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

Is Khao Lak Worth Visiting? Complete Guide

So, Is Khao Lak worth visiting? Are you debating whether you should visit Khao Lak or not?

You’ve come to the right place! This complete guide tells you everything you need to know about Khao Lak!

Well, the short answer is Khao Lak is definitely worth visiting! Khao Lak is home to plenty of pristine beaches, waterfalls, lush tropical forests, and national parks.

The charming and calm beach town is located along the stunning Phang Nga Bay coastline in southern Thailand. It offers a remarkable laidback atmosphere, ideal for those looking to relax to the fullest!

Whether you’re looking to have a calm day by a beautiful shoreline in Khao Lak or an active day adventuring through the jungle hiking to viewpoints, Khao Lak has something for everyone!

Additionally, the town is less crowded compared to other popular tourist destinations in Thailand, such as Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi. Khao Lak is a perfect choice for those who prefer a quieter and more laid-back vacation.

Aerial view of Khao Lak's main road with beaches, mountains and greenery in the distance

How to Get to Khao Lak

To get to Khao Lak, you first must fly into Phuket International Airport, located around 1.5 hours away from Khao Lak.

Phuket International Airport offers flights from many destinations around Asia. If you’re flying in further, you may have to first fly into Bangkok and then transfer to Phuket Airport.

Once you’ve flown into Phuket Airport, you must take a form of transportation from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak. You can pre-book an airport transfer, use Grab, or take a taxi from the airport!

From Phuket Airport to Khao Lak, it’s 1.5 Hours and around a distance of 86 km.

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

Things to Do in Khao Lak

Regarding things to do and attractions in Khao Lak, the beach town caters to all interests.

From island hopping, waterfall visits, viewpoint hikes, water activities, and, of course, relaxing at one of the many beautiful beaches in Khao Lak!

For those looking to experience the local Thai culture, there are many temples to visit in Khao Lak, as well as fun cooking classes to experience.

Beach Day: Khao Lak is home to some of the best beaches in Thailand. A few you must visit are Nang Thong Beach, Bang Niang Beach, and Khuk Khak Beach. Relax, catch some sun rays, and admire the breathtaking coastline of Khao Lak.

Similan Islands Tour: The Similan Islands are famous for having some of the clearest waters in Thailand; also, the marine life here is spectacular. This early-bird tour makes sure you get there before the crowds!

National Parks: Explore the remarkable national parks in Khao Lak, including Khao Lak-Lam and the world-famous Khao Sok National Park, an absolute must-visit!

Phang Nga Bay Tour: Embark on a trip to the famous Phang Nga Bay, an area famous for its massive limestones, emerald green waters, mangroves, and islands. And, of course, the famous “James Bond Island” featured in the movie.

the famous James Bond Island standing isolated in the waters of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand

Elephant/Sea Turtle Tour: This tour is perfect for those looking for a fun day with animals. On this Half day tour, you’ll enjoy the day bathing with elephants, explore the rainforests in the area, and visit a sea turtle conservation center

Khao Sok Bamboo Rafting: This Full day tour offers a fun, action-packed day with many stops, including Khao Sok National Park, bamboo rafting, temple visits, and more!

Full Day Temple Tour: Khao Lak is famous for its many stunning, well-known temples; on this temple tour, you’ll be sure to experience the best ones on this tour.

ATV Jungle/Waterfall: Adventure seekers, this ATV tour is perfect for you. Ride ATVs through the jungles of Khao Lak as you discover various waterfalls.

Cooking Tour: Join a group for a fun market/cooking tour as you tour a local market to pick up organic groceries and then learn how to cook four different Thai dishes.

Where to Stay in Khao Lak

In Khao Lak, you’ll find a wide variety of hotels catering to all preferences and travel budgets, from luxury hotels/resorts with amazing spas to stylish local boutique hotels nestled in the jungle or by the beach.

For those visiting on a budget, there are plenty of mid-range, budget-friendly hotels to choose from, as well as guesthouses/hostels in Khao Lak. No matter your budget or preferences, Khao Lak offers a wide variety of stays!

JW Marriott Resort & Spa: Privately located around the green forests and conveniently located right along the beach, the JW Marriott in Khao Lak offers a taste of paradise in a luxurious way.

The Sands Khao Lak: Convenitally located by town with beachfront views, The Sands is known for its many amenities, including many pools, fitness facilities, a spa, and many restaurants serving various types of international cuisines.

Mukdara Beach Villa Resort: Offering a beautiful and serene location, this hotel offers beachfront spacious villas and suites for rent. On-site is an exceptional spa for guests to take advantage of during their visit.

