Khao Sok National Park is centred around Cheow Wan Lake, also called Rajjaprabha Dam Reservoir. It is an artificial lake created to supply the South of Thailand with electricity and water and to control the frequent floods in the region. The area around this beautiful emerald lake is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, a rainforest and a very diverse fauna and flora. If you’re wondering what to expect during your visit, here is everything you need to know about Khao Sok National Park.
How to get to Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park is accessible through various routes. There is a public bus that connects Phuket and Surat Thani and it stops on the road leading to Khao Sok village. We were staying in a remote place in Surat Thani and caught on the road leading to the village. It only cost us 200THB for both people. When you arrive at the junction leading to the village, you can either pay the locals 100THB to drive you to your accommodation or walk 20-30 minutes. From the village, you can book a tour around the national park. Prices will vary in function of which accommodation you choose and for how many nights. Most tourists choose the 2D1N option and the price is around 2500THB per person which includes transportation, meals and all other fees.
If you don’t wish to venture on the public bus, you can book one on 12go.asia for 370THB per person from Phuket (4h). From Surat Thani (2h), you can do the same for 280THB.
For those aiming to skip an overnight village stay, you can head directly to the pier and seek tour options. You will need a motorbike. If you don’t find one for the same day, you will have to spend a night there and prices are higher than at Khao Sok village.
When to visit Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park is open year-round but some places will be closed from June to November due to heavy rainfall and floods. The best months to visit are between December and February. In March, it becomes humid and much hotter. Our own trip in mid-May revealed favorable weather conditions and fewer crowds. There were also fewer tourists!
Khao Sok National Park fauna
Khao Sok shelters a rich variety of wildlife, although sightings require a stroke of luck. Among its diverse residents are Malayan sun bears, tigers, leopards, macaques, langurs, gibbons, deer, tapirs, elephants, pangolins, bears, cobras, pythons, and more.
What to expect during your visit to Khao Sok National Park
We stayed a few nights in Khao Sok village. There is one main road with plenty of restaurants and accommodations. One of the park’s main entrances is at the end of that road. There are a few trails you can do without a guide, but the price is 300THB per day. When we arrived in the village, we booked a 2D1N tour. Here is what you can expect during those two days.
Day 1: exploring the caves and wildlife
We were picked up around 9am from our accommodation. Before reaching the Cheow Wan Lake pier, we stopped at a small shop to buy some snacks. We arrived at the pier around 11:30am. After around 1h30 on very uncomfortable seats, we reached our little floating bungalows where we had lunch. Then, we went black on the boat to reach Nam Ta Lua Cave.
After hiking for an hour, it was time to brave the cave. If you are scared of the dark, narrow passageways, bats and spiders, this may not be for you. Armed with our headlamps, we walked 30 minutes in the cave. You could see thousands of bats sleeping in every corner and spiders nested on the walls. At times, the water would reach our chest. It wasn’t a very terrifying experience, but some were less at peace than others.
After the cave, we sailed back to our bungalows while enjoying the sunset. We could see and hear tons of birds, but no other animals in sight. After dinner, you can buy some beers and enjoy your night. Some tourists partied almost all night and left us with little sleep. Others decided to sleep under the stars.
Day 2: Morning safari and activities
The second day was a bit disappointing. We woke up early for a morning safari where we all got on a boat and cruised between the islands. Honestly, it was very underwhelming. We saw a few hornbills and that’s it. Our guide didn’t try very hard to find any other wildlife.
We came back and had some breakfast. Afterward, we were informed that we had about 2 hours of free time. There wasn’t much to do around other than go on the kayaks with broken paddles. We couldn’t go very far but it was better than to stay at the bungalows and do nothing. On the way back to the pier for lunch, we stopped by some limestone cliffs.
Final thoughts on Khao Sok National Park
Concluding our 2D1N journey, we felt the experience was somewhat pricey relative to the activities. It was cool to sleep in the floating bungalows but the activities were a bit lame. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a way to visit Cheow Wan Lake by ourselves through some back roads so we had to get the tour. However, it may be a little dangerous to visit the area without a guide due to the many predators roaming the area.
Where to stay in Khao Sok Village
Khao Sok village is very charming and has plenty of dorms and private rooms. Opting for a private room, we settled at Nung House Khao Sok. The bungalow had hot water, a mosquito net around the bed (very important!) and there was a restaurant at the accommodation. They also offered laundry at a reasonable price. We recommend it for couples or people traveling solo and seeking a quiet place.