Compared to other destinations in Southern Thailand, a visit to Khao Sok nationalpark requires a bit of planning. This is a result of its vast size and the distance between attractions. There are many Khao Sok nationalpark tours available from treks and hikes through to a full Khao Sok nationalpark safari. You will also need somewhere to stay. Many travelers will want to stay at the Khao Sok nationalpark floating bungalows. You will need to know how to get to them and about other Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation. To that end we offer this blog. We hope that it will provide a starting point for travelers planning their visit to Thailand’s best kept secret!
Table of contents
Where is Khao Sok?
Khao Sok is the westernmost area of Surat Thani province, about one hour from Khao Lak. For visitors, it is easiest to divide the area into three sections: Khao Sok nationalpark headquarters , Khlong Sok village, and Khao Sok Lake.
1. Khao Sok Nationalpark Headquarters
As one of Thailand’s largest parks, the nationalpark covers a huge amount of territory. On the west side, the headquarters are located next to Klong Sok village. The headquarters are the starting point for khao Sok nationalpark tours. Whether you are planning a long Khao Sok nationalpark safari or a short trip into the park this will be your starting point. It is your gateway to jungle hiking along the Sok River, longer hikes to the rafflesia flower and deep jungle camping. You can find much more detailed information about the park and khao Sok nationalpark tours by browsing our site.
Note: having easy access to the headquarters is a good idea when choosing your khao Sok nationalpark accommodation.
2. Klong Sok Village
Most Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation is located in or near Klong Sok village. The village is clustered around the road to the park headquarters, and there is no shortage of spoken English, western food, and places to grab a cold drink. The village is also the starting point for tours outside Khao Sok nationalpark, such as canoe trips, river tubing and Khao Sok elephant sanctuaries.
3. Khao Sok Lake
Many guests are surprised to learn that the Khao Sok nationalpark floating bungalows are not near the village or park headquarters. The only access point to Khao Sok Lake (also known as Cheow Larn Lake) is by longtail boat at the Ratchapraba Dam, 45 kilometers away. The simplest and most cost-effective way to visit the lake and the Khao Sok nationalpark floating bungalows is to join a group tour. There are one-day Khao Sok nationalpark tours available, as well as a 2 days 1 night trip with a stay in a floating bungalow. Each of these offers opportunities for Khao Sok nationalpark safari hikes, sightseeing and wildlife viewing, swimming, kayaking, and lounging in a glorious setting! For more tips on how to prepare for a trip to Cheow Larn lake, check out this blog post.
How long in Khao Sok?
With so much to see and do, the more time you have in Khao Sok nationalpark, the better! However, we understand that many travelers are working with limited time. While we encourage all guests to make the most of their time here, it is important to be realistic about what can be accomplished. To help with this, we have included some Khao Sok tour ideas below:
2 days 1 night
Unfortunately, this is not enough time to visit the village and the lake or to stay at the khao sok nationalpark floating bungalows. We would recommend something along the following lines:
– Day 1: Canoe trip/River tubing in mid/late afternoon. Night safari or Thai massage after dinner.
– Day 2: Guided half-day hike or Elephant retirement in the morning. Back to your Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation in time to catch your outgoing bus.
A trip this length allows for enough time to take part in many of the best khao sok nationalpark tours. A sample itinerary:
– Day 1: Afternoon Canoe trip/River tubing; Thai massage in the evening
– Day 2: Depart on an overnight lake trip with a stay in the khao sok nationalpark floating bungalows .
– Day 3: Return to your khao sok nationalpark hotel around 2p.m. Rest until time to catch the bus out, or enjoy an evening night safari.
– Day 4 (optional): Elephant retirement activity/Jungle cooking/Guided half-day hike in the morning.
5 or more days
The traveler willing to invest this amount of time in Khao Sok is almost never disappointed. In addition to taking part in the most popular Khao Sok nationalpark safari and visiting the khao sok nationalpark floating bungalows, guests with this much time will be able to spend some quality time relaxing at their resort, or exploring the community. Alternatively, there are a number of special interest activities that could keep a guest busy for a few more days. These include deep-jungle camping, bird-watching, and wildlife spotting spotting at the lake.
For those spending this much time in Khao Sok, the choice of Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation becomes more important! We have written a full blog post on our favorite places to stay in Khao Sok, which you can find here. Here is a brief summary:
– For travelers willing to save on accommodation in order to fund amazing jungle adventures, look at hostels. We recommend Coco Khao Sok Hostel or Sunshine Khao Sok Hostel. Our vote for best ultra-budget accommodation is Green Mountain View resort.
