Our long tail boat cuts a path through the pristine aquamarine waters of Cheow Lan Lake. Either side of us craggy limestone or karst mountains soar towards the heavens. Lush greenery cloaks their sides, testament to intrepid plants finding a foothold in any tiny crevice. Khao Sok National Park is surpassing our expectation and then some!
We are in southern Thailand, half a day on a local bus away from the bustling island of Phuket. James and his best mate Google are responsible for this find and what a find! The scenery, specifically those mountains, remind me of one of my favourite places on earth, Vietnam’s Halong Bay. We celebrated one of my milestone birthday’s there so I have a soft spot for karst mountains!
Our hotel is in the little one horse township of Khao Sok, which is a scenic hour’s drive away from the lake. There is limited accommodation on the lake, it is either the very expensive boutique style or the backpacker style. As we fall in neither category, a stay in town is for us!
The long tail boat journey on the lake to our lunch stop is an hour of wonderful scenery. And water spray. What is it with us? Every time we go on a boat, lake or sea, we manage to get wet! Before lunch it is a swim in the lake and then a lunch of local fish, vegetables and rice before a hike into the jungle to a cave. We give the cave a miss due to the wrong shoes and my claustrophobia and instead enjoy a quiet walk back to the boat.
Today has been anther triumphant for James and his best mate. After Khao Sok he and Google have another find in store for me, I’m hoping they’re on a roll!
Tips for visiting Khao Sok National Park
Prior to James doing his research it sounded as though the only way to get to Khao Sok National Park was on a very expensive tour from Phuket, Krabi or Surat Thani. Not so. We caught a local bus from Phuket (got a transfer from Patong included) to Khao Sok for AUS$25 each. Took about 3 hours in an air conditioned bus.
We stayed at the Khao Sok Nature Place which we would recommend. We stayed in a superior double room at the front with a fab view of some karst mountains for AUS $50pn including breakfast.
We took a Lake Day Tour for AUS$62.50 each which included lunch but not the National Park Entrance fee of AUS$12.50 each. It left at 8.30am and returned at 6.30pm. You need swimmers, towels (hotel lent us theirs), suncream, insect repellent, hats, head lamps for the cave and shoes that you can both hike in and get wet. Walking boots will not do as the rivers you cross on the hike can be knee high and thongs are no good for the slippery ground inside the cave. Either trainers you don’t mind getting wet or those unattractive rubber sandals that are good for hiking (you can see why we don’t have them!). On the bus trip to the lake you stop at the market where you can buy all of the above quite cheaply! They supply water for the hike only, so take some extra with you, we didn’t and we wish we had!
Prices correct as at April 2018