Khao Sok National Park | Visiting Thailand’s Incredible Nature Reserve

Khao Sok National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand. With its turquoise lake surrounded by limestone karsts and a rainforest teeming with a thriving ecosystem, Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park is both relaxing and adventurous. 

The national park also has secluded overwater bungalows that will make you feel far away from civilization. If you stay in one of them, the only sound you’ll hear is nature’s symphony surrounding you in the dense rainforest. For nature lovers, the park is a magical escape from Thailand’s bustling cities like Bangkok or Phuket. 

the scenic Cheow Lan Lake, one of the best things to do in Khao Sok National Park
Known as the 3 Sisters, this is one of the most popular vantage points in Khao Sok National Park.

If you’re planning your Thailand itinerary and wondering whether to include Khao Sok National Park, this guide to visiting the gem of southern Thailand includes what to do in Khao Sok, where to stay, how long you need, and how to get there. 

About Khao Sok National Park

little girl striking a post on a long tail boat in the middle of Cheow Lan Lake
A long tail boat ride on Cheow Lan Lake allows you to see the brilliant water and limestone karsts that Khao Sok is famous for.

Located in the Surat Thani province of southern Thailand, about 2 1 ⁄ 2 hours north of Krabi, Khao Sok National Park encompasses a sprawling lush rainforest, tall limestone cliffs and karsts, and the most beautiful freshwater lake you’ll ever see.

The towering trees within the park are home to elusive wildlife like gibbons and macaques, Occasionally, you may even spot a wild Asian elephant within the park. 

Perhaps best known for the maze-like emerald lake, Cheow Lan Lake, this Thailand national park, with its dramatic karst formations, offers opportunities for boating and exploring hidden caves and secluded coves. 

How to get to Khao Sok National Park

the road from Krabi to Khao Sok national park
The roads to Khao Sok are easy to navigate, although you will have to drive on the left side of the road.

Khao Sok National Park is easily accessible from either Krabi or Khao Lak. You can book a guided tour, private transfer, or rent a car and drive from either destination. 

A day trip to Khao Sok is one of the best things to do in Krabi. From Krabi, you’ll take Route 4 to 415. The drive will take roughly 2 hours. 

You’ll want to head directly to Rajjaprabha Dam if arriving from Krabi and plan to spend your first day on Cheow Lan Lake. The village of Khao Sok and the national park’s headquarters are an hour’s drive away. 

Rajjaprabha Dam is also where you will go to board a boat to take you to any of the floating bungalows, if you are staying at one of the lake’s overwater accommodations. 

From Khao Lak, it is also a 2-hour drive to the dam or only about an hour and 15 minutes to the village of Khao Sok and the park’s headquarters. You’ll take Route 4 to 401 to get to the national park from Khao Lak.

We rented a car and drove from Krabi to Khao Sok. If you plan to rent a car, there are a few things you should know beforehand. 

In Thailand, you need an international driver’s permit, which you can easily get at AAA in the United States, CAA in Canada, or at the post office in the United Kingdom. 

Thai motorists also drive on the left side of the road and the driver sits on the right side of the car, like in the UK. This can take some getting used to for those who are used to the opposite, but the routes to Khao Sok are mostly on uncrowded highways and smaller rural roads. You won’t have to worry about driving through cities.

Where to stay in Khao Sok National Park

overwater bungalows and kayaks on Cheow Lan Lake
Many visitors to Khao Sok plan to spend at least one night in an overwater bungalow. | Photo by Woraphong Rak from Pixabay

Despite being a quiet area where crowds seem non-existent, you’ll find plenty of unique accommodations ranging from luxury overwater floating bungalows to jungle lodges, and even treehouse resorts. 

Here are our top recommendations for lodging in Khao Sok. 

What to do in Khao Sok National Park

If you are wanting to see the stunning scenery that Thailand is famous for, Khao Sok National Park is probably the first place we would recommend visiting.

