Ultimate Guide to Khao Lak – Best Things To Do and See

Khao Lak facing the Andaman Sea in Phang Nga Province is 102 km from Phuket.  The Khao Lak coastline has developed into an ideal getaway location with its quiet untouched sandy beaches and numerous selection of luxury resorts and spas.

Getting to Khao Lak from Bangkok

Bangkok is 766 km from Khao Lak. The quickest and most convenient way to get there is by plane although if you’re up for an adventure, the trip is also possible by car, bus or train.

Getting to Khao Lak by plane

Khao Lak doesn’t have an airport, so the closest is Phuket International, which is an 82km 1-hour 15-minute drive along the coast.

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International airports have hourly direct flights to Phuket. The trip takes around 1 hour, and 20 minutes and prices are competitive because many airlines operate the route.

Phuket International Airport

How much is a taxi from Phuket airport to Khao Lak

The price of a taxi from Phuket International Airport to Khao Lak is between 1,000-1,500 Baht booked on-demand at the arrivals hall or pre-booked online. Enjoy the views of the many rubber and banana plantations on the way to your hotel if you arrive during the day.

Another less convenient but cheaper option is to get a bus from the airport to Phuket town terminal 2 bus station then transfer to the bus heading towards Khao Lak.  The trip will take up to 3 hours and cost between 250-300 Baht.

Getting to Khao Lak by Bus

There are no direct buses from Bangkok to Khao Lak, but you can take a bus to Pang-Nga and then a taxi to your resort. 

Buses to the southern part of Thailand are available at Southern Bus Terminal in Sai Tai Mai Bangkok. The overnight bus ride to Pang-Nga takes around 12 hours with a bus choice of either a 1st class VIP or 2nd class.

Timetable for buses from Bangkok to Pang-Nga

Bangkok toClassDeparturePriceTravel
Phang Nga Bus Station2nd class – 44 seater19:30THB 45912 hours
Phang Nga Bus Station1st class – VIP 24 seater20:00THB 885 12 hours

Getting to Khao Lak by Train

There are no direct trains to Khao Lak, but you can take a train from Bangkok Hua Lamphong station to Surat Thani, then transfer and take a bus to Khao Lak. The train journey to Surat Thani takes around 9-12 hours and an additional 5 hours for the bus to Khao Lak.

Throughout the day, there are up to 10 trains departing from Bangkok to Surat Thani. Train types include Rapid, Express, and the fastest Special Express.

The trains have a 3-tier ticket system; AC is only available in the 1st and 2nd classes. Sleeper beds are available for an additional fee. 

Prices range from 250-1,200 Baht depending on your class, train, and seat selection. 

Insider Tip

Book train tickets well in advance because AC carriage 1st and 2nd class tickets sell out fast.

Weather in Khao Lak

Khao Lak is warm all year round with average temperatures of 26-29°C and there are three seasons:

  • Cool season (November to February)
  • Hot season (March to May)
  • Wet season (June to October) 

Khao Lak average temperature and rainfall per month

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulyAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Temp (°C)26.427.12828.42827.627.427.326.826.726.526.2
Rainfall (mm)36498819031640936438344533519478
Source climate-data.org

Khao Lak hot season

The hot season runs from March to May, with an average temperature of 28°C and April being the hottest.

Khao Lak rainy season

The rainy season runs from June to October, with an average temperature of 26-27°C and the wettest months being August and September. This season is the low season for tourism in Khao Lak because of frequent rain showers and island closures.

Insider tip

If you want to avoid crowds and don’t mind light showers, then the low season is ideal.  Look out for cheaper hotel deals during the low season.

Khao Lak cool season

The cool season runs from November to February, with an average temperature of 26-27°C, and December and January are the coolest. This season is the high season for tourism in Khao Lak, with tourists flocking to enjoy the milder dry climate.

Best time to visit Khao Lak Thailand

Khao Lak is warm all year round but the best time to visit is in the cool season because of lower temperatures and less rainfall. Keep in mind that the cool season is the high tourism season, so there will be more people visiting.

If you plan to visit nearby islands, plan your travel around within the cool or hot season because most islands are closed in the rainy season.

Things to do in Khao Lak

In and around Khao Lak, there are lots of activities and attractions to keep you and your family entertained.

  • Cooking classes
  • International Tsunami Museum
  • Bang Niang Market
  • Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park
  • Waterfalls
  • Elephant Home

Cooking classes

Master your Thai cooking skills from chefs within the area using traditional cooking methods and locally sourced ingredients.

Pakinnaka Thai Cooking School Khaolak

Chef Wandee from Pakinnaka Thai Cooking School will pick you up from your resort and take you to the local market to source Thai ingredients. Then she will guide you through the cooking process in her open plan kitchen, which can hold up to 10 people.

