Here is everything you need to know to visit Khao Sok National Park in Thailand.
Khao Sok National Park is one of the most magical places in Thailand. It’s a beautiful park in the South of Thailand that is still off the radar for many travelers.
It can be a little difficult to find information about this area, so I’ve put together the ultimate guide to visiting Khao Sok National Park.
Here is everything you need to know to plan a trip to Khao Sok National Park.
What is Khao Sok?
Khao Sok is a national park that is comprised the tiny town of Khao Sok and the gorgeous man-made Cheow Lan Lake. The park is also home to some of the oldest rainforest in the world.
Khao Sok is an incredible place to do some wildlife viewing. The park is home to macaque and gibbon monkeys, leopards, Asian elephants, and hundreds of species of birds.
Where is Khao Sok Located?
Khao Sok is located in the southern province of Phang Nga, nearby to popular destinations like Krabi and Phuket.
Despite its convenient location, Khao Sok remains somewhat of a hidden treasure. If you’re looking for a break from the overcrowded beaches and islands, then this gorgeous national park is the perfect addition to your Thailand trip.
When to Visit Khao Sok
Khao Sok is beautiful any time of year, but the dry season is the best time to visit to ensure that you have the most amount of time without rain. Although you may still have some showers in the afternoons.
The dry season: Anytime between November and April is a good time to visit Khao Sok. Note that there still may be rain and mud but some days.
The rainy season: If you do visit between May and October, some resorts and activities will be closed due to the weather. Always make sure you double check before booking your trip!
How to Get to Khao Sok National Park
Visiting Khao Sok requires a bit of planning because it does take some time to get there. It’s not as convenient to visit as other popular destinations in Thailand.
But the trade off is that you’ll get to experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the world without the hoards of tourists.
The easiest way to get to Khao Sok National park is to fly to Surat Thani or Phuket and then take a bus or minivan.
How to get to Khao Sok from Surat Thani airport: The easiest way to get from the Surat Thani airport to Khao Sok is to take a shared minivan. Book online ahead of time and go straight to the Pantip Travel Desk at the airport.
The ride to Khao Sok takes about 2.5 hours and costs 250-300baht per person.
How to get to Khao Sok from Phuket: From the central bus station in Phuket, take a bus heading north to Surat Thani. Tickets can be bought through most travel offices or directly from the bus station.
The ride to Khao Sok takes 4-5 hours, and the bus may stop once or twice along the way. These buses depart the station every hour from about 7am to 3pm.
Things to do in Khao Sok
There’s so much to do and see in Khao Sok. Keep in mind that there are two sections of the national park – Cheow Lan Lake and Khao Sok town.
1. Hike in the National Park
There are tons of hiking trails in the national Park that will take you to swimming pools and waterfalls. However, it is required to hire a guide if you go more than 3km into the park.
This is because the jungle gets pretty wild and it can be easy to get lost if you don’t know where you are going. Hiring a guide will also allow you to learn more about the flora and fauna and hopefully spot some wild animals while you hike.
2. River Tubing
One perk to visiting Khao Sok in rainy season is that it’s the perfect time to go river tubing. You can rent tubes and float down the river when the water levels are high enough.
There are lots of companies in town that offer transportation to and from the river. It should cost you about 400-500baht per person for everything.
3. Visit Cheow Lan Lake
My absolute favorite part of Khao Sok National Park is Cheow Lan Lake. There are three ways to visit the lake, depending on how long you have to spend in this area.
- Day tour: Pretty much every tour company in town provides a day tour to Cheow Lan Lake. They usually include a minibus transfer, a boat tour with a guide, a meal, and bottled water. Prices are typically around 1500baht per person.
- Overnight stay: Many people choose to combine a boat tour with an overnight stay in an overwater bungalow. One of the most popular tour companies is Smileys. Their overnight tour costs 2500baht per person (plus the 300baht park entry fee). It includes 5 meals, a bungalow, transportation from town, and lots of activities.
- Visit Independently: If you want to visit Cheow Lan Lake independently, you can rent a motorbike in town for about 300baht per day. Once you arrive at the lake, you can hire your own boat driver or join a tour. Prices will vary depending on the size of the boat and the amount of people you have.
We only had time for a day tour, but if we had to do it again we would choose the overnight stay.
You’ll have plenty of time to explore the lake without other people around, and the price is actually pretty reasonable for everything included.
4. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary
There are tons of places in Thailand where you can hang out with Elephants for a day. However, not all of them are ethical. Always make sure you find an ethical sanctuary that does not allow elephant riding.
Khao Sok Elephant Sanctuary allows you to feed, walk with, and observe their elephants for the day. This sanctuary definitely puts the needs of the animals first and does not allow riding, bathing, or excessive touching of the elephants.
I haven’t visited this particular sanctuary but from what I’ve read about it, their elephants are extremely well taken care of. They care for elephants that have been rescued out of trekking and lodging camps.
Where to Stay in Khao Sok
There are tons of different options for every budget in Khao Sok.
Keep in mind that even “luxury” is still pretty basic in Khao Sok. You’re not going to find 5 star hotels with valet parking in this part of Thailand. But you’re going there to enjoy nature anyways, not sit in your room and order room service all day.
Here are some of the top-rated places to stay in Khao Sok National Park.
- Rock and Tree House Resort: Air conditioned bungalows with garden views, shuttle service, and 24-hour front desk staff.
- Anita Dream House: Air condition room with outdoor swimming pool, garden, and terrace.
Check prices on Booking.com
- Art’s Riverview Lodge: Garden view rooms with an on-site restaurant. Breakfast is included.
- Our Jungle House: Fan-cooled rooms with beautiful views. 2-story restaurant and bar onsite.
- Chillax Hostel: We got a private room here and we absolutely loved it. Friendly staff, clean rooms, and walking distance to everything in town.
Check prices on Booking.com
- Khao Sok Morning Mist Resort: Cozy bungalows with private balconies and an outdoor pool.
What to Pack for Khao Sok National Park
You don’t need much for a trip to Khao Sok National Park but here are a few key items you should bring along:
- Dry Bag: I had the unpleasant experience of dropping my phone into Cheow Lan lake while we were kayaking and losing it forever. I wish I had packed a dry bag that I could have used in the kayak and on the boat to keep my phone safe and dry.
- Towel: I really love my microfiber travel towel because it folds up really small and it’s super absorbant.
- Walking shoes
- Water Bottle: I always bring a reusable water bottle when I travel because it’s cheap/free to fill up and it’s better for the environment.
- Loose clothing
- Portable chargers: When you’re hiking or out on the lake, you’ll want to bring portable chargers for your devices. This is especially crucial if you’re staying in an overwater bungalow because they sometimes only have power during certain hours of the day.
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