An evergreen rain forest spreads as far as eyes can see. Massive limestone mountains loom over deep valleys forming the perfect balance for a diverse ecosystem to thrive. The Khao Sok National Park covers an area about half the size of London and can be found between Phuket and Surat Thani.
It’s an incredible destination in Southern Thailand and it’s no wonder why. Expect to see wild animals such as elephants, tigers, deer, bears, white handed gibbons, and squirrels. Close and personal elephant encounters, jungle trekking on foot, canoeing, and truck Safaris are all popular things to do here. Cheow Larn Lake in the heart of the National Park has floating raft houses and luxury tents which are a must-see.
Khao Sok is in the south of Thailand in the Surat Thani province, between Surat Thani on the east (120km) and Takuapa on the west coast (60km). The park extends into parts of the Khlong Yee and Khlong Pra Sang forests as well as portions of the Krai Son, the Khao Pung sub-districts in the district of Ban Ta Khun, and the Khlong Sok and Panom sub-districts in the province of Surat Thani.
Khao Sok has the highest level of rainfall in Thailand (3,500mm per year), due to the high mountains and is influenced by both the Northeast (Pacific Ocean) and Southwest (Indian Ocean) monsoons. The heaviest rains are between May and November, with the driest period between December and April.
What to do in Khao Sok National Park
While visiting Khao Sok to marvel the its beauty may seem like enough, make sure you take part in an activity or two on offer at this national park. From trekking in the jungle to taking a boat ride across the lake, there are many options that will cater to all travellers’ wants and needs.
One of the most popular activities is experiencing the tropical rain forest on foot with a local guide. Khao Sok National Park and the surrounding parks offer different trekking possibilities for people of all ages and abilities. Treks leave from various places throughout the area and along the length of the parks, including but not restricted to the National Park Headquarters.
When booking a tour, a TAT licensed tour guide is usually included in the price of that tour. If traveling on your own to Khao Sok you can also hire a local guide from national park headquarters. Follow the National Park rules, take enough water with you, remember to bring all trash back to park headquarters, stay on the marked path, don’t touch anything you aren’t certain is safe, and you will be sure to have a great time.
Canoeing, tubing and bamboo rafting
Sok River is a perfect place for a relaxing canoe ride down the slowly moving stream. Especially if you have a paddler to do all the hard work for you, giving you more time to take in the scenery. Paddlers are also experts in spotting wildlife along the river, so you’re more likely to spot the native wild animals.
Most commonly seen animals while canoeing include birds, such as kingfishers and herons, snakes, frogs and wild monkeys if you’re lucky. Besides the animals, you can see the limestone cliffs covered with dense jungle, as well as watch the locals fish, do their laundry, and take their daily household water from the river. If you want to paddle your own canoe, the best place to do so is Cheow Larn Lake.
Boat tours to Cheow Larn Lake
Cheow Lam Lake is one of the most fascinating places in Khao Sok with its majestic limestone mountains rising hundreds of meters above the turquoise waters. It is possible to visit the lake for one day to marvel its beauty or stay overnight in one of the many floating bungalows in the heart of the Khao Sok National Park. Staying overnight means you can visit stalactite caves full of bats, trek in the national park and look for animals in the early morning light or late in the evening, not to mention waking up in the morning to the sounds of the rain-forest and calls of endangered Lar Gibbons.
For more information about tours and activities in Khao Sok National Park contact your local guesthouse, national park HQ, or visit www.khaosok.com.
Where to stay
Jungle House Nature Resort
Situated on 25 acres of privately owned rainforest in Khao Sok National Park, Jungle House Nature Resort is both a nature lover’s paradise and a giant playground where you can trek in the rainforest, ride an elephant, go on a night safari, and even dive to sunken temples at the bottom of a lake.
The Khao Sok treehouses, bungalows, and cottages offer a nice selection of scenery and experiences. Starting from $30 USD per night for bungalows or $100 USD per night for deluxe treehouses, visit www.khaosokaccommodation.com to find out more.
Khao Sok Rainforest Resort
Located within the national park along the Klong Sok River, Khao Sok Rainforest Resort offers riverside bungalows, mountainside bungalows, and tree houses starting from $55 USD. While staying here listen to the gibbons calling from the treetops, see wild elephants roaming over mountainsides, check out the native trees and plants and canoe on the lake. Visit www.khaosokrainforest.com for more information.
Where to eat
If you’re looking for authentic Thai food visit Khao Sok River Lodge restaurant. This restaurant is in Khao Sok River Lodge and it’s easy to find along the main road heading toward national park. Thai Herb Restaurant is an affordable family run restaurant also in the area. The menu offers a large variety of fresh and perfectly cooked food, including Westernized versions of popular Thai food which are typically less spicy.
Khao Sok Paradise Restaurant located at 119/1 moo 6, T. Kong Sok is a Thay and Mediterranean restaurant. All menu items are made from fresh, mainly organic ingredients or products. It is the only restaurant in town offering authentic Thai and Western food. Be sure to try their Tiramisu.
Where to drink
If you’re after a few alcoholic beverages there’s one main road in Khao Sok where all of the guesthouses and bars are located. They all serve cocktails and drinks at similar prices, so just pick the one that has the atmosphere that takes your fancy.
Chill Out Bar is located across the street from Smiley’s Bungalows, and the name says it all as this bar plays chilled beats and serves up some great cocktails. Another place to try is Rasta Bar, located at 259 Moo 6, which plays Reggae music to match its Rastafarian-style interior.