About Khao Sok
Khao Sok National Park is a rainforest with a great biodiversity of plants and animals, it is the most popular mainland national park destination in South Thailand. The park is one of few national parks in the country easily accessible by public transportation, an obvious stop for many tourists while travelling between Phuket and Ko Samui. The nearest towns are Surat Thani, Krabi, Ao Nang (Railay Beach), Phuket, Khao Lak, Ko Lanta and Koh Samui.
The main attractions of Khao Sok are Cheow Lan Lake, wildlife, iconic limestone hills, waterfalls, raft houses spread over the lake, trails, caves and rivers.
Khao Sok was established as Thailand's 22nd national park in 1980 by The Royal Forest Department. It covers 739 km² land area of Amphoe Phanom District and Ban Takhun District in Surat Thani province and includes the Cheow Lan Reservoir dammed by the Ratchaprapha Dam.
The park is part of the Khlong Saeng - Khao Sok Forest Complex that incorporates 12 protected sites covering an area of 5,316 km², including some offshore islands in the Andaman Sea. The mountains in the park are along the Phuket Range which extends from Phuket Island further north to Ranong Province.
The rainy season is between late April and early December with most rainfall from May to October, the dry season is January to March. Average temperature ranges from 22°C to 36°C all year around.
Many of Thailand's exciting mammal species can be found in the park; elephants, gaurs, sambar deer, sun bears, Asian black bears, Malayan tapirs, crab-eating macaques, gibbons, Indochinese serows, mouse-deers, porcupines, marbled cats, wild boars, Asiatic wild dogs.
There are nearly 400 bird species reported in Khao Sok National Park. Some of the rare bird species recorded in the park are; chestnut-necklaced partridges, sooty-capped babblers, chestnut-capped thrushes, rufous-chested flycatchers, black magpie, cinnamon-rumped trogon, Malaysian crested fireback, crested partridge, giant pitta. Helmeted hornbills used to be quite common in the park, but due to poaching, it is now a very rare sighting. With a bit of effort, great argus can be seen at the Khlong Saeng tributary of Khao Sok Lake.
So far over 90 reptile species reported from the park, there are likely many more. Of the rare reptile species Burmese peacock softshells (Nilssonia formosa), enigmatic leaf turtles (Cyclemys enigmatica), brown wolf snakes (Lycodon effraenis), Malayan smooth snake (Liopeltis tricolor), Kopstein's bronzeback (Dendrelaphis kopsteini) are all found in the park. There are three pit viper species found in the park; Sabah pit viper (Trimeresurus sabahi fucatus), Wagler's palm pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) and Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma).
The park is more famous for the symbolic flower of Surat Thani Province, the huge rafflesia flower (Rafflesia kerrii). The flower can be up to 70-80 cm in diameter, blooming only around October to December.
For a long list of species found in the park, please visit the ”Wildlife” section of Khao Sok National Park.
Before getting to the park, it's good to know that there are two equally popular areas 67 km apart. One is the area around the headquarters generally referred to as Khao Sok or Khao Sok Village, where it is possible to walk a number of trails, visit waterfalls and join various activities in the river. The other hotspot is Khao Sok Lake (aka Cheow Lan Lake) east of the headquarters, best known for it's raft houses, caves, viewpoints, trails, limestone hills etc.
The best way to get an understanding about the whereabouts of the points of interest in the park is to open the interactive map from this page. The map can be zoomed in/out and panned, it also displays other relevant places all over the country.
Getting to Khao Sok Village
Khao Sok Village is easily accessible by public transportation. Buses and minivans from the nearby towns stop by on the main road junction to Khao Sok, 1.8 km from the park entrance.
Many of the hotels in the area are located between the entrance and the main road, others spread out on the side roads which can be up to 2-4 km away. Once dropped off on the main road, if the hotel is nearby, it can be reached by walking, for distant ones a taxi can be arranged on the spot.
The nearest airport is Surat Thani Airport in about 1.5 hours driving distance. Two other relatively nearby airports are Krabi Airport and Phuket Airport. The flight options to Surat Thani Airport are the cheapest, so are the taxi and public transportation options.
For more info, please visit the “Get there & Stay” section of our Khao Sok National Park pages.
