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Khao Sok National Park

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Khao Sok National Park (pronounced "cow soak") is a jungle reserve in Southern Thailand. It is one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Thailand.

Understand[edit]

Map of Khao Sok National Park

There are 2 main sections of Khao Sok National Park. The west entrance is where Park HQ is located along with the main hiking trails. The east entrance is where Ratchaprapha Pier is located where you go to get to the floating rafthouses. The 2 entrances are 65 km apart and over 1 hour of driving, so please take that into consideration when planning your trip.

“Khao Sok” is used as a catch-all term to describe the general area where the park is located. This usually includes the area from Ratchaprapha Pier west to the Surat Thani -Phangnga border, along Highway 401. “Khao Sok Village” is the 2km stretch of road from Highway 401 to Park HQ. “Khlong Sok” is both the name of the river in the area as well at the administrative subdistrict (ตำบล คลองศก).

  • 1 Khao Sok National Park HQ. Khao Sok National Park entrance. Hiking trails, camping, and Visitor Center.
  • 2 Rajjaprabha Dam Pier (Cheow Lan Lake Pier). This is the boat pier to the floating rafthouses.


History[edit]

The Royal Forest Department declared Khao Sok the 22nd national park of Thailand on 22 Dec 1980.

Landscape[edit]

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.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Climate[edit]

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The closest airport is Surat Thani International Airport (URT). There are multiple flights daily from Bangkok (DMK and BKK) and Chiang Mai (CNX).

Domestic[edit]

Once you arrive in Surat Thani, there are buses or minivans to Khao Sok with Phantip Travel. Only buy the tickets directly from operator you are using. There is a Tourism kiosk at the airport, but they sell bus, minivan, and ferry tickets at inflated prices.

  • Surat Thani (Airport) – Ratchaprapha Dam (1.3 hrs, 250 baht)
  • Surat Thani (Airport) – Khao Sok (2 hrs, 250 baht)

Car rentals are also available at the airport. See the Surat Thani wikivoyage page for more information.

By train[edit]

The closest major train station is the Surat Thani Railway Station in Phunphin district.

  • 4 Surat Thani Railway Station (สถานีรถไฟสุราษฎร์ธานี), Phunphin District, Surat Thani.

Once you arrive in Surat Thani, there are minivans to Khao Sok with Phantip Travel.

  • Surat Thani (Train Station) – Khao Sok (3 hrs, 200 baht)
  • Surat Thani (Train Station) – Ratchaprapha Dam (3.3 hrs, 200 baht)

By bus[edit]

From Surat Thani:

Minibus service: departure every hour from 07:30 till 17:30 (but the last one can be cancelled).

  • Surat Thani (Town) – Ratchaprapha Dam (2 hrs, 200 baht)
  • Surat Thani (Town) – Khao Sok (2.5 hrs, 200 baht)

Bus running approximately every hour. Transit time is about 2.5 hours. Price: about 120 baht.

  • 7 Talad Kaset 2 (Downtown Transportation Hub), Talad Mai Road, Muang Surat Thani.
  • Terminal 22: Suratthani – Khao Sok

From Bangkok:

"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 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 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 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.

Fees and permits[edit]

Foreigners: 300 baht for adults, 150 baht for children; Thais: 40 baht for adults, 20 baht for children.

Upon presentation of a Pink Thai ID Card/Yellow Tabien Baan or Thai Work Permit, the fee may be reduced to the Thai rate at the gatekeeper's discretion. A Thai Driver’s Licence is no longer valid ID at National Parks but you may still be able to get the Thai rate with it.

Buy your admission at the park entrance. Tickets are valid for 24 hours only. If you plan on visiting Park HQ and the lake on the same day, keep your admission ticket so you don’t have to pay the entrance fee again. Some tours will include the park entrance fee in the tour package, something to take into consideration when choosing a tour.

Get around[edit]

Walking is the primary mode of transportation, as the road to the park is 2 km and the farthest one can walk into the park is about 20 km.

There are motorbike and bicycle rentals available near Park HQ if you want to explore the surrounding area.

See[edit]

  • 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.

Inside Park HQ[edit]

  • 1 Khao Sok National Park Visitor Center.

Western Track[edit]

The Western Track is also known as Route 1: Bang Hua Rat Waterfall - Ton Kloi Waterfall Nature Trail or the Wide Trail. The route covers 9 km which visitors can walk on their own. The trail is usually closed past Wang Yao, yearly from 1 June - 14 December, due to the rainy season (ie. dangerous conditions). You may be able to hire a guide to go further.

  • Wing Hin Waterfall.
  • 2 Bang Hua Rat Waterfall (นำ้ตก บางหัวแรด, Bang Hua Raed Waterfall). Popular for rafting activities, this waterfall with small rapids is 3km from the visitor center.
  • Wang Yao (วังยาว).
  • Bang Leiap Nam Waterfall (วังยาว). Closed yearly from 1 Jun - 14 Dec.
  • Than Sawan Waterfall (น้ำตก ธารสวรรค์). Closed yearly from 1 Jun - 14 Dec. This waterfall rushes down over a sheer cliff, like a rainbow curve, into Khlong Sok. It is about 9 km from the Park's headquarters, or around 3 km from Tang Nam.
  • Tang Nam. Closed yearly from 1 Jun - 14 Dec. Features separated parts of the mountain as a result of erosion by water, which has become two cliffs facing each other with Khlong Sok flowing through them. It is about 6 km from the Park's headquarters, or around 3.2 km from Namtok Wing Hin, and accessible on foot.
  • 3 Ton Kloi Waterfall (น้ำตก โตนกลอย). Closed yearly from 1 Jun - 14 Dec. Namtok Ton Kloi originates from Khlong Sok. It is a one-tiered waterfall with a stony ground for visitors to take a rest beside it. It is about 9 km from the Park's headquarters.

