We did fly from Bangkok to Phuket Airport and took taxi from Phuket Airport to Khao Lak for 1,500 Baht.
Don't forget to make a bargain at taxi counter in the airport. In the beginning we got a quote of 2,000 Baht for taxi.
The journey took about 1 hour and a half drive up north of Phuket to Khao Lak.
Get hold of Tee. She runs a rental shop, motorcycles, tours, taxi, etc... in Khao Lak. We used her before and she is fair and good at what she does. contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 06--281-6602.
Bus from Airport to Phuket bus terminal, 85 THB:
From Phuket bus terminal to Khao Lak, different buses from about 50 THB (non aircon, don´t pay more then 200 for aircon bus, look for bus to Ranong or more frequent to Takuapa), get off at Bang Niang or Khao Lak (supermarket) depending where your hotel is located, about 2-3 hours.
When you're travelling as a backpacker the best way to go to Khao Lak from the north - e.g. Bangkok - is to take one of the blue and white state buses. Taking a nightbus from Bangkok will take you there some time next morning.
If you use one of the buses leaving from Khao San Road in Bangkok you must prepare for a trip via Surat Thani and arrival i Khao Lak at 14-15 in the afternoon.
In either way it's cheap - less than 500 Baht for a very long distance.
The easiest and most comfortable way is by taxi the whole distance. Depending on your luck and/or haggling skills the fare will be anything between 700 and 1200 baht. Journey time is about one hour.
The cheapest way is to travel between Khaolak and where the airport road intersects the main road by local bus (about 30 baht) and from the main road to the airport by motorbike taxi. However this is only an option if you have luggage that can be carried on a motorbike.
Another alternative is to take a normal taxi from the airport to Khok Kloi bus station and take the local bus from there to Khaolak.
Buses from Khaolak to Phuket Town run every hour and seem to depart at about 20 minutes past the hour. I would suggest that you ask one of the locals though and get to the bus stop 10 minutes before the time they tell you.
Buses run from Phuket Town bus station back to Khaolak (Takua Pa is the final destination) on the hour, every hour and the last bus is at 6pm.
If you board at the bus station you will probably find that there aren't many people on the bus. However, after a few stops the bus will become packed (and I mean packed!) with local people who have been shopping in Phuket, schoolkids and the odd tourist.
The seats are designed for Thais so have very little legroom for non-Thais. The few seats at the back have legroom at the start of the jorney but this area of the bus is soon filled up with everyones shopping.
There is no air-con but windows are left open and there are fans on board that are sometimes turned on.
Sometimes, more usually in the evenings, the driver will turn on the sound system. This is normally quite powerful and invariably the music will be in the 'popular Thai' genre. This turns the atmosphere into something of a mobile Thai disco. It's great fun but can be very uncomfortable when the buses are really packed.
The great thing though is that no-one complains and even when you reach a stage where you think that the bus is full and 6 more people get on board with their weekly provisions the passengers just smile. Only in Thailand!
The fare for all this fun is just 45 baht.
Journey time is normally quicker going to Phuket (around 2 hours) but longer coming back and can take anything up to 2 and a half hours depending the number of stops and how crazy the driver is.
Chong Fah Waterfall 8km
Bang Sak Beach 13km
Takua Pa 30km
Khao Sok National Park 73km
Thap Lamu Pier 14km
Khok Kloi Bus Station 50km
Phuket Town 100km
Phuket Airport 70km
Lamru Waterfall 54km
Hin Lad Waterfall 58km
Phang Nga Town 64km
Surat Thani 187km
This was a nightmare journey and a classic example of not being able to get a straight answer in Thailand.
I enquired at several travel agents as to how I could get to Khaolak. They all told me that the only way was by minibus and that it was 'best' to stop overnight in Krabi.
I booked a minibus and was told it took 10 people and that I was the 7th. I was also told that the journey time to Krabi was 4 hours. When the bus picked me up I was the 2nd person onboard. The seats were tiny but I got one that did not have a seat in front so I was able to stretch my legs.
The minibus then went around Hat Yai for 45 minutes collecting more and more people. With 11 people it was full but then we went back to the travel agents place and 3 more folks started walking toward us. I was puzzled as to how they would get in. The Thai driver then proceeded to put all the luggage that had been in the back on to the roof and pulled down another seat in the boot space.
There was a rest stop after a few hours but this was far too long. All I wanted to do was get a bottle of water and move on to Krabi ASAP.
We got to Krabi 5 and a half hours later.
At Krabi I asked again how I could get to Khaolak and was told again that it was 'best' to stay overnight and get a bus in the morning. It might have been best for the travel agent as he could sell me a night's accommodation and a bus ticket the next day.
I ignored this advice and took a Tuk-Tuk to the bus station. Once there I boarded a Phuket-bound bus but I only wanted to go as far as Khok Kloi. This bus had A/C but there were no seats left and already there were many people standing. Great.
At Khok Kloi I boarded the local Phuket-Takua Pa bus but, as I knew would be the case, it was full to the rafters. I got my bag on board somehow and just about found enough room to stand.
Total journey time was almost 10 hours.
Minibus Hat Yai - Krabi 150 baht
TukTuk Krabi town to bus station - 50 baht
Bus Krabi - Khok Kloi 86 baht
Local bus - Khok Kloi - Khaolak 30 baht
Local taxis or 'sawng thaews' go up and down but aren't that frequent. They can be flagged down from anywhere. If you are standing by the road looking as if you're waiting they will honk as they approach to see if you are interested. Standard fare seems to be 20 baht.
Sometimes it seems impossible to find a motorbike or local taxi to get between Nang Thong and Bang Niang. However, I have had lots of luck thumbing lifts. Admittedly I have been on my own most of the time which makes things easier.
I've had lifts in cars, on bikes and in the back of pick-up trucks. I normally offer 20 baht which is the normal taxi fare.