Khao Sok Overview

Khao Sok National Park, nestled in the Surat Thani Province of southern Thailand, stands as one of the country’s premier natural treasures. Established in 1980, the park spans an impressive 739 square kilometers (approximately 285 square miles), making it the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand and one of the oldest rainforests in the world. This ancient rainforest predates even the Amazon, offering a unique glimpse into a prehistoric natural world.

The park is renowned for its majestic limestone karst formations, towering above the dense canopy of the rainforest, and the stunning Cheow Lan Lake, an artificial lake created by the construction of the Ratchaprapha Dam. The lake’s emerald waters, dotted with hundreds of limestone islands, create a surreal landscape that draws comparisons to Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay.

Khao Sok National Park’s biodiversity is as impressive as its landscapes. The park is home to a vast array of flora, including the giant Rafflesia flower, the largest flower in the world, which blooms rarely but magnificently within the park’s boundaries. Its fauna includes a variety of wildlife such as Asian elephants, Malayan tapirs, and gibbons, offering opportunities for wildlife spotting that are unparalleled in southern Thailand.

In addition to its natural beauty, Khao Sok offers a range of outdoor activities for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Visitors can explore the park through trekking, canoeing, bamboo rafting, and elephant-back riding, or take guided tours to explore deep caves and hidden waterfalls. The park’s floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake provide a unique overnight experience, allowing guests to wake up to serene water views and the sounds of the jungle.

Khao Sok National Park is not just a destination; it’s an escape into one of the planet’s most ancient and biodiverse environments, offering a profound connection with nature that is both humbling and exhilarating.

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Khao Sok National Park Highlights


Khao Sok National Park, nestled in southern Thailand’s lush rainforest, teems with diverse wildlife, captivating visitors with its array of iconic species and unique ecosystems.

Asian Elephant

The majestic Asian elephant, revered in Thai culture, roams Khao Sok’s forests, shaping the landscape and captivating visitors with its intelligence and grace.

Malayan Sun Bear

The elusive Malayan sun bear, smallest bear species, forages in Khao Sok’s dense forests, using its long tongue to extract honey and insects from tree cavities.


The massive gaur, or Indian bison, grazes in Khao Sok’s grasslands and forests, with its imposing stature and distinctive curved horns commanding respect.

White-handed Gibbon

The acrobatic white-handed gibbon swings through Khao Sok’s canopy, serenading the forest with its melodic calls and forming tight-knit family groups.

Sunda Pangolin

The Sunda pangolin, covered in scales, wanders Khao Sok’s forests, using its sharp claws to dig for ants and termites, its main source of food.

Dusky Langur

The dusky langur, with its charcoal-colored fur and long tail, leaps through Khao Sok’s trees, feeding on leaves, fruits, and occasional insects.

Malayan Tapir

The Malayan tapir, with its distinctive black-and-white coat, roams Khao Sok’s forests and riversides, browsing on leaves, shoots, and aquatic plants.

Clouded Leopard

The elusive clouded leopard, with its striking coat pattern, prowls Khao Sok’s dense forests, preying on birds, small mammals, and occasionally larger prey.

Banded Linsang

The banded linsang, a slender carnivore, hunts in Khao Sok’s understory, feeding on small mammals, birds, and reptiles with agility and stealth.

King Cobra

The formidable king cobra, largest venomous snake, slithers through Khao Sok’s forests, preying on other snakes and small mammals, its presence commanding respect.


Khao Sok National Park is a haven for birdwatchers, boasting a diverse avian population ranging from majestic raptors to colorful songbirds, captivating visitors with their beauty and melodies.

Great Hornbill

The iconic great hornbill, with its massive curved beak and colorful casque, soars over Khao Sok’s canopy, feeding on fruits and playing a crucial role in seed dispersal.

Blue-winged Pitta

The vibrant blue-winged pitta, with its striking plumage and melodious calls, frequents Khao Sok’s undergrowth, foraging for insects and nesting in the forest floor.

Asian Fairy Bluebird

The Asian fairy bluebird, with its iridescent plumage and long tail, flits through Khao Sok’s forests, feasting on fruits and contributing to seed dispersal.

Black-and-red Broadbill

The striking black-and-red broadbill, with its contrasting colors and broad bill, perches in Khao Sok’s canopy, hunting for insects and small vertebrates.

Helmeted Hornbill

The majestic helmeted hornbill, with its distinctive casque and powerful bill, flies through Khao Sok’s forests, feeding on fruits and playing a vital role in seed dispersal.

Oriental Pied Hornbill

The colorful oriental pied hornbill, with its black-and-white plumage and large bill, soars over Khao Sok’s canopy, feeding on fruits and insects.

