After hearing about the tree houses and monkeys in Khao Sok National Park, we were intrigued. We decided to make a stop there on the way back from our visa run in Ranong.
We followed a recommendation and stayed at Art’s Riverview Lodge. The lodge is built at the end of the road, on the bend of a river. We passed by banana flowers and brightly colored flowers along the dirt road and were serenaded by the wail of insects that had taken over the forest. Rainforests, limestone mountains and cliffs were a welcome change of scenery from the beaches we’d become accustomed to.
Several tables and gazebos at the restaurant overlook the river and boast the best views of gibbon monkey (macaque) playtime in the evening. Our tree house was down another small path where insects seem to wind up upon our approach. It was more luxurious than we expected, however, with views over a little stream, good bedding and a mosquito net that wasn't half-eaten and full of holes already.
Home to the largest flower in the world (Rafflesia), Khao Sok National Park is known for its old rainforests and the still waters of Cheow Lake (formed by a dam in 1982).
The next day we walked over to the park entrance and got a simple hiking map. The farthest waterfall was marked as seven kilometers away, with six waterfall stops beforehand. We figured we’d be back in a couple of hours.
The trail began, wide and easy, but progressively got steeper, making it necessary to hold onto roots and vines to maintain balance. The humidity was intense; our shirts were soaked through with sweat. The stops at waterfalls along the way helped to cool us down and the sight of iridescent lizards and butterflies and the sound of gibbon monkeys kept our senses heightened.
When we reached the last waterfall, we didn’t have much time to rest because the day was quickly coming to an end. We were also reaching exhaustion and down to the last bottle of water. Wasn’t it uphill on the way in? Why is it now uphill on the way back? We made it, eventually, but we were soaked and spent. The folks who marked the trail had surely forgotten several kilometers.
We returned to the lodge in time to cross the stream for an up-close and personal look at the gibbons (macaques). Accustomed to humans, they went about their evening fun – wrestling, grooming, climbing over a bicycle and swinging from tree to tree – as if we didn’t exist.
After showering and downing a zippy vegetable green curry, we were in bed…by 8:00 for a sound sleep despite the full bug and frog symphony outside our treehouse.
Video: Macaque Monkey Happy Hour at Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok Accommodation and Transport
- How to get there: Take a bus to Takuapa and transfer to a another bus heading in the direction of Surathani. Just tell the bus driver to let you off at Khao Sok. There is also a direct bus from Krabi that goes all the way to the national park entrance. Entrance fees to the National Park are 400 BHT per person – a bit spendy, but good for one week.
- Where to stay: Art’s Riverview Lodge is a lovely place to stay. Fan bungalows are 550 BHT per night. Similar guesthouses line the road to and from the main road, some more luxurious, some less.
- What to do: Hike in the National Park, visit Lake Cheow, enjoy the dramatic surroundings, and relax.