Khao Lak is one of the hidden gems in Thailand that's still lesser-known to tourists. It's not exactly a secret, but compared to Phuket, it definitely feels like one.

Khao Lak is a beach paradise with long white sandy beaches, palm trees, and a handful of affordable luxury resorts. Despite the bigger resorts, Khao Lak maintains a good balance between tourism and local culture and I highly recommend you add it to your Thailand itinerary.

You'll find plenty of authentic markets and restaurants that add to a fun yet relaxing trip, where you can stay in a 5-star resort (fairly affordably!) and still experience true Thai culture.

I loved visiting the Khao Lak area and was blown away by how it made me feel like I was off the beaten path without sacrificing luxury. If you're wondering where to stay in Khao Lak, I've explored the area and put together my favorite areas, hotels, and activities.

Best areas to stay in Khao Lak

The long stretch of beach from the south to the north of Khao Lak has so many different areas, each with its own unique charm. 

For first-timers, I definitely recommend staying close to Bang Niang Beach. It has a surfer town vibe that will give you those laid-back and relaxing vibes, plus you'll be near the main town of Khao Lak (called Bang La On locally).

If you're looking for some shopping and nightlife, head over to the village of Bang La On, the main part, which is like the city center of Khao Lak. It's got a great selection of bars, shops, and restaurants, as well as street food.

For those who prefer a quieter atmosphere but still want to be close to the action, Lam Kaen in the south is the ideal spot. It's perfect for couples!

A bit further out, you'll find Khuk Khak Beach, where you can enjoy quiet beaches and family-friendly resorts and hotels. It's the perfect place for a holiday with your loved ones.

Budget travelers and backpackers should check out Pakarang Cape. If you feel like treating yourself to a fancy resort stay without breaking the bank, this is the place to be.

Lastly, up in the far north of Khao Lak City Center, you'll find Pak Weep Beach. This is by far the quietest spot with empty stretches of white beach and absolute seclusion.

1. Where to stay in Khao Lak for the first time: Bang Niang Beach

Where to stay in Khao Lak - Bang Niang Beach

Let me personally recommend Bang Niang Beach for your first visit here because you'll get the best of everything. 

The beachy town has a really laid-back vibe, and you'll find plenty of amazing restaurants, bars, and supermarkets. And if that's not enough, you're just a short 10-minute drive from the main town of Khal Lak, called Bang La On.

The beach here is definitely busier than in some other parts of Khao Lak, but it's still not as crowded as in Bang La On. On top of that, room rates here are also more affordable compared to the city center.

Best area for:

  • First-timers

  • Good location

  • Affordable prices

Things to do in Bang Niang Beach

The beach itself is a slice of paradise, and if you decide to spend every single day relaxing on it, then I wouldn't blame you. However, there are some other interesting and fun things to do here. 

Bang Niang Market in Khao Lak is a vibrant night market with a wide variety of stalls selling everything from delicious Thai street food and fresh seafood to clothing, accessories, and handmade crafts. It's a must-visit destination to enjoy a taste of authentic Thai shopping and cuisine.

The Tsunami Museum is worth checking out as it is a fascinating and sobering reminder of the power of nature. They are also displaying a huge warship that was hit by a tsunami, which is very interesting to see. The entrance fee is free, but you're welcome to leave a donation, which helps local children.

Now, let's talk about food – my favorite subject! For the foodies among you, Little Marghe is a treat. This charming eatery serves up delicious, authentic Italian dishes that will make your taste buds do a happy dance. Another spot you can't miss is Beyond the Root. This place is a dream come true for anyone who loves healthy and organic food, also mang vegan option!

Best hotels to stay in Bang Niang Beach

($$$) Ramada Resort by Wyndham Khao Lak

One of my favorite hotels in Khao Lak Beach is the Ramada Resort by Wyndham Khao Lak. It's got everything you need for a perfect beach holiday: a private beach, a huge infinity pool, and stunningly decorated rooms with all the modern amenities.

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($$) La Vela Khao Lak

La Vela Khao Lak is an amazing mid-range option. It's got an awesome location right on the beachfront and offers some fantastic highlights, like the massive pool area and the beachfront deck. It's the perfect spot for dinner and drinks while enjoying a beautiful sunset.

