - This is actually the town name for the place with all the shops and restaurants. It is only used by locals as the entire area is known to Westerners as "Khao Lak", and is signposted as such. If travelling by bus you will need to know at which particular beach you have booked or want to stay at or you will be dropped off in Bang La On near the Nang Thong supermarket. The beach of this name is a few hundred metres along the side street from this supermarket.
Most of the action appears to be between Nang Thong Beach and Khao Lak Beach, the latter appears to be where the most expensive resorts are.
Heading north as you come into the really winding part of the road is Khao Lak Beach, and when it straightens out, Nang Thong Beach. Beyond this in order are Bang Niang Beach, Khuk Khak Beach, Ao Thong Beach, Pakweeb Beach, and Bangsak Beach. The latter is some 18 km from Takua Pa.