– Guests planning on spending time relaxing at their resort would be well-suited to a river lodge. We think Riverside Cottages is the best choice, and also recommend Riverfront Resort and Silver Cliff resort for friendly English-speaking staff. Expect a clean room with and a mosquito net, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.
– If you have the money to spend, Our Jungle House and Our Jungle Camp are amazing Khao Sok nationalpark hotels. These resorts combine a beautiful natural setting with comfort and convenience.
What are the best tours in Khao Sok nationalpark?
While the answer to this question depends on who is asking, there are some clear winners among the best tours in Khao Sok. We’ve listed our favorites below.
1. Khao Sok Lake tours
This is the must-do Khao Sok adventure! Whether opting for a budget-friendly, joined lake tour, a private tour, or a wildlife explorer adventure, there is something for everyone. Our recommendation for seeing the lake is making a joined tour, as part of our Riverside and Raft House package. This lake tour includes hikes, a wildlife boat safari, and plenty of time to relax on the water. Even better, it offers an overnight in the Khao Sok nationalpark floating bungalows with views of the limestone cliffs.
A day trip to the lake also has plenty to offer! The timetable is a bit tighter, but the trip still includes a hike, plenty of sightseeing by boat, lunch at the khao sok nationalpark floating bungalows, and time to swim and kayak. For more information on lake trip options, please visit our Lake Page.
A note on Lake trips: As a result of the rugged terrain and remote location, we urge guests to consider their personal fitness before booking a Cheow Lan lake tour. Some hikes at the lake can be challenging, and it is sometimes not possible to know which hike any given tour will be making. As a result, we recommend that children under 13 do not participate in these hikes. Please check with your Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation if you have questions about these tours.
2. Jungle Cooking with a local host
This is definitely one of the best tours in Khao Sok for families! Our favorite jungle cooking activities take place on local farms, where guests gather ingredients with their host. During this time, guests learn about principle ingredients in Thai cooking, as well as how to grow and harvest them. Cooking takes place in an open-air sala, true to Southern Thai style. Guests learn how to prepare and cook rice in bamboo over an open fire, and cook all other main dishes as well. Finally, the table is laid with handmade bamboo plates and cups, and the whole family gets to dig in to a lovely home-cooked meal!
For more information on this tour, please visit our jungle cooking blog.
3. Trekking in Khao Sok Nationalpark
The jungle has many secrets to reveal, and the best way to experience it is on foot! Thankfully, there are options available for all trekkers, from experienced adventures to younger children.
For younger children, or those interested in a relaxed experience, we recommend the half-day guided hike. This hike follows well-trodden paths in the public area of the park, where anyone can explore by themselves. Guests can make this hike on their own, but hiring a local guide will add a lot more to the experience. Guides know the forest extremely well, and are experts at spotting wildlife, and identifying local plants and their uses.
The best Khao Sok hike for nature lovers is a full-day guided trek into the depths of the forest. This Khao Sok nationalpark safari can be relaxing or strenuous and is the best way to see the forest. There are a number of popular destinations offered with the full-day hike, including waterfalls, caves, and clear jungle pools. At the Riverside Cottages, we are always on the lookout for new hikes to unexplored areas such as our trek to the giant bamboo!
For those intrepid explorers looking for the trek of lifetime, Khao Sok nationalpark doesn’t disappoint. On the shorter side, there are treks to mountain peaks to view the Rafflesia Kerrii, the world’s largest flower. On the longer side, there are multi-day, deep-jungle treks available! Contact us to arrange your Khao Sok nationalpark safari, and find out why our local guides are the secret to discovering the jungle.
How do I get to Khao Sok Nationalpark?
Although Khao Sok is a bit remote, it remains relatively easy to reach from most southern Thailand destinations. Below, we have provided travel information from three of the most common locations to Khao Sok nationalpark.
1. Phuket to Khao Sok
Phuket Town: The Phuket to Khao Sok bus leaves from “Bus Terminal 2” in Phuket town roughly every hour from 7am to 3pm. Board a bus that is heading for Surat Thani, and tell the driver to stop at the Khao Sok bus station. This is the only bus route that goes directly from Phuket to Khao Sok.The travel time on a public bus is about four hours.