Green Peafowl

The resplendent green peafowl, with its iridescent plumage and long tail feathers, roams Khao Sok’s grasslands and forests, displaying its beauty during courtship.

Crested Serpent Eagle

The crested serpent eagle, a majestic raptor, soars over Khao Sok’s forests, hunting for reptiles and small mammals with its keen eyesight and sharp talons.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

The greater racket-tailed drongo, with its distinctive tail feathers and melodious calls, flits through Khao Sok’s canopy, mimicking other birds and hunting insects.

Black-naped Oriole

The black-naped oriole, with its yellow plumage and black mask, perches in Khao Sok’s trees, singing melodious tunes and feeding on fruits and insects.

Engaging Khao Sok

Exploring Khao Sok National Park on foot is perhaps one of the most immersive ways to experience its lush, ancient rainforest. Jungle trekking routes vary from short, easy trails to more challenging multi-day hikes.

As visitors venture deeper into the jungle, they can discover hidden waterfalls, encounter exotic wildlife such as gibbons and hornbills, and learn about the diverse flora, including the rare Rafflesia flower, the largest flower in the world. Guides are available to enrich the experience with their knowledge of local ecology and conservation efforts.

While the ethical treatment of elephants has become a significant concern, Khao Sok offers opportunities for responsible elephant experiences. Visitors can observe these majestic creatures in a respectful environment that prioritizes their well-being, learning about their care, behavior, and the challenges they face in Thailand.

Some eco-friendly camps provide educational sessions that focus on conservation and the history of elephants in Asia, aiming to raise awareness and support for elephant protection.

Canoeing on Cheow Lan Lake offers a peaceful and scenic way to enjoy Khao Sok’s stunning landscapes. As you paddle through the emerald waters, you’ll be surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and lush jungle.

This tranquil activity is perfect for wildlife spotting; keep an eye out for monkeys, birds, and even wild elephants along the shores. No prior canoeing experience is needed, and guided tours ensure a safe and informative journey across this serene reservoir.

Khao Sok National Park Trails

Bang Hua Rad Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 kilometers round trip, with minimal elevation gain.

Description: This gentle trail is perfect for families and casual hikers, offering a leisurely walk through the lush rainforest.

Hikers can enjoy the rich biodiversity of the park, including a variety of plant species, birds, and occasional sightings of small mammals.

The trail is well-marked and takes you through serene natural landscapes, with resting spots and informative signs along the way.

Ton Kloi Waterfall Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 7 kilometers round trip, with moderate elevation gain.

Description: Leading to the beautiful Ton Kloi Waterfall, this trail offers a moderate hike through the heart of Khao Sok’s rainforest.

The path can be slippery and challenging in places, especially after rain, but it rewards hikers with the sight of a stunning waterfall and the chance to cool off in its pool.

The dense canopy above teems with wildlife, making it a fantastic trail for nature enthusiasts.

Sip Et Chan Waterfall Trail

Rating: Moderate to Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 8 kilometers round trip, with significant elevation changes.

Description: This trail takes more adventurous hikers to the Sip Et Chan Waterfall, passing through dense jungle and challenging terrain.

The hike is rewarding, with opportunities to see larger wildlife and enjoy the tranquility of the forest.

The waterfall itself is a beautiful sight, offering a serene spot to relax and take in the natural beauty of Khao Sok.

Khao Sok Viewpoint Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 kilometers round trip, with some steep sections.

Description: The trail to Khao Sok Viewpoint is a popular choice for those looking to catch breathtaking views of the park from above.

The hike is moderately challenging, with some steep climbs, but the effort is well worth it.

At the top, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the vast rainforest, limestone cliffs, and meandering rivers below.

Cheow Lan Lake Kayak and Hike

Rating: Variable

Distance and Elevation Gain: Distance varies, but includes kayaking on the lake and a hike to a cave or viewpoint.

Description: This unique experience combines kayaking on the scenic Cheow Lan Lake with a hike through the surrounding rainforest to explore a cave or reach a viewpoint.

The difficulty level varies depending on the chosen hiking destination. This adventure offers a chance to see the park from different perspectives, including its aquatic ecosystems, lush forests, and stunning geological formations.

It’s a perfect blend of physical activity and natural exploration.

Related National Parks

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  • Britannica, Khao Sok National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Khaosok, Khaosok National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Lonely Planet, Khao Sok National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Sun Bear,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Thai National Parks, Khao Sok National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Wikipedia, Sun Bear,, retrieved April 2024.
  • World Wildlife Fund, Asian Elephant,, retrieved April 2024.