Thai National Parks

About Khao Sok National Park

Phuket (~160 km), Krabi (~150 km), Ko Samui (~220 km)

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 national parks in the country easily accessible by public transportation. The nearest towns are Surat Thani, Krabi, Ao Nang (Railay Beach), Phuket, Khao Lak and Koh Samui.

The main attractions of the park are Cheow Lan Lake, iconic limestone hills, waterfalls, raft houses spread over the lae, 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.

One of the many raft houses in Khao Sok Lake

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.

Wildlife

Many of Thailand's exciting mammal species can be found in the park; elephant, gaur, sambar deer, sun bear, Asian black bear, Malayan tapir, Crab-eating macaque, gibbon, Indochinese serow, mouse-deer, porcupine, marbled cat, wild boar, Asiatic wild dog.

Banded surilis (Presbytis femoralis) are relatively common around the campsite. Not to be mistaken to the common langurs around the country

There are over 400 species of birds reported from the park. Although rare and some sightings are decades old, Storm's stork, Malayan peacock-pheasant, woolly-necked stork, straw-headed bulbul, Gurney's pitta, chestnut-necklaced partridge are all recorded from the park. Other interesting birds found in the park are; wrinkled hornbill, chestnut-backed scimitar babbler, sooty-capped babbler, long-billed partridge, ferruginous partridge, brown barbet, cinnamon-rumped trogon, red-naped trogon.

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.

Great hornbill, one of the many hornbill species found in the park

So far, a bit over 70 reptile species reported from the park, there are likely many more. Of the rare reptile species Burmese peacock softshell (Nilssonia formosa), enigmatic leaf turtle (Cyclemys enigmatica), brown wolf snake (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).

A female Wagler's palm pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri), found sometimes along the trails.

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 ”Wildlife” section of Khao Sok National Park.

Visiting

Before getting to the park, 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 east of the headquarters, best known for its raft houses, caves, viewpoints, trails, limestone hills etc.

The best way to get an understanding about the whereabouts of the points of interests 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, 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 near 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 Takua Pa village to the east. From Takua Pa, 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).

Most of the transportation in Khao Sok Lake is with long-tail-boats

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 nearest Surat Thani Airport will cost 1,400 Baht to Cheow Lan Lake or 1,700 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;

Get around in the park

Most hotels in Khao Sok Village are in few hundred meters up to a couple of kilometers walking distance from the park entrance, others a bit further away.

There are two shorter trails starting from the park headquarters which the visitors are allowed to walk without a guide. All other trails in the park strictly needs guide accompany which can be arranged from the visitor center of the park or from the hotels. While it is possible to walk in and arrange a guide during the low seasons, visitors are recommended to book a guide at least a day in advance during the high seasons.

The only way to get around on the lake is by arranging long-tail boats. A round trip longtail boat for 10 pax is from 1,500 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. These boats can only be arranged on arrival to the pier, 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 fee is valid for multiple days only if stayed inside the park, either when camping or staying at raft houses in the lake.

The park is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily and all year round. It is possible to enter the park in the evening with a guide for a night safari.

Activities

What not to do, ethics

Some resorts in Khao Sok offers 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, it is never the truth. Some claim to be a “elephant sanctuary'' where sick or old, elephants still find their way to the “sanctuary” by trading, papers often fake

Hiking

There are plenty of trails around the headquarters area and the lake. Only a couple of these trails can be walked without a guide. 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.

Hiking along the water streams in Khao Sok National Park

Local guides to walk the trails can be arranged from the visitor center or from the agencies and hotels in Khao Sok Village. The guides must be arranged latest a day in advance, 600 THB for half day or 1,200 THB for a full day. Night hiking costs 600 Baht for 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.

Water activities

If 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. If enough water in the river, it is possible to attend canoe or tubing activities, can be arranged from the hotels on arrival. Khao Sok lake is a great place for canoeing and swimming.

Wildlife watching

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.

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 call 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.

Tours

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 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 follows a strict itinerary.

Following are few tour packages that include accommodation on Khao Sok Lake;

Group tour

Private tours

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 “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 Ratchaprapa Dam.

Eat

There are plenty of restaurants in Khao Sok Village. There are no restaurants inside the national park, but there are many restaurants in walking distance just a few hundred meters from the entrance.

Raft houses in Khao Sok Lake have their own restaurants.

Phone(s)

You are recommended to ask a Thai speaking person to call on your behalf.

  • 077 395 154
  • 077 395 155
  • 077 395 139

Attractions of Khao Sok

Khao Sok Lake

Also called Cheow Lan Lake or Rajjaprabha Dam Reservoir, it 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, viewpoint, limestone hills and get to some interesting trails. Kayaking among limestone hills in morning mist is a must.

The sunset is always beautiful in the lake

The lake contains over 100 limestone outcrops and has six tributary regions; Klong Long, Klong Ka, Klong Pey, Klong Yee, Khlong Saeng and Khlong Mon. Klong in Thai means river and parts of the lake belongs 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

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 hiking 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

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.

Khlong Pey

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 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.

Aerial view of the Khlong Pey tributary from a viewpoint
Khlong Yee

Situated on the west side of the lake, Khlong Yee is approximately 27 km from Ratchaprapa 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
Khlong Saeng

Situated on the northwest side of the lake in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary, this tributary is approximately 26 km from Ratchaprapa 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 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.

Khlong Mon

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, 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 bungalows 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 north, partly circular and the other one to the other waterfalls to west.

The campsite is of average size, since there are many hotels nearby 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, doesn’t require any guide accompany 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 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.

Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail, the trail starts as a narrow dirt road and continues like a proper jungle trail further in
Wing Hin Waterfall

A 20 meters high waterfall is about 2.8 km in a relatively convenient walking distance from the visitor center on Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail. 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, 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 Sok River, accessible by a slippery side-trail, 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 Khlong Sok river runs between, 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 guide 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 30 meters high 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 open space where car/motorcycle 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 quote 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 high waterfall can be visited. The whole trail could take up to 3-4 hours to walk.

Bang Hman Trail through a 400 meters long cave

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, 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. Although sighting is quite rare, huge footprints of gaurs can be seen along the trail often. Well inside the cave, some frog species and few bats can be seen.

On the map only the first part of the trail until the cave will be seen.

Caves

Khao Sok have many caves, only few are accessible by boat or by hiking.

Nam Talu Cave

This 500 meter long cave is located near the 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 500 meters long Nam Talu Cave in Khao Sok 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 predicted. The cave is open for visits only from 14th December until the end of May (the dates may change).

Diamond Cave

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.

Pakarang 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.

More photos

Acanthosaura phuketensis, a lizard species, found frequently in the park
Rafflesia kerrii along one of the trails
Gunung Raya green-crested lizard (Bronchocela rayaensis) found often around the campsite
A view from Khao Sok National Park