Is Khao Lak worth visiting? We help you decide

Have you been wondering is Khao Lak worth visiting on your trip to Thailand? Well, we are here to help. We have it on our radar but have not made it there yet, so we asked travel writer Kyle Barnes, who lives in Khao Lak to give us the lowdown. Should we make time to visit this less visited region?

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Considering a trip to Khao Lak? This stretch of sandy coastline has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years. Placed comfortably between the rolling blue waves of The Andaman Sea and the mountainous green landscapes of Phang Nga Province, the laid-back community of Khao Lak is steadily thriving as more people choose it to be their destination of choice.

How does Khao Lak compare to other Thai destinations?

If you want to avoid the loud, car-filled scenes of a city like Phuket, while also having nearby beaches to visit without being closed off on an island somewhere like Koh Samui, and if you want all of this without the booming crowds of tourist destinations like Krabi, then Khao Lak might be the place for you.

Khao Lak is relatively new to the tourism scene when compared to its other, more well-worn counterparts across the country. As a result, it provides a more tranquil atmosphere for those visiting its sandy shores. All the nature, and sun-soaked activities, without the crowds and the flashing lights.

With four national parks, a myriad of beach options, several islands nearby, multiple scuba diving sites, and even a couple of hot springs to soothe yourself in, Khao Lak is filled to the brim with natural beauty and adventurous activities to welcome those escaping the everyday.

Thailand’s National ParkS

Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park is part of the largest region of wild forest in Southern Thailand, it contains one of the oldest rainforests in the world, waterfalls at every turn, and is home to a wealth of wildlife and fauna.

Is Khao Lak worth visiting.... this view of Khao Sok National Park says yes
Khao Sok National Park

During my first visit to Khao Sok, I was greeted by dozens of butterflies and even got to see the largest flower in the world, the Rafflesia.

Lam Ru National Park

Khao Lak Lam Ru is a huge national park spread across 125k², fantastic for long hiking trails that allow you to take in much of the nature that Southern Thailand has to offer, animals, plant life, and waterfalls, all in one round trip.

Tropical waterfall in the forest,Ton Chong Fa  in khao lak Phangnga South of Thailand
Ton Chong Fa waterfall in Lam Ru National Park

It also has the Ban Bor Dan Hot Springs waiting to soothe your weary legs once you’ve finished your hike.

Khao Lampi – Thai Muang National Park

Two National Parks in one, with the mountainous terrain of Khao Lampi to the east and the sandy shores of Hat Thai Muang to the west. Khao Lampi’s photogenic mountain scape will look great on your photo reel, while Thai Muang’s beautiful stretch of sandy coastline plays host to The Khao Lak Turtle Sanctuary.

As a side note, one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done while living in Khao Lak is aiding in the conservation work done at the sanctuary. The best time to get involved is in early March, where you’ll be able to help the newly hatched baby turtles make it safely to the sea.

Locals also offer longboat rides through the mangroves where you can see cheeky monkeys and Thai wildlife doing its thing.

This park also home to the Kapong Hot Springs, the second of the two options for natural hot springs around Khao Lak.

Khao Lak Beaches

Nang Thong Beach and La On Village are the two major stretches of beach in the area. They are easily accessible and close to the shops, the bars, the restaurants, and most of the accommodation in Khao Lak proper. 

Sandy beach at Khao Lak

Bang Niang Beach is also popular because of its vicinity to many stylish resorts.

Some quieter, more peaceful options include Hat Pakarang, Hat Bang Sak, Pak Week Beach, Coconut Beach, and the aptly named Khao Lak Beach.

Khao Lak has become a gateway to the many islands off the coast of Phang Nga Bay. Boat trips allow easy access to explore these stunning locations. Much of the time, you won’t find a crowd either!

Similan Island day trip

The Similan Islands

A series of eleven islands, all laid out in a convenient straight line. The Similans contains some of the whitest and most picturesque beaches around, complete with matching clear blue waters.

The Surin Islands 

With fewer islands than the Similan, and sand that isn’t quite as white, the major attraction of Surin, its amazing marine life, makes up for all of this by providing perfect conditions for snorkeling.