Pakinnaka Cooking School has classes in the morning from 10 am to 2 pm or afternoon from 2:30 pm to 6:40 pm. Budding chefs can make up to 5 dishes of their choice and sample food from other attendees.

Classes start from 1,500 Baht per person and include pick up and drop off from resorts within Khao Lak and exclusive downloadable recipes. 

Riverside Thai Cooking

Another great Thai cooking school is Riverside Thai Cooking by local chef Apple.  The morning package includes pickup from your resort and a tour of the local market to collect ingredients.

Chef Apple will show you how to prepare, cook, and present a dish of your choice, including a starter of Thai spring rolls. She also caters to vegetarian and vegan meal choices, so let her know in advance.

Riverside Thai Cooking classes start from 1,500 Baht per person and include pick up and drop off from and recipes direct to your email.

International Tsunami Museum

On the 26th of December 2014, a devastating tsunami wreaked havoc along the west coast of Thailand caused by an earthquake in Indonesia. Khao Lak was one of the worst-hit areas because of its flat land and non-concrete-based building structures.

A museum was opened to document the 2014 tsunami and others from around the world.  Thai navy boat 813 Buretpadungkit sits alongside the museum.  The boat was swept 1 mile inland by the tsunami and acts as a memorial to those who lost their lives on that grave day.

The museum is open every day of the week from 9 am to 9 pm, and the cost of admission is 300 Baht per person, which all goes to charity. The best way to get there is by local taxi bookable from your hotel reception. 

Bang Niang Market

Opposite the Tsunami Museum is Bang Niang Market, an open-air market with over 300 local sellers of souvenirs, food, and clothing. The market operates Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 2 pm to 9 pm.

Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park

Along the coast of Khao Lak, you’ll find Khao Lak–Lam Ru National Park.  The park, named after its two mountains, covers an area of 125 square kilometers consisting of various terrains, including waterfalls, beaches, and forests.

It’s worth the visit just for the golden sandy beaches, but for the adventurous type, there is hiking and walks through the forest.

The entrance fee costs 200 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for children, and the park is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm every day of the week.

Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park

Insider tip

Bring sunscreen, water, a hat, and good walking shoes if you want to trek through the forest area of Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park. 

Waterfalls

Khao Lak has a number of visit-worthy waterfalls dotted around the national parks including:

  • Sai Rung Waterfall
  • Ton Pling Waterfall
  • Ton Chongfa Waterfall

Elephant Home

Elephant Home in Khao Lak was set up in 2018 as a sanctuary for rescued and retired elephants from the tourism industry in Thailand.  The Asian elephants have 1.44km of natural jungle space to explore including a bathing pond.

Visitors can come to meet the elephants at the park and support their care by feeding them sugar cane and bananas.

Elephant care packages including feeding and bathing with day packages start at 1,000 Baht for adults and 900 Baht for children.

Sustainable travel

Don’t be tempted by the elephant’s rides or circuses in Thailand because the trade is known for its unethical practices towards these beautiful animals. Instead, visit sanctuary parks like Elephant Home which care and treat them well.

Things to do around Khao Lak

Khao Lak is a great base for exploring the southern region of Thailand and offshore islands in the area.  Activities and attractions outside Khao Lak include:

  • Island hopping/exploring
  • Driving
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Phang Nga Elephant Park
  • Wat Bang Thong
  • Ao Phang-nga National Park

Island hopping/exploring

Similan Islands National Park

The golden sandy beaches of the Similan Islands National Park 70km off the coast of Phang Nga are a must-see for island hoppers. The park consists of 11 different islands with crystal clear waters, rock formations, and coastline forests.

Similan Islands

There are no private hotels or resorts on the islands although the government has set up small bungalows and a makeshift campsite for temporary short-stay accommodation.

How to get from Khao Lak to Similan Islands

Regular speedboats and island tours operate day trips from their base at Thap Lamu Pier located a 20-minute drive from Khao Lak.  The journey by boat will take 1-5 hours depending on your choice of boat.

Insider tip

Similan Islands National Park is closed in the rainy season from the start of May to mid-October.  The exact dates vary year by year so check with local authorities before making any plans.

Mu Ko Surin National Park

The Surin Islands located 93km from Khao Lak are renowned to have some of the best spots for diving and snorkeling in Thailand. Colorful coral, tropical fish, and the local Moken tribe are found in the park consisting of 5 islands.

How to get from Khao Lak to Surin Islands

Tour groups and private speedboats operate out of Thap Lamu Pier in Phang Nga.  The journey to the islands takes 1-2 hours by speedboat and 3-5 hours on a larger boat type.

Insider tip

Surin Islands are closed during the rainy season from mid-May to mid-November.

