a Thai longtail in the turquoise waters in Khao Lak / Is Khao Lak Safe to visit

Is Khao Lak Safe to Visit for Tourists? 8 Tips

So, Is Khao Lak safe for tourists to visit? Let’s look into eight tips you must know before visiting Khao Lak!

Khao Lak is increasingly gaining traction from tourists, especially due to its only 90 minutes distance from Phuket. The beach town is famous for its pristine beaches, national parks, and laidback, small beach-town atmosphere.

The short answer is Khao Lak is perfectly safe for tourists to visit. The crime rate in the beach town is low, especially compared to other tourist destinations in Thailand.

That being said, Khao Lak’s beaches can occasionally have aggressive waves, and it can get scorching during the dry season, so there are definitely a few things you should be aware of before visiting. Now let us get into it; here are a few safety tips to know before visiting Khao Lak!

Avoid Beach with Red Flag

an aerial photo of a secluded empty beach with only a few surfboards in Khao Lak, Thailand

When visiting any beach in Khao Lak, or anywhere for that matter, it’s important to be aware of safety precautions, including warning signs such as red flags on the beach.

The waters in Khao Lak can get aggressive during the off-season months from May through around mid-November. At times, you’ll see red flags planted on the beach, and when you do, stay away.

From the end of November till April is when the dry season is, and red flags are less likely compared to the off-season months.

A red flag signifies various dangers, such as strong currents, rough surf, or other hazardous conditions that could put swimmers at greater risk. These conditions can include rip currents, which are powerful underwater currents that can pull swimmers away from shore and make it difficult to return safely.

Instead of swimming in areas marked with a red flag, spend your time enjoying other activities on the beach, relaxing, visiting a restaurant, etc. Or seek alternative locations where swimming is deemed safe by lifeguards and local authorities.

Not only in Khao Lak but also in Phuket, there are cases yearly of individuals who drown because they’ve chosen to ignore red flags on the beach. Remember, local lifeguards and authorities know best.

To experience ideal swimming conditions, visit Khao Lak during the dry season months in Southern Thailand!

Go Swimming in Pairs

surreal stunning beach shoreline in Khao Lak on a clear sky day / Is Khao Lak worth visiting

Swimming in pairs can significantly enhance one’s safety in the water. By swimming with a partner, you have someone who can be there for help in case anything happens or at least call for extra help.

Whether it’s exhaustion, cramps, or getting caught in a current, it is crucial to have someone nearby who can provide support or call for help.

This is especially important when there may not be lifeguards present, and there are beaches in Khao Lak without lifeguards.

Going swimming in twos is a simple yet effective way to prioritize safety while enjoying yourself at the beaches in Khao Lak. Always adhere to water safety guidelines and communicate with your partner.

Use Sunscreen

a stunning beach shoreline with a few tourist walking on a sunny day in Khao Lak

When it comes to enjoying the beautiful beaches and tropical climate of Khao Lak, a good high-SPF sunscreen should be at the top of your packing list.

The sun in Khao Lak, especially during the dry season, can get scorching hot; your skin can result in serious burns if you’re not careful. The dry season in Khao Lak is from mid-November till April.

Understanding the potential risks associated with prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays is important. Here’s why wearing sunscreen is an absolute must in Khao Lak and the rest of Southern Thailand.

Harsh sunburns can really get in the way of your holiday, and you may be forced to stay inside. Any clothing contact can hurt and be irritating. Lastly, depending on your burn, there are scenarios where you may end up at a clinic or hospital to get treated.

If you plan on visiting southern Thailand, sunscreen should be the first thing you pack, and make sure to bring it to the beach with you so you can apply it throughout the day. Another good idea is bringing/wearing a hat with you!

Thailand Travel TIP: Most of Thailand’s sunscreen has whitening agents; this is typical for sunscreen in Asia. Many tourists like me enjoy being tanned and would prefer to gain some color but still want protection from the sun. Also, sunscreen is pricey in Thailand.

I always make sure to bring sunscreen with me from different countries before coming to Thailand. I’d advise you to do the same and buy sunscreen before you come to Thailand!

Don’t Drink the Tap Water

When visiting Khao Lak, make sure you don’t drink the tap water at all. This also applies to all of Thailand; tap water is not safe to drink in Thailand.

While the Thai government has made considerable efforts to enhance water quality, tourists and visitors are generally advised to exercise caution and refrain from directly consuming tap water.

Be well-informed about the potential risks that may arise from drinking tap water, such as stomach sickness, flu, diarrhea, and more.

To guarantee a safe and healthy experience throughout your stay in Khao Lak, Phuket, Krabi, or anywhere else you choose to visit in Thailand. It’s highly advisable to rely on alternatives such as bottled or filtered water for both drinking purposes and even brushing teeth.

The last thing you need is stomach problems getting in the way of you enjoying yourself in Khao Lak!

Stay Hydrated

fresh Thai coconut being served at a restaurant in Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand

Thailand is known for its tropical climate and high temperatures, especially in the south, making it essential for individuals to stay hydrated when visiting Khao Lak. The hot and humid weather can lead to excessive sweating, which can quickly deplete body water levels.

