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Khao Sok National Park – our practical guide for families

by Karo

It is one of the oldest and best-preserved rainforests in the world. In addition, majestic mountain peaks submerged in the vast Cheow Lan Lake, roaring rivers, caves, and a jungle inhabited by endangered species like Asian elephants, Indochinese tigers, and gibbons (we saw the latter twice!). Khao Sok National Park is one of the most beautiful places we’ve been to in Thailand, and we’ve seen quite a few. See why it’s worth visiting Khao Sok with kids. I hope our practical guide will help you with that.

Khao Sok is the fourth national park in Thailand that we’ve visited. And even though each of the previously visited parks was unique in its own way, Khao Sok, with its combination of tropical jungle and picturesque mountains rising from the lake, has a truly incredible magic. We felt somewhat like we were in South America, near the Chilean volcanoes, or in one of the national parks in North America. Un-be-lie-va-ble!

Khao Sok National Park – where is it?

Khao Sok National Park is located in the southwestern part of Thailand, in the Surat Thani region. This protected area extends across Surat Thani, Phang Nga, and Krabi. It is one of the largest and oldest national parks in Thailand, covering an area of approximately 740 square kilometres. It comprises mountains, rainforests, rivers, and lakes.

How to get to Khao Sok?

Getting to Khao Sok can be done in several ways. You can fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani town. Once you arrive at the airport, you can hire a taxi or use public transportation like minibuses or buses. The journey from the airport to the park can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on your specific destination within the park. Khao Sok is genuinely vast!

On the other hand, if you are in the Krabi area, a good option would be to rent a bus that will take you to the hotel of your choice. The journey will take about 2-3 hours.

How to organize a trip to Khao Sok?

You can easily make your way to Khao Sok. You can book accommodation on the outskirts of the national park and, either on-site or in advance, reserve various types of activities that interest you. There are plenty of options to choose from, ranging from treks of various lengths and intensities in the tropical jungle, long-tail boat trips on Cheow Lan Lake, cave visits, elephant sanctuary visits, to workshops for both adults and children, such as culinary, ecological, artistic, or entomological workshops. In the following part of the text, you’ll see what we chose.

Khao Sok National Park – where to stay?

Khao Sok offers a wide range of accommodation options, varying in standards, from rustic rainforest cottages to stargazing glamping experiences, and even floating bungalows on the lake. However, before you book your stay, take a look at the national park map (available on the official Khao Sok website). It’s a good idea to be aware that Khao Sok comprises two equally popular tourist areas, situated 67 km apart from each other.”

One of them is the area around the park headquarters, referred to as Khao Sok or Khao Sok Village (on the left side of the map), where you can hike jungle trails, visit waterfalls, and take part in various activities along the Sok River. The other location is Cheow Lan Lake, situated to the east of the park headquarters, primarily known for its floating cottages, caves, viewpoints, hiking trails, and limestone hills.

We chose accommodation near Khao Sok Village and drove to the lake – it took us a little over an hour.

Jungle cottage or lake cottage?

At the beginning, we were contemplating what to choose: a rustic cottage in the tropical jungle or an ‘Instagrammable’ cottage on the lake. Ultimately, due to the fact that we travel with a dog and are a family with children, we opted for land-based cottages. While the water cottages looked stunning, they were impractical for us as they didn’t allow dogs, and the cost of renting such a cottage for one night would have equalled the cost of our entire Khao Sok trip (cost breakdown at the end of the text).

So what did we choose? In the end, we settled for two jungle accommodations – the sister hotels Our Jungle House and Our Jungle Camp, both just a few minutes drive apart. We selected these places for three reasons. Firstly, you can bring your dog there (a rarity in Thailand!), secondly, both places offer a fantastic family program, and thirdly, they exude a unique atmosphere. Last but not least, these hotels are eco-friendly and contribute significantly to the local community.

Indeed, it’s quite unusual to sleep in the heart of a real rainforest, isn’t it?

Our Jungle House – a cottage in the tropical jungle

We spent one night in a cottage nestled among tropical trees, built on high stilts. Right beneath the cottage, a fast-flowing river ran, and nearby, we had a massive limestone rock covered in lush forest. Because the cottage walls were made of bamboo, all the sounds of the jungle reached us as if we were sleeping in a tent. In the evenings, while sitting on the terrace, bats literally flew overhead as they returned to the caves on the nearby hill for the night. At night, the river gently lulled us to sleep, and in the morning, we were awakened by birds (a bit like a fairy tale, isn’t it?).

