One of 102 of Thailand’s National Parks, Khao Sok is home to the oldest evergreen forest in the world covering an area of 738 sq km. Incredibly, It consists of rainforest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon Rainforest. The Park boasts an amazing array of flora and fauna, including wild beasts such as the Malayan Tapir, the Asian Elephant, Sambar Deer, Wild Boar, Pig Tailed Macaque, White Handed Gibbon and even bears and tigers! Many nature lovers flock to the park as it is one of the few places on earth where you can catch a glimpse of the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, which only blossoms for 5 days each year and when it does it is said to emit a stench akin to rotting flesh!
Places to Stay
Khao Sok Village is really just one street, filled with cute little bungalows and resorts. Ranging from around 300 baht – 800 baht, there is a range of accommodation to suit all budgets. The village itself is quite small consisting of a few restaurants and a few little bars that stay open till about midnight. Don’t expect big parties, but the backpacker vibe is alive; though with a much more chilled out feel than the nearby islands.
Things to Do
- Trekking and Elephant Trekking: Trekking independently or with a guide is an essential activity in Khao Sok National Park. Windy trails will take you right into the heart of the jungle where you can find bathing pools, waterfalls and an incredible array of plants, not to mention the rafflesia, the largest flower in the world. You can also book an elephant trekking trip.
- Exploring on a motorbike: The entire area is blessed with spectacular scenery and hiring a motorbike is a great way to get around and see as much of the place as possible. Bright green mountains covered in palm trees and dense forest – you’ll be stopping your bike every two minutes to take photos. A motorbike will set you back about 200 baht for the day.
- Ratchaprapha Dam: Ratchaprapha Dam is the most famous sight of Khao Sok and a must see while you’re there. It was created in 1982 to ensure a steady supply of water to the South and as large mountainous area was flooded over 100 tiny islands were formed, stunning limestone rocks jutting out of the emerald green water against the blue sky has been compared to Guillin in China. You can take a minivan with a driver for a day trip to get there or you can hire a motorbike and make your own way there. Once there, you can take boat trips on the dam from the main pier. At 700 baht each for 2 hours, the boat trips are a little pricy but well worth it to get closer to the amazing scenery
- Overnight stay in the floating huts: You can book an overnight stay in floating huts located right on the water’s edge. Wake up in the heart of the national park to the tranquility of the lake and beautiful scenery.
- More adventure! As well as treks in the jungle, motorbike trips and boat rides on the lake there are many other outdoor adventures on offer in Khao Sok National Park. Elephant trekking in the jungle, kayaking or canoeing down the river, even tubing, (though not quite the same as Vang Vieng) can all be organised from guest houses in Khao Sok Village.
From Bangkok: An overnight train or bus to Surat Thani. Then, take a one hour minibus to the National Park.
Where to go Next?
From Khao Sok National Park, you’re spoilt for choice with amazing destinations to go next. Wedged perfectly in-between two coast lines, you’ve got the stunning Andaman Coast and Krabi on one side and the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao on the other, just where will you choose?
- Koh Phi Phi: On the Eastern Andaman Coast, backpackers go dewy eyed at the gorgeous island gem, Koh Phi Phi, where you can take a long tail boat to explore ‘The Beach’ made famous by Leonardo Di Caprio in the film of the same name.
- Railay and Ton Sai: Nearby Railay and Ton Sai, beaches located on the main land yet inaccessible by road, are popular amongst the rock climbing crew.
- Koh Lanta: Chilled out Koh Lanta is an underrated castaway island which is fantastic to explore by scooter making a stop at beautiful beach after beach.
- Koh Samui: Hopping over to the other side of the Peninsula, you’ll find Koh Samui. Flashpackers will delight in Koh Samui’s abundance of restaurants, activities and nightlife.
- Koh Phangan: The island lures thousands of backpackers each month to experience what is probably the best beach party in the world – the Full Moon Party.
- Koh Tao: Diving is the order of the day and many backpackers get their underwater licence by taking a PADI course.