While it is one of Thailand’s more laid-back destinations, you can still embark on adventurous activities, like nature hikes or night safaris. But if you prefer the tranquility of floating on serene waters, a relaxing boat tour is among the many things to do in Khao Sok National Park.

Cheow Lan Lake tour

selfie during a boat tour of Cheow Lan Lake
On a boat tour of Cheow Lan Lake.

One of the most popular things to do in Khao Sok National Park is to take a longtail boat ride around Cheow Lan Lake

You’ll want to turn off the main road, 401, onto 3062 and head to Rajjaprabha Dam. Here, you can pay your park admission fees of 300 THB (about $9 USD) per person and book a longtail boat tour. 

All the longtail boats arrive and depart from Rajjaprabha Dam, so if coming to Khao Sok National Park from Krabi and want to explore Cheow Lan Lake, it is important to head directly to the dam instead of the national park headquarters, which are located an hour’s drive away from the dam.

Exploring the emerald waters of Cheow Lan Lake by boat takes you through a surreal landscape surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. From the boat you’ll see monkey’s playing in the trees near the water’s edge and stop at some of the lake’s most scenic photo spots and hidden coves.

Your guide will also take you to some floating raft houses owned by the national park, where you can swim and feed the fish. 

Go on a Cave Tour or Nature Hike

inside a cave in Khao Sok jungle
A cave tour is a great way to get a different perspective and view of Khao Sok. | Photo by Jugro Scarlett from Unsplash

The park’s mystical caves, like Nam Talu Cave or Coral Cave, are perfect for adventurous travels who want to explore the underground passages and witness the stunning beauty beneath the earth’s surface. 

Inside the caves you can admire impressive stalactites and stalagmites and feel truly off the tourist path in Thailand. 

In fact, tours to the caves involve a walk along a jungle trail and floating down the Khlong Saeng River on a bamboo raft boat.

Go on a Safari or Jungle Trek

A jungle trek takes you through the forest trees where exotic flora line the trails.

Hiking through Thailand’s oldest evergreen rainforest gives you a closer view of the native plants as well as the jungle animals that call Khao Sok National Park home.

Some guided hikes include a canoe or bamboo raft tour along the Sok River, which is a perfect way to relax and enjoy the scenery after your morning trek. Tours also take you to Khao Sok Viewpoint, where you’ll get a panoramic look at the park’s surrounding mountains and forests.

Stay in an Overwater Floating Bungalow

a bird's eye view of overwater bungalows in Khao Sok National Park
Staying in a floating bungalow is one of the most relaxing things to do in Khao Sok National Park. | Photo by Robert Collins from Unsplash

Khao Sok is one of the best places in Thailand to stay in an overwater bungalow. There are several remote hotels on Cheow Lan Lake accessible only by boat that are made up of floating bungalows and raft houses. 

These unique all-inclusive accommodations offer a true retreat from the world, situated far from towns promising beautiful views and a relaxing escape. 

These floating hotels are great places to recharge, swim, kayak, enjoy seclusion and be alone with your thoughts entirely surrounded by the most incredible scenery on the planet.

The overwater bungalows range from luxury accommodations to budget raft houses. Plan to spend one night in one of the floating hotels and then consider switching it up and staying in a jungle lodge or treehouse.

Spend a Night in a Treehouse or Jungle Lodge

An alternative to the floating bungalows, there are also treehouse accommodations and cozy river lodges in Khao Sok that are equally magical. You can book a memorable night in a treehouse for an authentic experience surrounded by the jungle that families will love! 

A night in a treehouse is a great experience for those visiting Thailand with kids, but it will also bring out the kid at heart in you, as you go to sleep in your private and stylish treehouse.

For a memorable trip under the tree canopy instead of in it, there are also several cozy jungle lodges in Khao Sok that are more budget friendly than the treehouse resort.

