Khao Lak is the main tourist area in Phang Nga province. In fact it is the only part of Phang Nga province that is clearly developed as a tourism area. The area that is known as Khao Lak is actually a long stretch of loosely connected beaches and villages that run south from a town called Takua Pa.
Although Phang Nga province has long stretches of beach all the way down its western coastline, it is still easy to see why it is the beaches of Khao Lak that most attracted the attention of the holiday resort developers.
South of Khao Lak is a vast 30km stretch of beach that runs from Thai Muang all the way south towards Phuket. However this beach is straight and inclines steeply into the sea. There are a few resorts dotted along this long stretch of sand but this beach just isn’t as inviting as those at Khao Lak.
The beaches of Khao Lak are in long sweeping bays and the sand slopes gently and invitingly into the sea. Tall palm trees lean their protective shade over the beautiful sandy beaches. Behind the beaches is a wide plain that allows the holiday resorts and shops plenty of space to develop. In the distance, the entire area is framed by verdant, forest covered hillsides. Khao Lak is a quite glorious location.
The central area of Khao Lak covers a 10km long bay that includes five distinct beaches from Pakarang Beach at the north to Sunset Beach at the south. This is the area that most people refer to as Khao Lak and the beaches further to the north and south can more loosely be considered as outer Khao Lak.
The central beaches are Pakarang Beach, Khuk Khak Beach, Bang Niang Beach, Nang Thong Beach and Sunset Beach. They are all lovely beaches but it is the three to the south that have been most developed. There are plenty of resorts, shops, restaurants and bars from Bang Niang Beach south to Sunset Beach. This is very much Khao Lak central. There are just a few resorts at Pakarang Beach and Khuk Khak Beach and the surrounding area there is very quiet.
Just to the south of this area a large headland juts into the sea and the road rises steeply over a hill that includes the HQ of Khao Lak Lamru National Park. Keep going over the other side of this hill and you come to the area that was the original Khao Lak Beach. This was the place where the first holiday resorts were built. Khao Lak Beach can actually be considered to be three beaches. There is Khao Lak Beach, Secluded Beach and Poseidon Beach. The area takes its name from Khao Lak hill (Khao is the Thai word for hill) and there is a small village called Baan Khao Lak. It later became apparent the main tourism area would be over the hill where there was much more space to develop.
If you go north from central Khao Lak towards Takua Pa town there are the long stretches of Pak Wib Beach and Bang Sak Beach. These are beautiful beaches with very little development. There are just a few holiday resorts dotted along these beaches. There are some lovely Thai restaurants at these beaches such as Kon Dong Soo (people must struggle) on Bang Sak beach that serve delicious and authentic Thai food at tables under the casuarinas trees by the beach.
The main road, Route 4, runs parallel to the beaches for the full length of Khao Lak. At times it is more than a kilometre inland and at other places it is only a couple of hundred yards from the beach. Khao Lak’s urban developments are loosely spread along this road. They are roughly split into four main villages.
La On village to the south is the most developed. This is probably the area that is mostly recognized as being the centre of Khao Lak. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and bars. There are banks, tour shops and an abundance of holiday resorts and guesthouses.
Just to the north is Bang Niang village which is still very much part of central Khao Lak. It has a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants but not as many as La On Village. There are plenty of holiday resorts along the beach. This is where you will find the tsunami museum and the grounded police boat that has become a tsunami memorial.
A little further north is Khuk Khak village. This is still part of the central Khao Lak area but much quieter than the two villages to the south. It does have the main bus station, a market and a Thai boxing stadium.
Still further north and you come to Pak Wib village. This is outer Khao Lak and is very quiet but it does have a few convenience shops for people staying at the beach resorts in this area. Keep going north from here and you come to Takua Pa town.
The upmarket resorts have all set up shop along the beachfront areas. They offer fantastic 4-star and 5-star comfort and many of them are very reasonably priced. For the more budget conscious travellers the 2-star and 3-star hotels and guesthouses tend to be further from the beach and closer to the main road.
See our khao lak map for details and locations of the best Khao Lak hotels.
Although Phang Nga is a large province with plenty to explore, Khao Lak really is the ideal base for your Phang Nga holiday. It is centrally located on the western coast within easy travelling distance of all Phang Nga’s attractions. It has fantastic beaches, excellent holiday resorts and most of the facilities you will need. It is a convenient 1-hour drive from Phuket airport. Phang Nga has plenty of other beautiful areas to visit but you should not miss Khao Lak.