southeast asia series: khao sok national park

Hands down, my absolute favorite place in Thailand. This was what I was looking forward to the most in Thailand and it did not disappoint. Khao Sok is the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world – a lot of people skip over this on their itinerary, but if you’re a fan of hiking at all, this is an absolute must.

MUST DO:

  • Explore the rainforest!
  • Tour Cheow Lan Lake & do some cave trekking

RAINFOREST HIKE – After a 2-hour bus ride from Surat Thani (where we did a quick overnight stay) and some unfortunate events with our accommodation (accidentally booked a bungalow with the same name in another city, lols) we booked a last-minute stay at another guest house and rushed to do a short 2-3 hour hike. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go past a certain point without a guide, so I would recommend getting one if you have the day to explore.

Khao Sok jungle hike

CHEOW LAN LAKE TOUR – This was my FAVORITE activity of the whole trip. It has been compared to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam and Guilin in China – I can see the similarities, but Cheow Lan Lake is by far my favorite. It’s STUNNING and far less touristy (but Ha Long Bay and Guilin are still amazing!)

We booked a tour to Cheow Lan Lake to explore the Nam Talu cave. You can do this directly with your hotel – all places offer the same price (1500 Baht, ~$43 USD). You can’t go without a guide. The tour includes a guide, the boat and cave tour, and water. Ask your hotel for a waterproof bag because you will definitely need it. Leave behind your nice camera because it will be pitch dark in the cave and it will probably get ruined. I brought my GoPro and pretty much all the footage is just black because it was so dark!

We bussed over to the pier and went on a motorboat. The boat ride out was so beautiful – I couldn’t stop taking pictures because of the blue waters and the towering limestone cliffs.

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After about an hour of riding out (and getting splashed like CRAY because we were in the very back of the boat), they dropped us off at a little island where we had lunch.

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After resting a bit and swimming in the lake, we took another ride to a different island to get to the cave. It’s about an hour hike to get to the cave entrance.

TIP – my friend convinced all of us to get Tevas, aka dad sandals. So ugly that they were cute, but we were all raving about them by the end of the trip. You absolutely need walking sandals (Tevas, Chacos, any dad sandal with straps) for this activity. We crossed several creeks on the hike, and in the cave, there were parts where we had water up to our chests. People with shoes were NOT HAPPY. The sandals were super sturdy and perfect for the cave trekking.

The cave was SO COOL! It’s literally pitch dark in there, so headlights are a must. Your tour guide will provide you with one. When you point your headlight to the ceiling, you can see hundreds of tiny bats. I don’t want to say too much to give it away, but you have to do this! I thought this was the coolest activity of our trip.

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^ the best photo we could take in the cave

FOOD:

PAWN’S RESTAURANT. Hands down. We came here for our Valentine’s Day dinner. Amazing food, cheap beers, and best friends – what could be better? This was our favorite restaurant of the trip, so we went again for dinner the next night. Order the local curry dish.

We also got some homemade banana chips along the road by Pawn’s restaurant. We got like 5 bags because it was so freaking delicious. If the banana chip stand is still there, definitely grab some bags for your hike!

Next up, Koh Phi Phi (PARTY CENTRAL)! Check out my post on Bangkok here.


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