📍Khlong Sok, 19th of October 2018. Middle of autumn and rainy season in Thailand. We decided to go to Khao Sok. Was this a wise thing to do? This was the best thing to do!
To help you navigate
Why Khao Sok national park?
People usually associate the South of Thailand with beaches and diving. There are, however, many national parks stretching from almost the border with Malaysia all the way up to Bangkok offering a different kind of scenery and activities. If you are traveling there, you simply can't miss Khao Sok national park! Think rainforest, waterfalls, cliffs, lakes, rivers, butterflies... It is absolutely worth it, even if you need to make a d-tour to get there!
Having spent three weeks enjoying the beautiful chilled beaches of Krabi region, we decided it was time to lift our bums and do something more active. Khao Sok looked like exactly what we needed.
How to get Khao Sok from Krabi?
A couple of hours on a minibus from Krabi Town and we were in a completely different world. We booked the transfer with Phantip through 12go.asia for 350 BHT (+fee), which seemed reasonable. The journey took the best part of the day, mostly due to an almost 3h delay and a prolonged drive. Look on the bright side though - we got undistracted time to sort out pictures and write a couple of blog drafts. There is absolutely no point in getting worked up about these delays in Thailand as you can’t do anything about it. So, keep it cool, keep it sane 😎
The same kind of minivans run from bigger towns and cities in the area (for longer transfers you would probably need to catch a flight from either Phuket or Krabi airport). You can easily find those options on the aforementioned 12go.asia.
How about the rain?
What does a forecast say about the weather in Khao Sok in October? As you can see from the screenshot, the outlook was a bit gloomy. Even before arriving at the national park, we were a bit worried about being here during the green (rainy) season which lasts through November. Luckily, those concerns turned out unfounded. In fact, we are rather grateful we travelled at this time.
Most days it was warm and sunny with a daily rain lasting for an hour or so. You can't expect to escape rain in the rainforest 😉 True, one of those days it did rain heavily, so we ajusted our plans. We spent the "free" time working to the accompaniment of the sounds of jungle and the smell of rain in the nature. Doesn't it sound lovely? Wouldn't you want to spend a peaceful day like this in the fresh air?
The subtle inconveniences were a fair exchange for having fewer other tourists, seeing waterfalls and paying less for pretty much anything. (The park rangers also told it was somewhat unusual to have rainfall the whole day – I guess we got "lucky" ;))
Things to do around the park
Jungle versus lake
What we didn't know before we got there is that the park is split into two parts - the national park (jungle trekking) and the Cheow Lan Lake (aka Khao Sok lake). Most minivans will take you to the former, from where you can decide whether you want to stay in Khlong Sok village or move to the famous floating bungalows on the lake. We decided to do both - spend two days at the national park and then move to the lake. In hindsight, combining the two was the best decision as we could fully experience the diversity of the national park.
Activites in the national park
Almost every guesthouse in the village offers all sorts of activities, e.g. various longer guided treks (even overnight), wildlife and bird watching tours, as well as bike rental. Another fun thing we sadly missed is floating down the river on a rubber tire (how fun is that!). Prices for these activities do vary across and are not especially low (tire rental is about 150 BHT whereas some overnight treks go up to 4'000 BHT). We would recommend asking around before booking something at your guesthouse. Since we chose to go on an overnight stay at the Cheow Lan Lake (aka Khao Sok lake), we only did a short hike in the park. (A dedicated blog post about the amazing lake coming soon! :))
Hiking in the national park
As the sun came out following a full day of rain, we did a short unguided hike (7km return) in the national park. Even in the rainy season, the road is very well maintained and signposted, so this more like a walk in the park than a hike in the jungle (definitively not trekking). If you want to do a longer hike, the park management insists you get a guide. We were happy to do a shorter one by ourselves. To be honest, it looked like we could have continued longer, but we didn't want to push our luck with the weather.
