Khao Sok National Park – Thailand
Where is it? Why visit it?
It’s protected area located in the province of Surat Thani, on the south of Thailand. This park is divided in two: a jungle zone (Khao Sok) and a lake zone (Khao Lak). In the next links there is more information about the park:
In this park you can enjoy the jungle by yourself, without guides. The jungle area is easy to access and you can sleep very close to the park’s main entrance. There are numerous accommodation, restaurants, a couple of shops and one ATM. You don’t need to hire a tour, you only need to feel like walking and exploring.
I recommend you this national park because it doesn’t look like a touristic place, it’s more peaceful than other parks which are located near Bangkok or in Chiang Mai (National Park Doi Inthanon). However, if you don’t mind about touristic places, Doi Inthanon is the most visited park because there are many hiking routes and the highest mountain of Thailand is located there.
When to go?
The best period to go is the dry season, from December to April. During the raining season, from June to October, the paths can be slippery, there is a risk of sudden flooding and there are many leeches, especially in a rainy day. On the other hand it’s the moment when the big animals leave their lair and can be seen.
Things to do
There are several activities described on the Khao Sok National Park website, on the map called ‘Open map of Khao Sok’ (right column). Some activities that appear on the map and some others offered by the accommodations are:
1. Hiking. You can do it by yourself or hire a guide. Amongst all routes there is one which takes you to the famous Rafflesia: this plant blooms between November and March. It’s the ‘Orchid trail’ on the map above. There are also another two routes next to the main entrance.
On my map there are some tracks and in the next list you can download the gpx files for these routes:
– Bang Liap Nam Waterfall (one way) – Wikiloc
– Nam Talu Cave (one way) – GPSies
– To Khao Lak (one way) – GPSies
– Sip Et Chan Waterfall (go and return back) – GPSies
➽ To download the gpx from Wikiloc you need to be register on the website.
2. Night tour in the jungle. You need a guide to do it because the park is closed during the night and you won’t see any animals without an expert person. In any case, you can’t expect to see many animals for sure because it depends on your good luck. Anyways the night walk in the jungle while you hear the noise of the animals is the best, it’s amazing!
3. Explore the Caves. There are several caves in the park, I suppose that it’s necessary a guide to get there. Make sure to find out about which caves you want to see and which caves you can visit, in order to you don’t be disappointed.
4. Canoe or tubing in the Sok river. You can go down the river by canoe or tubing. These activities depends on the river’s water level.
5. Visiting Cheow Lan Lake. It is very visited and touristic. It’s the other part of the park: Khao Lak. The Lak is enormous and is surrounded by a spectacular landscape of mountains. You can choose what you want, there are tours of 2 days to sleep in a floating cabin, one day tours or you can visit the place on your own. It depends on your time.
6. Visiting Phang Nga Elephant Park. I searched this activity on my own. It’s a place of responsible tourism to feed, bathe and ride an elephant. It is located between the national park and the cities Phuket/Krabi. It’s an expensive activity, like the majority of those places, but considering the expense to support an elephant and the personal treatment they had with us, it’s worth the money. Also, the transport from your hotel is included. Other accommodation usually have activities with elephants but I don’t recommend them because you don’t know with certainty if the animals are being looked after in a proper way.
You can use the entrance ticket for two days: if you access to the park late for example to take a night tour and the next day you can access with the same ticket.
In the section My Experience I explain in detail the activities we did during our stay.
Where to sleep? Where to eat?
There is accommodation in the jungle and the lake area. Besides in the jungle area there are shops and restaurants. If you want to sleep in the lake area I suggest you to stay in a floating cabin and not in the way to the lake. Sleeping in the lake area can be a unique experience and you’ll have a spectacular view of the mountains. On Tripadvisor you can check the hotels and restaurants most recommended by travellers.
How to get there? How to leave?
There is an official bus/van stop 1.8 km from the park’s main entrance (jungle area). In this point vans coming from different places stop and depart.
If you depart from Surat Thani, Phuket, Krabi… you should go to its bus station. You can check how to get Khao Sok National Park to see this and other alternatives.
To go from some islands like: Ko Samui, Ko Tao or Ko Pha Ngan you can search on this company website: Lomprayah. The company offers transport from the islands including ferry + bus/van to Khao Sok or Khao Lak (I think if you go to Khao Lak they leave you in the lake’s crossing, they don’t take you to the pier so you need other transport from the lake’s crossing to the pier).
From the official stop vans depart to Surat Thani, Krabi and others places. Your accommodation can give you more information about the departure time and the places you can reach from there.
Map of the Khao Sok National Park
In the next map you can see all the places I’ve mentioned throughout this article included the transport, the accommodation and the restaurant where we ate.
If I had to choose among activities we did here, I’d choose the hiking along the jungle and the visit to the Phang Nga Elephant Park. The emotions we felt while we rode the elephants and when we fed them are impossible to describe.
We did several activities:
– Hiking. We chose the route which departs from the main entrance, the longest route: 14 km (go and return back), it goes parallel to the river. In the end, we didn’t reach the last waterfall (Ton Kloi Waterfall), we turned around only 1km before, in the Tang Nam Gorge. We swam in the river, had lunch and returned. During the walk we saw monkeys, different types of lizards and even a small snake. The first part of the path is a 4×4 road. After 2km you’ll find a forest ranger when you can buy cold drinks 😃. In this point there is a sign which says that you can’t continue without a guide and a table with a book where the people who cross this point should sign. We asked rangers and they told us: you can go without a guide but if you lose yourself in the jungle it’ll be your responsibility, we don’t take responsibility for you. So we continued. We didn’t have problems getting there, but while coming back we doubted between several paths. Some diversions appeared suddenly which we didn’t see before. The mobile app was very important here as I have already mentioned on the post Discover Thailand, although I think that all the paths comes together. In any case, it’s very complicated getting lost because the route is parallel to the river.
– Night tour in the jungle. We booked a night tour on our accommodation. We found a tarantula, several frogs, a stick insect and the evasive civet cat. The best thing was the walk in the dark jungle listening to the animals.
– Visiting Cheow Lan Lake. We hired another tour to visit the lake and it was the ‘big touristy thing’ in our trip, although it was the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to go. The tour wasn’t entirely bad (the landscape was beautiful) but I’m not used to someone who guides me and I felt like I wasted my time. Also, I expected to visit other cave and not the cave which they took us. If you want to see the lake and you have time I suggest you to overnight there.
– Visiting Phang Nga Elephant Park. We hire this activity before travelling to Thailand. It was, without a doubt, what I liked the most. You can’t describe the emotions that you feel while interacting with the elephant, it was amazing. There were no other tourists: only us, two elephants, the mahouts and a volunteer instructor who explained us everything and took nice pictures. We rode on their necks and took a walk to the eating area where we fed them with numerous bananas. After that, we bathe the elephants. The activity included transport and lunch and there were showers are available.
Getting to the park was easy. After a few days in Thailand I realized that the transportation is well planned to go and return from anywhere easily. We went from Ko Samui to Khao Sok with the company Lomprayah (ferry + van).
The next stop was Railay. They picked us up in Khao Sok to go to the elephant park and when we finished they left us in the Phang Nga bus station (instead of going back to the Khao Sok park). From there to Railay we took 3 transports: bus to Krabi, a Sorng-Taa-Ou to Ao-Nammao pier and a longtail boat to Railay.
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