Khao Sok National Park

The Top 4 Most Exciting Things To Do

things to do in khao sok national park

The Top 4 Most Exciting Things To Do In Khao Sok National Park


Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s largest protected areas, and its ancient rainforest is home to many untold wonders!

With so many different things to do, visitors to this wild and rugged section of southern Thailand will have many different options to choose from, ranging from a relaxing canoe trip to a multi-day, deep-jungle survival trek!

Here, we’ve chosen our four favorite activities in the park, with options to suit everyone’s style.


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Hiking in Khao Sok

khao sok national park hike

The hiking is Khao Sok is some of the best out of anywhere in Thailand!

The rainforest is teeming with fantastical plants, like strangler figs, wild orchids, and the Rafflesia Kerrii – the world’s largest flower.


The fauna is great too, with hornbills and leaf-monkeys feeding in the canopy, and a vast number of lizards, frogs, butterflies, and small mammals closer to ground level.


Guests will be dazzled by the richness of the forest and challenged by the rugged terrain.  Remember to bring a camera and your sense of adventure!

khao sok national park elephant

Pro Tip
Be sure to budget for a local guide!

On many Khao Sok hikes, this is not optional, as a guide is required on certain trails.

However, a good guide is the indispensable key to making the most of your time in the rainforest!

These locals grew up in the forest, and have a lifetime of experiences hunting, gathering, or just having fun!

There are a number of trekking options for travelers of all abilities in Khao Sok.

The easiest of these is a self-guided hike from the park entrance to the Bang Hua Ret ranger station.

This hike is about eight kilometers, round trip, and follows the Khao Sok River past several waterfalls and swimming holes.

This is great for guests wanting to spend a relaxing day swimming and hanging out in the forest.

khao sok flower

Pro Tip
Leaving the park entrance, look to the left of the path during the first kilometer of the hike.

There are a number of small paths that lead into the forest between the main path and the river.  These are usually unoccupied, and will take you to all the waterfalls and swimming holes!

Best of all, because the river and the main path run parallel, there is no way to get lost.

 

Other Khao Sok Hiking Options

 

Another easy-moderate hike is the Night Safari, which is an absolute must!

A guide will take you through the jungle, using headlamps to point out the animals that emerge after dark.

This is the best way to see the nocturnal wildlife in Khao Sok National Park.

Guests on a night safari often spot mouse deer, slow loris, and civet cats, along with various species of frogs and insects.

Furthermore, visitors looking for something more challenging will find no shortage of options either.


Difficult hikes to the Rafflesia flower are available from November to March.


Additionally, there are plenty of half and full-day hikes to various waterfalls and caves around Khao Sok National Park.

There are even multi-day treks available to deeper, more inaccessible areas of the forest!

We recommend starting your research with this Khao Sok Hiking Blog that details the main hikes, and many lesser-known ones as well.

Cheow Larn Lake

khao sok national park tours

Cheow Larn Lake is one of the most stunning locations in the world, and a lake trip is highly recommended!

Here, limestone cliffs soar above turquoise water, surrounded by seemingly endless miles of jungle.

This combination of scenery, swimming, and adventure means there is something here for everyone.

Whether you are visiting for photography opportunities, wildlife spotting, or simply to relax in the vast Khao Sok jungle, a lake trip will not disappoint.


90% of visitors to the lake join either a one-day or overnight tour, and both programs include swimming, hiking, meals, and a stop at the Guilin scenic area.


The beauty of the lake sells itself – as you can see from the vast array of pictures that this is one of the most beautiful places in all of Thailand!

However, there are some downsides, and it pays to know about them. 

For example, the lake is quickly gaining in popularity.  Each year more guests (Thai and foreign) arrive at the lake, with locals and the local government struggling to keep up.

The result is many more tourists.

The Result: Guests will find less peace and privacy than they might have previously expected.

Pro Tip
Also important; Cheow Larn Lake is a wild, remote location and is subject to changing natural conditions.

This could mean a less-convenient or less-comfortable trip than expected, and every visitor should prepare for this possibility.

For example, rain can change the itinerary, create delays, and even cancel a particular hike or boat tour.

Additionally, the remoteness of the lake means that medical assistance is an hour away at least.

This is worth keeping in mind when considering whether or not to take part in the jungle activities!

cheow larn lake

3 Things To Consider For Your Cheow Larn Lake Trip

 

  1. Local Outfitter: The tour operators for the lake use local guides, therefore hospitality experience and English skills will vary.

Therefore, it is good to shop around for resorts that receive good reviews for the lake trips they offer.

We recommend the Riverside & Rafthouse tour organized by Khao Sok Riverside Cottages.  The guide was wonderful, and the whole thing ran smoothly.


