My weekend in Khao Sok National Park
My very first weekend in Khao Sok and the best solutions to spend incredible days surrounded by the tropical rain forest!
I suggest everybody who intends to visit Phuket to try this experience. For me, this is seriously the most beautiful and amazing place I have ever seen in Thailand. And I am talking both of the Khao Sok National Park and the Cheow Lan Lake.
For instance, this is the essential mainland park destination in South Thailand, one of the oldest real rain forests in all world. If you never saw a rainforest environment, please do not miss it, for a once in a lifetime experience, and probably you will fall in love with the National tropical parks as well, as it happened to me.
Khao Sok is a huge rain forest area with a good diversity of wildlife and plants. It’s among the few larger federal parks in the nation relatively readily accessible by public services from neighboring Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak, Surat Thani, Ao Nang (Railey Beach). This park’s key attractions are all limestone mountains available through the jungle, spreading all over Khao Sok lake. There are some deserts water streams, of which Sok River is the popular one.
How did I get to Khao Sok National Park?
Actually, I traveled by scooter from Phuket, as I was staying in Kathu, about 50 Km from Sarasin bridge, about 1-hour drive from my location to the bridge, to get to Thai mainland and on the road to Khao Lak.
I must say, driving in Phuket has never been interesting and there is always traffic until you get to the airport area. But once you pass the bridge you finally reach the real Thailand and it always put big smiles on my face. The road is such an amazing experience, especially because I go ahead to Khao Sok this time, Not to Khao Lak.
In fact, once I live the main road to Khao Lak and I divert to Khao Sok, I get the chance to pass trough Lam Ru National Park and then driving by the Khlong Phanom National Park, The view is, in one word, spectacular, epic, paradise! Ok, that was 3 words, 1 wasn’t enough.
The road bends, goes uphill and downhill, pass trough little local Phang Nga villages, I would have had to stop every 2 minutes to take pictures!
Actually. while driving you will pass directly by the main entrance of Lam Ru Park, so, if you get the chance and the time, you can take a hike into the Park trail.
My route here: you can follow route 402 across the Sarasin Bridge as per all the routes, ahead to Khok Kloy then keep the left onto route 4 as you need to drive towards Thai Mueang. Once at Thung Maphro you need to turn right on route 4240, and then left because the goal is to drive to beautiful road 4090. Follow 4090 until you get to the main 401 road, then just turn right to see so many more incredible views to Khao Sok.
Keep in mind the route I chose to take about 2 hours from Sarasin Bridge to destination Khao Sok, about the same you can drive from the other route passing by Phang Nga national park (see in the map). If you have plenty of time you can also choose the route which will be very interesting, because on the way you can quickly divert to see the Wat Suwan Khuha (the so-called and famous monkey temple), and after, on the way, you can also stop to the Wat Rat Upatham, another very scenic temple deep in the Park jungle and with amazing views.
As you might choose to drive yourself, I can give you some reminders here:
From the route I chose, as you drive toward Khao Sok, if you need any western kind on grocery, the last 7 11 or Tesco you will find are at Thai Mueang, after you will have all road with Thai style mini shops but several gas stations on the way. While from the Phang Nga route, you will find 7 11 and other groceries while you pass through Phang Nga town, after that the road will offer same as the route I chose in terms of gas stations and Thai shops.
Remember also that on the last portion of your route, talking about the route I chose, there will be no gas stations. Keep this in mind. On the other hand, if you will be on the Phang Nga route, the last portion of the trip will be on the main road 401 (Surat Thani to Khao Lak), not only you will find few gas stations on the way, but you will be driving right in the middle of Khao Sok National Park with a view that is simply spectacular!
How do you go to Khao Sok from Phuket?
You might choose to go by taxi from any location in Phuket, but it could be expensive up to 3000 or 3500 Thai Baht. An easy choice is to get a lift or a taxi to the Phuket Bus Terminal 2, just north of Phuket Town, 5 minutes drive if you are in town. At the bus station, you can find buses that go north to Surathani. This buses depart every hour but only from about 7am to 3pm. The bus ride takes a bit more than 4 hours, and normally the bus stops for some minutes in Takua Pa. When you arrive at the Khao Sok bus stop you can get off, here it is the entrance of Khao Sok main and only road to the National Park, where all Hotels and resorts are, so you can get here a 2 minutes car ride to your Hotel. This last mini ride should not cost you more than 60 to 80 baht per person.
Below I will explain also hot to get to Khao Sok if you travel from different locations such as Krabi or Surat Thani
Activities in Khao Sok National Park
The National Park Head Quarter and Campsite
The HQ is situated at a convenient walking distance in the region. There’s a camping ground, visitor center from the HQ area in addition to a restaurant and toilet/shower facilities. Means of a resort in the border of this park runs the restaurant, but lots of shops and restaurants are in walking distance. The region is spacious with a river running through it.
If you love hiking as I do, you can access a number of the waterfalls at the park on the dirt road that begins on the east side of the campsite. There are some trails on the north side of the campsite, among them top to Sip-et Chan Waterfall. Read the trails and waterfalls below.
You are able to hire your hiking guide for 600 Thai Baht if half-day and 1,200 Baht for a full day, as well per the night trekking you can pay 600 Baht for the hike from 6 pm to 9 pm (I strongly suggest you try the night hike too, you will see later on why). You can book you guide directly at the National Park visitors center or by your hotel/resort.
Around the headquarter, at the main entrance, there are two relatively brief “trails” choices, everybody is allowed to walk by themselves here. In case you would like to walk deep into the Park trails, from both the itinerary alternatives, you are required to get a guide.
Nobody would ever recommend you to walk on the longer trails on your own and with no guide. Not only you will be breaking national park regulations, but it is so easy to get lost away from main trails. And please remember here, never ever forget this is a real jungle, not a joke, it is all about wild animals we are talking.
Tour operators or resorts can provide you hiking excursions that are longer, to maneuver in the jungle. Some hotels have also their own trails.
When you will go to the lake, many tours can take you to caves, guided trails, wildlife viewpoints, and you can always enjoy a paddle around the raft houses with the kayaks.
35 km east there’s an intriguing trail beginning from Bang Hman Ranger Station. See additional information at “Cave Underwater paragraph”
There’s another trail km east out of the headquarters, beginning from the primary road to Cheow Lan Lake. It’s 6.5 km long 1 manner, but this course is generally used for trekking in conjunction with a boat excursion to caves or raft houses, only explained an overnight stay requ
What should You wear to Khao Sok National Park?
The National Park fauna and flora
Though the park is famous for several exotic wild mammals like Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, gibbons, it’s more famous for its symbolic flower of Surat Thani Province, the enormous Bua Phut (Rafflesia kerrii) blossom located on a road starting from the primary road south of this playground. The blossom can be around 70-80 cm in diameter only October to December.
The park is home to a huge array of mammal species like elephant, gaur, banteng, sambar deer, sunlight bear, Asian black bear, Malayan tapir, macaque, gibbon, serow, mouse-deer, porcupine, marbled cat, wild boar, Asiatic wild dog and a lot more. A few of those animals are difficult to locate as they enjoy the vast territory and of course, they do not love human proximity, most of the wildlife is active anyway in the night, as in every jungle.
Great hornbill, helmeted hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, osprey, brahminy kite, blue-banded kingfisher, rufous-collared kingfisher are some of the countless bird species which may be discovered at the playground.
Even though the park has some of their mammal and bird species in Thailand, it’s extremely uncommon to find at least one of these round the tourist locations. Tourists will observe macaques call of gibbons might be observed in the early hours deer or boars could appear on trails. Banded-langurs are common round the globe or across the trails at Khao Sok headquarters region, several days can be viewed.
Some tour businesses promote Khao Sok as a destination to find tigers. But actually, there happen to be tigers in Khao Sok, there might be inhabitants deep within the most remote park locations, but nobody has seen some for some time. The very best tiger destination in Thailand is always Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife Sanctuary. There, almost 40 to 50 percent of Thailand’s tiger population lives, however there tiger sightings are extremely rare too.
Although it isn’t simple to find critters in Khao Sok’s accessible places, it’s an excellent destination. A lot of Thailand exciting lizard, snake, and amphibian species are available along the trails to the palaces.
One of the birds to mention could be observed relatively simple with a little effort at Klong Saeng tributary of Khaso Sok Lake. Hornbills used to be a common sight, but because of poaching, it is now a rare sighting, although still slightly common as it is their natural playground.
Khao Sok waterfalls
There is a number of the waterfalls at the park, you can access them all by hiking on the dirt trails, from all the trails than begin on the east side of the National Park campsite. You will see also few trails on the north side of the campsite. One of these trails can lead to the Sip-et Chan Waterfall. Read about the trails and waterfalls here.
Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail
This 7 kilometers long route across the Sok River is the most important trail of all the National Park and is the one I like the most. Coasting the river you can see more wildlife and is not rare to see big lizards and many amphibious. There are also other secondary shorter side trails on this main route, between the road and the river, you can enjoy them each time you want to go to the river bank for pictures or exploring.
The initial part of this main trail is about 2.9 km, until a checkpoint guarded by rangers, you can walk freely without a guide, the narrow dirt trail is easy to walk. During your walk, you can reach, in this first segment alone, 2 waterfalls and a swimming pond.
After this first part, once you reach the checkpoint, you will need a guide to continue to walk towards the 3rd waterfall and the 7th km of this trail. Now the trail became proper jungle road, passing by many waterfalls, 1 swimming place, and it will lead you toward the end at the Ton Kloi Waterfall.
Wing Hin Waterfall
20 m high waterfall is approximately 2.8 kilometers at a comparatively convinient walking distance in the visitor centre. It’s on the opposite side of this Klong Sok River in the road, but readily accessible by measure across on stones.
Wang Yao pool
For swimming, 2.9 km in the visitor center.
Bang Liap Nam Waterfall
Little waterfall, but pleasant walk across the river, hiking through bamboo and large trees. 4.5 kilometers from the customer center.
Bang Hua Rat Waterfall
Popular for rafting actions, this waterfall with quick water is 3km from the tourist center.
Than Sawan Waterfall
It’s on a tributary of all Sok River, available through a slick road and wading that may be harmful during the rainy season. 6km in the visitor center.
Tang Nam Gorge
A set of waterfalls which Khlong Sok river runs involving, nice spot to swim. Located around 6km east by the headquarters reachable by precisely the exact same path to Ton Kloi Waterfall (the previous waterfall).
Ton Kloi Waterfall
One-level waterfall Located 7 km from the visitor centre, it could be admired all year around. Approximately 1 km from Tang Nam.
The viewpoint of San Yang Roi
A viewpoint on the west side of this park, 2 kilometers from the visitor center.
Mae Yai Waterfall
This 30 m large and one-level waterfall is is on the primary road between Surat Thani and Takuapa in 113rd kilometers, 5.5 kilometers from the visitor centre. The waterfall has very little to offer throughout the rainy season, advocated only during the rainy season. There’s not any hint on the road notification where the road begins, although driving out of HQ region west it’s on the ideal increase, few hundred meters following the view to the left. A little dirt road resulting in a open area where car/motorcycle etc could be parked.
Sip Et Chan Falls
This 11 tiered drops is available by a nearly 4 kilometers long trail beginning from the north of this camp ground. The very first bit of this road would be a wooden boardwalk that tourists are permitted to walk freely, but direct reqired out of a path fork almost 400-500 meters squared. There are opportunities to observe some birds or mammals along this course is better since it isn’t used that often as the primary route west. Fantastic hornbill, bamboo woodpecker, orange-breasted trogon, banded pitta and black-and-yellow broadbill are a few of many bird species available along the road.
Available by a 3 km trail from Bang Hman Ranger channel almost 34 km east from HQ. Cave Underwater is a fascinating 400 meter long cave with 2 exits along with a water-stream flow between both ends. The path is moderate but you will need a guide or ranger advice to get there. The majority of the walking within the cave is via the water-stream, water is normally around knee level, however at one stage to the end close to the next exit, the thickness can be less or more 1 meter via a 4-5 meter broad pond. The surface is slippery from time to time. The cave has some fine stalactites and stalagmites.
Due to tragic deaths in another similar nearby cave in the past, the guides won’t let anyone enter the cave if there has been heavy rain or any risk there will be rain. The water levels tend to increase very rapidly, sometimes the water level gets a few meters high with a very strong stream.
Flying to Khao Sok
You can reach Khao Sok National Park from all major airports in the region, with just a short transfer. The closest airport of them all is Surat Thani airport, following, Phuket airport and Krabi airport.
Surat Thani airport at 105 Km distance
How do You get to Khao Sok from Suratthani?
Some examples of prices for the routes from Surat Thani Airport or Train Station with about 2 hours driving and a cost around 2,000 / 2,200 Thai Baht, depends if per car or per minivan, from Surat Thani Town about 2 hours driving and a cost around 2,300 / 2,500
Krabi airport at 160Km distance
How do You get to Khao Sok from Krabi?
Some examples of prices for the routes from Krabi Airport, Krabi Town and Ao Nang, the Piers, with about 2 and half hours of driving and a cost around 3,000 / 3,300 Thai Baht, depends if per car or per minivan.
How do You get to Khao Sok from Khao Lak?
What I would love to do is to combine a Khao Lak holiday time with some days at National Park in Khao Sok and at the Lake for overnight stay. Then your holiday would be really complete!
From Khao Lak the transfer costs about 1,600 / 1,800 Thai Baht, depends if per car or per minivan, but you will also have the choice to use the bus from Khao Lak bus station, choosing the busses that drive toward Takua Pa in direction to Surat Thani on the route 401.
You are free to choose also a tour from these locations, many operators offer very nice full-day tours and, the better solutions, the 2 or 3 days tours with overnight at Khao Sok resorts or at the Lake floating bungalows.
Khao Sok national park tours from Phuket
Khao Sok national park tours from Krabi
Khao Sok national park tours from Khao Lak