How To Spend Your Time In Khao Lak, Thailand

Away from the hustle and bustle of Phuket, just an hour and a half’s drive north, you’ll come to a little slice of paradise. 

Khao Lak in Phang Nga, Thailand, is a haven of tranquility.

With mile after mile of unspoilt, near-deserted white sandy beaches, national parks covered by tropical rainforest, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, Khao Lak is the perfect base for a relaxing stay in Thailand

You could absolutely be forgiven for simply putting your feet up and whiling away your days swimming and sunbathing. But, if you want to explore the area around Khao Lak, there is plenty to see and do, all within easy reach!

Travel Guide Khao Lak Thailand

PS – This post may contain affiliate links: That means that if you purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Of course, I only recommend products/services that I have used and believe are great! Please read my disclosure for more info.


Top Things To Do In Khao Lak

Enjoy The Beautiful Beaches

Granted, you will (and should!) spend some time on the beach during your visit to Khao Lak.

It’s a definite must! 

The long stretch of powdery-white sandy beach that is Khao Lak’s coast line is fringed by coconut and casuarina trees on one side, and the clear turquoise Andaman Sea on the other. The water is wonderfully warm, so don’t expect it to be too refreshing!

Pak Weeb Beach the best beach in Khao Lak Thailand

Pak Weeb Beach is my top pick as Khao Lak’s best beach. While it has certainly gained popularity over the last few years, with luxury resorts popping up here and there, this part of Khao Lak still remains a lesser known and therefore less touristy area in Thailand. There are lots of wonderful little cafes and restaurants along Pak Weeb Beach tucked in amongst the casuarina trees, for a refreshing drink or a tasty meal.

Other amazing stretches of beach in Khao Lak include Coconut Beach and White Sand Beach.

A small word of caution: Jellyfish like the Andaman Sea too… While not pleasant, this isn’t anything to worry too much about. If you do get stung, rinse with sea water (fresh water will aggravate it!) and some vinegar and the sting will soon settle down.

Crystal clear water at Khao Lak beaches


Khao Lak Sea Turtle Conservation Center

A nursery for turtles! Need I say more?

The sea turtle research and breeding facility at the Phang-Nga Naval Base is just south from Khao Lak. The center rears and releases hundreds of young turtles each year to help boost the wild population of endangered sea turtles.

A visit to the sea turtle conservation center is both educational and fun for visitors of all ages.

Sea Turtle Conservation Center at Phang Nga Naval Base Khao Lak

There is a small fee to enter (30 baht per person), but it is more than worth it to see these amazing creatures up close and personal. Plus, it helps the center continue doing the amazing work that they do!

If you’re lucky enough to be in Khao Lak between 1st-10th March, Khao Lak hosts a Turtle Festival every year during these dates, and visitors can help release the turtle hatchlings into the sea!

Note: This sea turtle conservation center is located on a military base, so make sure you have proper identification with you, such as your passport. 

Sea Turtles at Khao Lak Conservation Center


Visit The Tsunami Memorial

Sadly, Khao Lak was largely devastated by the tsunami that hit Thailand on 26 December 2004, although it’s hard to imagine now. The area has since been restored to its former paradise, and signs indicating Tsunami evacuation routes are really the only clear reminder of the tragedy that occurred here. 

I highly recommend a visit to the Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park about 20 minutes north from Khao Lak.

It’s a small but peaceful place to remember the people who lost their lives here that day, with some good information about what happened as well as about tsunamis in general.

The site is right on the beach with some beautiful views. A large golden statue of Buddha now sits with his back to the sea, protecting the people against threats from the ocean. 

Note: There is also an International Tsunami Museum just outside Khao Lak itself

Big Buddha at Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park Khao Lak


Experience An Ethical Elephant Encounter

The chance to interact closely with elephants is something that many visitors to Thailand are eager to experience. 

However, this is a somewhat controversial topic, so I will start off with a word of caution and encourage you to research companies carefully to ensure that they are reputable and ethical, and treat their animals well. 

As a fun alternative to riding elephants, why not book an ethical encounter where you can bathe and feed the elephants such as at the small family run Phang Nga Elephant Park, or the Khao Sok Elephant Rescue Center

Ethical camps are likely to be somewhat more expensive, but the money is used to further improve the camps, and helping more elephants. 

Bathing Elephants Encounter Khao Lak



Khao Lak Excursions

Khao Lak In A Day

Experience most if not all of the above in a single excursion from Khao Lak. There are plenty of tour companies offering trips to many of these amazing spots, saving you the hassle of organising your own transport there.

We went on the Khao Lak In A Day trip with Khaloak Vista, which we thoroughly enjoyed. But, there are certainly many others as well, including this trip with Bigcountry Andaman

In addition to the elephant encounter, tsunami memorial and sea turtle conservation, our day trip also included kayaking down the Little Amazon river, through stunning mangrove forests.


