If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Phuket, Khao Lak is a place you can just relax and enjoy your Thailand holiday, especially in a family group. Edged by beautiful misty green mountains, Khao Lak beaches are often completely empty and without tourists. This is our top things to do in Khao Lak for families post based on our own experience.
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Why Visit Khao Lak Thailand
Khao Lak is a beach resort area in Thailand, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours north of Phuket. It’s a narrow strip of resort stretching from a place in the south to Khao Lak Village in the north (near Pak Weep Beach) and a 25km stretch of coast to the south that includes many beaches. In the south there are quite a few hotels side by side, and then the Khao Lak resorts are more spread out in the north. There are two small tourism enclaves that offer local markets, shops, as well as tourist-oriented restaurants and bars. There is also a McDonald’s.
Overall, compared to other places, Khaolak is considered a quiet beach resort area that is well suited to families, but not so much for those who are looking for high-quality cuisine or a rollicking nightlife.
Where To Stay In Khao Lak
We stayed at Centara Seaview Resort Khao Lak, which is right in the center of the second tourism village. It is extremely popular with families offering a wide range of different styles of accommodation. Check here for current rates to stay at Centara Seaview Resort.
Top Things To Do In Khao Lak For Families
Bamboo Rafting is an excellent Khao Lak adventure activity for small children and our kids loved it. We paid our songthaew* driver to take us to a bamboo rafting operator. From here we followed a small path to a river, where we climbed onto a long bamboo raft. It was poled along the river by a boatman as we sat quietly listening to birds and looking for animals. We saw two types of tree python wrapped around a branch and heard a lot of birds. The kids loved going on a bamboo raft and felt very adventurous! (Life jackets were supplied!) This was a great thing to do in Khao Lak for families.
Also, available at an adventure park was ATV riding which seemed to be a very popular activity in Khaolak.
*whats a Songthaew (pronounced song-thay-U)*
If you don’t mind your kids not wearing seatbelts, then a Songthaew is a unique way to get around Thiland. They are converted pickup trucks (or utes in Australian vernacular) with the backend/ tray converted and operate just like a taxi. You sit on the parallel benches facing one another.
Visit The Navy Turtle Sanctuary
Should you wish to know the official name, it is the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet Sea Turtle Nursery – Phang-nga. Located just to the south of Khao Lak, the Navy Turtle Sanctuary is a great spot for anyone interested in animals. You can see the babies first hatch right through to their release stage at about six months old. Be warned, the sanctuary lacks an explanation of any kind in English and is very low key. Perhaps if you go with a tour guide, you might get a little more of an idea of what’s happening. However, our kids loved looking at the baby turtles and so did we!
Visit A Waterfall
There are several very pretty waterfalls around Khao Lak. Some are easily accessible by driving and others require a hike of about one kilometer. We wanted to go to the tallest one, Ton Chong Fa Waterfall, but our songthaew driver convinced us that it would not be a suitable walk for a mother carrying a baby, so we didn’t go. Ask for Lampi or Sai Rung Waterfalls and pack your swimmers. More information here.
Also, a word of advice, accidents do happen. We highly recommend that you always travel with travel insurance. We always travel with insurance, it has saved us numerous times. World Nomads have specially designed travel insurance for families! Take a look at their Family Travel Insurance here.
The Khao Lak Mini Golf is very wild and jungly; expect a unique experience. It’s just like visiting Angkor Wat or Indiana Jones-style ruins in the Americas. We spent two very enjoyable (and hot and sweaty) hours here and saw very few other people. This is not a sculpted golf course!
Visit A Beauty Salon
A fun thing to do in Thailand with kids is to get your hair braided, a manicure/pedicure, or a massage – all a fraction of the price to what you would pay at home.
It is a lot of fun for kids to get their hair braided while overseas. Our daughter has had it done in Bali, Fiji and now Thailand. Each style and technique is slightly different. There’s a different range of options available, and your child will decide what will be best for them. I should add that getting your hair braided is a tangle-free way of looking after your hair while on holiday and being in the pool! Win for your kid, and win for mum!
Depending on your child, you can have a mother-daughter mani-pedi, or even perhaps introduce them to massage if you feel that it is something that they would enjoy.
Get Your Feet Eaten By A Fish
We opted to do this after seeing it in Bali. This time the kids were old enough and brave enough to pop their feet in the fish-filled water and have the therapeutic fish eat away all the dead skin cells. Not only does this leave your feet feeling soft, but it also reputedly improves circulation. The kids thought it was tickly and funny; we all thought it was hilarious, and they needed a bit of bravery too. In the end, we all had beautifully smooth feet.
Hang Out At The Pool
There are many very good Khao Lak family resorts. Any good family resort will have a range of different pools for your family to hang by. Depending on the age of your kids, you can get in some relaxing time while they splash around.
It’s a great place to spend some time. Before you go, look up different Khoa Lak hotels and Khoa Lak resorts, many will allow you to access their pool for a small daily fee. We loved the pools at Centara Beach Resort. It had a water slide, which was the main attraction for the kids.
Do A Beach Walk, Or Even Better, A Beach Clean-Up
Khao Lak Beaches are not busy – think long yellow sand beaches with few people. We visited at the end of the wet season and the Khao Lak ocean was quite rough. As such we chose to not swim. However, we did grab a plastic bag and do some beach cleaning up because after a rough night at sea, the beaches were quite covered in rubbish. By rubbish, we mean a LOT of rubbish.
In the two tourism enclaves of Khao Lak there are plenty of little shops and tourist markets offering sarongs, brightly colored dresses, toys and much, much more.
We gave our kids an allowance for the 9-day stay and also bonuses for good behavior and penalties for poor behavior. If they ask for ice cream when the rest of the family is not having one, they can choose to spend their allowance. Both kiddos learned to confidently “bargain” – or at least ask for reductions in prices – thus saving money on their final purchases.
Have An Elephant Experience
One of our important things to do in Thailand was to see elephants at an ethical sanctuary. The more that I have studied “ethical elephant experiences”, the more I was doubtful that there were any truly ethical elephant experiences around Khao Lak or Phuket. In Khao Lak we visited many travel agencies including one that had “animal welfare” all over their brochure. Yet their staff couldn’t really tell us about the ethics of treating the elephants.
In the end we ended up visiting the Khao Lak Elephant Home, which has been open for a short time. It seemed OK, and I think that the elephants are treated well enough. Would we do the experience again? I’m not so sure. Any elephants that are even remotely handled by visitors, even gently, are probably not that happy.
There was also very limited English spoken at the Khao Lak Elephant Home and I asked the owner of the facility for more information about the elephants. Really all he could say is that he rescued them from the streets of Bangkok. I gather he rescued them from having to do tricks on the streets of Bangkok, so that by being lovingly bathed by tourists each day, they were better off.
Were they in a fantastically ethical situation? I can’t say. They seemed clean, well treated, their enclosures were large, and the owner claimed that they were allowed to roam free in the forest around the center during the night. We learn through our experiences and I don’t know if I would do it again.
I had hoped to visit the Phang Nga Elephant Park as it seemed the most reputable elephant experience in the Khao Lak region. However, it still offered elephant bathing which implied the elephants are not completely free.
Conclusion For Visiting Khao Lak Thailand With Kids
For us, staying at the Centara Seaview Resort Khao Lak, the resort and Khao Lak region offered enough for us to do in 9 days without traveling more than 30 minutes in either direction. When you have small kids this is a massive bonus! We got out and saw some of Khao Lak region’s beauty while not needing to travel so far. I would have to say Khao Lak for families is a top destination.
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