A quick summary guide to the absolute best things to do in Khao Lak, Thailand. From scenic waterfall trails to learning the art of eight limbs— here is the only guide you’ll need to visit Khao Lak.
Khao Lak is a growing tourist hot spot in the South of Thailand. A few hours north of the hustle and bustle of Phi Phi and Patong, you’ll find epic beaches, authentic Southern Thai markets, waterfalls, hikes, and pockets of hostels and vibrant barefoot bars.
I spent a month in Khao Lak training for my first Muay Thai fight in Thailand. During the time between training, I aimed to explore all of the best things to do and see in the area.
This blog post lists all of the main attractions, as well as a couple of hidden gems for you to discover in the beautiful; Khao Lak, Thailand.
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Best Things to Do in Khao Lak
Without further ado, let’s dive into this updated list of the best things to do in Khao Lak!
1. Rent a Motorbike and Explore
This is a no-brainer. A scooter will be the best and cheapest option for exploring any part of Thailand. Most of the beaches and hikes in Khao Lak will require a form of transportation. If you want to explore on your own time, you can pick up a basic “Scoopy” or Honda Click for around 150 baht a day.
If you’re staying for longer, you can get one for around 2000-3000 a month, which equals around $2 – $3 USD per day including fuel.
There are several motorbike vendors in Khao Lak, so go for a walk and take a pick. Just remember that they will offer you a high price, to begin with, take this as an opportunity to practice your bartering! Just remember, if you are paying a lot more than above, you are getting ripped off.
2. Train Muay Thai at Rawai
Muay Thai, Thai Boxing, The Art of Eight Limbs. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and its popularity has spread rapidly all over the world. Its rules are very similar to boxing, except you can utilize your legs, knees, hands, and elbows. Muay Thai is an excellent way to get in shape or to experience a real and raw element of Thai culture.
Luckily, one of the best places in Thailand to do this is in Khao Lak. Rawai Muay Thai is a world-renowned gym in the heart of Khao Lak. It is run by real Thai fighters, and has several champion trainers and current champion fighters that train at the gym. Training Muay Thai at Rawai is a truly authentic Muay Thai experience for beginners and fighters.
A typical day at Rawai consists of a morning run up to 6KM (optional), followed by a 2.5-hour session of bag rounds, technique, pad rounds, clinching, and body weight exercises. If you want to burn off some of those Pad Thai and Changs, this is the best and fastest way to do so. You will also learn an invaluable skill and experience the raw Nak Muay lifestyle.
Read More: Find out what it’s like to train and fight Muay Thai in Thailand as a foreigner.
3. Hit the Beach
Khao Lak is surrounded by a beautiful coastline and pristine, white sand beaches. Take the scooter and go beach-hopping (is that a thing?) for the day. I have written a detailed blog post for The Best Beaches in Khao Lak so save yourself some time and check it out.
By far, my favorite beach in Khao Lak is Coconut Beach. It is tucked away and requires a little drive through the rice plantations and coconut palm trees. It really is quiet, with magic white sand and a cool swing for that iconic vacation Instagram shot.
4. Check Out Khao Lak’s Waterfalls
Khao Lak also houses some epic waterfalls a short scooter ride from the town centre. If you’re visiting Khao Lak in the wet season, you will definitely be in for a treat, although the waterfalls do flow year-round. Below I have detailed the best waterfalls to visit in Khao Lak as well as a convenient map to help you find them.
Ton Chong Fa Waterfall
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Khao Lak because it is located only 7km from Bang Niang main road. Check out the map below, or simply follow the road sign next to Zantika nightclub and then take the windy road into the mountain.
Ton Chong Fa is in the National Park, so there is a 100 Baht entry fee per person. However, this is definitely worth your time and money, as you will be rewarded with 5 levels of epic waterfalls, each with a deep pool underneath to swim in.
The short windy hikes between falls is well signed and beautiful. A must-see in Khao Lak.
Sai Rung Waterfall
If you are looking for something very easy to get to and aren’t feeling a hike. The Sai Rung waterfall is a short 10km ride North of Bang Niang. Look out for a road sign just after Le Meridian Hotel.
This is a famous waterfall for Thai locals to take their families for a swim. It is only a short 1-minute walk from the scooter parking. This waterfall proves to be a comfortable and enjoyable spot to relax on a warm afternoon.
Ton Prai Waterfall
Ton Prai is located about 40 minutes south of Khao Lak, so it’s best if you leave this one for a day trip. The winding roads to the waterfall are quite scenic and pass through some smaller local Thai towns where you can pick up some cheap and tasty street food made for locals. Look out for signs pointing towards the car park before the waterfall.
The waterfall itself is a short hike from the car park, so make sure you are prepared. The winding hike takes roughly 15-20 minutes into the mountain. Maybe due to its relative remoteness in comparison to the alternatives, this waterfall is more quiet and you can experience if all for yourself.
Lampi is located about 30 minutes south of Khao Lak, so you could check this one out on the way to or after visiting Ton Prai. Just before Thai Mueang village, you will see clear signs pointing towards Lampi.
