Sunday, 25 November 2012

Khao Lak Airport

Khao Lak is blessed in being a part of Thailand that is full of natural beauty and pristine tropical environments. There is not only some of the best National Parks in Thailand within a small radius of the main Khao Lak beach resort areas, but also some of the best diving in the world.

And yet Khao Lak is not a hard-to-get-to destination in Thailand. It doesn't have a railway link - you have to catch a train to Krabi or Suratthani  - but it does have an airport just 80 kms or 60 miles away. The proximity of Khao Lak to Phuket Airport allows tourists to transfer in Bangkok or even catch a direct flight to Phuket and then take a taxi straight to their resort. For high-end tourism this is ideal.

It is thus not surprising that a large percentage of mid-range and luxury rooms in Khao Lak are booked by travel agents organizing package holidays. Khao Lak is close enough to an airport to make it an attractive destination for a big tourist market. Moreover, places like Koh Kho Khao have developed an appeal for one particular type of tourist. In the case of Koh Kho Khao it is a favoured destination for Scandinavians.

This is in contrast to other travel hotspots in Thailand that are much more difficult to get to. In particular there is Koh Phangan that hosts the biggest outdoor Full Moon Party in Asia and yet is only reached via ferry from either Koh Samui (which does have an airport) or Suratthani. The neighboring island of Koh Tao is similar. It is an island that is the number one place to learn PADI Open Water scuba skills and yet the long boat journey puts off lots of people from trying the island.

The future is about to change for Koh Phangan. Koh Phangan Airport is being built. When it is complete the demographics of visitors will move more to the high-end. Koh Phangan, like Khao Lak is a place blessed with great beaches and pristine jungle. It is sure to be a rival for Khao Lak in a few years for package tourists.

For the consumer this is perhaps good news. Hotel rooms might go down in price to be more competitive. However, what is not needed is Khao Lak Airport. Khao Lak is defined as being developed like Phuket but not over-run with commercial activity. Not having an airport is all part of this characterization.

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