Khao Sok National Park Guide – All you Need to Know
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Khao Sok National Park Guide – All you Need to Know

In the heart of southern Thailand, Khao Sok National Park offers an enchanting beauty with one of the oldest rain-forests, serene waters surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, beautiful caves and biodiversity. Khao Sok is a popular destination near Phuket that offers an unforgettable adventure for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Khao Sok National Park is famous for the Cheow Lan Lake (Ratchaprapha Dam) and is a bucket list destination for many who want to experience the over-water bungalows. Check out our accommodation guide as there are several options for you to choose from when planning to stay here.

Cheow lan lake tour, Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park

There are 2 entrances to the national park. The West Entrance is at the main town and near the main bus stop. This is also the entrance to the jungle trekking, night safari and wildlife tours. Close to the entrance and at the heart of the main town is the Sok River where you can do tubing, river rafting, canoeing or just relax and listen to the flow of the river.

Khao Sok National Park East Entrance 2

The East Entrance is where the Cheow Lan Lake (Ratchaprapha Dam) is located. Most boat tours and bungalow stays depart from here. From the dock, you can already see the beautiful emerald-coloured lake with the backdrop of the limestone cliffs.

Khao Sok National Park west entrance

How to Get to Khao Sok National Park

From Bangkok

Bangkok train

The most common way to reach Khao Sok is to take the train from Bangkok Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station (Bang Sue Grand Station) to Surat Thani Train Station. Then from Surat Thani, take a bus or minivan (more details below). There are seats and sleeper with fan or AC options that leave in the evening from Bangkok and arrive the next day to Surat Thani with a travel time of 10 hours. We recommend taking the first class carriage if planning to do an overnight trip so you can have a bunk to sleep in. Another direct option is to take an overnight bus + van transfer from Bangkok to Khao Sok National Park with travel times around 14-15 hours. This would have less hassle in booking however, if you have a hard time falling asleep sitting, then the sleeper train is the better option for you.

A faster but more expensive way is to fly from Bangkok airport to Surat Thani airport. From Surat Thani, you can take a van or bus to reach Khao Sok (more details below).

From Surat Thani

Travelers arriving at Surat Thani Airport can arrange transportation to Khao Sok by taxi, shuttle bus, or private transfer. If taking the bus, you can head to Surat Thani Bus Station or book online here. Beware of scammers at the station selling overpriced tickets. If taking the overnight train from Bangkok, we recommend booking the bus+van option for simplicity or the train from Bangkok to Surat Thani for comfort.

Khao Sok National Park Bus Stop

From Phuket

Visitors can also travel by bus or private transfer from Phuket to Khao Sok National Park. From our experience, travel time takes 2 to 4 hours. If you plan to take a bus, go to Phuket Bus Terminal 2, the earliest schedule is 6:00 AM and the latest is 3:40 PM. At the entrance, you will be greeted with staff and will direct you to counter 22 to get your ticket. The travel time will take roughly 4 hours as it would stop at different destinations: Khao Lak, Takuapa, Khao Sok and Surat Thani. From Khao Sok Bus Station, you might have to take a taxi or arrange transportation with your hotel.

From Krabi

The most common way to reach Khao Sok from Krabi is by van and it can take up to 4 hours. You can also choose to go to Krabi Bus Terminal or get picked up from your hotel. Check out the link here. Alternatively, you can also take a bus with the earliest time leaving at 7:30 AM and and the latest at 1:50 PM.

If you are planning to take public transportation, it's advisable to check the latest schedules and availability of transportation options. Further, consider booking tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons to save.

Diamond Cave, Khao Sok National Park, Pra Kai Petch Cave

If you have less time or just want to do a day tour here, you might want to check out tours from Phuket or Krabi to the national park to stay in a floating bungalow, enjoy water activities and jungle trekking.

Where to Stay in Khao Sok National Park

For more details, check out our full accommodation guide with its pros and cons. While the floating bungalow being the sought-after accommodation, it might not be the best for you. So make sure to check out this page.

Khao Sok National Park floating bungalow

Floating Bungalows

Immerse yourself in the peaceful and quiet surroundings of Cheow Lan Lake by staying in floating bungalows, where you can wake up to the emerald color of the water with the backdrop of gorgeous limestone cliffs.

