Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park in Thailand [How to Visit]

Written By: author image Kyle Cash
author image Kyle Cash
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.

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Discover the beauty of Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand! This guide covers everything from waterfalls to floating bungalows. Plan your visit now!

Fifty years ago, Khao Sok was a battleground.

Student activists and communists set up camp in the area, defending it from loggers, miners, and hunters. And that struggle continued for seven long years…until Khao Sok National Park was born.

Now it’s here to spread peace to everyone who visits.

Situated in Surat Thani province, Khao Sok National Park offers a ton to do on your next trip to Thailand.  And I’ll cover everything in this post so you know exactly what you’re getting into on your next trip to Khao Sok. 

Let’s get started.

Khao Sok history

Khao Sok has a deep natural and human history.

For starters, these beautiful rock formations were formed around 220 million years ago when the Eurasian plate and Indian plate crashed into each other, creating the Himalayas.

But it also caused the massive coral reef extending from China to Borneo to rise above the water level. Now, rain and weather have slowly eroded the rock formations, providing us with the beautiful rocks that jut up through the water we see today.

Khao Sok National Park limestone karsts

Human history, on the other hand, is less picturesque.

People lived in the Khao Sok area for hundreds of years without issues.

Until 1944.

A deadly epidemic swept through the area, killing many of the villagers in the area. In fact, it was so deadly the village became known as “Baan Sop” in Thai, or “Corpse Village.”

And that’s why it was empty when student activists and communist insurgents came to the area to protect it from the Thai army, loggers, miners, and hunters. And, as the intro told you, they fought it out for seven long and arduous years…until the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) took an interest in the area.

Cheow Lan Lake

That’s when the government realized Khao Sok was one of the largest watersheds in the south. And with dwindling water supplies, they saw an excellent opportunity to fix an issue and make everyone happy.

So, in December 1980, it became Thailand’s 22nd national park, and Ratchaprapa Dam was built to create Cheow Lan Lake.

Now, visitors from all over the world fly in to check out the dense jungle, incredible wildlife, and gorgeous emerald waters of the lake.

Where is Khao Sok National Park?

Khao Sok National Park is near Surat Thani, about halfway between Phuket and Krabi in the Ban Ta Khun district.

And that makes getting to Khao Sok an adventure because it’s an hour’s drive from the closest town, and the nearest airport is about two hours away.

But you get to enjoy winding roads through the jungle and mountains along the way.

The closest village is Khlong Sok Village (also called Khao Sok Village). You’ll usually get dropped off at the main road junction to Khao Sok, where you’ll have to walk a bit to get to the town if you arrive by bus.

If you book private transport, they’ll take you straight to your accommodation.

From there, you can wander among the trees and enjoy the area’s relaxed vibe.

Getting to Khao Sok National Park in Thailand

There are several options for you to get to Khao Sok, and where you’re coming from will decide which one is best.

From Phuket

Phuket is one of the most popular destinations in the area, so finding flights to the Phuket International Airport (HKT) should be easy.

Phuket is about a 2 1/2 to 3-hour drive from Khao Sok. So, once you’ve landed in Phuket, you have a few different options:

  1. Taxi: $100+ one-way
  2. Take a bus: Around $25 per person
  3. Scooter/car: From $10-$100+ per day

From Surat Thani

Surat Thani has the closest airport to Khao Sok National Park, about two hours away to the east.

A bus will take you to Klong Sok and leaves at regular intervals throughout the day. This is your cheapest option.

From there, your options are similar to Phuket.

  • Taxi: Around $40 one-way
  • Minibus: Around $10 per person
  • Scooter/car: From $10-$100+ per day

From Krabi and Ao Nang

Krabi is a similar distance to Phuket, and the trip will take around three hours.

But, just like Phuket, you’ll have a few options to get to the park:

  • Taxi: Around $70 one-way
  • Minibus: Around $15 per person
  • Scooter/car: From $10-$100+ per day

From Koh Samui

Also called “Ko Samui,” this idyllic tropical island is close enough to visit Khao Sok on your next trip.

But it’ll involve heading to the pier to book a boat ride to Surat Thani, then taking a bus, taxi, or other transportation to Khao Sok Village.

