Khao Sok Trekking and Hiking
The Khao Sok jungle is renowned for its biodiversity and stunning views. Guests that venture out into the forest on jungle treks are likely to find fascinating, exotic plants and animals with every step. There is so much to see, and with so many possibilities, it is a good idea to come prepared! With this in mind, we have prepared some in-depth information about Khao Sok trekking. This page provides you with all the information you need to plan your Khao Sok hiking adventure!
Sometimes we are asked about the Khlong Phanom national park which can be found to south. On this page we will concentrate on trekking and hiking in the Khao Sok national park. However much of the general information here is relevant to trips to the Khlong Phanom national park.
Read on to find out more about this incredible place and begin planning your trip to the Khao Sok national park and Cheow Lan lake.
Khao Sok Trekking – Frequently Asked Questions
1. Khao Sok Trekking: Go it alone, or with a guide?
One of the most common questions guests have regarding Khao Sok national park trekking is whether a guide is necessary. Unfortunately, there is no yes/no answer to this question. Instead, we’ll discuss the options here.
Heading out into the Khao Sok jungle alone can be hugely enjoyable for the intrepid adventurer. National park Khao Sok headquarters maintains a dozen kilometres of trails, just inside the park boundary. These are marked on maps, and suitable for self-guided jungle treks. Guests often spot long-tailed macaques and dusky langurs on these trails, in addition to many iconic rainforest plants and a few beautiful Khao Sok waterfalls.
The downside to self-guided Khao Sok trekking is that guests must keep to a standard network of trails. It is important to keep in mind that they are heavily used by other hikers. As a result, wildlife here is often more scarce than other areas of the forest. Additionally, it will be more difficult to find peaceful spots in which to enjoy the rainforest.
IMPORTANT: Self-guided hikers will eventually come to the end of the public paths. At this point a guide will be necessary. It is highly recommended to avoid these guided-paths, which are unmarked, technically challenging, and more wild.
Those on a tight budget may have a hard time justifying the expense of a private guide. However, when it comes to Khao Sok national park trekking, there is no question about their usefulness and value! The majority of guides in Khao Sok, and every guide engaged by Khao Sok Riverfront Resort, are local. They have grown up here and have often worked, foraged or hunted along the same routes they now lead guests. Khao Sok trekking guides are known for their amazing eyesight and keen awareness of the natural signals around them. As a result, hiring a guide for any amount of time will greatly increase the chances of spotting some of the famous Khao Sok wildlife.
NOTE: We recommend engaging the service of a Khao Sok trekking guide for at least one full-day hike. This will ensure a hike that takes you deeper into the forest where the opportunity for wildlife spotting improves. We will provide more information on full-day Khao Sok hiking below.
2. Leeches in national park Khao Sok – what dangers do they pose?
Of all the creatures found in national park Khao Sok, perhaps the most feared is the terrestrial leech. These animals carry no toxins, diseases, or bacteria, and pose no risk to hikers. However, as a result of their appearance and penchant for bloody bites, they are often misunderstood.
The common land leech is small and usually rarely more than an inch long. It lives among fallen leaves and debris and uses vibrations in the ground to sense incoming animals. It is true that leeches feed on blood. This is generally painless and often the victim is left completely unawares. To feed, the leech inserts a tiny straw-like tube. Then it injects an anticoagulant which keeps blood from clotting. It then drinks a small amount of blood. Due to the anticoagulant leech bites are known for their propensity to bleed for an extended period.
If you are bitten by a leech during your Khao Sok trekking adventure, never fear! These animals are not dangerous in any way. The first thing to do after discovering the bite is to clean it as best as possible. Hydrogen peroxide works wonderfully, but fresh, clean water will do in the forest. Once cleaned apply tiny bits of paper to the bite one at a time. This will absorb blood and stop the bleeding. It is common for leech bites to begin itching around day three and continue itching for several days afterwards.
Khao Sok jungle tip:
After the bite has been suitably rinsed and cleaned, fresh rolling tobacco (ask your guide for a pinch) applied to the wound will absorb blood and help fight infection!
Avoiding leeches is easy, and comes down to clothing. To best avoid a bite wear long pants, long socks and closed-toed shoes. Tuck your pants legs into the socks and lace the shoes tightly. Also, be sure to tuck in your shirt! You can wear a long sleeve shirt for extra protection.
3. Are there any dangerous animals in the Khao Sok jungle?
The plain and simple answer here is Yes, there are animals out there that are dangerous to people. The most obvious examples are venomous snakes. Cobras and Vipers are the most prominent. However, the likelihood of meeting one of these snakes in the forest is extremely low and most guests lucky enough to find one are in the presence of an expert local guide. For information on what to do if you meet a snake or are bitten, please click here.
