Khao Sok National Park
The Royal Forest Department declared Khao Sok the 22nd national park of Thailand on 22 Dec 1980.
The park has a total area of 738 km2, which covers parts of the Khlong Yee and Khlong Pra Sang forests as well as portions of the Krai Son and 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.
From/to Bangkok: By plane: Surat Thani airport is nearer, but you can also choose Phuket airport. By train: Surat Thani train station is the nearest one. Be careful: the southern line is very busy, advance booking is highly recommended. By night bus: There is only one night bus from Bangkok per day stopping at Khao Sok. In Bangkok, it seems that the only way to book and buy it is to go directly to the southern bus station in Bangkok (booking any other night bus sold by agencies is not recommended). In Khao Sok, it is possible to book and buy it in the local agency or at your hotel (ask for the real VIP bus, direct from Khao Sok to Bangkok).
From/to Ko Lanta, Ko Jum or Ko Phi Phi: 650-700 baht for Ko Lanta or Ko Jum; 550-600 baht for Ko Phi Phi.
From/to Krabi: Only one minibus per day, starting from Krabi at about 11:00; starting from Khao Sok at 08:30. Transit time is 3 hours. Price: 300-350 baht.
From/to Phuket or Khao Lak: There is a bus service (approximately one bus per hour; the last one starts from Phuket around 14:00). Transit time is 4 hours from Phuket and 2 hours from Khao Lak (including a 20 min stop in Takua Pa that you may use to visit the local market). Price: about 160 baht from Phuket and from Khao Lak about 120 baht.
From/to Surat Thani: Bus running approximately every hour. Transit time is about 2.5 hours. Price: about 120 baht. There is also a minibus service: departure every hour from 07:30 till 17:30 (but the last one can be cancelled)
300 baht for foreigners, 100 baht for students, 40 baht for Thais. Buy your admission at the park entrance. Many tours will include the park entrance fee, something to take into consideration when choosing a tour. Upon presentation of a Work Permit or Thai Driver's Licence, the fee may be reduced to the Thai rate at the gatekeeper's discretion.
Walking is the primary mode of transportation, as the road to the park is only 2 km and the farthest one can walk into the park is about 20 km.
- Rafflesia Flower (The way to see it is not through the main entrance of the park. Go down to the intersection of the highway and the road to the park. From there, go right to km111 and on your right you will see a wooden ladder. Go up that and when you get to the first fork take a right. From there the little path crosses some streams and such so look hard if you can't find the trail again.). To see the Rafflesia flower you have to go when it is in bloom around late-Jan or early-Feb. This will take you most of the day if you start early (about 09:00), but you could be back in time to go to the temple with all the monkeys. If you find a tour group, just follow them until they get to a flower. The Englishman at the restaurant next to the park said, "you don't need a guide, but if you go by yourself it's not guaranteed that you will see the flower." Don't forget to buy a ticket before you go.
Tours can include tubing down the river, caving, kayaking, and zipline riding in the forest canopy. Many tours will include drinks, food, and/or basic accommodation. Ask your guide in advance about dietary concerns (vegetarian or in Thai, "jay", for example), if lunch is to be provided for you on the tour.
Doing any 2-4 day tour in the national park will easily please any traveler. Your guesthouse can easily help set you up. Choosing a tour that involves at least one night in a floating raft house in the national park lake is an unforgettable experience.
Khao Sok 4 Days / 3 Nights
Day 1: Leave for the area around Khao Sok National Park headquarters in the morning from Phuket, Khao Lak, Krabi, or Surat Thani. Visit the elephant camp and explore nature by canoeing down the Sok River. In the evening, enjoy the sounds of the rain forest.
Day 2: Visit the jungle cave temple. Go hiking in the national park by yourself or by hiring a local guide. The trails inside the park are well marked and there are several waterfalls on the way. In Jan-Feb it's possible to find the world's biggest flower, the Rafflesia blossom.
Day 3: Continue to Chiew Lan Lake about 70 km away and depart from the Rajjabrapa pier. On the way to the raft houses, sail amidst spectacular rock formations and make a detour for Gulin of Khao Sok, a scenic place on the lake. Check into a simple bamboo raft house. Paddle a canoe to explore the lake and look for wildlife. Take a bamboo raft to a newly discovered drip stone cave. This tour can also be arranged from your resort. Morning Mist Resort offers a lodging discount when you book an activity.
Day 4: Value your stay in the wilderness. Get up with the sun. Take a canoe or arrange with the boat driver to go for a safari to scan the banks. Morning is the time of day when the animals are most active and if a branch in the canopy flicks from one side to the other, it is often a group of monkeys searching for their first meal of the day. Take a swim in the lake and head back to the pier by longtail boat. Transfer to ongoing destinations can be arranged.
Souvenirs are limited to the gift shop at the park entrance and a few items at convenience stores. Sundries, snack foods, soy milk, and cold drinks can be found in the shops as well.
Most guesthouses have a restaurant. Meals are usually 70-100 baht; cuisines are limited to Thai and European dishes. The standard of hygiene across all establishments is high, however if you are concerned look for places displaying the Clean Food, Good Taste sign. This appellation is bestowed by the government on restaurants that maintain a high standard of cleanliness and food preparation.
All restaurants have fresh fruit and fruit juices or shakes (fruit blended with ice). Convenience stores often sell bananas and other fresh fruit outside their establishments. Depending on the season, you will see in the trees and for sale a variety of fruit, including rambutan, longan, pomelo, mango, mangosteen, a few varieties of banana, papaya, and guava.
There is one main road in Khao Sok where all of the guesthouses and bars are located. They all serve similar cocktails and drinks at similar prices, so just pick the one that has the best atmosphere for you.
