Khao Lak is most famous for its amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities at the Similan Islands and others.
All the islands in the Andaman Sea have amazing coral reefs and diverse marine life. People from all over the world come here to have an unforgettable experience.
Although the islands and underwater life are breathtaking, don’t forget the nearby Khao Sok National Park, which is one of the oldest rainforests (estimated 160M years) and 739 km² in size – wow!
The tsunami was a result of a powerful 9.1 undersea earthquake that struck off the coast of Sumatra island that ruptured a 1500KM stretch of the fault line.
Among many other areas around the Indian Ocean, Khao Lak was hit the hardest in Thailand by the tsunami on 26 December 2004. Over 4000 locals and tourists lost their life but unofficial numbers top the 10,000, which include many undocumented Burmese workers that were not recognized as residents and neglected by the government.
The tsunami, at some places 24 to 30 meters high, had such a force, destroying and carrying everything on its path, including the Thai navy boat 813 which lies almost 2KM inland from Bang Niang Beach. You can visit the boat and learn more about what happened at the tsunami museums. The memorial area has been renovated and several festivals are held here throughout the year, read more about it in our post here.
Since then, several tsunami shelters and an extensive alarm system and escape routes have been implemented throughout the area.
In 2012 a movie was filmed in Khao Lak and released under the name “The Impossible”. It is based on the true story of the family of María Belón, who survived the tsunami.
In totality, the 2004 tsunami killed over 230,000 people at the coastlines of Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.
Khao Lak has a tropical climate with dry seasons and rainy seasons. The best time to visit considered the “high season”, is between November and March. Some will say October to April, the “shoulder months”, although October can still be quite rainy and April very hot and humid. The driest month is February with the sunniest days and September the wettest with frequent – sudden – rainfall.
If you don’t mind the occasional showers, the rainy season is a great time to visit with low room rates, lower flight rates, quiet beaches, and more “VIP” service with fewer tourists around. Just keep in mind that some shops will be closed. You can check out our Weather, Seasons and Climate post for more information.
There are many things to do. Let’s just name a few things to give you an idea:
Diving and snorkelling at many islands
Several waterfalls to visit and swim under
Many Buddhist temples to walk in and around
Tsunami museums and a washed-up navy boat to visit
The following vaccinations are recommended for everyone: diphtheria and tetanus, polio, measles, hepatitis A. In special circumstances or risk groups, you may want to have: hepatitis B (transmitted through blood or intercourse), rabies, typhoid fever (from infected water or food). If you want to be extra careful, just give a call to your local doctor and he/she will let you know what’s advised.
One word – STUNNING! The 25 KM stretch of smooth beaches is simply impressive. It’s quite easy to find your own piece for you and your family or for a nice romantic walk. The Andaman Sea in the west means spectacular sunsets on the beach you don’t want to miss.
Overall it’s hard to pick a favourite beach – they are all amazing – but after you had a few evenings at the beach in La On, and taken some postcard-worthy shots of the sunset and lighthouse, you may want to check the beaches in the North around Pakarang, Pak Weep and Bang Sak, which are beautiful and quiet white sandy beaches. The local street food, Thai families, and food at Bang Sak beach are worth the visit.
Unfortunately, snorkelling from any of the beaches isn’t great, it’s sandy and little to see, but there are a few spots with boulders and quite some fish to see on Lam Kaen’s South Beach — be careful though, there can be jellyfish too.
Khao Lak is still a bit of a hidden gem and an ideal slow pace holiday destination. It’s a relaxing, uncrowded, coastal area surrounded by natural beauty. It’s the ideal mix of local culture, luxury, and yet enough budget options. The surrounding areas of Khao Lak have each their unique traits. It’s a great destination for all travelers; families, couples, backpackers, and everyone in between. It’s best to read up on the different areas of Khao Lak to decide which best fits your wishes.
That’s a really tough question to answer. Khao Lak has several amazing areas (show map) with different traits and it’s really up to your specific preferences. You can start by looking at the different areas that make up Khao Lak. The Southern part of Khao Lak, the “centre” known as La On, will have an abundance of choices but is most crowded. The more North you go, the quieter it gets, and the fewer shops. The second largest area, known as Bang Niang, could have the ideal balance. If you want to be more secluded, go even more North, away from the centre. Note that all areas are connected to a long strip of beautiful beaches with amazing sunsets.