Even though the walk was short in terms of distance, it was exciting nevertheless. On the way we saw a waterfall, a natural pool, climbed rocks and read about flora and fauna on the information posters all along the path. Besides monkeys and butteflies of all colors which were very cute, we saw a snake chilling on the branches. This was less cute, but fascinating regardless. Although we have been to a rainforest before, we were still amazed by the richness of plants and insects we saw. It is mind-blowing to imagine that scientists are still discovering new species every day!
Besides embracing the nature, we took this time to experiment with our photo and video equipment. There was almost nobody else, so we really went for it, lost all our inhibitions. It felt good. We got creative with photo angles and learned how to use a tripod and a camera timer to have more pictures of the two of us. We had a blast! Made a resolution to do more trips like this once back in Europe 😉
The Khlong Sok village
The village adjacent to the national park has a couple of restaurants and bars, a 7-11 (of course), travel agencies and traveller’s shops. In the latter, naturally, the products are more expensive than on markets in bigger cities. But if like us, you’d be missing a thing or two, I believe you get the basics for a rather reasonable price. A shop assistant we befriended revealed us prices do go up during the high season.
The restaurant offer is alright, but the vast majority focus on “Western cuisine” – i.e. pizza, burgers, sandwiches and alike. Something that bewildered not only us, but any other visitor we had spoken to. Based on the recommendation of the shop assistant, we ended up frequenting Good Luck Thai Food - a small local family restaurant on the village's main road. The food was fresh, delicious and inexpensive. The staff was extremely friendly, attentive yet very chilled about everything. Once there, make sure to pass by!
Where to stay
There are many accommodation options in the village, anything from shared dormitories to more upscale resorts. We opted for Our Jungle Camp eco-resort, as we could strongly identify with their values and support their philosophy of reconnecting with the nature, giving back to the community and respecting the environment. The resort exceeded our expectations not only in terms of their minimum-plastic approach, but also excellent service and great accommodation. Once we got used to the surrounding sounds, we slept like babies 🙂 If we were ever to go back to the national park, we'd definitely stay here again.
Embracing the slow-mo travel
We have been on the road for a couple of months now. It took us a while to find our travel rhythm, combining work, travel and creative projects. Sometimes we rushed too much through places, sometimes it felt we were stuck and stopped being productive and receptive. Although we have yet to find the perfect balance, I believe we have already learned a lot.
Embracing a slower pace not only allows to dedicate time to ourselves and whatever projects we are working on, but also really appreciate the surroundings no matter the weather. It just takes away the pressure off every day needing to be perfect and to go according to some predefined plan. I feel like this is particularly true when traveling anywhere outside the main season. Almost theurapeutic, it forces you to go with the flow and make the best out of whatever the day brings. Therefore. Is it wise to travel to Khao Sok in rainy season? Without any doubt.
Unless mentioned otherwise, all expenses listed here below are per person or per item. With the current exchange rate, 100 BHT = 2.65 EUR / 3.01 USD / 4.25 AUD. Keep in mind, these are the prices we paid during the rainy season. There is a good chance those would be higher later in the year.
|Public bus Ao Nang to Krabi Town||50 BHT|
|Transfer Krabi Town to Khao Sok||350 BHT|
|Paypal payment fee on 12go.asia||43 BHT|
|Accommodation||580 BHT bungalow / night|
|Park entrance (valid for 24h)||300 BHT|
|Dinner in Our Jungle Camp||535 BHT for two|
|Dinner in Good Luck Thai Food||530 BHT for two|
|Breakfast and snacks from 7-11||517 BHT for two|
|Wet shoes||200 BHT|
|Non-stinky and effective mosquito repellent||160 BHT|
|Dry bags||220 BHT for 10l|
250 BHT for 20l
|Total for 2 for 2 nights (excl. shopping)||4'185 BHT (apx. 111 EUR)|
Planning to travel to Khao Sok during the rainy season and still have unanswered questions? Wanna share with us your experience in this national park? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us or leave a comment here below! 🙂
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