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Khao Sok National Park in Thailand

Khao Sok National Park : The Ultimate Travel Guide for Nature Lovers (2024)

Amongst the 147 National Parks, Khao Sok National Park is Thailand’s best-kept secret. This natural reserve in the southern part of the country boasts raw, undisputed beauty and, therefore, is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park is covered by the oldest evergreen forest in the world, another unavoidable reason to check out this place. Featuring the man-made Cheow Lan Lake, towerlike limestone karst formations, dense virgin forests, rare wildlife species, hidden caves, and beautiful waterfalls, Khao Sok is a one-stop destination you would not want to miss.

Join us in this Ultimate Guide to Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park, revealing everything you need to know for your visit, from things to do, how to go, when to go, and a lot more.

Where’s Khao Sok National Park in Thailand? How to Visit Khao Sok National Park?

Khao Sok National Park is located in the Surat Thani province in the southern part of Thailand.

Since the national park doesn’t have a base, reaching here can be tricky, especially for the first-timers. However, the best way to access it is from nearby towns, especially Khao Sok Village. Or, the town of Khlong Sok is another great option with several guesthouses and hotels.

Transportation to Khao Sok National Park:

Surat Thani International Airport is the closest airport to the Khao Sok National Park (Approximately 110 kilometres).

Several taxis, minivans, and local buses operate on an hourly basis from Surat Thani, Krabi, and Phuket. When accessing Khao Sok Village from nearby villages, shared minibusses are one of the most common and convenient transportation options.

All the transportation options drop visitors right outside the Khao Sok Village. From there, hotels and guesthouses may offer pickups.

Khao Sok National Park- Things To Do

For nature enthusiasts, the Khao Sok National Park is a landmark of vivid opportunities. From the basic forest fun to some unique adventures, this destination in Thailand has it all.

  1. Go Jungle Trekking:

Khao Sok is home to the world’s oldest evergreen forest (jungle), a place so dense and magical. The entire forest is covered in vegetation, and even the rocks and roots are carpeted in thick green moss. Trekking here is undoubtedly one finest activities to explore the diverse ecosystems of the park. While there are well-marked trails for a self-lead trek for newbies, the park operates multiple trekking tours as well.

  1. Enjoy boat tours at Cheow Lan Lake:

Cheow Lan Lake is one of the highlights of the park, featuring towering limestone cliffs, lush rainforest, and, of course, some stunning views. This human-made lake (difficult to believe) can be explored on boat tours.

Its distinctly tranquil atmosphere attracts a large number of tourists to the Cheow Lan Lake Floating Bungalow as well. The lake boasts a range of floating bungalows and other accommodation options. Staying overnight here not only exposes guests to undisputed forest beauty but also opens the opportunity to witness the gigantic wild elephants.

  1. Go Wildlife Watching:

Join the guided wildlife tours at Khao Sok and witness elephants, gibbons, macaques, and various bird species in their natural habitat.

  1. Or, enjoy Night Safari:

For wildlife watchers, there’s nothing more surreal than the Night Jungle Safari in Khao Sok National Park. Observing wildlife creatures with the approach of a torch or mobile light is truly an experience on its own. From the tiniest crawling creatures to blind spiders, and wild animals peeking from the bushes, this wild ride is going to be adventures in all senses. It is also the only place in Thailand that still supposedly has tigers (although an encounter is perhaps the rare thing).

  1. Do not miss Bamboo Rafting:

When at Khao Sok National Park, do not miss the leisurely experience of Bamboo Rafting. This slow-paced rafting adventure down the Sok River is full of natural scenery and wildlife-watching opportunities. The traditional bamboo rafts are quite different from typical boats; thus, do not miss climbing them for an ultimate adventure.

  1. Add Cave Exploration to your list:

The Khao Sok National Park is home to impressive limestone caves, a lot of them. Amongst these stalactites and glittering caves, the Nam Talu Cave and Coral Cave are two popular ones creating a fascinating underground landscape. The best way to explore caves here is via Cave Tours (partnered along with boat tours).

  1. Encounter the Gentle Giants:

Khao Sok’s gentle giants, aka the Wild Elephants, are those host meeting who is mandatory. The national park plays an important role in the conservation efforts of wild elephants, given their role in the local ecosystem. The best way to encounter them is either by visiting the Khao Sok Elephant Sanctuary or joining guided elephant tours. Both these experiences will allow you to enjoy the 360-degree wonder view, feed the giants, have friendly water fights, or even walk with them, bathing in the mud.

