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Khao Lak is one of Thailand’s most popular vacation destinations, located just under 60 kilometers north of Phuket. The Khao Lak region stretches along approximately 25 kilometers of Thailand’s west coast, offering plenty of beaches for tourists. It is also one of the places heavily affected by the tsunami in 2004, but since then, this region has made a remarkable recovery.

Khao Lak – The First Days in the Popular Vacation Spot

Bamboo houses in the vicinity of Khao Lak

The Khao Lak region is often referred to as a package tour destination and is also associated with mass tourism. This may be partly true in the main towns of Bang La On and Bang Niang, but outside of these two towns, Khao Lak is primarily one thing: peaceful.

How to get to Khao Lak

Getting to Khao Lak can be a bit challenging because the region does not have its own airport. Most visitors arrive by plane in Phuket and then continue their journey to Khao Lak from there. For more information on flight tickets and prices, you can check Skyscanner. There are various options for continuing your journey, which we will list for you here.

1. Taxi to Khao Lak

Taking a taxi is, of course, the most comfortable but also the most expensive option to get from Phuket to Khao Lak. You can rent a taxi directly at the Phuket Airport counter just outside the exit. Prices for this service are approximately 1800 Baht (about €45). The journey takes approximately 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions.

2. Bus from Phuket to Khao Lak

From Phuket Town Bus Terminal 1 and 2, buses depart daily to Takua Pa, passing through Khao Lak. Khao Lak itself does not have a bus station. The journey takes approximately 3 hours and costs 100 Baht. You can inform the bus driver where you want to be dropped off in Khao Lak, as the bus travels along the entire main road through the Khao Lak region to reach Takua Pa.

The bus heading to Khao Lak at Phuket Town Bus Terminal
Bus at Phuket Town Bus Terminal

Note: It’s about 5 kilometers from Phuket Airport to the highway. There, you can catch the bus to Khao Lak as it picks up passengers along the roadside. However, you might need to hire a taxi or motorbike taxi for that distance, as 5 kilometers with luggage can be quite long. Alternatively, you can take the Phuket Airport Bus and go to Phuket Town Bus Terminal to catch the bus to Khao Lak. Tickets can be booked in advance online at 12go.asia.

3. Bus from Krabi to Khao Lak

There is also a direct bus from Krabi to Takua Pa or Khao Lak. The bus ride costs approximately 150 Baht and takes 4 hours. The minivan ride costs around 500 Baht and takes only 3 hours, plus you will be dropped off directly at the hotel.

On the bus from Phuket to Khao Lak
On the bus to Khao Lak

4. Bus from Bangkok to Khao Lak

You can also take a night bus from Bangkok to Khao Lak from Sai Tai Mai (Southern Bus Terminal). The journey takes approximately 11 hours, and a ticket costs between 600 to 1000 Baht, depending on the class of the bus (VIP or Standard).

5. Hotel pickup

If you have already booked a hotel in Khao Lak, you can also inquire about transportation directly from your hotel. Many mid-range or higher-end hotels offer airport pickup services in Phuket. The price for this service will be similar to the cost of a taxi.

Info: Another option to get to Khao Lak is to take a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then take a bus towards Phuket/Khao Lak from there. However, this is the most inconvenient and time-consuming route, which few people choose. If you happen to be in Surat Thani already, it’s a viable option.

Overnight Stay in Khao Lak – Our Hotel Tip

We stayed in Khao Lak in the town of Bang La On, essentially the “main town”. The Fasai House is located on a small side street and offers spacious and comfortable rooms. There is also a small swimming pool, and you can rent scooters on-site for exploring the area. Breakfast is also available. We felt very comfortable there and can highly recommend the hotel.

The Fasai House in Bang La On, Accommodation in Khao Lak
The Fasai House

Most hotels in Khao Lak are located in Bang La On or Bang Niang, which are the two main tourist areas. Bangsak, Khuk Khak, and other places also offer many hotels. Here, you will find a good selection of hotels in Khao Lak.

First impressions of Khao Lak

Khao Lak is different from what we had imagined. Since we had never really looked into the region before, we were a bit surprised upon arrival. It is immediately noticeable that the highway, or the main road, in parts has 2 or even 3 lanes through the main areas of Khao Lak.

Main road through Khao Lak in Bang La On
Main road in Bang La On

Khao Lak is not just one place but rather a region with a couple of towns that are close to each other. While in the main towns of Bang La On and Bang Niang, there is already a lot going on, it becomes very quiet as soon as you are a bit outside.

Places like Bangsak, Khuk Khak, or even Khao Lak Village in the very south are perfect for those seeking tranquility. However, you should be somewhat mobile, for example, with a scooter, as there are few dining options outside the main centers.

The serene Khuk Khak Beach in Khao Lak
The serene Khuk Khak Beach

As Khao Lak stretches along more than 25 kilometers of coastline, there are many access points to over 10 beaches, and because everything is so spacious, you will always find a secluded spot on the beach for yourself. In front of some of the 5-star resorts or in the main areas, the beach can get a bit crowded, but otherwise, peace and solitude on the beach are guaranteed.

Tsunami warning sign in Khao Lak

Furthermore, the tragic story of 2004 naturally plays a role in Khao Lak when the Tsunami surprised residents and tourists on Christmas Day. So, you can visit memorials on-site, but you will also see many Tsunami warning signs, in the hope that an incident like this will never happen again.

Palms in Khao Lak, captured with the DJI Mavic drone

By the way, the Khao Lak area is perfect for exploring on your own with a scooter. However, if you don’t want to do that, there are also many tours in Khao Lak that will introduce you to the region and its attractions. Beaches, temples, waterfalls, memorials, markets – there is truly a lot to discover in Khao Lak.

Restaurants at Khuk Khak Beach in Khao Lak

Many dining options are also available, most of them in Bang La On and Bang Niang. But you can also find some restaurants near the beach in Khuk Khak. Otherwise, of course, along the main road that runs through Khao Lak. The selection is good and usually not too expensive.

Conclusion about Khao Lak

Khao Lak is definitely a popular destination for families, couples, and older vacationers. There are no big parties, but as an introduction to Thailand, the region is great. Everything is a bit quieter and more leisurely compared to the tourist hotspots of Phuket or Koh Samui.

If you prefer to be where there is a lot of hustle and bustle, then Khao Lak may not be the right choice. But if you’re looking for a mix of peace, enjoyable activities, and light evening entertainment with live music, then Khao Lak is a region that should suit your taste perfectly.

Tobi at the Bang Niang Beach in Khao Lak
Tobi at the Bang Niang Beach

Khao Lak: Tours and Tickets

Do you prefer to travel with a guide who knows the area very well? Then we recommend a guided tour with a local. This way you can get to know Khao Lak in a completely different way. GetYourGuide offers a wide selection of exciting tours for Khao Lak.

How do you like Khao Lak? Have you been there before? Leave us your opinion about Khao Lak in the comments.