Fewer tourists visit Surin Islands so a great option if you want to avoid crowds.

Diving

Khao Lak is known as a base for many of the best diving spots in the country including Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock (Similan islands), and offshore shipwrecks. Tropical sealife sightings include whale sharks, giant manta rays, soft coral, and sea turtles.

Who to drive with?

Khao Lak Explorer Diving Center is a 5-star rated PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) driving company operating liveaboard boat drive tours to islands within reach of Khao Lak. Their highly experienced international and local instructors offer driving lessons to cater to any experience level and beginners are welcome.

Khao Sok National Park

Located 57km from Khao Lak is Khao Sok National Park a 739 km² nature reserve home to exotic animals, limestone rock formations, lush tropical forests with lakes, waterfalls, and rivers.  The park is a must-visit for travelers looking to explore the great nature Thailand has to offer.

Activities within the park include trekking through the dense forest, rafting on traditional boats, and wildlife tours.  Animals such as the Asian elephant, tigers, gibbons, deer, and up to 180 different species live in the poak.

Khao Sok Lake

The forest area is unspoiled consisting of ancient trees and bamboo including Liana tress, Buttress roots, and the unique Rafflesia flower.

The main tourist hotspots within the park are Khao Sok Village and Khao Sok Lake where you’ll also find accommodation, activities, and restaurants.

Khao Sok National Park Park entrance fee

AdultChild
TouristsTHB 300 THB 150
ThaiTHB 40THB 20

How to get to Khao Sok village from Khao Lak?

Khao Sok Village is reachable by road from Khao Lak by car, taxi, or bus. A car or taxi journey takes up to 1 hour heading east along highway 401 towards Surat Thani. 

Buses to Khao Sok are available from Khao Lak Bus station heading towards Surat Thani you can get off at the Khao Sok bus stop. From there you will be additional transport to reach Khao Sok village. The bus journey will take around 2 hours.

Phang Nga Elephant Park

It’s no secret that elephants are abused for tourism in Thailand but there are animal welfare parks like Phang Nga Elephant Park where elephants live in a stress-free natural environment.  

The park prides itself on the ethical treatment of elephants within their natural habit cared for by a group of international and local volunteers.

At the park, you can learn more about the amazing Asian elephant and have the chance to care for them including scrubbing, bathing, and preparing meals with an English-speaking guide.

Prices for a 4-5 hour day package at the park start from 2,200 Baht per adult and 1,500 Baht per child and include a locally prepared Thai lunch and transfer to and from your accommodation at Khao Lak. 

Wat Bang Thong

Located 1 hour and 30 minute drive from Khao Lak is Wat Bang Thong a newly 21st century-built temple dedicated to King Rama X.  The golden plated tower part of the temple is 75 meters high with the amazing backdrop of the Krabi mountains in the background.

The price for admission is 50 Baht for tourists and free for Thai.

Insider tip

When entering temples in Thailand remove shoes and wear appropriate clothing.

Avoid the blazing direct sun by visiting Wat Bang Thong in the morning.

Ao Phang-nga National Park

Located on the east coastline of Phang-nga is Ao Phang-nga National Park covering 400 km² of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, tropical forests, and 14 different islands to explore.  The park is one of the most scenic destinations in Thailand so it’s no surprise it has been featured in many Hollywood movies including James Bond.

Activities at the park include island exploring, tour cruises, trekking, and canoe boat tours.

Ao Phang-nga National Park entrance fee

AdultChild
TouristsTHB 300 THB 100
ThaiTHB 60THB 30

How to get to Ao Phang-nga National Park from Khao Lak?

The drive from Khao Lak to Ao Phang-nga National Park takes 1 hour and 10 minutes and a taxi is bookable from your hotel reception. Some activity packages at the park also offer transfers to and from your accommodation.

Best beaches in Khao Lak

Khao Lak has some of the well-kept nature-rich beaches in the south of Thailand with turtle-hatching spots and hermit crabs aplenty.

The best beaches in Khao Lak:

  • Khuk Khak Beach
  • Pak Weep Beach
  • Bang Niang Beach
  • White Sand Beach

Khuk Khak Beach 

Located between Bang Niang and Pakarang Cape is Khuk Khak Beach a 5km stretch of sandy beach lined with coconut palms and inline lagoons and rivers meeting the seawater.  The beach is quiet and great if you want to avoid too many tourists and instead mingle with the local fishermen.

Along Khuk Khak Beach you’ll find a small collection of resorts and restaurants including JW Marriott and Devasom Beach Resort.

Pak Weep Beach

Located where the forested coastline meets the sea is Pak Weep Beach a golden sandy quiet haven.  The beach is said to be one of the most beautiful in Khao Lak and is great for shell collecting when the tide is out.  

