So, here’s the next installment of my ‘Thailand Diaries’ series – our trip to the jungle! It seems like such a long time ago since we got back it’s really lovely to look through all the photos again and relive the memories!
We decided to visit Khao Sok on a bit of a whim. It’s not really on what you would consider the main tourist routes and not that many people have heard of it. However, we got the idea from our Lonely Planet ‘Ultimate Travel Book’ (which details some of the most beautiful places in the world) – and once we’d looked it up online we were sold! We knew we had to go, it was truly stunning.
We thought it was going to be a bit of a headache to get to and it certainly wasn’t as well connected as the other more ‘mainstream’ places we went to – but it definitely wasn’t as difficult as we envisaged. Khao Sok National Park is reachable by minibus from both Krabi and Phuket if you want to fly in (a few hours drive) or from Surat Thani which is the main rail station in the area. We caught the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok which is 14 hours and really not as bad as it sounds! We paid a little extra (£30 each at the most!) to have First Class which gets you a private lockable cabin and pretty comfortable beds. The train leaves Bangkok in the evening and you wake up in Surat Thani early morning! We found it remarkably simple. TIP: don’t make the mistake of leaving train bookings too late. Thailand rail are yet to get on board with an online booking system so you need to pay a travel agency in Bangkok to physically get them from the station for you in advanced, and you pick them up when you arrive. We used 12Go Asia who were fantastic and efficient from start to finish.
Anyway, we turned up at Surat Thani station at 5am on Christmas Day slightly concerned we had no onward travel booked and imagining we may have to wait a while for the first bus of the day. We needn’t had worried! Even at that time the station was packed with locals offering taxis, mini vans services and breakfast. We only had to pay 150 baht for the 1hr30 drive to the national park.
Once we had actually got there we needed to locate our hotel – ‘Our Jungle House’, which was located right next to the national park entrance and it pretty well hidden! It was worth the trek to find it though. This beautiful, secluded hotel is right in the heart of the jungle and it’s made up of a series of beautiful rustic treehouse rooms and a quaint wooden building with a restaurant and bar. In the day it was tranquil and relaxing and at night it wasn’t! It was so amazing to be so close to the wildlife and hear the monkeys running about on our roof!!
During our short two nights in the National Park we went on two trips and enjoyed a delicious Thai ‘Christmas buffet’ which was served at the hotel! The rest of the time we went on a few (short) self guided hikes and just soaked up the true wonder of nature. After the madness of Bangkok, Khao Sok is the perfect antidote. The first trip we went on was on Christmas day which was a short excursion to a natural hot springs in the hills. It is popular with both local people and tourists, but luckily the tour operators at our hotel pre-empted this and took us earlier in the day which meant that we missed the hoards and had the place virtually to ourselves.
On Boxing Day we went into the national park on a day trip to the famous Cheow Lan Lake. If you’ve every seen any wildlife or tourism documentaries about Thailand; this lake will be in it. It was absolutely breath-taking and one of the highlights of our trip. Most of the trip was spent relaxing and swimming by the lake, but it also included an hours wildlife spotting hike and a trip to the limestone caves. I’ve always thought of myself as a beach person but this lake was probably more beautiful than any beach I’ve ever seen. The water was like glass and the backdrop was simply amazing. We were lucky enough to have brilliant sunshine that day – but during our afternoon we saw a 30 second rainstorm! It was incredible, literally passed over us in less than an minute and then it was gone.
For more information on where we stayed you can click here. I loved Our Jungle House but if we were ever to go back to Khao Sok I would LOVE to stay on one of the floating bungalows you can rent on the lake. Imagine waking up to that view each day! We had an incredible experience in the jungle, so different from any other holiday we have ever been on! We would have loved to have stayed longer, but I can’t say that we are particularly natural intrepid explorers! We never ventured far on our hikes for fear of getting lost! There are A LOT of creepy crawlies in the jungle so be sure to take some spray and watch out for the mosquitos. Next time, we move on to the blissful beaches of the South!