It’s also cool that each bed has its mosquito net, and fans are available if it gets too hot. But I have to tell you, we only used the fans during the day. At night, they weren’t needed – the cottage is very well-ventilated, so it was even cool. Each bathroom comes with eco-friendly, lemongrass-scented toiletries, and filtered water is provided in a container for drinking (no need for ubiquitous bottled water found in Thai hotels!).

An incredible experience for us and the kids. And… for our dog, who couldn’t believe all the sounds around.

Learn more about these cottages: Our Jungle House

Our Jungle Camp – an ideal place for families with children

We spent the next two nights at Our Jungle Camp, which is owned by the same proprietor. We moved there because we wanted to take advantage of the eco-friendly workshops offered for kids in this place. The cottages are a bit larger than those at Our Jungle House, and the entire hotel complex is much bigger. There’s a substantial farm on-site where vegetables and fruits are grown, which are used for meals in the hotel’s restaurant. There’s a football field, an observation tower, and a fairly spacious restaurant with various seating areas for relaxation. The same Sok River flows nearby, and you can walk down to the riverbank and have fun by the water (perfect for kids).

So, if you’re looking for a great place right near Khao Sok National Park, run in a responsible and sustainable manner, and where families with children (and dogs) will feel at home, we highly recommend these cottages.

Khao Sok National Park – activities for families with children

On the Khao Sok National Park website, you’ll find a plethora of activity options for adults and families with children. We’ll show you what we decided on.

Night Safari

Our first adventure, right after checking in at the hotel, was a nighttime safari in the tropical forest. Jasio was particularly keen on this adventure, as he’s a big fan of lizards, snakes, spiders, and other insects – creatures that become much more active at night than during the day.

And I have to tell you that our son was not disappointed. We saw a rainbow snake, a small monitor lizard, a tarantula, numerous large grasshoppers the size of an adult’s hand, and colourful frogs. We also managed to spot sleeping black langurs and gibbons perched on bamboo branches, and colourful birds dozing on slender tree twigs. The kids really, really enjoyed it.

Practical Information

The nighttime safari in the national park begins at 7:30 PM when it’s already pitch dark in the jungle. The entire route isn’t very long – about 2-3 km. However, it takes around 3 hours to complete because the guide constantly points out something interesting: an animal, a plant, or tracks, explaining what it is, its habits, and so on. It’s a good idea to bring flashlights, and wear long pants, and closed-toe shoes.

You can book the safari when making your hotel reservation. A guide is mandatory. Additionally, when entering the park, you’ll need to purchase entrance tickets (200 THB per adult, 100 THB per child) and sign the park’s guestbook.

Trekking through the jungle with children

The next day, we decided to partially follow the same path we took during the nighttime safari, extending it by a few kilometres. I have to tell you that the tropical forests seen at night and during the day are two different stories. Both beautiful and fascinating, but entirely different.

What might seem terrifying in the jungle at night turns out to be the ordinary sound of the wind in the trees, the murmuring stream nearby, the croaking of frogs, or a serenade played by the hundreds of thousands of cicadas with their resonant abdomens :).

I know I often say this, but the rainforest is truly incredible! And I think that investing in such family experiences instead of buying yet another thing is simply priceless for children.

Practical Information – Khao Sok National Park and Trekking

The trekking trails start at the main headquarters of Khao Sok National Park. The routes along the river can vary in length, from short one-hour walks to longer and more demanding hikes.

We opted for a moderately challenging trek: the entire route was approximately 8.5 km. Completing it, along with stops for food, playing by the river on the rocks, pausing frequently for the guide to explain things, making bamboo whistles for the kids (which was a big hit!), or observing gibbons, spiders, and lizards, took us about 5 hours.

What to bring? Plenty of water, snacks for the children, mosquito repellent, and closed-toe shoes.

Children’s Workshop: Building a Shelter

The next day, right after breakfast, we took the kids to a workshop. First, we had a survival session and learned how to use what nature provides us. At first, we wove our own ropes from dried bamboo leaves, and then Mania and Jasio tried to figure out how to build a shelter with 8 bamboo poles. So there was a bit of math, architecture, and creative thinking.

Then, with the educators (excellent, committed people!), the kids cut bamboo leaves to construct a shelter together. The children learned how to tie the ropes correctly to make the bamboo structure stable, and how to arrange bamboo leaves not only to shield us from the sun but also from the rain. A very cool experience.

