About Khao Sok
Being the most popular mainland national park destination in South Thailand, Khao Sok is a rainforest with great diversity of plants and wildlife. It is one of the few bigger national parks in the country relatively easily accessible by public services from nearby Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak, Surat Thani, Ao Nang (Railey Beach).
Khao Sok was established as Thailand's 22nd national park in 1980 by The Royal Forest Department. The park covers 739 km² land area of Amphoe Phanom and Ban Takhun in Surat Thani province and includes the Cheow Lan reservoir dammed by the Ratchaprapha dam. The relatively convenient distance to Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak makes this park the most popular national park in South Thailand.
Khao Sok is part of Khlong Saeng - Khao Sok Forest Complex covering allthogether around 5,316 km². The complex incorporates 12 protected areas including some offshore islands in the Andaman Sea. Khao Sok has Thailand's largest virgin forests and said to be one of the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, according some sources more diverse than the Amazon Rainforest (arguably, should be taken with a pinch of salt).
While the park is home for many exotic wild mammals such as Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, gibbons it is more famous for the symbolic flower of Surat Thani Province, the huge Bua Phut (Rafflesia kerrii) flower found on a trail starting from main road south of the park.
The park is home to a wide variety of mammal species such as elephant, gaur, banteng, sambar deer, sun bear, Asian black bear, malayan tapir, macaque, gibbon, serow, mouse-deer, porcupine, marbled cat, wild boar, Asiatic wild dog and many more.
Great hornbill, helmeted hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, osprey, brahminy kite, blue-banded kingfisher, rufous-collared kingfisher are few of the hundreds of bird species that can be found in the park.
Although the park has some of most exciting mammal and bird species in Thailand, it is very rare to see any of these around the popular tourist areas. Lucky tourists will see long-tail macaques, distant call of gibbons may be heard in the morning, sometimes boars or deer may show up on trails.
Some tour companies advertise Khao Sok as a popular destination to see tigers. There have been tigers in Khao Sok, there may still be a smaller population deep inside the inaccessible areas, but no one has seen any for quite a while. The top tiger destination in Thailand is Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary where nearly 40 to 50% of Thailand's tiger population lives, but even there tiger sightings are very rare.
While it is not easy to find bigger animals in Khao Sok's accessible areas, it is a great destination to find reptile and amphibian species. With a bit luck, many of Thailand exciting lizard, snake and amphibian species can be found along the trails to the waterfalls.
To see a longer list of species found in Khao Sok, visit our Wildlife at Khao Sok page.
There are two main areas of the park; the area around the headquarters/the visitor center and Cheow Lan Lake. For more detailed information about the lake attraction, visit our Chew Lan Lake page.
The headquarters area is easily accessible by public transportation as the busses and minivans from several destinations stops by at the main road 2 kilometres from the park entrance. There are many options for stay in the area on a walking distance to the visitor center.
Cheow Lan Lake, which is the most popular destination of the park needs a bit more efford to get to, it needs private transportation. The lake is accessible from a longtail boat pier near the dam on south-east side of the park, 65km from HQ. Raft houses are one of the main attractions of the park with beautiful views over the lake. There are many caves, viewpoints and trails all accessible with boats operating from the raft houses. A return trip with a 10 pax longtail boat starts from 1500 Baht up to 4,000 Baht, the price difference depends on the distance, it is also possible to hire a boat for overnight stay for around 400 to 500 Baht more.
There are no public services directly to the pier for Chew Lan Lake. The nearest point public transportations options can get to is Ban Ta Khun village, 12 km south from the pier. For info about private transportations to headquarters area or to Cheow Lan Lake Pier, visit our taxi details page for Surat Thani (From 1,700 Baht), Phuket (From 2,800 Baht), Krabi (From 2,500 Baht) and Koh Lanta (From 4,000 Baht), these market rate quotes are nearly 1,000-2,000 Baht cheaper than what most agency and hotels offer.
For more detailed info about public transportation options from nearby towns, visit our get there section.
There are few trail options for hikers (see map) around the headquarters are, but tourists trying walk these trails on their own finds a big sign a bit into trails telling it is closed. Many tourists can be seen at front of these signs discussing what to do, very frustrated they realise there is no other options but to return back to their hotel with their plan for the day ruined. The trails are not really closed, they just needs guided assistance. These pathetic and misleading signs has been around for a while, causing some tourists to return back to their hotels in believe the trails are really closed for the visitors.
Guides can be hired for 500 THB for half day and 1000 THB for full day (early 2016 prices), can be arranged from the agencies near HQ or from hotels/guesthouses. So, if you don't intend to hire a guide, there is no need to pay the entrance fee to pass the checkpoint as there is not much to do in the park apart from walking nearly one km on the main dirt road with possibility to see only two very small waterfalls. Some of the trails are easy to walk and very easy to follow, but the guide requirement is to boost the local economy. Saying this, don't try to walk longer trails on your own by breaking national park regulations, it is easy to get lost and this is real jungle with wild animals we are talking about.
Various tour companies offers up to 3-4 days tours including hiking deeper into the jungle on alternative trails all over the national park. Some of these trails are around Cheow Lan Lake, accessible with long-tail boats, leads to various caves and viewpoints. Tour packages may also cover tours to other protected areas around Khao Sok.
Some resorts around the headquarters area offers pathetic and cruel tours with elephants in captivity. If you are considering doing so, please read about "elephant crushing" and see various videos on YouTube about the subject. Rangers trying to protect wildlife in various national parks from poachers gets killed or injured almost on monthly basis. This wile confronting poachers who targets various wildlife, sometimes killing entire families of elephants to catch a single elephant baby to feed this dirty market with elephants.