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($) The Waters Khao Lak by Katathani

More affordable yet still luxurious is The Waters Khao Lak by Katathani. It's an amazing and chic hotel with all the amenities you would expect from a 5-star resort. The resort has not just one, not two, but six different swimming pools! Since it's located a bit further inland, they even offer a shuttle to the beach that runs multiple times a day.

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2. Where to stay in Khao Lak for nightlife & shopping: Bang La On (Khao Lak City Center)

Where to stay in Khao Lak - Bang La On

Bang La On, or Khao Lak Town as some people call it, is definitely the busiest area in Khao Lak. It's the hub of activity with plenty of bars, restaurants, dive shops, fashion boutiques, and supermarkets.

If you want to be in the heart of the action, Bang La On is the place to be. Nang Thong Beach, which is the beachfront here is still absolutely stunning, although it can get a bit crowded at times. It is also within walking distance from Bang Niang Beach, when the tide is right!

The best part is that Bang La On offers accommodation options for everyone. You'll find luxurious resorts if you're willing to splurge a bit, but there are also cozy backpacker hostels and homestays for the budget-conscious traveler.

Best area for:

  • Nightlife

  • Shopping

  • Backpackers

  • Central location

Things to do in Bang La On

There are some fabulous diving opportunities around here, and Bang La On is home to some of the best dive shops in the area. Check out Sea Dragon Dive Center and Khao Lak Scuba Adventures for truly unforgettable under-the-sea experiences!

Here are some of the best day tours to take in Khao Lak:

After a long day of diving, you'll likely have worked up quite an appetite, which is perfect because, in Bang La On, you'll find some of the best restaurants.

For authentic Thai food, I highly recommend Go Pong. Their noodle soup is super flavorful, and their mango sticky rice is on point as well. If you're looking for Thai food with a bit of a fancy twist, Gold Elephant is the place to be.

But if you're missing a taste of home or fancy something a bit different, why not head over to Peter Pan for some delicious Italian dishes? Their pizzas and especially their pasta are super tasty.

Best hotels to stay in La On

($$$) Moracea by Khao Lak Resort

Let's begin with the luxurious side of things. Moracea by Khao Lak Resort is an absolute dream, offering a slice of paradise right in Bang La On. This resort has some incredible highlights, including villas with private swimming pools and deluxe pool access rooms. It's a super cozy and relaxing resort, perfect for spending the whole day in.

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($$) Kokotel Khao Lak Lighthouse

If you're in search of a mid-range option that still exudes luxury, then Kokotel Khao Lak Lighthouse is the perfect choice for you. This hotel offers modern and chic rooms with breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea, along with a refreshing outdoor swimming pool.

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($) The Leaf Oceanside by Katathani

If you're in search of a wallet-friendly option, The Leaf Oceanside by Katathani is one of the cheapest Khao Lak hotels! It's conveniently located just steps away from the beach, boasts multiple outdoor pools, and offers cozy rooms that are perfect for budget travelers who don't want to miss out on some luxury.

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3. Where to stay in Khao Lak for couples & seclusion: Lam Kaen

Where to stay in Khao Lak - Lam Kaen

Lam Kaen is an amazing area that's perfect for couples or anyone looking for a little extra “me” time away from the crowds. It's the only place in Khao Lak that's slightly tucked away, with a small mountain range (Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park) from the city center.

Because it's off the beaten path, Lam Kaen naturally has a quieter vibe. There are fewer hotels and resorts, and the town itself isn't as bustling with tourists as some other places can be.

Even though there aren't many resorts here, the few that exist are absolutely exceptional. They're some of my absolute favorite places to stay, making Lam Kaen the ideal beach vacation spot.

Best area for:

  • Couples

  • Seclusion

  • Relaxation

Things to do in Lam Kaen

Although Lam Kaen might be a bit off the beaten path, there are still loads of fun things to do around here. The area is actually brimming with activities.

You'll find plenty of elephant sanctuaries where you can see and even bathe with those lovely giants. Just make sure to do some thorough research as not all “sanctuaries” are what they seem. Choose a place that truly prioritizes the well-being of the animals and is ethical.

