Khao Sok: Limestone mountains and wild animals in the rainforest
This was, hands down, one of the best experiences of my life!
Khao Sok is an incredible national park in Thailand. It's one of the oldest rainforests in the world. The landscape is dominated by fantastical limestone cliffs and mountains. It's inhabited by plenty of wild animals and rare species like the amazing Rafflesia (which I saw! - more on that later).
After my stay in Phuket, I wanted a proper adventure, and Khao Sok delivered!
Long post ahead, with plenty of photos!
I wanted to stay in a treehouse in the jungle.
I had this idea in my head for a long time. I wanted to wake up in the trees, with the sounds of the jungle around me.
Khao Sok seemed like the perfect place to experience this!
After some research, I found Our Jungle House - a resort with bungalows and treehouses spread over a large property in the rainforest, with plenty of space to feel secluded, surrounded only by nature.
I started chatting to them on Facebook and booked on of their treehouses :)
I also got them to organise private transport for me. It was not cheap - but a lot easier and faster than taking the local bus from Phuket to Khao Sok.
As with Phuket, I was very lucky to see this place without the tourists.
A treehouse in the jungle
The drive from Phuket to Khao Sok was long but beautiful. We took the scenic way, past Phang Nga, and then a small road up north.
Iw as excited but also a bit anxious. Would the place live up to my expectations? Or would be just a tourist trap? Would I be the only solo traveler there?...
All of these worries faded away as we got near Khao Sok. The place was incredible! Like something out of a fantasy movie. Towering limestone mountains and lush jungle everywhere!
We drove through the tiny village, then took a turn and entered the jungle.
Soon we arrived at Our Jungle House. I checked in. The resort was so relaxed. The staff led me on a stone path through the jungle to my treehouse.
Oh. My. God. It was awesome! A beautiful wooden house attached to two big trees!! With a big balcony, nice bed, bathroom etc. I loved it so much! And it was right at the river, under a big limestone cliff.
The first thing I did was to go for a swim in the river!
Then I took a shower and relaxed in my lovely treehouse.
The Khao Sok village
In the late afternoon I went for a walk and explored the village.
It was a tiny, sleepy village. I'm sure it's a lot busier in non-pandemic times. But right now it was quiet and calm. I enjoyed walking around.
There was just one main street, with a few restaurants and street vendors.
After the sun went down, I went back to the resort and signed up for a night safari!
It was a cool experience. We were handed flashlights, and a local guide took us on the jungle trails in the darkness.
We saw sleeping birds, hairy caterpillars, and a couple of giant spiders!
One of the spiders was busy making a huge web. Our guide told us that, in the morning, the spider will eat its own web. And then make it again.
Cheow Lan - The Limestone Lake
The next morning, I joined a tour to Cheow Lan - a huge man-made lake, surrounded by limestone cliffs and lush jungle!
Usually, I avoid tours, but it seemed to be the best option this time.
They picked us up early in the morning and dropped us off at the lake's pier.
A boat was waiting for us. We got in and headed into the lake!
Our first stop was a scenic spot where we took some photos.
Our second stop was a beautiful cave, where we also saw two giant spiders!
Around 12:30 we arrived at a floating raft house for lunch. It was so surreal to see the little huts appear under the giant cliffs, as we got closer.
Lunch was great. There were many different dishes to share. I had steamed veggies, rice, curry with tofu. Then watermelon for desert.
Then we relaxed and had some nice conversations.
After lunch, we got into kayaks and paddled out into the lake!
It was very peaceful and relaxing. There was a bit of wind, but it was mostly flat and easy to paddle.
While paddling around and exploring the lake, I saw a couple of kayaks gathered in one spot nearby. So I went to check it out.
They were looking at wild elephants!!
There were 4 or 5 elephants on the shore, right by the water. They were tearing down branches and eating leaves. One was a baby!!
This was amazing. We stayed here for a while, watching the elephants. The mother was protective of her baby, and would swing her truck at us whenever someone got too close. They were also making noises I had never heard before, deep growling and roaring, almost like lions!
After a while, the elephants started retreating back into the forest, and we headed back. It was almost time to leave.
