Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Map showing the location of Khao Sok National Park

Map of Thailand

Location Surat Thani Province, Thailand
Nearest city Surat Thani
Coordinates 8°56′12″N 98°31′49″E / 8.93667°N 98.53028°E / 8.93667; 98.53028Coordinates: 8°56′12″N 98°31′49″E / 8.93667°N 98.53028°E / 8.93667; 98.53028
Area 739 km²
Established 22 Dec 1980
Sunrise in Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok view from a kayak
Scolopendra cataracta, the world's only known amphibious centipede, discovered near the park in 2001

Khao Sok National Park (Thai: เขาสก) is in Surat Thani Province, Thailand. Its area is 739 km², and it includes the 165 square kilometer Cheow Lan Lake contained by the Ratchaprapha Dam. The park is the largest area of virgin forest in southern Thailand and is a remnant of rain forest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon rain forest.


Beautiful sandstone and mudstone rocks rise about 300–600 m above sea level. The park is traversed by a limestone mountain range from north to south with a high point of 950 m. This mountain range is hit by monsoon rain coming from both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, which makes it among Thailand's wettest regions with an annual rain fall of 3,500 mm. Heavy rainfall and falling leaves led to the erosion of the limestone rocks and created the significant karst formations seen today.


Bamboo holds topsoil very tenaciously, preventing soil erosion on hillsides and riverbanks. With more than 1,500 species, bamboo is the oldest grass in the world, dating back nearly 60 million years. Liana trees grow rapidly wrapping around any vertical or horizontal support base such as takian or "rain trees". Thus it is dangerous to simply cut a tree in the jungle because it can pull connected liana vines with it creating a cascade of damage. Buttress roots are enlarged root bases mostly of trees that grow above the upper canopy. The theory about these roots is that they either developed in order to be more grounded in storms and rain or that they spread out on the ground in order to get more nutrients.

Many kinds of wild fruit can be found around the national park and serve as sustenance for animals. Among those fruits are wild jackfruit, mangosteen, durian, rambutan, jujube, pomelo, and wild bananas. Wild pepper and ginger are not uncommon. Khao Sok National Park is perhaps most famous for the bua phut (Rafflesia kerrii) flower.


The park is estimated to contain over five percent of the world's species. Wild mammals include Malayan tapir, Asian elephant, tiger, sambar deer, bear, guar, banteng, serow, wild boar, pig-tailed macaque, langur, white handed gibbons, squirrel, muntjak, mouse deer, barking deer.

The world's only known amphibious centipede, Scolopendra cataracta, was discovered on a stream bank near the national park in 2001;[1] discoverer George Beccaloni described it as "pretty horrific-looking: very big with long legs and a horrible dark, greenish-black colour."[2] It was not confirmed as a new species until DNA analysis of specimens from Laos confirmed that it was a new centipede species[3] and the discovery was published in 2016.[4]


The so-called wet season is between late April–December. The temperature ranges from 22–36 °C all year around. Humidity and warm temperature provide the optimal environment for a rich eco-system in this tropical rain forest.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Day Temp., °C303233333130303030292929
Min. Day Temp., °C202021222322222222222121
Water Temp., °C272828292929282828282827
Daylight, hours121212121313131212121212
Rainfall, mm41336214832037337236944733221089

Natural History

This area is estimated to be over 160 million years old, built through tectonic movements, climate changes, erosions and sediment accumulations. Approximately 300 million years ago, shallow water and warm temperatures in this region led to the creation of a huge coral reef. Estimated to be 5 times as big as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, it originally stretched from China all the way Borneo. Due to the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plate 0-66 million years ago, the Himalayas were formed, and what is now Thailand shifted dramatically near the continental divide and the limestone rocks were forced upward creating the dramatic limestone "karsts" for which the region is known today. Finally, melting ice established the river-rich landscape as well as dozens of waterfalls around the national park.

Limestone rocks

Human History

The first migrants to Thailand migrated during the Ice Age from Borneo around 37000 BCE. The first accounts of people living in Khao Sok were found in the 1800s. In 1944 the inhabitants of this region were stricken by a deadly epidemic. A large number of the villagers died while the few survivors escaped from the area to settle in nearby Takua Pa.

In 1961 Route 401, was built, from Phun Pin in Surat Thani Province to Takua Pa in Phang Nga Province. At the turn of the millennium, they began the process of expanding Route 401 to a 4 lane freeway.

In the 1970s Thai student activists and communist insurgents set up strongholds in the caves of Khao Sok. Settled in the shelter of the rainforest they protected the region from the Thai army, loggers, miners, and hunters for seven years.

Khao Sok became a national park in 1980. The government and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) were interested in this region because Khao Sok holds the largest watershed in southern Thailand.

Only 2 years later EGAT completed the 94 m high Ratchaprapha Dam, blocking off the Klong Saeng River, a tributary of the Phum Duang River and creating a 165 square kilometer lake inside the park. The dam provides electricity for the south, and the lake became a major holiday destination for Thai and foreign tourists alike. There were several species of animals that had to be resettled to save them from drowning as the lake slowly filled over a period of 3 years. Unfortunately a study from 1995 revealed the loss of some 52 species of fish from the river which couldn not survive in the stagnant water.


Khao Sok National Park[5] has various activities for tourists who like adventure such as trekking, canoeing, bamboo rafting or a boat tour to Cheow Lane lake.

Trekking Due to Khao Sok being a tropical rainforest, there are many wild animals such as “wild elephants, serow, tigers, Malayan sun bears and over 180 bird species to watch”. If you are interested trekking you can hire a local guide. If you are lucky, you will find Rafflesia Kerrii Meijer,[6] and visit waterfalls. Moreover you can stay in the forest at night and cook with bamboo.

Canoeing and Bamboo rafting Sok River is a perfect place to relax yourself. You will enjoy beautiful views along the river. Most commonly seen animals for example are birds and fish. Moreover the view of limestone cliffs, mountain range and wide sky are amazing. They have local guides for you to hire for canoeing and bamboo rafting.

Boat to Cheow Lan lake After trekking into the deep forest, there are many caves to explore such as Diamond cave, Khang Cow Cave and Nam Talu cave which connect to Cheow Lan lake. Nam Talu cave is about 12 kilometers[7] from the headquarters of Khao Sok National Park. If you a buy trip they will have staff waiting for you and boat you from the waterfall to the lake. These are activities that are suitable for adventurers. Khao Sok is not only a relaxing place but also exciting.


  1. Nijhuis, M. (3 July 2016). "It's always a joy to discover a new species. But there is a downside...". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  2. Holmes, O. (1 July 2016). "Giant swimming, venomous centipede discovered by accident in world-first". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  3. Bates, M. (26 June 2016). "'Horrific' First Amphibious Centipede Discovered". National Geographic. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  4. Siriwut, W.; Edgecombe, G. D.; Sutcharit, C.; Tongkerd, P.; Panha, S. (2016). "A taxonomic review of the centipede genus Scolopendra Linnaeus, 1758 (Scolopendromorpha, Scolopendridae) in mainland Southeast Asia, with description of a new species from Laos". ZooKeys. 590: 1–124. doi:10.3897/zookeys.590.7950.
  5. KHAO SOK, Facts about Khao Sok
  6. Srepaotong R.,Khao Sok Attraction
  7. ถ้ำน้ำทะลุ อุทยานแห่งชาติเขาสก
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