Phuket Airport: Unfortunately, there is no regional public bus stop at the Phuket Airport. Guests traveling from Phuket Airport to Khao Sok should take a city bus from the Airport to Phuket Bus Terminal 2 in Phuket town and follow the instructions above. It takes 30-45 minutes to reach this terminal from the airport.
A much quicker, simpler and more comfortable alternative to public transportation is to hire a private car to bring you to your Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation. The trip takes roughly 2.5 hours and costs 2,700/2,900B for a car/van from Phuket Airport, and 3,100/3,300B for a van.
2. Surathani to Khao Sok
Surat Thani Airport to Khao Sok: This airport is the closest to Khao Sok nationalpark, however public transportation directly to the park is not always available. Guests coming from the airport must first get into Surat Thani town. Pantip travel has a shared van stop in front of the airport. These vans will bring you into Surat Thani town for about 100 Baht.
Surat Thani town to Khao Sok: Public transportation is easy to get from Surat Thani town. There are hourly van departures from from the minivan station (250 Baht) every hour between 7am and 5pm. Alternately, buses depart from the public bus station (120 Baht) every hour between 7am and 5pm. A minivan from Surat Thani to Khao Sok is the fastest option.
Surat Thani train station to Khao Sok: Turn right once out of the station. After 30 meters you will see the stop for the Surat Thani to Phuket bus (2 hours / 120 Baht). Similarly, at the Wut Travel Agency you can buy tickets for the hourly minivan from Surat Thani to Khao Sok. Their office is directly across the street from the station and they can be reached at 081 978 3928. They will call the driver for you, otherwise the van will not stop at the station.
A private taxi from Surat Thani to your hotel will significantly reduce travel time. Riverside Cottages charges 2,000/2,200B for a car/van from Surat Thani Airpot and train station, and 2,200/2,400B from Surat Thani town.
3. Bangkok to Khao Sok
Plane: Flights from Bangkok to Surat Thani Airport can be very cheap. Follow instructions above to reach your from the Surat Thani or Phuket airports.
Train: You can take an air-conditioned, 2nd class sleeper train, (approximately 800 Baht one-way) to Surat Thani train station. Note: Trains in Thailand can often be delayed, so allow some time to ensure you make your connection. See above instructions to get from Surat Thani train station to your Khao Sok nationalpark hotel.
Bus: Several night buses leave from Bangkok to Surat Thani each day. Buses leave in the early evening and arrive in the morning. The Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) has buses that travel to the southern provinces. You find this bus terminal at Phutthamonthon Soi 1 in Bang Ramat, Taling Chan, Northern Thonburi.
What animals are in Khao Sok Nationalpark?
It is true that the park remains one of the best places in Thailand to see wildlife. While there are definitely opportunities to view wild animals such as a wild Khao Sok elephant, they are increasingly rare. Guests will find that time and effort are necessary to properly view Khao Sok’s wildlife. We’ll discuss realistic wildlife viewing opportunities below.
Standard Khao Sok Trip
Guests on a standard 3-4 day trip to Khao Sok can count on spotting long-tailed macaques, and possibly dusky langurs in the park. Small reptiles, such as forest lizards, tokay geckos, and frogs can be found at most Khao Sok nationalpark hotels. Likewise, Oriental Pied Hornbills are a fairly common sight in the area around Khao Sok town.
Investing more time and energy into activities like the night safari and overnight lake trip generally pays off. The night safari affords the chance to find all manner of fascinating snakes and insects. Additionally, Slow Loris, Civet Cats and Mouse deer are occasionally seen at night. The lake is the best place to spot wildlife, with Great Hornbills and Guar (wild forest bulls) most commonly encountered. Gibbons are nearly always heard, although rarely seen. There is also the chance of seeing wild elephants at the lake.
Wildlife Viewing Trip
As mentioned above, with an increased investment of time and effort, guests will greatly increase their chances of encountering wildlife in Khao Sok nationalpark. Perhaps the simplest way of doing this is to book a private wildlife explorer lake tour. By spending more time at the lake, with a private boat and guide, guests open up the possibilities. In addition to Khao Sok elephants, Serow and Tapir can be seen at the lake, with a bit of luck. Guar, otters, and many bird species can also be seen.
It is also possible to book specialist tours, such as bird-watching. Riverside Cottages works with a truly gifted birding guide and can help arrange such an excursion with enough advance notice. Likewise, if guests are interested other specialist activities like fishing tours, this can be arrange.
It is fair to say that with enough time and effort, it is possible to find most Khao Sok wildlife. The exception to this rule are the big cats. Sadly, only the best-funded, highly-organized expeditions stand a chance of spotting a tiger or clouded leopard in the park.
