Your ultimate Khao Sok Travel Guide – Overnight tour to the lake

Thailand Highlight: your ultimate khao sok travel guide including the overnight tour to the lake

Khao Sok National Park was the highlight of my Thailand itinerary. Before travelling to Thailand, Khao Sok National Park was high on my list, especially the overnight tour towards Cheow Larn Lake. Located in southern Thailand, on the mainland, this beautiful destination offers a lush scenery. Next to the beautiful lake, for which you will probably visit Khao Sok National Park, the town is also surprisingly nice to stay. In this Khao Sok Travel Guide, I’ll explain everything you want to know about your stay and overnight tour. 

How to get to Khao Sok?

From Koh Tao, Koh Phangan or Koh Samui to Khao Sok:

Fortunately, travelling from the islands on the east coast of Thailand to Khao Sok is relatively easy. Multiple boats are departing towards Surat Thani, the main connection on the mainland. I took the 7:00 am speedboat in the morning from Koh Tao, which also stops in Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. With this boat, I arrived in Khao Sok at 12:30 pm. The boat to Surat Thani takes between 3 hours (Koh Tao) and 1,5 hours (Koh Samui). It is possible to book your bus combined with your boat ticket at Lomprayah. Busses will wait for you upon arrival of the ferry and you will be directed to the right bus. You can book tickets at many tour offices on the islands, or pre-book your ticket online on 12go.asia.

From Pai, Chiang Mai or Bangkok to Khao Sok:

When you are travelling from or to either northern Thailand or Bangkok, the easiest option is to fly to Surat Thani Airport. From the airport, it is only a 1.5-hour drive to Khao Sok. Unfortunately, it is not possible to pre-book the minivan online on 12go.asia. However, it is possible to heat to the stand of Phantip Travel at the airport upon arrival (you need to arrive before 16:15). A bus ticket costs 300 baht including drop-off at your hotel. In high season this service might not be running, which leaves you to take a taxi (there is a taxi service available at the airport).

From Koh Phi Phi, Phuket or Krabi to Khao Sok:

From Koh Phi Phi, you can book a boat + bus combination to Khao Sok. The boat is leaving at 9 am and there is only one daily connection including the bus. Therefore, make sure to book your tickets in advance, especially in high season. From both Phuket and Krabi, busses/vans are running multiple times a day, lasting around 4 hours.

Khao Sok National Park - Overnight Lake Tour

How many days in Khao Sok?

Most tourists visit Khao Sok because of the overnight lake tour. Most tours start in the main town, where you can find accommodation and plenty of restaurants and bars. Because many tours leave in the morning, around 9 am, it is best to spend the night before in Khao Sok. Next to that, if you arrive in the afternoon, you also have the chance to do another afternoon or evening tour in the National Park. However, I think a 2-day/1-night tour of the lake is sufficient. 

Nevertheless, if you want to wind down and spend an additional day remotely, it is possible to book a 3-night/2-day tour. Also, it is possible to continue your journey to the next destination after the tour, as you arrive between 13:30 and 14:30 back at your accommodation. However, if you have the time, I advise spending another day in Khao Sok and continuing your journey the next morning to not stress about making your transfers.

Overnight cheow Larn Lake Tour from Khao Sok

|| Where to book your overnight lake tour

You can book the overnight lake tour at almost every accommodation in Khao Sok. Most accommodations don’t require prior booking, so you can book the tour upon arrival at your hotel or hostel. When I asked my hotel whether I could book in advance, they mentioned that only booking at the accommodation was possible. Therefore, no stress, it is always possible to join a tour. 

Nevertheless, reach out in advance, if there is a specific tour you want to join, . For example, the Smiley tour is popular with the younger crowd. Bear in mind, that all tours are advertised the same way, however, it depends on the accommodation what type of hut you will be staying in and what the exact tour looks like. At the end of this Khao Sok Travel Guide, I’ve also placed an overview of the best places to stay in Khao Sok.

Also, in this Khao Sok Travel Guide, I’ve described my experiences with the tour. This tour was booked with Tree Tops River Huts and executed by Khao Sok Happy Tour (the tour office is next to the bus stop). 

Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour, Thailand
Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour, Thailand
Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour, Thailand
Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour, Thailand

|| What does the overnight lake tour look like?

