From what to pack and details about the accommodation, to the amazing activities on offer, read this before visiting Khao Sok National Park, Thailand.
If you want to take in Thailand’s raw beauty, then a trip to Khao Sok National Park should be at the top of your list. With epic limestone cliffs, a bright emerald lake and a chance to get up close to wildlife, our time in Khao Sok was the highlight of our trip to Thailand.
In all honesty, we had several dilemmas about whether to visit Khao Sok National Park on our recent holiday. We were only in Thailand for just over two weeks, and from our research it seemed like Khao Sok was awkward to get to. To really soak it up we’d need two or three days there, with some big travel days at either end. We wondered whether it was worth it, or whether we should skip it and enjoy our trip at a slower pace.
So what happened? Well… we went for it! The adventure won, and what an incredible adventure it turned out to be! I’m SOOOOOO happy we visited. Khao Sok is genuinely one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been on my travels. The colours, the landscapes, the rawness – it’s a very special place. It reminded me a little of another favourite – Raja Ampat (a.k.a Indonesia’s secret paradise!)
When we were researching our trip, we had lots of questions and while there are lots of great posts around, I couldn’t find one that covered absolutely everything. So, that’s what I’ve attempted to do. I really hope you find this Khao Sok travel guide helpful. As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post or send me an email.
The Ultimate Guide To Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
How to get to Khao Sok National Park
The majority of people travel by minibus to the town of Khlong Sok. The small town has several guesthouses and hotels, perfect for travellers keen to explore the region. After spending a few days in Ao Nang, we booked onto a bus from Krabi, while others reached the area from Khao Lak or Surat Thani – the closest airport to Khao Sok National Park.
A week before arriving in Khlong Sok, we contacted our hotel to check there was availability for on the 2 day/1 night tour of Khao Sok. We reserved two spots and then paid on arrival. We knew the tour included a few boat trips, accommodation and meals, but there was a lack of detailed information on what to expect.
If you’d prefer to book your trip in advance, I’d recommend this Khao Sok tour which is available via GetYourGuide.
Information About The 2 Day / 1 Night Tour of Khao Sok National Park
The two day / one night tour is the most popular option for visitors wanting to explore Khao Sok National Park. It felt like the perfect amount of time to soak up what the park has to offer. It gives you the freedom to immerse yourself in the impressive scenery, enjoy a few activities and stay overnight in a floating bungalow. You can do day tours to Khao Sok, but I feel like you’d be missing a lot!
How much does the 2 Day / 1 Night Tour of Khao Sok National Park cost?
We booked the tour through our hotel in Khlong Sok. We researched a few options online, but as the rate seemed to be standard across all of the tour operators, we decided it’d be nice to support our hotel. That way, we could also chat to them to confirm all of the key information once we’d checked in.
The Khao Sok tour includes all transport (bus from Khlong Sok and the boat over the lake), lunch and dinner on the first day, plus breakfast and a snack lunch on the second day. It also includes one night’s accommodation in floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake. In terms of activities it includes a few boat and cave tours while in the national park.
There’s usually a charge of 300 THB per person to enter Khao Sok National Park. This was included in our tour price, but this wasn’t the case for everyone in our group, so it’s something worth checking when you book.
Obviously, if you do decide to book in advance via GetYourGuide, you can check the prices of the tours here.
What is the 2 Day / 1 Night Tour of Khao Sok National Park?
I should probably add a disclaimer here, that not all tours will be exactly the same, and where you visit and the accommodation your stay in will depend on your tour operator. However, from my pre-trip research, most of the trips sounded pretty similar to one another.
As a guide, here’s how our tour was structured:
Day 1 – Khao Sok National Park Tour Schedule
Morning: Pickups from Khlong Sok village. One hour drive to Ban Ta Khun.
Stop in Ban Ta Khun market area where you can buy items including snacks, drinks, waterproof bags, head torches and sandals. We were told it would be a good idea to stock up on snacks if you get hungry often, or spirits if you don’t drink beer (as that’s all that’s available for sale at the floating bungalows).
Short drive Ratchaprapa Dam for Cheow Lan pier, then board a boat to the floating bungalows. The boat trip accommodation took around 45 minutes.
Check into accommodation and then enjoy a group lunch in the main restaurant area. Food throughout the trip was great and included curries, fish, rice and vegetables.
Afternoon: 5 minute boat trip to the start of the jungle / cave hike.
2-3 hours hike through the jungle to Nam Talu Cave. Then an adventure through the cave (more on that below!) and then back to the boats.
Relax time at the floating bungalows before the night safari and dinner, with options of swimming and kayaking
Night safari to see wildlife and landscapes
Evening: Group dinner – again more great curry and fish, followed by drinks (optional!) and bed.
Day 2 – Khao Sok National Park Tour Schedule
Morning: Early morning boat trip
Breakfast – pancakes, fruit and coffee
Relax time before checkout with options of swimming and kayaking
Boat trip to Pra Kay Petch Cave to see stalagmites and stalagtites
Boat trip to see the scenery of Cheow Lan Lake including a stop at the three limestone hills (iconic view!)
