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13 Best Things to Do in Khao Lak

Discover the Best of Khao Lak

Khao Lak is an Andaman coast destination known for its wide beaches and natural beauty. Found just north of Phuket on the mainland in Phang Nga province, Khao Lak offers a quieter Thai tropical escape and easy access to some of the region’s most beautiful sights including the Similan Islands, Phang Nga Bay, and Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. Aside from Khao Lak’s miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches, visitors could explore the area’s jungles and waterfalls, or enjoy a stroll around the market and Old Town alleyways of Takua Pa Town. Looking for more things to do in Khao Lak? Here are a few ideas.

1. The Beaches of Khao Lak

Ban Thap Tawan Beach in Khao Lak

Khao Lak Beaches, stretching from Ban Nam Khem in the north to Khao Lak National Park-Lam Ru, boast wide sandy shores, colourful sunset views, and an uncrowded, relaxing atmosphere. Bang Niang and Khuk Khak beaches are the busiest beaches at the centre, while White Sand Beach and Ban Thap Tawan Beach stand out for their beauty.

White Sand Beach is a lovely spot to unwind and enjoy a meal, and there are a few beachfront hotels along this stretch of sand. The northern beaches like Bang Sak offer serene escapes with clear waters and tranquillity, ideal for leisurely walks and swimming. The busier beaches, like Khuk Khak, offer a range of accommodation choices, along with shops, markets, and restaurants.

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2. Bang Niang Night Market

Bang Niang Night Market in Khao Lak

Bang Niang Market is a lively place to browse for souvenirs, handicrafts, clothing, and, of course, because this is Thailand, a delicious variety of street food and drinks. The market is open every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm, with some 300 local merchants displaying their wares in a lively setting.

Find rows of open-air stalls filled with colourful T-shirts, jewellery, handbags, cosmetics, home decor items, and snacks like ice cream, mango sticky rice, fried insects, and grilled meats. For a sit-down meal, there are a handful of simple restaurants at the market selling Thai food, cocktails, and beer. Best to go after 6:30 pm to enjoy the cooler evening weather.

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3. Takua Pa Town

Takua Pa Town

Takua Pa Town, known for its historical charm, offers visitors a glimpse into southern Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. In the past, it was a thriving centre for the tin mining industry, and several of the Sino-Portuguese buildings from that era still stand today. Just like Phuket’s Old Town, Takua Pa has set up a Sunday Walking Street, a vibrant market that springs to life in the evening. Here, visitors can stroll through an array of stalls selling local food, handicrafts, and souvenirs. The market is also a hub for entertainment, with traditional music and dance performances adding to the lively atmosphere. Takua Pa Town’s blend of history, culture, and local cuisine makes it a fun place to visit for those wanting to explore beyond the beaches in Khao Lak.

4. Similan Islands

Similan Islands

The Similan Islands, a stunning archipelago in the Andaman Sea, are renowned for their crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life, making them a paradise for snorkelers and divers. Visitors can explore underwater landscapes filled with colourful coral reefs, exotic fish, and occasionally, gentle whale sharks. On land, the islands feature pristine beaches and lush, tropical greenery.

The Similan Islands are also known for their dramatic rock formations, such as the Sail Rock on Koh Similan, providing excellent photo opportunities. With its diverse marine ecosystems and breathtaking natural beauty, the Similan Islands are a highlight for nature lovers visiting Khao Lak. The islands are open to visitors from mid-October through mid-May each year.

5. Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet Turtle Nursery

Sea Turtle Conservation Center in Khao Lak

The Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet Turtle Nursery is a conservation project dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of sea turtles. Located at the Thai Navy base near Thap Lamu Pier, this nursery offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about marine conservation efforts and see these colourful creatures up close. The nursery cares for injured and young turtles, preparing them for release back into the wild.

Staff at the nursery are friendly and eager to explain the centre’s work and provide insights into the life cycle of sea turtles and the challenges they face. This facility not only contributes to the preservation of marine biodiversity but also offers an educational and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

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6. Bamboo Rafting (Komol’s Corner Bamboo Rafting)

Bamboo Rafting in Phang Nga

Bamboo rafting offers a serene and scenic adventure through Khao Lak’s lush landscapes. This eco-friendly activity allows visitors to float down tranquil rivers on traditional bamboo rafts, guided by experienced local oarsmen. The journey typically takes guests through dense tropical forests, providing ample opportunities for photography and nature observation. The gentle pace of the raft allows for a peaceful and immersive experience, making it perfect for those looking to unwind and connect with nature. One local rafting guide, Komol’s Corner, offers trips along a lovely 3km section of the stream that flows from Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park, with transport from Khao Lak available if needed.

