How to visit Khao Sok national park
In October, when Kate’s parents were over for a visit, we took them on a tour of Thailand, including two days in Khao Sok national park, on the South-West coast. You can read about our experiences there, including a night safari and watching a baby squirrel get eaten by a snake in this blog: Nature, red in tooth and claw.
If you’re thinking of visiting, here’s how to do it:
Nuts and Bolts
Transport to Khao Sok national park
We flew to Surat Thani airport from Chiang Mai with Air Asia. A driver from Cheaper than Airport taxis picked us up and drove us the 1 1/2 journey to our resort next to the national park. We paid about 1,300 baht. As we had Kate’s parents with us, this was easily the most convenient way to do it.
The nearest airport to Khao Sok is Surat Thani. You can fly there from both airports in Bangkok -Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang. There is also a flight once a day from Chiang Mai and from Kuala Lumpur. The budget airlines like Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile and Thai Lion Air fly this route, as well as Thai Airways.
Flights can cost less than 500 baht each way if bought in advance.
Nok Air offers a fly and ride service, including both the flight to Surat Thani and a transfer to Khao Sok national park. It takes about 4 hours and costs around 1500 baht.
Surat Thani is about a 1 1/2-2 hour bus ride from Khao Sok national park. You can get a bus from the town to the road outside the park.
There are more flights per day into Phuket from both airports in Bangkok, Ko Samui, Hong Kong, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. You can also fly to Phuket from further afield – there are direct flights from some countries in Europe, for example.
It’s about a 3-hour bus ride to Khao Sok from Phuket, but it goes from Phuket Town, which is in the south of Phuket island. You will need to get another bus from the airport to Phuket Town.
Krabi airport is also within driving distance of Khao Sok national park, although there are fewer flights than to Phuket. There are flights from both airports in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, as well as Shanghai, Xian and some cities in Scandinavia.
Krabi to Khao Sok takes about 2 hours. There are buses from the bus station in Krabi town.
If you an afford it, it’s easier to get a private transfer. From the airport, you can get a private car to drive you to Khao Sok. We used Cheaper than Airport taxis, as they are highly recommended by people on Tripadvisor. We’d also recommend them. They were punctual and safe, the cars were modern and clean and the drivers were friendly. You can contact them via Facebook and they reply promptly.
You can take a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani. They run during the day, and overnight and take between 9 and 12 hours. 2nd class seats are comfortable and have air conditioning, and overnight you can get a sleeper. It costs somewhere between 800 and 1400 baht. As you can see, flying is generally cheaper and faster.
Big buses travel between Surat Thani, Phuket, and Khao Sok. They take two hours from Surat Thani and four hours from Phuket. They cost less than 150 baht.
There are also big buses from Takua Pa, a town on the main road between Bangkok and the south of Thailand. It has a big bus station with buses all over the region, so you may be able to change here.
Minivans travel the routes between various places in the region and Khao Sok. Minivans are about twice the price of big buses, but often quicker. However, do be aware of the safety record for minivans. We only take them where there isn’t an alternative. Big buses are generally safer and more comfortable.
Transport to the islands
Companies organise transport from Khao Sok directly to the Thai islands of Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Ko Phangan, and Ko Samui. This includes bus transport to the ferry port and the catamaran to the islands. We saw these tickets for sale all over the area outside the national park.
Accommodation in Khao Sok national park
There is a lot of accommodation around the entrance to Khao Sok national park, of various standards and budgets. Many have websites where you can book direct, or you can find them on Booking.com or Agoda.com. We stayed at Khao Sok Good View, which we booked on Booking.com and we would highly recommend it. If you look at our blog on our trip to Khao Sok, you can read all about why.
You can easily just turn up and find somewhere to stay. The guesthouses are all along two roads and you can easy go from one to another to find somewhere.
If you want to spend some time hanging out with elephants in a more animal-friendly environment than just riding on a chair on their backs, and you want a bit of luxury, I’ve heard good things about Ko Sok Elephant Hills. This blog from Phil and Garth has some great photos and video.
Tours in Khao Sok national park
There are several typical tours organised in Khao Sok:
- Half day jungle trek
- One day jungle trek
- One day trip to Cheow Lan Lake. This includes a longtail boat trip on the lake, lunch at the raft houses, kayaking on the lake and a jungle trek with a visit to one of the caves in the area.
- Overnight trip to Cheow Lan Lake. In this one, you stay overnight in the raft houses on the lake.
- Tubing on the river
- Kayaking down the river
- Night safari – where you walk along the jungle trails after it has got dark to look for some of the nocturnal species.
Most guesthouses and tour operators around the entrance to the national park sell these tours. It doesn’t seem like you need to book in advance unless you want to go with a specific company.
We also saw tour operators offering overnight treks in the national park, including camping within the park. Unlike Khao Yai, you can actually camp in the jungle in tents or hammocks. There are also several day treks offered.
One company advertised a night safari with dinner in the jungle, cooked in bamboo. We didn’t do it, but it sounds fun.
Our tours were all organised through Khao Sok Good View resort. We booked them all when we got there, and Bao, the owner, was very helpful in advising what we should do. You can read about them on our blog about it.
Non-Thais need to pay 300 baht to enter the park. Keep your ticket, because it’s valid for 24 hours. You can come out for lunch, and then reenter, or do two different organised tours like we did.
The park is open all year, and because of its location and geography, it gets rain all year. Well, it is a rainforest!
It’s not necessary to take tours in the national park. You can access certain tracks without a guide. There are signs indicating routes to waterfalls and places of interest and the distances. Some areas are restricted to those with guides, though.
It’d be nice to do some trekking on your own if you have the time. However, we’d recommend doing some treks with a guide, so they can tell you what you are looking at and point out all the interesting plants and wildlife in the area.
Eating and drinking in Khao Sok national park
The resorts around the entrance to the national park all serve food and drinks, both Thai and western. There’s no problem finding something good to eat and drink.
There seems to be a lot to do in Khao Sok national park, and we’d like to go back and explore it some more.
Thinking of going to Khao Sok national park? Why not pin this for later?