Khao Sok is southern Thailand’s biggest national park, and part of the kingdom’s largest area of protected evergreen forest, covering (together with its neighbouring national parks) more than 3000 square kilometres. This vast area of green, comprising lakes, mountains and ancient tropical forest allow a high level of biodiversity, though the larger species often claimed to be living there – sun bears, leopards, wild elephants and so on – are rarely, if ever spotted.
What can be regularly seen are lots of fascinating smaller creatures: monkeys, gibbons, butterflies, bats and hundreds of different kinds of birds; huge hardwood trees; pretty waterfalls; and incredible scenery – the karst-dotted Chiew Lan Lake at the centre of the park has been likened to a Thai Guilin.
Enterprising people have also set up plenty of “soft adventure” activities in the park, from tubing, rafting and kayaking along the rivers, to elephant trekking, cave exploration and ziplining through the tree canopy.
Located in Surat Thani province, conveniently situated in the middle of the three most popular holiday resorts in Thailand (Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi), Khao Sok makes a nice break from the beach and is a good side trip for nature lovers who may find the national parks in Krabi a bit too “tame” for their liking.
As transfer time from Krabi is close to 2 hours each way, Khao Sok is not really recommended for a day trip. However, it is possible to visit from here on an overnight tour: in addition to being a more relaxing experience, this also allows you to experience the evening and early morning in the park, which are the best times to spot wildlife. A night on the floating raft houses at the lake is a memorable experience.
To organise a trip from Krabi, it is best to contact one of the lodges or bungalow operations in Khao Sok directly. They will organise pick up and drop off in Krabi or Phuket; most also can arrange their own tours of the forest and lake, and should be able to tailor make a tour package for you.