A Khao Sok Travel Guide – The Quick Version
To get started with this Khao Sok travel guide let me first explain something. The town that is built at the doorstep to Khao Sok National Park is called Khlong Sok village, but for all intents and purposes (/intensive porpoises) it is always referred to, and accepted as being, Khao Sok.
The aim of this Khao Sok travel guide is just to give you the best information I can based on my time there, to help you decide if it is worth adding to your itinerary.
To best navigate the Khao Sok travel guide, use the table of contents to bypass the sections that are of little interest to you, and as always, let me know if the Khao Sok travel guide is missing vital information, or if you have any questions about it.
Khao Sok Travel Video
Khao Sok Travel Guide Part 1 – Things To Know Before You Go
What is a Khao Sok?
The name Khao Sok is thought to have originally been “Khao Sop”, meaning “Corpse Mountain”. The name comes from the fact that the town was abandoned in the 1940’s due to an epidemic that swept through and killed a large portion of the population.
Human activity in the area is mostly very recent, the major highway 401 was built in the 1960’s, followed by logging and mining companies. A group of students started living in the caves in the 1970’s and with guerrilla warfare were able to stop the advancement of the logging industry.
In the 1980’s the area was established as a national park, with the students then leaving the park as their job was complete.
In 1982 the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) erected the Rajjaprabha Dam, closing off the Pasaeng river and creating a 165km² lake inside the National Park, the Cheow Lan Lake.
This information is not available, but the town is tiny and I would estimate that it is the home to only a few hundred people.
739km² (The National Park).
Where is Khao Sok?
Khao Sok is in the south of Thailand, it is about 120km north of Phuket, and 100km north of Krabi, as Goku flies.
What’s The Weather Like in Khao Sok?
Being a tropical destination, like much of Southeast Asia, the weather is fairly consistently hot and humid. Due to its position on the peninsular, Khao Sok is effected by the monsoons of both the Andaman Sea as well as the Gulf of Thailand.
Due to the nature of the tall cliffs and dense jungle habitat, you can never truly know when it will rain so you should always be prepared to get wet at some point.
With all that in mind though, the “dry season” is considered to be November – April.
For a rough guide of all the months combined;
Average Rainy Days:
February averages the least rainy days with 4.
October averages the most rainy days with 23.
Average Water Temp:
I personally thought the water in Cheow Lan Lake was much warmer than this, it felt almost like a bath, I’d estimate it was about 31° when I was there (February).
How Long Should I Stay in Khao Sok?
If you’re well organised then 3 full days will be enough for most people. This allows you to do an overnight visit to Cheow Chan Lake, and then leaves a day to do a hike in the National Park near the town.
If you’re coming here with the intention of doing multiple hikes, or multi-day hikes then you will need to add them all up and see just how long you need. Also consider visiting Tanah Rata in The Cameron Highlands of Malaysia if hiking is a hobby.
How Do I Get to Khao Sok?
Bus or minivan are the ways that everyone comes here, or via a private car or taxi but that will get expensive.
The most popular destinations in the south of Thailand that people will come or go to include;
- Khao Lak – For those having just done some scuba diving at the Similan Islands.
- Phuket – Not my recommendation but a popular place for partygoers.
- Surat Thani – This is the main gateway to the islands on the east coast like Koh Samui, Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan.
- Krabi – This is the general name of the region, with most people staying in Ao Nang or Railay Beach.
Public Bus Route
Now, the good news for those travelling cheap is that there is a public bus service running from Phuket all the way to Surat Thani, this route goes straight past Khao Sok.
The bad part is, obviously the speed and comfort, but the cost from Phuket for example to Khao Sok is only ฿80.
On top of that, you will need to make your way to Phuket airport, or into old Phuket Town bus terminal 2 yourself to get the bus.
For those coming from Khao Lak, the bus goes straight through the one main road through town, you need to be on the correct side of the road, then wave the bus down as it passes, which is hard to judge when it will happen as the timetables are not consistent, but there are multiple buses per day.
From Surat Thani, the bus goes from the bus station, airport or the train station The cost varies slightly for each different boarding point. The times are flexible and they will wait for the bus to fill before leaving, however they will have a last run of the day around 17:30/18:00.
So if you’re coming from the islands this is an option. Although these purchases might say bus tickets, they are normally minivans anyway, which brings us to the next option, minivans.
**Whether it is a bus or minivan it will drop you off at the T-junction below. Arrange with your hostel to pick you up, or pay ฿50 to get a lift into town. Alternatively you can walk as it isn’t far, but you may have a lot of luggage.
Minivans – My Recommendation
So, this is my preferred method of transfer for the south of Thailand, one that I have used many times. It gives you door to door pick up and drop off nearly all of the time, and with any luck the minibus won’t be full so you can spread yourself out a bit.
Minivans will normally have a minimum of 7 people, depending on the route and the season, the minivan could also be full. Minivans will offer door to door services throughout Thailand, but not on the way into Khao Sok.
As stated above, they will drop you at the T-junction, and on the occasions where they don’t it is simply because you pay an extra ฿50 when booking, but they will probably still have you transfer vehicles at the bus stop.
See below the picture of the minivan prices, as you can see there are other options besides the main ones I mentioned above, but these are long journeys to take which sometimes include ferries.
BOOK YOUR TICKET TO KHAO SOK HERE
How Expensive is Khao Sok?
