With a family-friendly atmosphere, serene beaches that stretch for miles, and easy access to some of the best dive locations in Asia, there is so much to like about Khao Lak. If you are planning a beach holiday in Thailand, this scenic stretch of the Andaman coastline is an excellent alternative to nearby Phuket or Krabi. Whether you are travelling with family or are seeking a romantic holiday, Khao Lak ticks all the right boxes.
Where to stay in Khao Lak
Khao Lak is located on Thailand’s Andaman Coast to the north of Phuket. The area that is collectively referred to as Khao Lak extends along the coastline for around 20 miles and includes a number of different beaches and small towns.
Khao Lak Beach
Heading north from Phuket, Khao Lak Beach is the first of the tourist beaches that make up the Khao Lak area. This is an attractive beach with pine trees along the back providing shade. There is a small selection of shops and restaurants here and for more variety you can also make the short trip north to the busier tourist resort of Bang La On.
Nang Thong Beach
A few miles north of Khao Lak Beach is the small town of Bang La On. This part of the coastline is often referred to as Nang Thong after the beach of the same name. Although there are some rocky outcrops at Nang Thong Beach, it remains a picturesque location with some glorious sunset views. Nang Thong and Bang La On are in the heart of the Khao Lak area and if you are travelling independently this is a convenient location to stay. The resort area of Bang La On is reasonably compact, but still has a wide selection of hotels, restaurants and cafes making it a good all-round choice for a holiday.
Bang Niang Beach
Continuing north from Bang La On, it’s only a short drive to the next of Khao Lak’s beach resorts, Bang Niang. This area is another great choice for families with a pleasant beach, a broad range of accommodation options and plenty of restaurants and small bars to choose from in the evening. You’ll also find the enjoyable Bang Niang Market here which is open for business every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10am-10pm for Thai food, souvenirs and handicrafts.
Khuk Kaak Beach
A few more miles further north from Bang Niang is Khuk Kaak Beach. This is a lovely location with a long and wide stretch of sand. The Khuk Kaak area tends to be more popular with couples and although the location is laid-back, you are still close to the restaurants, markets and tourist facilities at neighbouring Bang Niang.
Pakweep Beach (White Sand Beach)
Ideal for a romantic break, the Pakweep Beach area (also known as White Sand Beach) is a tranquil stretch of soft sand. This part of Khao Lak may be too quiet for families, but is an excellent choice for honeymooners or anybody looking to get away from it all on their holiday. Although you are further away from the centre of Khao Lak, many of the hotels here operate a shuttle service should you wish to travel into Bang Niang or Nang Thong.
Sitting at the northern end of the Khao Lak coastline, Bangsang Beach is another delightful location for anybody looking for a peaceful beach retreat. With a sprinkling of restaurants and low-key beach bars, Bangsang Beach is a good choice for couples.
What to see and do
In addition to the array of beaches, Khao Lak is a convenient location to explore the wonderful offshore islands. The Similan Islands and Surin Islands are both renowned diving and snorkelling locations and day trips to either set of islands can easily be arranged once you are in Khao Lak. There are also a couple of islands near Khao Lak that even frequent visitors to Thailand may never have heard of. Ko Kho Khao is only separated from the Khao Lak coastline by a narrow channel with ferries connecting the island with the mainland. The island is sparsely populated and although there are a number of resorts on Ko Kho Khao, the beaches here are almost deserted. And over on Ko Phra Thong you’ll find another tranquil island with empty beaches and serene landscapes.
Heading inland, the stunning beauty of Khao Sok National Park makes for a memorable day trip. Better still, spend a few nights in Khao Sok and unwind amidst some of the most stunning scenery in Thailand. The eco-friendly Anurak Community Lodge and amazing Elephant Hills are both recommended.
Closer to Khao Lak, the town of Takua Pa is home to a historic Old Town area which hosts an enjoyable Walking Street Market on Sundays during the high season. Takua Pa is also the gateway to the ‘Little Amazon’. This community tourism project employs local guides to take visitors by boat around picturesque stretches of river. Take your camera with you and see if you can spot snakes and other wildlife in the trees and on the banks of the water.
Explore the surreal beauty of nearby Phang Nga Bay. Day trips can easily be arranged in Khao Lak, but if you have more time to spare one of the best ways to really appreciate Phang Nga Bay is by kayak with specialist tour company, John Gray’s Sea Canoes.
Phang Nga province is an important area for sea turtles, with female turtles laying their eggs at various beaches in the region. To assist in the conservation efforts for these wonderful marine creatures, the Royal Thai Navy and Phang Nga Fisheries Department have both established programmes that protect the eggs and the young turtles after they have hatched. Both locations are open to visitors and if you do wish to go, arrangements can usually be made via your hotel in Khao Lak. There is also an annual Sea Turtle Festival held at the beginning of March with young turtles that have been raised in the sanctuaries released into the sea.
The Indian Ocean tsunami that took place on Boxing Day in 2004 had devastating consequences in the Khao Lak area with thousands losing their lives here. In the village of Ban Nam Khem, a wall of remembrance and a large Buddha image facing away from the sea pays homage to the victims. And in Bang Niang, there is another poignant reminder of the tragedy in the form of Police Boat 813. On that fateful day, the police boat was anchored offshore and was swept inland for more than a mile. After the waters receded the boat was left where it came to rest and now stands as a memorial to the victims of the disaster.
The best time to visit Khao Lak is from November-April. The low season is from mid-May to mid-October with the Similan Islands and Surin Islands closed to the public during this period.
The nearest airports to Khao Lak are Phuket (1 hour drive away) and Krabi (2 hours drive away) with regular flights to both airports from Bangkok. It’s also possible to fly direct from Chiang Mai to Phuket and Krabi. If you are travelling from Pattaya or eastern Thailand, you also have the option of flying from Pattaya U-Tapao airport to Phuket.
Book your Khao Lak holiday
Khao Lak is an emerging destination for British and Irish visitors and there are some excellent deals available. Take a look at the links below to check prices on Khao Lak holidays: