Khao Sok National Park left me speechless. Located in South Thailand its rainforest offers wildlife, iconic limestone hills, waterfalls and great biodiversity. I joined a two night trip with Thai National Parks. If you want to feel like Na’vi from Avatar this adventure is perfect for you. And the most important fact: This tour operator doesn’t offer any elephant activities which was a basic requirement for me.
Khao Sok is located in South Thailand and can be easily accessed from Khao Lak, Khao Sok Village, Surat Thani or Krabi depending on where you want to start your tour from. There are plenty of options: From a day trip to a one, two or three nights trip. We did a two nights trip with Thai National Parks and went to Khao Sok / Cheow Lan pier by scooter.
Read more about how to get from Krabi to Khao Sok, Cheow Lan pier by scooter here. A real adventure and much cheaper than going by private taxi.
About Khao Sok National Park
Before Khao Sok was established in 1980 by the Thai Royal Forest Department it used to be a river. As it holds the largest watershed in southern Thailand and that water can be used to generate electricity it was converted into a 165 km² big lake by building the Ratchaprapha Dam. Today it is one of the most beautiful wildlife and jungle reserves in Thailand.
Dry season is January to March, rainy season between late April and early December. We went there in late October and didn’t have any rain. According to our guide this varies a bit every year. Temperatures are between 22 and 36 degrees. The entrance fees for foreigners are 300 THB for adults and 150 THB for children. [Updated in 2023, source: Thai National Parks]
How go get to Khao Sok National Park by bus
Cheow Lan Lake tour experience
Thai National Parks offers various tour packages that include accommodation on Khao Sok Lake. You will sleep in a raft house on the lake and enjoy activities like kayaking, hiking as well as wildlife safaris. We booked a two nights trip at Phupa Waree Raft House. This duration gives you more time to dive into this beautiful world and have a full day of exploring.
One crucial reason I chose to go with this operator was because it is one of the few which doesn’t support any elephant activities. Even though some companies claim themselves to be an elephant sanctuary and don’t encourage elephant riding the animals are still in captivity.
Day 1 – Check-in and hidden waterfall
Our tour started at Cheow Lan Lake pier (close to Ratchaprabha Dam) at 10am on a Wednesday. The day before we rode our scooters from Krabi to Cheow Lan area and parked them at the pier for two nights.
If you’re taking the bus I recommend to stay around the area for a night and then take a taxi to the pier. You can have a look at bus connections here.
Read more about the journey from Krabi to Cheow Lan Lake here.
We met our tour guide Sam at the pier, paid for the entry fees and boarded the longtail boat. On the way to the raft house we got to see stunning limestone cliffs which reminded me very much of the scenery in Avatar. We were left speechless. I absolutely underestimated the beauty and uniqueness of Khao Sok National Park. If you have enough time it’s worth it to include this place in your trip. I have never seen something like this in Thailand before.
Regarding accommodation there are two options. We went for Phupa Waree Raft House:
- Phupa Waree Raft House: This raft house features modern rooms with two queen size mattresses. You have a private bathroom with shower and a balcony. One house accomodates 2-4 people. AC and fan are available as well. Power is running vom 6pm til morning hours.
- Krai Son Raft House: Krai Son raft house is the more basic option. You’ll stay in traditional style bamboo bungalows which accomodate two people. Bathroom facilities are shared.
After check in we were treated to traditional Thai lunch. Vegetable options are available, vegan unfortunately not yet. Each meal comes with fresh fruit as dessert. I highly recommend bringing a reusable water bottle with you to reduce waste and not have to use plastic bottles. After lunch we had some free time to explore the close area with a kayak and take a nap. Each bungalow has its own kayak which you can use whenever you want to.
In the afternoon we went for a hike to a hidden waterfall with our guide Sam. There was no designated path so we literally went through the woods and even cut some branches to make our way to the waterfall. Our shoes were completely soaked and I don’t want to know how many insects I passed but didn’t see. This hike brought us out of our comfort zones but was very rewarding in hindsight. If you’re down for an adventure you’ll love this! If you don’t like to get wet and to make your way through deep jungle forest with the chance of meeting spiders maybe skip this one or tell your guide beforehand. Also use moscito spray and make sure you have a waterproof bag with you.
