Similan Island Viewpoint
photo by Kullez

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 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.

Getting there

By plane

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.

By train

The nearest train station is at Surat Thani on the east coast, making this an inconvenient option.

By bus

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 , +66 (0) 76 485 602, +66 (0) 76 485 602, 13/47 Moo 7 Khao Lak, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phangnga 82190, next to Nang Tong Supermarket Nang Tong Beach Road 25m down (83 steps), Comfortable Daytrips and 'exciting but relaxing' Liveaboards to the Similan and Surin Islands and to Richelieu Rock, departing daily

  • Khao Lak Diving , +66 (0) 76 485 868, +66 (0) 76 485 868, 4/17 Moo 7 Khao Lak, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phangnga 82190, Right Next door to Viking Steakhouse, 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 , +66 (0) 76 485 624, +66 (0) 76 485 624, 91 Moo 6, Khao Lak, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phangnga 82190, 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 , +66 76 485 868, +66 76 485 868, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, Offers one day trips to the Similan Islands with English, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian, Thai, Bahasa and German speaking guides.


  • Pakarang Surf Shop , +66-76-485-350, 9-5, 28/5 Moo 7, Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phang Nga 82190 THAILAND, in Khao Lak, 1 hour north of Phuket, Surf Shop in Khao Lak, Thailand. Board rental and good surf spot. 3 breaks on Cape Pakarang plus good beach breaks around Khao Lak.


  • The Yoga Studio , 0897105770, 0897105770, Petkasem Rd (Main Road), Bang Niang, near Police Boat, 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

  • Green Pepper, +66 (0)856 5576 26, *4 Pm - until late*, 67/145 moo 5 Bang Niang, T.Kuk Kak A., Takuapa, Phang Nga Thailand., (direction located near Bang Niang market and Andaman Diving shop., 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 , +66 (0)899232395, 67/1 moo 7 Petkasem rd. Bang Niang, Kuk Kak, Takuapa, Phang Nga Thailand., 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 , (+66) 86 28 30 933, Bangniang, Phetchkasem Rd. 13/22 Moo 6, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phang-Nga 82190, 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) , 076 486 118, 15.00 - 01.00, 67/148 Moo5 Phetkasem Road, Opposite the Tsunami Police Boat / left side of Khao Niau Restaurant in Bang Niang, 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

  • Hill Tribe Restaurant , (+66) 86 28 30 933, Bangniang, Phetchkasem Rd. 13/22 Moo 6, Khuk Kak, Takuapa, Phang-Nga 82190, 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:, .

  • 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:, . 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. ,, telephone +66818575881.

  • Tiffy's Restaurant, next to Sea Dragon Dive Center, 180 Baht for dorms

  • Haadson Resort , +66 (0)76 593 510 , 30/1 Moo 7, BangMuang, Takuapa, Phanga Nga, 82190 Thailand , Modern Thai style beach retreat.

  • Chongfah Beach Resort (Chongfah Resort) , +66076486588, 54/1 Moo 5 Khukkhak Takuapa Phang Nga Khaolak

  • Cousin Resort , +66-76-486-680 and +66-76-486-681, Bang Niang

  • Krabi

  • Phuket

  • Ranong

  • 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.

Contact & location

2 Reviews

gareth seltzer
gareth seltzer

on Jan 08,2011

I liked

Sea Dragon Dive Centre - We stayed at Ramada Khao Lak - and did not have time to book diving before we arrived. THere are so many choices nearby that it seemed even more difficult at first glance. You are right, there is not a dive centre within the resort - but consider this an advantage - with so many places so close, you can easily book something that is well suited to your objectives. And easily. Walking distance from the Ramada. Plus they have free and abundant internet, so you can do a little research first. We were in Khao Lak for the first week of January, 2011 - and it was a last minute trip. So I sent a number of emails to several dive centres just before I left and followed up when I arrived. Clearly there are a large number of operators and it is almost overwhelming to sort out who actually has boats and who is a booking agency. And secondly, whose objectives are to fill boats and whose are to encourage the dive experience. And truthfully, I think we all know this to be true. I spoke to about six shops - and in the end I found two polar opposites. Manta Point Divers - which I gather there is a centre by the same name in Krabi - was just incredibly rude. I had asked if - seeing as I was not terribly budget constricted - and was a PADI dive professional, if I could find a nice day trip and also dive without being in a big group. More divers know that you can frequently be restricted in a group by the weakest diver (which is perfectly fine - we all are constantly improving). However, when you fly for 30 hours for five days, you want to remove that potential for limitation. And perhaps the opposite view of that is if you have not been diving for some time, it can be more comfortable to be in a large group where the speed and scope of the dive might be unnerving. Mike Herz at Manta Point sent me a few emails back telling me basically that I was an idiot to be travelling so far during high season for diving and that it was illegal to dive without the group; I was lucky to be able to dive at all and he offered me two spots he could find on a day trip with a group. It just sounded wrong - plus I never knew in my seventeen years as an instructor that it was against PADI rules to buddy dive (he referred me to PADI. That was the low end of the experience! He was incredibly unpleasant and from the other shops I spoke to, I gather that is his reputation. But there were some great dive centres. I came across Sea Dragon Dive Centre - just by driving by on the scooter - and gave them a call. Well, talk about the polar opposite experience. They acknowledged, as most places in Khao Lak did, that it was busy but actually less busy than normal across Khao Lak and they would be delighted to have us on board. And that it was a Similan National Park rule that there be a dive master with divers. So, we paid a nominal fee (1,000 bhat or $30cdn) and had a private divemaster with us so that we could buddy dive as was our objective. Sea Dragon owns their boats, was incredibly well organized, allowed us to dive our own profile as requested and to top it off, we were amongst four prancing mantas on our first dive. They picked us up at the Ramada right on time, drove practically directly to the pier and we were on the water almost immediately. None of this hanging around waiting for people. And on our return, our taxi from Sea Dragon was waiting for us and took us straight back to the Ramada. It was fantastic and trouble free. We went from frustrated at being treated so disrespectfully to elated by knowing that within the dive community there are dive centers that exist largely for the love of diving and the development of the sport. This is further demonstrated by Sea Dragon participating in the Manta Project which identifies mantas in the area and tracks whether they migrate or stay within the area. At the end of the dive they collected shots from divers to see if any of the four mantas were new to the cleaning station. To Se

I disliked

Manta Point Dive Centre, Khao Lak
Tim Boende
Tim Boende

on Apr 03,2011

I liked

I enjoyed Khao Lak - but it was the Similan Islands that really rocked my world! I went with Wicked Diving and they were so great, service and showed us marine life like we'd never seen before.

I disliked

The tailors, tiny bit agressive and rude - but nothing like Phuket where they are cruel and pushy.

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This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Mike Groom, Ryan Holliday, koh tao scuba, Marc Heiden, hmu111, David, eim Juntima, Kees van Dobben, wiratm, Paul Land, Michele Ann Jenkins and Jani Patokallio, Similan diver, Globe-trotter, Burmesedays, Bluonions, Valtteri and Jake73

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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