Stop off at a beach on the lake for a picnic lunch of rice packs and fresh fruit before heading back to the pier and catching a transfer back to Khlong Sok village.
Who books the 2 Day / 1 Night Tour of Khao Sok National Park?
I loved how mixed the group was for our trip to Khao Sok. Our tour group consisted of 22 people, aged between 21 – 65. There were a mix of nationalities too, including English, Dutch, Australian, German, Russian and Ukrainian. We were travelling as a couple, but there were small groups of friends, a few other couples and a mother and daughter. The tour guide gave all instructions in English.
Tell me more about the activities on the 2 Day / 1 Night Tour of Khao Sok National Park…
In addition to the boat trips to get to and from our accommodation, our tour included two cave tours and two boat trips.
Nam Talu Cave Hike
The hike to the entrance of Nam Talu Cave took around an hour, and involved walking along paths carved through bamboo forests, and crossing several streams and rivers. The route is very pretty, and it wasn’t long before I felt fully immersed in the nature of the national park.
At the entrance of Nam Talu Cave, we were equipped with head torches, and everyone packed essential items into dry bags. The cave is 850m long, and the route through is a dark, wet one! We spotted bats, frogs and spiders along the journey.
While you don’t need to be at peak fitness levels, you do need to be open to adventures and happy to clamber, walk and swim! If you’re claustrophobic, scared of the dark or not confident in the water, I’d avoid this element of the trip. I wore a bikini and water shoes for the cave trek (more on what to pack below), as it was really wet!
It took around one hour to reach the other end of the cave, and although I found it challenging and a little scary at times, it was one of those rewarding travel experiences that I’m SO happy I did!
Pra Kay Petch Cave
On day two we visited Pra Kay Petch Cave. This was a much more relaxed adventure. It took just 15 minutes to walk through the cave, and inside were a beautiful array of stalagmites and stalactites.
Boat Safaris In Khao Sok National Park
We went on two longtail boat safaris – in the evening of the first day, and early morning the next day. They were described as safaris as there was a chance we’d see some incredible wildlife. We did! There were lots of monkeys playing by the shore, plus we saw a few beavers and plenty of birds. I wouldn’t say it’s the most wildlife-rich place I’ve ever been, but it’s always amazing to see animals in their natural habitats.
Other activities in Khao Sok National Park
No matter where you’re staying, you can enjoy regular jumps into the lake, along with plenty of swimming and kayaking. It was definitely a refreshing way to wake up and a wonderful way to take in the landscapes.
If you don’t fancy the longer trip, you can also book day trips like this one to Khao Sok, which include a bit of time kayaking.
Khao Sok National Park Packing List: Useful Items
If you’re planning to spend a few days in Khao Sok National Park, then the best thing to do is decant your essentials into an overnight bag, and store your main backpack or suitcase at your hotel in Khlong Sok.
In addition to basics like clothes and toiletries, here are a few items I’d recommend packing if possible:
Bite relief – I usually take an after bite / anti-itch cream like this, that helps to soothe any bites. I also swear by this amazing Bite Away Pen, which sends a small electric shock to the itchy part of the bite. It takes a bit of getting used to at first (and sometimes hurts a tiny bit), but it does work. I’ve done a full review of the item (as it goes everywhere with me!!) so feel free to read more here.
Travel towel – A fast-drying microfibre towel like this one will come in handy in Khao Sok. These are great not only for when you fancy a swim, but also when you want to sit down on the ground or to wipe your sweaty face on a humid day!
Sun cream – It’s important to apply suncream throughout the day. I’d recommend finding a brand which isn’t too heavy on chemicals, or is almost totally natural, like this one made by Sun Bum.
Sunglasses – It’s important to protect your eyes when you visit a holiday destination like this one. I’d recommend investing in some high-quality UV protected sunglasses. I’ve owned a pair of these Ray Bans for a few years now and love them!
Sun hat – You’ll definitely want a sun hat to protect yourself on all of those sunny days!
After sun or aloe vera – Don’t forget some soothing cream incase you do burn. I really like this one made by Ultrasun. It’s lightweight and feels lovely on your skin.
Rain jacket – Check the forecast before you go. There are occasionally sporadic rain showers. As you won’t need it for warmth, I’d recommend a lightweight waterproof jacket that packs down small. Something like this would be perfect.
Daypack backpack – I used a small backpack for day-to-day adventures, which could fit a water bottle, camera, sun cream and bug spray. If you’re looking for something nice and small, lightweight, water-resistant and that will fit all your essentials, I’d recommend this daypack. It’s got some very handy zip-up pockets too!
Reusable water bottle – I always recommend packing a reusable water bottle for travel. Even if you can’t drink the tap water, it means you can top up from giant bottles or water coolers rather than buying lots of plastic bottles. Personally I’d recommend the Chilly’s water bottles. I’ve got a few in different sizes and they are excellent quality!