Similan Islands Thailand
The marine life in the islands off Khao Lak is plentiful

Wide and spread-out coral reefs sit shallow in the water, making it a spot perfect for snorkelers to explore the underwater ecosystem. You can even visit the local sea gypsies that have been floating around the area for several generations, they’ll want to sell you handmade necklaces and trinkets to pay for fuel for their boats, but it’s a small price to pay to meet some real-life ocean nomads.

Scuba Diving

The Similan Islands are known as some of the best dive sites in all of Thailand, along with the Surin Islands offering an ideal environment for snorkelers. Multiple scuba centers in Khao Lak offer day trips to delve into the underwater world.

Sunken wrecks, tropical coral reefs, and an array of marine life all await any of those adventurous enough to don some scuba gear and get diving.

Note: The Similan and Surin Islands are closed between May and October because of ocean conditions.

With a tropical climate, the temperature around Khao Lak stays almost the same all year round. You will find nightfall averaging temperatures of 24℃ (75F) and daytime averaging a balmy 32℃ (90F).

The real difference between the seasons is in the rainfall. Khao Lak’s weather is split between two seasons, wet and dry.

Dry Season – November to April

This is peak season for tourism, and for good reason. The sun is shining, and the humidity is low, perfect for days filled with beach trips, scuba dives, and picturesque hikes.

The peak of the dry season is between December and February when everything is in full swing. Keep in mind though, that prices will reflect this.

Wet Season – May to October

The aptly named wet season comes with higher humidity, which causes short, heavy bursts of rainfall throughout the day. This puts a dampener on some activities, but if you don’t mind the occasional rain, then fewer visitors and cheaper accommodation make this a great time for you to visit.

The peak of the wet season is between August and October, with the monsoons bringing with them an impressive amount of rainfall. The Simian islands are closed between May and October.

The best time to visit depends on what you’re after. If you’re looking for a sun-soaked, activity-filled retreat from day-to-day living and you don’t mind paying the extra costs then the dry season is calling out to you, specifically the peak of dry season, somewhere around January would be best.

On the other hand, if you can’t stand a busy hotel and you want some extra quiet time away with cheaper costs all around, then the wet season may be best. Stick with May or November but think carefully before you book the peak monsoon period of August – October.

Khao Lak is a strip of coastline filled with accommodations and facilities to keep you well-fed, well-rested, and happy no matter what your travel style.

To the west are beautiful beaches, bountiful islands, and several outstanding dive sites. To the East are high-rising mountains, lush rainforests, and dazzling waterfalls spread across multiple parks. and along the shore plenty of fabulous accommodation.

Khao Lak Beaches Thailand
it’s not too hard to find your own stretch of sand in Khao Lak

While tourism is growing, numbers are nowhere near those of the more commonly known and tourist-filled locations of Thailand.

Khao Lak is perfectly suited to anyone looking to experience a nature-filled getaway, minus the large crowds, noise or flashing lights, and all for a much more affordable price tag that Phuket or Samui.

  • Families visiting will have plenty of options for some family-friendly resorts and activities; shallow waters, nature exploration, and time spent on the beach, just to name a few. 
  • Honeymooners and couples on an international getaway will discover the serene and romance-filled atmosphere of Khao Lak, complete with boutique hotels, palm trees, warm sunsets, walks along the white sand beaches, and couples’ spa treatments.
  • Budget Travellers visiting Khao Lak can take advantage of the amazing hotels and the variety of accommodation available with something for everyone’s budget; from luxury resorts to affordable guesthouses, hostels, and homestays.
  • Adventure Seekers and Nature Enthusiasts can enjoy some of the best scuba diving in Thailand alongside exploring some of the oldest rainforests in the world, combine that with island and beach hopping all across The Andaman Sea and both will be satisfied with the results.

Phuket Airport is the nearest airport to Khao Lak.

  • From Phuket International Airport: Book a taxi or rent a car for the 60-75 minute drive to Khao Lak. There are also buses available from the airport to Khao Lak that will take a little longer.
  • From Bangkok: Either fly from Bangkok to Phuket or Surat Thani and then a bus to Khao Lak.

If you have booked a resort, you may find an airport transfer is included, so check this before making arrangements.

So have you decided? Is Khao Lak worth it FOr you?

Khao Lak is a hidden gem that is slowly becoming a well-known name as the years go by, it offers a little something for everyone whilst giving them some much-needed time away from the lights of the city streets and the more metropolitan areas around Thailand.