Khao Sok National Park is a beautiful national park in the south of Thailand that is truly a hidden gem. The park has the world’s oldest evergreen forest, roughly 160 million years old. It’s home to amazing wildlife such as elephants, a variety of bird and monkey species, black bears and so much more. Khao Sok has a man-made lake, Cheow Lan Lake, which is the main attraction here but that’s not all. There is so much more to this hidden gem.

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Thailand's Ultimate Hidden Gem: Khao Sok National Park

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Where is Khao Sok and How to Get to Khao Sok

Khao Sok National Park is an enormous national park in Surat Thani province in Southern Thailand. It’s about 3 hours North of Phuket and 2 hours North of Krabi. It’s close to the major touristy spots in Thailand and extremely easy to get to. Getting to Khao Sok National Park:

Khao Sok National Park: Tours

Phuket to Khao Sok National Park

The easiest way of getting to Khao Sok from Phuket is by private taxi but it’s not the cheapest. It will take about 3-hours to get to Khao Sok National park and the taxi driver will drop you off at your hotel. This is a great option if you are travelling as a group of 2-4 people because you can split the cost.

Another option is to use a local bus from the Phuket bus terminal. This is the cheapest way to travel from Phuket to Khao Sok National Park but will take between 4 to 5 hours to get there.

Also Read: Free Travel Guide for the Famous Phuket, Thailand

Krabi to Khao Sok National Park

Getting from Krabi to Khao Sok National Park is similar to getting to Khao Sok from Phuket. You have the option between a private taxi and a bus.

The fastest option is to take a private taxi and the cheapest option is to take a bus. You can arrange a private taxi from your hotel or any tour agency or transportation agency by Ao Nang. You can book a bus from the bus terminal in Krabi.

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Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park

There are 3 main ways of getting to Khao Sok from Bangkok.

The first is by bus. This option is easy but not that comfortable. Simply go to the Southern Bus terminal (Sai Tai Mai) and find the counter that goes to either Surat Thani or direct to Khao Sok National Park. It will take between 11 to 12 hours to get to Surat Thani by bus. If you go to the Surat Thani bus terminal, you can take a minivan or taxi to Khao Sok.

The second way is by plane. This is the fastest and most comfortable but it’s more expensive. You can fly from either Don Mueang Airport or Suvarnabhumi Airport to Surat Thani Airport. Once at the airport, you can either take a minivan, private taxi or rent a car to get to Khao Sok.

The last way is by train. You can take a train from Hua Lamphong Train Station(Bangkok Railway Station) to Surat Thani Railway Station. The journey can take between 11 and 15 hours depending on the train and cost between 500 Bhat and 2000 Baht depending on the train, class and if you book online or at the station.

We recommend you get a sleeper ticket. It is very comfortable and will make the time feel like it’s going by faster. Once at the train station, you can take a minivan or private taxi to Khao Sok.

Also Read: 11 Things to do in Bangkok, Thailand

Things to do at Khao Sok

There are 5 main things to do in Khao Sok:

1. Cheow Lan lake in Khao Sok National Park.

This is a man-made lake that was constructed in the 1980s when they built a dam wall to ensure electricity for the south of Thailand. It’s one of the biggest freshwater lakes in Thailand.

There are huge sheer limestone cliffs on the eastern side of the national park that are absolutely breathtaking. Most of the National Park is a very dense jungle which is 160 million years old.

Khao Sok National Park: Limestone mountain on the east of the park

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The lake’s water is a deep blue colour. You can’t see the bottom because the water is more than 40 metres deep. This is a beautiful place. When you are coming here you can either book a day tour or book an overnight stay in one of the bungalows.

A day tour is a wonderful way to see this national park. However, if you want to explore the park more then spending a night on the lake is the perfect option. There are many things to do and see on the lake such as caves, hikes, kayaking and wildlife.

Khao Sok National Park: Boat tour

A Day Trip to Khao Sok National Park

This is a general itinerary. It is subject to change depending on the driver.

  • Pick up from your hotel
  • Arrive at Ratchaprapha Pier and enter the National Park with your guide.
  • Take about a 30-minute boat ride to your first stop, Khao Sam Kloe. Here the guide will tell you the history of the park and allow for photo opportunities.
  • The next stop will be at a cave. There are a few caves you can visit in the park and the one you visit will depend on your guide and the season.
  • After this, have lunch in a restaurant by the floating bungalows. Here you can relax or swim as well as kayaking and paddleboarding.
  • Head back to Ratchaprapha Pier.
  • Drop you off at your hotel.

Book a Khao Sok Lake Day Tour right here

An Overnight Stay at Khao Sok National Park

This is a general itinerary. It is subject to change depending on the driver.