GoPro – Khao Sok is an adventure-filled destination. The best way to capture it is on a GoPro. They’re great for photos and videos, hard wearing, shockproof and waterproof. Whether you’re snorkelling, hiking, in the caves or spotting wildlife, it’s the perfect accessory. Don’t forget to take out travel insurance that covers your gadgets too.
Power bank – I’d 100% recommend taking a portable battery pack with you as charging anything here is difficult! I have a few made by Anker and they’re great quality and have lasted for a long time. This is the one I’m using at the moment, which is really small (similar size to my phone) but stores lots of charge and has a fast charging capability.
Plug adapter – I pack this universal travel adapter for all of my travels. It charges multiple items at once, using plugs or USB and can be used anywhere in the world. It’s one of my fave travel gadgets! You probably won’t be able to charge items in Khao Sok if you’re in a basic bungalow, but I’d still recommend one for your time in Thailand.
Dry bag – For this trip I bought a dry bag like this. It’s made from a thick plastic and is totally waterproof. It was especially useful for the cave trip! These dry bags are perfect for adventures on the water, visiting waterfalls, or if you think it’s going to rain heavily. I’d recommend a small one for your phone and camera gear, or a larger one if you want to use it as your main bag for an activity.
Waterproof phone case – Similarly, if you want to take your phone out and about in the water, I’d recommend getting a waterproof phone case. There are quite a few to choose from, but I’d recommend reading the reviews! You need this to protect your phone and be 100% watertight after all! I bought these Moko cases myself and my partner and they’ve been great. We’ve used them on several trips snorkelling and to waterfalls now, and no leaks!
Water shoes – These are essential for the cave trip, but you can hire them at the accommodation or buy in the market if you don’t want to get them in advance.
Head torch – also available to hire or borrow in Khao Sok.
Padlock – the doors of the bungalows didn’t lock, so bring a padlock if you’re nervous about leaving any of your belongings unattended.
I’d also recommend charging everything before your trip e.g. camera batteries, kindle, phone.
Do you want to hear something funny about our trip? As we were heading to Surat Thani Airport straight after our tour, we arranged with the tour guides that we’d take all of our luggage on the trip, rather than decanting down to an overnight bag for the tour as most people do. There was a big misunderstanding, and when we arrived at the pier on the lake, we discovered our suitcases had been put in the tour operator’s office overnight. They thought we wanted them to take care of them! So we arrived at the floating bungalows without any essentials. No toothpaste, no change of clothes… just cameras, suncream, phones and what we were wearing! We managed, but it wasn’t ideal as you can imagine. If you’re planning to arrange something similar – check everyone understands the plan.
What are the floating bungalows like in Khao Sok National Park?
So here’s where my experience might vary from what you find. As we booked via our hotel in Khlong Sok, we didn’t know which raft house we’d be taken to on the Cheow Lan Lake. To be honest, I was expecting to rough it for a night in pretty basic accommodation, but I was a little surprised by just HOW basic it was.
Our bungalow had one big double mattress on the floor, with a mosquito net over it… and that was it. There were a couple of sheets, and a light outside, but that was it. It didn’t lock (hence why I mention a padlock might be useful if you’re worried about the security of any of your belongings). There was no fan, but we managed to sleep ok as the temperatures were more comfortable by the evening.
The bathroom situation was a little tricky too. There were two on either side of the site, but to reach them you had to walk across floating planks and then clamber up the side of a hill. There were toilets and showers there, but water was cold. However, the food in the restaurant was flavoursome and plentiful.
Some of the photos I saw of the accommodation on similar tours looked a little bit less basic, so take that into consideration. To be honest, I really didn’t mind any of it as it was only for one night, and the overall experience was totally incredible, so please don’t let what I’ve said put you off. Just lower your expectations for the accommodation!
There are a few luxurious options on the lake, if you’re looking for somewhere with a few more amenities.
Luxury places to stay in Khao Sok National Park (Cheow Lan Lake):
500 Rai Floating Resort – The smartest option on the lake, rooms here come with AC and en-suite bathrooms. Some have outdoor jacuzzis, plus there’s a pool and restaurants on site.
Panvaree Resort – Rooms here have proper beds, balconies, terraces, en-suite bathrooms, plus a TV and fridge.
Overall thoughts on the two day / one night tour of Khao Sok National Park
WOW, wow and wow!! I think the photos speak for themselves, but this is such a stunning area of natural beauty – you just HAVE to visit if you get the chance. It’s not the easiest place to get to, it’s not the most luxurious of experiences, but as soon as you get there, you’ll realise you made the right decision. I absolutely loved it!
While some of my blog content is sponsored, our trip to Thailand was a holiday, and 100% funded by us! I’ve written about this experience because I felt so passionately about sharing it – I just couldn’t keep it to myself. Any questions, please leave them in the comments below or send me an email.
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