Khao Sok National Park – Thailand
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
If the link doesn’t work you can also download it from my map, just follow the steps in the post Take my Google maps for your trip and check them while offline.
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.
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.
There is accommodation in the jungle and the lake area. Besides in the jungle area, there are shops and restaurants. We stayed in Khaosok Las Orquídeas Resort, it is located 800 meters from the main entrance to the national park. The cabin was surrounded by vegetation, trees. It was a very nice place to sleep!
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.
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.
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).
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.
We did several activities:
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 2 km 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 Planning the trip to 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.
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 Phang Nga bus station. 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.