Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Khao Lak.
The closest airport is Phuket, about one hour away by car, which is served by a number of international airlines and the low cost carrier, Air Asia.
Khao Lak is not a major local centre for anything other than tourism, so there are two small bus stops rather than one large bus terminal. The first, with services to Bangkok, is located just north of Bang Niang and is set behind some buildings at Khao Wang Rd (on the right off Phet Kasem Rd if heading north from Bang Thong). From here, buses go to Morchit station in Bangkok; the local second class costs 458B, departs at 12:00 and 16:30, and takes about 15 hours, stopping at many destinations along the way including Takua Pa, Khuraburi, Ranong, and Chumphon. The first class costs 586B, departs at 16:50, and takes about 13 hours. There's also a VIP (with bathroom) that costs 906B, departs at 17:30 and takes about 12 hours.
The other bus stop is located south of Khao Lak beach adjacent to Thap Lamu (Similans) pier. The Takua Pa to Phuket buses stop here, picking up passengers hourly in either direction. To Takua Pa the cost is 40B and it takes only about 35 minutes. To Phuket the cost is 80B, duration about 1.5 hours. These buses run straight through Khao Lak on Phet Kasem Rd and may be hailed from anywhere. Phuket to Bangkok buses may also be hailed along the main road.
Unless your destination of choice is along the road to Bangkok, you'll first need to go either to Takua Pa (if heading north or east) or Khok Kloi if heading south (buses bound for Phuket stop at Khok Kloi). Even Phang Nga, which is only about 30 km away to the southeast, requires transferring in Khok Kloi.
Another option for regional destinations — and indeed the one that most travellers to Khao Lak opt for — is to take mini buses, which will cost more than regular buses but are faster and will pick you up directly from your hotel. These run throughout the day and can be purchased along with a transfer to islands like Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, or Ko Samui. By mini bus, expect to pay 200 to 300B for relatively closer destinations like Phuket or Krabi, or up to 600B+ to go somewhere more distant like Trang or any of the islands.
From Bang Thong to Khao Lak beach: head south through Khao Lak Lamru National Park on Phet Kasem Rd, and take your first right at the small village when the road flattens out, at the signs for Merlin Resort and several others. The beach will be straight ahead, behind the resorts.
From Bang Thong to Bang Niang, head north a couple km on Phet Kasem Rd and take a left at the 7/11 on to Chai Hat Bang Nieng Rd. Go straight past a cluster of restaurants and you'll hit the beach after about a km.
To Khuk Khak beach: Go a couple km further north on Phet Kasem Rd past Bang Nieng and turn left on to Chai Talae Khuk Khak Rd, which is marked by a red Chinese pagoda style gateway. This is a small road that winds through the charming village of Khuk Khak before ending at Khuk Khak beach. You can also follow the signs to Takola Buri Cultural Resort (among several others).
To Pakarang Bay beach: Although it can be reached by a road closer to the sea from Khuk Khak beach, the easiest way is to go north on Phet Kasem Rd past Khuk Khak and then take a left, following signs for White Sands Resort and the Sarojin Resort.
To Bang Sak beach: Continuing north past Pakarang Bay, Phet Kasem starts to run very close to the sea and Bang Sak beach. Take any left and you'll be at the beach, and there's a small road that runs right next to it.
To Ban Nam Khem: Continuing another 10 to 15 km past Bang Sak, Phet Kasem will gradually turn away from the sea to the east. Take a left down a road that follows signs for Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial and Ko Kho Khao, and continue straight. Before long you'll reach the road's end at the pier for Ko Kho Khao, or you can follow another sign that takes you just west to the Tsunami Memorial and Nam Khem beach.
Khao Lak is particularly conducive to motorbikes, which are not difficult to rent in Bang Thong or Bang Niang and should cost between 250 and 300B for one day. Discounts may be expected for 3+ days.
If seeking a car, you can rent one at Sandy House in Bang Niang for 1,500 per day, or if preferring to go through a major car rental firm, there's a Budget rent a car office on Phet Kasem Rd between Bang Thong and Bang Niang beaches.
If wanting someone else to chaueffer you around the area, there are no shortage of taxis (songthaew style pick up trucks with seats under a roof in the bed actually) throughout the area. There are a few main taxi stands: one is in Bang Thong centre, another by the night market and entrance road to Bang Niang on Phet Kasem Rd near the 7-eleven, and another at the tsunami evacuation centre at Khuk Khak beach. However, taxis are easy to find just about anywhere, and resorts and guesthouses are happy to call one for you (many resorts have their own taxi services as well).
Rates are steep. Expect to pay 200B for a ride from Bang Thong to Than Lamu pier or the bus stop in Bang Niang, 300B to Khuk Khak beach, 400B to Bang Sak, 1,000 to the airport in Phuket, and basically 100B just to set foot in the truck and go down the street. Taxis can also be rented by the day for a flat rate of 2,000B to go anywhere you wish.