Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sleep in a floating hut surrounded by the most stunning scenery, nature & wildlife?
As part of my journey around Thailand Joe and I spent 2 unforgettable days in the beautiful Khao Sok National Park. Khao Sok wasn’t on my bucket-list (in fact I hadn’t even heard of it before) and it now I can’t rave about it enough.
Khao Sok National Park is located in the Surat Thani province of southern Thailand, and is the perfect palette-cleanser between visiting the party islands of Koh Phi-Phi and Koh Phangan.
The national park covers a huge area of land and a lot of it is made up of limestone cliffs and dense jungle, where jungle trekking is a popular activity completed from the town of Khao Sok. Inside the national park is a relatively new man-made lake called Cheow Lan Lake, which is comparable to the beautiful Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Many people take day trips here by hiring a boat taxi to chauffeur them around the lake. Tours are also a popular option and we decided to go with a tour instead to get the most out of the park.
A little research into tours showed that Khao Sok Smiley Bungalows & Lake House was a good company to book with, so for 2500 baht each (roughly £66) we booked a 2 day, 1 night tour. I’m not usually one to choose to be led through my adventures by a company, but I can’t recommend this tour enough.
The national park is so immense that it’s actually very difficult to photograph well, so the photos in this post just highlight a fraction of the beauty of Khao Sok National Park – pictures just don’t do the place justice.
On day one, we met at Smiley Bungalows in Khao Sok town for breakfast at 8am (all of our meals were to be included in the tour cost), before driving 1 hour through beautiful green mountains surrounded by karst limestone cliffs to the pier inside the national park.
We then boarded the Smiley wooden longboat with the rest of the tour group, for a boat ride through the national park to the lake houses where we would be spending the night.
An hour later we arrived at our accommodation – absolutely BEAMING may I add.
Introducing Khao Sok Smiley Lake House…
What an amazing place to call home for the night.
The agenda for day 1 was to divulge in the Thai buffet set out for us for lunch, and then we had until 5pm to do as we pleased – sunbathe, read a book, go for a swim, paddle around in kayaks, whatever took our fancy.
Joe and I were lucky enough to get the colourful little lake house at the very end which had a kayak right outside and a little wooden jetty that we could sit on and soak up the sun.
At 5pm our group hopped back onto the longboat and were taken for an evening boat safari to hopefully see some of the wildlife in the park, including monkeys and toucans. We got lucky and saw 3 toucans at once (apparently they rarely see more than 2 at a time), and watched on as 2 different types of monkeys were helping themselves to dinner in some trees!
Our boat ride was supposed to end with a sunset over the lake, however a storm was rolling in and so instead of a sunset, the sky turned an incredibly moody pinky-purple which looked unreal and so picturesque.
On our return at about 7pm, we had another buffet with different Thai foods this time, and then were left to our own devices for the evening.
Our alarms were set for an early 6am to wake up for our jungle trek in the morning, so we got an early night, all tucked up in our little floating bungalow.
We were up and ready for our morning boat safari at 6:30am. This was probably one of the nicest views I’ve ever woken up to – on par with waking up on a boat in Ha Long Bay.
The morning safari was amazing – we saw so many of all 4 kinds of monkeys that live here (gibbons, macaques, long and short-tailed lemurs) having their morning munch and jumping from branch to branch in various trees, as well as more toucans which make an impressively loud flapping noise when taking off.
Following our exciting morning of wildlife we headed back to the lake house for an 8am breakfast, fueling us for the jungle and cave trek in which we were about to partake.
Equipped with trainers, lots of bug spray, head torches and a bottle of water, the trek began with a 20 minute boat ride across the lake to the jungle opening where we would begin the 1.5 km walk through dense jungle.
The jungle and cave trek was definitely a highlight of the two days.
Our quite small group of 6 followed our tour guide through a barely-there path and it wasn’t long until we were wading through shoulder-height water, all laughing and slightly squirming because we didn’t realise how deep some of the water in the jungle would get at times.
After trekking for over an hour (and getting a bit creeped out after being told there have been tiger sightings here recently), we arrived at our destination: Nam Taloo Cave.
I was ridiculously anxious about the hour we had to spend getting from one end of the cave to the other because I really don’t like caves, but it was SO much fun.
We started at the top of the cave and worked our way down. We switched on our head torches (because without them it was pitch black inside) and began our route. The cave was filled with quite a lot of water, so it can’t be done during rainy season as it would be too dangerous.
The first half of the cave trek was the easier part, although it was filled with what seemed like millions of bats, jumping crickets (gross) and ginormous spiders (even more gross), so I was glad to get into the second half. There was much more water in the second half of the cave as we made our descent, and towards the end it got so deep that I had to swim through some parts – however it was very enjoyable.
We came out of the bottom end of the cave around an hour later and retraced our steps through the jungle back to the boat – getting stuck in thick mud a few times.
After our 20 minute boat ride back to the lake house, we had another delicious lunch and then had a couple of hours to swim and sit back and enjoy the scenery before being taken back to the pier to end our tour.
Overall, we had an awesome 2 days that I would encourage anybody to add to their Thailand itinerary!
If there’s anything you should take from this post, it’s that you should GO TO KHAO SOK! You won’t regret it!
To read a little more about Khao Sok Smiley tours or book one for yourself click HERE.