Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand beckons with its rugged limestone cliffs, mysterious stalactite caves, gushing waterfalls and a lush rainforest that surpasses even the Amazon in species richness.
Khao Sok National Park is located in southern Thailand in the province of Surat Thani about 120 kilometres north of Phuket and makes up Thailand's largest protected rainforest area. Surat Thani can be reached from Bangkok by plane, bus and train, but those who do not fly must plan a day's journey.
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PICTURES: Khao Sok National Park
Photo gallery: Khao Sok National Park
Tip: There are also connections from Phuket to Surat Thani, but the flight directly to Surat Thani is a lot cheaper than to Phuket and the airport of Surat Thani is also closer to the national park.
Breathtaking flora and fauna of Khao Sok
Khao Sok National Park was established in 1980 and covers an area of about 740 square kilometres with breathtaking plant life. The rainforest of Khao Sok is even more species-rich than the rainforest in the South American Amazon region or in Central Africa.
In the lush jungle of southern Thailand, the gigantic Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world with a diameter of up to one metre, is particularly worth seeing. Khao Sok National Park is also home to huge bamboo groves. At 60 million years old, the oldest grass in the world is also the tallest; some of the 1,500 bamboo species can grow over a metre in just one day.
The national park is also home to endangered predators such as the Malayan bear, the tiger and the leopard, as well as macaques, langurs, gibbons, Asian elephants, the Malaysian tapir, colourful kingfishers and the black and yellow hornbill. Not to be overlooked are also the swarms of dragonflies and huge butterflies, which can sometimes reach the size of a small bat.
Tip: If you want to observe wild animals in the national park, it is best to set off shortly before dusk. This is the time when the big cats, bears and elephants become active, because for 50,000 years they have been hunted by humans during the day. Night walks are also offered for small groups.
On the Road in Khao Sok National Park
The main activities in Khao Sok National Park revolve around hiking and exploring the magnificent nature in southern Thailand. Instead of walking, you can also explore the national park from a boat or the back of an elephant. Within Khao Sok National Park there are several affordable places to stay. At the Khao Sok National Park Information Centre, visitors are introduced to the flora and fauna of the park before going on a tour.
Due to the well-trodden main path through the jungle, Khao Sok National Park can easily be explored on your own. Only sometimes you have to look for the signs to the attractions of Khao Sok, as they have often been trampled down by wild elephants.
Sights in Khao Sok National Park
One of the main attractions of the national park is Chiao Lan Lake, which was created in the founding year of the national park by the construction of the almost 100-metre-high Ratchaprapha Dam (or Chiao Lan Dam). With an area of 160 square kilometres, it is twice as large as Lake Chiemsee. The flooding of the national park is now used for tourism.
Firstly, due to the geological conditions in the national park, the lake created dozens of pointed limestone islands rising from the surface of the water and secondly, visitors are transported by long boat on the picturesque lake to the floating houses of the locals.
Besides the fantastic lake, there is also the Bang Liab Nam waterfall or the Bang Hua Raet waterfall to visit, with a refreshing swim in the pool. Near the latter, adventurous visitors can be chased across the wild Lum Khlong Sok rapids in an inflatable boat.
Cave lovers also get their money's worth in Khao Sok National Park. The Nam Talu Cave near the Rachaprapha Dam, which can only be reached by boat, and the Khang Khao Cave offer spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. The latter is also home to thousands of bats that leave their roosts at dusk with a deafening roar to go hunting.