The guesthouses around the headquarters area offers various activities such as canoeing, water activities and guided tours on different areas. There are plenty of restaurant and shops along the main road to the entrance of the park.
The wet season is between late April and December with heavy rain between June-November, the dry season is January to April, average temperatures ranging from 22°C to 36°C all year around.
The entrance fees are 300 THB for foreigners (children 150 THB) and 40 THB for locals (children 20 THB).
Attractions of Khao Sok
Cheow Lan Lake
Please visit our detailed Cheow Lan Lake section to read more about the lake and some of the attractions accessible by boat.
HQ area and Campsite
The HQ is located in a convidient walking distance from the area where all guesthouses are located. There is a camping ground, visitor center in the HQ area as well as a restaurant and toilet/shower facilities. The area is quite spacious with a smaller water stream running through it.
Many of waterfalls in the national park can be accessed by hiking on the dirt road that starts on the east side of campsite. There are also couple of trails on the north side of campsite, one of them leading to Sip-et Chan Waterfall.
Sip Et Chan Waterfall
11 level waterfall running into a big pool. Nice place to take a break and relax on rocks around. There is very little chanse to see mammals on 4 km long trail to the waterfall, but bird species are relatively abundant. Great hornbill, great argus, bamboo woodpecker, orange-breasted trogon, banded pitta and black-and-yellow broadbill are few of many bird species to be found along the trail.
Wing Hin Waterfall
20m high waterfall is about 2.8 km in a relatively convinient walking distance from the visitor center. It is located on the other side of the Klong Sok River from the road, but easily accessible by step across on rocks.
Wang Yao pool
For swimming, 3km from the visitor center
Bang Liap Nam Waterfall
Small waterfall, but nice walk along the river, trekking through bamboo and giant trees. 4.5 km from the visitor center.
Bang Hua Rat Waterfall
Popular for rafting activities, this waterfall with rapid water is 3km from the visitor center.
Than Sawan Waterfall
It is on a tributary of Sok River, accessible through a slippery trail and wading that can be dangerous during the rainy season. 6km from the visitor center.
Mae Yai Waterfall
This 30 m high and one-level waterfall is is on the main road between Surat Thani and Takuapa at 113rd km, 5.5 km from the visitor center. The waterfall has very little to offer during the dry season, recommended only during the rainy season.
Tang Nam Gorge
A pair of cliffs which Khlong Sok river runs between, nice place to swim. Located approximately 6km east from the headquarters accessible by the same trail to Ton Kloi Waterfall (the last waterfall).
Ton Kloi Waterfall
One-level waterfall Located 7 km from the visitor center, it can be admired all year around. Approximately 1 km away from Tang Nam.
San Yang Roi viewpoint
A view point on west side of the park, 2 km from the visitor center.
Accessible by a 3 km trail from Bang Hman Ranger station nearly 34 km east from headquarters, Cave Underwater is an interesting 400 meter long cave with two exits and a water-stream flowing between both ends. The trail is moderate and requires guide or ranger guidance to get there. Most of the walking inside the cave is through the water-stream up to knee level, but at one point towards the end near the second exit, the depth can be more or less 1 meter through a 4-5 meter wide pond. The surface is slippery from time to time. The cave has some nice stalactites and stalagmites.
Due to tragic deaths in another similar cave in the past, the guides won't let anyone walk through the cave if there has been days of heavy rain. The water levels tends to increase rapidly, sometimes the water level gets couple of meter high with very strong stream.
For those seeking challenge, the trail continues 7 km circular back to the ranger station from the other end of the cave, but the trail becomes very difficult to walk, occasionally too steep and very slippery. On way down, there is a 70 meters high waterfall.
The area around this trail is excellent to see butterflies and acanthosaura lizards. With bit of luck some hornbill species may show up, great hornbills are quite common in the area. Although sighting is quite rare, huge footprints of gaurs are quite common along this trail, gaurs are 4th biggest living land mammals. Well inside the cave, some frog species and few bats can be seen. Also, if lucky a harmless cave racer (a snake species, also called "beauty rat snake") may show up.
Bat Cave - Tham Khang Khao
The cave has nice rock formations with chambers suitable for various bat species. It is 21km from the visitor center.
Videos from Khao Sok National Park
Great argus - Khao Sok National Park
Waterfall - Khao Sok National Park
Snake - Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
Cicadas at Chieow Laan Lake - Khao Sok
Blue winged Leafbird fighting with huge grasshopper
Snake - Khao Sok National Park
Playful crab-eating macaques - Khao Sok National Park
Gibbons calling at Khao Sok National park
Underwater film festival Marseille ''the secrets of Khao Sok National Park''
Gorge - Khao Sok National Park
Gibbons calling in the morning - Khao Sok National Park
Lantern/lanthorn fly - Khao Sok National Park
Macaques - Kao Sok National park
Macaques - Khao Sok National Park
Lizards - Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park
Monitor lizard - Khao Sok National Park
Sok River, Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park
Species photos of Khao Sok National Park
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Nine Cambodians suspected of involvement in illegal logging in Thap Lan National Park were arrested on Monday night after being spotted by the park’s surveillance cameras. – Read more
Protesters will today converge on the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) to object to its decision to examine the project's health and environment impact assessment (EHIA) study. – Read more
The rain caused landslides in the Khao Sok national park, which blocked a section of Highway No.401 at kilometre marker 27 in Kapong district. – Read more
A domesticated male elephant was found dead on Wednesday morning in a rubber plantation close to Tai Rom Yen National Park. – Read more
Authorities have reclaimed over 800 rai of national park land allegedly encroached on by resort operators. – Read more