The Retreat Khaolak Resort: This boutique-style and mid-range hotel offers an intimate setting surrounded by tropical jungle. It’s ideal for those looking to relax.

Kokotel Khao Lak Lighthouse: Convenitally located right along the beach, KoKotel is a beautiful and charming modern mid-range beachfront hotel offering a cozy/comfortable stay. The hotel’s rooftop terrace is perfect for catching evening sunsets.

WE Hostel Khao Lak: This fun/vibrant contemporary-style hostel offers dorm-style spaces and is ranked the best hostel in town. It’s also conveniently located along the main road near many restaurants & bars.

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

Best Restaurants in Khao Lak

There are many great restaurants in Khao Lak to check out during your stay. Khao Lak offers both a delicious and diverse culinary scene catering to all tastes.

The traditional cuisine in Khao Lak is heavily influenced by the cuisine you’d find in Phuket, and they’re neighbors, after all. This type of cuisine is known as southern Thai cuisine.

But you can also find international options to satisfy different palates. Don’t forget to visit the night markets for some tasty Thai street food in the evening!

Here are some of the best restaurants in Khao Lak to visit when you’re in town:

TAKOLA Thai Restaurant: Known as one of the best restaurants in town. TAKOLA offers an excellent Thai culinary experience, serving both contemporary and traditional flavors, and the ambiance of the restaurants is warm and inviting.

Khao Lak Phu View: For those looking for a restaurant with a stunning view, look no further; this is the place to come. Khao Lak Phu View serves excellent Thai cuisine Khao Lak and with the combination of some of the best sunset views in town.

Green Pepper Khao Lak: Convneitlly located right in the center of town, Green Pepper offers a wide variety of traditional Thai cuisines with plenty of cocktails to choose from.

Olive: For those looking for a fancy night out, Olive is the best Italian restaurant in town, serving all kinds of pasta, pizzas, charcuterie boards, and more. It’s located inside the JW Marriot Hotel.

Gold Elephant: If you’re looking to experience authentic Southern Thai food, this is your restaurant. Gold Elephant offers a wide variety of seafood dishes, local curries, and more.

White Sand Beach Khao Lak (Beachclub): A relaxing day under an umbrella on the beach along with some delicious food; for those looking to spend the day at the beach with delicious food nearby, this is your spot!

several bright homes amongst the nature in Khao Lak, Thailand

Nightlife in Khao Lak

The nightlife in Khao Lak offers vibrant, fun evenings with beach fire shows, nights at cozy local bars with live music, and lively night markets to visit.

While Khao Lak doesn’t offer an active, bustling nightlife experience like Patong in Phuket, there are still a variety of options for visitors to enjoy their evenings.

For a comparison of the nightlife in Khao Lak and Phuket, refer to my comparison guide!

If you choose to stay at one of the many resorts in Khao Lak, they, too, offer plenty of evening activities for guests to enjoy.

Here are a few of the restaurants, bars, and night markets you should pay a visit to when in Khao Lak:

The Edge & Beach Bar: Offering an elegant decor atmosphere on the beach, The Edge is perfect for those looking to enjoy an evening by the water

Qyūri Brunch & Gin Bar: Known as the best cocktail bar in town, there’s a wide variety of drink types to enjoy here

The GuestHouse Bar and Bistro: A lively restaurant and bar showcasing local musical talent; they tend to have live music here most nights

Bang Niang Night Market: Known as the town’s largest night market, Bang Niang Market is bustling with food vendors selling all types of delicious Thai street food. You’ll also find many local crafts and local products for purchase.

Alive Night Market Khaolak: This is a small night market located by Nang Thong Beach; here, you’ll find around 20 food vendors selling foods like papaya salad, noodle dishes, fresh fruit, and more.

a man waiting for a volleyball during a vibrant orange sunset on the beach in Khao Lak, Thailand

How to Get Around Khao Lak

Getting around Khao Lak is relatively easy, and there are many transportation options available to explore the town.

If you’re staying at a large resort, many of them offer free shuttle services to areas in Khao Lak for free. Make sure to ask reception.

Here are the best ways to get around Khao Lak; by the way, make sure to always have cash on you.

Songthaews: These are shared pickup trucks that operate as a form of public transportation in Khao Lak. Songthaew follows specific routes and picks up passengers along the way. This is the cheapest way to get around Khao Lak.

Renting a Scooter: The best way to get around Khao Lak is by renting a motorcycle/scooter. Make sure to have your driver’s license with you and be careful of scooter scams.

Bicycle Rental: Another great way to get around Khao Lak is by bicycle. Not only are there many rental shops around town, but luckily, Khao Lak is relatively flat, so it’s easy to bike around.

Walking: Khao Lak primarily consists of two main areas; many of the hotels are there or nearby. If you’re staying in one of the two areas, there are plenty of restaurants, shops, markets, and beaches within walking distance of your hotel.

beautiful crystal clear shoreline in Khao Lak with a small lighthouse in the distance

Best Time to Visit Khao Lak

The best time to visit Khao Lak or anywhere in southern Thailand is during the dry season months, from late November to April.

During the dry season in Khao Lak, you can look forward to beautiful hot weather daily with minimal to no rain and low humidity levels.

Dry Season in Khao Lak: November to April

The rainy season in Khao Lak is from May to October, sometimes mid-November. If you choose to visit Khao Lak during the rainy season, you will experience sunny weather but understand the chances of it raining are much higher. Also, humidity levels are increased.

Monsoon/Rainy Season in Khao Lak: May to October

RELATED: Southern Thailand Weather Guide

a Thai longtail in the turquoise waters in Khao Lak

Is Khao Lak Expensive to Visit?

The cost of visiting Khao Lak can vary depending on your travel preferences and budget.

Compared to some other popular tourist destinations in Thailand, like Phuket and Koh Samui, Khao Lak is generally considered to be less expensive.

Regarding accommodations in Khao Lak, you should expect to spend around $30-$57 US a night. There are several luxury accommodations in Khao Lak, but they’ll cost you much more.

Food in Khao Lak can be very affordable, especially if you dine at local eateries, street food stalls, or local markets. Thai cuisine is known for its delicious flavors and cheap prices. If you eat at both local and international restaurants, expect to spend around $25-31 US daily.

Transportation costs in Khao Lak are low, and if you’re by the beach, you may find yourself spending no money on transportation.

Regarding activities in Khao Lak, like day trips and excursions, expect to pay an average of around $56 to $125 US. It ultimately depends on the type of excursion you’re looking to do!

When visiting Khao Lak, you should budget a daily cost per day of $116 US. That’s what the average traveler spends in Khao Lak, according to BudgetYourTrip. This figure includes hotel, food, and transportation.

However, understand this is an average number, and depending on your travel style, it can be much lower than $116.

Overall, Khao Lak offers many budget-friendly and luxurious options. No matter your travel style or budget, it’s possible for all to have an enjoyable and affordable trip to Khao Lak!

RELATED: 11 Cheapest Places in Thailand

closeup of a beautiful crystal clear water shoreline in Khao Lak, Thailand

Is Khao Lak Worth Visiting? – Final Thoughts

What do you think? After all mentioned, is Khao Lak worth visiting, in your opinion?

With a few final words, if you’re not already convinced, Khao Lak is most certainly worth visiting.

Especially for couples who’re after a peaceful/relaxing holiday by the beach and families looking for a calm beach town ideal for families.

For solo travelers who prefer calmer destinations, you’ll love Khao Lak. But if you’re visiting Khao Lak expecting a bustling beach town in the day and night, you’ve got it wrong. That’s not what Khao Lak’s for.

When it comes to stunning beaches, surreal natural beauty, and a calm/peaceful environment with charming small beach town charm, Khao Lak is one of the best places in Thailand, if not the world, to visit!

After the tsunami disaster that occurred in 2004 in Khao Lak, locals and the government have successfully rebuilt the town. Many travelers have made an effort to visit Khao Lak to continue supporting the town’s growth!

Khao Lak should not be missed if you’re visiting Phuket. It’s not that far, and it offers a nice, quieter break from Phuket’s tourist-filled beach areas!

a close up photo of a monkey on a tree in Khao Lak, Thailand

How many days should I spend in Khao Lak?

Plan to spend at least four to five days in Khao Lak. There are plenty of things to do and see here, and you’ll want a day or two just to relax at one of Khao Lak’s many serene beaches!

Does Khao Lak have nightlife?

Yes, but it is a laidback nightlife with many cozy bars and night markets to visit.

If you’re looking for a bustling nightlife with nightclubs, you won’t find that in Khao Lak. You’re best off to visit Patong in Phuket!

Is Khao Lak better than Phuket?

Khao Lak offers a laidback environment in serene nature, while Phuket offers a more bustling atmosphere in beautiful nature.

Ultimately, it depends on where you’d prefer: a calmer atmosphere in Khao Lak or a more lively one in Phuket.

Is Khao Lak in Phuket?

No, Khao Lak is not located in Phuket. It’s located 86km north of Phuket outside of the island, and it’s around a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Phuket to Khao Lak.

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