Travelling South East Asia - Khao Sok

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When planning this trip and asking for recommendations so many people offered up places and ideas, but the places that people offered up just weren't mine and Dan's cup of tea. We weren't after your typical touristy areas, or the full moon parties and raves, don't get me wrong I love a good party as much as they next but we wanted to experience something a little different. So when an Instagram reader commented for me to check out Khao Sok I finally felt like I hit the jackpot.
Khao Sok is a national park in the southern part of Thailand with incredible views and scenery of a vast lakes, jungle rain forest, caves, and mountains. Even though the weather wasn't all that great for us whilst we were there the scenery was still breathtaking and Dan and I both agreed this was a highlight of our trip. In regards to logistics organising this was not easy, it took me a long time to find a tour company that would provide transport there and the organise accommodation and activities for us. There isn't a great deal of information of how to get to Khao Sok so I thought I would offer up some advise about doing it both with a tour and independently. 

If you are planning on backpacking and not really using tour companies then the best way to get to Khao Sok or more specifically Cheiow Lan Lake where we went would be to get to Surat Thani this is the nearest train station to where national park is, you can get a taxi from the station to the national park and arrange all accommodation when you arrive. Do note the pier for the lake is a different place to the entrance to the park. So if you want to stay on the lake make sure you request to be dropped to the pier! Cost of accommodation on the lake or in the park varies massively depending on what you would like, we stayed in a Bamboo raft house which was on the cheaper end of the scale. However they also have tree houses and tents on offer for those not staying on the lake.

The tour company we used for our trip was Pure Krabi and I would happily recommend them. Remy the organiser was helpful with responding to my email requests, payment of the trip was made through Paypal and he even helped make arrangements for our trip to be rescheduled when I got sick the night of our engagement.  On the day of our trip tour he collected us from our hotel and drove is to another tour companies office (Green Andaman Travel) where we continued on our trip. Whilst there were a few issues throughout the day such as a broken down boat, waiting around for someone to repair 'said boat' and schedule changes we still have a wonderful day and the guys at Andaman Travel were really nice and helpful ensuring we were taken care of. Here is what we got up to.

{Jungle Trek}

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The jungle trek although challenging was one the most enjoyable activities of our trip. After a 45 minute boat ride across the lake we arrived at the edge of the rain forest jungle where we were to trek to the portion of our next trip which was a cave trek. My god was this a tough experience, firstly, due to scheduling issues I was in a dress and secondly not at all prepared for the fact I was going to have to trek for an hour through the humid hot rain forest, it was an experience to say the least! Along the way our Thai guide Po showed us the vast wildlife in the jungle such as Chameleons, Flying Lizards and even a baby Tarantula in its nest! Although it was boiling hot and we were sweating buckets it felt so good to be able to say that we had trekked through the jungle rain forest in Thailand, It certainly was a tick off the bucket list. 

{Cave Trek}

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After the jungle trek we arrived at the bottom of the lake where the views were just breathtaking.  I just stood there for a while taking it in, I couldn't quite believe it was real. From there we took a trip on a bamboo raft boat to get to the Coral Caves which we would also be exploring by foot.  I think I should mention that these kind of activities are not suitable for people that do not like heavy activity or perhaps have a low fitness level. At times the trek was difficult but we managed perfectly fine albeit a little red faced. I would also go as far as saying this trip isn't at all accessible so anyone with physical disabilities may find this unsuitable.
The cave trek itself was OK but nothing to write home about, it was interesting to see the rock formations but other than that it was something I wouldn't have been upset missing out on.

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{Kayaking and Lake swimming}

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Even though the weather wasn't great Dan and I still wanted to make the best out of our trip so decided to go ahead and Kayak and swim in the lake. It was a weird experience I had never swam in a lake before and although it was cloudy it the air was still fairly warm, just being surrounded by the scenery was enough for me. Just so so beautiful don't you think?

{Accommodation}

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 Okay, so you know I am always 100% honest with you guys, no fluffing over stuff and always being subjective so I can provide the most authentic review. Whilst this was an amazing experience the bamboo bungalows which were included in the guided tour were most certainly basic. Basic as in a mattress on the floor with a blanket, no lock on your door and a roof made of bamboo. When we arrived we did not expect something quite as basic as it was but we made it work and enjoyed ourselves all the same. The elderly couple on our tour were not quite as happy, as you can imagine this was no where near suitable for a couple over 60. These raft house seemed to hold a much younger crowd which was great for Dan and I. We made lots of friends and got very drunk playing ridiculous drinking games which definitely helped us have a better nights sleep. If you are not up for the real back packer style accommodation this place is not for you! If you are looking for something a little more comfortable make sure you request that before you agree to the tour and check out what is included. 

Overall we had such an amazing time, it was a real adventure full of challenges and cool activities which really gave us the chance to experience a different side of Thailand, If you ever get the chance to visit Southern Thailand you will not regret including this as part of your trip. 

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To see more Instagram photos from my travels then you can follow me here @Calliethorpe or search #callietravelssea

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