Little amazon river rafting is included in the Khao Lak Day trip excursion


Similan Islands Day Trip

For anyone who likes swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving, the uninhabited Similan Islands are a must-visit spot during your time in Khao Lak. 

The crystal clear water makes it a top spot for snorkeling or scuba diving. The huge boulders on several of the islands are worth a look too! 

Some islands (all conveniently named by numbers!) are more idyllic than others. Island 8 (Similan) is the go-to for tour companies for lunch and isn’t quite as picture perfect as the smaller islands are. Check with your tour on which islands you’ll be visiting and how long you will stay at each.

Note: Due to weather conditions during rainy season, trips do not take place between May-October. Outside of these months, the Thai government is implementing a daily visitor limit in a bid to tackle environmental problems. Check out the specifics before booking your trip!

Similan Islands Day Trip from Khao Lak


Phang Nga Bay Day Trip

Phang Nga Bay is probably one of the best known places in Thailand and no visit to Khao Lak would be complete without it.

Tall limestone cliffs and rock formations jutting out of the sea make for some amazing photo opportunities. But, do keep in mind that due to its popularity, certain areas may be quite crowded, especially during high season. 

There are multiple day trips and excursions on offer from Khao Lak to Phang Nga Bay. There is a lot to see and you likely won’t manage it all in one day, although some trips may offer more than one stop.  

Omer and Joannda on Maya Bay on our Phi Phi Islands excursion from Khao Lak

While the Phi Phi Islands are an extremely popular tourist destination, bear in mind that Maya Bay (famous from the movie “The Beach”) is currently closed to tourist until further notice due to environmental damage caused by mass tourism.

To be honest though, we weren’t blown away by Maya Bay at all. Pileh Lagoon was probably our favourite spot, much less crowded and far more picture-perfect!

Pileh Lagoon in the Phi Phi Islands Phuket Thailand

A good alternative option is a combination trip to James Bond Island (Khao Phing Kan – made famous by “The Man with the Golden Gun” movie) and Wat Tham Suwannakhuha temple to see the huge reclining Buddha (and feed the monkeys!), with a lunch stop at Koh Panyee. This seemingly floating fishing village is built almost entirely on stilts and is a sight to behold! 

While we did a speed-boat tour to fit as much as possible in to one day, I wasn’t a big fan and will definitely opt for the more traditional longtail boats the next time, like this tour with Green Andaman Travel.

Koh Panyee floating fishing village


The Best Time To Visit Khao Lak

High season runs from November through April, with low season from May through October. I recommend heading to Khao Lak in March/April when it is ever so slightly less humid, and a bit quieter compared to the middle of high season.

Either way, you’ll see plenty of sunshine all year round in between the incredible tropical downpours and thunderstorms. Some of the most spectacular fork lightning I’ve ever seen was on the beach in Khao Lak in May! 

Coconut Beach Khao Lak Thailand


Where To Stay – Khao Lak Resorts And Hotels

When we visited Khao Lak, we stayed at what was then the Pullman, but which has since been taken over by Robinson Club. The location was absolutely perfect, but I can’t really speak to the hotel as it is today due to the change of ownership.

Close friends of ours have stayed next door at Beyond Resort Khao Lak twice now, and loved it both times. This is a really lush adults-only hotel with Thai-style villas at varying price categories.

For a more budget friendly option, Ao Thong Beach Bungalows are still located right on the beach and have great reviews.

Robinson Club resort in Khao Lak

Where To Eat – Khao Lak Restaurants

Krua Thai – Just a short walk up the beach from the above mentioned hotels, this is a small family run restaurant with spectacular sunset views. Krua Thai was by far our favourite place to eat during our time in Khao Lak. Food is delicious, fresh, authentic, and perfectly priced. 

If you fancy a trip into Khao Lak itself (about 8km away), Ban Niang Night Market opens four nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 14:00 till 22:00).

You’ll find plenty of food and drink options here to keep you going! (Grilled insects, anyone?) Plus, you might find a souvenir or two to take home as well. Perhaps a bit touristy, but it’s a fun evening out if you want to venture a little further afield than Khao Lak beach.

Pro Tip: Avoid Bambi Beach Restaurant! It is comparatively expensive and both the food and service were terrible. 

Enjoying a drink at sunset at Krua Thai restaurant on Pak Weeb beach in Khao Lak


How To Get To Khao Lak

The easiest way to reach Khao Lak is to fly to Phuket International Airport, an easy 70-minute flight from Bangkok. From there, Khao Lak is about an hour and a half’s drive away. We booked a transfer ahead of time with Hoppa, although your hotel may also be able to assist.

Alternatively, you could also fly to Krabi airport, which is 140km away, making for a slightly longer transfer to Khao Lak.


What To Do In Khao Lak Phuket Thailand


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.