Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani, Thailand

Khao sok thailand

Khao Sok National Park

The itinerary in Thailand cannot miss an excursion to Khao Sok National Park, a treasure trove of biodiversity ranked among the oldest rainforests in the world. Its location is strategic: it is indeed a short distance from the most popular destinations in southern Thailand, namely Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak.

Khao Sok National Park is 519 miles (835 km) from Bangkok. It lies on the south western shore of the Gulf of Thailand.

One of the cheapest ways to get from Bangkok to the National Park is to take a train, tickets to which cost on average 35 USD and travel time is around 12 hours.

Bus from Bangkok: take the bus to Khao Sok National Park. Duration 15h 30m. Departs daily. Typical costs: 1 375 THB (39 $US).

By plane from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) to Surat Thani International Airport (URT) 1 hour 15 minutes. Then you need to drive or take a bus from Surat Thani Airport (URT) to the National Park; approximately 1h 38m (105 km or 65 miles). For info, Surat Thani is also the closest airport to Khao Sok.

By Plane from Phuket to the national park:

When you travel from overseas, Phuket airport is the easiest option, because they have more frequent flights. There are even direct overseas flights from Europe and Australia into Phuket Airport and it makes it the perfect arrival point for your trip to this national park. Then you can drive from Phuket airport to Khao Sok National Park and it takes around 2 hours 45 minutes (132 km or 82 miles).

Khao Sok National Park. Chaiyathat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The landscape is unparalleled: majestic limestone cliffs that look like sculptures, covered with lush forest that is reflected in the emerald water. In addition to venturing into the jungle, you can also take a fantastic kayaking trip or slide on a long-tail boat on Cheow Lan Lake: given the quality of the views, you will dream that this experience will never end.

A 160 million year old jungle

Located in the south of Thailand, between the island of Phuket and Surat Thani, Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s natural jewels. Not easy to access and relatively unknown, Khao Sok deploys striking morning landscapes of the world. When you get there, you think the place hasn’t changed for millions of years…

The Khao Sok Jungle is one of the oldest tropical rainforests on the planet. No less than 160 million years! Omnipresent, it invades every corner of the park, attacking the imposing karst mountains which culminate at 980m.

The jungle of Khao Sok is so impenetrable that, in the 1970s, communist students took refuge there to escape repression. Since 1980, Khao Sok has been a protected national park.

Covering 740 km2, Khao Sok is in the wettest area of ​​the country. The park is watered by both the monsoons of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, practically all year round. Get a K-Way.

An exuberant fauna and flora

These particular geographical and climatic conditions make Khao Sok a privileged sanctuary for wildlife. Stars of the place, the gibbons resound their shrill cries beyond the thick layer of the jungle.

Among the other animals in the park, barking deer, gaurs, tapirs, butterflies but also some 300 species of birds and more dangerous animals such as leopards, pythons and cobras. Rest assured, there is little chance of meeting them. On the other hand, watch out for leeches in the wet season.

On the flora side, a lush forest of exceptional density, with trees up to 65 meters high. From November to January, you can see the glowing rafflesia, which is the largest flower in the world (90 cm wide). Particular sign: it has no stem or root and gives off a nauseating smell of rotten meat!

It has both a land entrance and a lake entrance to the park. This is the ‘front door’ of the lake entrance. AjarnRichard, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Treks and hikes

Khao Sok is a paradise for hikers. Starting from the village at the entrance to the park, marked trails wind through the forest, at the foot of limestone rocks and karst cliffs.

On the way, we cross waterfalls, caves and rivers. Explanatory brochures are available at the entrance to the park. Take something to quench your thirst, because it’s hot.

If you are less brave, opt for canoe trips on the Sok River. Finally, for the more adventurous, the park’s guesthouses offer treks, more or less difficult, of varying duration (up to 3 hours with a camp in the forest), some of which at night! In any case, it is imperative to be accompanied by a guide.

Our favourite: Chiew Larn Lake

Impossible to come to Khao Sok without taking a trip to Chiew Larn Lake, 65 km from the park entrance. This vast expanse of water was formed during the construction of the Rachabrapha Dam, which flooded 170 km2 of the Khao Sok reserve. An astonishing lake landscape from which emerge karst peaks, thousands of pinnacles and ghostly treetops engulfed by the waters.

The place is nicknamed the “Thai Guilin” in reference to the famous Chinese region. We also think of Phang Nga or Halong Bay. At daybreak, the landscape emerging from the mist takes on a mysterious air. As night falls, the shadows of the limestone pinnacles evoke a fantasy film set.

The lake of Ratchaprapha (Chiao Lan) Dam, Khao Sok National Park, Surat Thani Province. BerryJ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If the guesthouses of Khao Sok offer day trips, you can also spend the night on the lake. Preferably go during the week, as the weekends can be busy. Floating huts with more or less rudimentary comfort serve as accommodation. It’s not cheap (count 2,500 baht – 60 €, boat and meal included), but when you reach your destination, preferably at the opposite end of the lake, it’s like being at the end of the world.

Once the motorboats have left, silence reigns supreme, disturbed by the sounds of the forest. After 10 p.m., the electricity supply is cut off. Here you are alone, in a cabin cradled by the waves, with the few inhabitants of the place and the moonlight for companions.


The wet season is around late April–December. The temperature ranges from 22–36 °C (72–97 °F) all year around. Humidity and warm temperature provide the optimal environment for a rich eco-system in this tropical rain forest.

Max. Day Temp., °C303233333130303030292929
Min. Day Temp., °C202021222322222222222121
Water Temp., °C272828292929282828282827
Daylight, hours121212121313131212121212
Rainfall, mm41336214832037337236944733221089

Must Visit Places in Thailand | The most beautiful places to visit in Thailand

Sources: PinterPandai, Lonely Planet, Wanderlust Chloe, Wandering Wheatleys

Photo credit (main photo): Author: SupawatR (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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