Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park

Wise old wilderness

Khao Sok National Park encapsulates much of what makes Southern Thailand’s landscape so special: ancient jungle filled with wildlife, water that appears to glow bright emerald and vertical limestone cliffs towering above it all. Convenient for a stop between the Gulf and Andaman coasts, Khao Sok is one of the kingdom’s premier natural wonders.

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According to the park itself, the name Khao Sok derives from a related term meaning “House of Dead Bodies”. It could reference the sandy soil that gives out quick in a rain, or the steep and forbidding topography, or perhaps the tigers, snakes and spiders that ended lives often, and in a hurry, not a hundred years ago. Plants grow violently and critters seem to spring from the ground. Wet, cool, tropical, ancient—this is Khao Sok.

What a skyline. : David Luekens.
What a skyline. Photo: David Luekens

Studded with mountains that reach to 961 metres, the park itself covers only 739 square km but is part of a roughly 5,000 square km forest complex that includes neighbouring Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Khlong Phanom National Park, Sri Phang Nga Wildlife Sanctuary and the extremely remote Khlong Yan Wildlife Sanctuary along with two more protected areas further north. Having regenerated itself for 160 million years, the biodiversity is remarkable.

The centrepiece is 165-square-km Chiew Lan Lake, affording some of the finest water-and-karst scenery this side of Ha Long Bay. Officially known as Ratchaphrapa Reservoir and also called Khao Sok Lake, it’s one of the more stunning lakes in Southeast Asia and the only one we think is worth going out of your way for in Thailand. Awaken to the staggering, angelic scenery at any of 17 rafthouse lodgings, some run by the national park and others owned by families who possess native land rights. They all come ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 2,700 words.)

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