You will spend your days through this trip riding through luscious national parks literally teeming with lifeat, visiting elephant sanctuaries: preparing food and learning about these gentle giants, as well as visiting a few hiden Buddhist temples and spending the night sleeping on a lake in floating houses. The vast majority of the route leads through a high quality road, where traffic is fairly moderate. The most recommended motorcycle for the trip is the Honda CB500X or Kawasaki Versys, although the ultimate decision is always left up to preference.
Now that you’re ready to experience the trip of a life time, let’s get going!
Start from Phuket
Your adventure begins on Phuket, the largest island of Thailand, connected with the famous Sarasin Bridge to the mainland. This 700 m bridge was built in 1967 to replace the ferry system, although many boats still frequent the waters. If you are looking for a real taste of local culture, be sure to visit the Sarasin Bridge. On the mainland side, you can buy dried fish, crabs, souvenirs, T-shirts, beach toys, drinks, and so much more! Right after the bridge, be sure to try some local cuisine and stop at a fresh sea food joint!
Semet Nangshe Viewpoint has quickly gone from a relatively unheard of location to one of the most popular panoramas in Phang Nga. Located atop a hill and just a 30 minute drive from Phuket, it provides stunning views over the limestone inlets of Phang Nga Bay. It is just far enough to not be plagued by light pollution, and the Milky Way can even be seen at certain times! However, the view is a challenge well worth the reward. Aside from the dive, there is a 50 baht per person fee (30 for Thais) at the little shack where the cap park meets the start of the hill. The ascent is long and steep, with benches placed at intervals to provide some much needed breaks along the way. It could take 15 to 20 very tiring minutes to make it to the top, but the view is well worth the sweat! The road to the top can be overcome with a 4×4 car, although many locals recommend taking the trek.
Stay here for the night! Tents or bungalows are available daily, and while they are extremely basic – they have all the necessary inclusions for a night spent under the stars. A thick thatched roof on a wooden frame, and thin walls and a roof basically explain its entirety. However, there are six bungalows available for sleeping as well, along with a few other huts for sitting.
Hot spring Badan
After a charming budget accommodation, treat yourself to a bit of luxury! Heading towards Khao Lak, opt to stay in a Hot Spring Badan, which is a beautiful beachside resort with hot mineral pools (47 st), regular temperature pools, and even a small pool with chilled water (16 t). This is a good place to sit back and relax, with good food to boot! Entry costs 400 thb in the high season, and even less in the low season. Being so close to the beach, it is worth a quick dip in a place that is expansive and typically empty!
Khao Lak is located just an hour’s drive North of Phuket Island on the stunning Andaman seaboard. Typically, it is noted as one of Thailand’s most peaceful resort destinations. Here you will find no less than three national parks, all nestled between sweeping hills and a lovely stretch of coastline beaches that continue on for miles. Only 80 km from Phuket, Khao Lak offers a rare oasis for relaxation, with a superb combination of cool tropical forests, charming beachfront accommodations and expansive white sand beaches. Khao Lak has many newly built and refurbished resorts providing a quality never before seen in the area.
Unfortunately, Khao Lak is the place most affected by the tsunami of December 26, 2004 in Thailand. Water flooded for 4 km inland, and 4,225 people lost their lives to this tragedy. To this day, you can still see a police boat lying in the field, raised by a wave one and half km from the shore.
International Tsunami Museum
The International Tsunami Museum is an interesting and informative place to learn all about tsunamis in general, ranging from how these natural phenomena are created to the tragedies they strike, such as that which occurred in Khao Lak on Decemeber 26, 2004.
Hot springs and Khao Lak
Little Amazon with an evening in Khao Sok
Here we venture towards the Khao Sok National Park. Along the way you will pass Takua-Pa, which is well worth a timely stop. Takua-Pa is a small, rural town located 45 minutes away from Khao Sok with a detailed and rich history from the glory days of Thailand’s Tin mining boom. Here, we will focus on two of Takua-Pa’s most notable attractions.
The first being ‘the old market’. Located just behind the bus station, the Takua-Pa old market is one of the best outdoor markets in the area. Guests arriving in the morning will find plenty of stalls selling fresh fruit, homemade snacks and local produce.
Secondly, the little amazon is worth a visit. Even in Takua-Pa, this remains relatively unknown, often referred to as one of the best kept secrets in the area. The little Amazon is a small tributary of the Takua-Pa river known as the ‘Klong Sang Neh’. Guests can explore the area with a guide via canoe or long-tail boat. Paddle down the river to experience the unbelievable sight of contorted stranger-fig trees overhead.
Khao Sok National Park
Here a scenic road will lead you through the dinwing path to the Khao Sok National Park. You will pass high arching limestone rocks that speak of the ages: nearly hurtling you through time itself along the trek. Khao Sok National Park is one of the world’s oldest and most diverse tropical forests. The vast, untouched tropical paradise is rich with wildlife and more than 1500 plant species including on the world’s largest flowers: the Rafflesia Kerii. Wild elephants, tigers, red bulls, and gibbons are some of the 48 species of mammals hat coexist with the 311 bird species sighted in the area.
At night, it is best to stay in the Khao Sok Village. It is generally regarded as somewhat touristy, however its location is ideal to go trekking through the jungle or a trip on the lake.
Khao Sok Valley Viewpoint and Waterfall ‘Mai Yai’
Just before Khao Sok Village lies the Sok Valley Viewpoint and the Khao Sok Waterfall, Mae Yai, beyond. A visit to the two creates on of the cheaper, easier things to do in Khao Sok. The waterfall is found on the right hand side, and the parking and entrance is fairly easy to navigate. Despite many steep mountains and heavy rainfall, it is difficult to find a classic Khao Sok Waterfall without a trek. The ‘Mae Yai’ Waterfall is, thankfully, one of the few exceptions to this rule! The Viewpoint is one km further, on the right hand side of the road. You will recognize it as a flat, graveled patch overlooking the valley, although there are currently no signs to designate the space.
