Khao Sok National Park: The Best and Most Cost Efficient way to see Cheow Lan Lake

Khao Sok National Park has been on my bucket list since I first moved to Phangnga four months ago.  Finally, two weeks ago, I was able to make the trip.  There is very little information about the national park online so I was going in a little blind.  I’m not much of a planner and have no problem playing things by ear so this didn’t really bother me.  The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to stay in the bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake and go hiking in what is supposed to be one of the densest jungles in Thailand.

A lot of travelers these days’ hate to go on organized tours.  They don’t like the structure, the lack of freedom, or being forced to spend time with people that you don’t know.  Well, if this is you and you want to visit Khao Sok National Park, I’m sorry, but an organized tour is the only way to see the best Khao Sok has to offer.  Here’s why:

Cost Efficient:

If you are traveling alone or in a small group, an organized tour is definitely the most cost efficient way to see Khao Sok National Park.  There are two sides to Khao Sok: the water side (Cheow Lan Lake) and the land side (Khlong Sok village).  You will most likely enter the national park by bus on the ­­­land side.  Since the lake is roughly 50 kilometers from where you’ll enter by bus, it can make getting to the lake a bit of a challenge and quite expensive.  Once you do finally arrive at the lake, you will have to pay for a long tail boat for 1,500 baht (~45 dollars) for only 3 hours on the lake.  If you go through a group tour, your transport to the lake and the longtail boat is included!

Longtail boat to Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park

Cheow Lan Lake Bungalows:

Probably my favorite part of visiting Khao Sok National Park was getting to stay in these bungalows.  Even after hours of research, I could not figure out how to book a room without going through a tour.  Fortunately, when booking through a tour you not only get a room, but meals are also included and very tasty!

Swimming in front of our bungalows at Khao Sok National ParkSwimming right in front of our bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake

Jumping off the ledge at the bungalows in Khao Sok National Park

One of the many meals served at Khao Sok National ParkOne of the many delicious meals included

Hiking Trails:

I had no idea a hike was even included when I initially booked the tour.  It was definitely a pleasant surprise to see that on the itinerary when we arrived.  The guide took the group by boat to the start of the hike and led us through a cave in the jungle!  I remember wondering how anyone would ever find this hike without a guide.  The cave was filled with water up to my chest so I wasn’t able to snap any pictures.  You will just have to experience the hike for yourself!

Tour guide at Khao Sok National Park

Our tour guide who was for sure judging us for the shot we were about to take

Free Time:

Unlike a lot of organized tours, this one gives you five hours of free time on the lake. So if you’re not a fan of the people in your group, you won’t be forced to hang out with them all day long.  We used our free time to go kayaking and of course, drink a few beers.

Making use of the kayaks provided when visiting Khao Sok National ParkEvery bungalow comes with their own kayak at no additional cost!

View of the bungalows at Khao Sok National ParkHow most people spent their free time…

Cheers to Khao Sok National Park!How we spent our free time haha


Khao Sok National Park is a must-see on your trip to Thailand.  Even if group tours are not usually your thing, you are going to want to make an exception in order to make the most of your visit to Khao Sok!

Also while in Khao Sok:

Lost one sandal, missed our bus on the way there, and waited for a bus for 2 hours on the side of the road on the way home(typical Thailand)

If you’ve visited Khao Sok, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!  Did you find it useful to go in a group tour?  Or were you able to see it on your own? Did you make it out with all of your sandals?


56 thoughts on “Khao Sok National Park: The Best and Most Cost Efficient way to see Cheow Lan Lake

  1. This looks like an amazing time! Thailand has never been somewhere I’m dying to go, but I definitely want to visit and this is definitely somewhere I’ll go there now!

  2. The National Park is beautiful and the bungalows with a free kayak and meals sound like the perfect way to see it. Not sure when I will make it that way, but it is now on my radar.

  3. Wow this sounds like an amazing tour, pretty much everything you want from a tour this one has! Khao Sok national park looks beautiful and it’s a shame that we have missed out on this as our time in Thailand is coming to end soon. It’s definitely on our list now for next time, thanks for sharing!

    1. It’s in kind of a remote part of Thailand so a lot of people miss it! Definitely try and check it out next time!

  4. Hi Tarah,
    This really looks great! A tour with hikes and free time, that’s just perfect! How were the other people on the tour? That’s always something that makes me hestitate before booking a tour. Sometimes, you have great people in your group and sometimes… well it’s a disaster. Anyway, Cheow Lan Lake looks absolutely gorgeous!!!

    1. It was amazing! That worries me too, but the people ended up being great! Everyone was super friendly 🙂

    1. I’ve actually been to Krabi quite a few times and while it may look similar, it is actually much different! If you have the time, I’d encourage you to explore Khao Sok!

  5. This place looks seriously gorgeous! The water is so clear and the mountains in the background are just fantastic! I also am a fan of how you spent your free time hee hee right up my alley – love it!

  6. Wow plenty of adventurous activities. Worth the time and money spent here I am sure.
    I have not taken such tours yet so a good learning experience for me on that.

  7. Organized tours don’t bother me that much, because, thanks to them, often you have the opportunity to meet interesting people. I would love to visit Khao Sok National Park. Although I have just returned from a trip to Asia, I have not yet visited Thailand.

  8. The bungalows are actually special and so beautiful. Your tour seems to be really cost effective. Even I can laze down whole day there with those views. I have been to Thailand several times but never here. So, I got my next destination. Thanks for sharing this up.

    1. The rooms in the bungalow were actually quite nice, as well. You’ll definitely have to go to Khao Sok next time you’re in Thailand!

  9. I haven’t been to Thailand yet and the densest jungle there would sounds like a perfect place to go. The banglows on the waterfront are just perfect. I can imagine just sitting there all night gazing at the water and night sky!

  10. I’m so upset that I missed going here! I am a fan of practical posts that also mix a nice dose of inspiration — this did just that. I would rotate from hammock to kayak ALL day long.

    1. They are amazing!!! And actually pretty nice inside, as well! I’m sure they’d be up to your luxury standards 😉

  11. Taking note of Smiley Bungalows when I get to visit Thailand. I have been hearing Khao Sok before but never realized that the scenery is this stunning! Thanks for sharing this!

  12. I’m always so hesitant to use group tours, as I’m afraid I won’t get a good group of people and it will ruin the entire experience. I know this is kind of a silly fear since it is what you make it and you can often meet other amazing people on it, so I’m glad you had a good time! Great article!! The water looked so clean and clear, definitely seems like a bucket list item to check off!

    1. I am a little weary of them at times too, but it worked out for the best this time around. It was an amazing place and I’m so glad I decided to go through a tour!

    1. You’re going to love it! I went through Smiley Tours and they were amazing! Absolutely would recommend them 🙂 Enjoy!

  13. HEY TARAH!!!!!! I am going to Khao sok in a couple days!!!!!!!! thank you for this helpful article!!! can not wait to go except I wish you were going to be there!!! we are staying in a Treehouse there!! hopefully its cool (: see you later

    1. hey brynn!! I hope you enjoyed the beauty of Khao Sok! Sounds like you stayed on the hiking side of the national park, which I’ve heard is just amazing! Safe travels xoxo

  14. I was wondering the cost of the complete tour? I have found many that are over 200 a person, which is crazy to me, but I’m unsure of what the average cost of these tours would be.

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