Apart from that, there are also some thrilling activities in the area. You can explore numerous waterfalls, like the Wang Khiang Khu waterfall. In the surrounding area, you can also join ATV tours, go tubing in the river, or hop on one of the iconic bamboo rafts. Let a local guide steer you down the river for an unforgettable experience and a cool picture!

Best hotels to stay in Lam Kaen

($$$) Eden Beach Khaolak Resort

When it comes to luxurious accommodation in Lam Kaen, you won't find a better choice than Eden Beach Khaolak Resort & Spa. This modern-style resort features an amazing spa with great spa treatments, a fitness center, two fantastic restaurants, and some of the most beautiful rooms and private villas in the area.

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($$) MJ Boutique Hotel Khao Lak

If resort-type accommodations aren't for you and you also don't want to spend a fortune, MJ Boutique Hotel Khao Lak is a great option. This boutique hotel offers modern rooms that are perfect for couples, right on the beach.

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($) Khaolak Emerald Surf Beach Resort

If you're searching for a wallet-friendly option in Lam Kaen, then Khaolak Emerald Surf Beach Resort is the perfect place for you! This resort is the ultimate surf stay. You'll be right on the beach, with multiple pools and restaurants to enjoy. And if the waves aren't cooperating during the day, they even have their own wave pool for you to catch some surf.

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4. Where to stay in Khao Lak for families: Khuk Khak Beach

Where to Stay in Khao Lak - Khuk Khak Beach

Coming from the Khao Lak city center, Khuk Khak Beach is the first area that becomes less touristy. While most tourists prefer to stay in Bang Niang or Bang La On, choosing to stay in Khuk Khak will give you a taste of tranquility right from the start.

The area here is perfect for families. The beaches are peaceful and serene, and the beachfront resorts are simply amazing. They offer multiple restaurants, activities for the older kids and adults, and sometimes even a kids club with a kids pool for the little ones.

And in case you ever get bored, it's just a 15-minute drive to Khao Lak town. You can easily call a taxi or take advantage of the shuttle services offered by most resorts and hotels.

Best area for:

  • Families

  • Relaxation

  • Seclusion

Things to do in Khuk Khak

As for Khuk Khak town itself, it doesn't offer much, so most families here tend to stay within their resorts. Luckily, these resorts have multiple pools, restaurants, and a variety of activities like banana boats, jet skis, and scuba diving. 

Furthermore, many of the resorts here also offer boat trips, with the most popular one being to the Similan Islands. Trust me, the Similan Islands are one of the best snorkeling and diving destinations in Thailand, and you don't want to miss out on the opportunity to explore Khao Lak's breathtaking underwater life.

Best hotels to stay in Khuk Khak

($$$) Devasom Khao Lak Beach Resort & Villas

Devasom Khao Lak Beach Resort & Villas is undoubtedly the most luxurious and one of the best hotels in Khao Lak. The design of the hotel and the separate villas is simply breathtaking. However, the highlight is the private beach and natural lagoon! Additionally, for families, there is a kids club available, making it an ideal choice.

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($$) JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort

This JW Marriott resort is hands down one of the most popular hotels in Khuk Khak. It's located right on the beach and offers multiple restaurants, a private beach, suites, and villas. But that's not all, this Marriott hotel is home to the biggest pool I have ever seen in a hotel! The 3.2km long lagoon pool stretches all the way down the beachfront, making it the perfect playground for kids and the ultimate spot to unwind and relax.

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($) Andamania Beach Resort

Andamania Beach Resort is a great choice for families on a budget. It's one of the most affordable resorts in Khuk Khak, but it still offers all the amenities and services you need for a comfortable stay. The beach here is quite shallow and perfect for kids, plus there is a swimming pool to cool off while admiring the view of the Andaman Sea.

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5. Where to stay in Khao Lak on a budget: Pakarang Cape

Where to Stay in Khao Lak - Pakarang Cape

Pakarang isn't exactly the go-to spot for backpackers who want to party, but it's definitely a perfect destination for any budget travelers out there who like the slower pace of life. It's a bit further away from the center of Khao Lak, but trust me, it's worth it for the affordability and beauty of this area.

