Khao Lak is located just north of Phuket Island, in the Takua Pa district of Phang Nga province on the beautiful Andaman Sea coast, and is one of Thailand’s most tranquil holiday destinations. Khao Lak is also the best starting point if you plan to visit the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock which offers the best diving in Thailand.
Khao Lak is known as a quiet, secluded destination even during the peak tourist season, although the last few years have seen Khao Lak gaining in popularity during the off season months too. Wide golden beaches stretch for kilometres along the coastline, with lush rainforest jungle covered hills to the east. A number of national parks prevent high-rise construction and unlike over crowded destinations such as Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, Khao Lak development is well spread out offering a varied choice of beachside accommodation.
The local economy is mainly based on tourism. In the past, most visitors came from Europe, especially Scandinavia, Germany and the United Kingdom, however, the last few years have seen an increase in visitors from other areas of South East Asia, including Thailand.
There are many shops, restaurants and guesthouses situated on either side of the high street running through Khao Lak. Access to the beach is via the small beach road located opposite the Tourist Police Box. During the day the town has a sleepy feel as most visitors head to the beach or are out on tours in the surrounding area. At night time the town slowly comes to life, there are plenty of shopping opportunities, a wide selection of restaurants and roadside food vendors and a few lively bars for those seeking more excitement. Ban Khao Lak, the original location where modern Khao Lak derives its name from, is located further to the south, beyond the hills of the Lamru National Park.
Khao Lak is not only the best starting point for scuba diving in the Similan Islands, Khao Lak also offers some great local diving with some dive sites only 30 minutes away. Khao Lak is the ideal location to experience some of Thailand's best diving. There are three wreck dive sites not far from Khao Lak, including the intriguing Boonsung Wreck, a sunken Tin Mining Vessel just off Bang Sak Beach, only 15 minutes away. Lake diving in nearby Khao Sok National Park is also available; this is a unique experience allowing you to explore ancient Thai villages once flooded by RatchapraphaDam.
Khao Lak is also an ideal location to access the Khao Sok National Park. If you are looking for something new Thailand Dive and Sail offer the best lake diving and cavern diving in the Cheow Lan Lake. After the construction of a dam in 1982, the area was flooded forming the lake that is there today. It is still possible to see forests and remnants of old villages underwater, including the local Temple and School. This is the best diving opportunity for those wishing to explore all aspects of nature in Thailand; the wonders of Khao Sok National Park surround the lake and it is even possible to combine a dive trip with a land tour for a full rounded experience of what this jungle has to offer.
There are plenty of activities on offer around Khao Lak, including elephant trekking, jungle trekking, bamboo rafting and cultural temple visits. Khao Lak is also conveniently located to visit the best of Phang Nga Province; Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island and the breath taking Khao Sok National Park where Cheow Lan Lake is located. Due to the distances involved it is advisable to book an organised tour to these places, however, you may wish to explore many of the local sights on a bicycle or motorbike, you never know what hidden gems you will find!
Suggested places of interest include Chong Fah Waterfall, which is 10 minutes east of Khao Lak and Lampi Waterfall, which is 30 minutes to the south. If you’re feeling energetic, Khao Lak Lamru National Park is within walking distance from most resorts. If you do decide to explore using a motorbike then remember to drive slowly on the roads, take your time, there are plenty of great roadside food stalls to stop at along the way. Another great place to visit is Takua Pa; this is 45 minutes to the north of Khao Lak. Here you can see Sino-Portuguese architecture in the old town with quaint shops. It is best visited in the early mornings or on Sunday afternoons for the walking street market.
There are a lot of tour companies in Khao Lak all offering a great variety of tours. A good starting point would be with Green Andaman Travel. The owner is one of Khao Lak's original tour guides. Khao Sok Tours are a particular speciality of Green Andaman Travel with single or multi day trips offered with one of Khao Lak's most sought after Khao Sok guides. The tours are conducted in small groups and every effort is made to try and avoid the crowds.
During the low season Khao Lak is gaining a reputation as an ideal place to learn surfing. The warm waters and gentle waves of Khao Lak are perfect for beginners. Siam Surfdogs offers everything you need to begin surfing including board rental, surfing lessons and paddle boarding lessons. During a lesson qualified surfing instructors will show you the basics of water safety, balancing, paddling and turning the board. Lessons take place in shallow water and are 60 minutes in duration.
When you visit somewhere for the first time, or are looking for something new to try out, first-hand knowledge goes a long way in making your stay most enjoyable at the place that is just right for you. However there are so many types of accommodation available in Khao Lak, in all price ranges and at a variety of locations, it becomes difficult to rate each and every place.
This is our rough guide to the best accommodation in Khao Lak, there may be a lot of great places we have missed and some places change over the years, but the following bungalows, guest houses and hotels are the places that get the most positive feedback from our customers.
