Situated in southern Thailand, Khao Sok is undoubtedly one of the country’s most popular national parks. Covering some 739 square kilometres, it boasts one of the oldest rainforests in the world – believed to date back some 160 million years. Its landscape is awash with dramatic karst mountains, a beautiful lake and native wildlife, all within easy reach of Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and other top Thai destinations. With endless options for exploring this national park, we’ve narrowed it down to the top five activities in Khao Sok that you don’t want to miss out on.
Boating on Cheow Lan Lake
One of the most scenic spots in Khao Sok, and in all of Thailand, Cheow Lan Lake boasts vast, emerald-green waters surrounded by soaring limestone formations. Some of these reach heights of an impressive 960 metres and are densely covered with cycad palms, which have thrived since the dinosaur era.
Cruise along the lake on a traditional longtail boat and soak up this incredible scenery. Spot hornbills and gibbons along the water’s edge and jump in for a swim to cool off.
Authentic Thai raft houses, known as ‘floating bungalows‘ are the accommodation of choice here. And if you have time in your itinerary to spend the night, you’ll find an array of options from the budget and bamboo-style rafts to deluxe floating villas.
‘Visiting Cheow Lan Lake was definitely the highlight of our time in Khao Sok National Park. We were able to swim, read, and make new friends. But it wasn’t all laying around in the sun! We had some heart-pumping adventures – kayaking to deserted islands and hiking through a cave that was filled with water as deep as our chests in places. It was the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, and felt much less touristy than many other parts of southern Thailand.’
– Katie and Ben, Two Wandering Soles
Staying in a treehouse lodge
Speaking of accommodation, there are plenty more quirky and unique options available in Khao Sok National Park. One of the most enchanting being a treehouse lodge, where you can spend a night fully immersed in the park’s magical jungle.
Set on wooden stilts within the canopy, most treehouses offer a deck area where you can spot wildlife amongst the branches or simply relax with a good book. Then by night, listen to your very own jungle orchestra as the nocturnal residents of the forest come to life.
A walking jungle safari
Khao Sok National Park offers plenty of opportunities for exploring on foot. And if you take a walking jungle safari, you’ll have a guide on hand to point out this park’s amazing wildlife.
Boasting 48 mammal species and 311 types of bird, Khao Sok is home to a diverse array of inhabitants. From majestic wild elephants and Malayan sun bears to adorable mouse deer and pig-tailed macaques.
Alternatively, take the experience to the next level and join a night safari. Armed with a torch, you’ll be surrounded by the evening calls and rustles of the jungle. Spot bats flying overhead in the star-filled sky and keep your eyes peeled for the nocturnal slow loris, one of the world’s most endangered primates.
Canoeing along the Sok River
With its peaceful and slow-moving stream, canoeing along the Sok River is one of the most relaxing activities in Khao Sok National Park. And whilst there is the option to steer yourself, in many cases you may have someone to paddle your canoe for you.
As you gently move downstream, you’ll have plenty of time to absorb the beautiful surrounds, as well as look out for wildlife coming to drink at the water. You’ll also enjoy some scenes of rural life along the river, with locals either fishing or coming to collect their daily household water supply.
Seeing the world’s largest flower
Alongside its wonderful wildlife, Khao Sok is also home to the world’s largest flower. Known as Rafflesia, these flowers can grow up to 90 centimetres in width and weigh a whopping 7 kilograms.
Three different species of Rafflesia grow in Khao Sok, recognisable not just by their size but their red colour dotted by yellow spots. However be warned, they also exude an unpleasant odour, likened to that of a dustbin or rotting meat as they are pollinated by flies.
The flowers only bloom for a few days, so spotting these giants is a rare sight. But if you’re lucky enough to do so, you will be the envy of both tourists and botanists alike.