Check out Phutawan Rafthouse, Panvaree Resort, Panvaree The Greenery and 500 Rai floating resort.

If you are not able to secure a stay in a floating bungalow online, rest assured as you still have a chance by booking an overnight lake tour to stay in Cheon Lan Lake that you can book online or with your hotel (tip: it might be cheaper to book with your hotel - many stays in the main town offer a night or two in town, with an add-on of a night at a floating bungalow). 

Nature Lodges

Choose from a variety of Khao Sok accommodation offerings that blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings that allows you to reconnect with nature.

Check out Khao Sok Riverside Cottages and Khao Sok Bamboo Huts Resort.

Luxury camps

If you prefer a touch of luxury amidst the wilderness, luxury camps offer the perfect blend of comfort and adventure. Imagine staying in a bubble tent or an A-type cabin overlooking the limestone cliffs and watching wildlife.

Check out Ample Forest Khao Sok Farmstay and Cosy Garden Khao Sok.

Main Town Hotels

Imagine waking up with the sound of the river, views of the cliffs surrounded by nature yet still close to everything. Being in the small main town is a convenient way for you to have access to restaurants, shops, massage places and transportation. From here, you can easily walk to the main entrance of the park and go on a hiking trail to see waterfalls and observe wildlife. More details about the activities in Khao Sok National Park below.

Check out: Khao Sok River Lodge Hotel, Khao Sok River & Jungle Resort and Malulee Khao Sok Resort.

riverside cottage, Khao Sok River Lodge

Treehouse stays

Imagine climbing to your treehouse above the forest floor for a more unforgettable experience. Stay in a treehouse with a rustic vibe with modern amenities and panoramic views of the surrounding jungle.

Check out: Khao Sok Tree House Resort, Khao Sok Jungle Huts Resort and Our Jungle House.

Camp Sites and Camp Hostels

Perfect stay for people looking adventure while staying on budget. You can find options for a bungalow, a private room or a hostel dorm.

Check out: Wassana Camp & Khai Jungle Experience Centour and Painting Family Hostel.

Whether you choose to stay in a floating bungalow, treehouse or choose to go camping, you can never go wrong here in Khao Sok.

Things to Do in Khao Sok National Park

Here comes the exciting part. Now that you have booked your accommodation, it's time to look for adventures and things to do in Khao Sok National Park.

Jungle Trekking

Khao Sok National Park jungle trek

Explore ancient jungle trails and discover hidden waterfalls, exotic wildlife, and lush vegetation. If you are staying in the main town and wish to explore the National Park by yourself, it is entirely possible to do so, however not during the nighttime. You can explore the first 3 km of the National Park without a guide and just need to pay the entrance fee (more to that later). The trail is easy and you can see a lot of monkeys, tropical birds, lizards and the Wing Hin and Bang Hua Rat waterfalls on your way. At the end of the 3 km, there is a small store with a view deck to buy drinks and refreshments. You will need a guide to go further and reach Ton Kloi Waterfall (7km trail from entrance).

Long Tail Boat Tours

Cheow Lan Lake, Ratchaprapa Dam

One of the must-do things in Khao Sok National Park is taking a longtail boat to the iconic Cheow Lan Lake surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and dense rainforest. Most boat tours would visit either Nam Taloo Cave (includes trekking to the cave) or Prakai Phet Cave (no hiking needed) - both are equally stunning. Lunch is included and you have time to swim and kayak in the beautiful waters of Cheow Lan Lake. From the tour we booked with River Lodge Hotel, we had free lunch in Phutawan Rafthouse restaurant and with free kayak included.

Wildlife Watching

Khao Sok National Park wildlife (2)

You can book a tour to see fascinating wildlife species or you can just keep an eye out for gibbons, hornbills, or long-tail macaques when enjoying your view or strolling in the main town. It is also free to go down the Sok river where we saw a lot of long-tail macaques playing and bathing.

Night Safari

Khao Sok National Park Night Safari

Experience the magic of the jungle after dark with a guided night safari, as you cannot enter the park at night by yourself. Most venomous insects, reptiles and animals are more active at night. You can spot nocturnal creatures such as frogs, huntsman spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, lemurs among many others as you learn more about them. We have been in the jungles of Costa Rica and this is an entirely different and unique experience, especially when the first thing your tour guide tells you is, “don’t worry, I have an antivenom here”. Though it sounded scary, we totally enjoyed the tour, learned a lot and felt safe the entire time.

