Use it wisely
Published/Last edited or updated: 3rd March, 2019
The easily accessible Khao Sok National Park makes for an ideal dose of jungle trekking and lake cruising when travelling across the isthmus of Southern Thailand. While you could spend months getting to know this beautiful area, most travellers only stop for a couple of days. Use them wisely.
Khao Sok boasts ancient rainforest, mountains, rivers and a magnificent lake to explore, and you could easily be in for an adventure-filled weekend of hikes, boat trips, wildlife safaris and kayaking. If you’re looking to relax, Khao Sok is also a fine spot to do absolutely nothing but swing in a hammock amid tranquil surrounds. You will see monkeys.
After checking into your treehouse at Our Jungle Camp or bungalow by Baan Khao Sok, you’ll have time to try a lazy tube or canoe ride down the river. In dry season the gentle flow of the Sok provides a relaxing ride and just about every guesthouse will offer these trips. Steering from the back, the guides only break silence when spotting wildlife in the branches or on the riverbank.
If floating down the river isn’t your thing, how about a walk in the woods? The trail network near park headquarters offers hikes through dense rainforest to a number of waterfalls, swimming holes and points of interest, though you’ll need to hire a park ranger or bring a guide to reach the best of them. Park staff hands out a pamphlet with a basic map and description of the trails when you register and pay the 300-baht entrance fee.
Most of Khao Sok’s trail network can be accessed only with a guide who can be hired by the day or half day to accompany hikers and give more insight into the park’s flora and fauna. Guides often spot wildlife that the average hiker would miss, and they will know the current conditions of the trails. Unguided hikers can do about five km on trails closest to headquarters.
A popular guided hike, available only from December through February, is a trek to see a Rafflesia—the world’s largest flower—in bloom. Night safaris and caving excursions are also available, among others in Khao Sok’s long list of tours.
With a full day to explore, this is a good chance to get over to Chiew Lan Lake, Khao Sok’s placid jewel-toned lake distinguished by its towering limestone cliffs. The lake may be visited either by joining a tour, which you’ll need to book in advance, or independently by driving yourself or arranging a taxi to the lake pier, where you can hire a longtail boat for a half or full day.
If you’re in a group and only looking to relax on the lake and see the karst mountains, then hiring a boat would be the best option since it offers more independence and flexibility. But if you’re solo or keen to hike some of the trails around the lake, then the day tour is the best and most budget-friendly choice. Trails in the area, including the popular one to Nam Thalu Cave, are off limits to self-guided hikers.
A popular choice is to stay the first night at one of the many resorts in Khlong Sok village, where Our Jungle House is a top eco-conscious pick. Resorts in the village seem to have an ongoing battle over who can build the coolest treehouses, usually set in serene, pretty surrounds. You’ll also find budget huts that have been ransacked by a few monkeys in their day.
On the second day you could make Chiew Lan Lake a day trip and return to the same lodgings back in Khlong Sok, but spending a night on the lake at one of the rafthouses is worth the expense and effort. If travelling privately with a vehicle, also consider one of the resorts in Khao Sok Valley between the two ends of the park, such as The Cliff and River.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.