No one is too small to care for nature: entomology classes for children

The next workshop our kids participated in was ‘Amazing Insects.’ The children learned how crucial the presence of insects is for the farm’s ecosystem and the world at large. First, they observed insects caught by the educators, learned to recognize their body parts, and found out about their superpowers and life cycles.

Then, there was a bug-hunting tour around the farm. Mania, Jasio, and Basia were equipped with nets and special bug containers and, under the guidance of educators, searched for insects hiding in the grass, bushes, or the farm’s cultivated vegetables. In the process, they learned which insects like to be in the sun and which prefer hiding deep in the grass.

Next, there was a big insect identification session. The kids had to recognize the distinguishing features of grasshoppers, ladybugs, beetles, and wasps. The captured insects were identified on special entomological boards, and the children learned why each insect is essential for preserving biodiversity.

The most important lesson of the day came at the end. The kids sat on the grass with the educators and, one by one, released the previously caught insects back into the wild, being careful not to harm them. They thanked each insect for its help and bid them farewell with kind words.

I have to say, if this is how nature lessons were conducted in every school, our world would be a much better place.

These activities are held at Our Jungle Camp.

Boat trip on Cheow Lan Lake

This is something we absolutely recommend! The several-hour boat trip (ours lasted from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM) on Cheow Lan Lake (also known as Ratchaprapha Lake) was one of those experiences we’ll remember for a long time. Why?

First, the history of the creation of this lake is quite unique. Cheow Lan was formed by the construction of the Ratchaprapha Dam in the 1980s. The dam was built on the Sok River to create the lake and provide the surrounding areas with access to drinking water and electricity. The construction of the Ratchaprapha Dam led to the flooding of the Sok River valley, creating a completely extraordinary landscape – picturesque mountains rise from the water, and from time to time, you can see the treetops growing in the submerged valley.

Second, because we set off on the boat after 4:00 PM, the sun was already much lower on the horizon, and it wasn’t as hot (the lighting was also better for photos). So, we could relax peacefully on the boat, and approach all the spots that interested us and our children. And we were almost entirely alone. Along the way, we passed maybe 3 other boats.

Third, thanks to the lake trip, we discovered one of the hundreds of caves within the park – the beautiful little Pra Khai Peich cave, located in one of the submerged mountains. It was quite an extraordinary experience for all of us.

River tubing

Khao Sok National Park is not only the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature but also for some quite wild adventures :). Our kids insisted on tubing down the river on large black inner tubes alongside a massive mountain. As soon as they saw people floating down the river on inner tubes and heard their excited screams and laughter from our treehouse windows, they immediately started convincing us that they wanted to do it too. So we fulfilled their request.

You can order tube rafting at the reception of most places where you stay – there are quite a few organizers of such activities. The whole experience lasts about an hour and requires some courage. The river current is very strong, so, at times, you really need to hold on tight to avoid falling out of the tube. A guide also floats with you, who knows every twist and turn and periodically checks the course of the descent :). Little ones like 4-year-old Basia can tube with a guardian. Older children get their own tubes, which are slightly smaller than the standard adult-sized ones.

Our tip: even though it’s very hot outside, the river water is quite cold. So it’s a good idea to have the kids wear long-sleeved clothing or a thin wetsuit.

Khao Sok National Park – How much does it all cost?

It’s time to summarize the costs of a 4-day trip to Khao Sok for our family of 5. We provide you with approximate costs for various activities that you can enjoy within the park. These costs may vary depending on the type of hotel, transport providers, restaurants you dine at, or activity organizers. However, our summary will give you an idea of the average budget you would need for similar experiences.

  • Accommodations with breakfast in treehouse cottages at Our Jungle House (1 night) and Our Jungle Camp (2 nights) – approx. 10 000 baths
  • 4-hour long-tail boat tour on Cheow Lan Lake with cave exploration – 3000 baths
  • Night safari – approx. 2500 baths
  • Morning workshops for three kids (building a shelter + entomology workshops) – 600 baths/child
  • River tubing with a guide – 1800 baths
  • Dining in restaurants – lunch for our family of 5 costs between 500 baths and 1000 baths, depending on the place we dined (restaurant prices similar to those on Thai islands)
  • Admission to Khao Sok National Park (valid for 2 days) – 200 baths for adults, 100 baths for children (4-year-old Basia entered for free)

Was it worth visiting Khao Sok? Absolutely!

We’re curious about your experiences – if you decide to follow in our footsteps.

The material was created in a barter partnership with Our Jungle House and Our Jungle Camp hotels – thank you for your hospitality! It was a real pleasure for us!

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