The Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s best hidden gems! Getting and staying there is a deep nature experience. The national park is a perfect destination for backpackers who seek adventures and create life-time memories. The national park was founded in 1980, it’s the 22nd national park of Thailand. In this blog post you will get an ultimate guide to the Khao Sok National Park, including how to get there and what to do.
Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok is also famous for its limestone or ‘karst’ mountains. In most of the region, ground level is about 200m above sea level with the average mountain heights around 400m. The tallest peak in the National Park is 960m in height.
This national parks has an extremely diverse flora and fauna! There are 200 different floral species found in the national park per hectare. There are also 48 mammal species, 311 different species of birds, more than 30 species of bats and countless reptiles and insects (we’re more than sure that you’ll meet them!) in Khao Sok.
Long-tail boat on the Cheow Larn Lake
The most visited part of Khao Sok is the huge lake at the northern part of the national park. Cheow Lan Lake is surrounded by limestone cliffs and green forests, lies in the beautiful Khao Sok National Park. The name of the lake is officially Khao Sok Lake, its local name is Cheow Larn. Khao Sok Lake escaped the pollution caused by industrialization thanks to the local communities.
The lake is also home to a variety of freshwater fish, making it a valuable source of food for the local bird population, which number as many as 311 different species.
Since its construction in 1987, the hydroelectricity created by the Ratchaprapha Dam in Cheow Larn Lake supplies sustainable power to large parts of Southern Thailand. The lake itself has also brought jobs to local villagers, who work as fishermen or they work in eco-tourism.
When to visit?
Every season has its own specialties, advantages and disadvantages in the Khao Sok National Park. So it doesn’t matter in which month do you visit Thailand and the national park, you’ll always find something to do!
We visited Thailand during the rainy season in September, but even if the rainy season sounds scary, it doesn’t rain as much as you would think! It’s usually raining for 1-2 hours in the afternoon about 4 -5 pm, and that’s all. In the Khao Sok National Park it can be a bit more, as it’s a rainforest. In September it’s raining almost every evening from 5-6 pm, and it can rain the whole night as well. But the days are still hot and sunny! Interesting fact: Khao Sok has the highest level of rainfall in Thailand (3,500 mm per year), and the rainiest month is September.
The hot season is obviously hotter (March- June), there is no rain and it’s less green in the rainforest. It’s also a bit more crowded, but remember, the national park is still kind of a hidden gem in Thailand.
The rainy season (from June to October) is more green and fresh, and on some days it can rain a lot. But it’s also less crowded, the prices are lower and it’s less hot. If you’re lucky, it will only rain for a few hours in the evening.
The cold season (from November to February) can still feel hot, but in Dezember it’s a bit colder than usual in Thailand.
How long should you stay?
As it’s a bit long and complicated to get to Khao Sok, we recommend you to spend at least 3 nights the national park. 3 - 4 days can be enough to relax a bit in nature, to take a tour on the Cheow Lan Lake, and to try different activities as well! But there are so many things to do in Khao Sok that you could spend up to 1 week there.
What to pack to the Khao Sok National Park?
Whenever you are visiting, make sure to pack these things:
- Natural mosquito repellent
- Natural anti-leech spray or cream
- Waterproof bag (you will need it if you come in rainy season or if you take a tour on the lake)
- Waterproof hiking shoes or boots
- Hat/cap against the sun
- Flashlight if you to to night safari
How to reach the Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok bus stop - This is where the bus will drop you off and from where you can walk into the town, get picked up from your hotel or take a local taxi
The easiest way is to take a bus from Phuket Airport with one change of buses or Phuket town directly to the Khao Sok National Park. You might have to ask around at the bus station, but people will help you. When you ask about the bus at Phuket Airport, they might tell you that there is no bus and you have to go by taxi, but don’t believe them 😀
From the airport, take the bus that goes to Phuket town and go down at the station called “Police highway”, the bus driver will know where to drop you off. There you can take the bus to the Khao Sok National Park, the journey takes about 2-3 hours. When you buy your ticket from the Airport to the “police highway”, just tell the lady in the bus who sells the ticket, that you need to get to the Khao Sok National Park. When the bus stops at “police highway”, she will point to the store where you can get the next bus to Khao Sok.
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The ticket prices:
Phuket Airport - Phuket Town - 100 Baht
Phuket Airport - Police Highway- 50 Baht
Police Highway - Khao Sok National Park - 200 Baht
Here you can see a map with the approximate route that the bus will take from the city to the park:
Once in Khao Sok
At the entrance of the national park, you can call the reception of your hostel or hotel and most probably they will pick you up. Most of the hotels are not far from the bus station, you can also just walk. The whole Khao Sok town is basically one road with lots of stores, restaurants, cafés, and of course lots of tour companies offering tours and different activities.