On the way back, I felt soo full of peace. The sun was going down. Giant light beams were filtering between the cliffs and over the floating houses. The air was warm. It was totally quiet, except for the splashing of the water and birds singing in the distance. Everything was so incredibly peaceful.
I could have stayed here all day. I paddled as slowly as possible back to the raft house.
Soon it was time to get back on our boat.
The ride back was great. Everyone was quiet, tried but happy.
Soon I was back at my lovely treehouse.
I ended the day with dinner at Our Jungle House's restaurant - veggies with cashew and tofu, plus steamed rice.
Exploring incredible landscapes
On my second day in Khao Sok, I rented a motorbike and explored the area.
The roads were nice, big and empty. The views were insane.
I spent several hours driving around, stopping to take photos and enjoy.
Around noon, it started getting too hot to continue, so I went back to the resort for a swim in the river and a nice nap in my treehouse :)
In the afternoon, I decided to visit the local hot springs.
I left around 4pm. I drove on a big road through rolling hills, greenery, mountains in the distance, all beautifully illuminated in the afternoon light.
I passed several small villages. Rural, sleepy, lovely landscapes.
Then a rubber tree plantation. Some small quaint houses where locals lived.
After 40 minutes or so, I arrived at the hot springs.
It felt nostalgic. Like summers from my childhood. The place was colourful, nice and clean, but also simple and happy. It was quiet, I could hear only the birds and the river.
I bought my ticket and entered. There were 4 small pools. It was just me and a couple of locals.
The surroundings were beautiful too.
The pools were quite hot!
I soaked in different pools, spending 5-10 minutes in each.
So relaxing. I felt absolutely rejuvenated.
I left around 6pm. I wanted to get back to the resort before dark.
I watched the sunset while driving. It was beautiful. So many colours and gradients.
Looking for Rafflesia
On my third day in Khao Sok, I had nothing planned.
The resort offered me to join a jungle hike to see the rare Rafflesia flower. They said two other people have signed up. I said yes!
The guide came to pick us up at 9am. We got in a truck and drove inside the jungle, where our hike started.
It was a moderately difficult hike. Our guide was a local, from a nearby village. He showed us different plants in the jungle, some of them edible.
He also told us about cicadas. We could hear them all around us. He pointed out some moulds in the ground ,and told us that’s there the cicadas live. We even found a dead one, and the guide let us examine it closely.
After 1 hour of hiking, we reached the Rafflesias. But they were not blooming yet :(
They looked like cabbages! Some were big and some were tiny.
And finally, we found one that was starting to bloom. Only two of the leaves had unfolded. It was still pretty cool to see.
We hiked back down, and got in the pick up truck to return to the resort.
During the ride, I made plans with the other travellers to go river tubing together.
In the meantime got a quick lunch from a street vendor - fish curry (spicy!).
A few hours later I met my hiking buddies for river tubing!
It was so much fun! We floated down the river slowly. The sun was shining, and the river was nice and cool. We floated under the trees and the limestone cliffs. It felt like a childhood dream.
Our guide pointed out some snakes on the trees (that was a bit scary). We also saw a cute monkey hanging from a tree branch.
Finally, the tubing finished :( We pulled our tubes out of the water, loaded them in the pick up truck, and were dropped off at our resort again.
I had a quick break in my treehouse.
My new friends wanted to go to the hot springs. I joined them - I had nothing better to do, and I didn't mind visiting the hot springs again :)
Once again there was an awesome sunset on the way back.
After the hot springs, I went back to the resort and got a Thai massage :)
It was almost time to leave Khao Sok! This was my last morning here.
I wanted to make the most out of it. I got up before 6am to watch the sunrise.
I got on my scooter and drove to a viewpoint!
What a great decision. The place felt like Jurassic park. So beautiful.
After the sunrise, I decided to stop at an abandoned temple near the village.
It was so calm and quiet in the morning light. Plants were slowly taking over.
Felt very peaceful and nostalgic.
I walked around and took some photos. There were cute monkeys playing in a tree.
I stayed here until 7:30am. Then I drove back to the resort to have coffee and breakfast.
Then I packed my stuff and relaxed in my treehouse! I enjoyed it so much.
Finally, it was time to check out and get in the car that drove me back to Phuket - where I was about to meet my friends and continue this journey!