Over the past decade, the serene beaches of Khao Lak (Lak Mountain) have become a popular tourist destination to escape the crowds of Phuket. The stunning coastal landscape is made up of a series of villages and offers many family friendly activities. With the abundance of outdoor recreation options available, you’ll want to plan your trip to avoid the rainy season (May to October) when the seas can be rough and dangerous for small children.
During the dry season, the waters are clear and calm which makes ideal conditions for water sports like snorkeling, boating, swimming, and diving. Animals, namely elephants, are celebrated in Thailand and in Khao Lak, there are several sanctuaries and zoos where children can learn about these special creatures and even interact with them for an experience they will remember all of their lives. There are also adventure filled national parks, exciting ocean activities and jungle treks in this part of southern Thailand.
Getting up close and personal with the animals of Khao Lak:
1. Finding Nemo at the Turtle Sanctuary
For many years now, marine turtles in Thailand have been given legal protection. You may even see one if you go diving along the white beaches of Similan Islands during your visit to Khao Lak! Founded in 1985, the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre is one of several turtle conservations and sanctuaries in Thailand. It is open daily and free to enter.
Here, juvenile turtles mature in tanks to give them a higher survival rate than if they were left in the wild open to attack by predators. Visitors are able to view the young turtles in large concrete holding tanks and once they have matured to at least eight months of age, visitors can release one into the wild for a donation to the sanctuary. There is also a clownfish breeding initiative for the anemone fish breeding program. Clownfish breed easily in captivity and many of them are on display along with other tropical fish so your young ones can see some real life Nemos!
Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Center
Address: 164 Moo 9 Thai Muang, 82120 Phang Nga, Thailand
Opening Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Duration: around 1-2 hours required
Access: The Phang Nga Fisheries Research and Development Centre is easily accessible from Khao Lak. All buses heading south on highway 4 and that stop at Khao Lak will also stop in Thai Muang.
Contact: Tel: +66 (0) 76 432 212
Get off the beaten track and spend a full day seeing the natural wonders and traditional life of Khao Lak. On this tour, you can not only enjoy a tranquil ride on a lightweight bamboo raft and experience magnificent elephants in shaded forests but you will also visit a turtle-breeding farm! Your family will enjoy a tour of a pineapple farm and refresh yourselves at a waterfall. Khao Lak’s mountainous coast is a signature of the region and a waterfall experience is a must-do.
Khaolak Discovery Elephant Trekking & Bamboo Rafting
Price: from 95 USD
3. Experience a waterfall and bathing with the elephants
Imagine being in the water with the elephants as you feed and bathe them! These gentle giants enjoy the water as much as we do. Kids 4 and older can participate in this extraordinary half-day experience riding the elephants and frolicking together in the lagoon. This excursion also includes a visit to the turtle conservatory so you could check two wildlife experiences off your Khao Lak must-do list. You will have an English speaking guide to instruct you how to interact with the animals and tell you about the waterfall area as you arrive at the turtle conservatory.
Elephant Trek and Waterfall Excursion
Address: Eco Khaolak Adventure, 26/63 Moo 7 Khao Lak Grand Plaza, Khuk khak Takuapa, 82190 Phang-Nga, Thailand
Price: from 50 USD. Kids under 4 free.
Duration: around 4-5 hours required
Contact: +66 (0) 76 485 586
Near by Food: Snack provided during excursion
Explore the national parks of Khao Lak:
4. Halfway between the Andaman and Gulf coasts is Khao Sok National Park
This 450-kilometer (285-mile) park is where nature meets adventure! With a large lake inside the park, plenty of jungles and the beautiful coastline you can happily get lost in here! Wear comfortable shoes and begin to explore trails, caves, and wildlife like elephants, tapirs, deer, marbled cats, bears and maybe even a tiger! Kids under 5 may struggle with the terrain but older kids will delight in all there is to see. Because of the location, the park gets monsoon weather from both the east and west coasts but it also gives the full rainforest experience.
Khao Sok is home to one of the world’s oldest rainforests. Stunning limestone formations draped with greenery that grows like wildfire from the equal mix of rain and sun this region receives. Waterfalls can be seen throughout the park and there is a floating bungalow camp on the forest-lined 105-kilometer (63-mile) man-made Cheow Lan Lake.
Khao Sok boasts the most famous population of the stinking corpse lily, Rafflesia kerrii. This prehistoric looking beast of a flower is 1 meter (3 feet) across. You won’t want to hold it because people liken the smell to hot garbage in the summertime.
Check the park website for a wide variety of ways to experience the park with recommended tours, rentals and more. It can be overwhelming to plan this park experience on your own!
