This post was last updated on February 18th, 2020 at 01:55 pm
In the south of Thailand, you will find the pristine rainforest of the Khao Sok National Park. Because of its location between Surat Thani and Phuket, it is best to plan this jungle on your journey through Thailand by train or plane, on your way to the tropical islands. This park is considered the most beautiful park in Thailand. We agree with this statement!
Our Experience in Khao Sok National Park
The Khao Sok National Park was established in 1980, but is already around 160 million years old! It is one of the oldest rainforests on this planet. The park is around 740 square kilometers (285 square miles) in size. It is known as one of the most beautiful nature parks in Thailand. It is a popular place of interest in Thailand, but strangely enough, it is never very busy here.
TIP – You can do fun activities here such as kayaking, rafting, and tubing!
Rest in Nature
When you are in the park you will hear nothing but the babbling river and the sounds of crickets. With a lunch wrapped in banana leaves, you go out with a guide. Along the way, you will see curious monkeys and unusual plants. If you’re lucky you can spot special birds or reptiles.
If the water in the river is not too high, you can go onto the river with a rubber band. And finally, you spend the night in the jungle in wooden cottages with your own veranda. It is a very impressive and relaxing experience.
6 Fun Things to Do in the Khao Sok National Park
In most national parks the activities are quite limited, most being jungle safaris or jeep tours. That is different in the Khao Sok National Park. That is the interesting thing about this park, there is quite a lot to do. We recommend staying at least 2 full days in this park so that you can enjoy all the beauty that can be found here.
1. Explore the Jungle
One of the most popular activities is exploring the tropical rainforest on foot with a local guide. Khao Sok and the surrounding areas offer a whole range of different options for trekking.
The treks all vary in length so everyone can enter the jungle here, regardless of your age or physical condition.
A trek is the best option to experience the true jungle. You also learn a lot about the area where you walk to. It is possible to enter the jungle alone but you should bring enough water and stay on the marked paths so that you do not get lost.
2. Rafting or Kayaking on the Lake
The park is called Khao Sok because of the Sok river that flows here. And this river is the perfect place for a relaxing journey through the jungle. There are all kinds of ways to get on the water. The most popular way is the kayak (or canoe), but you can also go rafting here.
We recommend renting a kayak and exploring the park. You see so many beautiful things and it is wonderfully quiet.
While floating on the water you see animals like herons, snakes, frogs, lizards and, if you’re lucky, maybe some wild monkeys. In addition to the animals, you also see the beautiful limestone cliffs up close, covered in dense jungle.
You can also paddle to the beautiful Khao Sok Lake. A true paradise!
TIP – You can also kayak for several days like a kind of kayak safari! We definitely recommend it! A day tour costs about 800 baht (US $26.10) per person.
3. Book a Night Safari
If you want to go into the jungle when it is dark then you are in the right place. Just like in Taman Negara in Malaysia, you can also book a Night Safari here. With a guide, you go into the jungle in the evening to discover the nocturnal animals that leave their sleeping place.
You can take a simple two-hour walk through Khao Sok National Park. Along the way, you will most likely encounter spiders (tarantulas), but also deer and other crazy animals. It is an easy and fun tour!
4. Boat Trip on Chiaw Lan Lake
Chiaw Lan Lake is located in the Khao Sok National Park. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Asia that you will see. Cheow Lan Lake is surrounded by hundreds of islands of towering limestone rocks! Some rocks are 900 meters (almost 3000 feet) high.
The lake is so impressive and so gigantic that you will feel completely alone in the world.
You sail through dense forests, small island caves full of bats, and small floating houses where you can sleep. A boat trip on the lake is by far the most popular activity in Khao Sok.
The majestic limestone rocks that rise above the emerald green lake is truly breathtaking.
Sleeping in a Floating House
If you visit Khao Sok, we recommend choosing at least one day, but preferably several days for an overnight stay on the lake. It is possible to visit the lake for one day to admire the beauty, but if you spend the night in one of the many floating bungalows in the heart of the Khao Sok National Park you will see and experience so much more!
TIP – Keep in mind that almost all accommodations on the internet are NOT directly next to the lake but “in the neighborhood”. You can only enter the park in combination with a tour.
5. Jungle Cooking Course
In Khao Sok, they love good food! And you can also learn how to cook delicious food yourself, in a very special way. You visit a local Thai family to experience local culture and authentic dishes that they eat here in the jungle.
In a local farm, you can gain the experience to make and taste traditional Thai recipes. It is not the most booked tour, but it is nice if you like good food and special dishes. You can bring your experiences cooking Thai food home and make it whenever you want!
6. Hike to the Viewpoint (just do it!)
One of the most popular excursions in the Khao Sok National Park is the viewpoint. The hike to this vantage point can be done, although it can get really bad (hot and sweaty) so we recommend bringing enough water for the journey. In the rainy season, it can be a bit slippery here and there.
With a guide, you take a walk of about an hour. As soon as you reach the top, the path changes from hard clay to stone, which makes it quite difficult. However, when you are at the top and looking out onto the Cheow Lan Lake, you will have forgotten about all that effort.
It really is a beautiful view. This is a must-do if you are here and have enough time.
Where to Stay in Khao Sok
If you want to spend the night in Khao Sok you have a number of options. We recommend spending the night in one of the floating bungalows. However, this is not easily arranged. On websites such as Booking.com, a lot of accommodation is offered in the Khao Sok region, which is NOT on the lake.
It is almost impossible to reach the floating bungalows without a private or group trip. The reason for this is that the owners of the floating bungalows cannot receive their visitors just like that.
According to the rules, foreigners must be accompanied by a nationally certified guide from the park.
Sleeping in Water “Villas”
There are a number of organizations that are close to the lake (10 minutes) and that offer direct access. Here you can reserve accommodation that is actually on the lake and not in the Khao Sok region, so you still have to take a bus to the lake.
What are the Costs?
Prices vary but count on a minimum of US$90 per night. For that amount of money, you can sleep on the water. You will only hear the chattering of the water and here and there the sound of the animals that live in the jungle.
It is completely dark and if you are lucky you can see the starry sky from your veranda. Believe us; a house on the water is worth every penny!
Best Time to Visit the Khao Sok National Park
The park is open all year round and there is not really a “best time” to visit. That has to do with the fact that you can expect rain here every day. After all, you are in a tropical rainforest.
Since many of Khao Sok’s activities are in the water, the rainy season, or the “green” season, is the best time to visit the park. These are the months of May to October.
During this time, periods of wet and dry weather alternate. The most rain falls in June and September; this is the best time for canoeing or tubing. From November to April, there is generally the least rainfall and it is dry and sunny.
How to Get to Khao Sok National Park
You can take the local bus to Khao Sok National Park. This is slightly cheaper than a minivan, but frankly, also a lot more work and you will also be on the road for longer. It is, therefore, better to book/share a minivan. These run from just about every known place to the park and do not cost that much. Some famous points of origin;
- Bangkok (850 baht, US $27.70, 11 am)
- Koh Lanta (750 baht, US $24.50, 5 hours), including a boat trip
- Koh Tao (1,100 baht, US $35.90, 8 hours), including a boat trip
- Krabi (350 baht, US $11.40, 3 hours)
- Surat Thani (250 baht, US $8.15, 2 hours)
Another way is to go to Surat Thani about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the park. Surat Thani has an airport and is a popular transit place for travelers going to islands such as Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. From Surat Thani, it is a 1.5-hour drive (250 baht / US$8.15).