Visit the Elephant Sanctuary

an elephant at a sanctuary in Khao Sok
There is an elephant sanctuary in Khao Sok that visitors to the national park might want to visit if they didn’t already go to an elephant sanctuary elsewhere in Thailand. | Photo by Teodor Kuduschiev from Unsplash

Thailand is known for its ethical elephant sanctuaries, like Into the Wild Elephant Camp or Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.

If you didn’t visit an elephant sanctuary elsewhere in Thailand, you will find one in Khao Sok, as well. At the elephant rescue center in Khao Sok, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with these gentle creatures, walking them and feeding them, while also learning more about the significance of elephants in Thai history and culture. 

You can also book a visit that includes a bamboo rafting experience on the Sok River. 

Explore the Village of Khao Sok

a colorful Tiki bar in Khao Sok village
The village of Khao Sok is lined with cute, outdoor bars and restaurants with a laid-back vibe.

Just outside the gates to the national park’s headquarters, the village of Khao Sok is both fun and relaxing. It has a quirky bohemian vibe, with treehouses, riverside cottages, and jungle resorts lining the dirt road to the park. 

Along the road, you’ll also find a smattering of restaurants selling popular Thai dishes and open-air bars inviting travelers to unwind and connect with the slower pace of rural Thailand. It is a great place to situate yourself for a few days and recharge at the end of a busy Thailand itinerary

Other things to know about Khao Sok

If you’re planning a visit to Khao Sok National Park, here are the answers to a few other questions you might have, as well. 

Is Khao Sok National Park worth visiting?

the Khao Sok National Park sign
While many people visit Khao Sok for its beautiful lake, there are a lot of other things to do in the national park, as well.

If you want to see some of the most incredible landscapes in Thailand, Khao Sok National Park is definitely worth visiting. 

The park’s dense rainforests, limestone cliffs, and quiet lakes give you unique experience in Thailand that you will definitely tell your friends about. 

Despite its jaw-dropping scenery that is worthy of massive crowds, Khao Sok feels remote and isolated and off the main tourist path. There were times we felt all alone in this serene place.

How long do you need for Khao Sok National Park?

selfie of my husband and I sitting on pillows at a low table at a restaurant in Khao Sok.
Having dinner at a restaurant in Khao Sok where you sit on pillows at low tables.

While many people do a day trip to the national park Khao Sok, there are so many things to do in the area that really need at least one night and two full days in Khao Sok. 

It was such a relaxing place to visit, we didn’t want to leave and wished we had about 5 days in this national park village. 

What is there to do in Khao Sok National Park besides look at the scenery?

From long tail boat rides and kayaking on clear turquoise lakes to rainforest hikes, wildlife watching and river rafting, Khao Sok National Park is great for both visitors looking to relax or seeking adventure. 

It is important to understand that a purpose of a trip to Khao Sok National Park should really be about unwinding and appreciating nature, which is why we saved it for the end of our jam-packed Thailand trip.

If you want to escape the busyness of life, book a night or two in a jungle lodge or treehouse accommodations in Khao Sok village. To really feel disconnected, spend a night at one of the overwater floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake.

Conclusion: Khao Sok National Park Review

the front of a long tail boat on Cheow Lan lake in Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok is one of Thailand’s most beautiful national parks.

Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s best national parks. Home to the largest rainforest in southeast Asia and oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, Khao Sok gives you a feel for Thailand’s natural biodiversity and remarkable landscapes.   

It’s a place where you can reconnect with nature, escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and melt into the beauty of region that has been shaped over millions of years. 

We tell everyone who asks about Thailand about Khao Sok and long for the day that we can go back.

Do you have a question or comment about visiting Khao Sok National Park or our Khao Sok review? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

Like it? Pin this travel guide to visiting Khao Sok National Park to save it for later!

Did you know…

When you make a purchase or book hotels, tours, or other travel services, through our links, we receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. We only EVER recommend service providers, websites, or products we personally use when booking our own travels. Your support enables us to keep producing helpful travel content. Thank you!

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.