Khao Sok is not very expensive, in fact if you are coming from the popular islands of the south of Thailand you may even find it quite cheap in comparison. A meal can set you back anywhere from ฿80 – ฿400 depending on what you like to eat.
The national park will cost you ฿300 to enter, each separate day you enter the fee needs to be paid again.
Hostels are the same as any other place in Thailand, with the cheapest going from as low as ฿140 ($4 US).
What Is The Currency?
As a part of Thailand, Khao Sok uses the Thai Baht, which is stylised as: ฿
At the time of writing the conversion rates are;
- $0.03 US
- $0.05 AUD
Or alternatively, 1 of each of the above currencies respectively will give you;
Khao Sok Travel Guide Part 2 – Things To Know Once You Arrive
How to Get Around in Khao Sok?
There is basically rented bicycles, walking, or when going long distances, the minivan.
There are no ride sharing apps or a need for them, within the town itself you can walk wherever you need to go, including all the way to the entrance of the national park.
If you want to go to Cheow Lan Lake by yourself, instead of going on a tour, then you will need to rent a motorbike or scooter. I think the majority of people will do it as part of a group tour though.
Where To Stay in Khao Sok?
People stay in Khao Sok village, it is one road, it is tiny, it is covered in hostels and hotels which all double as restaurants as well more often than not.
The town is really small, it is about 500m long the strip of road that has all the infrastructure along it.
There is also the option to book accommodation on Cheow Lan Lake, but it is much better to have this arranged as part of an overnight tour, this way your big bags stay at the hostel and you just take a small overnight bag on the water.
I highly recommend Khao Sok Jungle Hostel, it only sleeps 6 people at a time and it is flat out amazing, with the most helpful host you will ever meet at a hostel. He will guide you through your entire stay. The free breakfast is incredible for a hostel stay!
Seriously, it has a 9.7 rating on booking.com from over 500 reviews.
Where to Eat in Khao Sok?
Firstly, let me get this out of the way.
Eat at Lap Roi-Et!
For ฿80 you will get the largest and most delicious pad-thai you will have in all of Thailand. You might even struggle to finish it. I went and ate there 4 times, every time the serving was massive, and every time it was delicious.
Besides that, well if you stay at Khao Sok Jungle Hostel you will have a great buffet breakfast which you can load up on to fuel you for the hikes that can be done in the national park.
Otherwise, check out the map below. Note that there are notes for each spot, just because I ate somewhere doesn’t mean that I liked it. For example Rafflesia was an overpriced rip off (and yet it had great google reviews).
So take it all with a grain of salt, but these are the spots I ate and my opinions of them, as well as some of the prices you might expect to pay.
I Love Coffee More Than Life Itself! Where Should I go!?
I did not have a single good coffee the whole time I was here. Even those that looked nice with a nice design in the foam ended up tasting pretty bad once you got to the coffee itself.
Where to do Laundry in Khao Sok?
If you head towards the national park, once you cross the bridge over the river there will be a place about 40m from the bridge on the left hand side of the road.
It is called Khao Sok Bed and Breakfast. It is also Brick Bar and Breakfast.
The lady in here spoke very good english, she was the only person I could find that would air dry my clothes (my shirts are merino wool and can’t be machine dried). It cost me ฿120 for 3kg of clothes, all line dried and they all came back clean.
I highly recommend it. Otherwise there are multiple services along the main road offering wash and dry for about ฿50-70 per kilo.
If you want to do your own laundry for even cheaper then there are two places that have machines out the front, they take ฿10 coins only. One of them is ฿30 for a machine up to 7kg, the other is ฿40.
So that is a cheaper way of doing it but it means you need to hang around outside waiting for your washing and then also need to dry the clothes and wait for that as well.
I Need to Lift Weights, Any Good Gyms?
There are no gyms in the Khao Sok area, or at least none that I saw when I was there. However you will likely be hiking, or be doing a tour and can go 3 days without a gym.
Things to do in Khao Sok
In the interest of keeping this Khao Sok travel guide short and to the point, I have made a separate post of some of the activities that you can do in Khao Sok national park. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular tourist attractions in Khao Sok though;
- Sleeping in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake.
- Hiking to Ton Kloi waterfall.
- Kayaking on Cheow Lan Lake.
- Wildlife spotting.
- Caves exploring.
- Camping overnight in the jungle.
Most of these activities are bundled into tours that are both affordable and good fun. I did one, and the value for money was very good!
However the overnight camping in the jungle is very expensive and requires more than one person to make a booking.
- If you buy a ticket to enter the national park (฿300 for foreigners) after 16:30, the the ticket will also be valid for the following day. So you can go into the park in the afternoon for an hour and a half before closing to get a good look around, before doing a big hike the following day with the same ticket.
- Eat at Lap-Roi Et, not really a bonus tip as I’ve already mentioned it but it’s really good.
- Take a filtered water bottle with you if you are doing any long hikes, because it gets seriously humid in there and these are not easy trails. I use the GrayL GeoPress (affiliate link), and it really saved my bacon when my legs were cramping and I had no water left in my Camelbak. I was able to get 2 litres from the river and safely filter it.
- Download MAPS.ME (one of the best apps for travellers) before trying any of the harder hikes unguided, and make sure your phone doesn’t die. Some of these trails are really hard to find.
Ok, well I hope that this Khao Sok travel guide has been somewhat helpful, all questions are welcome.
This place, although there isn’t a whole lot to do, the things that are here are so incredibly awe-inspiring that it is a must visit.
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