What to Do in Khao Lak Thailand? 13 Things to Do and See

When you think of beach holidays in Thailand images of turquoise waters lapping at white sandy shores come to mind.  Yes, spending lots of time on those beaches is one of your main aims for a trip to Khao Lak, but what else to do?

Stepping away from those beaches there are so many more things to do in Khao Lak; from shopping at markets, exploring local sites to venturing further out of town and seeing a natural beauty that surrounds this tranquil beachside village.

Khao Lak beach in Thailand

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About Khao Lak

Where is Khao Lak

Located on Thailand’s west coast approximately 60km north of Phuket Island, Khao Lak is a small tourist beachside village within the province of Phang Nga – one of the 77 provinces of Thailand.


How to Get to Khao Lak

To reach Khao Lak by air you can either fly into Phuket International Airport or Krabi Airport.  Phuket is the closest airport; however, it is then another one and a half hour drive north to Khao Lak by private car or taxi.  From Krabi Airport it will take two and a half hours to drive.

Alternatively, Khao Lak is serviced by bus.  Khao Lak is not an endpoint for busses, but rather a stop en route from point A to B.  Busses pass through from Bangkok, Chumphon, Phuket, Ranong, and Surat Thani (which has the nearest train station).

History of Khao Lak

Prior to 1986, Khao Lak was just a local Thai fishing village.

The touristic history of Khao Lak begins in 1986 when two nationals Khun Daeng and Pi Nut build the Paradise Bungalows on Pak Weep Beach (the same beach our resort Mai Khao Lak Beach Resort is located).  Back then though it was much cheaper to stay along this stretch of the beach – only 100 Baht a night.

Within a year more bungalows were situated along the beaches.  The idyllic town was also starting to be mentioned in guidebooks and became very popular with German backpackers.

The tourist town continued to flourish with more resorts.  Then in 2004, it was dealt a horrific blow.  The devastating Boxing Day Tsunami.  Thousands were killed including a Thai prince.

Whilst today you can still see evidence of this momentous event, Khao Lak town has rebuilt itself into a beautiful setting with luxurious resorts and delightful attractions.

How to Get Around Khao Lak Town

Khao Lak town is quiet and small and does not offer any public transport.

To get around and see the sites you will need to either make use of hotel shuttles (like the one offered at our accommodation the Mai Khao Lak Beach Resort and Spa), hire a taxi, hire a tuk-tuk, hire a motorbike (please check your travel insurance) or join a day tour to explore the Khao Lak attractions further out from town.

Top 13 Things to Do in Khao Lak

In Khao Lak Thailand, things to do and see are spread up and down the coastline.  This interactive Things to Do in Khao Lak Google Map will help you locate the following attractions.

Khao Lak Attractions

The Beach

The white sandy beaches are often most tourists’ first port of call.  The sand is clean, the waves are calm, the water is clear and for an added bonus the jungle meets the sea providing ample shade.

Little kids will be happy digging sand castles whilst older ones can play soccer and volleyball.  Meanwhile, you can sit back and enjoy a drink or meal at one of the many beachside restaurants and bars.

Lazing and playing in the shade on Khao Lak beach Thailand

Pak Weep Beach in Khao Lak, Thailand

Many resorts will also provide paddle boards and kayaks.  The tranquil waters of Khao Lak are the perfect place to learn these new skills.

Mini Golf

You can also hone your golfing skills at the Khao Lak Mini Golf course.  It is located within the nearby jungle offering you plenty of shade in the tropical heat.

Zip Lining

For the more adventurous there is the Elephant Fly Zipline just south of Khao Lak town.

There are three different adventure levels catering for 8 to 80-year-olds that will have you flying through the jungle and enjoying the coastline views

Sea Turtle Conservation Centre

For something a little bit different you can visit the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre.  It’s a bit out of town at the Phang Nga Naval Base so you may choose to include it within a tour.

You get to see turtles that are being hand-reared in tanks.  It is hoped that they have a better survival rate when re-release back into the wild.

It’s all under cover so perfect if you are looking for things to do in Khao Lak when it rains.

Tsunami Memorial

Five minutes north of town is the Tsunami Memorial Museum and it is worth a visit.  It is a time to reflect on the horrors that mother nature brought upon this village in 2004.  There are also amazing stories of survival and incredible photographs of the event.

Some parts of this museum are free to visit, others require a small donation.

This Thai naval boat was washed two kilometres inland to this point and sits at the entrance of the memorial to showcase the powerful waves of the tsunami.

The Thai Naval boat that was ashore sits at the entrance to the Tsunami Memorial Museum

Thai Naval Boat washed ashore

Across the road from the Tsunami Memorial is the Bang Niang Markets, time yourself right and you can do both of these attractions on the one afternoon.

Markets in Khao Lak

There are no real Khao Lak shopping centres to be found.  The main source of shopping is the Khao Lak markets.

Bang Niang Night Markets

The Band Niang Market is an open aired market, so don’t forget your brolly if it looks like rain.  It is located across the road from the Tsunami Museum and open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 4-10pm.  This Khao Lak night market makes a great evenings entertainment.