  1. Jungle Hike: Each lake trip includes a moderate jungle trek, but the trek to Nam Ta-Loo cave is especially worth mentioning.

The hike isn’t available during the rainy season and involves walking through a river which runs through a long cave.

At one point, there is even a short rope climb to get over a small waterfall.

If you have concerns about this hike, be sure to ask your resort – they should be able to inform you in detail about which hike you’ll be making.

Finally, keep in mind that all lake hikes are optional!

Note: It is recommended that children under 10 years of age do not take part in jungle hikes at the lake.


  1. Basic Rooms: For overnight guests, the standard bamboo bungalows are very basic, with shared bathrooms.

Guests sleep on thin mattresses, in a bungalow with thin walls and a few hours of electricity per night.

Mosquito nets are not necessary on the lake (there are no mosquitoes on the water!), and your bungalow may or may not have them.

Furthermore, the bungalows do not include safes.

Khao Sok Jungle Cooking

khao sok national park food

In modern Khao Sok, with its pizza restaurants, ATM, and convenience stores, it is easy to forget that things were much different not so long ago.

In fact, in the recent past, people in Khao Sok survived mostly with what they could grow and harvest themselves.

Banana and bamboo were some of the most abundant materials around, both used heavily by locals, especially in food preparation.


In the Khao Sok jungle cooking experience, visitors learn the old ways of cooking with these natural materials.


The best Khao Sok jungle cooking experiences begin at local farms.

Visitors pick vegetables and spices in the shade of banana trees, guided by an experienced local farmer.

Tumeric, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and galanga root are all on the menu.

And of course, you’ll learn all about banana and bamboo, as well as how to harvest and use each for cooking!

khao sok cuisine


Interestingly enough, there are no electric cookers in Khao Sok jungle cooking.


Instead, rice and everything else is cooked in sections of green bamboo.

The rice is salted, folded up in banana leaves, and packed into the bamboo.  Then, the bamboo section is filled with water and placed over a fire.

It leans close enough for the water inside to boil, but not so close that the bamboo burns.

After 30 minutes, you dump the water out and then replace the bamboo over the fire for another 30 minutes as the rice cooks fully.

As is the tradition in Khao Sok, there are no bowls or plates used for eating.

Instead, guests eat curry and soup from ‘bowls’ made of freshly cut and cleaned bamboo.

Banana leaves serve as plates for the rice and chicken.

Flavors are clear and subtle. The tastes of vegetables, coconut, chicken, and spices are prevalent in all of the Khao Sok traditional cuisines.

Nothing is overpowered by seasoning powder or MSG, and the fresh bamboo and banana leaf impart freshness to every bite.

Khao Sok Canoe Trip

khao sok national park kayak

The canoe trip is perhaps the most relaxing fun you can have in Khao Sok National Park.

One of the reasons for this is that as a guest, you don’t have to paddle!


Instead, each canoe is paddled by a local guide, who also owns and maintains the small boat.  Guests are able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the amazing scenery passing by.


And the scenery is truly amazing!

Stunning karst cliffs rise vertically from the water, soaring to incredible heights.

Rare palm trees and orchids dot these cliff faces, and veils of flowers and grass trail from overhangs, providing places for birds to nest.

Massive, gnarled trees stretch out over the river, creating a leafy canopy.

Here, monkeys play, jewel-toned kingfishers keep an eye out for insects, and snakes rest in preparation for their nightly hunts.


The canoe passes silently past all of this, steered by the skilled hands of the local guide.


The guides know the river extremely well and are able to avoid any rocks, fallen trees, or hidden obstacles.

Best of all, they know all of the hiding places and popular hiding spots for concealed wildlife.

They’ll find the critters along the river bank and in the trees and point them out to you.

Therefore, all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

kayak khao sok

Khao Sok Canoe Options

 

There are a couple of routes for the Khao Sok canoe trip.

The most popular route begins at the bridge in town and follows the river’s gentle course for a few miles downstream.


Along the way this trip ends at the Khao Sok Riverside Cottages resort – you can view a video from their canoe trip here.


The other option for a canoe trip begins at the Wat Tham Wararam Cave temple, about 10 minutes from the village.

This is a less popular, but none the less stunning route, full of gorgeous karst cliffs and jungle scenery.

Not all resorts offer this option, so it is worth inquiring if you are interested!

Note: Khao Sok canoe trips are regulated for safety and visitors are not permitted to paddle their own boats. Each boat comes with an experienced local guide.

With so much to see and do, it is no wonder that Khao Sok remains one of the most popular destinations in southern Thailand.

Whether coming for adventure, photography or just looking to relax in nature, this place has something for everyone!  With a little research and some advice from a knowledgeable source like Khao Sok Riverside Cottages, the trip of a lifetime awaits!


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