This is a popular local waterfall, you will often find many thai families swimming and enjoying the fresh water on weekends. The site is 3 levels, each with a small pool to swim in, so crowding isn’t too much of a problem here. The main pool is also very wide and deep so there is plenty of space for swimming and some short jumps.
5. Grab some Fresh Eats at the Markets
After a long day of Muay Thai training and waterfall chasing. There is nothing better than checking out the many local Thai markets in Khao Lak. Here you will find stalls offering fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the nearby farms, street food vendors, deserts, and shake stands.
There are markets every afternoon in Khao Lak, however, it seems that they alternate which nights they open. Generally, it’s a good idea to check them out between 4 pm and 8 pm. Below is a map of where the common markets are found around Khao Lak.
Bang Niang Market
Bang Niang market is always busy and vibrant, with exotic smells and happy smiling faces. Here you can pick up some fresh produce or check out one of the many street food vendors to find a great deal on a pad thai or a Thai curry. This one is easy to spot and you will find it just opposite the Tsunami Boat in Bang Niang.
Khu Khak Market
This is a morning market where you can get an authentic taste of Thai culture between the crack of dawn until 12.00pm. Locals usually purchase their produce here, where you can buy anything from dragon fruit to fresh fish or even processed and packaged foods. This market is easily missed from the main road. However if you head down the side roads towards Khao Lak Stadium (just next to 7/11) you won’t miss it.
During our 6 week stay at Khao Lak, we frequently purchased our produce to cook at home from this market as they have the best prices. Although, remember if you are a farang you will pay a premium for anything in Thailand. We quickly found out however, that if we went to the same vendors week after week, we would get a better price each time.
My favourite night market in Khao Lak. The Build Market is built from old shipping containers that have been converted into permanent shop fronts. During the night when the market is on, these are surrounded by pop up street vendors and tables of fresh fruit. There are tattoo shops, clothes shops and of course street food vendors here.
6. Watch a Muay Thai Fight
If you have been sweating it out at Rawai Muay Thai, or if you have seen some of the posters showcasing local Thai Fights, then no doubt you’ll be stinging for a night at the local stadium to watch some authentic Muay Thai.
Khao Lak Stadium is hidden just behind the main road in Bang Niang.
There are several signs pointing to it so it won’t be a problem trying to find it. There are fights every Friday night from around 9.00 pm onwards. Entry fee costs 1000 baht for the cheapest entry ticket so it is a little steep, but it is well worth it if you want to experience the excitement of a live Muay Thai fight. I would highly recommend buying the cheap “stadium ticket” as this has the best view of the fight and you can freely walk around the stadium.
The stadium itself is as authentic as it gets. There are stray dogs and the occasional rooster walking around the dirt and concrete floors around the stadium. The bathroom is a small hole in the ground with a bucket and you will have to walk around to the preparation rooms where you will get a sneak peek at the Nak Muays who are getting massaged and preparing to enter the ring.
This stadium is where I had my first Muay Thai fight in Thailand. If you would like to find out what it’s like, check out my blog post or video.
7. Grab a Beer at the Barefoot Bars
There are so many great things to do in Khao Lak. After a long day of exploring, there’s nothing better than a cold beer at one of the small barefoot bars in Bang Niang. There are several bars just a stone-throw away from each other down Chai Hat Road, which connects to several resorts and hostels.
My favorite bar is definitely Gecko Bar. A very small bar that always attracts like-minded travelers from all over the world looking to play a game of foosball, pool, or have a chat over a 50 baht Chang or Thai whisky.
Khao Lak has proven to be one of my favorite destinations to visit in Thailand as a backpacker. It is easy to visit on a budget and offers loads of authentic and off-the-beaten-path adventures. I’ve also written some other blog posts that showcase some of these experiences, such as training and fighting in Khao Lak Stadium, checking out the best beaches or how to travel here on a budget. Make sure you check them out!
Khao Lak Accommodation Guide: Where to Stay?
Most travelers looking for places to stay in Phuket often don’t realize that the much more laid-back coastal town of Khao Lak is just 60 kilometers to the north. As you can see, there are so many epic things to do here, so it’s worth staying at least a few nights.
Below are some good accommodation options in Khao Lak to help you pick.
Muay Thai Accommodation: Rawaii Muay Thai
If you’re spending a long time in Khao Lak, I’d suggest booking a private unit or staying at the Rawaii Muay Thai Gym. The gym has dorm and private room accommodation and can work out training package rate discounts.
Best hostel: Dkaya Hostel
Central location, great vibes, clean rooms, and air-con! You really can’t beat this hostel if you’re looking for a good place on a backpacker’s budget in Khao Lak, Thailand.
Best resort: Devasom Khao Lak Beach Resort & Villas
One of the highest-rated resorts on Khao Lak. Located on the beach, with a huge pool and free breakfast, it’s no wonder the reviews are so overwhelmingly positive!
Where to Next in Thailand?
Did you enjoy this quick and easy guide to the best things to do in Khao Lak, Thailand? If you’re looking for more adventures and off-the-beaten-path travel destinations in Thailand, make sure to check out some of my other guides below!