- Chill Out Bar (Across the street from Smiley's Bungalows). The name says it all. Plays mostly Bob Marley and serves up some great cocktails.
- Rasta Bar, 259 Moo 6 (Opposite Bua Pood souvenir shop), ☎ +66 83 0427240. Rastafarian-style interior. Reggae music, cocktails, and other beverages and chill with atmosphere.
There is one main road in Khao Sok where all of the guesthouses are located. They all offer similar style accommodation (mainly bungalows). Price ranges between 200-2,500+ baht. Most have restaurants, bars, Internet, and a travel agency. Even in peak season it shouldn't be difficult to find accommodation.
- The Cliff and River Jungle Resort. Pool. 2,000-5,500 baht.
- Khao Sok Nature Resort (Opposite Art's River View). Run by Mr Tee and Mrs Ae, it was the first tree house accommodation in Khao Sok. The property is huge and contains a restaurant, fruit garden, orchid garden, etc. It is framed by limestone cliffs and a river. 700-1,500 baht.
- Khao Sok Paradise Resort, ☎ +66 83 3061044, e-mail: email@example.com. Contact person: Theeranuch Limbos (hotel manager). 1,100-3,800 baht.
- Khao Sok Rainforest Resort, 122 Moo 6 Klongsok (On the left side of Khao Sok Bridge. The distance from Rte 401 at km109 to the resort is approximately 2.5km), ☎ +66 898 276230, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lies along two streams in which you can swim and enjoy nature. Several types of rooms: riverside bungalows, mountain side bungalows, tree houses, and family rooms. Bungalows have some great views of the jungle-covered mountains alive with colour and sounds. A certified tour operator and resort registered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). 500-2,500 baht.
- Khao Sok River Lodge, 55/779-780 Villa Daowroong Village, ☎ +66 89 7252244, +66 89 7252277, e-mail: email@example.com. 1,200-2,500 baht breakfast included.
- Khao Sok Riverside Cottages, 230 Moo 6 Soi Natai, Klong Sok (From Khao Sok drive eastwards on highway 401 for 2 km and take a left at the Riverside Cottages sign. Then drive 2.5 km to the end of the road, where you will find the resort), ☎ +66 77 395 159, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 13:00. Friendly place, owned by an American-Thai couple. Riverside Cottages is in green surroundings along the river, overlooking Khao Sok National Park. The resort is a couple of kilometers east of Khao Sok town and park Headquarters. Free pick-up from Khao Sok bus stop on arrival (just call) and several free daily shuttles to/from town. The renovated wooden cottages have a private deck, comfortable mattresses, mosquito nets, a fan, and hot water showers. The restaurant overlooking the river offers delicious Thai cuisine. Free Wi-Fi in common areas. The owners know the area very well and offer several high-quality tours, including trips to Cheow Lan Lake and jungle hikes with experienced guides. 800-1,500 baht.
- Morning Mist Resort. Beautiful garden setting with 200 different flowering plants, excellent restaurant. Internet. 550+ baht (can accommodate families in the larger bungalows).
- Las Orquideas Resort (Khao Sok Resort), 265 Moo 6 (200m from park entrance), ☎ +66 77 395009, e-mail: email@example.com. Small, with only 5 bungalows, all of which are surrounded by flowers and exotic plants, all of which have large verandas and huge windows overlooking the rugged mountain tops of the national park. Top-of-the-line mountain bikes are provided for free, there is a swimming pool, free Internet, and the breakfasts are different every day! It is difficult to leave. 1,800-3,300 baht with breakfast.
- Palm View, 234 Moo 6 Klong Sok (500m from park entrance), ☎ +66 85 7850539. This quiet set of bungalows is owned by a sweet Thai family. Great food and friendly staff. Accommodations are quite nice as well. 400+ baht.
- Pantoorat Mountain Lodge, 201 Moo 6, ☎ +66 86 2687399, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bungalows that offer quiet accommodation and fantastic views from Pantoorat Mountain. 300 baht.
- Smiley's Bungalows, 35/5 Moo 6, ☎ +66 89 8715744, e-mail: email@example.com. Clean and comfortable concrete bungalows and tree houses and offers a spectacular view of the mountains. Early morning one can see the mist creeping down the surrounding hillsides. There is a restaurant, bar, tour counter, and free Wi-Fi. Amazingly friendly service and family-run. 300-800 baht.
- Tree Tops Jungle Resort. 2,000-3,800 baht.
Cheow Lan Lake
There are also many floating raft houses which offer accommodation on the lake. This ranges from simple bamboo and thatched roof accommodation provided by the Thailand Department of National Parks, to luxurious floating wooden cottages. Reservations can be made through tour companies, but it is also possible to hire a longtail.
- 500 Rai rafts (แพ500ไร่). 7,000-13,500 baht.
- Khao Sok Floating Bungalows, Ta Khun, 32/15 Nanaplaza B10-B11, Surathani-Takuapa Rd (At Rte 401 and the river Phum Duang), ☎ +66 85 786 3810, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Floating bungalows on the lake. Offer lake tours, adventure tourism. 2,500-10,000 baht.
Don't go off trail without a local guide or a ranger.
Do not explore the "Namtaloo" or "Through" Cave (a cave with a river running through) if it is raining or if you think it is going to rain. Rain is frequent and can come on fast. Unfortunately people have died as a result of this. If you are with an experienced guide he will not take you if he even suspects a chance of rain.
Several places in town have Internet for 1 or 2 baht/minute. Some have headphones and Skype.
Walk to the main highway (opposite end is the park entrance). Mini buses on the corner head left to Surat Thani. Across the street and to the right, a giant "Bus Stop" sign serves as a stopping point for buses heading to Khao Lak and Phuket. Tickets in advance are not needed. Buses come by every hour during the day.