Love nature? Visiting South Thailand? Then head to Khao Sok National Park! I can not sing this place enough praises as to how stunningly beautiful it is.
If your jaw dropped at the limestone cliffs you should have already seen in Thailand, then be prepared when visiting this place! Khao Sok National Park is the largest area of primary forest in Southern Thailand. It is a remnant of rainforest which is older than the Amazon – amazing no? As well as being home to the Cheow Lan Lake. A 165 square km lake, which was previously a forest area that was flooded when the Ratchaprapha Dam was built.
The area is believed to be one of the most rainiest in Thailand. If you visit between December – April you should see the park at it’s best. We experienced a regular 1pm shower of torrential rain but only for an hour. A good time to have some lunch.
Where is Khao Sok?
Khao Sok is located conveniently within a triangular area between Phuket and Krabi, about 2.5 hr drive North of Phuket. Therefore it is a perfect place to go to if you need a bit of a switch up. Between laying on the beach and want to get familiar with some Thai wildlife.
From Phuket or Khao Lak you can easily catch a bus to Khao Sok. Make sure the bus passes through Khao Sok. (The same bus will start from Phuket travel through Khao Lak and onto Khao Sok). The bus will drop you off at the side of the road at the entrance to the national park. From here you will need to get a taxi/jeep to your hotel. There will be plenty there when you get off the bus, they should only charge you around 50 bht pp.
You can also get a public bus from Surat Thani. Air conditioned buses run hourly. From Krabi you need to get a public minibus. This will cost slightly more but it is the easiest way to get to and from Krabi.
A lot of the hotels in Khao Sok will offer private transfers to their hotel which will cost considerably more!
Khao Sok is home to a huge selection of weird but amazing animals. 48 mammal species including the majestic wild elephants, Malayan sun bears, various monkeys, tapir, tigers and leopards. As well as 311 species of birds including the hornbill. We saw a lot of these during our trip to Choew Lan Lake and endless insects and reptiles.
Where to Stay:
All hotels are located within a similar area, south of Cheow Lan Lake and are either very close or within the national park itself. We stayed at Our Jungle House which I can honestly say was an incredible experience. This hotel is located inside the national park and you can stay in your very own treehouse. There is also a cute little ‘beach’ area which you can enjoy during dry season.
The treehouses are dotted around the grounds meaning you get a lot of privacy and you can really immerse yourself in jungle life. The hotel has it’s own restaurant as there aren’t any around. It also has a bar on top of the restaurant where you can chill out, drink beer and play cards or games. A wide range of activities are also on offer for you to do during your stay. These range from national park guided walks, elephant bathing and overnight trips to the lake.
We stayed in a Cliff House, one of the cheapest accommodation types. This is not a treehouse, it’s on the ground. Immerse yourself with the jungle here as the bathroom only has a bit of mesh above the walls to stop animals coming through to shower with you. The room is well equipped with electricity, water and a comfy bed with mosquito nets. If you don’t like insects or wildlife then maybe this is not the place for you.
Price – 950bth per room per night (Cliff House)
Things to do
You can enter the national park by yourself or with a personal guide and you can hike as much or as little as you want. Some say you should hike with a guide so that they can point out wildlife and whilst this is true you can easily go by yourself if you want to keep costs down. We saw a family of long tailed macaques and we were by ourselves. The park offers trails through tall bamboo and hikes down to refreshing waterfalls.
National park fee of 300bht pp.
Our Jungle House offers the opportunity to visit a elephant camp, who unfortunately do offer elephant trekking. However the hotel hope that with providing the camp with tourists who only want to bath elephants it will have a positive effect on reducing the amount of elephant trekking rides offered to tourists. Be prepared to get wet as you will be swimming and washing the elephant as he/she rolls around in the river and afterwards you can enjoy feeding them their lunch.
Price – 800bth pp.
Overnight trip to Choew Lan Lake
If you do nothing else whilst in Khao Sok national park then this should be it! An overnight trip to the lake was one of the best experiences during my trip and it can be all arranged from Our Jungle House and other hotels so there is no need to try and organise your own way there. The shared trip includes pick up in the morning from reception, a personal guide for your entire trip, transfer by minibus to the lake pier and getting whisked away on a long tail boat deep into the heart of the lake.
The lake is man-made from a previous forest area being flooded which makes this place even more beautiful as random tree tops stick out of the water gasping for breathe. Whilst sat in the long tail boat speeding past the cliffs you suddenly feel very small and irrelevant.
After about an hour or so you should reach your final destination for the night, a small group of huts floating on bamboo on the edge of the lake. There are various different camps on the lake ranging from cheap huts to luxury pods. Your 1 night and 2 day trip includes a variety of activities, meaning that you really do get your money’s worth. From the moment you arrive the camp staff start preparing you lunch, after lunch you will go on a hike either to a viewpoint or waterfall depending on the weather.
After your hike which lasts a few hours you return to the camp to go straight out again on a evening safari. After you’ve seen some hornbill birds you head back to camp to shower if you dare. Sit down for dinner which is normally BBQ fish from the river as well as other meats and veg dishes. Then it’s off to bed in your very basic hut, a mattress, to get some sleep. You are up before dawn to go on an early morning safari on the boat.
After your morning safari breakfast is served and then you have some free time before leaving the camp in the afternoon. You can either go off by yourself and explore the lake by canoe or you can take a swim, jump out of your hut straight into the water.
Price – 1 night/2 days trip 2,500bth pp.
Other tours to do whilst in Khao Sok
Hot Springs and Viewpoint
Night Safari in the National Park