From Khao Lak

Khao Lak is lesser-known than Phuket or Krabi, but it still has fantastic beaches and many things to do.

And it’s only about an hour away from Khao Sok National Park!

So, if you’re heading from Khao Lak, here’s what you’re looking at:

  • Taxi: Around 70-$85 one-way
  • Minibus: Around $5-$10 per person
  • Scooter/car: From $10-$100+ per day

From Bangkok

Bangkok is the furthest away, so getting there will be more complicated.

  • Plane (Fly to Phuket Airport, Surat Thani Airport, or Krabi Airport)
  • Train (Go to the Surat Thani train station)
  • Bus (longest)
  • Drive (Most expensive)

Things to Do in Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park is a nature lover’s paradise with plenty of activities.

Relaxation in Khao Sok

Whether you are an adventure seeker or a nature enthusiast, you will find something to suit your interests. Here are some of the top things to do in Khao Sok National Park:

Hike one of the oldest rainforests in Asia

That’s right.

Khao Sok is home to one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world, over 160 million years old!

In case you were wondering, that’s older than the Amazon rainforest. And it offers plenty of chances to hike through the jungle no matter your fitness level.

People hiking on Khao Sok's trails

Walking through the rainforest, you’ll see various plants and animals lining the trail while giant limestone cliffs tower on every side.

The most popular hike in the area is the Ton Kloi Waterfall, which takes you along a wide path to a refreshing waterfall at the end.  Just be sure to check for leeches when you’re done!

Note: You can hike many trails without a guide, but if you want to explore deeper inside the national park, you’ll need a guide.

Take a longtail boat trip around the lake

Cheow Lan Lake is gorgeous.

Boat tour on Cheow Lan Lake

The emerald-green waters shimmer in the sun with tree-covered limestone karsts rising to border it. And a longtail boat ride is the best way to experience this giant lake.

And while you’re on a tour of Khao Sok, you can check out one of its many caves to see what it’s like deep inside the park.

Khao Sok Cave

Then finish your day by staying in one of its floating bungalows to cap off a fantastic day!

Go looking for animals in the park

The chance to explore Khao Sok National Park means the opportunity to see some diverse wildlife.

Khao Sok trail

Everything from deer to lizards to elephants roams Khao Sok’s forests. You may even get to see tigers in Khao Sok, though you’ll have to go deep into the jungle to find them. And if you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll find plenty to gaze at. The Great Hornbill, multiple types of eagles, and many birds I’ve never even heard of!

Monkey in Khao Sok

So, if you’re coming for the animal life, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied.

Kayaking on Cheow Lan Lake

Ratchaprapha Dam created over 100 square miles of beautiful water to enjoy.

So make sure to do it! And the best way is with a canoe or kayak.

Kayaking on Cheow Lan Lake

The easiest way is to book a tour in Khao Sok with one of the many tour operators. You can often book the tour through your accommodation as they’ll have their own packages or a deal with a company to help out.

If you want something slightly less adventurous, grab a tire raft from your accommodation and head to the small creeks that run through the park.

There’s nothing like a lazy float down the river to relax.

Where to get a tour in Khao Sok

The best place to get a tour is through your accommodation.

Most places have an area dedicated to helping you book tours and excursions so I would opt for them first.

If your accommodation has nothing, head to the center of Khlong Sok, and you’ll find plenty of tour operators.

Be sure to shop around. Although most prices will be similar, it’s worth checking out a few options to find a better price.

Where to stay when visiting Khao Sok Village

Khao Sok (Khlong Sok) has it all in terms of accommodation.

From luxury to budget, you’ll find something for you on your trip to Khao Sok National Park.

Luxury Resorts

If you want a luxurious getaway, Khao Sok has a few options.

Our Jungle House accommodation

Here are a few of the top hotels near the town of Khlong Sok (Khao Sok Village):

  1. Elephant Hills: An eco-tourism resort where guests can play with elephants, go on safaris, and explore Cheow Larn Lake while they stay in beautiful tents and villas.
  2. Our Jungle House: While it offers less luxury than Elephant Hills, it’s still the perfect getaway to relax and unwind for a weekend (or longer).
  3. Our Jungle Camp: Similar to Our Jungle House (and close by), Our Jungle Camp is the perfect retreat in the woods for those looking to disconnect.