Eventually you’ll find some ATM machines, currency changing offices as well, but it’s worth it to change your currency in Phuket. There are also some spas offering massages, and of course you will be able to find vegan and vegetarian food and some cool cafés as well.
The entrance fee to the National Park is 300 Baht for adults and 150 Baht for children. It’s a 24 hours tickets, so it’s recommended to take a night tour and then a full-day tour the day after so that you take advantage of the ticket 🙂
You only pay the entrance fee if you want to take some activities or tours there. For example for tubing in the river you don’t need to pay extra.
What to do in the Khao Sok National Park?
1. Take group tours and activities offered by your hostel or hotel
Your hostel or hotel will also offer different activities and tours, and let us show you some examples of the tours you can take:
Cheow Lan Lake (Khao Sok Lake) Tour (Half Day tour, Full Day tour)
This lake is the main “attraction” of the national park. We highly recommend you to either take a tour or explore the lake independently, as the views of the limestone cliffs are stunning! - price is about 1500 Baht per person, lunch included, long-tail boat ride included , cave exploring included
Here is how our full-day group tour was looking like:
We got picked up at 8.30 AM at the reception of our hotel, Our Jungle Camp.
First we went to Takun town to visit a local market where everyone could buy local food and colorful souvenirs. After that in a few minutes we arrived to a pier and we took a traditional long tail boat. Then we started our incredibly beautiful 1 hour journey to the floating raft houses in the middle of the lake. On the journey we saw wonderful limestone cliffs and the view was just unreal and magical!
We ate a traditional Thai lunch in the floating house, with our new friends who we met on the tour. We had an interesting, international group with young people from all over the world! After the lunch, we spent some time swimming near the houses in the emerald colored water!
The next stop was the Coral cave! We decided to go trekking in the jungle to reach the coral cave. On the road we saw monkeys as well! The cave was also incredible, we watched very unique stalactites, and our guide was so fun, he made up interesting stories about the formations.
Overnight Stay at Cheow Lan Lake
If you would like to spend one night on the lake , you can book an overnight tour and disconnect a little bit for 1 night! You can sleep in one of the floating raft houses on the lake, on a mattress, without electricity and wifi - price about 2500 Baht per person
Explore the jungle by night and watch cute animals that try to hide from you:) Your guide will help you to find some little animals and observe them with the help of a flashlight
Exploring the Coral Cave after the long trekking in the jungle
Tubing on the river
There are several activities on the river, like tubing or kayaking
Trekking and hiking in the rainforest
Elephant tours (we don’t recommend this, as we haven’t found any ethical tour companies in Khao Sok yet!)
There are some that claim themselves to be ethical sanctuary, but remember that it isn’t normal for elephants to bathe or interact with humans, they have to break them first to be able to force them to interact with tourists. There are some ethical sanctuaries in Thailand, check them here
The prices of the tours really depend on the season, and also on the tour company. There are tours that last for more days (up to 4!), so we recommend you to check some tours before you arrive, if you want to take a package that last for more days.
But it’s also not a problem if you’re flexible and you want to book your tours in person. We recommend you to check the offers of your accommodation first, as that’s the most comfortable thing to do. They can book the tour for you and the guide will just pick you up at the reception. You can also take a look at the tours that the companies are offering on the main road.
If you want to book in advance, check out the official tours here:
2. Explore the national park independently
If you want to explore the national park on a budget and you’re adventurous, you can explore the national park independently.
You can either try to hike or trek by yourself in the national park and with the help of maps get to the lake.It’s also possible to rent a motorbike and ride it to the pier. At the pier you can take a private long-tail boat and negotiate with your driver.
Taking a private long-tail boat will only worth it if you’re at least 2 people, as it will be at least 2000 Baht.
We chose to take the group tours, despite the fact that we’re budget travelers and we don’t usually like group tours. BUT: we have heard about a lot of people who got lost without a guide in the national park and they did not even find the lake. Also, we can’t ride a motorbike or scooter so it wasn’t an option. So the safest and only option for us was taking a guided group tour. As taking a guided group tour is the most popular and safest option in the national park, it’s not as expensive as the group tours in general anywhere else.
Where to stay?
You can find cheap budget hostels, mid-budget eco-resorts and luxury resorts as well.
Our Jungle Camp in the middle of the Khao Sok National Park
You can also check our deals finder for Khao Sok and get a very good deal: