Karon, where tourism is Eurocentric along with a growing Scandinavian contingent.
Come low season, business owners roll up the welcome mat, return to Phuket, Bangkok or their own local abodes and wait for the rains to stop. On reflection, it wasn't long ago that mighty Phuket also had highs and lows, but it has managed a transition into a year-round destination.
Beachfront properties are no bargains in Khao Lak, with oceanfront land costing about 15 to 20 million baht a rai, similar to Krabi, Natai and Phuket. The key difference is that more reasonably priced land near the beach remains in abundance, with many fairly large plots in the area of one to three million baht a rai.
The residential market is in its infancy. Except for a few projects being sold to Nordic markets, there are no substantial products apart from rows of commercial shophouses, which dominate the area.
Getting back to the future, what exactly lays in store for the region? Certainly, land prices in the area are undervalued. With white-sand beaches, accessible transportation hubs plus hotels and resorts reaching critical mass, the area is set to move forward.
Key indicators that bode well for the area include the continued development of the Tah Sai area, where global players such as Raffles are developing mixed use projects, and the redevelopment of Tai Muang into a large- scale, master-planned resort.
What's missing is an airport, which would seem a natural progression given with the current expansion of low-cost carriers.
On paper, Khao Lak should be Greater Phuket's next big thing. Despite a somewhat tarnished image, I'd lay odds on the area being a great success in the next few years.
However, the property market still needs to define itself and move from a field of dreams to something more tangible.