Surat Thani is the gateway to not only Samui but also Khao Sok National Park on the mainland. I recently went there by sleeper train.
This is a summary of my two days in Khao Sok which was one of my best trips in years. I am already planning to go again at the end of the year.
✅ The two-day tour in Khao Sok was sponsored by Khao Sok Paradise Resort (khaosokparadise.com). The sleeper train ticket was paid for by 12Go (thaitrainguide.12go.asia/en), the sponsors of the @ThaiTrainGuide which you can download for free.
🚂 One of the best ways to come to Surat Thani is by overnight train. I took Rapid No. 167 that left Krung Thep Aphiwat at 6:50pm. There are two kinds of 2nd Class sleeper carriages. One with air-con and one with fan. I took the latter as I like the option of open windows to take photos. This cost 504 Baht. With air-con it is 220 Baht more. The train arrived in Surat Thani at 7:47am.
I was on a tour arranged by Khao Sok Paradise (khaosokparadise.com/tours/). Their Overnight Lake trip costs 2,700 Baht on a shared trip and 8,900 Baht for a private trip. This includes accommodation but not park fees. If you just want to do a day tour, this starts from 1,500 Baht.
📷 As part of my tour I was picked up at the railway station and taken to the pier at Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand. Spanning over 739 square kilometres, this paradise is renowned for its pristine rainforests, stunning limestone cliffs, and wildlife such as gibbons, hornbills and even elephants.
(If you are not on a tour, you can book a return boat trip for up to ten people for about 2,500 Baht to go to your floating raft hotel. This is the overnight price as the boatman stays at the hotel and brings you back the next day. There are 15 floating raft hotels. Prices vary from 1,500 baht to 5,000 baht per person for a minimum of two people per room. This includes three meals.)
📷 Cheow Lan Lake is well known for floating raft houses. As part of my package, I stayed at The Laguna Chiewlarn. Activities here include kayaking and swimming as well as long-tailed boat tours. There is no phone signal and no electricity during daylight hours.
📷 During my trip I went on several boat tours to spot wildlife. We also did two short treks to a waterfall and to a cave. I had a really great and I really want to go back during a different season.
📷 Back on the mainland I did a couple of stops on my way back to the railway station. The first one was at Khao Na Nai Luang Dharmma Park in Phanom District of Surat Thani. Everything about it is photogenic from the entrance archway to the pagodas on six peaks. Absolutely wonderful views from up top.
📷 Ban Nam Rad Headwaters Forest in Khiri Rat Nikhom District of Surat Thani is popular for the crystal clear turquoise water. But you should also go on a boat ride along the stream. This place is very popular with families at the weekend.
🚂 For the return trip to Bangkok I caught Express No. 84 train. The sleeper carriage had A/C and so the ticket was 804 Baht. I had a good night’s sleep arriving in Bangkok early in the morning.
📍Map of Places I Visit: https://maps.app.goo.gl/N5pDLQ4u8qfoqfRS9?g_st=ihttps://maps.app.goo.gl/N5pDLQ4u8qfoqfRS9?g_st=i
Below you will find photos and map links of all the places that I visited.
📷 01 – SLEEPER TRAIN: This is the day and night sleeper Rapid No. 167 that I took from Krung Thep Aphiwat Station in Bangkok to Surat Thani. I chose the carriage with open windows and fans which was only 504 Baht. The journey was just over twelve hours.
📷 02 – WUT TRAVEL & RESTAURANT: A popular restaurant for foreigners opposite Surat Thani Railway Station is Wut Travel. This is also a travel hub as they can arrange both shared and private van transfers. This was where I was picked up to go to Khao Sok National Park.
📷 03 – CHEOW LAN PIER: This is the pier for Cheow Lan Lake, the jumping off point for Khao Sok National Park. Tickets are 200 Baht for the national park and 20 Baht for using the pier. A return boat transfer to your hotel is about 2,500 Baht.
📷 04 – CHEOW LAN LAKE: This is an artificial lake located in Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani Province. It was created in 1987 by the construction of the Rajjaprabha Dam, which flooded an area of 185 square kilometers. The lake is surrounded by limestone karsts.
📷 05 – CHIEWLARN FLOATING RAFT: There are about 15 floating raft hotels on Cheow Lan Lake. I stayed at Laguna Chiewlarn as part of the tour. Activities here include kayaking and swimming as well as long-tailed boat tours.
📷 06 – TOUR OF CHEOW LAN LAKE: I was on a two-day tour of the national park organised by Khao Sok Paradise (https://www.khaosokparadise.com/tours/). Their Overnight Lake trip costs 2,700 Baht on a shared trip and 8,900 Baht for a private trip. This includes accommodation but not park fees.
📷 07 – PRA KIE PHET CAVE: As well as the boat tour around the vast Cheow Lan Lake to spot wildlife, we also did two short jungle treks to visit a waterfall and a cave.
📷 08 – KHAO NA NAI: On the completion of my tour of Khao Sok National Park, I did a few stops on the way back to the station. The first one was at Ban Khao Na Nai. The highlights were the entrance gateway and the stupas on top of limestone cliffs.
📷 09 – BAN NAM RAD HEADWATERS FOREST: Our second stop was at a crystal clear pool in a forest. You can paddle a boat down the stream or swim in the turquoise water. Very popular with families at the weekend.
📷 10 – TRAIN TO BANGKOK: There are several sleeper trains from Surat Thani back to Bangkok. I went for Express No. 84. The return train had A/C and so the ticket was 804 Baht. I had a good night’s sleep arriving in Bangkok early in the morning.
I had a really enjoyable 2-day, 3-night trip to Khao Sok. Taking the sleeper train to Surat Thani is an easy way to go there. I spent two nights on the train and one night on the lake. I will be going again for sure