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Surfing and eco-tourism are just starting to take off here in Bang Niang, Khao Lak. The main focus from November till May is diving. The Similan and Surin Islands National Marine Parks are open from November until mid-May. Surfing starts when the southwest monsoons arrive in May and continue off and on until the end of October.

Needless to say almost all dive related businesses close at the end of April as well as a good number of resorts and restaurants. As surfing and eco-tourism become more popular the businesses will respond in a kind manner. Right now here are my picks of the best restaurants open during the Surfing Season where Bang Niang Beach has the most to offer.

The world famous Rusty Pelican Mexican Restaurant in Thailand is the one of the local favorites. Not only are the food and drinks exceptional but there is a pool table, giant backgammon board, a book exchange and free WiFi to pass the rainy hours. They also play some of the best music in Thailand. In addition it is the home of OneTwoSurf. You can rent surf or body boards, book surfing lessons or indulge in a one to three day surfing safari. The surfing safari also includes a 10% discount on food and soft drinks at selected restaurants. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner The Rusty Pelican Mexican restaurant definitely has a lot to offer. It is located on Bang Niang Beach road across the road from Bavaria House. Phone 087-192-1085 for any questions.

Mars Bar and Café is a hippy trippy place to visit. They have a varied menu and great coffee. Mars is a classic host and a lot of fun. They have a dart board, book exchange and free WiFi too. Thursday night is Ladies Night at Mars Bar where anyone wearing a dress gets half priced drinks all night. Mars Bar and Café is open from breakfast through dinner and is located in the Highway 4 near the Honda Motorcycle shop. Just look for the sign with a giant Smiley Face on it. Phone 084-746-5951

Chong Fa Restaurant and Resort is a probably the best Thai restaurant in the area. The prices are reasonable and quality exceptional. Chong Fa is one of the few local beach front restaurants to stay open all year. The resort itself is small and the service is very good. The staff is friendly as well. Chong Fa is open for lunch and dinner and is located at the end of Bang Niang Beach Road right on the ocean.

Walkers Inn is one of the first places you can see when you enter Khao Lak from Phuket. Painted bright orange it is easy to spot day of night. Walkers Inn has a large menu but the English fare is what makes the place. They have the best breakfast in town and a great Sunday roast too. Walkers Inn has free WiFi, a pool table and they show most major sporting events. There are rooms for rent at a fair price and dormitories for the budget traveler. Walkers is located on the right hand side Highway 4 at the beginning of La On village. Phone 084-840-2689 to book a room or for information.

Bella Ciao Italian Restaurant has been around for a couple of years. They serve good quality Italian cuisine and have the best pizzas around. Their prices are fair and if you call Dani he will bring out the pizza. Bella Ciao is located next to Gekko Bar on Bang Niang Beach Road. Phone: 086-324-0278

The Market in Bang Niang is a massive open air market open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons from 2pm until around 7:30pm. There are food stalls selling all kinds if goodies, fresh produce and fresh meat vendors. There are clothing tents, household utensils, and just about anything you can think of available too. The best time to visit is between 3 and 6 in the afternoon. The market is located on the left hand side of Highway 4 behind the taxi stand.