In Thailand’s hot climate, the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion is significantly higher due to increased fluid loss through perspiration. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day is recommended to replenish lost water and electrolytes.

Water is the best choice for hydration; don’t assume you’ll be well hydrated by fruit juices and cocktails. However, another excellent option is a fresh coconut full of coconut water, which benefits hydration and electrolytes lost through sweat.

You’ll find stores selling water and many other drinks near most beaches in Khao Lak. If there are no stores, you’ll tend to run into vendors on the beach selling water to visitors!

Staying hydrated is essential when visiting Khao Lak or anywhere in southern Thailand, especially during the hotter months from mid-November till around April.


Crime and theft are quite low in Khao Lak, but you should still be careful with pickpocketing because it happens in Khao Lak occasionally.

The most common place to get pickpocketed in Khao Lak is at one of the many night markets in town or while taking public transportation. Pickpocketing is more common in Thailand in other popular tourist destinations, such as in some areas of Phuket and Pattaya.

Besides both scenarios, it’s rare to be pickpocketed in Khao Lak. The popular, quiet beach town isn’t known for these petty crimes.

Also, if you’re alone or with your partner, keep an eye out for your belongings when entering the water. The beach is always a spot where petty theft tends to happen, no matter where you’re visiting!

Minimal Sidewalk/Street Traffic

damaged street sidewalk in Kuala Lumpur

Khao Lak isn’t the most developed beach town, don’t get me wrong, you’ve got everything you need there, it’s easy to get around, and there are plenty of restaurants and hotels.

But there aren’t many sidewalks, and this is typical in most beach towns in Thailand.

When walking on the streets, it’s recommended to walk against traffic, and this increases your chances of being aware of ongoing traffic.

Also, be careful when walking in general, as look below and see whether there are cracks in sidewalks or any hazards that could make you trip, fall, or injure yourself. I’ve expanded on this topic in my Bangkok safety article!

Tsunami 2004

This isn’t much of a safety precaution for visiting Khao Lak, but you should at least know about the tsunami that took place in Khao Lak before visiting. Also, you can visit the International Tsunami Museum to learn about the disaster that occurred here in 2004.

On December 26th, 2004, Khao Lak experienced one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history – the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Triggered by a massive undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, this catastrophic event resulted in widespread destruction and loss of life not only in Khao Lak but also in Phi Phi Islands and across several countries along the Indian Ocean coastline.

The tsunami hit Khao Lak particularly hard, and the wave’s impact was so severe that it wiped out entire hotels and resorts along its coastline. The beachfront area was almost entirely destroyed, with buildings reduced to rubble and debris scattered across miles.

The tsunami that struck Khao Lak during this time has highlighted the importance of preparedness for such events. It served as a wake-up call for governments worldwide to improve early warning systems and disaster response mechanisms for tsunamis.

Walking around Khao Lak and Phuket, you will spot tsunami signs suggesting where to go in case a warning is called for.

Today, locals and the government in Khao Lak have made significant strides towards the recovery of the beach town since that fateful day in 2004. Efforts have been made to rebuild infrastructure, and tourism has returned to this once-devastated region.

a viewpoint of several beach shorelines and forest greenery in Khao Lak, Thailand

Is Khao Lak Safe? — Final Thoughts

Yes, Khao Lak is perfectly safe for tourists to visit, keeping in mind the few precautions mentioned.

For those wondering, is Khao Lak safe at night? Yes, Khao Lak is perfectly safe both in the day and night.

Even walking around, you’ve got nothing to worry about. As mentioned earlier, make sure to watch your step, especially at night, and watch out for traffic.

Regarding the tsunami that took place in the past, there’s nothing to worry about when visiting Khao Lak. This disaster happened a few years ago, on December 26th, 2004, and significant efforts have been adopted by the government in order to be well-prepared for future natural disasters.

Once you’ve visited Khao Lak, if you’re a beach person, you must head to Krabi or Koh Samui afterward!

RELATED: 11 Cheapest Places in Thailand

aerial views of several villas overlooking the sea in Khao Lak, Thailand

Is Khao Lak safe from tsunami?

Yes, it is. But nothing can be guaranteed; understand that natural disasters like tsunamis aren’t common.

The one that took place in Khao Lak was in 2004, and many efforts have been put into place to prepare for any possible future natural disasters.

When was the last tsunami in Khao Lak?

December 26th, 2004, was the last tsunami to take place in Khao Lak, Phi Phi Island, and places in the region.

Is it safe to swim in the sea in Khao Lak?

Yes, swimming at the beaches in Khao Lak is perfectly safe. But if you notice red flags on the beach, this is to let beachgoers know the current water conditions are dangerous.

Don’t enter the water when you see red flags on the beaches in Khao Lak.

Are Khao Lak beaches clean?

Yes, Khao Lak’s beaches are clean, and the beach town is famous for its many pristine beach shorelines located across the town.

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