Khao Sok National Park
Price: varies based on activities
Opening Hours Open every day of the year 24/7 for park campers and day visitors
Duration: Around 5 hours to three days
Access: Check the park website for various tours, camping or day visit options that suit your family best.
Website: Khao Sok National Park
5. Lam Ru National Park
This small park is just off the main road and is less overwhelming than Khao Sok if you only have a short amount of time to spend, or are just passing through Khao Lak and want to enjoy the beach. This park has three waterfalls, forests, hiking trails and a stretch of beach. It’s a nice coastline spot to have a family picnic too.
There is wildlife to spot like birds, reptiles, butterflies and small land mammals. While you walk barefoot in the powdery sand and enjoy the clear blue water, there are big rocks near the coastline for young ones to climb on. You can swim around at the base of one of the park waterfalls or dip into the ocean to cool off.
Lam Ru National Park
Address: Khuekkhak, Takua Pa District, 82210 Phang-nga, Thailand
Price: from 5 USD
Opening Hours: Open daily
Duration: around 3-5 hours required if hiking a longer trail
Contact: +66 76 485 243
Near by Food: Qcumber
Website: Lam Ru National Park
Diving and other watersports in Khao Lak:
Just off the Khao Lak coast is one of the top 10 most interesting diving spots in the world. This area is the Similan Islands. You can take a speed boat tour to quickly get there (and have more time in the water) and spend the day spotting dolphins and sea turtles and hear your kids squeal in delight after seeing all the colorful marine life while snorkeling at Christmas Point. Breakfast, lunch, park entrance fee, snorkeling gear and an English speaking guide are some of the features of this day trip tour the whole family will enjoy.
Similan Islands Snorkel Tour from Khao Lak with Thai Lunch
Duration: 9 hours
7. Pak Weep Beach
Visitors love this powdery stretch of beach. Get your little one’s hair braided here, grab snacks or quick meals and splash around in the ocean with or without a float you can buy at one of the souvenir shops. This area has quite a few resorts and hotels on it but it’s still a calm family friendly area where you can enjoy the ocean in a safe environment.
Pak Weep Public Beach
Address: Unnamed Rd, Khuekkhak, Takua Pa District, 82190 Phang-nga, Thailand
8. Tong Chong Fa waterfall
Just over 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) in from the Bang Niang main road is one of the few waterfalls in Khao Lak that is not in Khao Sok Park. This special waterfall is where you can get a fish foot bath along the way to the steep climb. This signature Mother Nature Thailand spa treatment is all natural and enjoyed in the great outdoors.
It tickles just a bit and you’ll have a relaxing rushing waterfall soundscape to listen to while the fish do the work. There is a main swimming area at the top level, much needed after a vigorous climb! Pack your camera for this trek!
Ton Chong Fa Waterfall
Address: Khuek Khak, Tambon Takua Pa, Takua Pa District, Phang-nga, Thailand
9. Khao Lak Mini Golf
While not a water sport, this attraction is located at the Tong Chong Fa waterfall listed above at Bangniang Beach. An adventure mini golf center for the whole family! For a time you will feel transported back to old Thailand in ancient ruins scenery. This 18-hole Indiana Jones style park is complete with an ancient temple, jungles, Buddha statue, and waterfalls. For a fairly priced entry fee, you can spend several hours here with your children. One visitor says this is the best mini golf course in all of Asia!
Khao Lak Mini Golf
Address: 16/11 Chong Fah Waterfall, Bangniang Beach, 82190 Khao Lak, Thailand
Price: from 6 USD. Kids under a meter (3.3 feet) get in free of charge.
Opening Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Duration: around 3 hours required
Contact: (66) 076.423.093-4
Website: Khao Lak Mini Golf
10. James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay day trip
Get out on the water on a longtail boat and see the iconic limestone formations in Phang Nga Bay. This is an incredible way to spend a day in Khao Lak. The bay is crystal clear with mountains and forests surrounding it. There are monkeys to meet on this excursion! Perhaps the only time you will spot them on your trip is in the sea caves where you will feed the wild macaques!
The Man With the Golden Gun was filmed at another stop which is now called “James Bond Island.” While your children may not know this film the way you do, they will enjoy being out on a longtail boat in the inviting emerald water. This trip includes lunch and a swim in a waterfall along the way.
James Bond Aqua Safari
Price: from 50 USD (children), 70 USD (adults), depending on exchange rate. Children under 4 free.
Duration: All day
Contact: 081 077 0559
Website: Khao Lak Vista Tours
Kids will love Khao Lak
With sand, sea and land activities, this vacation retreat area of Khao Lak north of Phuket is a fun and memorable experience for the entire family.
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