Getting to Khao Sok Lake
Just like getting to Khao Sok Village from the nearby towns, the same bus/minivans can be used to get to Ban Ta Khun village to the east. From Ban Ta Khun, it is possible to arrange songthaews to Khao Sok Lake right on the junction of the road to the lake.
The raft houses and attractions in the lake are only accessible by long-tail boats departing from Cheow Lan Lake Pier (aka Ratchaprapha Pier).
For more info, please visit the “Get there & Stay” section of our Khao Sok National Park pages.
Get there with taxi
To avoid losing valuable time, the best way to get to the park is with a private taxi. A taxi trip from the nearest Surat Thani Airport will cost 1,500 Baht to Cheow Lan Lake or 2,000 Baht to Khao Sok village.
For more info about taxi service to/from Surat Thani, Phuket, Krabi, Ko Lanta or Khao Lak, visit our taxi details page for Khao Sok;
Expensive transfer costs?
Not only for Khao Sok, but for the rest of the country there is a distinct price difference between black market taxi prices and legitimate taxi services. There are also obvious price differences between shared taxi services and private taxi services.
Online or offline, any company out there offering a taxi service will likely work with licensed drivers. This means, not only these companies will include tax/vat costs in their price, but also a service cost such as booking/online etc fee. For this reason, there is no point in comparing some “street price” to legitimate service price and questioning the latter.
Get around in the park
Most hotels in Khao Sok Village are a few hundred meters up to a couple of kilometers walking distance from the park entrance, others a bit further away. Hotels can arrange transportation for shorter trips when required but the price tends to be relatively expensive. If the location of your stay is chosen well, various restaurants, pubs and the visitor center can be in a convenient walking distance.
The only way to get around on the lake is by arranging long-tail boats, but the boats can only be used for transportation to the raft houses. Most attractions require a guide to reach. A round trip longtail boat for 10 pax is from 1,500 Baht up to 4,000 Baht, the price difference depends on the distances. It is also possible to hire a boat for overnight stay for around 400 to 500 Baht more. These boats can only be arranged on arrival to the pier and can't be booked in advance.
Entrance fees & opening times
The entrance fees are 300 Baht for adults and 150 Baht for children. Thai citizens pay 40 Baht for adults and 20 Baht for children. The entrance fees are valid for multiple days only if staying inside the park, either when camping or staying at raft houses in the lake.
The park is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily, all year round. It is possible to enter the park in the evening with a guide for a night safari.
Wi-Fi & mobile reception
The mobile reception around Khao Sok headquarters area (Khao Sok village) is quite good. All or most resorts have free Wi-Fi, the bigger restaurants also tend to offer free Wi-Fi.
Parts of the Cheow Lan Lake nowadays have mobile reception, but it is through one single provider only; AIS. AIS generally has better coverage in many national parks, in many parks it is the only provider.
Only the high end raft houses in the lake offer Wi-Fi as long as there is continuous power from the solar cells. The raft houses tend to have electricity up until 10 pm.
Mobile towers and raft houses are powered by solar cells. If it has been too cloudy lately, there may not be enough power needed for the signal towers and raft houses.
There are plenty of trails around the headquarters area and the lake. Only a couple of these trails around the headquarters can be walked without a guide. All other trails in the park strictly require a guide to walk. Visitors are not recommended to walk longer trails on their own by breaking the national park rules. There is a significant chance to get lost.
Local non-English speaking guides can be arranged from the visitor center, agencies or hotels in Khao Sok Village. While it is possible to walk in and arrange a guide during the low seasons, the guides must be arranged at least a day in advance in the high seasons. Guides charge 600 Baht for half day or 1,200 Baht for a full day hike. Night hiking costs 600 Baht from 6 pm till 9 pm.
For hiking around the lake, guides can be arranged in combination with booking raft houses.
Waterfalls, caves, limestone hills and viewpoints
The accessible waterfalls can only be found along the trails from the headquarters in Khao Sok and at a couple of spots not too far from the main road 401 south of the park. Impressive limestone outcrops can be seen at many spots in the national park; in Khao Sok Village, along the main road and on the lake. Most of the impressive caves are around Khao Sok Lake, reached by longtail boats.
There are various water activities, some can be arranged in combination with a tour also involving hiking or visiting caves.
Swimming - If there is not too strong current, it is possible to swim in a few ponds along the Sok River, either along the main trail west from the headquarters or in Khao Sok Village. People are often seen walking down to the Sok River in Khlong Sok Village. There are also a few swimming spots along the hike west to the waterfalls. It is also possible to swim in the lake at various raft houses.
