In a nutshell
Located in the province of Phang Nga roughly 100 km north of [Phuket](/en/thailand/phuket, Khao Lak stretches for 30 km along the coastline featuring some of the most scenic beaches on the Andaman Sea.
Why go to Khao Lak
Attr: Inchka (cc by)
It is a primary destination for those who want to experience the spectacular Andaman Coast in a more relaxed and genuine atmosphere away from the hordes of tourists who have invaded more popular destinations like Phuket or Koh Phi Phi.
Let us put in a few words about the name of area. While rather a huge piece of land starting from Bang Sak in the north to Thap Lamu pier in the south can be considered as ‘Khao Lak’, very often only the most developed beach of Nang Thong is wrongly referred to as Khao Lak by most of the tourists. Even more confusion arises from the fact that a small beach south of Nang Thong is named Khao Lak Beach. Check out our article on the beaches for more details.
Deserted white sand beaches, world-class diving and snorkelling opportunities with the Similan islands sitting less than two hours away by boat, fresh seafood, breath-taking natural attractions are just few of the reasons to spend your holiday in Khao Lak. Whether you prefer to more remote and secluded beaches or need busier places close to all the comforts, the overall atmosphere anywhere in Khao Lak is always pleasant and relaxing. This is not a party destination and people searching for that should consider different options.
Khao Lak has been severely hit by the tsunami in 2004 with more than 3000 people losing their lives in this region. The community was strong enough to recover incredibly fast from that enormous tragedy and nowadays Khao Lak is again a true paradise destination for travellers.
When to go to Khao Lak
There are only two seasons in Khao Lak – the dry season running from November to April which is also the high season and the rainy season from May till October.
While during the high season it’s almost 100% sure to have sun and calm seas every day, a visit during the starting months of the monsoon period could still be considered by those who don’t mind daily afternoon showers. From July till October chances to see days filled with raining are quite high and the sea can be pretty rough. You can definitely score some of the best deals at the resorts in this period and meet even fewer tourists than usual but other than that there are no other reasons to travel to Khao Lak in rainy months.
Keep in mind that the Similan Islands are accessible only from October 15 till May 15.
Where to stay in Khao Lak
Khao Lak has a wide range of accommodation options and despite being a popular beach destination decent cheap solutions are not hard to come across – even for those on a really tight budget.
Backpackers will be happy with a few hostels in Nang Thong offering beds in mixed dorms for as low as THB150, while simple guesthouses with acceptable rooms with en-suite bathrooms are waiting for guests in Nang Thong and Bang Niang. All these budget options are located along the main road running parallel to the coast while if looking for mid-budget and high-end resorts head straight to the beaches.
There’s a huge difference in rates between the low and the high season with prices almost doubling up, especially in the low and mid-range categories. Reservations are generally not necessary out of the few weeks immediately after Christmas, but while walk-in rates might be better in the cheapest guesthouses, much more interesting deals can be found online for beachfront resorts as well.
Where to eat in Khao Lak
Like in many other beach destinations in the south of Thailand, the offer of street food is not as wide as anywhere else in the country, but if you’re ready to explore around a bit and you know where to go you can still find some decent options.
On the other hand, restaurants are plentiful and ubiquitous and the quality of food is generally great. If you’re craving for some seafood, Khao Lak will not let you down. Expect to pay more than almost everywhere else in Thailand, with prices being quite close to those in Phuket. Western food is widely available, especially on Nang Thong and Bang Niang beaches, mainly focusing on Italian and German cuisine as there are many expats from these countries in Khao Lak.
How to get around Khao Lak
Renting a motorbike is the easiest way to move around Khao Lak as well as to explore some of the most remote beaches. You can find rental shops everywhere and most of the hotels and guesthouses will be able to arrange it for you. Expect to pay THB250 for one day, but if you need a bike for your whole holiday discounts are usually granted.
Cars can be rented as well with prices starting at THB1500 per day.
Regular taxis are rather expensive; a single trip between two neighbouring beaches will cost you around THB200. A cheaper way to move between the beaches is to take an advantage of the public songthaewsrunning up and down the main road all day long and have coloured codes corresponding to their routes. The standard tariff is THB20 for a trip, and even if it might look complicated at the beginning give it a try. As soon as you figure out which colour is most convenient for you it will be a piece of cake.
How to and from Khao Lak
Khao Lak sits on the main route between Bangkok and the southern parts of the country, thus several buses pass everyday through Khao Lak and stop at any of the beaches at your request.
A small bus station north of Bang Niang is mainly used by government buses while the majority of private companies running to Phuket will only stop on the main road (route 4).
From Bangkok Southern Terminal several buses depart to Khao Lak throughout the day with prices starting at THB450 for a second class and going up to over THB1000 for a VIP seat. The trip can take anywhere between 12 and 15 hours. We would recommend you to consider one of the overnight buses in order not to waste a full day of your vacation on the road. An ordinary VIP class bus (~THB600) is comfortable enough to have a decent sleep: seats are soft and reclining and there is enough leg room.
Less frequent departures are also available from Morchit Bus Terminal.
Buses going south to Phuket can be flagged down along the main road (ask at your hotel or a travel agency where to look for these ones). Otherwise head to the bus station in Thap Lamu, a few km south of Khao Lak Beach. Buses to Phuket depart every hour and cost THB80 for the 1,5 hour trip.
The easiest way to get to some of the most popular southern destinations is by minivan. Travel agencies in town will sell you tickets to Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Koh Samui and will direct you to the minivan pick up points – in many cases pick-uo from your hotel is included into the price. Expect to pay THB200/THB400 to get to the majority of the islands.
The fastest way to reach Khao Lak from Bangkok is by flight and bus combination. Get your air ticket to Phuket first. Nok Air has combination deals starting from THB1300. If you book only the flight, then AirAsia may be cheaper, but a taxi from Phuket airport to Khao Lak will cost you THB1500.
Is Khao Lak a safe place to visit?
Riding a motorbike along the beach road is easy and pleasant but it is also the main source of accidents in Khao Lak. Traffic on the main road can be pretty nasty depending on the season and the time of the day, so be extra careful, wear a helmet and act like you were invisible to the other cars. Private clinics can be found in the area but there is no major hospital. For anything serious you’ll need to transfer to Phang Nga Town, the provincial capital, or Phuket.