Is Khao Sok a rainforest?
Although it is often referred to as the world’s oldest existing rainforest ecosystem, Khao Sok nationalpark is not a rainforest. Rather, it is a very old, very wet, and very beautiful example of Thailand jungle. While not technically a rainforest, this section of Thailand jungle does experience the highest amount of rainfall in the country!
Don’t let this keep you away from Khao Sok, or keep you out of the forest, however! The Khao Sok forest remains perhaps the most diverse areas of Thailand jungle in the country. In addition to tremendous plant diversity, Khao Sok remains one of the last remaining places to see Thailand’s large wildlife. Join a Khao Sok nationalpark safari anytime. There are always exciting things to discover here.
What is there to do in Khao Sok at night?
After nightfall, when most Khao Sok national park tours have returned, there are a few things to keep guests occupied! One of our favorites is the Night Safari, which presents an opportunity to see some of Khao Sok’s smaller wildlife. On this tour, guests leave their Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation around 19:30, and enter the forest with a guide. The walk usually lasts about an hour, depending on whether and what kind of animals are out and about.
Night safari pro tip: You’ll need to purchase an entrance ticket to the park with this activity. However, you can re-use a ticket purchased earlier in the day, so consider a hike in the morning, and nights afari in the evening.
For an even more immersive nighttime jungle experience, try camping in the Thailand jungle! You’ll have to forego the creature comforts of four walls and a bed, but the forest provides unrivaled evening entertainment.
Finally, there are the watering-holes in Khao Sok village. While most Khao Sok nationalpark hotels will serve drinks, visiting a bar or café can spice up an evening. Our favorite mellow evening spot is the Rafflesia Café, located right on the river in the village. Enjoy chilled vibes, good music, and excellent homemade ice cream and smoothies. Those in search of a more exciting time may enjoy Jumanji Bar, Reggae Bar, or Chill Out Bar. Each of these offers beers and cocktails in a unique setting that feels just right for Khao Sok.
What is the Khao Sok nationalpark weather?
Predicting the weather on a day-to-day basis is nearly impossible. However, there are a few seasons with fairly well-defined weather patterns. We’ve provided a bit of information below! For more info on Khao Sok nationalpark weather, be sure to visit our blog.
As life here is so closely related to the monsoon, we’ve broken the year into two distinct seasons: Monsoon and non-Monsoon!
Monsoon season in Khao Sok begins properly in June. The rains reach a peak in August/September, and fade out slowly from November to December. During this time, visitors to Khao Sok can expect at least one heavy rainfall every day. In some extreme cases, rain may fall nonstop for several days. Additionally, monsoon season signals the arrival of many of Thailand’s famed fruits. Many of these are available at local hotels in the form of delicious smoothies! Seasonal fruits, such as Durian, Mangosteen, Longan and Dragonfruit are only available during this time of year.
Of course monsoon season does have some downsides, most notably in how it affects some types of tours. For example, there is no jungle camping during monsoon season. Additionally, trips to Cheow Larn lake are often affected by this type of Khao Sok nationalpark weather. Finally, monsoon season is not a good time to view wildlife.
The Dry Season
Dry season begins properly in January, although light rains are still possible. By mid-April, the forest is dry and brown, and the river is sluggish and shallow.
This is the time of year to organize the Thailand jungle camping trip of a lifetime. Additionally, Khao Sok lake is at its best during the dry season. This is the best time of year to view Elephants, Gaur, and other wildlife on a Khao Sok nationalpark safari.
Unlike monsoon season, the dry season will not heavily impact activities. The main exception is River Tubing, which isn’t very much fun on a slow-flowing river. Guests will need to prepare themselves for the heat of this Khao Sok nationalpark weather: be sure to drink plenty of water!
Other things to keep in mind
In addition to the changing seasons, guests should consider that tourist numbers spike at holiday times, mainly at the lake. As a result, it can be very difficult to find accommodation or tranquility at the lake during these times. The three largest tourist holidays celebrated at the Lake are:
- Chinese New Year. The next celebration begins February 5, 2019
- Thai New Year. The next celebration begins April 13, 2019
- Western New Year
We hope that this lengthy post has helped answer nearly all of your Khao Sok questions! It shouyld help you to choose the best Khao Sok nationalpark accommodation. It should give you insights into the best khao sok nationalpark safari and tours.
Happy planning, and see you in Khao Sok!