When planning a trip to Kao Sok there are certain checks on both your bucket list and your packing list that you do not want to miss! This unique Thai landscape offers a jungle adventure like that of no other. Prepare for some once in a lifetime experiences. Enjoy the untamed and wild nature of the climate and ecosystem. When visiting, you would do well you to indulge in both the rugged treks as well as the lazy river tubing experiences. Get the most from what this area can offer you. The trips curated by the Riverside Cottages aim to bring you the perfect balance for any duration of your stay. Read on to discover the best activities in Khao Sok.

Best activities in Khao Sok - Cheow Lan lake trip.

Best Activities in Khao Sok – Cheow Lan Lake Trip

It is 9:00 AM before the bus arrives to take us to the dam. On my second day in Kao Sok and I am excited to see what this region has to offer. I was advised that a Cheow Lan lake tour was one of the best things to do in Khao Sok. And I wasn’t disappointed! As we round the corner to the pier, I see an immense expanse of water painted crystal blue by the sky above. Hopping aboard a long tail boat, we depart for the floating raft house where we will spend the night. Though moving at high speed, the expanse of water encased in the infamous gigantic limestone cliffs seems to stretch lazily in the distance. There is only the splash of the water to remind us of our velocity.

As we arrive at the raft house, we disembark to find the refreshing waters of the Cheow Lan lake inviting us in to cool off from our journey. After this, a prepared meal of freshly caught fish and seasonal vegetables blend eloquently with exotic curries and local spices to sate our hunger for the journey that lies ahead. Conventional wisdom says that swimming after a meal is folly, but I can’t resist.

Jungle Hike

A short boat ride later, we come to face the entrance of the jungle curtain where we begin our hike to the river cave. Winding trails cross-cross the river and bring us through the jungle, past sun dappled pools and clouds of mating butterflies. We took a moment to pause and greet a one hundred foot tall tree. She is as full of life and stories as that of my grandfather. The guide shares tales of how these woods were once the setting for a bloody conflict. From 1975 for around 10 years there was trouble between student activists and government forces. Evident blast holes confirm the bombs of the past, and if you are quiet, you can almost hear the turbulence of days past echoing off the walls of this ancient forest.

Entering the giant cave

A few clicks more, and we come upon the mouth of a giant cave beckoning us with its enormity. As if swallowed whole, soon we are engulfed in pitch black rivaling the darkest night, and leaving only our headlamps to guide us. Bats, who are dormant during the day, sleep by the hundreds above our heads. The caves walls sparkle from river to stalagmite which stretch 50 feet. As the river deepens, we  soon find ourselves wading in chest deep darkness through an invisible habitat. The water rushing past is cool and refreshing, relieving the penetrative jungle heat in my skin.

Daylight is a welcome sight to my straining eyes, but the rain has no intention of allowing us to return unscathed. A downpour eventualizes, pelting us with increasing rhythm as we race back to the boats. As we navigate the narrow canal, our boat catches on a sand bar and we must all disembark temporarily to dislodge the craft…great screams of joy and jubilation ensue as she is free to speed us on our way.

Back to the Raft House

On a rapid approach to the raft house, we are overwhelmed with the urge to dive into the lake’s enticing waters. The guide encourages us to indulge our inclination. We are comforted by the welcoming warmth of the lake. This is a much needed contrast to the cool tropical rain which has soaked us thoroughly. Feeling exhausted but thoroughly relaxed, we watch the rain pour down as we await a moonlit dinner as tomorrow approaches.

If you are considering the best activities in Khao Sok you must include a Cheow Lan Lake trip.

Best activities in Khao Sok - River Tubing.

Best Activities in Khao Sok – River Tubing

Another top tip for best activities in Khao Sok has to be river tubing. The tubing embarkation takes place in the river below the bridge at the feet of the infamous Kao Sok limestone formations. The river, wide and shallow, is overspread with cobbles that cast gentle riffles on the surface. The water level lies below that of the town. This provides the folks hanging out on the riverside patios ample opportunity for greetings and good cheer. My two companions easily settle into their large donuts. I slip around awkwardly as I realize that my smaller tube was not the most brilliant decision I had made that day.

I observe the river banks and note how they change throughout the journey. In town, they are clearly artificial, built up with cobbles to preserve the defined channel. When passing riverside establishments, the banks are high which speaks to the dramatic transformation of water levels and seasonal flood threats. It’s evident that the ever changing levels dramatically affect the river’s configuration. The river’s banks exhibit skeletons of tree roots, boulders, and traces of soil erosion.

Wildlife

Wildlife abounds along the river. Frogs and snakes frequent the roots of the riverbank. Countless bugs skip along the surface and who knows how many fish swirl beneath our bums. Stalking birds in wait for fish awkwardly take off into flight as we approach. The canopies are alive with song birds, and of course the macaques, shaking fruit from the branches up above. Toast, a surprisingly impressive swimmer, charges a grassy patch to expose a serpentine with a triangular head the size of a paperback. It rapidly bisects a section of water that is book-ended by my two friends. They shriek with simultaneous excitement and terror.

I lie back in my tube and look up at the sky.  The clouds of Thailand are floating past, engaged in their daily drama of drifting, coalescing, charging, releasing and dissipating. The canopy over the river is agreeably sparse, allowing me to visually explore each individual tree.  I dip my head all the way back into the water, until my eyes are practically level with the river.  Now the river is the ceiling, the canopy the floor, and the sky is a terrifying long fall below. The river inexorably makes its way towards the 600 foot tall cliff that towers behind our jungle house. As it passes beneath the cliff, the dizzying sheer vertical wall appears to  float over the river.

Fun & Games

No inner tube float is complete without landing breaks for fun and games.  Rope swings hang from trees, inviting us to swing out and over the river, bellowing like Tarzan until the cliff echoes our joy. Slick muddy limestone, scoured smooth by floods, becomes a water slide.  Even the cliff itself offers the prospect of a short climb and free fall.  The shallow river is just deep enough for a round of water wrestling as well.

Soon, my burning skin tells me that it is time we reached our destination. We stealthily try to sneak past the first take-out, located in front of the reception area. Toast gives our presence away. Nevertheless, we decided to continue our journey anyway, floating past the cliff face to hit up one last rope swing in front of the resort before exiting our watery playground.