After a night at Khao Sok Village, set off towards Cheow Lan Lake with some truly unique accommodations, some of which included floating hotels!
On the way, be sure to make a few important stops at Wat Tham Panthurat, Wat Tham Wararam, and also spend some time at the elephant sanctuary.
Wat Tham Panthurat
Of the various things to do in Khao Sok, this is at the top of our list! All ‘Wat Tham’ are cave temples, but in contrast to other locations, this temples caves tend to go unnoticed.
The true heart of this location resides with the ‘Tham’, or cave. Accessible by a set of steep stairs, this cave resides just above the temple and high up on the cliff face. The walk up is described as exhilarating and memorable, and makes for a further appreciation of the destination once arrived. It is important to note that there are no light fixtures or walkways in this cave, and should therefore proceed with caution.
Wat Tham Wararam
Another site high on the list of ‘best things to do in Khao Sok’! Unlike Wat Tham Panthurat, this cave is easily accessible and even features a maintained walking path and electric lighting. This is also a common point of departure for a few canoe companies in Khao Sok, although is not as packed with tourists.
Guests that venture through the cave will emerge onto the gorgeous streams of the river. Here you will find some of the best views of the surrounding forest, as well as massive boulders that have been sculpted by millennia of fast-flowing river water. Additionally, the monks and locals that support the temple here have made a tradition of feeding the fish in the river. As a result, massive schools of fish live in the river at the cave exit, and are not as startled by tourists as other natural beings might be. Stop and feed the fish with bags of food that can be purchased at the cave entrance for 10B.
Elephant Retirement Sanctuary
Here you will find an incredible experience, found seldom elsewhere! This elephant retirement sanctuary is notable for feeding Somboon, who eats 300 kg of food per day, as well as giving visitors the opportunity to bathe the elephants and learn about Thai Elephant culture; including the secret elephant language! Instead of partnering with a tour company and sharing the income, Aek and his father were able to grow this business with social media. Free of obligations from outside investors, they are now looking forward to helping more elephants retire at their sanctuary, adding a sustainably growing attraction to Khao Sok.
Alternatively, check out Cheow Lan Lake:
Cheow Lan Lake
Khao Sok Lake is locally known as Cheow Larn Lake (occasionally spelt without the ‘r’ in Larn) and is the proud home to some of the most unique attractions. Here you will find an ancient rainforest, and those famed floating hotels just waiting to be explored. Due to the mountainous landscape of limestone cliffs over a hundred peaks remained when the valley was flooded to create Cheow Larn Lake, with only he cress visible now. The limestone karsts of the lake create a stunning vista, which is truly a sight you will have to see to believe.
CheoLan Pier (Ratchaprapha Pier)
An area catered more towards the friendly tourists, as all boats with tourists leave from here. There is the option of a 2 or 3 hour course on the lake, with charming stops at places to swim or enjoy lunch in a floating restaurant! Wooden boats accommodate 6-20 passengers, plus a driver. A typical course on the lake costs about 1800-3000 thb depending on the route, and sharing the experience with a group definitely lowers this cost! Consider bringing some friends along, or make some on the pier and enjoy a relaxed day in the cool waters of Thailand!
Temples and Cheow Lan Lake
05 & 06
Than Bok Khorani National Park
Rise and shine! It’s time to head off towards Than Bok Khorani National Park. This is a little known and still relatively undiscovered location amongst the tourists, making it a must stop at for those looking for an off the beaten path adventure. Than Bok Khorani National Park is a rainforest in the midst of the mountains, with an abundance of trekking routes, waterfalls, and luscious mangrove forests.
Thamma Park (Ban Khao Na Nai)
Along the way, consider staying in one of the intricate and unique complex of temples, which are still under construction. The design is enticing, and covers 5 separate temples on 5 hills. Climbing for each of them requires enthused effort, considering all the winding stairs and steep inclines you will face. Thamma Park (Ban Khao Na Nai) is a quiet place, located away from big cities and nestled in the heart of nature. It is worth staying here even for a moment and conversing with some of the Buddhist monks on property.
Than Bok Khorani National Park
Here you will experience the wonders of nature like nowhere else. Bountiful mangroves, winding caves and lush jungles draw visitors from far and wide to bask in the ethereal beauty. This is also a popular place for canoeing and hiking, fit with multiple trails and rivers to follow. At the Visitor Centre just south of Ao Luek, a nature trail leads straight to the park’s namesake attraction: Than Bok Waterfall. Hidden beneath long rattan leaves and bamboo groves, the roots of the dipterocarp trees stretch into a wide stream colored by calcite deposits to create an enticing emerald sheen. Especially on weekends, locals flock here to relax and swim in pools that are believed to be therapeutic in nature. All of the waterfall’s tiers are less than a couple of meters high, thereby drawing its allure from the grander scale of natural beauty in action. Walkways encircle the various pools and access a shrine where locals set off fire crackers as offerings to resident spirits. This waterfall provides the perfect place to spend a few hours, but with a 300 baht per person entrance fee, it’s best to get your money’s worth and venture into the caves as well.
It’s time to come full circle and return to Phuket! On the way, be sure to stop at the breathtaking and incredibly unique Buddhist temple. It is important to caution that this is not a place for children and sensitive people, but rather one for respect. This temple is named the Tham Ta Pan (located at 8.454319, 98.528010) and truly remains a one-of-a-king structure even in the modern day.
Now that you have your trip planned out, it’s time to get out and go! Take a backpack, some water, and that free riding spirit hidden in your soul and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Thailand for a wekk you are sure to never forget!