What Is Khao Sok National Park?

B. Turner

Khao Sok National Park is a protected jungle area in southern Thailand. It was established as a national park in 1980, though the jungle here dates back more than 160 million years, making it the oldest rain forest on the planet. Khao Sok National Park is a popular tourist attraction due to its rich and diverse wildlife population and its range of plant life. The park is close to a number of other well-traveled sites, including Thailand's beaches and several other national parks.

Visitors to Khao Sok National Park might want to pack for canoeing.
Visitors to Khao Sok National Park might want to pack for canoeing.

Visitors flock to Khao Sok National Park for its wild, varied landscape and numerous activities. At the park, guests can explore limestone cliffs, which are some of the highest elevations in the country. The park is also filled with jungles and rainforests, along with caves, waterfalls, and lakes. Animals like the leopard, tiger, and sun bear run wild throughout the area, and visitors may also spot elephants, gibbons and the native barking deer.

In addition to hiking the various nature trails, visitors may take part in water activities like canoeing or tubing on the lake. Some climb the limestone cliffs at Khao Sok National Park, while others ride atop elephants on guided tours. Most sources recommend that guests do not wander off the main roads of the park unless they are accompanied by a trained guide. Numerous guest houses are situated along the park's main road, and many include restaurants for guests and day visitors. The Thai government charges a small entrance fee to the park, though this cost is often included with many tour packages.

One unique feature found only at Khao Sok National Park is the Bua Phut, or rafflesia flower. More commonly known as the wild lotus, the rafflesia is believed to be the biggest flower in the world. It blooms primarily in January and February, making this a busy season for the park. This plant can grow up to 31.5 inches (80 cm) in diameter, and its brilliant coloring is in sharp contrast to its pungent smell that resembles rotten meat.

The Khao Sok National Park is surrounded by some of Thailand's most popular attractions. It makes for a convenient day trip from well-known beaches like Phuket or Krabi. The park is also connected to two other large national parks, as well as a pair of wildlife preserves where visitors can spot leopards and other animals in their natural habitats.

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