Hotels and restaurants are dotted along the beach including the exclusive 5-star rated Mai Khao Lak Beach Resort and Sunrise Restaurant.

Bang Niang Beach

One of the busiest beaches along the Khao Lak coastline is Bang Niang Beach with a wide selection of accommodations conveniently located close to the beach.  Water sports activities are available including kayaking and snorkeling.

Bang Niang Beach is popular with backpackers because of the accommodation options including K2 Backpacker Hostel.

The beach is within reach of Bang Niang so plenty of food and nightlife choices.

White Sand Beach

White Sand Beach is a beautiful 2.6km stretch of beach between Coconut beach and Pak Weep Beach. The course sanding beach has access to some great restaurants including Nang Sib Song Restaurant And Bungalows and Cafe Andaman.

The luxurious resort of The Sarojin can be found on White Sand Beach right next to the L-shaped lagoon.

Best hotels in Khao Lak

Whatever your budget Khao Lak was a massive selection of beachside and inline resorts/hotels.

Some of the best hotels / resorts in Khao Lak:

  • Devasom
  • La Vela Khao Lak
  • The Sarojin
  • Casa de La Flora
  • Khaolak Merlin Resort

Devasom

Devasom is a newly built luxury beachfront resort on Khao Lak facing the Andaman Sea with a wide selection of 69 rooms, including beachfront pool villas and deluxe sea view one-bedroom suites. Tropical gardens surround the resort, and kayaks are available for exploring the adjacent lagoon.

The resort has a selection of two restaurants with Thai or Western cuisine, vegetarian options, a gym, bike hire, a kids club, and daily activities such as Yoga or cooking classes.

Prices start from 4,000 Baht per night and include breakfast, free minibar, welcome drink, and onsite parking.

Insider tip

I stayed at Devasom in July 2020 and would recommend heading to the beach in the evening for amazing sunsets views.

Luxury tip

Devasom has two-bedroom penthouse sky villas with 430 sq.m living area and a private 17m swimming pool. Great for special occasions!

La Vela Khao Lak

Located on the quiet beach Bang Niang sits La Vela Khao Lak resort built in 2017 with 181 rooms and eight different room types.

The resort has a laid-back poolside bar, a chic coffee shop, and outdoor/indoor dining options.  Activities include spa treatments, access to five large swimming pools, and a gym.

Prices start from 2,000 Baht per night and include breakfast.

The Sarojin

Ultra-luxury 5-star boutique resort The Sarojin is located in tropical gardens on the coast of Khao Lak with private beach access. The resort houses 56 rooms, including deluxe tropical garden views and private pool suites. 

The resort offers event bookings, spa treatments, private charters to nearby islands, and complimentary use of their many watersport offerings, including an Omega Topaz dinghy.  Food offerings include an all-day breakfast, fine dining, and an award-winning wine cellar with over 200 wines. 

Prices start from 10,000 Baht per night, including breakfast, wi-fi, and onsite parking. 

Casa de La Flora

Located on Bang Niang is a 5-star rated Casa de La Flora, an award-winning resort with uniquely designed cube-shaped sea view villas that blend in with the coastline.  The resort houses 36 stunning rooms, including beachfront pool villas and duplex suites with a private mini pool.

The has an infinity-edge pool, a beachfront restaurant with a western menu, and an onsite spa.  Package tours of islands, white water rafting, and sunset yacht cruises are available to book through the resort.

Prices start from 4,000 Baht per night, including breakfast, wi-fi, and onsite parking.

Khaolak Merlin Resort

Surrounded by tropical 100-year-old trees and lush 15-acre gardens is Khaolak Merlin Resort, located on Khao Lak South Beach. The resort has a wide selection of Thai decoration room types, including deluxe jungle views and two-bedroom pool villas.

The resort offers an array of activities, including beach Yoga, volleyball bamboo rafting, and island hopping tours.

Prices start from 2,500 Baht per night, including breakfast, wi-fi, and onsite parking.

Sustainable travel

Khaolak Merlin Resort has sustainability at its core. These include preserving existing trees to ensure biodiversity, organizing beach cleanups, a no disposable plastic policy, recycling facilities, and an onsite waste management system to protect resources.

Best restaurants in Khao Lak

You can’t visit Khao Lak without trying the local cuisine so try some of these highly-rated authentic Thai restaurants and cafes.  

Summary

Khao Lak is a great sandy beach getaway if you’re looking to avoid the crowds of Phuket and enjoy the quiet more relaxed way of life.

Located only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Phuket airport Khao Lak is worth the visit with its many beaches, rich national parks, and easy access to some of the most scenic locations in Thailand.

Use Khao Lak as a base to explore the southern region with various transport options including taxis, buses, and tour boats.

What will you do in Khao Lak?

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