* This article gets a bit confusing if you haven’t read Adventurous Kate’s article so make sure you go ahead and read it and then come back here (Link is below!)
We had made the decision to add the little jungle town of Khao Sok into our itinerary after reading the brief description of its lush green jungle, river swimming holes and mysterious caves in our battered Lonely Planet guide. After spending two weeks of emptying sand out of our bed and rubbing overpriced aloe vera gel into our sunburn, I thought this little stopover would be a perfect antidote to becoming sick of the sun, sand and sea (spoiler: it was).
I also foolishly thought that this little town might offer a unique and, ahem… original addition to our blog. I had images of people googling Khao Sok and our blog coming to the rescue with witty insights about activities and where to eat. Readers of our blog would admire our ability to get off the beaten path (spoiler: they wouldn’t).
The morning of our departure to Khao Sok, I slithered out of bed and blindly reached for my iPad. Like a good little travel blogger, I scrolled through my blog roll to see what the world’s beautiful adventurers were getting up to today.
Adventurous Kate’s article “Khao Sok: Cliffs and Adventure in Southern Thailand” popped up before my sleepy eyes and caused me to yell out to Chris who was having a shower. “Chris! How are we going to follow this??” Her article was thoughtful, engaging and best of all, made me look forward to our impending trip. In addition to this, a quick google search also revealed that Khao Sok had been written about by a plethora of travel bloggers. Travelfish had covered it. This guy had done it. Nomadic matt had written about it in January of 2012 for goodness sake.
So…we were late to the game.
We ended up going to Khao Sok and having a great time; It was one of the highlights of our entire trip around Southern-Thailand.
At this point of the article, you might be thinking where I am going with all of this. You might even be one of the people who googled Khao Sok, and is reading all this ramble, when really you are just wondering the best place to get Pad Thai.
So without further adieu, five more thoughts on Khao Sok National park.
1. The jungle is underwhelming at first but the further you get into it, the better is becomes.
Most treks into Khao Sok National park begin with a short boat ride across Cheow Lan lake. The lake is man-made and the starting point to your boat ride is near the dam. Think concrete, metal and dull brownish water. After being in the boat for around fifteen minutes, the scenery opens up and becomes increasingly spectacular. The limestone karsts rise up, tall and impressive, and the water turns a deep turquoise green. The jungle that wraps around the stone pillars is full of huge vines and the odd monkey can be spotted through the trees. Like Adventurous Kate said in her article, the scenery just couldn’t be captured in a picture. Chris and I both agreed that this landscape was the closest thing in real life to the floating mountains of Avatar.
2. Staying in the picturesque town of Khao Sok makes for a relaxing couple of days.
None of the articles I read on Khao Sok mentioned the little village that has sprung up in response to the popularity of the national parks but it is definitely worth a mention. We stayed for one night in The Jungle Huts but changed over to stay at Arts Riverview jungle lodge. Basically we walked pasts Art’s and I got accommodation envy. Arts Riverview jungle Lodge is by far the prettiest spot to stay at in Khao Sok. Although a little pricey at 650 baht for a fan room, you really do feel like you are on a jungle safari. Our little room was on stilts and two of the walls were entirely made up of windows. The lodge was also situated near a pretty water hole that was deep enough to swim. It even had a dubious rope swing. Although the location was beautiful, the service was terrible. You win some and you lose some. The town of Khao Sok itself is very picturesque with a lot of restaurants, massage parlours and even a Reggae bar that played Bob Marley songs on a loop.
3. If you are even slightly claustrophobic then don’t do the cave tour.
One of the most popular tours is one which takes you to the floating jungle huts where you trek up into the jungle and then make your way through Nam Talu Cave. We decided to do this tour not knowing that this was the exact one that Kate had done a month before ( we even took the exact same pictures. Nooo!) It turned out to be one of my favourite days in Thailand. The floating huts are adorable and provide a great platform to dive into the warm, green waters of Cheow Lan lake. Unlike Kate, I didn’t mind the trek up to the cave and found that it went quite quickly. Luckily I had two of the most clumsy and unbalanced German guys in front of me to keep me entertained. They seemed to trip and stumble on every root or rock.
The cave itself starts off very wide and, and ahem.. cavernous but soon became a bit of a squeeze. At one point the roof of the cave was covered in tiny bats. I chanted the phrase “I am not claustrophobic, I am not claustrophobic” to Chris when we waded through neck deep water and the cave became about as big as a small corridor.
4. Eat at Pawn’s restaurant
After reading many a raving review of Pawn’s, we headed there on the first night and we weren’t disappointed. It was probably the best green curry we had the whole time in Thailand. Other notable dishes were the chicken and cashew nut, the red curry and the passion flower curry. Although not as pretty or welcoming as the other restaurants with its white plastic chairs and grey concrete floor, the food more than makes up for it.
5. If this place is so popular with travel bloggers, then it must be good!
Khao Sok really is a great place to spend two or three days.
There are no clubs pumping out bad music and no fluro shorted alpha males to ruin the peace. You can even live out your Tarzan fantasies by exploring the dense, warm jungle. You might even get to swing on a vine (I did!). Just go there.
And a final note on travel blogging. Sometimes it does seem that everywhere worth writing about already has been swamped with bloggers writing interesting and inspired articles. Excuse the cheesy talk, but everyone has their own experiences and their own voice to add to the world of travel blogging. There is always something more that you can add.
Now excuse me whilst I research the Karnali region of Nepal, surely the bloggers haven’t descended there yet.
Have you been to Khao Sok? Do you ever feel like everywhere has been written about already? Let me know by leaving a comment below or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.