Overnight Camping

For adventurers seeking a truly immersive experience in the heart of the jungle, overnight camping in Khao Sok National Park is an unforgettable option. Several designated camping areas within the park offer basic facilities such as toilets and picnic areas, allowing visitors to spend the night surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wilderness. Please note that permits are required for overnight camping, and it's essential to follow park regulations to minimize environmental impact and ensure safety during your stay. Price is around 3500 Baht for 2, 3000 Baht for 3 or more and 1750 Baht for a child.

Canoeing, Rafting or Tubing

Khao Sok National Park tubing river rafting

Right from the main town, exploring the Sok River by canoe, raft or a tube is a relaxing way to experience the beauty of the surroundings. Note that this is depending on the water level. We were not able to do tubing as the water was shallow. You can rent a canoe from one of the local tours and paddle at your own pace along the Sok River. You can book up to an hour in advance. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the riverbanks, including monkeys and birds. Price range depending on the activity - from 400 to 950 Baht.

Elephant Sanctuary

For travelers interested in ethical wildlife encounters, a visit to Khao Sok Elephant Sanctuary provides an opportunity to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat while supporting responsible tourism practices. In here, you can learn how to make food for the elephants, feed the elephants, learn how to make a desert for yourself and relax in the swings while watching elephants. By participating in a visit to an elephant sanctuary, you can contribute to the conservation efforts aimed at protecting these magnificent animals and their habitat for future generations to enjoy.

Khao Sok National Park Elephant Sanctuary

Thai Massage

There's no better way to unwind and rejuvenate than with a traditional Thai massage after a day of trekking or enjoying the sun. Many resorts and accommodations in the area offer onsite spa facilities where guests can choose in a range of therapeutic treatments. Whether you opt for a soothing oil massage or a traditional Thai massage performed on a floor mat, you'll emerge feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready for your next adventure in Khao Sok. We found that spa treatment price ranges from 300-500 for a Thai massage with or without oil.

Important Things to Know Before Visiting Khao Sok National Park

National Park Entrance

khao sok national park entrance

Entrance fee is 200 Baht per person for foreigners and 40 Baht for locals. From the main town of Khao Sok, you can walk up to the Khao Sok National Park Headquarters (West Entrance) and explore the first 3 km trail being surrounded by lush forest and diverse wildlife (see jungle trekking above). If you buy the ticket after 4pm, you can use it for the next day. For boat tours, you need to pay an additional 40 Baht.

Khao Sok National Park map

Guided Tours

For most people who have a limited time in Thailand or prefer to have everything booked in advance, booking tours online is the way to go. However, we find that a little difficult in planning our trip to Khao Sok. Your best option is to book tours through your hotel. Or you can do it like us, we arrived at Khao Sok and walked around town to find the best tour deal. We learned that tour prices are pretty much the same everywhere, so we ended up booking it through our hotel for less hassle.

If you have less time or just want to do a day tour here, you might want to check out tours from Phuket or Krabi to the national park to stay in a floating bungalow, enjoy water activities and jungle trekking.

Weather

Khao Sok experiences a tropical climate, with the wet season typically occurring from May to November. Be prepared for rain showers and humidity, especially during the wet season. It is also important to consider this especially when you are planning to do jungle trekking and overnight camping as the Sok River may get flooded and would be hard to cross.

Cheow lan lake tour, Khao Sok National Park

Insect Repellent

At certain times of the year, mosquitoes and other insects are prevalent in the jungle, so be sure to pack insect repellent to protect yourself from bites. We visited in February and didn't see a single mosquito!

Respect for Nature

Help preserve Khao Sok's natural beauty by practising responsible tourism, including proper waste disposal, respecting wildlife, and staying on designated trails.

Cheow lan lake tour, Khao Sok National Park

Conclusion

With its unparalleled natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure, Khao Sok National Park offers a truly unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to reconnect with nature and embark on an epic jungle adventure.

We hope this guide helps you with your planning to make the most out of your visit to Khao Sok National Park. It is truly a unique experience and exceeded our expectations. It is truly a gem of Thailand. If you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to write it down below or send us a DM.

Where to stay in Khao Sok? Check the full accommodation guide here.

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