Just a short journey from the bustling hub of Phuket, the quiet beauty of holidays to Khao Lak transports you to what feels like another world. Sunny beaches hug the coast against a backdrop of jungles and national parks. Khao Lak, at the centre of the Phang Nga region, is the ideal base for exploring the natural side of Thailand and experiencing a private, less-touristy piece of this incredible country.
The stunning limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay jut out of the sea and tower over visitors who wonder at their splendour. Pierced by tunnels and caves, these natural landmarks are a must-see when you're in the region.
Hop on a sea kayak and you can weave your way through the astonishing structures. This method of transportation is the only way to reach the lagoons and hongs – meaning 'rooms' in Thai they're like secret gardens. They're enclosed by the limestone cliffs and packed with gorgeous local plant life and intricate mangrove trees.
Several beaches stretch along the coast, making a day in the sun a great option. Pak Weep Beach is perhaps the calmest and best for swimming, with an arm of coral protecting its sand from the tides and a ban on motorboats creating an ultra-peaceful environment.
Nearby, the aptly-named White Sand Beach at Khao Lak South hosts plenty of drink and food venues at affordable prices for a beach day away from the crowds. Or, head to Nang Thong Beach to snorkel in the clear water or simply laze under a palm tree.
Tangled rainforest, green lakes, and limestone caves are just some of the magnificent sights that greet you at Khao Sak National Park, one of three national parks in the area. Home to a large variety of wildlife including monkeys and elephants, any nature enthusiast will love a visit to this gorgeous setting.
Hike through the forest on the well-marked paths before taking a dip in one of the majestic waterfalls. 90 minutes away from Khao Lak, it's a splendid day trip for adventurous travellers.
Carved out of the side of a mountain, this Buddhist temple consists of a series of caves ornamented with larger-than-life golden Buddha statues and intricate tilework.
An hour's drive outside of Khao Lak, it's worth the visit to marvel at the craftsmanship and gruelling work the builders endured to create this site. Take in the amazing views from the cave entrance before wandering through the two main grottos and past the massive reclining Buddha who watches over visitors.
If you've never tasted an edible insect, a night at this bizarre Thai bazaar during your Khao Lak holidays will be the perfect place to try. Dive into the hectic atmosphere with glee and leave with treasures ranging from fruit and vegetables to trinkets, flowers, and – of course – tasty insects.
Open every night, it hits its bustling peak on Wednesdays and Sundays. Just a short drive from Khao Lak, spend an interesting evening wrapped in Thai culture at this vibrant night market.
This five-tiered natural masterpiece spills down a series of rocks into a large pool in the heart of Khao Lak Lam Ru National Park. On hotter days, don your swimming suit and take a dip into the clear blue water or bring good shoes and climb up to the top four levels. A wonderful spot for a picnic lunch, the waterfall allows you to appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of wild Thailand.