Khao Lak Paradise is a beautiful quiet resort sitting on the mountainside as you enter Khao Lak. The wonderful thing about this resort is that the owners have kept plenty of the tropical rainforest around the accommodation units, meaning that you are immersed in the Khao Lak jungle. It is located between the mountain and the beach, giving you the best of all the aspects of nature that Khao Lak has to offer. Rooms range from Deluxe Twin and Double to Beach Front Villas.
All rooms have balconies either with a jungle, pool or seafront view. Prices range from approximately 4,900THB/night to 14,000THB/night. Khao Lak Paradise Resort has a restaurant and is also in close walking distance to Khao Lak centre for more restaurants and bars.
Established in 2009, Walker's already occupies a special place in the hearts of both visitors and locals alike. The proprietors offer a warm welcome, comfortable rooms, good Thai and European food, great bar and a personal, down-to-earth atmosphere in the heart of town. A relaxed and well-run inn and gathering-place for the traveller on a budget.
Large en-suite air-con rooms from 400THB or immaculate dormitory beds and shared facilities as low as 150THB per night. Free WiFi, internet and pool table. Reservations in the high-season are definitely recommended. Check the Walkers Inn Website for more details.
Phu Khao Lak offers garden rooms and garden cottages in beautiful surroundings, it is very central in the town, and has always been a firm favourite for travellers. The bungalows are situated around a large garden dotted with plenty of palm trees and a swimming pool. Phu Khao Lak also has a great restaurant where you can enjoy a variety of seafood, Thai and international cuisine.
Garden rooms with fan start from 800THB, Garden Cottages with air-con and hot shower are 1,800THB. Facilities include WiFi internet, a laundry service and airport transfers.
Long time friends of ours at Thailand Dive and Sail, Banana Bungalows is the most conveniently located accommodation for local diving, with a 30 second walk away from our office. It is situated 1 minute's walk from the centre of Khao Lak, so has a wealth of bars and restaurants right on the doorstep waiting to be explored. Banana Bungalows offers excellent budget accommodation slightly up a small hill, in full view of the beautiful tropical mountain scenery. A lovely swimming pool is in the centre of the bungalow complex, with a small restaurant and coffee shop.
Rooms are clean and affordable. A standard room with fan is only 500THB in low season and 700THB in high season. Standard and Deluxe Garden air-conditioned rooms are also available. Poolside rooms are 800THB in low season and 1,200THB in high season. Check the Banana Bungalows website for more details.
There are many resorts along the beach front, known locally as Nang Thong Beach. Although rather large, Nang Thong Bay Resort offers great value for money. If you can afford to spend a bit more there are several beach front bungalows which provide a more intimate atmosphere. Ideally located at the end of the beach road it is only a few minutes’ walk to the high street.
Rooms start from 2,000THB with air-con and hot shower in an apartment style block. Recommended are the beachfront bungalows at 3,000THB. The resort has a swimming pool and two restaurants.
For those travellers seeking something more unique during their travels, Monochrome Resort is a new designer hotel in Khao Lak, inspired by homogenous and monochrome tonal designs. Guests should 'expect the unexpected’; this resort prides itself on pragmatic uses of strong shapes and form, the selection of new and unique materials and featuring custom built furniture. Monochrome Resort features a family suite with pool access, as well as LV (Lover) suites and rooms where luxury, privacy, comfort and design come together perfectly for a honeymoon couple.
Located to the north of Khao Lak in Bang Niang close to Bang Niang Beach. Prices begin at 5,900 THB per night in the peak season. Reservations recommended.
Escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquillity of this small, boutique lakeside resort. Situated in a sprawling garden landscape, Lakeview Bungalows is the ideal destination for a peaceful, relaxed holiday with discreet, personal service. The six individual, beautifully-designed bungalows, totalling eight rooms, are all lovingly decorated with hand-made furniture and attention to comfort and detail. Located seven km north of Khao Lak and only 800 meters from Khuk Khak beach, guests enjoy a remote, private atmosphere with quick, easy access to town by car or motorbike.
Prices begin at 1,400 THB per night, “Green Season” discounts also available. Thai/German restaurant on the lake open November to May. Please reserve. Check Lake View Bungalows for more details.
A small resort with five bungalows and four double bungalows set right along beautiful Ao Thong beach. Each guest is considered one of the family and enjoys the generous hospitality of Mr. Nueng, his wife Nong and their friendly staff. Ten km north of Khao Lak, Ao Thong Beach Resort is the ideal destination for those seeking a relaxed atmosphere and high-quality personal service in authentic natural surroundings. Newly-renovated, intimate Thai-Style bungalows with private balconies nestled into the seaside palms and gardens provide all the modern comforts.
En-suite bungalows at 1,500 THB per night, double bungalows from 2,000THB. Enjoy excellent, fresh local specialties, seafood and Western snacks prepared personally by Nong in Ao Thong Beach Resort's own restaurant. Reservations a must. Check Ao Thong Beach for more details.
Eating out is certainly a high-light of any holiday and Khao Lak boasts a fine array of local and international cuisine with many of the best restaurants open all year round. Here is just a selection of the best restaurants in Khao Lak and the surrounding areas.