River tubing or bamboo rafting - If there is enough water flowing in the river, it is possible to attend river tubing bamboo rafting activities.In the mid/late dry seasons it may not be enough water for a smooth tubing/rafting. The price for tubing is around 500 Baht, bamboo rafting is around 1,200 Baht per person. Both activities can be arranged from hotels or on street agencies.
Canoeing - Another popular water activity, only possible when there is enough waterflow in the river. Can be arranged from hotels or various agencies on the street. The price varies, a typical price is around 800 Baht per person.
Some tour companies and websites 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 one in the park for decades, not even camera trapped. Most advertising about wildlife watching should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The park has some of the most exciting mammal species found in Thailand, but it is very rare to see any around the popular touristy areas. Chance to see mammals are bigger along some of the trails in Khao Sok Lake. There are few trails where elephants and gaurs can be seen sometimes.
Around the headquarters long-tail macaques and banded-langurs are common. Sometimes boars or deer may show up on the trails. Magical calls of the gibbons may be heard from the hotels near the national park in the morning.
The entire park is a great place to find reptile and amphibian species. Many of Thailand’s exciting lizard, snake and amphibian species can be found along the trails to the waterfalls. Best time to find the reptiles and amphibians is during the evening.
Various tour companies offer 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 and leads to various caves and viewpoints. Tour packages may also cover tours to other protected areas around Khao Sok National Park.
It is common that raft houses are booked in combination with a tour in Khao Sok Lake, either with a private guide or by joining a group. While a private tour can be flexible, group tours follow a strict itinerary.
Following are few tour packages that include accommodation on Khao Sok Lake;
- 2-days/1-night tour in Cheow Lan Lake - raft house stay & tour
- 3-days/2-nights tour in Cheow Lan Lake - raft house stay & tour
- Night herping tour in Khao Sok - to find reptiles & amphibians
What not to do, ethics
Most of the resorts in Khao Sok offer pathetic and cruel tours with elephants in captivity. If you are considering attending one, please search and read about "elephant crushing" and see videos on YouTube about the subject.
Please avoid elephant or tiger activity anywhere in the country. Bear in mind that all companies will claim that they treat the animals humane. To manipulate people they will show photos of how people/kids with happy faces hug elephants, wash and “take care” of them. Many such places claim to be an “elephant sanctuary'' where healthy, sick or old elephants still find their way to the “sanctuary” by trading, papers often fake.
Stay & eat
There are many hotels in Khao Sok village, some in very short walking distance from the entrance, others a bit far. For the visitors who prefer camping, there is a campsite right next to the visitor center. For more info about camping, check the "attractions" section further below.
Raft houses are one of the main attractions of the park with beautiful views over Khao Sok Lake. There are many caves, viewpoints and trails, all accessible with boats operating from the raft houses. There are also quite a few hotels near the Ratchaprapha Dam.
There are plenty of restaurants in Khao Sok Village. There are no restaurants inside the national park, but there are many restaurants within walking distance just a few hundred meters from the entrance. The hotels too far from the village center tend to have their own restaurant.
Raft houses in Khao Sok Lake have their own restaurants.
Khao Sok on Facebook
If you have questions regarding Khao Sok National Park you can't find answers for or would like to share your photos/experience, feel free to join our Khao Sok group on Facebook.
You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.
- 077 395 154
- 077 395 155
- 077 395 139
The attractions of Khao Sok
Khao Sok Lake
Also called Cheow Lan Lake or Ratchaprapha Dam Reservoir, Khao Sok Lake is the best part of the national park where more interesting attractions are located, where wildlife watching possibilities are much better.
There are many raft houses/floating bungalows spread all over the lake, from which it is possible to visit caves, viewpoints, limestone hills and get to some interesting trails. Kayaking among limestone hills in morning mist is a must.
The lake contains over 100 limestone outcrops and has six tributary regions. The tributaries are; Klong Long, Klong Ka, Klong Pey, Klong Yee, Khlong Saeng and Khlong Mon where Khlong in Thai means river. Parts of the lake belong to Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary.
A round trip with a 10 pax longtail boat to various spots in the lake is from 1,500 Baht up to 4,000 Baht.