As mentioned, almost all overnight lake tours that you can book are pretty similar. The itinerary looks as follows:

Day 1:
– Pick up around 09:00
– Drive towards the long tail boat departure point. The drive will be approximately 1 hour. On the way, you stop at a small village with a local market and 7/11 to stock up on snacks and drinks. Also, at most accommodations, you can buy some crisps, sodas and beer
– Buy the national park and pier ticket and board the long-tail boat together with your guide
– Arrival at the bungalows where you will stay the night and lunch
– Free time to swim or canoe 
– Afternoon safari where you will board the long-tail boat again. The activity depends on the weather and the tour, but on most occasions, you will visit one of the caves or do a short hike and visit a waterfall. 
– Time to relax and have dinner at the bungalow, potentially followed by some drinks with your fellow travellers

Day 2: 
– Morning safari at 6:00 or 6:30 to try to find some animals. Get up early so you can also watch the beautiful sunset on the lake! 
– Breakfast at the bungalow 
– Some more time to relax, swim or canoe and pack your bags
– Long-tail boat back to the ‘harbour’ 
– Drive back to Khao Sok with some lunch on the way and a quick stop at the viewpoint

Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour, Thailand
Long-tail boat ride on Cheow Larn Lake, Khao Sok
Long-tail boat ride on Cheow Larn Lake, Khao Sok
Hiking around Khao Sok Lake
Khao Sok Travel Guide, complete Thailand overview
Khao Sok Lake, Overnight Bungalows, Travel Guide
Khao Sok Lake, Overnight Bungalows, Travel Guide
Khao Sok Lake, Overnight Bungalows, Travel Guide
Khao Sok Lake, Overnight Bungalows, 3-week Thailand Itinerary

|| What to expect of the bungalows

If you book the standard tour (most of the time this costs 2500 baht), you will sleep in basic bungalows. However, there are also more luxury experiences available by booking the luxury tour option or booking a night at one of the overnight bungalows that can be booked through, for example, Booking.com.

However, for me, part of the charm of visiting the lake was staying in a more remote place for a night. I had a small bungalow, with two mattresses on the ground and a little ‘balcony’. There is no toilet or shower in the bungalow. However, on both sides of the accommodation, there is a shared toilet including a shower. As we were staying on the lake for 1 night only, most visitors chose to shower back in their accommodation in Khao Sok. Also, at the shared area lunch and dinner are served and snacks and drinks can be bought. 

Be aware that the bungalows are floating on the water, and therefore you have to be careful walking around.

Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok
Bungalows at Cheow Larn Lake during the overnight lake tour from Khao Sok

|| What to pack for the overnight lake tour from KHao Sok

A full Khao Sok Travel Guide should also give some directions on what to bring during your tour. As you will board a long-tail board and sleep in a small bungalow, they expect you to only bring a day-pack. If you book your tour at your accommodation in Khao Sok, they are happy to store your luggage. If you book directly with a tour operator, you can leave your luggage there. 

In my day pack I brought the following: 
– Camera 
– E-reader
– (Head)torch
– Bikini
– Sunscreen
– Set of clean underwear
– Rain jacket
– Microfiber towel
– Long legging
– Slippers / Sneakers
– Extra pair of clothing
– Mosquito spray
– Basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, make-up wipes, contact lens kit, 
– Dry bag/rain cover for your daypack

It is possible to charge your phone in the main area at the beginning of the evening. In that case, don’t forget your phone charger. Alternatively, you can take a power bank or limit the use of your phone ;). There is no wifi at the bungalows and not all providers have coverage at the lake. 

Sunrise in Khao Sok during the lake tour
Sunrise in Khao Sok during the lake tour
The famous viewpoint at Cheow Larn Lake, Khao Sok, Thailand
The famous viewpoint at Cheow Larn Lake, Khao Sok, Thailand

|| Why visit khao Sok and the Cheow Larn Lake

The pictures in this Khao Sok Travel Guide already show all reasons why you can’t miss out on the Khao Sok Lake tour, when in Thailand. The lake and its bamboo bungalows are a unique experience and a great way to escape the busy cities. Next to that, it is a jungle, so you can spot different types of animals during your boat safari, such as gibbons and elephants. Lastly, it is a unique experience to wake up on a quiet lake while watching the impressive sunrise.

Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour
Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour
Khao Sok Overnight Cheow Larn Lake Tour, Thailand

|| Costs of the overnight lake tour

Most tour providers offer an all-inclusive fee for the 2-days/1-night Cheow Larn Lake Khao Sok overnight lake tour. When researching the tour, I felt that everyone offered the tour for the same price of 2500 baht (around €75). Next to that, there is a single surcharge of 1200 baht, however, when I booked the tour no one asked and I was lucky enough to be placed in a bungalow by myself. 

