Our favorite place on earth.. Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
This is definitely our favorite place on earth! When planning a trip to Thailand most tourists either venture to the north or to the islands in the south without visiting the center of Thailand. This national park is located on the Cheow Lan Lake with breathtaking views of huge limestone mountains shooting straight out of the water. There are many different tour companies that tour this National Park and plan ahead excursions for you.
Getting to this park can be quite the journey, from Chiang Mai we flew directly to Surat Thani airport at which we hired a shuttle service to take us directly to our first stay within the park. There are many different shuttle services to pick from at the airport and all are pretty reasonably priced. Like any shared shuttles, the van was completely full and packed with everyone’s luggage. The journey to the park took about 2 hours, picking up and dropping off people as we went.
Our tour at Khao Sok National Park consisted of two nights in two different locations. The first night we had the pleasure of staying on the mainland of Khao Sok at Riverfront Resort within the National park. We stayed in a small cottage with no air conditioning and no internet until after 6 pm. Once we arrived, like always we searched for FOOD! Surrounding the area where are resort was there were many different options for food. The first evening we had signed up to do a river kayak with some locals nearby. We got picked up from our hotel and taken up the river where the instructors blew up the kayaks and away we went down the mucky brown lake.
The sights were just unbelievable during the river cruise, the limestone rocks shooting up from the ground made for great pictures everywhere you looked. We saw different types of birds, snakes, fish and monkeys during the cruise. It seemed as though our guide, Bob, knew where all the good spots were to find wildlife. We took a break half way where the instructors pulled together some wood and started a quick camp fire. Coffee and tea were then offered to us, which was so STRONG we still feel a buzz from it! It felt surreal sipping freshly brewed coffee from our bamboo cups which were made by hand (plus we got to take them home!) in the middle of the forest.
After the river cruise we were taken back to our resort where we ate dinner and got a good night sleep. Early in the morning we were picked up once again from our resort with a days worth packed up (We left majority of our luggage at Riverfront Resort as we will be taken back there tomorrow). On the way our group stopped at a pretty big market where we could buy any snacks or essentials we needed before going into the wild for the nightl. James and I bought some fruit and chips to take with us incase we didnt care for the food we would provide us. After, we were taken to the docks of lake Cheow Lan, the only boat dock that exists on the lake. From there we entered onto a long tail boat that took us directly to our floating bungalows. Along the way you could see many different areas similar to ours that different tour companies own. There are upscale types of bungalows that include air conditioning, kitchenettes and running water.
Our floating bungalows didn’t have any of those amenities. We were totally roughing it out and living in pure nature. Even though it was a very basic stay with just a mattress on the floors and a window- to this day is one of the most memorable and favorite place we’ve ever stayed at. Our guide Pawn gave us a room far from other people in our group so we could have some privacy and quietness. After checking in, we then jumped back on the boat were we were taken to a dry/wet cave, unfortunately we don’t have any pictures while in the cave because we literally had to swim through 10 feet of water while in the cave. It was so FUN!!!
After the cave we were taken back to our floating bungalows and got to enjoy some swimming in the amazingly beautiful lake!! There were slides and diving boards set up for those adventurous ones (James-the back flip maniac). The water felt absolutely perfect after an eventful day and we were in HEAVEN. For dinner, we all sat at a large picnic style table where the food was brought out family style. There was whole river fish, massaman curry, rice, vegetables and soup for everyone to share.
Early the next morning we were taken back out on the boat to enjoy the wildlife waking up in its natural state. It wasn’t even light out yet but we got to experience hearing the morning calls from many types of birds, monkeys bathing each other and local people fishing for their meals. If I were a wild animal I would FOR SURE want this lake to be my home.
After our journey on the boat we were taken back to our floating village where we enjoyed a nice hearty meal of BANANA PANCAKES!! Life just got so much better. We sipped some coffee and ate our breakfast as we were sad our stay was coming to an end. After breakfast we got one last hour of free time before we had to head back to the docks. James went for a nice kayak ride as I soaked up the sun floating in the beautiful water.
On the way back to the docks we stopped at another cave where we could go in and explore for a bit. It seemed as though all of the boats were stopping at this same cave at the same time so it was very crowded. One last stop to take another dip in the water and enjoy a nice lunch of fresh fruit and veggie fried rice was just what we needed before heading back to civilization.
Pawn, our tour guide was really just amazing. We had such a great time with him and he taught us so much about the lands he lives on everyday. We cannot wait until the day comes where we can go back to this amazing place and definitely stay longer than just one night.
As we made the hour journey back to our resort we had some free time before the shuttle came to pick us up and take us to our next location (Krabi). We decided to take a nice long walk in the jungle nearby the resort where we found some new friends. Monkeys were EVERYWHERE!! They pretty much put on a show for us swinging from branch to branch. They were super friendly but maybe too friendly as they tried to take our bag from us.
We highly recommend that if you are coming to Thailand-take the time to plan for this amazing getaway. Or don’t and let it be a hidden gem that still not many people know of. Either way, this place is will have you feeling all the vibes.