Chonticha Mu Krataa in Khuk Khak is immensely popular with the locals, here you can barbecue your own selection of meats and seafood, only 109THB for all you can eat. The homemade chilli sauce is a family secret recipe and possibly the best in Thailand. Ask any taxi driver how to get here.
Mars Bar and Cafe is a firm favourite with local expats in Khao Lak and with the Thailand Dive and Sail team. Mars Bar and Cafe serves classic western dishes such as pizzas, jacket potatoes, burgers, sandwiches and also has a large selection of vegetarian dishes to choose from. Another bonus to this eatery is that the food is of excellent quality and is still a good option for the budget traveller. By night Mars Bar and Cafe is a great place to meet up with friends for a cool beer after a day out diving.
Check the Mars Bar Cafe Website for more details.
The hot pans are a speciality.
Sawasdee Restaurant in Bang Niang serves seafood and unique Thaifood dishes. Khun Ae is one of the best cooks in town and also runs a popular cooking class which includes a trip to the local markets to source your ingredients. If you have a few days in Khao Lak be sure not to miss an evening here.
At the north end of central Khao Lak is Weerapats Kitchen. The food is reasonably priced and the menu has a great selection of North Eastern Thai cuisine. This restaurant has a nice family atmosphere and is very popular with the local dive staff community.
Heading north towards Khuk Khak you will find Pizza, Pasta and Steak. It is situated on the left hand side of the road (beware of another establishment opposite similarly named, cashing in on this restaurants popularity). Run by a lovely Thai couple, Pizza, Pasta and Steak is one of the best places around and exceedingly popular. We eat there at least twice per week! Cheap Thai food is available but most go there for pasta and steaks. Dishes are around 80THB, if you are hungry maybe order a couple of different dishes.
Bangsak Beach is a great place to sample local seafood. It's quite a distance north but well worth the travel time. Look for the sign to Hadson Resort, left off Highway 4. The first restaurant you come to is one of the best and you can eat directly next to the beach.
When eating sea food in Khao Lak avoid restaurants serving shark, which are now critically endangered in the Andaman Sea. Thailand Dive and Sail has signed up to the Get Sharks Off the Hook Campaign by See and Sea, meaning that we only support restaurants that are shark friendly. To learn more about the campaign and why sharks are so important to the balance of the ecosystem, please visit our charity website here.
Buses depart almost every hour starting from 05:15 to 21:30 from the Southern Bus Terminal and takes around 12 hours. The price is around 800-1,000 Baht depending on which bus company.
Daily flights from Bangkok to Phuket, then see 'from Phuket Airport'.
Local buses run every hour, on the hour to Khao Lak from Phuket Town Bus Station and takes around 2.5 hours. The price is 110 Baht.
The airport is 5km from Highway 4 to Khao Lak. Catch a taxi or motorbike taxi to the highway where you will find a bus stop. The bus takes around 90 mins to Khao Lak. The price is 100 Baht + 50 Baht motorbike taxi. Private taxis operate from the airport and it takes around 60 mins to Khao Lak. The price is 1,500 - 2,000 Baht.
Mini-buses depart from Krabi Bus Station to Khao Lak during the high season November-April and takes around 2.5 hours. The price is 150-200 Baht. There is no direct bus route to Khao Lak from Krabi. Buses to Phuket depart on a regular basis, change at Klok Kloi. Local buses run from Klok Kloi to Khao Lak every hour.
Buses depart almost every hour starting from 06:40 to 16:00 to Phuket stopping at Khao Lak and takes around 4-5hours. The cost is 150-170 Baht. Tel: 086 594 2090 to confirm departures.
Prices in the Khao Lak area are average to high, though eating and shopping locally remains relatively cheap. Roadside vendors sell rice dishes and noodles starting from 35 Baht. In restaurants expect to pay at least 80 Baht for simple Thai dishes. Like many other places in Thailand taxi prices are heavily inflated, expect to pay the exorbitant price of around 100 Baht per kilometre.
"Contacted Thailand Dive & Sail sometime in September, enquiring about the liveaboard trip to Similans. Ric has been very responsive right from the start till the end, from answering all my questions (which hotel to stay at, restaurants to go to, etc) to arranging transportation (Ric even came to pick us up from the jetty back to the hotel at the end of our dive trip). We were on the Hallelujah for a 4-day dive trip in December and as it was my first experience on a liveaboard, hence I was a little apprehensive. So pleased that we made the decision to go with Thailand Dive & Sail. Clive was our dive guide (for the two of us only) during the entire trip and took very good care of us. As it was peak season, there were a lot of divers on the boat as well as divers from other boats. However, we enjoyed all our dives as Clive , made every attempt possible to "avoid the crowds". We both had a wonderful time diving with Clive. Would highly recommend Thailand Dive & Sail. And if I am ever diving in that region again, I would definitely be contacting Ric and Clive. Thanks guys for making my dive trip in the Similans a memorable one!"★★★★★ by JGOLALO 05.01.2013 0.3