Ecotourism is extremely well established in Khao Sok National Park. It's an elephant sanctuary that works in harmony with the environment as well as the local community. Staying within the park is the best way to get involved with conservation projects and observe the animals' natural behaviour. It's a whole experience, not somewhere to visit in a day. You can access the park at different points and stay in chalets around the lake, or in a safari camp. There's even a floating lodge where you can dive into the water from your veranda, or sit and watch tropical birds flitting from the limestone cliffs as the sun sets over the jungle.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Khao Sok National Park is not somewhere to visit on a day trip, but somewhere that merits a proper stay. You can interact with elephants in the right way, on their terms, feeding, washing and observing the animals like a conservationist. But that's not all; Elephant Hills is somewhere to stay and have a completely immersive experience. There are guided jungle treks, luxury safari-style tents and outdoor swimming pools set against incredible limestone outcrops. You can kayak across the clear waters of Cheow Larn Lake and along narrow channels where monkeys, gibbons and birds populate the banks. Khao Sok is an amazing place to visit, thanks to its very well orchestrated conservation and activities programme.
Early morning mist rises from Cheow Lan Lake as gnarled tree stumps stick out of the water like sentinels, and the reflections from towering limestone cliffs turn the surface a shimmering shade of emerald green. Staying on a floating safari style camp is unquestionably the best way to wake up to life on the lake. Your very own two-person kayak is moored alongside your floating veranda, and nothing beats a quick dip to start the day. This is somewhere you can sit and simply stare at your surroundings for hours on end, or paddle through narrow tributaries where gibbons, monkeys and hornbills signal your arrival. Guided long boat expeditions give you a deeper understanding of what you're hearing, as well as when to spot a pair of eyes peering from the overhanging forest foliage.
Although many of the trekking trails within Khao Sok National Park are fairly easy going, they still feel really immersive and offer a genuine opportunity to experience wild Thailand without having to hike for days on end. Stepping around the roots of giant buttress trees and over twisted liana plants, as howler monkeys and hornbills call from the rainforest canopy, is unforgettable. You can venture even deeper into the tropical rainforest by following the Sok River in a canoe. This is a great way to open up otherwise inaccessible areas of jungle in the company of knowledgeable park rangers. Keep an eye out for flashes of colour as kingfishers, sunbirds and great hornbills hunt along the river banks.
A journey through northern Thailand for an eco-focussed exploration of local Lahu traditions and culture in the hills of Chiang Mai.