Day 1

  • Pick up from your hotel
  • Arrive at Ratchaprapha Pier and enter the National Park with your guide
  • Take about a 45-minute to 1-hour boat ride to your overnight Bangalow. Check-in and relax for a short time.
  • Have lunch at your floating Bangalow.
  • After this, leave to go on a hike either to a viewpoint or Nam Ta Lu cave, depending on the weather.
  • Once back at the boat, you will head back to your hotel.
  • Relax at your Bangalow. Swim, kayak or paddleboard.
  • Have dinner

Day 2

  • Wake up early to watch the sunrise over the lake.
  • Go on an early safari with your guide to see wildlife.
  • Have breakfast.
  • Check out of the Bangalow
  • Visit the famous Khao Sam Kloe. Take pictures and learn about the history of the lake.
  • Have lunch on the boat whilst admiring the beautiful sheer limestone cliffs.
  • Head back to Ratchaprapha Pier.
  • Drop you off at your hotel.

Book an overnight Khao Sok Lake Tour right here

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2. Kayak tour along the river

This is a great tour you can do that is only a few hours long but packed full of fun and surprises. Your guide will take you along the river by boat, showing you all the interesting places and telling you all about Khao Sok National park.

On our tour, we saw fish, frogs, turtles, spiders and snakes. The guide skillfully manoeuvres the kayak right up to the animals to give you the best view of animals.

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Along the way, you will stop and have the opportunity to swim in the river. The water is cold but very refreshing.

After this, the guide stops in one more place. This place was the highlight for us on the trip because you will have tea or coffee, jungle style!

The guide will make a fire in the forest, and boil water in the bamboo culm. The guide will also make you a cup and spoon out of the bamboo culm right in front of you by using a knife. You will be able to keep this cup and spoon to take home as a souvenir.

This is an amazing trip, it’s relaxing and perfect if you are looking for something to do but don’t want to get tired out. The river isn’t in the national park so you won’t have to pay the national park fee.

Also Read: Top 5 Things to do in the Beautiful Kanchanaburi, Thailand

3. Hike to the Rafflesia Arnoldii flowers

Rafflesia Arnoldii flowers are the biggest flowers in the world. However, they are an endangered species and are only found in a handful of places around the world.

The flower can grow to a diameter of 1 meter and weigh as much as 11 kg. Khao Sok is one of the only places in the world other than Malaysia where you can see these massive flowers.

You will have to hike through the forest with a guide to see these flowers. The flowers are also in the national park so you have to pay the national park fee before you can go. The hike distance will depend on whether the flowers are blooming and where they are.

Something to look out for is leeches. They live on the forest floor and attach themselves to passing animals. They are harmless but they will suck your blood. Along the way, you can also see monkeys, hornbills, many lizards and if you are lucky, a snake.

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4. Khao Sok Viewpoint

This viewpoint is along the road and you will need a scooter or a taxi to take you there unless you really enjoy walking wink-wink. It’s a beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the mountains, jungles and limestone cliffs.

Khao Sok National Park Viewpoint
Khao Sok National Park Viewpoint

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5. Hiking to a waterfall

There are 7 waterfalls in the national park that you can hike to. You can go to 3 of the waterfalls by yourself which is around a 2 to 4 km hike to get to. For the other 4 waterfalls, you have to go with a guide since the path is more challenging.

Also Read: 13 Unique Things to do in Khao Yai, Thailand

Best time to visit Khao Sok

This is one of the wettest places in Thailand with an average annual rainfall of 3,500mm. All the things to do here are outdoors so having good weather is essential. There are 3 main seasons for Khao Sok. Hot season (March to May), Monsoon season (June to October) and dry season (November to February).

Keep in mind that it still rains during the dry and hot seasons. It’s also a good time to visit just after the monsoon season, the rivers are full and the waterfalls are at their best. The forests are very lush and the lake is full.

With this said, Khao Sok National park is great to visit all year round. We prefer November but you will have an amazing experience no matter when you go.

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Can you swim in Khao Sok (Cheow Lan Lake)?

Yes, you can. However, you can only swim in certain areas normally around the floating bungalows. Your guide will tell you when you are allowed to swim. Just remember the lake is over 40 meters deep so if you aren’t a strong swimmer please wear a lifejacket for your own safety.

How long should you stay around Khao Sok National Park?

We recommend staying in the Khao Sok area for 3 to 4 full days. This will give you enough time to go on hikes, paddle down the river and also visit the lake.

Khao Sok National Park Fee

An entrance fee is payable. The fee for foreign visitors to Khao Sok National Park is 300 Baht for adults and 150 Baht for children and covers a 24-hour stay. The fee for Thai national visitors to Khao Sok National Park is 40 Baht for adults and 20 Baht for children. There is also a 20 Baht fee per visitor that goes to the military.

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Is Khao Sok worth visiting

Absolutely. For us, this is one of the best places to visit in Thailand. It has spectacular views, beautiful flora and fauna and it’s so peaceful. It’s such an undiscovered gem.

The lake has some of the world’s best landscapes. It’s an interesting place that we highly recommend that you add to your bucket list.

Kayaking by the floating bangalows in Khao Sok National Park

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