After this adventure we had another lovely meal, enjoyed sunset and the night sounds coming from the jungle.
Day 2 – Morning safari, hiking to caves & wildlife spotting
The next day we had to wake up early at 6am for our morning safari. But were rewarded again with stunning views over the misty mountains covered in clouds. We took the longtail boat and went to explore another area of Khao Sok Lake. Sam spotted some monkeys high up in the trees. The early morning vibes and sounds were very different from the previous day.
A nice breakfast waited for us when we came back to the raft house. We then had some time to relax until our next adventure was about to happen: Hiking to the Nam Ta Lu cave. We were hoping this hike would be more chilled but it was also quite challenging. We climbed over big roots, through narrow tree holes and picked up some leeches on the way. Yes. Nature at its best and a pure adventure.
I think we hiked for 1.5 hours until we reached our destination: A cave in the middle of the jungle. The water was very cooling. In the jungle there’s a nice breeze and it’s not too hot. Back at the boat we drank some fresh coconut juice with a natural straw Sam picked up on the way. He also showed us branches where you can drink water from. Nature is amazing and has so much to offer we don’t even know of.
After this intense adventure we needed some lunch and rest. The afternoon was therefore very relaxed. The day ended with an evening safari where we spotted bisons and an otter.
Day 3 – One last safari and back to mainland
On the last day we had an early morning again and went on another safari. During the whole trip it was only the two of us and our guide Sam which made the experience quite special. And also he could show and explain us things we wanted to know. If you’re solo traveling I’m not sure if these tours are the right option for you as there is no shared accommodation available with this tour operator.
After breakfast we packed our bags and Sam took us back to the pier where we said goodbye. The ride back was scenic again.
All in all we had a fantastic time in Khao Sok National Park. The nature and wildlife was fascinating. I felt like I was in Avatar during the whole time. If you consider doing a tour like this I can highly recommend having a look at the offers of Thai National Parks. The trip was an absolute adventure and brought us out of our comfort zones multiple times, but in a good way.
Ready for another adventure? Do the Mae Hong Son Loop in the North of Thailand.
What to bring
Last but not least here’s some advice on what’s best to bring on your trip to Khao Sok National Park. Towels and shower gel were provided by the raft house. We also left our main luggage in a guest house on the mainland and just paid for the room. Having all your luggage with you on the longtail boat is possible but I wouldn’t recommend it.
- Moscito spray
- Sun screen
- Waterproof bag
- Rain clothing in case it rains
- Reusable water bottle
- Towels and shower gel was provided
This was our Khao Sok experience with Thai National Parks. If you have any questions please leave a comment below or check out my Instagram and get in touch there! Khao Sok is a destination you shouldn’t miss during your trip to Thailand!
Hi there, thanks so much for this post. We are looking at tours in Khao Sok from Thai National Parks right now, but the tour company name makes it very hard to find reviews from other travelers, so I really appreciated finding your blog!
I was just curious about a couple things – do you know how much is appropriate to tip a guide for a 2 night trip like this?
Also, we will be coming direct from the airport and leaving direct for a ferry after our tour, so don’t have a good place to store our luggage; do you know if the tour company has an office that would be appropriate for this? Would definitely prefer not to have suitcases on a longtail boat!
Do you remember the name of the cave you visited? And, uh, is removing leeches as horrifying as it sounds??
Thanks so much!
Hi Kristin, thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad the blogpost is helpful. 🙂
I can’t remember how much we gave the tour guide exactly but I think it was about 5-10 % of the total price. That’s also an appropriate tip according to what I saw online.
Regarding the luggage I would recommend to contact one of the hotels nearby and ask how much they charge for storing the luggage. I think that’s the easier and less stressful way. Unfortunately there isn’t an office or anything where you can store the luggage at the harbour.
The name of the cave was Nam Ta Lu. Removing leeches… it’s not the nicest thing but it doesn’t hurt! The best way is to flick them instead of pulling. Pulling doesn’t really work, but flicking is good. Unfortunately we were wearing sandals so they got stuck between our toes a lot. With sneakers it might be more relaxed!
I hope you will have an amazing adventure in Khao Sok! It’s a really beautiful place. If you have any more questions please feel free to message here again!