Much more common, and a greater threat to people are monkeys. Specifically long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques. While generally peaceful and harmless, increased contact with people supplying food has caused these animals to become more aggressive. If you come in contact with these animals anywhere during your jingle treks we recommend keeping a respectful distance. Additionally, you should never touch or feed a wild monkey.
Khao Sok jungle tip: Of the two commonly seen macaques, the pig-tailed macaque, is more aggressive by nature and should be avoided. Look at the tail for a clue: short tails mean short tempers!
In the past tigers, bears, elephants, and large constrictors posed a danger to locals and visitors in Khao Sok. These days, however, the threat from large, wild animals has disappeared completely. For the casual visitor to Khao Sok the chances of seeing any of these animals in the wild is next to zero and no one need worry about meeting them.
4. What should you bring for Khao Sok trekking?
- Suitable clothing. We recommend loose-fitting long pants and long sleeve shirts, sneakers/trainers and long socks. Tactical sandals, such as Tevas or Chacos are also suitable.
- NOTE: do not bring hiking boots. These will get wet and muddy and heavy very quickly and are difficult to clean and dry.
- Mosquito repellent
- Water. Khao Sok Riverfront Resort will supply you with a bottle of water. It is your choice to bring additional drinking water.
- Poncho (during the rainy season)
- Swimsuit. Most hikes present the opportunity to swim at one or more of the beautiful Khao Sok waterfalls.
- Camera or GoPro. Make sure to bring waterproof containers during the rainy season!
- 300B/adult, 150B/child for the Khao Sok national park entrance fee.
Khao Sok National Park trekking adventures
For guests wishing to venture into Khao Sok jungle, there is no shortage of options to choose from. Whether a half-day or full-day hike, overnight camping trips, or a fantastic Khao Sok night safari, there is something for everyone. The following paragraphs will provide information on the various Khao Sok trekking opportunities available.
1. Half-day Khao Sok hike
Due to budget and time constraints, this is the most common trek in national park Khao Sok. These hikes use a network of trails maintained by park rangers. The half-day hike departs from the visitor center and leads to Bang Hua Red waterfall. The main trail is a narrow road wide enough for pick-up trucks but there are smaller foot paths in the surrounding forest. The trails used on this hike are available to those with and without a guide and are nearly always busy. A standard half-day hike lasts about 4 hours.
Self Guided Hike
For those interested in a self-guided hike we have a few local tips to help make the most of your time:
- Once you have passed the ticket box, and walked a few hundred meters along the main trail, keep your eyes on the left hand side. Soon you will begin to see foot paths leading away into the jungle. These paths lead to the river which runs parallel to the main trail. As a result, it is possible to take these foot paths without fear of getting lost – the river will always be on one side, the main trail on the other.
- There are several swimming holes and smaller Khao Sok waterfalls en route to Bang Hua Red. Our personal favorite is ‘Wing Hin’ waterfall. It is lovely, small and surrounded by giant boulders and secluded swimming holes.
- Bring a towel, book, some food and a beverage on your hike! You never know when you will happen onto a quiet spot, perfect for relaxing and enjoying nature.
- If you venture past the Bang Hua Red ranger station, be exceptionally careful. The path here gets much more difficult, and begins branching off into deep jungle. This makes it very easy to get lost. We recommend hiring a guide to explore these trails.
2. Full-day guided hike
This is a must-do for anyone wanting some serious Khao Sok trekking. The full-day guided hike allows guests to venture deep into the Khao Sok jungle, and really connect with the rainforest. Lunch is included with this hike which lasts about six to eight hours.
There are two main destinations for the full-day hike. The first destination is the famous Tan Sawan waterfall. This is one of the more spectacular Khao Sok waterfalls and features a large drop over many cascading levels. It can be slippery at high water levels but is quite safe in the dry season. Truly adventurous hikers continue past the waterfall to the ridge above where the giant Rafflesia blooms.
The second destination is the Ton Kloy waterfall, high in the hills above the park headquarters. The 3-meter waterfall drops into a large pool which is perfect for swimming. The rocky beach is an ideal place for a picnic lunch. A
Hiking up across the pool, a short distance up the river bank, a deep channel is revealed where the river has cut into the rocks. Ton Kloy is famous among locals as a meditation site of the revered monk Buddhasa Bhikku.
While on the full day hike guests should keep in mind that they are paying for the time and knowledge of their guide. As a result it is possible to amend the program to fit the wants and needs of individual guests.
3. Khao Sok Night Safari and Jungle-Day/Jungle-Night hike
Like all tropical forests, the real action in the Khao Sok jungle begins after dark. This is when the insects and small animals come out to feed, followed by the larger predators that hunt them. Thankfully, there are some Khao Sok trekking options that allow guests to enter the jungle at night!
The Khao Sok night safari begins around 19:30 and lasts about 2.5 hours. Setting out with a guide, guests follow the standard network of trails in the national park. Be on the lookout for the many insects and animals that call the jungle home. Commonly seen are bats, owls, sleeping monkeys, leaf insects, and stick insects. You may also see snakes, frogs and tarantulas. Less common are barking deer, mouse deer, leopard cats, slow loris and flying lemurs.
