Khao Lak Thailand: Best Things to Do and See (Updated 2023)

Looking for things to do in Khao Lak? In this article, I walk you through the best of Khao Lak and how to travel this beautiful area. After spending years living on and off in Thailand, I want to share more about this hidden gem with you.

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.

Things to Do in Khao Lak

1. Celebrate the 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.

We recommend this bamboo rafting and turtle conversation tour.


2. Go on a Biking Tour around Khao Lak

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. Tom and I, recently did a bike tour around Koh Yao Noi, Phuket and loved it!

So to explore the best of Phang Nga province including Khao Lak, go on a 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.

3. Attend Cooking Classes

As most of you already know, I am addicted to Thai food and can’t get enough of it. Have a go at taking cooking classes in Khao Lak as you learn how to cook some of the best delicacies in their cuisine like Pad Thai and a few other stirfries.

They also have options for classes which include organic farm tours.


4. 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 and all of the Phang Nga province, 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.

5. Soak in Hot Springs

After trekking through Khao Lak national park, 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.

6. Go Beach Hopping

Whether you’re exploring Khao Lak independently or you are there for an all-inclusive holiday, visiting Khao Laks 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 Bang Niang, 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.

If you want to arrange day trips from Khao Lak, one of the best things to do is hop on a boat to go island hopping. This tour takes you to the infamous James Bond Island for a fun day under the sun.

7. Trek in Khao Lak National Park

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-kilometer stretch of tropical jungles and forests where you can find waterfalls and other interesting trails where you can spot various types of wildlife.

8. Go Chasing Waterfalls

Being in 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.

Transportation Tip: We recommend using Bookaway or 12Go website to view bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time. We’ve used these websites all over Asia and it saves us the hassle of lining up in travel agencies or bus stations.

9. 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. This was a highlight for me while traveling the Phang Nga province.

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

10. 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.


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Things to Do Near Khao Lak

1. 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.

This tour from Khao Lak to Khao Sok National Park makes it super easy to explore this beautiful place.

khao-lak-khao-sok national park

2. 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.

3. 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.

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.

similan island liveaboard

Khao Lak with Children

If you are visiting Khao Lak with children here are 2 extra things you can do with them which I am sure they will love!

1. Play Mini Golf

That’s right! In Khao Lak there is an 18 hole mini golf course. It’s location is pretty easy to get to and the course has an “ancient ruin” theme, making sure it’s a pretty unique experience.

2. Go and Visit Turtle Heaven

We already mentioned the turtle festival but did you know you can visit what is known as “Turtle Heaven” all year around?

At the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Center, you can learn about their conservation efforts and see the local wildlife there. See if you can find Nemo while there!

baby sea turtles off to the ocean

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How to get to Khao Lak?

If you’re wondering how to get to Khao Lak, here are 3 main ways:

Khao Lak by Plane

The fastest and easiest way to get to Khao Lak is to fly into Phuket airport or Krabi airport. From there you can take a taxi to Khao Lak. Both Phuket airport and Krabi, serve international and domestic destinations, plus run regular flights. You can check prices on Google Flights or Skyscanner.

Phuket international airport is the closest to Khao Lak as it is only around a 1 hour and 15 minute drive away.

If you are wondering how far Khao Lak is from Krabi airport. It is about 120 km south and takes about two hours to get there by car.

Khao Lak by Train

If you are already in Thailand, taking a train to Khao Lak might be your best option.

A train from Bangkok, will take about 12 hours so if you want to sleep I would recommend booking an express night coach. Surat Thani is the nearest train station but, you will have to take a bus from the train station to Khao Lak (about 300-400 THB), which takes another 4 hours.

Check train times on 12Go who we have personally used while traveling Thailand.

Khao Lak by Bus

Surprisingly getting to Khao Lak by bus is pretty easy. Despite no buses having Khao Lak as a starting or ending point, most will pass through and stop there.

Buses from Bangkok, Chumphon, Phuket, Ranong, or Surat Thani, all come through and stop at Khao Lak. Similar to trains you can check for prices and schedules at 12Go.

FAQ about Khao Lak

Here are some quick answers to the most frequently asked questions about Khao Lak:

Is it safe in Khao Lak?

Yes! It is safe in Khao Lak. Similar to most of Thailand, Khao Lak has low crime rates and is safe for families or solo travellers.

What is the best time to visit Khao Lak Thailand?

The best time to visit Khao Lak is between December and March, but be aware that the hottest month of the year is March with an average daily maximum of 33 degrees.

How many days do you need in Khao Lak?

I would recommend 3 days if you don’t plan to go diving. If you are diving I would suggest at least 5 days.

Remember Thailand has some of the best diving spots in the world, so it would be worth extending the trip if you can. Anna (Editor of Adventure In You) scuba diving

Can you swim at Khao Lak beach?

Yes, you can swim at Khao Lak beach. It is located 5km away from La On and as mentioned above, it is a little bit more peaceful and local than it’s busy counterparts.

What is better Khao Lak or Phuket?

Phuket is better for nightlife but Khao Lak is better for families, couples and divers.

Is Khao Lak touristy?

Khao Lak is not as touristic as Phuket or Krabi or any of the major thai islands, but you will definitely see other foreigners there on holiday during your visit.

So that’s if for the best things to do in Khao Lak Thailand. After living in Thailand for over a year, I hope you end up loving it as much as I do.

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Anna Faustino

Editor In Chief

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years, living in 5 different continents. She is passionate about giving destination advice, entrepreneurship, outdoor travel and discovering good food while on the road. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Forbes, Yahoo! Travel and more.

3 thoughts on “Khao Lak Thailand: Best Things to Do and See (Updated 2023)”

  1. Great photos! I have been to Thailand twice but never visited Khao Lak.
    I guess next time I can not miss it LOL 🙂


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