There are food stalls offering traditional eats such as satays and spring rolls but you can also try delicacies like deep-fried critters and bugs.  Once you’re full wonder about to find some clothing, souvenirs and handicrafts.

T.T. Plaza Khao Lak

Within Khao Lak town shops and a few restaurants line the main street including the T.T. Plaza open every day from 9am ‘til 8pm.

This Khao Lak shopping bazaar is a large tin shed spanning 2000m2 another good option for things to do in Khao Lak when it rains.  There are hundreds of stalls selling knickknacks, souvenirs and clothing.  It can also be very warm inside, so pick and choose your merchant by who offers a fan versus those who don’t.

Immerse in the Thai Culture

Wondering about the Khao Lak markets you start to get a sense of the Thai culture.  But why not delve a little bit deeper.

Songkran

We were fortunate enough to arrive into Khao Lak on Songkran.  A yearly water festival that celebrates the start of the traditional Thai new year.  It is held around mid-April (The 2019 Songkran water festival will be 13 April).  Basically, the festival involves soaking as many people as you can with water either by throw buckets of water or using water pistols.  It is all quite fun and has a wonderful lively ambience.

Thai Cooking Class

At night I am sure you are eating at many of the local Khao Lak restaurants, and if anything like me wondering why when I try to cook Thai food at home it never tastes this good.

Take advantage of the many Thai cooking classes offered at the resorts and learn the secrets of Thai cooking.  Personally, I think part of the beautiful aromatic flavours is due to the many spices that are added to each dish.

Ingrediatants laid out during a Khao Lak Thai cooking class

A Thai cooking class

Muay Thai Boxing

Burn off those calories with a round of exercise.  Muay Thai Boxing will get you in a sweat in no time.  What I love is that many of the resorts offer classes for kids and adults.

Kids learning Muay Thai Boxing on Khao Lak beach

Kids Muay Thai Boxing class

Tours and Things to Do Around Khao Lak

After a few days, it’s time to explore a little further afield.  There are several local companies offering great Khao Lak day trips or use a booking site like Expedia or Viator to book in advance.

Water Falls

Located in the surrounding foothills there are many Khao Lak waterfalls to explore.  The best time of the year to experience them is during the wet season from July to December.  However many are still gently flowing even at the end of the dry season.

A waterfall trickling with water near Khao Lak at the end of the dry season

Ton Pling Waterfall

Many of the Khao Lak day trips include a stop at one of the waterfalls.  If you organise a few tours ensure you stay with the same company and you should see different waterfalls for each excursion.

Elephants

I know many people still want to experience trekking with a Thai elephant, and these options are still readily available.

However, times are changing and tourists are looking for more ethical ways to experience these wonderful creatures.  Elephant Hills offers overnight packages or try Eco Adventure Tours that include an experience with the elephants but not riding.

James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay

Another tour that includes waterfalls is a long tail boat tour on Phang Nga Bay.  I can’t speak highly enough of our tour through this stunning region.

We experienced some unique places including canoeing through the mangroves and limestone cliff islands, wondering about a floating village, seeing a traditional Thai temple with a gold reclining Buddha and of course a waterfall.

Long tail boat sailing into Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

James Bond Island

More Islands

On the horizon off Khao Lak beach you can see more islands; Surin and Similan Islands.  These islands have been described as beyond beautiful and being able to snorkel about the shores quite delightful, offering yet another rare encounter.

And that is what really encapsulates Khao Lak.  A place that offers so many different, unusual and special things to do and see – there is something for everyone.

Top Trip Tips: Looking for What to Do in Khao Lak

When planning your Khao Lak activities remember to consider the following points

Safety

  • Get travel insurance, we use Cover More*
  • Hiring a motorbike
    • Insurance
    • International driver’s license
  • Ensure tours have insurance

Health

  • Use ONLY bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth
  • There are a pharmacy and herbalist on the main street in town
  • Take a first aid kit
    • Resorts are scattered quite a ways along the coastline, you could be a good 10-minute drive from town

Booking Tours

  • Size of Tours
  • What’s included
  • Ethical
  • Compare tour and prices with Expedia* and Viator*

Currency

I was quite surprised to find that Khao Lak restaurant and souvenir prices were very comparable to the bigger towns in Thailand.

Thailand uses the currency of Thai Baht.  There is a bank in Khao Lak town that offers fair rates.  We also found a small exchange booth on Pak Weep Beach near our resort that was honest and fair.

A rough calculation is:

  • $1 AUD = 24.42 THB
  • £1 GBP = 43.67 THB
  • $1 USD = 33.27 THB

For today’s latest exchange rate check Currency Converter.

What to Pack

More Information

Learn more about Thailand in these Lonely Planet Travel Guides

You may also like to read our articles on:

4 things to do in Khao Lak: cooking, boat tour, Tsunami museum and Thai boxing

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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and bred travel tips blogger/writer with 20+ years experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. I love sharing my travel lessons learned to help you plan for your travel dream with my travel tips for trips. Please follow along to receive all my travel planning tips, packing lists and destination inspirations.

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