When looking for a base to explore the gorgeousness of the Andaman Sea, Khao Lak may be a great option for people looking for something a little more low-key. Unlike its neighbors in Phuket, Khao Lak located in the Phang Nga province is a little less crazy and over the top. Depicted by a series of white sandy beaches surrounded by forested hills, Khao Lak is a place worth visiting and exploring. When the devastating tsunami happened in Thailand last 2004, Khao Lak was one of those areas that was badly hit with over 4000 fatalities and 3000 people unaccounted for. Since then, Khao Lak has made a full recovery, turning their area into a popular tourist destination.

Due to Khao Lak’s ideal location, it is a popular base to do day trips to the Khao Lak / Lam Ru National Park, Phuket, or the ever so popular Similan and Surin Islands. Between it’s gorgeous laid back beaches, fantastic accommodation options, low-key restaurants, and fun activities, there is a little bit of everything in Khao Lak.

Related: Guide to Planning Your Dream Trip to Thailand

Things to Do in Khao Lak

Turtle Festival

Celebrated every year during the first week of March, young turtle hatchlings are released back to the sea at Thai Muang National Park Beach. Volunteers are encouraged to come join in on the fun to help create awareness in the various turtle conservation projects that they have going on. The turtles often come to shore to lay their eggs between November to April. For conservation purposes, the turtles are placed in a Nursery and incubated until they are large enough to release back into the Andaman Sea. If you are in Khao Lak during this time, a visit to the turtle conservatory or to the beach itself is a worthwhile effort.Khao-lak-turtles

Go on a Biking Tour

If you read a lot of our articles, you would know that biking (and motorbiking) are one of our favorite ways to explore a place. Explore the best of Khao Lak as you go on half day, full day, or even multi-day trips exploring some of the most beautiful countryside and mountainous scenery. Most of the cycling tours will take you around Khao Lak, through the beautiful forested areas, as well as to secluded waterfalls. Definitely ideal for a lot of people

Visit the International Tsunami Museum

While you shouldn’t expect a full blown museum with lots of memorabilia and exhibits, this place is still worth visiting (there are a few museums which had been set up apparently). A visit here is important in order to understand what the locals in Khao Lak went through as nearly all of them had family and friends which were killed or displaced during the tsunami. When the tsunami happened, there was little escape as the majority of Khao Lak’s land is flat. If you’re planning on visiting, there is the Baan Nam Khem tsunami memorial park as well as another memorial site where you can see a large Police patrol boat which was carried 1km in-land. The boat was left there and has been since turned into a memorial.

Soak in Hot Springs

After trekking through Khao Lak’s national parks, reward yourself by soaking in some hot springs. Located in two different areas, the Kapong Hot Springs are located near Khao Lak Lam Ru while Ban Bor Dan Hot springs in located near the Thai Muang National Park. Both hot springs have entrance fees so double check with your hotel to get the exact price.

Beach Hopping in Khao Lak

Whether you’re exploring Khao Lak independently or you are there for an all-inclusive holiday, visiting Khao Lak’s many beaches is a must. Graced with mile long beaches, beachgoers have lots of options for beach exploration in this part of Thailand. The main strips of Nang Thong Beach and La On Village are popular spots due to their location. Located within the main shopping, dining, and nightlife area, these places are ideal for those who want to stay within walking distance to all the best accommodations and modern day comforts. Khao Lak Beach on the other hand, is located 5km away from La On and is a little bit more peaceful and local than it’s busy counterparts. Bang Niang Beach is in close competition with a myriad of accommodation facilities and restaurants popping up. For those that want to escape it all, consider venturing out to Hat Pakarang and Hat Bang Sak which are made up of sleepy white sandy beaches and thick mangroves. Another popular beach in the area worth visiting is Pak Week Beach.