7. The Little Amazon Takuapa (Khlong Sang-Ne)

The Little Amazon Takuapa

The Little Amazon Takuapa offers a back-to-nature experience through a lush mangrove forest teeming with wildlife. Visitors can explore this unique ecosystem on a guided canoe tour, gliding through the narrow Khlong Sang-Ne waterway surrounded by towering banyan trees and dense foliage. The area is known for its rich biodiversity, including exotic birds, reptiles, and monkeys, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers. The serene and shaded environment of the Little Amazon provides a respite from the tropical heat, offering a cooler and relaxing activity for those needing a break from the bright beaches of Khao Lak.

8. Bun Sung Iron Bridge

Bun Sung Iron Bridge

Bun Sung Iron Bridge, a historical landmark in Khao Lak, offers a glimpse into the region’s past. Constructed from an old dredger in the mid-1960s, this iron bridge was originally used by workers getting to and from their jobs at the nearby tin mine. Today, it serves as both a functional crossing for locals and a scenic spot for visitors. Walking across the bridge provides stunning views of the surrounding river, lush landscapes, and buffalo fields. After visiting the bridge, you could head up to the quirky Dredger Café on Bangmara Hill to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the bridge and landscape.

9. Wat Kom Nai Khet (Wat Khuek Khak)

Wat Kom Nai Khet

Wat Kom Nai Khet, also known as Wat Khuek Khak, is a serene Buddhist temple in the Khao Lak area about 5km north of Bang Niang Beach. This lesser-visited temple is an oasis of peace, offering a quiet retreat for reflection and relaxation. The temple grounds feature beautifully maintained gardens, ornate statues, and traditional Thai architecture, including intricate carvings and golden Buddhas.

Visitors can participate in or observe local religious practices and ceremonies like making merit and gaining insights into Thai Buddhism and culture. As it is a religious site, visitors are asked to dress and act respectfully – don’t show up wearing skimpy clothes or bikinis.

10. Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park

Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial

Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park stands as a poignant reminder of the devastating 2004 tsunami that struck Thailand’s shores and hit the local Ban Nam Khem community especially hard. This memorial park honours the lives lost and the resilience of the survivors.

The park features a remembrance wall, serene gardens, and a small museum that chronicles the disaster and subsequent recovery efforts. Visitors can reflect on the impact of the tsunami while walking through the peaceful grounds, viewing photos and artefacts that tell personal stories of loss and hope. Though some of the displays are looking a bit faded now, the park still serves as a place of remembrance and sombre reflection.

11. Ton Chong Fa Waterfall

Ton Chong Fa Waterfall in Khao Lak

Ton Chong Fa Waterfall is a natural wonder in Khao Lak, offering a refreshing escape into nature. This multi-tiered waterfall is nestled in the lush jungle, accessible via a scenic hike through the Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park. The trail to the falls is an adventure in itself, winding through dense forest and past smaller streams and cascades. Upon reaching the waterfall, visitors are rewarded with the sight of water tumbling over rocks into inviting pools, perfect for a cool swim. The entry fee for foreign visitors is 100 baht. Be aware that during the drier months of February through April, there might be only a trickle of water to see.

12. Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint offers one of the most breathtaking panoramas in Thailand. Located a short drive from Khao Lak, this viewpoint provides a stunning vista over Phang Nga Bay, particularly at sunrise. Visitors can gaze upon a landscape of limestone karsts rising from the emerald waters, often shrouded in mist for a magical effect.

The viewpoint is accessible via a relatively steep hike, or those who aren’t up for a hike could instead take the shuttle service up the hill – it’s a bit of a jarring, bumpy ride in the back of a pick-up truck. There’s now also a Skywalk offering amazing views that can be booked in advance for a fee. For photography enthusiasts and nature lovers, Samet Nangshe is a must-visit, offering a serene and awe-inspiring perspective of the natural beauty surrounding Khao Lak.

13. James Bond Island and Koh Panyee

James Bond Island near Phuket

James Bond Island, officially known as Khao Phing Kan, first gained fame way back in 1974 when it was featured in the 007 film “The Man with the Golden Gun”. This iconic island features dramatic limestone cliffs and a unique rock formation, making it a popular and very photogenic spot for tourists.

Nearby Koh Panyee is a colourful village built on stilts over the water, inhabited primarily by a Muslim fishing community with a local mosque and school on site. Visitors can explore the village’s narrow walkways, local markets, and a floating football pitch. Both islands are often visited as part of a day boat trip exploring the sights of Phang Nga Bay.

Khao Lak Map

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Willy Thuan

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world early until I settled in Phuket in 1994. For the past 30 years, my passion for photography and my curiosity have taken me to every corner of Phuket, Bangkok and everywhere I could go in Thailand. My goal is to share my discoveries, photos and tips to help travellers plan their holidays by making Phuket 101 as easy as possible to use for everyone!