The Jungle-Day/Jungle-Night hike is a combination of half-day hike and Khao Sok night safari. Beginning around 2 p.m. this guided hike follows the standard trail system into the forest around Bang Hua Red waterfall. At around 18:00 you will make camp and the guide will prepare dinner. After a delicious, jungle-cooked meal set to the setting sun and rising sound of insects, the party begins the return journey. Trek through the darkening evening in the Khao Sok jungle. Guests return to the resort around 22:00.
4. Khao Sok Rafflesia treks
Venturing deep into national park, all treks to the giant Rafflesia Kerri are true adventures. This is due mainly to the nature of this flower: they are only found on high mountain ridges. As a result, the hikes feature steep climbs and descents. They therefore take more time to cover less distance. It is recommended that all hikers be physically fit and with, at least some, hiking experience.
There are two primary locations for Khao Sok trekking adventures to the Rafflesia. The closest trailhead begins above the main village. It is part of the larger loop to the Tan Sawan Khao Sok waterfall. This hike requires a full day and covers nearly 7km. Second is the trail beginning at the Bang Man ranger station. This trail isn’t as long, and only requires a half-day. However, the ranger station is 20 minutes from Khao Sok town and requires transport to reach.
Khao Sok jungle tip: The Rafflesia Keri blooms only once per year between December and March. There is no way to know exactly when the flower will bloom. As a result, guests hoping to include a Khao Sok Rafflesia trek should plan to stay for a few days. Additionally, guests will find it helpful to inform their resort of these plans at check-in.
Trekking at Khao Sok Lake
The hikes listed above are just a few of the standard options available for guests interested in Khao Sok trekking. Below, we have included some information trails at the lake and a nearby park. While most people visit the lake to enjoy the incredible views, there are quite a few great trekking opportunities available.
1. Nam Talu Cave hike
This exhilarating hike is one of the best adventures that the Khao Sok national park has to offer! The trailhead is located in the western part of the Cheow Lan lake, near the Tone Toey raft house, and begins in a section of dense jungle. After about 45 minutes hikers arrive at the mouth of the cave. Here, everyone ventures underground: the exit is located far away, and the only route is through the cave. Entering the cave, hikers will be underground for nearly an hour. Nam Talu cave has many beautiful chambers, but the gem is the river of cold, crystal clear water. Hikers will follow the river, often wading through it. In a couple of places they will need to climb up and down small waterfalls.
Note: While the Nam Talu river makes for a great adventure, it poses a threat in the form of flash floods when it rains above. For this reason guides will cancel this cave hike in the event or rain, or even if rain seems likely. All guests on this Khao Sok national park trekking adventure should understand that this policy is for their own safety, and that of their group and guide. Any aggression towards a guide refusing to lead guests into Nam-Taloo will not be tolerated.
2. Coral Cave Hike
One of the most popular treks at Khao Sok lake, the Coral Cave hike, is suitable for just about everyone. This Khao Sok trekking adventure includes a bit of uphill walking, through a classic rainforest setting, and culminates with an in-out visit to Coral Cave. Guests entering Coral Cave will make it a few hundred meters before returning. Inside, guests often see a few of the bizarre cave life forms present there as well as beautiful cave formations.
Khao Sok jungle tip: As a result of the in-out nature of this hike, it is not necessary for all guests to enter the cave.
3. Tam Jia Nature Trail
Although the Tam Jia area is no longer open for overnight stays, the nature trail is available and provides decent opportunities for spotting wildlife. This hike takes you through an amazing section of Khao Sok jungle. It isn’t as long as other hikes around the lake but is very remote and scenic. It can only be visited on private tours.
Trekking in Klong Phanom National Park
Dwarfed and outshone by its infinitely more-famous neighbor, Klong Phanom national park remains virtually unknown to all guests to Khao Sok. This, despite the fact that it is only about 15 minutes down the same highway! Part of the reason for Khlong Phanom’s obscurity is the topography. The park is almost completely covered in soaring karst mountains or limestone cliffs. Any hike here therefore involves steep climbs. However, for the experienced, fit adventure-seeker, Khlong Phanom national park offers a chance to get far off the beaten path. Here, in undisturbed parts of the Khao Sok jungle, it is still possible to see true marvels.
It will be necessary to book a guide for any hikes into Klong Phanom. It is relatively easy to book through a competent resort. The ‘Chiang Ruun’ bamboo, the largest species in Thailand, is especially worth visiting in this park. Guests can reach the Chiang Ruun groves in a few hours. Also worth a day is the ‘Tam Lord Gaeow’ cave hike which features steep, ladder-assisted assents. The hike ends at the “Glass straw” cave where you can see great cave formations as well as a unique tunnel-like chamber.