Khlong Long is the most popular tributary within the lake, situated on the northeast side of the lake, approximately 15-16 km from Cheow Lan Lake Pier. The main attractions of this tributary are limestone hills, a cave and a nice viewpoint accessible by a 2.5 hour long hike through the jungle.
There are five raft houses in Khlong Long;
- Chiew Lan Raft House
- Plern Prai Raft House
- Sai Chon Raft House
- Panvaree Raft House
- Prai Wan
The quality of the raft houses in Khlong Long is much better compared to the others in the lake.
Khlong Ka is situated on the south side of the lake, approximately 15 km from Cheow Lan Lake Pier. This tributary has one of the best caves in the park and a great view over a group of limestone hills. There are some great trails between limestone hills to the south. Although the sighting is rare, tapirs have been reported in this area.
Klong Ka and Nang Prai are two rafthouses in this part of the lake.
Situated at the southwest end of the lake, approximately 20 km from Cheow Lan Lake Pier. Ton Toey Rafthouse in this tributary was the lake's first ranger station. There is a trailhead a few kilometers west from this rafthouse to Nam Talu Cave, the trail is 4 km long and partly circular. Another 6.5 km long trail to the south leads all the way to the main road 401 further south.
Situated on the west side of the lake, Khlong Yee is approximately 27 km from Ratchaprapha Dam. Main activities are guided kayak tours, wildlife watching, hiking to Krai Son viewpoint and hiking to a waterfall during the rainy seasons.
Raft houses located in this area are;
- Krai Son Raft House
- Tree Tops Floating Bungalows
- Keeree Warin Raft House
- 500 Rai
Situated on the northwest side of the lake in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary, this tributary is approximately 26 km from Ratchaprapha Dam. Klong Saeng River is the largest watershed feeding the lake, it was the widest river in Thailand before the dam was built.
Visitors entering this area must obtain a special permission from Khao Sok National Park headquarters and pay an additional entrance fee for the wildlife sanctuary.
This remote part of the lake is very ideal for hiking and the best place for wildlife watching. It is possible to hike into the wildlife sanctuary with the park rangers to the waterfall, old mines from the 60s' and get a chance to see some common animals like gibbons and deer. With some luck even more exciting species like elephant, gaur, mainland serow, great argus and many more can be seen. There are also tapirs, clouded leopards and bear species roaming in the sanctuary.
The only raft house in this tributary area is Klong Saeng Raft House owned by the national park, the qualities of the bungalows are poor.
Situated on the north side of the lake, Khlong Mon is approximately 24 km from Cheow Lan Lake Pier. The area consists of high hills and steep valleys, an ideal place to spot hornbills, eagles and other wildlife. A nearly 3 km long exciting trail through the jungle will end up in Khlong Saeng tributary further west. There are few other shorter trails at the north side of the tributary.
Tam Gia is the only raft house in this tributary, owned by the national park.
Visitor Center area and campsite
The visitor center of the national park is located next to the headquarters. There is a campsite, basic toilet/shower facilities, a small canteen/cafe, few accommodations and other premises in the vicinity of the visitor center.
There are two trails starting from the visitor center area. One trail is Sip-et Chan Waterfall trail to the north, partly circular and the other one to the other waterfalls to the west.
The campsite is of average size, since there are many hotels nearby and not many campers seen around. There are tents available for rent from 250 Baht for 2 people or 300 Baht for 4 people. Accessories cost per person; pillow 10 Baht, blanket 10 Baht, sleeping bag 30 Baht, sheet 20 Baht. Tents and accessories can be arranged from the visitor center on arrival.
Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail
This 7 km long trail along the Sok River is the main trail of the national park.
The first 2.9 km of the trail is until a checkpoint guarded by rangers which doesn't require any guide to walk. It is more like a narrow dirt road. There are two smaller waterfalls, a swimming spot and many small side trails down to the river along this first bit of the trail.
A guide will be required to walk the last 4 km of this trail beyond the ranger station. It is a proper jungle trail, passing by several waterfalls, one swimming spot, a gorge and ends at Ton Kloi Waterfall.
Wing Hin Waterfall
A 20 meters tall waterfall about 2.8 km from the visitor center on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail. It is located on the other side of the Klong Sok River from the trail but easily accessible by stepping on the rocks to get to the other side.
Wang Yao pool
For swimming, 3 km from the visitor center on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail.