  1. Hike to the Waterfalls:

Khao Soak is home to a range of small and large waterfalls, some easily visible, whereas others are densely hidden. The best way to explore waterfalls in the national park is via hiking. Plan a hike to waterfalls like Namtok Mae Yai and Namtok Sip Ed Chan and enjoy their lush greenery, creating picturesque natural settings. Ton Kloi Waterfall is another great option, although harder to reach.

  1. Enjoy Treetop Canopy Walk:

Treetop Canopy tours are one of the finest adventures to explore nature from a totally different perspective. This unique tour is suitable for everyone and is truly a treat to the eyes. The elevated walkways inside the forest offer panoramic views of the surrounding canopy and wildlife and allow adventure lovers to experience the rainforest from a different perspective.

  1. Find World’s Biggest Flower:

The Khao Sok National Park is home to so many cool things, and Rafflesia arnoldii, the world’s biggest flower, is amongst them. The rainforests of Southeast Asia (including Khao Sok) grow these huge, bright red flowers ideally between November and April. However, prepare your mind since these flowers fill the air with the smell of a dead fish.

  1. Explore the Local Villages:

If you are interested to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous communities, do visit the villages around the National Park. For some change in the experience, you can also choose to join a Thai cooking class at one of these villages.

Can I Visit Khao Sok National Park Without a Tour Guide?

Although visiting Khao Sok National Park without a tour guide is possible, it is generally not advisable until you are a pro forest adventurer.

The spread of Khao Sok is full of elephants, and roaming on your own may expose you to unwanted danger. Especially when the instances of Elephant crushing are very common, refrain from steeping around alone.

Another reason to visit Khao Sok with guides is due to the vastness and depth of the forest. If you don’t want to lose your way, stay with others.

Where to Stay in Khao Sok National Park?

For an immersive overnight experience at Khao Sok National Park, there are multiple accommodation choices in the Khao Sok Village. The villages serve as an excellent base for enjoying all the opportunities in the forest.

Or stay at the tree houses surrounded by a lush forest of tall trees, providing a symphony of sounds from birds, monkeys, and crickets.

Alternatively, a jungle house or a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake for a breathtaking view are also among some great options. However, both of them can be expensive but worth experiencing.

The surroundings of the national park also boast numerous guesthouses, hostels, and hotel options suiting different budgets.

Where to eat in Khao Sok National Park?

If you are staying at one of the floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake, you will always have fulfilling dining options throughout the day. These bungalows serve different dietary choices, ensuring comfort for every guest.

Or, the Khao Sok Village has enough restaurants and eateries serving local Thai, Italian, and other cuisines.

Khao Sok National Park- Best Time to Visit

November/ December to April is perhaps the best time to visit Khao Sok National Park. It is probably the dry season (a blessing for exploring the rainforest), with the sun shining almost every day. It is also a good time for outdoor activities like trekking, boat tours, and wildlife watching.

Khao Sok National Park- Packing Essentials

  • Sunscreen for sun protection, especially during the peak tourist season.
  • Bug/ Mosquito Repellent: as the park is in a tropical region, insect protection is crucial for jungle and rainforest activities.
  • Sunglasses for protection from powerful glare, especially around lakes.
  • Light, breathable clothing.
  • A light raincoat.
  • Your preferred photography equipment.
  • Swimwear and a towel for enjoying water activities and refreshing swims in the park’s natural attractions.
  • Dry bags for keeping your belongings safe and dry during boat trips or in case of rain.

Khao Sok National Park- Things to Remember

  • The park is abundant with wildlife, some of which can be potentially dangerous. Avoid approaching or provoking animals, and maintain a safe distance.
  • Wear closed shoes or trainers when hiking to protect against leeches commonly found in the jungle environment.
  • Refrain from eating in the middle of the jungle to avoid attracting wildlife, especially potentially dangerous animals.
  • Check the area thoroughly before resting or sitting to ensure there are no unseen hazards or creatures.
  • Do not approach or disturb plants and animals if in doubt. Some species may be harmful, and conservation efforts rely on responsible tourism.
  • Consider taking guided tours led by knowledgeable locals who can provide insights into the environment and ensure your safety.
  • Stick to designated trails while trekking to avoid getting lost or encountering hazards. Inform someone about your planned route.
  • Be cautious around water bodies, especially during boat tours. Follow safety guidelines and wear life jackets when required.
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions, especially during the rainy season. Plan activities accordingly, and carry necessary gear like raincoats.
  • Keep emergency contact information handy and inform someone about your whereabouts before venturing into the park.
  • Dispose of waste responsibly. Pack out what you pack in to preserve the natural beauty of the park.
  • Stay hydrated, especially in the tropical climate. Carry basic first aid supplies and any necessary medications.

That’s all. Hope you will enjoy your trip to Khao Sok National Park in Thailand.

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