Wildlife and waterfalls in National Parks
At Khao Lak Lam Ru you can take a dip in one of the beautiful waterfalls, which are flowing at their fullest in monsoon season between June and October.
Choose between five-tiered Tong Chong Fa waterfall or Sairung waterfall that falls 20 metres, forming prisms of sunlight on the way down. You can also take a boat trip along the Khlong Thap Liang estuary or follow walking trails to see creatures like flying lemurs, Malayan porcupine and monitor lizards.
Visit Monkey Temple
Around 45 minutes’ taxi ride east of Khao Lak is Wat Suwan Khuha temple, commonly known as Monkey Temple due to the friendly little creatures there. That’s not the only interesting thing about it though as the temple is actually built inside a series of caves in the mountainside. There’s a huge golden Buddha statue here and ornamental details to see at every corner.
Snorkel off nearby islands
Although you can’t snorkel directly off the beaches of Khao Lak, there are a number of boat trips that will take you the short distance out to the best sites nearby. Similan and Surin Islands are popular snorkelling points, suitable for the whole family, as long as your children can swim. Or ride on a long-tail boat to Khao Na Yak Reef for interesting coral gardens and colourful fish.
Rafting on the rapids
In monsoon season, when the rivers are in full flow, white water rafting trips around Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary are exhilarating for older kids and adults. The grade two and three rapids are just right for youngsters and beginners at the sport. You’ll travel five kilometres along the Khlong Song Phraek river with jungle views as you paddle.
To see turtles, either head to the Royal Marine Turtle Sanctuary on the Tab Lamu Navy Base or travel a bit further to the larger Marine Conservation Unit at Thai Muang Beach and National Park. Often just called Turtle Beach, leatherback turtles lay their eggs here between November and February.
Bathing with elephants
Elephants may not appreciate being ridden, but tours such as Khao Lak Land Discovery allow you to get up close and bathe with these majestic animals. Suitable for all ages, and free for kids under four you’ll also get to shower under a waterfall and eat an authentic Thai lunch.
No kids can resist a waterpark, and Jungle Splash Waterpark near Phuket Airport is not too big so you can relax and let the kids have fun. There’s a large toddler-sized water play area and plenty of slides for the older kids and you.
We can’t talk about things for kids to do in Thailand without mentioning the beaches and Pakweep beach is Khao Lak’s unspoilt stretch. Several kilometres long it joins onto two more beautiful beaches – Bangsak to the north, and Khuk Khak to the south, so long walks and playing on the sand is endless fun.
Canoe around the hongs
Over in the bay of Ao Phang Nga National Park are a wondrous set of rocky monoliths called hongs that make for eye-catching scenery. There are many ways to explore them including doing a lap of the smallest one – named James Bond Island – in a speed boat. Or you can paddle around the hongs and into caves in sea canoes.
Something for adults and kids alike is a visit to one of the area’s markets. The sights, sounds and smells of the produce and trinkets will fill your little ones with awe, not least the stalls selling edible insects. They also do really good milkshakes, perfect as an afternoon treat. Bang Niang Market is roughly 25 minutes by car or taxi from Khao Lak and is open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 1 to 6pm.