Khao Sok

I scheduled our entire trip around THIS tour, the centerpiece of our 5 weeks in Thailand. It was so worth it!

Day 1: Ferries and Elephants and Canoes, oh my!

Our Elephant Hills package included pick up on Koh Samui. We weren’t sure how it would work, so here are the details if you’re interested. They notified us via the hotel the day before with our pickup time, as promised. We were picked up at 5:55AM and were the only passengers in the van. Our driver took us to Nathon pier where he bought ferry tickets for us and left us, telling us another driver would pick us up when we landed. This ferry was larger and the waters were calm. 

After 1.5 hours on the ferry, another driver picked us up at Donsak. Again, we were the only passengers though if there were others on the same route I imagine it would be shared. It was a 3.5 hour drive to the Elephant Hills camp, with a rest stop along the way. The roads were surprisingly good. 

We arrived at the camp to a spacious open air building where we did check-in paperwork, met our guide, and had lunch. Each group of 16 or so is assigned a guide who is with you during your time at the camp. Ours was Pearl, who was great. Friendly, humorous, and organized. Lunch was excellent and we got a look at the bar — we knew they had one, but that was it — which looked comprehensive and had draft beer. It was pricey but we expected that. 

Our first activity that afternoon was the Elephant Experience. They mention this in the introductory information, but be prepared for sun, bugs, and to get dirty or wet. Before you check into your room.

We went from there by bus straight to the Canoe Safari on the Sok River. The scenery was gorgeous. 

upright rock

After the canoe trip we returned to the camp where we checked into our glamping tent and had a break before dinner. Free security boxes are available at the desk if you have things to secure before you get to your tent, which has a safe. Staff delivered bags to each tent.

Pre-dinner activities included a, elephant documentary, a charming song and dance show with local kids, and a cooking demonstration that coincided with dinner service beginning. (Listen for the gong.) That helped spread out the line at the buffet as many viewed the demonstration. 

Dinner was excellent, with a mix of Thai and international food. They asked about allergies and I mentioned my strawberry allergy, so they had set aside a selection of strawberry-free desserts for me. They also checked in with me personally, which impressed me. 

Day 2: Cheow Larn Lake

We had another excellent buffet for breakfast followed by a little time to pack for the lake. Each person is only allowed a day pack due to lack of space on the boat. You’re reunited with your other bags when you leave the lake. You also check out of the elephant camp.

It was about a 1.5 hour bus trip from the elephant camp to the lake, with more beautiful mountain scenery en route. 

We stopped at the Rajjaprabha dam overlook to stretch our legs, take in the views, and use the facilities. You get a nice overview of the lake from there. It’s nicely landscaped. 

We found this fish-feeding station intriguing. You dump the purchased fish food into a hopper. It then goes through a pipe down a steep slope to the fish waiting below. 

carpenter bee
This pretty but scary looking giant bug (which you can see on the fish feeder above) is a local carpenter bee.

The next stage of our trip was a 45 minute bus drive to the boat launch, where we caught our longtail boat for a tour of the lake

After touring the lake we were dropped off at the lake camp for our second night. We had lunch and did more check-in paperwork. An optional jungle trek to a cave was next on the agenda. We opted to stay in camp instead. We’ve hiked in the jungle before and aren’t that keen on caves. We’ve never stayed in a floating tent before, or been able to swim right from our own deck. So we did that. We also tried out one of the sit on top kayaks. We were able to get in and out from ladder easily enough, but the kayak was awkward and uncomfortable for us.  

One of the staff told us about a monkey onshore. Our photo ended up blurry so here’s a better shot of the cute little guy that was hanging in the dining area at the camp.

The same guy showed us a picture he’d taken that morning of a sun bear swimming across the lake. (Of course I remembered this tidbit just before trying to go to sleep. In a tent. On the lake.)

We had another nice dinner and drinks and a documentary about the dam and reservoir. Here’s what sunset looked like. 

Day 3: Lake Camp to Krabi Town

After another great breakfast buffet, today’s activity was kayaking. Steve decided his back couldn’t take it and I decided my leg wouldn’t either. We got to see a sea eagle from camp. 

We spent our morning enjoying our floating tent. We got a nice photo of a swallow, saw only our second lizard of the trip, and got a good shot of the giant googly-eyed fish — we think they’re carp — in the lake. 

Then all too soon it was time to have lunch and get back in the longtail for our return trip to the boat launch. There was a collection of buses and vans there to take guests onto their next destination. Once again we ended up with a private van to Krabi Town. 

Essentials​

Lodging

Elephant Hills was our first glamping experience.  We booked the 3-day Jungle & Lake Camp Safari; other tours are available. It’s not cheap but it is great quality. Our tent at the elephant camp was actually one of a few on the second floor. We had a deck out front, a spacious tent, and an ensuite bathroom nicer than many hotels. There’s electricity and wi-fi. 

Our tent at the lake camp was similar. The bathroom wasn’t quite as nice but still more than adequate. Being right on the water was more cool than words can express. It was so fun being able to swim right from your door. There’s electricity but no wi-fi. And no phone signal, at least that I could get. 

Dining

It’s all-inclusive (except adult beverages and tips). All meals were buffet style in covered open-air structures. We like all the food and there were several options. The bar at the elephant camp was more extensive; both had beer. Both locations are cash only and there’s no ATM, so come prepared. Drinks were more than we’d been paying, which we expected in such a remote location. 

Transportation

One of the big conveniences is that they pick you up and drop you off. In fact you can’t drive yourself there. We got picked up at our hotel on Koh Samui and dropped off at our hotel in Krabi Town, saving us trouble coordinating that.