Khao Lak (เขาหลัก) is a resort town in Phang Nga province on the western Andaman Sea coastline of southern Thailand, about 100 km north of Phuket Town. When the disastrous tsunami of 2004 struck South Asia, Khao Lak was the hardest-hit area in Thailand with over 4000 fatalities. It has since made an impressive recovery despite many hardships along the way, and is once again a popular tourist destination. Khao Lak mainly caters to families and those looking for R&R - party people prefer Phuket .
Khaolak is named after the national park (Khao Lak-Lam Ru). The park was declared a national park in August 1991. It occupies a vast area of 150 sq.km and covers Amphoe Thai Muang, Amphoe Kapong, Amphoe Takua Pa and Amphoe Muang. Khao Lak is becoming increasingly popular, mainly with European visitors. It's easy to reach, quite and, as yet, not overdeveloped. It is something like Phuket's past 20 years. You can walk northward along the sand for many kilometres, almost as far as Bang Sak beach.
Most larger hotels will run a shuttle bus service into Bang La On, often described as Khao Lak ‘centre’ although these may be at limited times and may be chargeable. There are plenty of taxis as an alternative. Bang La On is about 20 minutes by shuttle or taxi from, for example, The Sarojin.
Bang La On has the most shops, bars restaurants and banks. There are also many ATM machines. Bang Niang is smaller, but still has a good selection. You will find the majority of visitors to Bang Niang are couples whereas at Bang La On it’s mainly families. Khuk Khak is still quite small with a handful of restaurants and a few shops. In the High Season all of the restaurants will be open including a wide range of both independent and hotel based beachfront restaurants.
In Bang Niang there is a large range of accommodation from the 4.5 star Ramada to bungalow resorts like The Sanuk Bungalows. In Bang La On the accommodation is primarily 3 to 4 star, for example, the Baan Khao Lak on Nang Thong Beach and The Paradise on Sunset Beach, the next beach going south. Just south of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park there is Khao Lak beach which has the popular Merlin Resort and the relatively new boutique Lukanawadee resort.
The easiest way to get to Khao Lak is to fly into either Phuket (the closest alternative) or Krabi and go to Khao Lak from there. Both airports serve international as well as domestic destinations.
A taxi from Phuket airport to Khao Lak costs between 1100 and 1600 baht. If you think this is too much and prefer to take a bus, you will have to get to the main road, Highway 4, about 5 kilometers from the airport. Hop on a bus headed towards Takua Pa, Ranong or Surat Thani, they all stop in Khao Lak. It's about 80 kilometers from Phuket airport to Khao Lak.
The nearest train station is at Surat Thani on the east coast, making this an inconvenient option.
From Bangkok , buses go to Khao Lak from the southern bus terminal (Sai Tai). The trip, which costs less than 500 baht, takes about ten hours and runs overnight. Don't buy bus tickets from Bangkok travel agents - they will most likely make you go via Surat Thani where you have to change bus.
From the bus station in Phuket , take a bus towards Takua Pa, Ranong or Surat Thani. It will set you back about 50 .
From Krabi there's a daily minibus to Khao Lak. All travel agents in Krabi sell tickets.
- Chong Fah Waterfall - about 10 minutes east of Bang Niang - great for hot days, very scenic and accessible to all.
- Police Boat 813 - one of two police boats overseeing the vacation of Khun Phum Jensen, son of former Royal Princess Ubol Ratana (his father was an American, hence the last name) at the time of the 2004 tsunami. Khun Phum was jet-skiing when the wave struck, and he and the entire crew of one of the police boats (which was sunk) died. This is the other boat, which was swept inland and has been left exactly where the tsunami deposited it as a memorial and historical landmark.
- Takuapa & Old Town, At Takuapa Old Town you will find Sino-Portuguese architecture and have the chance to wander around the quaint shops (best in the early morning), about 45 minutes drive from Khao Lak. Takuapa Market and River Plaza are in the new town, slightly closer to Khao Lak (near the bus station). This is a typical local market and the Plaza has some good shops and a few riverside restaurants.
- Lampi Waterfall, About 30 minutes south of Khao Lak just off highway 4. A very nice waterfall, best viewed in the early morning as the sun rises from behind the mountains and the rays shine through the mist. The falls are only a short walk from the car park, making access easy for all.
- Khao Sok National Park, A visit to Khao Sok National Park will allow activities including jungle trekking on foot or elephant, visiting waterfalls & river rafting/canoeing. Around one hour drive north east from Khao Lak. A good day out, although accommodation is available for extended visits.
- Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park, Nice walks and a restaurant (not open in the evening). Between Nang Thong and Khao Lak beaches. Walkeable from the resorts in Bang La On.
- Cheow Lan Lake and Rachaphrapha Dam, Just two hours north of Khao Lak off highway 401. Superb views over the lake to the limestone ridges. Boat trips are available to rafts (for overnight accommodation you will need to pre book at Khao Sok National Park HQ or book the trip via a tour agency).
- Saori Foundation Centre, Bang Muang (Drive north from Khao Lak and Bang Niang to Ban Muang; go through the built up area and a few hundred metres further on you will see on the left an official-looking entrance... turn left into it and find the Saori workshop along on the left.), A women's workshop which develops its own textile designs after a Japanese monk showed tsunami survivors how to weave and earn a living. You are welcome at the workshop on any working day - Monday to Saturday - to see how the designs and products are made and to examine them to see if you would like to purchase anything. Really nice products with designs individual to each worker.
Things to do
Diving - with the Similan Islands (home to some of the best diving in Asia) just offshore, this is one of the main attractions in the area. There are also several local dive sites to choose from.
- Khao Lak Scuba Adventures, 13/47 Moo 7 Khao Lak, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phangnga 82190 (next to Nang Tong Supermarket Nang Tong Beach Road 25m down (83 steps)), ☎ +66 (0) 76 485 602 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Comfortable Daytrips and 'exciting but relaxing' Liveaboards to the Similan and Surin Islands and to Richelieu Rock, departing daily
- Khao Lak Diving, 4/17 Moo 7 Khao Lak, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phangnga 82190 (Right Next door to Viking Steakhouse), ☎ +66 (0) 76 485 868 (email@example.com), Diving in Khao Lak, visiting the Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock and local dive sites. Small groups, safety focused and family friendly
- Manta Point Dive Center, 91 Moo 6, Khao Lak, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phangnga 82190, ☎ +66 (0) 76 485 624 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Liveaboard departures daily, stay as long as you want. Manta Excursions to Koh Bon, Day trips to Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock.
- Similan Diving - Wicked, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, ☎ +66 76 485 868 (email@example.com), Offers one day trips to the Similan Islands with English, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian, Thai, Bahasa and German speaking guides. 5000 Baht.
- Pakarang Surf Shop, 28/5 Moo 7, Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phang Nga 82190 THAILAND (in Khao Lak, 1 hour north of Phuket), ☎ +66-76-485-350 9-5. Surf Shop in Khao Lak, Thailand. Board rental and good surf spot. 3 breaks on Cape Pakarang plus good beach breaks around Khao Lak. 300 Baht/hour. (8°43'38.04N,98°13'36.50E)
- The Yoga Studio, Petkasem Rd (Main Road) (Bang Niang, near Police Boat), ☎ 0897105770 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Providing both group and private Yoga classes by a certified Yoga Instructor throughout the Khao Lak area.
- Khao Niau is located in Bang Niang on the Main Road, opposite the Tsunami Police Boat, left from the local market. Offering a wide range of Thai Food, including delicious dishes from Issan. Menu in Thai/German/English. Cooking classes, cheap prices, delicious food. Open from 12.00 to 22.00 email@example.com
- Green Pepper, 67/145 moo 5 Bang Niang, T.Kuk Kak A., Takuapa, Phang Nga Thailand. ((direction located near Bang Niang market and Andaman Diving shop.), ☎ +66 (0)856 5576 26 '''4 Pm - until late'''. Offers Thai Seafood and Western Cuisine. The restaurant opens from 4 O'clock until the last customer leaves. Also cooking classes where you can follow to the market and select the food that you will cook personally.
- Sweet Peas is located walking distance from Tony Lodge(refer below) and offers Thai and western cuisine
- Coconut Grove is located on the beach in Bang Niang and features great food and very nice views for sunsets.
- Pizzeria Portofino is located in Bang Niang Beach near police boat and 7-11 shop.
- O'Connor's Irish Pub is located in Nang Thong Beach vis-à-vis 7-11 shop and Dr. Chusak. They offer good Thai and international food, Guinness and Kilkenny on tap and over 20 different Single Malt Whiskies. And they arrange a Thai cooking course. Try the Korean/Thai BBQ.
- Pinocchio Restaurant, 67/1 moo 7 Petkasem rd. Bang Niang, Kuk Kak, Takuapa, Phang Nga Thailand., ☎ +66 (0)899232395 Italian Restaurant open all year.
- Takieng Restaurant, 26/43 Moo 5, Bang Niang (Next to the poilce boat)., Decorated with many items brought from the owners home town in Northern Thailand. Open most of the year.
- Hill Tribe Restaurant, Bangniang, Phetchkasem Rd. 13/22 Moo 6, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phang-Nga 82190, ☎ (+66) 86 28 30 933 Hill Tribe Restaurant in Bang Niang is located next to RT Hotel, just 500 m from the market direction Khao Lak center. It offers regular Thai food and superb dishes from North Thailand. Lovely decorated with original items from Chiang Rai. edit
- Moo Moo Cabaret Show & Bar, 27/76 Moo 5, Bang Niang (near the garden centre) Tel +66(0)76-486156. Daily show in high season, free entrance, show time 21:45. Khao Lak's original cabaret show, a great night out for all the family. Cocktails, beers and soft drinks served.
- Tropical Beergarden,67/144 Moo 5 Bang Niang Beach area Khao Lak (direction hotels Ramada - La Flora), phone 081 089 0170 open 5 pm - till late. Open air tropical garden and an extensive choice of spirits. Live Band, sports TV or a cabaret show every Saturday night.
- JOVEL Bar & Beergarden (@ Khao Niau Road), 67/148 Moo5 Phetkasem Road (Opposite the Tsunami Police Boat / left side of Khao Niau Restaurant in Bang Niang), ☎ 076 486 118 15.00 - 01.00. This new and modern bar has an exciting interior with a waterfall and creek running though it, cosy corners, and overlooks the weekly market in Bang Niang. Regular concerts with local and famous Thai Musicians are held in the beer garden. Jovel serves delicious food as well (Isan Hot Pot, Thai Table BBQ, Western Food, Seafood, etc.) and has more than 10 different beers with two on tap. Free WiFi, free international newspapers, and TV are provided. Relax&Refresh (18.104.22.168 N,98.15.09.68 E)
- Hill Tribe Restaurant, Bangniang, Phetchkasem Rd. 13/22 Moo 6, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phang-Nga 82190, ☎ (+66) 86 28 30 933 Hill Tribe Restaurant in Bang Niang is located next to RT Hotel, just 500 m from the market direction Khao Lak center. It offers regular Thai food and superb dishes from North Thailand. Lovely decorated with original items from Chiang Rai.
- Banana Bungalows, starting 400 Bath. A/C, pool.
- Takola Buri Resort, , 46 Moo 2,Pakarang Cape,Takhuapa District,Phang-nga 82190, price 2500-20,000 Baht. Just open in 2008.
- Royal Bangsak Beach Resort, , a new 4 star hotel located in Khao Lak, the wonderful new destination in the South of Thailand, price 1,950-5,250 Baht.
- Ramada Resort Khao Lak, 59 Moo 5, Tambol Kuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, Phone +66 76 427777 (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), .
- Khaolak Bhandari Resort, , 26/25 MOO 7, KHUKKHAK, TAKUAPA price: 2000-6000 Bht
- Tony Lodge, 6/27 Moo 5, Khuk Khak, Tha Kua Pa, Phang Nga, Thailand 82190 +66(0) 76 443 500, .
- Sarojin Resort, 60 Moo2, Kukkak, Takuapa, Phang Nga, Room Rate: 6000-25000 Baht
- Motive Cottage, 26/16 Moo 5, T. Khuk Khak, Ta Kua Pa, Phang-nga, . Simple resort located in the middle of Khaolak. 10 minute walk to the beach.
- Le Meridien Khao Lak, 9/9 Moo 1, Tambol Kuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, +66 76 427500, .
- The Briza Beach Resort, , newly Deluxe Resort in Khao Lak, Phang Nga, price 1400-2,300 Baht.
- La Flora Resort & Spa, . Resort featuring 70 rooms and villas. The resort is located on the mainland in Khao Lak about one hour North of Phuket International Airport.
- Khaolak Emerald Beach Resort & Spa, . Four star Thai design resort on Khao Lak Beach. Price 1,850-12,000 Baht.
- Poseidon Bungalows, 1/6 Khao Lak, Lam Kaen, +66 76 443258, email: email@example.com, . Located a few kilometers away from the town centre and has a small beach of its own. A two-person bungalow is 800 baht per night, a four-person bungalow is 1400 baht per night (for 2 pax 1200 baht and for 3 pax 1300 baht). Arranges snorkeling trips to Similan Islands , see the Get out section.
- Jerung Guesthouse, the main road. A modern and friendly place to stay with prices around 1000 baht per guesthouse/night
- Amsterdam Resort, low budget bungalow resort close to the beach, different types of bungalows and rooms, prices range from 450 to 1000 Baht. The place has a restaurant and rents out motorbikes, and there is an internet room and an inhouse travel agency. , firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone +66818575881.
- Tiffy's Restaurant, next to Sea Dragon Dive Center, 180 Baht for dorms
- Haadson Resort, 30/1 Moo 7, BangMuang, Takuapa, Phanga Nga, 82190 Thailand , ☎ +66 (0)76 593 510 Modern Thai style beach retreat.
- Chongfah Beach Resort (Chongfah Resort), 54/1 Moo 5 Khukkhak Takuapa Phang Nga Khaolak, ☎ +66076486588
- Cousin Resort, Bang Niang, ☎ +66-76-486-680 and +66-76-486-681
- Surat Thani - gateway to the east coast islands: Ko Samui , Ko Pha Ngan , Ko Tao
- Similan Islands - A protected Thai National Park made up of an archipelago of nine islands. Hugely popular among divers due to unbelievable underwater scenery.