Budget Hostels

Not worried about luxury and more concerned about saving money for traveling?

Perfect! Khao Sok has something for you, too!:

  1. Coco Khao Sok Hostel: Just an 8-minute walk from Khao Sok National Park headquarters, this hostel has a beautiful terrace and excellent views of the mountains.
  2. Khaosok Secret Hostel: Has WiFi and comfortable rooms with a balcony. Plus, it’s a stone’s throw from the park entrance!
  3. Khao Sok Riverside Cottages: Wooden cottages, private decks, excellent mattresses — what’s not to like?

Floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake

There are 14 raft houses on Khao Sok Lake (Cheow Larn Lake).

Floating Bungalows in Khao Sok

And they range from basic to ultra-luxurious. Either way, it’s hard to beat waking up on the lake with the birds singing and the sun beginning to rise over the limestone karsts.

Some will even include the free use of kayaks to paddle around and swim in the lake!

Prices vary, so it’s best to check the availability here.

Where to eat and drink in Khlong Sok

When it comes to dining at Khao Sok National Park, you’ll find a variety of local and international cuisine options.

From seafood to pizza, there’s something for everyone. 

Here are some of the top places to grab a bite:

If you’d prefer to be on a liquid diet, here are some of the best bars:

  • Khao Sok Rasta Thailand: A popular backpacker hangout in Khao Sok village, offering a laid-back atmosphere and affordable drinks.
  • Jumanji Bar: Located in the heart of Khao Sok. Wide selection of drinks and a great place to meet others.
  • Chillout Bar: Chilled vibes, refreshing cocktails, and fantastic staff. What more do you need?

FAQs about Khao Sok National Park

What time is Khao Sok National Park open?

Khao Sok National Park is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Remember that times may differ depending on the season, weather, and events. So it’s best to check with officials to see the updated hours.

Is it worth going to Khao Sok National Park?

Yes, it is definitely worth visiting Khao Sok National Park for its stunning natural beauty, wildlife, and range of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and jungle safaris.

Khao Sok is a gem in Thailand, and it offers visitors the chance to explore a jungle that is over 160 million years old! Plus, with all its flora and fauna, you’ll have fun exploring for days.

How many days should I spend in Khao Sok National Park?

The ideal duration for a Khao Sok visit is 3-4 days.

This gives you time to explore the park and surrounding areas without boredom. You can include hikes to waterfalls and caves, scouting out some animals, and kayaking around Cheow Lan Lake within 3-4 days. Plus, you won’t feel rushed and can have plenty of time to relax in a hammock!

Are there tigers in Khao Sok National Park?

Yes, there are tigers in Khao Sok National Park, but a small population lives deep in the jungle.

Your best chance of spotting a tiger is by going on a jungle safari tour which includes at least 1 night of exploring. 

Can you swim in Khao Sok?

Swimming is allowed in certain parts of Khao Sok.

For example, at the base of some waterfalls and some parts of Cheow Lan Lake.

But be aware of the risks. There could be wildlife, strong currents, rocks, and other hazards that could make swimming dangerous. So check with park officials to ensure your safety.

What is the best month to visit Khao Sok?

The best time to visit Khao Sok is from December to April, the dry season in South Thailand.

So, you’ll get clear and dry days, making it perfect for outdoor activities.

It can get hot during this time of the year, though. So bring sunscreen, water, and enough snacks to keep yourself safe.

Ready to visit Khao Sok National Park?

Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s best places for nature lovers.

Whether you want to kick back and relax or dive (literally) into everything it has to offer, you’ll find tons of things to do during your time in Thailand.

Hopefully, this guide helped you plan for your next visit.

Meanwhile, if you’re visiting the south of Thailand, check out Phuket’s hiking and some of the best viewpoints. Plus, there’s always Koh Yao Yai nearby.

So, let me know your plans in the comments, and have a great time!

author avatar
Kyle Cash Owner
Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania.