Khao Lak, just about an hour drive north of Phuket, is located in Phang Nga province. The region is known for its laid back and family-friendly atmosphere. Many come here to relax, recharge energy. It is an excellent base to explore the beauty of the Andaman Sea. There are no less than 3 national parks and the surrounding hills that sweep down to the long stretching coastline.
Khao lak is an oasis for relaxing. Between it’s gorgeous laid back beaches, fantastic accommodation options, low-key restaurants, and fun activities, there is a little bit of everything in Khao Lak. We reveal our seven secret things to do in Khao Lak you should not miss.
1. Snorkel and relax at the deserted Na Yak Cape Beach
Although many people automatically head straight to the Similan Islands or the Surin Islands to explore the underwater world, Khao Na Yak is the closest snorkeling spot to most Khao Lak resorts. The peninsula is controlled and maintained by the Royal Thai Navy and the Khao Lampi Hat Thai Muang National Park. This spot has been kept secret for years and is known among the locals. This is the snorkelling haven with only 30 minutes from Khao Lak. Here you can snorkel in warm, clear blue water and enjoy the rich marine underwater world or relax on a quiet deserted white sandy beach.
2. Learn to surf
Khao Lak is one of Thailand’s premier surfing destinations and has basically been unexplored. The area features gentle beach breaks great for beginners, as well as reef breaks for more experienced surfers. The location is more open to the swells out of the Indian Ocean. This means Khao Lak has slightly bigger waves than Phuket.
The heart of the surf scene in Khao Lak is at Memories Beach Bar at the northern end of the gently sloping sandy Khuk Khak Beach. Waves here break out at the back, then roll in a long way as gentle white waves perfect for beginners trying to learn the popup. Fairly often you can get great conditions with occasional overhead waves. The wave is normally very good for longboards, but often has nice fast sections to provide good fun for shortboard riders.
The surfing season coincides with the monsoons of late April through early November.
Check your surf weather here.
3. Explore beautiful beaches
Khao Lak is a home to many beautiful beaches. There are lots of options for beach exploration in this part of Thailand.
Nang Thong Beach is a popular spot due to its location. Located within the main shopping, dining and nightlife area. It is ideal for those who want to stay within walking distance and modern day comforts. Bang Niang Beach is in close competition with good accommodation facilities and restaurants popping up.
For those who wish for a hideaway and escape from the hustle and bustle, Bang Sak Beach and Pak Weep Beach are your option. It is tranquil, suitable for book reading and swimming or strolling along the beach and enjoying the sunset.
4. Hike to Ton Chong Fah Waterfall
(Fitness level: Easy-Moderate)
Chong Fah Waterfall is a part of Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park and about 9 km from Khao Lak. The waterfall contains 5 different levels and spills down a series of rocks into a large pool. Between the entrance of the park and the waterfall, the hike is relatively easy. Take a dip into the water for refreshing. On the right side of the waterfall, there is a small, steep and quite slippery track that leads you to the different levels. A wonderful spot for a picnic lunch, the waterfall allows you to appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of wild Thailand.
5. Chill out during bamboo rafting at Kiang-Koo Waterfall
Enjoy bamboo rafting around Kiang- Koo waterfall. Located in Thaimuang district, around 20 minutes drive from Khao Lak. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the waterfall as well as the green scenery along the trail while rafting down a stream. Swim in a cool clear water to refresh. You can also visit an educational Sea Turtle Conservation Center, located inside the Navy Base- This project is to save and increase the number of sea turtles in the region.
6. Visit the International Tsunami Memorials
Khao Lak was hit hard by the tsunami in 2004 and has since bounced back remarkably. Take a daytrip to the museum to reflect on the momentous impact the 2004 had on the Khao Lak area through the documented stories of locals. Do not expect a full-blown museum with lots of memorabilia and exhibits.
A visit here is important to understand what the locals in Khao Lak went through as nearly all of them had family and friends who were killed or displaced during the tsunami.
If planning on visiting, there is the Baan Nam Khem tsunami memorial park as well as another memorial site where you can see a large Police patrol boat which was carried 1 km in-land. The boat was left there and has been since.
7. Visit the Turtles in Khao Lak
The Royal Navy Third Fleet Sea Turtle Nursery is worth your visit. Just about 15 minutes outside Khao Lak, here you can learn about these fascinating creatures.
Turtles lay their eggs between October and March. Once the turtles have laid eggs on the beach, the staffs will put a fence around them and guard for 24 hours from any predators. When the eggs are hatched, the turtles are brought to the center and being looked after until they are released back to the wild when they are about 8 months old. The center is not only a nursery for baby turtles, it is also a place of rehabilitation for sick and injured turtles. More than 500 green turtles are released from this center every year during the Turtle Release Festival held in the beginning of March.
There are tours that offer a dual experience. You can combine the bamboo rafting with a visit to the sea turtle conservation centre. This tour gives you the opportunity to absorb the breathtaking scenery while floating down the river before arriving at the conservation centre.