Read: Ultimate Guide to Thailand’s Best Beacheskhao-lak-beach-thailand

National Park Trekking

As mentioned, exploring the great outdoors is one of the best things to do while in Khao Lak. Get lost in exploring the two national parks, Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park and Thai Muang National Park. Lak Lam Ru is a 125-square-kilometre stretch of tropical jungles and forests where you can find waterfalls and other interesting trails where you can spot various types of wildlife.

Go Chasing Waterfalls

Being on Khao Lak is like one big nature trip. Stunning beaches, jungles, and waterfalls. To escape the heat, one of the best things to do is explore the many waterfalls in the area. A few of the best ones are Lam Ru, a five-tiered waterfall, as well as the Ton Chong Fah falls in Khao Lak Lam Ru. The latter is a great spot for swimming if you need to cool down after trekking to the area. Both spots are stunning and worth visiting while you’re exploring Khao Lak. Shoes are recommended as some of the trails can get slippery.

khao-lak-waterfalls

Photo by Percy Germany | via Flickr Creative Commons

Editor’s Note: To save time when moving from one island to the next, you can see the ferry schedules and book ahead of time. Click here to see ferry schedules

See Ferry Schedules

Explore the Ban Niang Night Market

Going to night markets is one of my favorite things to do while in Thailand. Going there to explore the different Thai dishes to sample, and goodies to buy is a great way to learn more about the local culture. Located around 20 minutes away from Khao Lak Beach, this night market is in full swing every Wednesday and Saturday. Various trinkets and edible goods are for sale here. So go ahead and try a grasshopper (or two) while you’re there.

Related: Street Food in Thailand: Dishes You Need to Try

Go Shipwreck Diving in Khao Lak

While the nearby Similan Islands are the crown jewels of diving in Thailand, Khao Lak is home to a few shipwreck dives worth visiting. Sunken around the area are HTMS Pratong, Premchai, MV Sea Chart and finally, Boonsung, these ships are fun to explore as every surface and crevice of the ship is now home to various marine species. From shrimps, crabs, trevally, eels, and lionfish, this place is a great option for those who want to explore the local dive spots.philippines-fish-diving-liveaboard

Things to Do Near Khao Lak

Adventure in Khao Sok National Park

This stunning national park is a breath of fresh air if you’re tired of seeing the many resort-laden beaches all over Thailand. Escape to nature and explore jungles, caves, and waterways in this national park established in 1980. The entire park consists of a thick native rainforest, waterfalls, splendid limestone cliffs and an island stubbed lake. There are many tours to Khao Sok National Park operating from Phuket and Khao Lak. Be wary though when joining a tour and make sure the company abides by ethical and sustainable practices. As a general rule of thumb, anything that involves elephant riding should be avoided.

khao-lak-khao-sok national park

Kayak Around Pha Nga Bay

Home to the legendary caves and karsts made famous in the movie, Man with the Golden Sun, James Bond island is a must visit for any of the tours coming from Khao Lak and Phuket. Take a kayak and paddle around some of the most beautiful limestone karsts and caves, enjoying the beauty of pristine waters and incredible scenery.

Read: Phuket:  The Ultimate List of  Things to See and Do

Explore the Similan Islands

Taplamu Pier, located in Khao Lak is the gateway to the Similan Islands.  While many tour operators arrange visits to the Similan Islands from Phuket, a much cheaper alternative is doing it directly from Khao Lak. From here, snorkeling and diving trips can be arranged, taking you through some of the most marine rich waters in Thailand. For avid divers, Similan Island Liveaboards could also be something you can look at. Check out our article above for a comparative guide on the best Similan island liveaboard boats from budget to luxury.

If you travel by speedboat, the trip often varies from 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Large ships often take 3-5 hours. If you’re on a budget, inquire about the National Park boat which takes around 4 hours. This is slightly cheaper than doing it through an agency.similan island liveaboard

While there are loads more to see and do while in Khao Lak, we recommend just going there to see and experience it for yourself. Remember to be a responsible tourist. Be respectful of customs and other cultures, and most of all, be mindful in all the tours that you choose to join.


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