Northern Track[edit]

The trail is usually closed past San Yang Roi, yearly from 1 June - 14 December, due to the rainy season (ie. dangerous conditions). You may be able to hire a guide to go further.

  • 4 Sip Et Chan Waterfall (น้ำตก สิบเอ็ดชั้น). Closed yearly from 1 Jun - 14 Dec. Waterfall flowing along the cliff in layers that looks like the stairs of 11 steps. At the bottom, there is a pool for swimming. It is accessible on foot.

Cheow Lan Lake[edit]

  • 5 Temple Cave. Best known cave dive in Khao Sok Marine Park. The cave is approached by passing a small island in towards the north-western extremity of the lake, entering a small lagoon area where the cave is located.
  • 6 Pakarang Cave (ถ้ำปะการังุ, Coral Cave). A 10,000 year-old cave with a cavernous interior. Located on Ha Hoi Rai, north of Klong Long. It's a 45-minute hike and a short bamboo raft ride to reach the cave.
  • 7 Diamond Glitter Cave (Diamond Cave, Glitter Cave, ถ้ำประกายเพชร, Tum Prakay Phet). Small, 100m long cave with stalactites. Easily accessible. Located on Klong Ka.
  • 8 Nam Talu Cave (Through Water Cave, ถ้ำน้ำทะลุ). Closed yearly from 1 June to 14 December (and rainy days).. A 500 m long cave with water streaming through it. It's a 4 km hike to reach the cave. Located on Klong Pey. The cave is very dangerous on rainy days. 2 guides and 6 tourists lost their lives in this cave back in 2007 when it was rapidly flooded during a rainy day. Guides won't take you through the cave if there is any chance for rain during that day.

Nearby area[edit]

  • 9 Sok Temple & Phanthurat Cave (วัดศก ถ้ำพันธุรัตน์, Phanthurat Cave Temple, วัดถ้ำพันธุรัตน์, Khao Sok Monkey Temple). Small limestone cave temple. Friendly monkeys live alongside the temple and on the hill. Note: The monkeys get easily scared by loud noises, so you might not be able to see them the day after a large thunder storm or a fireworks display.
  • Luk Nam Cave (ถ้ำ ลูกน้ำ, Mosquito Larvae Cave, Water Child Cave). A 400m long and 30m wide cave with stalactites and water running through it.

Do[edit]

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 or local tour company 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.

Suggested itinerary

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.

  • 2 Rajjaprabha Dam Golf Course (สนามกอล์ฟเขื่อนรัชชประภา, Ratchaprapa Dam Golf Course). Par 72, 18-hole course.
  • Diving in Rajjaprabha Dam (Diving in Cheow Lan Lake). Explore underwater caves, forests, and villages in Khao Sok National Park. Several companies offer diving excursions, including: Thailand Dive & Sail, Ban's Technical Diving, Blue Label Diving

Tour Companies and Booking Agencies[edit]

Buy[edit]

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.

Eat[edit]

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.

Drink[edit]

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.

  • 1 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.
  • 2 Rasta Bar, 259 Moo 6 (Opposite Bua Pood souvenir shop), +66 83 0427240, +66 095-425-0475. Rastafarian-style interior. Reggae music, cocktails, and other beverages and chill with atmosphere. Pool table and nightly fire shows.
  • Jumamji Bar.

Sleep[edit]

Inside Park HQ[edit]

There are several kinds of accommodations through the National Park available at Park Headquarters. You can book via the Visitor Center onsite or through the DNP website.

  • Bungalow rentals: 800-1,000 baht per unit
  • Tent rentals: 150 - 600 baht per tent
  • Youth Hostel: 100 baht per person
  • Campsite Rental: 50 baht per person (bring your own tent - 30 baht for campsite + 20 baht for overnight fee = 50฿ baht)

Near Park HQ[edit]

There is one main road in Khao Sok where all of the guesthouses are located. They all offer similar style accommodation (mainly bungalows). Price: 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.

  • 3 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.
  • 5 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 2.5 km), +66 898 276230, e-mail: . 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.
  • 7 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: . 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.
  • 8 Morning Mist Resort. Beautiful garden setting with 200 different flowering plants, excellent restaurant. Internet. From 550 baht (can accommodate families in the larger bungalows).
  • 9 Las Orquideas Resort (Khao Sok Resort), 265 Moo 6 (200 m from park entrance), +66 77 395009, e-mail: . 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.
  • 10 Palm View, 234 Moo 6 Klong Sok (500 m 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. From 400 baht.
  • Smiley's Bungalows, 35/5 Moo 6, +66 89 8715744, e-mail: . 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.

Cheow Lan Lake[edit]

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.


Owned by the National Park[edit]

  • 12 Klong Ka Rafthouse (แพคลองคะ).
  • 13 Kraisorn Rafthouse (แพไกรสร). 200 baht pp.
  • 14 Klong Yah Rafthouse (แพคลองหยา์).
  • 15 Nang Prai Rafthouse (แพนางไพร).
  • 16 Ton Toey Rafthouse (โตนเตย). 200 baht pp.

Privately owned[edit]

Budget[edit]
  • 17 Sai Chon Rafthouse (Sai Chol, แพสายชล). ~1,500 baht pp.
  • 20 Chiew Larn Rafthouse (แพเชี่ยวหลานทัวร์).
Mid-range[edit]
  • 22 Keereewarin Rafthouse (แพคีรีวาริน).
Splurge[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

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.

Connect[edit]

Several places in town have Internet for 1-2 baht/minute. Some have headphones and Skype.

Go next[edit]

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.

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