A guide to the mis-spellings of Khaosok, and how to find good info online!
Almost everyone planning a trip to this area will research their trip on the internet. People often wonder how to spell the name of this area. Most commonly used is Khao Sok, followed by Koh Sok, and finally Khaosok. This can cause confusion for first time visitors, who frequently wonder how to actually spell Khao Sok?
If you have ever visited Thailand, or encountered written Thai, you know that it does not use the Roman alphabet. Thai has its own unique alphabet representing vowel and consonant sounds, many of which do not exist in western languages. As a result, expressing the Thai language in the Roman alphabet relies on a process called ‘transliteration.’ This is essentially using the Roman alphabet to approximate the sounds of Thai. For this reason, Thai place names can have multiple western spellings.
Khao Sok vs. Khaosok vs. Koh Sok
“Khao Sok” is the most commonly used transliteration of the Thai name เขาสก. However, due to the nature of transliteration, there are a number of roman alphabet combinations that produce a similar sound. The most common misspelling is Koh Sok, making the search phrase ‘Koh Sok National Park’ incorrect. This search will yield varying results, as “Koh” is the common transliteration of the Thai word เกาะ, meaning ‘island.’ Koh Sok means ‘Sok Island.’ As a result, while there is no Koh Sok National Park, searchers will likely find a number of results for Koh Sok island destinations!
It is also worth mentioning that Khaosok and ‘Khaosok National Park’ are search phrases which will produce mixed results. The Thai name เขาสก is spelled as a single word as a result of conventions in written Thai. However, the transliterated version should include a space. Khaosok National Park isn’t necessarily the best search term!
Finally, Khao Sok is often confused with Khao Lak, a beach town in neighbouring PangNga province popular with Scandinavian tourists. Due to the ease of travel between the two, it is easy to visit both places during your trip. However, if you are looking for beaches in Khaosok, or wild elephants in Khao Lak, you will be disappointed.
Cheow Larn vs. Cheow Lan vs. Koh Sok lake
Another misspelled transliteration of Koh Sok National Park (sorry, I meant Khao Sok National Park) comes from the Thai name for Khaosok Lake. In Thai it is wonderfully simple: เชี่ยวหลาน. When we transliterate though, things get confusing. The most common transliterations of เชี่ยวหลาน are Cheow Larn, Chiew Lan, or Cheow Lan.
Deep dive: The difference between Cheow Larn and Cheow Lan has nothing to do with an ‘r’ sound. The addition of an ‘r’ is simply a way of transliterating a long ‘ah’ sound, indicated by the ‘-า’ vowel. If you wanted to be cute, you could write it out as Cheow Laaaan, although that displays a certain lack of professionalism! Also, note that in the same way we don’t write Khaosok or Khaosok National Park, Cheowlan is not used.
Thankfully, Cheow Lan is not a commonly used name, so if you use Chiew Lan or Cheow Larn instead, you aren’t likely to have too many issues! It is also helpful to remember that we can find Cheow Larn lake by searching for ‘Khao Sok lake’. Just remember to spell it correctly – there is no Koh Sok lake!
Finally, did you know that Chiew Lan lake was created by a dam? The เขื่อนรัชชประภา or Rajaprapa Dam was finished in 1988 and means “Light of the Kingdom”. It presents another relevant transliteration challenge! In addition to ‘Rajaprapa dam’, เขื่อนรัชชประภา is also commonly
transliterated as Rachabrapha dam. เขื่อน, pronounced ‘Keuan’, means ‘dam.’ Like Cheow Larn, this is not a common name, so searching either Rajaprapa or Rachabrapha will likely yield positive results!
A word of advice when researching Koh Sok National Park
Transliteration difficulties aside, there is one more challenge facing travellers researching their Khaosok trip. The challenge is finding a source of trustworthy and reliable information online. For example, it is not always easy to tell an authentic information-based site from one with commercial motivations. A prime example of this is khaosok.com, which people often mistake for the national park website. Unfortunately, it is not affiliated with the national park, and much of the information found there is commercial. Anyone looking for the official Khao Sok National Park (not Koh Sok National Park!) website can find it here.
In an effort to provide travellers with high-quality, non-commercial information, we have created a blog on our website dedicated to all things Khao Sok. We encourage visitors planning a trip to Khao Sok to spend a minute browsing. You’ll find information on getting here, the weather, activities, etc.