Next to the tour costs, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee to the park as well as a small fee to be able to use the pier with the long-tail boat. The additional costs at the entry of the park are 240 baht per person. Lastly, you have to pay for drinks (besides) water yourself. At our lake resort, a Chang beer cost 80 baht. 

Cheow Larn Lake Tour, Viewpoint
Khao Sok Cheow Larn Lake Overnight Tour, Thailand, Travel Guide
Khao Sok Travel Guide, The Best Things to Do

The Best Bars & Restaurants in Khao Sok

I have to admit that I was positively surprised when arriving in Khao Sok (village). Firstly, I had no clue what to expect, except for knowing the main town equals one large street. Nevertheless, in my mind, it was less modern than it turned out to be. Next to some decent Thai restaurants, there are fun bars with happy hour and a couple of great coffee bars. Therefore, I also recommend staying in Khao Sok village before and after your tour, instead of travelling to for example Surat Thani.

|| The Best Restaurants in Khao Sok

1. Black Stone Cafe – A backpacker favourite and a great place for a drink, a relaxed afternoon and some dinner. 

2. Pawn’s restaurant – One of the best Thai restaurants in Khao Sok and popular with travellers. Their curries are great.

3. Ciao Pizzeria – If you want to enjoy some non-Thai food, Ciao Pizzaria is a great place to go. They also have some nets to chill next to the restaurant. I was positively surprised by the quality of the pizza.

4. Low Budget Youth Restaurant – Unfortunately the cook was sick and the restaurant was closed during my time in Khao Sok. Nevertheless, this restaurant receives high ratings and is also popular with backpackers.

Ciao Pizzaria Khao Sok
Ciao Pizzaria
Ciao Pizzaria Khao Sok
Ciao Pizzaria
Pawns Restaurant Khao Sok
Pawn's Restaurant
Pawns Restaurant Khao Sok
Pawn's Restaurant
Black Stone Cafe Khao Sok
Black Stone Cafe
Black Stone Cafe Khao Sok
Black Stone Cafe

|| The best (coffee)Bars in Khao Sok

1. Black Stone Cafe – I have to start with Black Stone Cafe again. They have a happy hour with cocktails and it is the perfect place to spend your afternoon with a book or have a drink in the evening.

2. Hungcup Slow Bar – This coffee bar is located next to the famous Coco Hostel and offers good coffee and breakfast.

3. Little Wild Cafe Khao Sok – The same coffee bar chain as Hungcup but this coffee bar is located at the end of the main street. The waffles are amazing.

4. Chill out bar – Also this bar was closed during my time in Khao Sok, however, with so many good reviews it is worth giving a try.

5. The Heaven Bar – An extensive cocktail and happy hour list, 2 floors and the opportunity to relax on the bean bags next to the water. 

6. Jumanji Bar – This bar is a late-night bar in Khao Sok and mainly gets active in the high season. If you want to have some late-night drinks, this is the best place to try.

Little Wild Coffee Bar Khao Sok
Little Wild Cafe
Little Wild Coffee Bar Khao Sok
Little Wild Cafe
The Heaven Bar, Khao Sok
The Heaven Bar
The Heaven Bar, Khao Sok
The Heaven Bar
The best bars in Khao Sok, Thailand
Bamboo Bar

- The best places to stay in Khao sOK -

During my stay in Khao Sok, I stayed at Tree Tops River Huts. Especially their riverside bungalows are a real treat as you are near the national park. At dawn, you see plenty of monkeys running around your bungalow. Also, they have a swimming pool and breakfast is included. The price of a bungalow starts at around €30 a night.

Courtesy of booking.com

One of the best-rated accommodations in Khao Sok is the Khao Sok Palmview Resort. This is a charming and peaceful resort, with all the facilities you might need during your stay and very helpful staff. The price of a cottage starts from €17 a night.

Courtesy of booking.com

If you have a little bit more to spend, the Malulee Khao Sok Resort is a great option. I especially have heard great stories on the tour that was booked through the Malulee Resort. There is an on-site swimming pool available and bungalows start from €70 a night.

Courtesy of booking.com

If you are looking for a special experience that is slightly off the beaten track, then a night in Tanoshi Glamping is exactly what you are looking for. You will sleep in a glamping tent while having the opportunity to relax with great views and some tents also offer a luxury bath. A special experience you can get starting from €90 a night.

Courtesy of booking.com

The most popular hostel for backpackers and budget travellers in Khao Sok is Coco Hostel. All rooms have a balcony and the beds have curtains for more privacy. Also, the bakery next to the hostel is great. A bed in a dorm room starts from €8. 

Courtesy of booking.com

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Your ultimate Khao Sok Travel Guide - Overnight tour to the lake