Are there compelling reasons to stay in Khao Sok NP more than 3 nights? I'm planning to spend one of those nights on the lake. Would a second night on the lake be worthwhile?
I'll be in Thailand for 30 days, visiting Khao Sok fairly early in March. I'm really into natural attractions (especially swimming and birds) but not able to hike long distances. Hoping to stay at Smiley's Bungalows and arrange the lake tour through them.
As a woman traveling alone on my first trip to Asia, I'm not comfortable waiting until I get there to plan my itinerary and accommodation. That said, I'm open to changing some plans onsite. Thanks once again for your kind help!
1 night on the lake is plenty. I booked through Smiley's and the 2nd day is pretty much just relaxation until you head back to town. It is worthwhile since it is such a beautiful location to stay that night though. 3 days is probably good, 2 days on the lake and then 1 day to walk through the park trails, I was only there for 2 days and had to skip on the trails because of this but a few of the guys I talked to said the trails are nice and different then the lake tour. Be prepared for leeches on the trails, not sure how bad they are in March but a couple of the guys were mobbed luckily on the lake tour we only ran into a couple of them. Make sure you look into bus schedules as getting to/from the park can eat up a good portion of day since there is little for evening transportation.
I don't know all the options but Smiley's is better then a lot of the other options because they have their own raft houses that are better shape and have their own bathrooms. The guides were good too and food was decent. You may have to share room since travelling solo but they will give you own room if there is no other solo females. Their brick houses in the house are nice to stay in at the park, didn't see their wood houses so not sure how they compare.
I've gone to Khao Sok several times the past 15 years. One night on the lake is a must, but make sure you have time for a side-trip to one of the caves, do some kayaking at dawn or dusk, and do a short trek in the jungle. Some places also offer night safaris by boat to spot wildlife on the shoreline. I usually opt for at least two nights on the lake to relax and appreciate the relatively isolated surroundings. It takes time and money to get there, so stay a while to make use of it IMO. I would start off your visit near the park entrance somewhere along the small river like Art's Riverview Lodge which has treehouse-style bungalows and every evening macaques (monkeys) descend the cliffs to drink, swim, groom, etc. A total of four nights would be best: 1 night start and finish near the park entrance with two nights on the lake in between. March is an excellent time to do it - tourist numbers down, trails easily walkable, caves dry, but very hot so the lake and rivers will be a big refresher.