The beaches here are absolutely stunning, especially White Sand Beach and Coconut Beach. You'll find yourself having the beach all to yourself more than once. It's so peaceful and the few resorts and hotels available are super affordable.

The area itself is a bit spread out, with restaurants and hotels scattered along the beach and inland.

My advice? Rent a scooter, or a car, or simply hop in a taxi to explore and make the most of your time here.

Best area for:

  • Budget travelers

  • Secluded beaches

Things to do in Pakarang

Apart from spending some well-deserved quality time and relaxing in the beautiful resorts in this area, it's also becoming increasingly popular for another reason – surfing! The locals from the area and from Bangkok come here to make use of the amazing waves and reliable surf conditions.

As the surf scene here is just starting to pick up, there aren't many surf shops yet. However, the few I found were super cool and I highly recommend them.

Salt & Surf is definitely my favorite – it's a half cafe and half surf shop, serving the best coffee in town while also offering board rentals at great prices. The teachers here are super friendly too, and they offer lessons for kids, beginners, and even experts.

Best hotels to stay in Pakarang

($$) Kantary Beach Hotel Villas & Suites

Kantary Beach Hotel Villas & Suites is one of my favorite hotels in Khao Lak and the ideal place to stay if you're seeking a luxurious beachfront experience in Pakarang. This amazing hotel offers beachfront villas, suites, and apartments with breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea. It even comes with its own private beach and pool, all at a budget-friendly price. Modern suites with private balcony for under US$50? YES, please!

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($$) Apsara Beachfront Resort & Villa

This beachfront resort is definitely one of the best places to stay in Pakarang. Its rooms are simple but super comfortable and clean, while still being conveniently close to the beach. Best of all, it offers multiple activities like kayaking, jet skiing, and even snorkeling.

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($) Palm Galleria Resort

Palm Galleria Resort is one of the most affordable Khao Lak hotels and perfect when you're on a budget and want to visit Khao Lak Thailand. It's located a bit away from the beach, but it still offers stunning sea views and access to a private pool. 

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Where to stay in Khao Lak – Frequently Asked Questions

💸 Is Khao Lak expensive?

Khao Lak is actually quite affordable compared to other beach destinations in Thailand. You can easily find great accommodation and dining options on any budget.

☀️ Is Khao Lak worth visiting?

YES! Khao Lak is a great destination for families, couples, and backpackers alike. It's home to secluded beaches, stunning views, and plenty of activities from scuba diving to kayaking, making it the perfect spot for any Thailand itinerary.

🚗 How to get to Khao Lak?

To reach Khao Lak from Phuket and Phuket International Airport, the quickest option is to hire a taxi directly to your hotel, taking approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Alternatively, you can opt for shared minivan services, which are more budget-friendly but may involve some waiting time. For travelers staying in Phuket Town or Patong Beach, buses and minivans departing from these locations are also available, with a journey time of around 2 to 3 hours, depending on your location in Phuket.

🏝 Is Khao Lak better than Phuket?

It's really hard to compare Khao Lak and Phuket as both destinations offer something unique. It all depends on what you're looking for! Phuket is great for those seeking a more lively holiday experience, while Khao Lak is the perfect spot for relaxation and seclusion. 

✔️ Is Khao Lak good for families?

Absolutely! Khao Lak is home to plenty of family-friendly activities, such as snorkeling trips, leisurely boat cruises, and jungle treks. There are even kid-friendly resorts available with kids clubs and fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. 

Where to stay in Khao Lak – Final Words

Compared to other popular destinations in Thailand like Phuket, Phi Phi Island, or when staying in Koh Samui, Khao Lak is still pretty quiet and not very touristy. You'll find many resorts, but it doesn't feel as overcrowded as you might imagine from a resort town in Thailand.

However, I have a feeling that this place will just get more and more popular from now on because the beaches are absolutely world-class, the resorts are fantastic, and the locals here are super friendly. So, you should definitely come here as soon!

I hope that my guide from my recent visit will shed some light on the area and help you figure out where to stay in Khao Lak.

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