Klong Muang is a pretty beach area located to the north of Ao Nang, with spectacular views over the Andaman Sea and the closest coastal access to the Koh Hong island group, a protected marine park of astonishing beauty. There are three beaches in this area: Ao Siew, whose most southerly point, Hang Nak cape, was chosen by the Thai royal family as the clifftop location for one of their summer residences; Klong Muang, which has two sides – a wide sandy stretch to the south, and a narrow strip of sand curving round to the north, that is home to an industrial pier; and, even further north, the wildly beautiful Tupkaek Beach (pictured above).
Whereas Ao Nang has evolved gradually over 25 years to become an international resort area, Klong Muang and Tupkaek have been developed rapidly in the last decade and, from the outset, only seen top-level investment from the likes of the Sheraton group (recently sold to Dusit Thani), Sofitel and Ritz-Carlton.
The accommodation that has been built here and at Tubkaek beach all share the same characteristics: private, luxurious and self-contained. The biggest attraction of these hotels, with the Sofitel being the notable exception, is that they have direct access to the beach, unlike the hotels in Ao Nang. And, with spas, pools, restaurants and even shops within the grounds, there is no need for guests ever to leave the confines of the resort area.
And, for the moment, there is no real reason to go outside.
In Klong Muang, the immediate vicinity is rather dull: there is little if no street life, less than a dozen independent restaurants and no nightlife to speak of, though things are improving gradually. The “Koh Kwang” corner offers the best range of eateries for guests at Beyond, The Pelican, Sofitel and Nakamanda; those staying at the Dusit Thani can turn right out of the hotel and wander down the stretch to “Klong Muang Plaza” and the village beyond.
Halal food is readily available, as the original village of Klong Muang, which still exists, is Muslim. There are also a few locally-owned budget bungalows and guesthouses along the main road for those who can’t afford 4 star hotels.
Tupkaek Beach, in comparison, is a wilderness: there is no village at all here so basically you’ll find no sign of (human) life outside the hotel compounds. As it’s a good 10 – 12 minute drive from Klong Muang, and half an hour to Ao Nang, this means dining choices are limited to the hotel offerings and one independent restaurant on the beach; and there are no shops within walking distance.
All of which is perfect for people who want a quiet, luxury break or an escape from the usual holiday crowd. Most group tour operators will pick up from Klong Muang hotels and some from Tupkaek too, so it is also possible to use the area as a base to explore further afield on day trips, though do note travel times will be longer than if you went privately, as you will be first, and then last, on the pick-up and drop-off routes.
Many hotels located in this area also offer shuttle services to the more busy Ao Nang Beach for those in need of a shopping fix or night out. Longtail boats are available to visit the local islands, and an early morning or late afternoon excursion to nearby Koh Hong is highly recommended.
As this area receives very few outside visitors, the beaches are effectively private, for the use only of the resorts’ clients, and the odd local fisherman. They are rarely crowded, even in peak season. Another large plus is that – for the most part – the beaches are free of longtail boat traffic, which makes them noticeably more peaceful than Railay or Ao Nang. Apart from Tubkaek beach at high tide, swimming is not particularly good as the coast is quite rocky and shallow, but the resort swimming pools rank among the best and most original in the region.
One other attraction in the area is the National Park located at the end of Tubkaek Beach. From here, there is a nice woodland walk along the mountain stream and – for those feeling fit or brave enough – the opportunity to continue further to the peak of Ngon Nak (also known as Hon Nak, meaning Dragon’s Crest), a mountain with spectacular views over Phang Nga Bay. Although only around 8km in distance, the steep trek takes around 4 – 5 hours round trip and should only be attempted with a buddy and plenty of water.
Potential visitors to Klong Muang should also be aware that there is also a large gypsum quarry and industrial pier located between this beach and Tupkaek which attracts attendant large boats and trucks used to transport the white powder. It is, however, only an eyesore rather than anything more bothersome and is unlikely to spoil your holiday here.
More guides to Klong Muang and Tupkaek
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