TopTen

Khao Sok National Park

With a land mass encompassing more than 270 sq miles (700 sq km), this national park, located about 110 miles (175 km) north of Phuket, represents southern Thailand’s largest virgin forest. Older and more diverse than even the Amazon rain forest, Khao Sok is home to numerous exotic animal and plant species, and has breathtaking natural scenery. Nature lovers will find inspiration in the park’s majestic limestone cliffs, rough jungle trails, and placid waterways.

prac_infoopen 9am–4pm daily • Adm B200

prac_infoKhao Sok Discovery (jungle trekking and safari tours) • 11/36 Moo 5 Chalong • 07652 1857www.khaosokdiscovery.com

prac_infoPaddle Asia (canoeing, kayaking, adventure trips, and jungle trekking) • 18/58 Radanusorn • 07624 1519 or 081 893 6558 (cell) • www.paddleasia.com

1. Sok River

Enjoy a leisurely cruise on a kayak or canoe on this river that meanders through lush jungles and past towering limestone rocks. Along the riverbanks, exotic hornbills, snakes, and long-tail macaque monkeys make their homes. The scenic river offers a relaxing way to experience the park’s natural wonders.

2. Jungle Trekking

Take a walk on the well-beaten paths or follow a guide, who will lead you through the untamed jungle with a machete. The trekking opportunities in the park are second to none, with exceptional caves, lakes, and water-falls as highlights.

3. Elephant Trekking

The massive, but nimble elephants plod slowly through virgin rain forests while you sit in a special chair atop their backs. Some tours head to natural waterfalls, where you can dismount for a dip in the cool water.

4. Waterfalls

There are a number of scenic waterfalls in the park, though finding them sometimes requires the assistance of a local guide. Bang Hua Raet, Wang Yao, and Wing Hin waterfalls are located within a 1-mile (2-km) radius of the park headquarters.

5. Caves

Enter the tantalizing darkness of one of the national park’s many caves, including the popular Tham Nam Talu and Ha Roi Rai caves. These grottoes have fascinating stalagmites and stalactites, and also legions of screeching bats.

6. Raft Houses

Floating thatched-roof raft houses line the banks of Cheow Laan Lake, allowing visitors to spend a night or longer immersed in the area’s tranquil natural surroundings. When the sun rises in the morning, dive into the lake for a brisk morning swim or enjoy a canoe ride.

7. Cheow Laan Lake

Surrounded by verdant forests and towering mountains, this lake was formed when Ratchaprapha Dam was constructed.

8. Wildlife

A bird-watcher’s paradise, the national park has numerous exotic species including hornbills, kingfishers, wild pigs, and eagles. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot Asiatic black bears and much more (for further details see Exotic Animal Species in Khao Sok National Park).

9. Bamboo Rafting

Float down the Sok on a unique watercraft fashioned out of lengths of bamboo, taking in the trees, magnificent mountains, and wildlife.

10. Night Safaris

As some animal species can only be spotted after dark, night river safaris are a popular way to see these unique creatures. Canoes or bamboo rafts are used to quietly glide down the Sok river.

Bua Phut

These gigantic red flowers, whose diameter can reach up to 35 inches (90 cm), are popular with visitors, although finding one in bloom often requires good timing and the assistance of a local guide. Known scientifically as Rafflesia kerrii, the flowers are abundant during the winter, from January to March, and have a pungent odor to attract flies for pollination. Be careful around these flowers; the species is endangered.

Tip Tip: Khao Sok can be visited on a day trip from Phuket, but it is better appreciated with more time.
Tip Tip: Food options are limited inside the park, so bring a packed lunch if you have special needs.

Exotic Animal Species in Khao Sok National Park

1. Bamboo Rat

With short bulky bodies covered in spiky fur, these nocturnal rodents live predominantly in bamboo thickets, as well as in grasslands and forests. Bamboo rats have sharp teeth and claws that are ideally suited to digging the burrows in which they sleep during the day.

2. Barking Deer

Also known as muntjac, these small, brown-haired deer have short antlers. They are called barking deer because they are known to bark when they sense danger. Spotting these animals in Khao Sok National Park is quite common.

3. Malaysian Sun Bear

A small bear that generally weighs less than 143 lb (65 kgs), this threatened species resides in dense forests, where it sleeps and sunbathes in trees. An omnivore, the Malaysian sun bear has no real predators, other than the occasional human.

4. Cobras

Khao Sok National Park is home to four different species of cobra – monocled cobras, spitting cobras, king cobras, and Asian cobras. The king cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake, reaching lengths greater than 16 ft (5 m).

5. Clouded Leopard

Exceptional climbers, with large feet and powerful claws, clouded leopards have a beautiful yellow-brown coat with distinctive cloud markings. The animal rests and sleeps in trees. Its prey includes small mammals and birds, among other creatures.

6. Hornbill

The hornbill’s long down-curved mandible and distinctive yellow/red horn make the bird easily identifiable. Feeding on fruits, berries, insects, small mammals, and eggs, hornbills often reside in dense forests. Many species can be spotted in Khao Sok National Park.

7. Tarantula

These massive spiders tend to dwell inside underground burrows. The species found in Thailand move quickly and are known to be aggressive, so you are advised to give the tarantula plenty of space if you encounter one in the wild.

8. Tiger

Many of Thailand’s 200 to 250 remaining wild tigers are believed to be living in Khao Sok, although you are unlikely to catch a glimpse of one. If you are lucky, however, you might come across tiger tracks.

9. Malaysian Tapir

With its distinctive proboscis, this large-bodied herbivore looks somewhat like a pig with an elephant’s trunk. The tapir’s black color provides camouflage so that when it is lying down, the animal looks like a rock.

10. Elephant

Wild elephants still roam Khao Sok National Park. Sadly, however, these majestic creatures, the symbol of Thailand, are an endangered species. Herds of elephants can occasionally be spotted in forested areas near watering holes and elsewhere.


History of the Park

Before it was declared a national park in 1980, the forest-covered land known today as Khao Sok was a wilderness that stretched to Myanmar. Few roads bisected this territory, and animal populations, including tigers, flourished. When Ratchaprapha Dam was built in the mid-1980s, numerous trees were chopped down. Poachers also threatened the stability of some animal populations. Today, under the protection of the National Park Service, Khao Sok is home to lots of exotic species, and many poachers have become conservationists.

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