Bang Hua Rat Waterfall
Popular for rafting activities, this waterfall with rapid water is 3 km from the visitor center on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail.
Bang Liap Nam Waterfall
A small waterfall reached by a nice walk along the river, through bamboo and giant trees. It is 4.5 km from the visitor center on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail.
Than Sawan Waterfall
It is on a tributary of the Sok River, accessible by a slippery side-trail which can be dangerous to walk during the rainy season. It is located 6 km from the visitor center on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail.
Tang Nam Gorge
A pair of cliffs which the Khlong Sok river runs between, a nice place to swim. It is located 6 km from the headquarters on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail.
Ton Kloi Waterfall
One-level waterfall Located 7 km from the visitor center, it can be admired all year around. It is located around 1 km away from Tang Nam Gorge on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail.
Sip Et Chan Falls
This 11 tiered waterfall is accessible by a nearly 4 km long trail starting from the north side of the camp ground. The first bit of the trail is a wooden boardwalk which tourists are allowed to walk freely, but a guide is required from a trail fork nearly 400-500 meters north. Chances to see some mammals or birds along this trail are better because it is not used that frequently as the main trail west. Great hornbill, bamboo woodpecker, orange-breasted trogon, banded pitta and black-and-yellow broadbill are few of the many bird species to be found along this trail.
San Yang Roi viewpoint
The viewpoint is on the west side of the park, on the main road 401 between Surat Thani and Takuapa at km 113, 5.5 km west from Khao Sok Village
Mae Yai Waterfall
It is a 30 meters tall single tier waterfall, just a few hundred meters after San Yang Viewpoint, on the right hand side. There is no sign on the road telling where the trail starts, but the entrance is a bit of open space where cars/motorcycles etc can be parked.
The waterfall has very little to offer during the dry season, recommended only during the rainy season.
Khlong Pae Nature Trail, 6.5 km
Around 10-12 km east from Khao Sok Village at km 99, it is a 6.5 km long trail that ends at Cheow Lan Lake. A guide is required to walk the trail. Walking this trail can be combined with a boat trip to the caves or other attractions around the lake and end at Cheow Lan Lake.
Bang Hman Trail
A quite long and challenging, yet a very interesting trail which only fit people should walk. The first 800 meters of the trail is quite steep up, it meets a creek. Once reached the creek, the hike will continue for a short bit in and along the stream into a 400 meters long cave which has an exit on the other end. The trail will continue for another 7 km from the other end of the cave and end back at the ranger station. Along the route a 70 meters tall waterfall can be visited. The whole trail could take up to 3-4 hours to walk.
The trail strictly requires a ranger or a guide to walk. If there is any rain prediction, you won’t be allowed to enter the cave. When it rains, the water level inside the cave can rapidly increase up to several meters with deadly strong currents, the reason. Cave passage is the only way to take the long circular route back to the ranger station and can't be walked around.
Rafflesia flowers can be found along this trail too. The area around this trail is excellent to see butterflies and reptiles. With a bit of luck some hornbill species may show up, great hornbills are quite common in the area. Huge footprints of gaurs can be seen along the trail quite often but it is very rare to see one. Well inside the cave, some frog species and a few bat species can be seen.
On the map only the first part of the trail until the cave will be seen.
Khao Sok has many caves, only a few are accessible by boat or by hiking.
Nam Talu Cave
This 500 meter long cave is located near Ranger Station 4 on Klong Pey tributary. The cave has a very wide opening and water streams through it. The cave is around 4 km from the lake.
The cave is very dangerous on rainy days. Two guides and six tourists lost their lives in this cave back in 2007 when it was rapidly flooded during a rainy day. Guides won't take you through this cave if rain is predicted. The cave is open for visits only from 14th December until the end of May (the dates may change from year to year).
Also known as Phra Kay Petch Cave, this cave is situated in Klong Ka tributary of Cheow Lan, on the south side of the reservoir, nearly 18 km from the main pier. It is one of the best caves in the park with impressive stalagmites and stalactites, home to bats.
Nearest raft houses are Klong Ka (2 km) and Nang Prai (4.5 km), flashlights needed to visit this cave.
This cave is on the banks of a smaller lake north of the Klong Long tributary, it is one of the more popular caves. Coral fossils have been found in this cave. The cave was used by comunist insurgents in the past.