People visit Surat Thani for numerous reasons. It is the main city in the province and an important centre for commerce as well as a transport hub. However, for tourists there are two main reasons to go to Surat Thani: either to catch a ferry to one of the islands in the Samui Archipelago (Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan) or to visit Khao Sok National Park.
The park is 120 km to the east of Surat Thani City centre and takes about to 2 hours to get there.
Entry fee to the park is 300 Thai Baht (for non-Thais). Entry fee is included in the price of tours.
A minibus or bus one way from Surat Thani costs 120 Thai Baht.
A raft house for the night starts at about 1,500 Thai Baht per person.
Khao Sok National Park contains some of the world’s oldest rainforest. It covers a total of 740 Km2. Such a large area of rainforest means it is the wettest spot in Thailand with 3,500 mm of rain per annum. The driest months are between December and April.
The National Park has breath taking scenery that includes huge limestone mountains, caves and stunning lakes, the most famous of which is Cheow Larn Lake where there are raft houses and luxury tents.
The highest point in Khao Sok Park is 960 meters above sea level. The background of the park is dominated by large limestone karst jagged peaks.
In the park you can go on elephant treks, jungle treks and jeep safari. There is a wide profusion of flora and fauna to spot including wild elephants, Asia ox, hornbill, herons, Kingfishers and Spectacled Langur Monkeys. There are also plenty of reptiles and amphibians in the lake areas to see.
As regards the flora, there are two types of rainforest – both evergreen and tropical. It is an area of great bio-diversity with roughly 200 types of flora per square hectare.
According to the fact sheet at http://www.khaosok.com/about-facts.htm here is the record of the park’s fauna
- Mammals: 48 species
- Birds: 311 species
- Bats: 38 species
- Reptiles: Unknown
- Insects: Unknown
You can do 1 to 4 day tours of the region. These include accommodation in the amazing floating bungalows or house rafts at Cheow Larn Lake. They typically include canoe safari, jungle trek, wildlife spotting, swimming in fresh water lakes and an ‘elephant experience’.
The elephant experience is part of a larger conversation project in the park. Elephant numbers are declining by 3% every year in Thailand. To generate money to reverse this trend tourists can prepare food and feed it to elephants as well as watch bathing time. Rather than riding elephants, guests get to learn about and interact with the elephants. The fees from the elephant experience go towards elephant conservation.
You can find plenty of travel agents in Surat Thani offering tours of Khao Sok National Park. Many of the hotels will also be able to arrange tours for guests.
Tour prices range from 3,200 Thai Baht per person for a day trip to 20,500 Thai Baht per person for a 4 day tour including transport, fees, tour guide, activities and meals.
Alternatively you can catch a bus or minibus to the park, pay park fees and rent a raft house as well as pay for various safaris, the elephant experience etc.